Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Pastor Russell Heard From

The following is from Bible Students Monthly, Volume 3, Number 13, as it appears in Harvest Gleanings, Volume I, beginning on page 499


Our reporter called on Pastor Russell immediately after his return from his British appointments. He was just ready to start on his World Tour as chairman of the Committee appointed by the International Bible Students Accociation to examine into and report on the Progress of Foreign Missions in the conversion of the world to Christianity. Replying to our reporter's queries Pastor Russell said: I had a very enjoyable sojourn with the British. Since I left here on October 4th I delivered 55 addresses in 24 cities to approximately 44,000 people: In England, 31 meetings (12 of these in the London Tabernacle); in Scotland, 14 meetings; in Ireland, 6 meetings, and in Wales, 4 meetings; and going and coming on the steamers I had excellent opportunities for literary work.

While abroad did you learn of the further attacks made upon you by the Brooklyn Eagle?

Oh, yes! friends sent me clippings from the Eagle respecting myself; one remarking on the Eagle's 70th anniversary that the Eagle evidently belonged to the nest mentioned in Rev. 18:2, "A cage of every unclean and hateful bird." Another wrote, "The Filthy Eagle." Another declared its three score and ten past and its decline well under way, remarking, if by reason of (financial) strength it attain four score, yet it will be with labor and sorrow. I am sorry for the poor old thing. Once it had quite a decent reputation.

I can speak for the "Peoples Pulpit Association" and for your many friends in Brooklyn and everywhere, and assure you that the Eagle's spite toward you is fully realized. We are sure that you have a complete answer to every charge.

These answers your friends do not need, but perhaps you would give the public a few words through the columns of Peoples Pulpit. Our little journal reaches twenty readers to the Eagle's one in this great city.

Surely, I will be pleased to reply to any queries you may suggest. But you must not expect me to render evil for evil or slander for slander. As a follower of Christ I am under orders to copy the Captain of our salvation, "who when He was reviled, reviled not again," but committed His interests to Divine care. He died for those who cried, "Crucify Jesus and release Barabbas the robber."

The senility of the poor old Eagle is shown by the character of the news it purveys. "Think of a Twentieth Century newspaper dishing up matter dated 1894, in its venomous attacks upon a preacher; and his chief faults are that he has the largest audiences and refuses to allow collections to be taken; and proves to the people that the Bible is true and that the fault is with the creeds of the Dark Ages; and proves also from the Bible that God is love, and that [HG500] He has not provided eternal torture for any of His creatures, but that the Bible hell and punishment for wilful sins are wholly different from what we once supposed.

Neither the Eagle, nor the preachers whom it represents, any longer believe the eternal torture theory, but they want the people to so believe until ready to drop the Bible entirely and join the "Higher Critics" in their new Gospel, viz., "By Evolution are ye saving yourselves and your race; your first parents did not fall; they were Apes; ye need no Redeemer, nor faith in one."

The poor old Eagle miscalculates the mental and moral caliber of its reader, or else I do. It's intelligent readers should see through its venal attacks, and should not be deceived. Those of its readers who are of filthy mind- "Let them be filthy still." (Rev. 22:11) I do not crave their good will. "Birds of feather flock together!" Those who have charge of advertising my meetings have promised me that they will never again use the Eagle columns.

I have little to add to the interview you published last October. I then explained matters quite fully. I have many Christian friends who know me personally and through my books on Bible study, and through my sermons which reach ten millions of readers weekly.

I remind you briefly of the facts: A most excellent and noble wife became mentally poisoned by "Women's rights." When I refused to allow such ideas a place in my journal, The Watch Tower, she became my bitterest enemy. First she tried. to coerce me. This failing she since seeks to destroy my influence. Yet never was a wife more kindly treated. Our property by mutual consent was all devoted to the Lord's cause whilst we were in fullest accord. Provision was made merely for the necessities of life for both of us. When she changed her mind she demanded the money we had devoted to God's cause. I paid her forty dollars per month. She appealed to the courts for more money. However, that is all settled, for in 1909 during my absence in Europe preaching, five of my friends, all men, made up a purse of $10,000, settled with Mrs. Russell and took her receipts for five-years' allowances ordered by the court, which they knew I had not means to pay.

What about Rose Ball going to Australia?

Why, of course, she did not stay a child in short dresses all the time. She married and went to Australia with her husband. Remember, this is quite ancient history which the Eagle considers news. Twenty years ago Rose kissed my wife and me every night when she retired. And she did this at my wife's suggestion. It was at that time that she came crying to me and sat on my knee to tell her troubles-as to a father.

No one knows better than my wife that there was absolutely nothing impure in any of my dealings with that foster child. I did not get a chance to furnish my testimony in Court because the trial judge discerned that no immorality was charged in my wife's plea and ordered everything of the kind stricken from the court records.

On what plea then did she get a divorce?

She did not get a divorce at all; the court merely made a decree of separation. A sympathetic jury concluded that we both would be happier legally separated. My wife's charge contained not a suggestion of immorality. It charged "cruelty." The evidence submitted to her attorneys seemed to them rather slim proofs of cruelty, and two sets of lawyers abandoned her case. The third set of attorneys "cooked" up some so-called evidence including the story about Rose Ball, then married and gone to Australia and who long years before was our foster child. Emily Matthews, the housemaid of twenty years ago, had also married. Hearing of the case she came to Court voluntarily to testify on my behalf. But before I could put her on the witness stand the Court had ruled that portion of my wife's testimony "out of court" and to be stricken off the Court records.

My wife knew everything and never for one minute doubted my faithfulness as a husband. She merely sought revenge, because I did not accede to her "women's rights" notions.

So far from claiming immorality on my part, my wife's bill of complaint charged that I had never cohabited with her in the eighteen years of our married life. And her attorney taunted me with this. They neglected to tell the full truth; that the arrangement was by my wife's full consent, and changeable at notice by either party. She well knew that I had never indulged in sexual intercourse with any person; and to this moment I have lived an absolutely celibate life.

Did you ever purpose or threaten your wife's incarceration as a lunatic?

Never! On one occasion I did say to a mutual friend that so great a change-from being a most devoted wife to be so bitter an enemy-seemed so inexplicable that I wondered if it could be the effect of "change of life"-which for a time quite upset one of her relatives, as it does many women. I am still perplexed!

Asked what he knew about this concern Pastor Russell said: I know all about it. It is a little "Holding Company" of $1000 capital. All business people will understand. It is perfectly legal every way. I was one of the incorporators in the interest of the Bible and Tract [HG501] Society. I have not one dollar invested in it; nor have I been even nominally connected with it for many years.

The Eagle mentions a Cemetery scheme in which you made money, and it implies fraud. Will you throw a little light on that, please, Pastor Russell?

Surely! To denounce that as a fraud is like the charging of Jesus with being Beelzebub! That Cemetery has been a Godsend to many. It is now selling family burying plots for $15, such as the other cemeteries ask $150 for.

Is there anything fraudulent about that? Is it not philanthropic? Would not the people of Brooklyn be delighted to have such a beautiful Cemetery near them and to be able to purchase lots for $15 each? I so believe! How glad we would be if such a philanthropy were inaugurated in every large city! The original thought included the furnishing of caskets, embalming, funeral car (for casket and pall-bearers) and cemetery plot, all for about $50.

I have not now and never did have any money in vested in the enterprise. I merely gave advice. I advised that several ministers be made Directors to hold office for life, and that these represent various denominations not possessing denominational burying grounds. Rev. Witherspoon, Rev. Young, Bishop Whitehead and myself where chosen. If I gave the cemetery more attention and counsel than some others it was probably because it appealed to me more than to them, as helpful to many in their time of distress. If there is anything dishonorable in the matter I fail to see it. Even though I removed from Pittsburgh I did not resign my Directorship, but still keep in touch with the Cemetery. I would be glad to be associated with a local work of the same kind, to the extent that my other duties would permit.

The Eagle says that your work at Pittsburgh never amounted to much and implies that you have no friends or influence there now. How about that?

If that were true it would merely corroborate Jesus' words, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own city." But I fear that I cannot thus claim to be a great teacher, for I have both friends and honor there. The Bible House Congregation, of which I was Pastor for several years, still holds me as its Pastor Emeritus. And I have a standing invitation to come whenever possible. Any Sunday if word were sent I would have a congregation of 600 to 800. And very few Protestant preachers there have so many any time. And few, after being gone for years, would be much more than "remembered." But the Eagle is so prejudiced that it sees crowds only when they go to hear its ministerial favorites and then it sees double or treble or quadruple. For instance, when it got hold of an "English Preacher" willing to help it down Pastor Russell, the Eagle showed its great "influence" and "advertising value." It gave lengthy reports and "boomed" the "Reverend" and his "gospel of spite" and reported "large audiences," when there were but 225 and they dwindled to 20. On the other hand, when I have spoken at the Brooklyn Academy of Music to a packed house of 2,300 and many turned away, the Eagle report implied that it was insignificant.

No great newspaper could afford to be so careless of the truth; its managers would know that the public would sooner or later learn the facts.

Not prejudices, but facts, are what the public expect of newspapers. Nor then do they specially care for facts of 20 years ago to be misrepresented. President Lincoln truly said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." We commend that to the Eagle as sound advice, good to be taken in large doses if it hopes ever to recover from its present bilious spell.

The Eagle publishes letters showing that it is not your only enemy. I presume you knew you have more?

Oh, yes, "Whosoever will live godly will suffer persecution." Yet I have the consolation of knowing that "they hated me without a cause." No human being can truthfully say that I ever did him injury by act or word. One casts a stone claiming that I say I discovered new truths in the Bible while they say I have not.

Another casts a stone saying that I claim to be teaching the old truths of the Bible, while they say I am preaching a new gospel of my own making. Others are angry because I get crowded houses while they get but few; and that I can get along without lifting collections or making solicitations while they are pinched for money while using every means of getting it. Crucifixion and burning are no longer sanctioned by law; therefore the stone and mud-throwing instead.

The position of the Eagle people is hard to understand. They are championing ministers whose "Creeds" consign every Eagle man to a hell of torture eternal-except he be a saint, which none of its force would claim to be. It is fighting the one preacher of Brooklyn who is showing that the Creeds of a darker day misinterpreted the Bible on this point. In other words they are fighting their well-wisher. Or do they hold that eternal torture is only for their enemies and [HG502] not for themselves and their friends and their ministers and their congregations.

Well, Pastor Russell, what is your vengeance upon these your enemies, clerical and lay?

Oh, none! They are blinded, some by envy, some by malice, some by creeds and some by greed. I am waiting and praying for Messiah's glorious Kingdom to scatter present darkness-to open all the blind eyes, as God has promised.

What then?

Oh, then they'll be ashamed! Do you remember how it reads, "Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out, said, The Lord be glorified [i. e. we cast you out for the good of the Lord's cause]; but He shall appear to your joy and they shall be ashamed." (Isa. 66:5) My revenge will come in then-in helping them up out of their meanness and hardness of heart to the blessings then to be free to all the willing and obedient.

Will you give our readers a brief statement of the work you are carrying on and of your co-laborers in it?

With pleasure! Our Association is charted as philanthropic, for the promotion of Christian knowledge by printed page and orally. It is Biblical, but unsectarian.

Everything found in God's Book is its creed. Thirty-four ministers are members of the Association at present. Some of these are traveling constantly, addressing Classes of Bible Students, teaching them how to study the Bible most helpfully.

Others go out for Sunday meetings in the cities adjacent to New York to instruct similarly. And these latter during the week labor at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, where we conduct a Religious Correspondence School. Letters pour in upon us from all parts of the world, in various languages, asking help in the proper understanding of the Holy Scriptures. We have more than twenty typewriters in constant use.

We also have branches in Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, South Africa, India, Greece and Switzerland where other laborers are similarly engaged. We have free literature in 18 languages explanatory of the Bible. We also handle Bibles and Bible Study helps in various languages, which we supply at wholesale rates.

These ministers, their wives and children and office helpers live together as one large family of about 100 persons in a comfortable Home. In it each family has its own quarters, but all meet in a large Dining Room for morning worship and at meal times. Frequently visitors drop in for a meal (the Dining Hall is large enough to accommodate 200), and they are made very welcome.

At meal times a leader conducts impromptu Bible Studies on whatever Bible subjects may be submitted. Thus we have a continual Bible School with lessons three times daily. All except children are required before admission to the family to profess a full consecration to the will of God as found in the Bible; and additionally to have taken the following:

1. Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. May Thy rule come into my heart more and more, and Thy will be done in my mortal body. Relying on the assistance of Thy promised grace to help in every time of need, through Jesus Christ our Lord, I register this Vow.

2. Daily will I remember at the Throne of Heavenly Grace the general interests of the harvest work, and particularly the share which I myself am privileged to enjoy in that work, and the dear co-laborers at the Brooklyn Tabernacle and Bethel, and everywhere.

3. I vow to still more carefully, if possible, scrutinize my thoughts and words and doings, to the intent that I may be the better enabled to serve Thee and Thy dear flock.

4. I Vow to Thee that I will be on the alert to resist everything akin to Spiritism and Occultism, and that, remembering that there are but the two masters, I shall resist these snares in all reasonable ways, as being of the Adversary.

5. I further Vow, that, with the exceptions below, I will at all times, and in all places, conduct myself toward those of the opposite sex in private exactly as I would do with them in public-in the presence of a congregation of the Lord's people.

6. And, so far as reasonably possible, I will avoid being in the same room with any of the opposite sex alone, unless the door to the room stand wide open.

7. Exceptions in the case of Brethren-wife, children, mother, and natural sisters.

In the case of Sisters-husband, children, father, and natural brothers.

Needless to say our large Home is one of the holiest and happiest on earth. We cannot imagine a happier home amongst people not yet perfected by the First Resurrection. The aim is to provide just a sufficiency of money for the reasonable comfort of each. And as the Eagle truly says the amount is small. But it is sufficient, and helps to insure that none will ever join the family and profess consecration "for filthy lucre's sake." Our food and home arrangements are simple and satisfactory though quite inexpensive in comparison with what the same would cost if each family [HG503] lived apart even more plainly. Our family illustrates the declaration of the Bible: "Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to live together in unity." Psa. 133:1

With everything so philanthropic and so pure, so sensible and so Scriptural, why do ministers and the Eagle and others hate you and persecute you? And does this extend to all of the family?

Yes, it extends to all, but to me more particularly. I suppose because I am the most conspicuous figure at the front. The reason is the same that led to the persecution of the Apostles and the early church and even put to death the Redeemer. Jesus explains that it is the natural hatred or opposition of Darkness to Light. The purer the Gospel ray the fiercer the opposition! Ignorance, Superstition and Selfishness are behind the persecution.

Still it is hard to understand the lack of rhyme or reason in it all. No minister of any prominent denomination would profess to believe his own Church Creed or to defend it. All fiercely denounce sectarianism and call for Christian union. Yet because I show up the errors which they no longer believe they are angry with me.

Knowing their doctrinal weakness they dare not contradict me fairly, but content themselves with saying, Pastor Russell is a heretic; he is emptying our churches, and causing a falling off of our revenues. Then they use the cowardly weapons of slander, misrepresentation, etc.

They are quite mistaken regarding the source of their troubles. The falling off of church attendance and their financial stringency has been progressing for thirty years. Their own preaching has done it. Their colleges and seminaries have been teaching Evolution and their Higher Criticism has been undermining all faith in the Bible, until now these things are in the Sunday School Lessons as well as in the Public School Books.

Thus many of the Preachers and their people have lost all confidence in the Bible as God's Message. The people find no spiritual nourishment in the story that Adam and Eve had monkey parents-that they never were in God's Image, never fell from it, and never needed to be redeemed. The people, more honest than the preachers, are too honest to pretend a religion which they do not feel and therefore carry their pickles and dimes to the Moving Picture Theatres and feel that they are spending them more honestly.

Alas! Our wealthy and learned men are destroying the very faith necessary to the preservation of Society; and Anarchy is threatening the whole civilized world. A Socialism without the Bible will soon mean a Godless Socialism and that means Anarchy. Surely the wisdom of the wise seems to have perished as the Bible foretold. Isa. 29:13, 14

This was our reporter's final query. Pastor Russell replied frankly: The Eagle and all the preachers who are my enemies say that I am. And I must concede that they have some excuse for so concluding. I presume they judge me by themselves. If they were in my place they feel sure they would be proud and conceited if they had invitations from all over the world-if they had written books which in twelve languages are in nearly four million homes-if their weekly sermons were being regularly published in twelve hundred Newspapers in America and Great Britain.

But no one realizes more than do I my unworthiness of such success and popularity. God's providence has favored my humble efforts! I am as much astonished as my enemies" It is the Message and not the Messenger that is great.

It is God's Message, not mine. As foretold it is "Good tidings of great joy for all people."

As for publicity; A Newspaper Syndicate handles my sermons which I supply to them free-glad to have their assistance in reaching twelve million readers weekly.

They see to it that I am well advertised and boomed. I merely submit for the sake of the cause.

As is generally known Pastor Russell was chosen as a member of the Committee for the investigation of Foreign Missions. The other members of the Committee are Dr. L. W. Jones, of Chicago; General Hall, of the U. S. Army; Mr. Pyles, of Washington, D. C.; Mr. Kuchn, of Toledo, O.; Prof. Robison, of New York, and Mr. Maxwell, of Mansfield, O.

The Committee met at the Waldorf Hotel, New York, in September last and outlined its work and elected Pastor Russell its Chairman. Pastor Russell started on the tour December 3rd and was joined by other members of the Committee at Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Dallas, Texas. Pastor Russell has promised to be back March 31st next-however long the others of the Committee may prolong their stay. It is understood that arrangements are under way for a mass meeting at the Hippodrome on Sunday afternoon, March 31st, to hear a report of the Committee.

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