The Lord seems to lay hold by his truth upon a variety of characters, in his call to joint-heirship. The following letters all showing excellent spirit, represent some of these. They serve to show that the power of the truth extends to all classes and that the Lord accepts of and is willing to bless and use all who accept of his righteousness and desire to render him service.
The first is from an ex-convict, recently released from the House of Correction in Detroit, where he served a long term for highway-robbery. We know not how the truth reached him there, but it made him free from his old master Sin. Since his release he has started into what he says shall be his life-work, preaching the truth by selling DAWN, and he meets with good success. The TOWER goes to three other convicts, one in Joliet, Ills., one in Detroit and one in Allegheny.
DEAR BROTHER:...When I got into trouble, I did not wish to have my people exposed to the disgrace that a knowledge of my situation would be sure to bring upon them; and I adopted an assumed name and have not written to them nor heard from them since.
This pride that prevented me from writing to my people, and receiving of their assistance, would also hinder me from going home, if I did not have suitable clothing, and sufficient money to satisfy it. But I was thinking, if my parents are still living, they still have affection for me, and how much greater their joy would be to have me come home clothed in the rich robes of Christ's righteousness, than to come clothed in the scarlet and purple of sin, or soft raiment of my own provision, which would be but as filthy rags in comparison. Besides, if I am seeking not my own glory, but the glory of my Master, and if His righteousness may be clearer seen through my humiliation, it will but leave me greater cause for rejoicing. I have long endeavored to render cheerful obedience to all men have required of me. But now I should much more endeavor to yield grateful submission to my Father's will whose loving care guides and protects me, and nothing is allowed to befall me without His permission. He also assures me, that all things are working together for good for me. So, if it is his good pleasure, I may still hope to get home at the holidays. And I can be contented with Christ's righteousness as a covering, instead of fine clothing, and the gold and silver of spirit and truth, instead of money, and bearing a precious message whose value is beyond rubies. And although I may not be skillful in telling this glad message, I hope that its affect in me may be clearly manifested, as some one has written:
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL, BELOVED IN THE LORD:While in Boston I was told of a sister at Winchester, about seven miles from Boston and I went to see her. Some eleven years ago she was a lawless Roman Catholic rumseller there. Her conversion (a most remarkable one) occurred in the prison, where she was confined for repeated violation of the liquor laws. When she was released, she poured to waste all of her liquors and renounced the Roman Catholic Religion. As she lived in the midst of an Irish Catholic community, her persecutions were terrible. Her children were hooted, pelted with stones, and abused in every conceivable manner. She was cursed and slandered before her face and behind her back.
They even soaped the stairs of her dwelling to cause her to fall and maim or kill herself. The priest visited her, and when he found that she was firm in her determination to serve Christ rather than the devil, he cursed her and persuaded her husband to abandon her and declared that she should never have a Catholic dollar, and said they would drive her from her home. They broke the window panes in her house, and for two years she was obliged to keep them stuffed with rags, etc., being too poor to afford to replace the glass. She united with the Baptist church and was most zealous in her missionary efforts to bring others into that "communion." She soon ceased to have her hunger satisfied with the husks of the less popish branch of Babylon and longed for [R1099 : page 7] more truth, for she saw and deplored the same spirit in Protestantism as in Romanism. About nine years ago, hungering and thirsting for the Word of Life, she heard that there were a series of meetings held at Lynn. You were the preacher and she was so well fed that she eagerly inquired, where she could continue to hear you. A friend told her that she could hear you through Z.W.T. every month. Ever since that God has fed her through your paper. When she was rejected by every body, that spoke peace to her heart. All was written in such a sweet spirit. The very pages seemed illumined by the spirit of God. She cannot write at all and can not read writing.
She has grieved because of her inability to tell you the great comfort and joy you have been to her, under God. She expressed her belief in the fact that there must be so very much of which you have never known that would so greatly encourage you, did you but know. When her boy lay dead in her house, a crowd collected opposite and cried that they wished it was the old devil that was dead, [R1099 : page 8] instead of the young one, or she along with it. Well, the next day after that she got the TOWER. For all the sorrow she had had, it brought great joy, and she felt lifted up. She could not describe the gladness God sent her through it. The Lord anointed her eyes, and she came out of the Baptist church, and her persecutions at the hands of the Protestant religionists were harder to bear than those of the Roman Catholicsa refined cruelty. She attempted to reason with them out of the Scriptures, but was called an ignorant Irish woman and was rebuked for her insolence in presuming to teach them who had been studying the Scriptures all their lifetime. But she knew she had the truth, and counted it all joyeven her severest trialsfor they brought her nearer to God, and taught her dependence upon Him. She was overjoyed at the thought that at last you should know of her and of the joy you had been the means of imparting to her.
Yes, dear Brother, you'll find out concerning many a weary heart comforted and cheered and helped in the struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil, when you reach the end of your faith. Rejoice! Your affectionate brother in Christ, S. I. HICKEY.
Before I had seen DAWN, the Plan of Salvation was as greatly mystified, as could be imagined, according to the different doctrines I had been raised under. My wife and a sister are members of the Christian Church; my mother was a Methodist; my father thinks that all beliefs are wrong, except the hard-shell Baptist faith; and I have another sister that believes the only way to reach the place where Christ is, is through the Presbyterian Church; and a brother thinks no one will ever see Christ unless he takes, as he thinks, the only straight and narrow road through the Methodist Church.
This brother has for hours tried to show me, why I should join the church, be a better man, and be saved from everlasting torment. I could only contend, that I could not see how they could all be right, and if the different teachers or denominations were all right, why was it that God wanted men to travel so many different roads, when they were all trying to reach the same place. It was something that worried me not a little. But I could not believe in the doctrines they all preached, therefore have been traveling with the majority of the world until now. But thank God, since the truth has been made so plain, I feel that I am a better man. And I must say, my friend, that I believe the discord in the church is the cause of millions not wanting to accept Christ to-day.
About a year ago in Fort Worth, Tex., I received the DAWN as a loan with a request to read the book and return, or remit; so of course I remitted the 25 cents and kept the book. I read and re-read it, again and again, and am still reading it; in fact have read it, until it is about worn out.
Now dear friend, I have never been a Christian, though always a believer, and I never could fully explain my way of thinking, or belief, until now; so I wish to change my ways and strive to do all the good I can, that all that will, may see the light that is dawning. Therefore you will find enclosed $5.00 for which please send meone Emphatic Diaglott $1.50, two Dawns Vol. I. cloth-bound, ten Dawns Vol. I. paper covered; also the whole list of back Nos. of Tower advertised in August, 100 Missionary Envelopes and 300 or 400 Arp Slips, which I will distribute among my friends and others in this country; for there are thousands here longing for something different from what these people preach.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:What I want to tell you is this, I am free! The truth has made me free! To-day I was excluded from the Baptist church of which I have been a member for almost twenty years, on the charge of heresy.
But they did not exclude me until I asked the privilege of withdrawing. It came up in this way. This was regular church meeting day (business meeting). I was present as usual, but this time with my mind made up to explain to them my change of views on several so-called orthodox points. I waited until the regular business was transacted, before I arose to speak, and in the meantime they balloted for delegates to the association. No special nominations, each member voting for whom he chose; and when the ballot was announced, I was one of the chosen. At this point I remarked that they would probably want to rescind their action after hearing what I had to say. I then explained to them as best I could parts of my belief, and ended by telling them, I could not be consistent in believing and teaching as I do, and still retain my membership in the Baptist Church; in other words, I could not be two things at once without hypocrisy. Therefore, I asked the privilege of withdrawing my name from the church roll. I told them that my action was prompted by a sense of duty, and not that I held aught against any of them; for, said I, you have all been kind to me, and my relations as a member of your body, have ever been most pleasant. I believe that many of you are Christians, but blinded; and in one sense of the word, it is no easy matter for me to sever my connection with you, for I leave among you my dear old gray headed mother and father, sisters, wife, and many of my dearest friends. But brethren! Jesus said, "He who is not willing to leave all these for my sake is not worthy of me." Then I sat down. Quite a number were in tears, including our pastor; and after the question was discussed, and regrets expressed on my strange action, it was decided to exclude me for heresy. But before the question was put, a good old brother arose and suggested that I be given a letter, not of dismissal, but a letter showing that I was not excluded on account of any misconduct, but simply on account of refusing to believe and teach Baptist doctrine. But the suggestion was not acted on, and the vote for exclusion was unanimous. In regard to the letter suggested by the brother, I will here state, I did not expect and do not want anything of the kind. I then handed to the Assistant Superintendent of S.S. my written resignation as Supt. of Pierce City Baptist Sabbath School, and in a few days I expect to hand in my resignation as Treasurer of the Baptist College at this place. And so I am all alone in the "flesh," but not in the "spirit." I believe Jesus of Nazareth is with me. And I believe he will continue to walk with me, if I hold fast to the faith first delivered to the saints. Pray for me.
I have about 30 DAWNS loaned out. One Baptist sister, to whom I loaned one, said to me since my exclusion, I believe the doctrine taught in that book you loaned me, and in a short time I expect to do as you have done, withdraw from the Baptist Church. Her name is on the enclosed list of subscribers to the TOWER.