Charles Taze Russell was loyal to God, loyal to Christ Jesus, loyal to the cause of Messiah's Kingdom. He was loyal to the coreyea, loyal even unto death. God has declared in His Word that loving loyalty to Him is the price of greatest riches. Pastor Russell has received his great reward. It is a wonderful thing to receive the approval of God, the great and mighty Creator of the Universe, the all-wise, all-powerful and all-loving One. In His Book, the Bible, God has made favorable mention of certain men; and in every instance that favorable mention has been because of their loving loyalty to Him and His cause of righteousness. When God's record concerning the Church is fully written, the people will find that Charles Taze Russell not only has received favorable mention from God, but has been born in Ziona member of the Royal Family of Heaven. (Psalm 87:6.) The Psalmist has assured us that this is especially true of those who are faithful unto death. What a wonderful privilege it will be for the world to have the real truth concerning martyrs to the cause of righteousness!
We who have come into closer contact with Pastor Russell, and who knew him as he was, are privileged by the Lord to know these things in advance of the world. Happy is our lot to thus be favored of God.
The greatest man that has lived since the Apostle Paul has passed from the earth. We have come aside this evening from the busy rush of this great city to pay tribute to the memory of Pastor Russell. Let us in calmness and sobriety seek to know why this man was great, why we say with such assurance that he had the approval of God.
God's laws are fixed and unchangeable. To all of His intelligent creatures he says, "Obey My Laws, and receive My approval and blessing. Take a different course, and you will fail to receive My blessing." Pastor Russell walked with the Lord in harmony with His law.
Nearly 65 years ago, a child was born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. His parents christened him Charles Taze Russell. His parents loved God and sought to obey Him. The parental influence was good for Charles. They trained the small twig; and it grew in the direction of the Lord. Early he became a Christian.
But like other good, honest, conscientious Christian men and women, his parents had been taught the man-made creeds of the Church Nominal. Young Charles was taught that God is great and good, yet that He had made all men inherently immortal, and had provided a lake of fire and brimstone in which he would eternally torment all except a few whom He had predestinated should be saved. The honest heart of the lad revolted against such a horrible thing; and he in substance said, "I cannot believe that there is a just and wise God who would do such a thing to a poor, unfortunate human being." Forthwith he forsook the religion of the creeds; but while he was investigating other religions, his mind was turning to the Lord in an inquiring manner. Then he said, "I will study the Bible, and see whether or not it teaches that God has such an arrangement."
True to his inborn character, he honestly and prayerfully searched the Scriptures. To his astonishment and joy he found that the Bible is God's great Word of Truth; that God has a great Plan of Salvation, provided by Him before the foundation of the world, which shall ultimately result in the blessing of human-kind. From the Bible he learned that God created the father of the human raceAdam, the first mana perfect being, gave unto him a perfect wife, placed him in a perfect home under perfect conditions, and advised him that obedience to the Divine law would enable man to maintain this condition of perfection; that Adam violated the law of God and was sentenced to death; that he was then driven from his perfect home into the unfinished earth; that God permitted him to live for 930 years after he had been sentenced to death; that while undergoing this sentence, Adam for the first time exercised his power and authority to beget children; that by the law of heredity all of his children were born in sin and shapen in iniquity, and hence all came under the effects of the just penalty that had come upon the father"that as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death has passed upon all men, for all are sinners"; that ultimately the whole human race [R6012 : page 373] would perish from the earth (death meaning destruction;) that man is a soul; that he does not possess one; that the soul consists of the body and the breath of lifethe life principleand these being separated, the soul is dead.
Then he learned that God had lovingly provided a Plan of Redemption of man from this condition of deaththat God so loved the world that He gave His Only-Begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish, but have life everlastingthat Jesus, having a pre-human existence as a spirit being, was made human and grew to manhood's estate, in order that He, by the grace of God, might give His own perfect life whereby the purchase price would be provided for the redemption of Adam and all his racethat He died upon the cross and provided this pricethat He was raised from the dead, no longer a man, but now Divine, and that He ascended into Heaven, there to use the merit of His human sacrifice according to the will of Godfor the blessing of mankind.
Furthermore, he learned from the Scriptures that the Lord Jesus would return and establish a Kingdom for the blessing of mankind; that in the interim between His resurrection and His Second Coming, God has been and is holding an election for the purpose of selecting from amongst men those who shall be associated with Christ Jesus as members of the Royal Family, and who, together with their Head and Master, will be the instrument through which Jehovah will bless all human-kind with the privileges of life, health and happiness; that the terms of this election are that everyone who desires to run for such a Prize must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and consecrate his lifehis allto the service of the Lord; that those who would prove faithful, true and loyal unto death would participate in the First or Chief Resurrection, and be made kings and priests unto God and unto Christ and reign with Christ for the blessing of mankind.
This wonderful story of the love of God thrilled the heart of young Russell. He readily and joyfully consecrated his all to the service of the Lord, and continued faithful in that service even unto death.
Charles Taze Russell loved his fellow-men. Seeing the great truths contained in the Bible, he said, "I must preach these to my fellow-creatures; I must use all my power to lead the people out of darkness, that they may see the love of God." Vehemently he declared, "If the Bible does teach that eternal torture is the fate of all except the saints, it should be preachedyea, thundered from the house-tops weekly, daily, hourly; if it does not so teach, the fact should be made known, and the foul stain dishonoring God's holy name removed."
With a strong physique, a fertile brain, and a brave heart, wholly devoted to the Lord, he consecrated and used all of his power to teach man the great Message of Messiah's Kingdom and the blessings which it will bring to the world.
Early in his manhood he possessed a fortune of no mean size. He spent it all that the minds of men might be enlightened and their hearts made glad. Early in his battle for righteousness he spent, out of his own private fortune, forty thousand dollars in this great city of New York for the publication and free distribution of a booklet setting forth clearly the Truth concerning the doctrine of the Hell of the Bible, that all might learn that Jehovah is a God of Love.
Other Christian people, sadly aware of the fact that they were not receiving spiritual food in the various churches to which they had attached themselves, had the eyes of their understanding opened by reading their Bibles in the light of the explanation thereof given by Charles Taze Russell. Gladly they began to support him and the righteous work in which he was engaged. Without solicitation or invitation, they joyfully brought forth their money and said, "What can we [R6012 : page 374] do to have part in this glorious work which you have begun?"
More than thirty years ago, a congregation of Christian people formed at Pittsburgh, Pa., selected Charles Taze Russell as their Pastor; and he served that congregation continuously as Pastor to the end, being able, however, to visit them only occasionally since the removal of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY headquarters to Brooklyn several years ago. He wrote and published a series of booksSTUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURESin six volumes, which turned a great flood of light upon God's Word. Millions of these have gone into the homes of men throughout the earth, bringing gladness to their hearts. For more than thirty years he edited and published a semi-monthly journal, THE WATCH TOWER AND HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE, wholly devoted to the cause of Messiah's Kingdom. Be it known that this is the only publication on earth that has ever announced the presence of our Lord. The Lord Jesus promised that at His Second Coming, which should be invisible to human eyes, He would have one wise and faithful servant whom He would make ruler over all His goods to give meat to the Household of Faith in due season. Christians throughout the world who are familiar with the work of Pastor Russell readily recognize that he has long been that wise and faithful servant of the Lord.
The work grew to great proportions; and desiring that it might be conducted in a systematic manner and perpetuated after his death, he organized the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETYa corporation, the charter of which was written by his own hand and is admitted, by men who know, to be a most remarkable document. Through this channel he has promulgated the message of Messiah's Kingdom to all the nations of the earth. Branches of this Society have been established and are maintained in the countries of Great Britain, Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, France, South Africa, Australia, and in many other parts of the world. His publications have been translated into 34 different languages, and millions of copies have been supplied free to the people by means of money joyfully contributed by those with him who love the Lord and His cause of righteousness and who are looking with joy to the establishment of His Kingdom.
Pastor Russell traveled and preached to the people throughout the world. He was elected Pastor of the Congregation at this Temple, and of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, of the London Tabernacle, of the Temple Congregation at Washington, D.C., the Congregation at Pittsburgh, the Auditorium Congregation at Chicago, the Congregation at St. Louis, Los Angeles, and those in many other parts of the world. These he visited at regular intervals, to encourage and comfort and help them. During the past few years his sermons have not only been heard from the platform, but have been published in approximately four thousand papers; and in practically every home of the United States and Canada Pastor Russell is known. He did a greater work for the cause of Messiah's Kingdom than did any other man that ever lived on the earth.
A few weeks ago he started on a trip to the Pacific Coast, preaching every evening, and traveling throughout the remainder of the night and of the day. His last sermon he preached to the Congregation at Los Angeles; and being too weak to stand, he sat throughout the discourse. He left Los Angeles Sunday evening on his return to Brooklyn, and rapidly grew weaker. Seven hours before his death, addressing his traveling companion, Brother Menta Sturgeon, he said, "Make me a Roman toga." Using the bed sheets, Brother Sturgeon made a toga, which Brother Russell put on himself. He stood erect for a moment, and then lying down on the couch in his Pullman drawing room, closed his eyes, thus in symbolic language speaking of death. A great deal of the Bible is written in symbolic language, and it was quite appropriate that he should speak his last message in symbols. It is interesting here to know what a Roman toga symbolizes: Augustus' Poet Laureate, said, "It is by the toga that the royal nation is recognized." The word toga means a covering garment (white robe). It was the official robe of higher magistrates, priests and of persons discharging vows, and was worn on special occasions, such as celebrating a triumph.
We are reminded of the last experiences of the Apostle Paul, who traveled with his beloved companion Timothy, whom he called his sonnot a natural son, but, as St. Paul stated, he had begotten this young man in the spirit. Likewise Pastor Russell begot Brother Sturgeon in the spirit, in that he brought Brother Sturgeon to a knowledge of the Divine Plan. Shortly before St. Paul's death he wrote, "I am now ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand; I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that Day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:6-8.) Our dear Brother Russell not only loved the appearing of the Lord Jesus, but above all men on the earth he declared the presence of the Master. Brother Russell was a very modest man and never exalted himself. It was exceedingly difficult to get him to speak of himself. He chose, therefore, a symbol which we could afterwards interpret to speak practically the same thing spoken by the Apostle Paul. By wearing the toga Brother Russell in effect said, "I have fought the good fight; I have triumphed and shall be received as a member of the Royal Family of Heaven."
This evening we see here lying, silent in death, the body [R6013 : page 374] which he so faithfully used to the last. But he is not dead! St. Paul wrote, "Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." (1 Cor. 15:51,52.) God's Word points out that the resurrection of the saints would take place at the presence of the Lord and before the inauguration of His Kingdom; and the Scriptures clearly teach that this resurrection is now in progress; that our dear Brother and Pastor sleeps not in death, but was instantaneously changed from the human to the Divine nature, and is now forever with the Lordglorious reward for a true and faithful servant.
It has been announced that he was to speak in this Temple tonight. God had directed otherwise! Brother Russell had prepared a sermon to preach to you, and I am sure you will be glad to hear it. The lips of the body he used on earth are silent, but his words yet are spoken. By God's grace it is my privilege here to be used, and to speak forth to you the message which he left. My friends, give heed, if you please, while I read this message to the Church and to the world. Behold, how appropriate the subject:AUDIO
THE NIGHT WAS LONGITS SORROWS AND TEARS WERE MANY
GOD'S PROMISES ALONE ILLUMINATED ITTHE MORNING HERE
AT LASTA WONDERFUL DAWNINGTHE DAY TO BE STILL MORE
WONDERFULPROOFS ALL ABOUT US CONSIDEREDA BRIEF NIGHT
OF TROUBLE SETTLING DOWNALREADY BEGUN IN EUROPE
AFTER IT A GLORIOUS SUNBURST.
"Watchman, what of the night?...The morning cometh,
and a night also."Isaiah 21:11,12 .
"The literature of the world shows that intelligent men have refused to believe that the Divine Purpose in the creation of our earth has yet been attained. Continually we find references to 'the Morning of the New Day,' to the 'Golden Age,' etc., etc. Yet not to the longings of men's hearts, but to the promises of our God, do we look for real instruction on this subject. The Bible most emphatically declares that the entire period of human history thus far has been a night time.
"The Prophet David explains, 'Weeping may endure for a Night, but joy cometh in the Morning.' (Psalm 30:5.) Thus prophetically we are assured that there will be a Morning whose glory, brightness and blessings will fully compensate for all the dark shadows of the Night time past. Our text is another prophecy along the same line. The message of the Lord is, 'The Morning cometh.' St. Paul writes that up to his time the world had been under a reign of Sin and Death, not under a Reign [R6013 : page 375] of Righteousness and Life. (Romans 5:21.) He points out also that the Day of the Lord will come, and will come gradually, stealthily, taking the world unawares'as a thief in the night.'1 Thessalonians 5:1-6.
"All of the Apostles assure us that it is not God's purpose to permit the reign of Sin and Death to continue forever. They tell us that the Divine Program is that Messiah, in the Father's appointed time, will take to Himself His great power and reign King of kings and Lord of lordsputting down sin and every evil thing, uplifting humanity and granting a Divine blessing where for six thousand years there has been a Divine curse. The Bible writers explain that this does not signify a change in the Divine Purpose, but that God had planned this thing in Himself from before the foundation of the world; and that although He had permitted Sin to enter and Death to reign, He had made fullest provision for the Redeemer to die for our sins and eventually to become the Restorer and Life-giver to Adam and his raceto as many of them as will accept everlasting life on the Divine terms.
"The Apostles tell us that during the 'night time,' since Jesus' death, God has been doing a special workselecting from mankind a special class, a saintly few'the Church of the First-borns, whose names are written in Heaven.' These are not taken from any one nation or denomination. This 'little flock,' to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom (Luke 12:32), is composed of all the saintly followers of Jesus, who walk in His steps in the narrow way during this Gospel Age. Their experiences are to qualify them for association with their Redeemer in His Messianic Kingdom. Their trials, their obedience and their sufferings for righteousness' sake are to work out for these a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Suffering with the Master for the Truth's sake in the present life, they are to share His glory, honor and immortality in the life to come. They are to be His joint-heirs in His Kingdom.Galatians 3:29; 2 Timothy 2:11,12.
"Amongst the Lord's people even, few yet understand that Jesus distinctly teaches that the 'Sun of Righteousness,' which will arise with healing in His beams and whose light will constitute the New Day, will be composed of the Church of Christ glorifiedchanged from human to Divine nature by participation in the First Resurrection. Our Lord Jesus tells this in the parable of the Wheat and the Tares. He declares that in the end of this Gospel Age all of the wheat class will be gathered into the Heavenly Garner, and that 'then shall the righteous shine forth as the SUN in the Kingdom of their Father.' (Matthew 13:43.) We must not think, however that this signifies the Church without the Redeemer, but must remember that Jesus is 'the Head over the Church which is His Body.'Ephesians 1:22,23.
"How wonderful, how beautiful, how appropriate are the word-pictures of the Bible! No one but the Lord knew of the great Divine Plan. No one but Him, therefore, could give these pictures of its development. In various terms and figures of speech the Bible attempts to give us a little glimpse of the glorious conditions of that Day. The New Day and the Kingdom will be 'the desire of all people.' In that Day the righteous will flourish, and evil-doers will be cut off from life. During that thousand-year Day of Messiah's Kingdom, Satan is to be bound, 'that he may deceive the nations no more.' (Revelation 20:2,3.) Landlordism will come to an end; for 'they shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat the fruit thereof,' but 'shall long enjoy the work of their hands.'Isaiah 65:22.
"The earth is to yield her increase. (Psalm 67:6.) Streams are to come forth in the desert; the solitary places are to be made glad. The entire earth is to become like the Garden of Eden. It is God's footstool, and He declares that He will make it glorious. It is not to be burned up with literal fire, as once we supposed. It is to 'abide forever.' (Ecclesiastes 1:4; Psalm 104:5.) 'He formed it not in vain; He formed it to be inhabited.'Isaiah 45:18; 66:1; 60:13; 35:1,7.
"The most wonderful thing that the Bible tells us respecting that New Day is that it will bring great intelligence and enlightenment to every creature. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the face of the great deep. (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14.) 'And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest, saith the Lord.' (Jeremiah 31:34.) Ultimately every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess, to the glory of God.Philippians 2:11; Isaiah 45:23.
"What an enthusing prospect the Bible holds out before the Church and before as many of the world as can exercise a measure of faith to believe! The world indeed sees to some extent that great blessings are coming; but just what these are and how they are to come mankind know not; for 'the world by wisdom knows not God.' (1 Corinthians 1:21.) The worldly wise have rejected the Bible, and do not trust it as a Revelation from God. Thus the wise are caught in their own craftiness. (1 Corinthians 3:19.) Their boasted wisdom ensnares them and blinds them to the Divine Revelation.
"Nevertheless, some of our greatest thinkersMr. Edison and othersare rapidly seeing that the world is just on the verge of the most wonderful inventions and knowledge, which will transform the face of the earth and the people thereof. They are corroborating the Bible unwittingly; for they believe it not and know not the character of its messages.
"Let us not stop now to discuss the darkness of the Night and its weeping. Let us awake, and take note of the fact that the dawning of the New Age is already here. For the past forty-two years we have been in it and enjoying many of its blessings. But those blessings came so stealthily'like a thief in the night'that few recognize their import. Some few have been calling attention to the fact that we have been in the Millennial dawn ever since 1874.
"Bible chronology quite clearly teaches that the six thousand years since Adam's creation have endedsix great Days of a thousand years each, mentioned by St. Peter'a Day with the Lord is as a thousand years.' (2 Peter 3:8.) Now the great Seventh Day, also a thousand years long, has commenced. We have been enjoying its dawning. It is to be a grand Day! What wonder if the dawning be remarkable!
"It may surprise some to be told that the past forty-two [R6014 : page 375] years mean more to the world in increase of education, increase of wealth, increase of all manner of labor-saving inventions and conveniences, increase of safeguards and protections for human life, than did all the six thousand years which preceded themmany times over. The world has probably created a thousand times as much wealth during these forty-two years as during the entire six thousand years preceding. Yet these changes have come so gradually that few have noticed them.
"Forty-two years ago man labored from sun to sun; today we are rapidly approaching an eight-hour day. Forty-two years ago nearly all the labor of the world was done with sweat of face; today it is nearly all accomplished by machinery. Forty-two years ago the sewing-machine was just reaching perfection; today it is everywhere indispensable. So with the thousand household conveniences. So with nearly all of our sanitary and plumbing arrangements. So with farming implements. Reapers and binders, mowers, automobiles, gas engines, etc., etc., all belong to these forty-two years. In our cities the modern conveniences are wonderful. Solomon in all his glory never even dreamed of such things as the poorest human being in America may enjoy!
"Prophecies respecting streams in the desert and the wilderness blossoming as the rose are having fulfilmentnot miraculously, but in harmony with the Divine order of an increased intelligence amongst men. Artesian wells are being drilled, irrigating canals constructed, not only in the Western part of the United States and Canada, but also in far-off Mesopotamia. The results are marvelous. Land previously not worth fencing is valued at $500 per acre today. The increase of knowledge has been supplemented by governmental arrangements for the distribution of that knowledge amongst the people. The soils of various localities are being analyzed at public expense; and the tillers of the soil are given knowledge as respects what kind of fertilizers are required to bring satisfactory results.
"Under these conditions it does not surprise us to know that as much as 156 bushels of corn have been raised to one acre, and that 600 bushels of potatoes and over are not an uncommon record. Is not the Bible being fulfilled? Who can dispute these facts? What do they signify? We answer that they exactly corroborate the Divine declaration which describes our day: Many shall run to and fro; knowledge shall be increased; the wise of God's people shall understand; and 'there shall be a Time of Trouble such as never was since there was a nation.'Daniel 12:4,10,1; Matthew 24:21.
"We are in the Morning of our text. Ah, what a glorious Morning! How changed the human conditions from those of our grandfathers! How thankful the whole world should be! Paeans of praise should be rising from all the people of the favored lands of civilization; and helping hands should be outstretched to carry the same blessings to heathen lands. But is it so? Are the people happy and rejoicing? Are they appreciative of the New Day?of the gifts of Divine Providence?
"No! In proportion as the blessings of God have come, the discontent of humanity has increased; and unbelief, not only in respect to the Bible as the Divine Revelation, but in many instances in respect to the very existence of an intelligent Creator. Notwithstanding the great increase in the world's wealth, and the fact that there are some noble souls who are using their share of the wealth in a praiseworthy manner, nevertheless the general operation of the law of selfishness prevails; and all the legislation which has been enacted, or can be enacted, fails to restrain the giant institutionscorporationsof our day, fails to hinder them from exploiting the masses in the interests of the comparatively few.
"Did God know all these things? What will He do about them? Will He bring in the Millennial blessings, and risk that men shall take for granted that they have won the secrets of nature by their own wisdom and perseverance, and forget God entirely? Will they become more discontented? Would a Millennium of discontent be advantageous? What will God do about it?
"According to the Bible, God foreknew the conditions of our day as we are now reviewing them; and in our text He gives a key to the situationelsewhere in the Scriptures made very plain. Through the Prophet, God tells of the dark Night comingafter the Morning Dawn had been well ushered ina dark storm-cloud just at sunrise. This dark hour is described in the prophecy of Daniel, and also in that of our Lord Jesus, to be 'a Time of Trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.'
"Bible students see this great Time of Trouble already beginning in the letting loose of the winds of strife in Europe. In the light of the Bible they perceive that the result of this present war will be the great weakening of the nationsof the governments of the earthand increased knowledge and discontent amongst the people.
"The next phase of the Trouble, according to the Bible, is to be the 'great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.' (Revelation 16:18.) This is not a literal earthquake, but a symbolic onerevolution. Then the third phase of the calamitythe darkest of allwill be the symbolic fire of anarchy, which will utterly destroy our present civilization. Then, in the midst of that most awful Time of Trouble, Messiah, the great King, will take His great power and will exercise it, with the result that the raging waves of the sea of human passion will all be quieted, the fires of anarchy will all be extinguished, and the Reign of Righteousness and Peace will begin.
"Cannot we see the wisdom of the great Creator's Program? He has determined to permit mankind to convince themselves of their own impotency, of their need of a God, and of the fact that there is a God, and that His glorious purposes for humanity are revealed in His Word. Ah, it is no wonder that the Bible speaks of that revelation of the Lord as the 'still small voice of God,' speaking to mankind through Messiah's Kingdom! No wonder the Lord declares that 'then He will turn to the people a pure Message, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent'!
"St. Peter gives us a vivid picture of the New Order of things in Messiah's Kingdom. He says, 'The Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up;...the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved....Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.'2 Peter 3:10,12,13.
"The 'new heavens' will be the glorified Church, consisting of Jesus the Head and His Bride class, selected from the world during the past eighteen centuries. The 'new earth' will be the new social order under the control of the new heavens. There will be no patching of present institutions, but a clean sweep of them by the fire of Divine wrath preceding the establishment of the New Order, wherein only that which is righteous, just, equitable, true, will be recognized.
"We rejoice that such glorious things are comingeven though the world must necessarily reach them through the tribulation of the Time of Trouble. Happy are those whose eyes and ears of understanding are open now, and who are in such heart relationship with the Lord that He can make known to them in advance something of the riches of His grace, and show them how the coming troubles will work out blessings for the human family."
In this dark hour upon the nations let the peoples of the earth hear this message and heed it as one from the Lord. For forty years Pastor Russell has set forth in his writings that this dark hour would come soon. He reached this conclusion based upon the Word of the Lord. Behold, it is fully confirmed by the events we see. Let the Christian people of the earth, therefore, awake to the importance of the hour and heed the message"THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!"
"Arise and shine; for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is arisen upon thee."Isaiah 60:1.
Enemies? Yes; he had someGod pity them! Jesus had enemies who relentlessly persecuted Him. I would not mar this occasion by reference to the enemies of Pastor Russell, but I know that he would be glad for me to speak anything that would help to open the eyes of understanding of those who are blinded to God's purposes. Blind prejudice, based upon false accusations of enemies, has tended to keep some in the dark.
Truly it can be said that Pastor Russell's character was and is without blemish. He was the cleanest, purest and best man I ever knew. His enemies sought to make him of no reputation. By insinuationthe most cruel of weaponsthey sought to destroy his power and influence, and hence his work. They utterly failed. I feel constrained, under the circumstances, to read to you a paper signed by Pastor Russell.
In the year 1911 he was starting on a trip around the world. At that time the fiery darts from the enemy were coming thick and fast. He wrote out this instrument, made oath to it, and placed it in my hands, saying, "You may [R6015 : page 376] make it as public as your judgment dictates." It reads:
"In view of my soon departure for a foreign shore, and in view of the increasing virulence and threats of my enemies, and under the assumption that they may await my absence to make a fresh attack, by advice of my counsel I make under oath the following sweeping statement; namely,
But persecutions only stirred him to greater efforts in the cause of the King of kings, knowing, as he did, that such persecutions are evidences that the night is drawing on when no man can work. Without murmur or complaint, early and late, in winter and in summer, in heat and in cold, in season and out of season, amidst storms and in sunshine, as a mighty giant he fought on to the goal, never faltering or looking back. Truly, he died a hero, and died in the harness! "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Truly at the close of his earthly career, as such a hero, he could say:
Is his work finished? Ah, no indeed! Of such faithful ones who die during the presence of the Lord the Great Master said, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."Revelation 14:13.
The work that Pastor Russell did was not his work alone, but it was and is the Lord's work. It was Jesus who said that at His coming He would gird Himself and cause His servants to sit down at meat; and that He would come forth and serve them.Luke 12:37.
For forty years the Lord has been present, feeding those who have been hungering and thirsting for righteousness. For forty years Pastor Russellthat faithful servant of the Lordhas set forth clear and unmistakable evidence of the presence of the Master. He nailed the banner of Christ's presence on the title page of THE WATCH TOWER; and it shall never come down until the Kingdom is known in the earth. The flood of Present Truth has been rising for more than forty years, and it is rising higher and higher. As well might the enemies of the Truth seek with a common broom to sweep back the waves of the mighty Atlantic as to try to suppress the flood of Truth that is rising now. In spite of all the opposition that can be brought to bear, it will continue to rise until, as the Prophet declares, "the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters fill the deep"; until such time as it will not be necessary for any man to teach his neighbor, saying, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him, from the least unto the greatest."Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34.
The thousands of Christian men and women in the earth today who have fought by the side of Pastor Russell have not been blindly following him. They have followed the Lord; they have followed Pastor Russell only as he followed the Lord. Recognizing him as the special servant of the Lord, they have fought by his side as his brethren, looking to Jesus, the Captain of their salvation; and having thus started in the fight, they will fight on until every one of the Kingdom class has gained the victory.
I cannot pass this moment without paying a personal tribute to Pastor Russell. He was my friend, and a true friend indeed. It is written, "A true friend loves you all the time." I loved him; I know he loved me. Long before I knew Pastor Russell, he had done much for me. While I was engaged in the law practice in the Middle West, there came into my office one day a lady, bearing some books in her arms. She was modest, gentle and kind. I thought she was poor, and that it was my privilege and duty to help her. I found that she was rich in faith in God. I bought the books and afterwards read them. Up to that time I knew nothing about the Bible; I had never heard of Pastor Russell. I did not even know that he was the author of the books at the time I read them; but I know that the wonderfully sweet, harmonious explanation of the Plan of God thrilled my heart and changed the course of my life from doubt to joy.
Why should not I love him? I know that he loved me. A little incident illustrates this: Several years ago he requested me to go on a mission of importance. After talking with him I said, "Brother Russell, I feel that I cannot do it." He answered, "Yes you can, by the Lord's grace." I said, "I am willing to try." "Go on," he replied, "and I will pray God to give you the wisdom." "I went"; and having succeeded far beyond my expectations I returned and gave him a report. Seated in his study, as I went over the report in detail, his face lighted up with joy; and like a loving father he rose and put his arms around me, drew me to him and kissed me, saying, "Brother, I love you very much." I have walked with him; I have talked with him; I have eaten with him; I have slept with him; I have been with him through trials and triumphs; I have seen him in storm and in sunshine. Amidst all of these I have marked his complete joy in the Lord, his magnanimous heart, and his absolute loyalty and devotion to the Lord and to His cause. Gentle, kind, fearless and affectionate, magnanimous, sincere and filled with the spirit of the Lord, he was a giant of power in the world. I count it the greatest honor that I have known to have had Pastor Russell for my true and loyal friend, and that I have been privileged to be associated with him.
I will relate to you an incident that throws some light on his sweet relationship with the Lord. For more than a year prior to his death he suffered a great deal of physical pain, yet never did he murmur. His great desire was to have the approval of the Lord and Master. He spoke the Master's name in loving terms, and his face lighted when he mentioned the Lord. A few weeks prior to this last illness, speaking to one whom he loved very dearly and in whom he had great confidence, he said, "I have had such a longing desire to be embraced by the Lord Jesus, to think of myself as the woman, or bride, and to have the Master press me to His bosom. I have prayed earnestly to the Lord that I might experience this sweet relationship, and He has given me this assurance that I do enjoy that sweet relationship." Truly the Lord loved him much! Truly for him to live was for Christ to live!
God's Book is written for those who are loyal to Him. His promises are to such. Among these sweet promises are the words of the Master: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the Crown of Life." "These shall be kings and priests unto God and unto Christ and shall reign with Him." Long ago God caused the Sweet Singer to record in His holy Book, concerning the faithful and loyal followers of Christ Jesus, these sweet words:
"The king shall joy in Thy strength, O Lord: and in Thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice. Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah. For Thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness; Thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head. He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest it him, even length of days forever and ever. His glory is great in Thy salvation; honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him, for Thou hast made him most blessed forever; Thou hast made him exceeding glad with Thy countenance."Psalm 21:1-6.
We take the last view of this piece of clay that so faithfully bore the banner of the King. He has been a true, loyal, faithful ambassador of Christ. Thanks be to God, he has entered into his everlasting reward. The greatest desire of our lives is that we, together with him, may soon be forever with the Lord and participate in blessing all the families of the earth. God help us, as we here renew our consecration, to keep it faithfully to the end.
We sorrow not for him who has gone, because we know he has entered into his everlasting joy. For him we rejoice; but we sorrow for ourselves. Yet trusting in the Lord we will continue to fight the good fight of faith.
My beloved brethrenwe who are here, and all who are in the earthwhat shall we do? Shall we slacken our zeal for the cause of our Lord and King? No! By His grace we will increase our zeal and energy, to finish our course with joy. We will not fear nor falter, but will stand shoulder to shoulder, contending for the faith, rejoicing in our privilege of proclaiming the Message of His Kingdom. He has promised, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." "Faithful is He that calleth, who also will do it." Then why should we for one moment doubt the outcome of His work and His cause! True, the enemy of death has taken from us at a time when we did not expect it, our beloved Brother; and for this cause we are bowed down. Yet we are not dismayed, we are not discouraged. Let us lift up our heads and rejoice, for surely our deliverance draweth nigh! "THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!"
Today we are beholding the death throes of the nations of earth; we are standing at the portals of the Golden Age. Everyone who has accepted the Truth of God's Plan, in the love of the Truth, and who holds fast in that spirit, will win. Let everyone look well to his Armor. Let us gird up the loins of our minds, be sober and hope to the end. He who has led us thus far will lead us on. Remember, he who is faithful unto death shall receive the Crown of Life.