BROTHER RUSSELL'S FOREIGN TOUR
[LETTER DELAYED EN ROUTE.]
TO THE FAMILY OF GOD AT BROOKLYN BETHEL AND SCATTERED
WHEN the announcement of our proposed tour of Great Britain, and, incidentally, to Palestine, was published, some of the friends inferred that it signified that there was something further to be brought out respecting the Great Pyramid and its teachings. Others thought that our purpose was some special effort to reach the Jews in connection with the Return of Divine Favor to Them and Their Land. However, we set these speculations at rest at once by stating that we went in the interest of the newspapers which are publishing our sermons --that the interest in the sermons might thereby be increased and the interest in the good tidings deepened. But our special object, as stated, was to visit and encourage and strengthen the Bible Students, especially of Great Britain. Our hope is that all of these objects will be accomplished--that the Lord will so supervise and direct and order our goings that his name may have praise and that his people may have refreshment and blessing.
Upon seeing the announcement a number of friends in different parts of the country advised us of their desire to make the journey at the same time, if we were willing. We assured them that all had the same opportunity, and that we would be glad of their company, if the Lord's Providences seemed to open the way for them. Thus it happened that our company leaving New York numbered twenty-one, seventeen in addition to our own party, which consisted of Brother Driscoll, representative of the Press Association; Brother L. W. Jones, who served us as stenographer on the Atlantic, and Brother Rutherford, who served as stenographer on the Mediterranean, and who will visit the friends in Denmark, Sweden and Norway while we are in Great Britain and who will follow us in Great Britain, reaching home about a month or so later than we.
The friends who accompanied us were Brother and Sister Davault, of Illinois; Brother and Sister Ward and son, of Maryland; Brother and Sister Owens, and Sisters Cobb and Noble, of New York; Sisters Frost, Paschal and Houston, of Texas; Brother Pierson, of Connecticut; Brothers Wilson and Young, of Oklahoma; Sister Jackson, of Canada; Brother Koetitz, of Germany, the latter joining our party in Switzerland, where, and subsequently, he served as our interpreter. We had the pleasure also of Sister Rutherford's company as far as Paris.
As our vessel left her dock at New York upwards of one hundred and fifty of the New York Church waved us good-bye and sang for us several of the precious Hymns of Dawn. The incident was very impressive for us, as well as for others, and surely served to tighten the bonds of Christian love which unite all of our hearts. The upturned faces of the friends evidenced their love and zeal, their fellowship with the Master and with us. Our hearts were made glad by this manifestation of Christian fellowship, and we assure them all that not only they who were at the shore were remembered in our prayers, but all of the dear ones everywhere, for we well knew that our itinerary, having been published in THE WATCH TOWER, prayers would be ascending for us and for God's blessing upon our journey--from many hearts, from many lands.
"Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds,
Is like to that above."
Our journey was uneventful to Cherbourg, except that we had a little fog part of the way and a little rough weather. However, God graciously preserved us from any serious illness and we landed happy and well, a day later than anticipated, spending the night on the boat instead of in Paris. However, Paris had few attractions for us. Here, and to the end of our journey, we were rendered valuable assistance by the Tourist Agency of T. Cook & Son, through whom our tickets were purchased.
At Berne we met some of the French and German friends, to whom we spoke of the gracious things of the Divine Plan. We noted the Covenant of Grace, under which the Church is being developed as the Body of Christ, the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, and Israel's Law Covenant, and also the New Covenant which will succeed it in due time for the blessing of Israel and through Israel all the families of the earth. After speaking to the friends for nearly four hours, and we trust proving of some assistance to them and comfort and joy in the Lord, we departed for Zurich, where we had a very pleasant season of fellowship with about sixty or more of German-Swiss friends, to whom we spoke for about two hours. We departed from them with many remembrances of their loving attention and kind words, which we understood [R4621 : page 180] through the interpreter, but read still more particularly in their eyes and general deportment.
OUR VISIT TO THE PYRAMID
On Wednesday we hastened through beautiful Italy to Naples and on board our ship. We had a delightful season of rest and refreshment on the sea before reaching Alexandria and then Cairo. The chief interest of the latter place centered in the Pyramid. Since we visited it eighteen years ago several of the casing stones have been found at the base of the Pyramid by the removal of the rubbish which had covered them for centuries. Inside the Pyramid there was also a change. The Brothers Edgar, of Scotland, visited the Pyramid last year to go over the measurements of its passageways, and incidentally they had the downward passage cleared of the rubbish which had accumulated in its mouth, entirely hiding it. The downward passage from its juncture with the ascending passage is now closed with an iron gate for the safety of those who enter the Pyramid. By the kindness of Dr. Edgar, who introduced us to an Arab Sheik (Judah Fide) of the vicinity, we were privileged to have the gate opened and through it to enter the subterranean chamber.
We went all over the structure again--not, however, with the view of taking measurements, for these, we believe, have already been taken more accurately than instruments then at our command would permit. We merely reviewed this Great Witness to the Lord of hosts and recalled to mind its testimony, which we have already presented to our readers in the last chapter of the third volume of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. We again noted with admiration the exactness of the construction of this wonderful "pillar in the land of Egypt." In many places immense stones are so neatly joined together as to make it difficult to find the joint. The quarry from which these large lime-stones were evidently taken has been located to the southeast of the city of Cairo near the old city and citadel. But as for the immense red granite blocks used for the King's chamber and above it, no such stones are found within hundreds of miles--up the Nile.
There was nothing else of special interest to us in that vicinity, except a trip a little further south in the vicinity of ancient Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt, the ruins of which have been partially uncovered. There we were in the vicinity of the city of On, from which Joseph got his wife, and near the place of his severe trial, testing and exaltation. We called to mind the fact of his being a type of the sufferings of Christ and the coming exaltation of Head and members in the Kingdom of the Father.
Embarking at Alexandria again, our thoughts preceded us to Jaffa, ancient Joppa, and to Jerusalem. But arriving at Jaffa we met with a great disappointment. The wind of the night before caused great swells of the sea toward the shore, which made it perilous for the launching of the landing boats for the passengers. The rockiness of the shore also added to the danger. The strength of the waves seemed likely to dash the boats against the rocks regardless of the skill of the boatmen, and the Jaffa boatmen are noted as being amongst the most skillful in the world. Arriving before noon we waited and waited, but no boats ventured out. The signals from the shore indicated that the Government would not permit the risk of life in landing the passengers. The captain of our vessel stated that he could not possibly delay his sailing for the next port beyond 6 p.m., and there were no signs that the weather would improve in the interim.
Of course, this caused considerable disappointment, as we had earnestly desired, and surely expected, that we would celebrate the Lord's Memorial Supper in the Holy City in which the Master first broke the bread and drank the cup and gave to his disciples. As we thought the matter over, we concluded that the Lord was giving us a test of faith, and particularly a test of obedience. Would we murmur or complain if he should hinder us from landing, or would we be content with whatever we should see and realize as his guiding hand? Would we learn the lesson which he would teach us? We passed the word around amongst our company of nineteen, increased to twenty by Brother Hall, of the Oriental Commerce Company, who met us and greatly assisted in our journey at the suggestion of some of our mutual friends at London [R4622 : page 180] who had written him respecting us. We all went to the Lord in prayer, telling him that while indeed we would be disappointed, we nevertheless would be submissive and neither murmur nor complain whatever might be the decision of Divine Providence, but if it pleased the Master to permit us to land we would accept this as a special mark of Divine interposition and favor and render thanks accordingly. You will be glad to learn that about 5 o'clock the captain received a signal from shore that if he would come a little nearer the boats would come to us. Thus at 6:10 p.m. we were safely on the boats, and half an hour later safely ashore. We all gave the Lord more earnest thanks and appreciated the more our privileges by reason of this little test of submissiveness, we are sure.
OUR VISIT TO JERUSALEM AND VICINITY
We spent the night at Jaffa and took the early morning train for Jerusalem, where we arrived at noon in the midst of a rain and hail storm, declared to be very unusual for the season. But the storm not only settled the dust, but gave us pleasant, cool weather for our visit to the Holy City and surroundings. Brother and Sister Thompson, Colporteurs, met us here. For the past two years they have been living in Australia, later visiting some of the cities of India and Egypt. They came to Jerusalem to Colporteur and in time to meet us. They will remain there for some time as representatives of the Society to scatter seeds of Truth and to water seeds already planted and in general to help forward the cause of the harvest work of the Great Reaper, whom we all love to serve.
Of course, we visited "the Jews' wailing-place" and sympathized with the poor people who there were reading the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations and "waiting for the consolation of Israel." We rejoiced to know from the Divine Word that their expectations will be more than fully realized shortly now. How glad we felt for them! We visited the place of Pilate's Judgment Hall, where our Master was tried and saw some of the very pavement where the Roman soldiers whiled away the time in playing games, the marks for the games being clearly legible in the cement pavement recently uncovered. We noted the Mohammedan Mosque which covers the site of the Temple, but we were not permitted to enter it, because the time was one of special religious fervor among the Mohammedans, also because of the fact that not long since a fanatic had done injury to a visitor.
A little "baksheesh" gained us admission to some of the native homes, which consist usually of one or two rooms. We were surprised at the entire cleanliness of the inside, the more so because the streets are in a very filthy condition. A journey to Bethlehem, the place of [R4622 : page 181] our Savior's birth, was also in order and proved of interest; also a visit to the Dead Sea and to the fords of the Jordan River, where John baptized Jesus, and then to the city of Jericho. On our journey we saw the Brook Chereth, where the Prophet Elijah hid himself for a considerable portion of the three and a half years in which the drought and famine prevailed in the land of Israel. The brook for a considerable distance passes between the high walls of the mountains, in which there are various cliffs and caves occupied by hermits, and at one point there is a Monastery of considerable size under the control of the Greek Catholic church. On this trip we remembered our Lord's parable respecting the good Samaritan and the man who on this road fell among thieves. We had frequently read with astonishment the statement that the Samaritan took out two pence and paid it to the inn-keeper for the care of the wounded man until he would come again. The sum seemed ridiculously small, but when we remember that two pence at that time represented two days' wages, and further when we noticed the character of the inns, that they are ordinary in the extreme, we comprehended the situation.
Our experience on the evening of the Memorial Supper was most peculiar. The "upper room," which tradition indicates is the one which Jesus and his Apostles used for the celebration of the Memorial Supper, is under the control of Mohammedans. When the time came for us to occupy the room, we were first advised that no chairs could be brought in and that no table could be had, but we were promised rugs for the floor that we might recline after the manner of Jesus and the Apostles, for it would appear that the majority use no tables, but merely lie down upon the floor with their heads toward the center and rest there upon one arm while feeding themselves with the other from a central dish. Later word reached us that we must be very quiet and not indulge in any singing. These restrictions excited our suspicions that there must be a reason for all of this. Nevertheless, at the appointed hour we went to the place.
OUR OBSERVANCE OF THE MEMORIAL
Our coming attracted the attention of some of the Mohammedans, who rushed wildly hither and thither, gesticulating and objecting, not to us, but to our guide, who had arranged for the use of the room. Seeing the excitement that was being caused, we thought best to indicate the peaceableness of our intentions by quietly withdrawing. We realized that if the fanatical Mohammedans had shouted that the holy place of Mohammed was being desecrated by the Christian dogs, hundreds of deluded people would rush out upon us from every direction and without the intervention of a miracle would injure or kill some or all of us.
We learned later that the room is owned by about fifty Moslems and only two or three had agreed to rent it to us, and that the objection to our presence was raised by others who had an interest in the property and the right to forbid our use of it. Explanations were made that the room had been used by various religious denominations for the commemoration of the Lord's Supper, but that difficulties had arisen and all had been forbidden further use of it years ago. To have given us the use of it now, they claimed, would have opened up afresh the controversy which had already been settled, forbidding the use of the room for such purposes.
The evening was showery, but we determined, nevertheless, to go to the Garden of Gethsemane, where our Master and the Apostles were on that memorable night nearly nineteen centuries ago--the garden of our Master's agony and bloody sweat. By unanimous vote the company desired to partake of the Memorial emblems in that sacred spot, which perhaps was never used for such a purpose before. In a drizzling rain we considered the meaning of the bread, representing the broken body of Jesus, and secondly, as explained by the Apostle Paul, the entire Church which is the Body of Christ--the One Loaf which we break. We considered also the cup, which primarily represents the life which our Lord poured out in behalf of us and the world, and which, secondarily, represents to us the wonderful privilege of participating in the sufferings of Christ by drinking of his cup, in becoming partakers of the afflictions of Christ. We recognized also the glory that would follow in the drinking of the cup anew in the Father's Kingdom under those blessed conditions. We recounted how the Loaf now being broken shall in God's Providence be the bread for the whole world of mankind.
Our hearts were very glad notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather. We offered prayer and thanks for the blessed occasion and the blessed things commemorated, remembering that the Lord's dear ones everywhere were similarly commemorating, or would commemorate, the sufferings of Christ as our Passover slain for us. In quiet tones we sung a verse and then departed with joyful, thankful hearts. The experiences of that evening will surely never fade from our memories, but always speak to us with force of the Lamb of God, who died for the sins of the world, and of our privilege of sharing with him in his sacrifice and as his members and of being glorified with him in the accomplishment of the great work secured through his death.
Our last day in Jerusalem was Sunday, April 24th. It will always be green in our memories this side the vail and doubtless beyond. We visited the Mount of Olives and then traversed the Bethany road, which Jesus and his Apostles so often passed over. We noted the brook Kedron outside the city gate and crossed it. We were especially interested in and impressed by that particular part of the Bethany road where Jesus rode upon the ass accompanied by his disciples and the multitude shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David," also in the spot where our Master stopped the procession when he came in view of the city, and there, weeping over it, declared that Israel's house was left unto her desolate, and that they should see him no more until the day when they would gladly acclaim him their King. Twice we visited this spot and rejoiced in spirit as we thought of the fact that the time for the opening of the eyes of Israel and of all the families of the earth is now at hand. Thank God for the assurance that "then all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped"!
INTEREST IN THE TRUTH AWAKENED IN THE
Mr. Hall, acting under advice and suggestions of our mutual friends at London, had engaged a large public hall and had advertised that we would speak there on Sunday afternoon. It should be remarked here that the progressive element of the population includes those of European birth and these and the American colony reside in that part of the city which is outside the wall, where everything is much more progressive than inside the wall. Our audience was composed of this progressive class, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Mohammedans. Our hearts went out to them in sympathy as we thought how error has separated millions of honest-minded people of every nationality and class. We rejoiced in the thought of the coming time of Divine favor--"Times of refreshing [R4623 : page 182] from the presence of the Lord, when he shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached, and whom the heavens must retain until the Times of Restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."--Acts 3:19-21.
We spoke for awhile along the lines of the Message of the Angel at Bethlehem, telling of "the good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people." We reverted to the fact that all people of all religious beliefs are looking for and hoping for the coming of the Great Deliverer, and that the great deliverance and the desire of all nations is near at hand. Then we spoke more particularly to the Jews, using as our text the "Double" mentioned by the Prophets Jeremiah, Zechariah and Isaiah, explaining how the double of Israel's experiences would reach full accomplishment in 1915 and that there Divine favor for the Jews would be manifested and subsequently all the gracious promises made to them would have fulfillment. We showed that the promises which belong to the Church are spiritual and separate and distinct from those made to Abraham, the prophets and Israel, but that the blessings of Israel are necessarily delayed until the promises made to Spiritual Israel shall reach accomplishment, and that this would be fulfilled during the time of Israel's second experience or double.
The owner of the hall is a converted Jew. He seemed wonderfully interested and astonished at the simplicity of the Divine Program as outlined. He is the editor of a paper published at Jerusalem and printed in the Arabic language, and has received Government permission also to publish a paper in the Hebrew language. He has been waiting for this for fourteen years. He received this permission just in time to begin the announcement of the good tidings of great joy to all people through God's New Covenant with Israel. He will at once begin the investigation of the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. His wife and another friend are deeply interested also. Another Hebrew Christian, formerly a minister, now superannuated, was present. He and his wife expressed very deep interest and full sympathy with all that they heard, and will begin reading at once along these lines. Thus with Brother and Sister Thompson at work, there is already a nucleus for the starting of a Berean Bible Class in the City of the Great King.
Other influential Jews were reported present and gave close attention. One of these, Doctor Levy, is the general manager and a very leading spirit among the Zionists of Palestine. He expressed a very keen interest in what he heard and said, "Alas, few of you Christian people hold such kind and liberal views toward the Hebrews!" He declared his intention of investigating the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, and in various ways gave evidence of his earnestness and sincerity. He suggested that he would write to some of his Jewish friends in America and invite attention to the message which he had heard. He remarked to one of his friends, "Surely the speaker of the occasion is a Prophet whom the Lord has raised up to set forth this message."
Leaving Jerusalem the next morning we remembered the words of the Psalmist, "Go about the city, mark well her bulwarks"; and again his words, "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth and forever." (Psa. 125:2.) We can well see that the city of Jerusalem, located as it is, in the top of the mountains, and flanked by them in every direction, would be a difficult one for an enemy to successfully attack. The mountain roads would be difficult of approach because easily defended. The suggestion of the Prophet that the Lord is as a fortress and protection to his people under every adverse influence, is a beautiful one which all can appreciate.
Returning to Jaffa we found time to visit the house of Simon the tanner by the seaside. There stood the old stone trough such as was used by tanners in working out their leather. From all appearances it may have stood there for centuries. The building is surely not the same one that Simon lived in, on the housetop of which St. Peter had the vision of the sheet let down full of all manner of four-footed creatures. Nevertheless, in all probability it is the old building repaired and, in general appearance, size, etc., its counterpart. We also visited the tomb of Dorcas; respecting its identity there seems to be comparatively little doubt.--Acts 9:36.
We were much interested in the orange groves of Jaffa, which seem thrifty and prosperous. The fruit is among the best we have ever eaten. The demand for these oranges, we understand, is chiefly from Great Britain and Egypt. Already the country is beginning to resume a prosperous condition, so graphically described in the Bible by the words, "a land flowing with milk and honey."
Mr. Hall called our attention to a new traction engine and gang plow which plows twelve furrows at one time and harrows and seeds the ground at the same time. Its capacity is forty acres per day and it can be used subsequently in connection with the reaping and the threshing of the grain. It seems astounding that this land, which at one bound emerges from the use of a crooked stick for plowing, takes up the most modern plow in the world, the cost of which is $7,500.
OUR VISIT TO THE LAND OF GOSHEN AND THE RED
On our return journey the vessel stopped at Port Said, and we concluded to embrace the opportunity to have a look at the land of Goshen, and at the course which the Israelites took when they left there for the Promised Land. Our train brought us to Ismailia, formerly known as Succoth, one of the assembling points of the Israelites in their flight. The train between Ismailia and Port Abraham took us along the line of the Suez Canal, where evidently at one time the Red Sea prolonged itself into the Bitter Lakes. Undoubtedly we traversed the very ground over which the host of Israel passed in their flight from Pharaoh. Not yet content, we engaged passage across the northernmost part of the Red Sea, called the Gulf of Suez, and on the other side rode for about three hours on donkeys until we came to the springs of Moses, the traditional spot where the Israelites, thirsty, found brackish water, which Moses made sweet by thrusting a tree into it. How wonderful it seemed to have before our very eyes the corroboration of the Bible narrative! It was strengthening to our faith; we trust the record of it will be helpful to many.
By the way, we here remark that it is not at all necessary to exaggerate the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites by supposing that it was at the widest part, nor is it necessary to suppose that its waters stood up like a garden wall on either side of the Israelites' pathway as they crossed. A wall is a barrier, and anything which will serve as a barricade is properly enough described as a wall. The Bible record is that God caused a strong east wind to blow, and, standing on the spot, we could imagine how the sea, where the Suez canal now is, was once an effectual barrier to the Israelites, hindering their progress, and that under Divine Providence the wind could very easily make bare a sandbar and provide the necessary crossing, and that a reversal of the wind would cause the return of the waters [R4623 : page 183] to their former place, overwhelming the Egyptians. Alas! that humanity in general is so much more disposed to discredit the Bible history and accept instead, the suggestions of the Babylonians and Egyptians. Thus far our confidence in the Bible as the inspired record of the Divine Plan of the Ages grows stronger day by day.
As we write we are on the Mediterranean approaching Naples, and have received advice informing us that we are advertised to speak in the city of Rome May 1st in the chapel of the Y.M.C.A. If such be the Divine will we shall be glad; if not, we shall be content and go on our journey seeking others who have a hearing ear, and for such opportunities as the Divine Providence may indicate. Of these we hope to write you later.