In this prelude to the first ZION’S WATCH TOWER Russell explains why he came to believe in the Second Advent, his early history, his connection with Bro. Barbour, publishing “Herald of the Morning” and why it “was terminated”
To the readers of the “HERALD OF THE MORNING,”
My connection with the “Herald” having been terminated rather suddenly, and under circumstances which must seem rather remarkable and peculiar to you, I feel it to be a duty both to you and to myself to offer an explanation of the manner of withdrawal and my reasons for so doing. Quite a number who were personally acquainted with me thought there must be more of the story to tell, and I have received a number of letters asking an explanation. To these inquiries and to many unexpressed of similar character, let me offer the following statement:
I have been a Bible student since I first had my attention called to the second coming of our Lord, by Jonas Wendel, a Second Advent Preacher, about 1869, who was then preaching the burning of the world as being due in 1873. But though he first awakened my interest on the subject, I was not a convert, either to the time he suggested nor to the events he predicted. I, in company with others in Pittsburgh, organized and maintained a bible class for the searching of the Scriptures, meeting every Sunday.
We reasoned that, if Christ’s coming were to end probation, and bring irrevocable ruin upon ninety-nine in a hundred of mankind; then it could scarcely be considered desirable, neither could we pray with proper spirit, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come quickly!” We had rather request–much as we should “love his appearing”–that he remain away and our sufferings and trials continue so that “if by any means we might save some.” Not only so, but great masses of scripture referring to the Millennial glory and teaching that “All nations which thou hast made shall come and worship before thee,” &c., &c., would be left unfulfilled if at His coming there should be a wreck of matter and a crush of world.
We first saw Millennial glory–then the glorious work which is offered us as His Bride; that we are by faith the “seed of Abraham;” and as such, heirs of the promises, &c., in whom “all the families of the earth shall be blest.” (Gal. 3.) This most certainly points to a probation in the future after He has come.
Thus, speedily, steadily and surely God led us to recognize the second coming of our Lord as being not the sunset of all hope to mankind, but the “rising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings.”
The Lord gave us many helps in the study of His word, among whom stood prominently, our dearly beloved and aged brother, George Storrs, who, both by word and pen, gave us much assistance; but we ever sought not to be followers of men, however good or wise, but “Followers of God, as dear children.” Thus growing in grace and knowledge for seven years, the year 1876 found us.
Up to this time we persistently ignored time and looked with pity upon Mr. Thurman’s and Mr. Wendel’s ideas. (The latter was preaching the same time as Bro. Barbour; viz: The burning of the world in 1873.) We regarded those ideas as unworthy of consideration, for though we believed the event “nigh even at the doors,” yet we recognized the fact that the church will be withdrawn –translated– before there would be any open manifestation to the world, or, in other words, the two stages of Christ’s second advent, viz: coming for his saints, and coming with all his saints.
About this time I received a copy of the “Herald of the Morning,” Bro. B. was its publisher; I read with interest how he and others had been looking for (to use his own expression) “a bonfire”; how scriptural arguments pointed to the autumn of 1874 as the time it was due; how that as the disappointment connected therewith began to abate, he and others had re-examined the scriptural proofs that appeared to teach that the end of the world was due at the time supposed; how clear and firm all those proofs still seemed; etc.; how that then, they began to examine what was due to take place at the end, and found that instead of a bonfire, scripture taught that “The harvest is the end of the world” (or age), and that though the age ended, the earth remained and a new age unfolded in which “All the families of the earth shall be blest.”
When I read the account I was deeply interested, and as I read on I saw that, if the arguments were true they proved that we had entered and were then in the harvest or end; and if in the harvest, Jesus was due to be here present. This was all reasonable enough for it was much what we had been expecting, and it linked time to our expectation in a harmonious and beautiful manner. My thought now was: Are there sufficient proofs of our being in the time of harvest? If so, this brother and I were in perfect harmony. The paper came in the morning, and I had read it and written to brother B. before noon. I examined more of the time proofs, and though not yet settled with reference to them, made arrangements with brothers B. and Paton to come to Philadelphia, where I was engaged at the time (1876), and hold some meetings, giving evidences, etc., of time, to which I listened with interest, and of the truth of which I felt convinced.
Br. B. and I talked over various methods of promulgating these truths and finally decided to travel and preach them wherever men and women would hear, and to thus spend (D.V.) the remainder of the harvest, which we then supposed was three and a half years, and would close in 1878. While I was arranging my affairs, brother B. returned to Rochester to prepare for publication of the “Three Worlds.” (We found during the Philadelphia meetings that such a book was necessary to furnish hearers with chapter and verse for what was claimed), and to close up the “Herald” as it could not be properly attended to while traveling, and the suggestion was made that if any new evidences or truths were developed, a paper could at any time be published and issued from any point. In the meantime, to do justice to subscribers and give them reading matter for the remainder of their year, brother B. had parts of the “Three Worlds” book, then on the press, arranged with a heading, “Herald of the Morning Quarterly,” which were left with a sister in Rochester to be mailed as they became due.
We, Bros. Barbour, Paton and myself, traveled, lectured, etc., for some months, when it seemed advisable to us all that a paper should go continuously to those who were hearing, thus keeping alive and watering seed sown. This seemed good to us all, and while brother Paton and I continued lecturing, brother B. went to Rochester and fitted up our office, type, etc., for which I furnished the money. The old type, &c., had been sold before we started out, although I know nothing of how much was obtained for it, nor what was done with the money. The paper thus started was essentially another paper but took the same name because we could think of none better or more expressive. That it was a new paper, or had at least undergone a change of management, was witnessed monthly by the heading of its fourth page where it expressly states that it is “Published by C. T. Russell and N. H. Barbour.” Since the paper’s change of form, July 1878, this has been omitted. Possibly Bro. B. forgot it, or possibly he thought that the page being small this could be advantageously left out. What amount of money I invested in the paper I do not know. Of such things I never keep account. I remember sending Br. B. money several times; one of which was when we were leaving a camp meeting at Alton Bay, N.H.; I gave him $100 which he lost from his vest pocket as he afterwards wrote me, when, I presume I sent him another $100. I made neither mental nor written note of any money sent–I simply sent whatever money was called for and seemed to me to be needed, aggregating altogether perhaps $300 or $400 dollars. The $660 referred to by Bro. B. in the May Herald I never gave to the Herald. The paper has never been self-supporting, and particularly not at first, when we sent many thousands of copies to persons who had been readers of the paper of old when it did not advocate the glorious “Restitution of all things” as it now does, as well as to those who sent their names as two months subscribers free. At its outstart considerable money was necessary; the receipts were slow and uncertain, so, to avoid the necessity of continually sending, or of the Herald’s being in any way hindered from lack of money, I placed on deposit at Rochester the above sum which before, I had deposited in a Pittsburgh bank. I deposited the money in our joint names so that should occasion require, Bro. B. could draw and use it, but I repeat, I never gave that $660 to either Bro. B. or the Herald. It, as well as all I have, is the Lord’s, and was intended to be used wherever and whenever it was needed, either by the Herald, any of the preaching brethren, or by myself. The greater part of it has been used for all these. When I was traveling, it was equally convenient for me at Rochester or at Pittsburgh.
Besides these cash items, the “Herald” had a regular income from the sale of the “Three Worlds,” a book familiar to most of you. We published 3500 of them–prices twenty-five, fifty cents and one dollar, according to binding. These were all disposed of, some by each of us while traveling, the proceeds helping to defray traveling and other expenses, and a part were sold from the office–orders being filled from all parts of the country. It would be moderate to estimate that about one-fourth of the edition was thus disposed of from the office to the direct benefit of the Herald, which at an average of thirty cents each, would be over $260, besides a smaller amount–the proceeds from the sale of the hymn book, and more recently from the sale of the tract, “The Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return,” the latter probably not so inconsiderable as some ordered by the dozen for distribution.
The moneys so received were all clear gain to the “Herald,” as the cost of publication was paid by myself; Bro. B. doing the composition of the “Three Worlds” and hymn books. Whatever I gave to or invested in the “Herald,” was not to Bro. B. but to the Lord, and I much regret that circumstances seem to demand this recital, but we are commanded, “Let not your good be evil spoken of.” Bro. Barbour has put into the Herald his time and ability, and has drawn out of it his living. It was his own fault if during the last two years he did more than his strength justified, or if he did not live comfortably. It was not from lack of money. I know he lives frugally, and so do all who realize that all things are God’s, and that they are simply His stewards. I am willing to admit that in investing his time and ability he put in that which was of greater value than the money I invested. Still, I think that our brother would claim that the time invested was not given to me, but to the Lord, and the pay he expects is not merely the living of the present time, but that his is “The promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
In consideration of the above, I confess I did not, and do not, feel that in supposing the Herald to be partly mine, I was “immodest.”
But there are other points of our brother’s reply to my proposition that seem to require re-stating to be fully understood. First, however, read below an exact copy of the letter which I wrote to Bro. B., and to which the article referred to in the May “Herald” is the sole reply I have received.
Pittsburgh, Pa., May 3, 1879
Dear Brother N. H. Barbour:–Your postal card and letter came duly to hand, and I hope my delay in answering will not be attributed to lack of interest. The fact is that with moving of house and store, spring purchasing of goods (for which I went East), and the work which our Father seems to have put into my hands for the present, viz.: ministering to His children the bread of life each Sunday, as well as baptism and prayer meetings &c., &c., I have been kept so busy as to seldom get above six or six and a half hours sleep per night. With this explanation, let me reply to your letter.
First: It was not possible for me to attend the proposed meeting at R., and I presume, though invited warmly, you scarcely expected me, knowing my pressure of time, &c.
Second: I cannot understand how our bank account has so suddenly decreased. I expected that we still had $100 to $125 in bank. If I recollect aright the balance in bank when I was in R. was $163. Am I right? In your reply, please let me know how our account stands, viz: How much was to our credit in bank Jan. 1, ’79, how much has been received in cash since, and how much in bank and on hand now, also, what largest items of expense have been, &c.
While I still feel that you are a brother in Christ, and still love you as such, while there are many pleasant memories of the past to refresh my heart, yet my brother, there has arisen a difference of view between us as to the teaching of our Father’s word (see note 1.) and while giving you credit for all sincerity and honesty in your views, which I claim for myself in the opposite view, yet I must be guided by my own understanding of our Father’s word, and consequently think you to be in error. Now I do not think that every difference of opinion need necessarily break fellowship and communion, yet in this case the points of variance seem to me to be so fundamental and important that the full fellowship and sympathy such as should exist among publishers and editors of a paper or magazine, no longer obtains between you and me, and because this is the case, I feel that our relationship should cease.
I believe that we are both children of God, and anxious to know and teach the truth. Our Father’s promise is that all truth seekers shall be guided into it therefore permit me to express the hope that we shall yet see in harmony and understand in unison, the Word. May whichever of us has truth be strengthened and established in it, and the one in error be led to discern the error. Now how shall we dissolve? Will Bro. Withington or some other brother buy out my interest for you, or take my place himself, or do you wish to resign your connection with the Herald. (See note 2.) In that case I shall continue it (D.V.) As you are the senior, I give you the opportunity to mention the terms of purchase or sale, I know not whether you feel disposed to purchase or not. In case you and friends wish to purchase, I expect to start another paper. I do not know that, as I feel at present it would be an auxiliary, as I had at first intended, but neither should it be understood to be an opposition paper, it should be an independent one. I should be the more studious of this, because I should fear that if the friends–the readers–knew of our difference, &c., the truths which we both aim to honor and advance, might be reflected upon unfavorably in consequence. Please let me know your answer and proposition as soon as possible, within a week certainly.
Truly your brother in Christ,
C. T. RUSSELL.
EXPLANATORY.–Note 1. The doctrine of Substitution, or Atonement. Note 2. When I first mentioned another paper to brother B. January last, he suggested that I take editorial charge of the Herald, which I then declined; I did not know but that he might still be of the same mind.
The answer which I received through the May No. of the Herald is known to you all perhaps. In reply to it I wrote brother B. as follows:
101 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh,
May 22nd, 1879
Brother N. H. Barbour:–I was much disappointed at your reply in last Herald (May No.) to my letter of the 3d. inst. I did not expect that its proposition would be made public–as intimated in the last clause–and I certainly did not expect that it would be stated in so partial and one sided a manner. To my mind it was unjust. And now I leave the Herald with you. I withdraw entirely from it, taking nothing from you; or it, or anyone, save christian charity, which we owe one another. This is exactly the amount expected when I wrote to you the former letter. Please announce in next No. of the Herald the dissolution and withdraw my name. Yet still believe me, the Herald’s friend, and yours.
CHARLES T. RUSSELL.