The memory of That Servant deserves to be kept fragrant, and our best efforts to do so is by a faithful use of the Truth that he gave us, as well as by a loyal endeavor to copy his example of “walking in the footsteps of Jesus.” The following is offered as a tribute to his memory:
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” (Matt. 24:45‑47) We believe Brother Russell was That Servant.
If our Lord found him “so doing,” during what period of time did he accomplish the things that the Lord appointed him to do as “that wise and faithful servant”? We think he accomplished all the Lord gave him to do, but it required all of his life from the time he was appointed until he died. Since it covers a period of time, it will require time to fully answer the question.
At our Lord’s First Advent He appointed twelve Apostles. Aside from their inspired teachings, some of their words and acts were not perfect, which proved that they were imperfect men.
At our Lord’s Second Advent He appointed Brother Russell as “That Servant.” He also was an imperfect man, nor were his teachings inspired of God. He faithfully studied the Old and New Testaments’ inspired teachings, and gave us texts from the Bible for his teaching. However, he made mistakes due to his expecting too much to happen at the time. His most notable mistake was his expectations for the year 1914. He corrected this mistake in the foreword of Volume 2, among other places. He knew that 1914 .was plainly revealed in Bible Chronology, but his mistake was expecting too much too soon. That mistake is understandable when we reflect upon the condition of the times then. We cannot find fault with his few mistakes when we recognize the grand panorama of truth he gave us in outlining the whole Plan of the Ages, with Scriptural proof, in a manner that has not been done since the days of the Apostles. All this was done by hard study. It was “due time” for making known many truths and Scriptures which had not been previously understood.
The writers of the Old Testament didn’t understand much of what they prophesied as shown in Daniel 12:8. Also, the prophecies of the Apostles were not all understood by them. The Apostle Paul no doubt understood what he prophesied but it wasn’t lawful for him to utter it to the other Apostles and disciples. (2 Cor. 12:4) But the Lord’s people of all times have received truth sufficient “so that the man of God may be made complete, thoroughly fitted for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16,17, Dia.)
Our Lord’s Second Presence began in 1874 and That Servant referred to that year, as well as the years 1878, 1881, and 1914 many times in his writings. He did not imagine these dates but understood them from Bible chronology, time prophecies, parallels, jubilees and types. “But these things occurred to them typically, and were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the Ages have come.” (1 Cor. 10:11, Dia.) It is remarkable how all five of these lines of Biblical teachings reach the same conclusions and the same dates. (See Volume 2, pages 187, 223, 233)
Read what That Servant himself said: “The Truths I present, as God’s mouthpiece, were not revealed in visions or dreams, nor by God’s audible voice, nor all at once, but gradually, especially since 1870, and particularly since 1880. Neither is this clear unfolding of truth due to any human ingenuity or acuteness of perception, but to the simple fact that God’s due time has come; and if I did not speak, and no other agent could be found, the very stones would cry out.” (Reprint 3821, col. 1, par. 3 – 1906)
That Servant in searching the Scriptures realized that the Jewish nation was typical of Christendom. Therefore, he studied the Tabernacle, but sought the advice of able Bible Students before he proceeded with further work. He then wrote Tabernacle Shadows in 1881 which was intended for the Royal Priesthood and all the Lord’s people. It is a precise explanation of the Old Testament Types. It has been truthfully said that any Bible Student who has studied and understood Tabernacle Shadows would never stray very far from the Truth. We would like to know how many Bible Students have even read that “little book.”
The context of our opening passage shows that this special servant would be placed over the household of faith in order to minister to it, showing that “that servant” is an individual leader and not the household itself, nor an organization or group. This “wise Steward” (Luke 12:42) was to be a general steward, overseer and dispenser of the Lord’s goods – not a composite steward, because we are not to recognize a clerical, or authoritative class; and the word “that” (“the” in the revised Version) implies a particular one. The intimation is that during the Lord’s presence, and at the time of the elect’s gathering, Jesus, the great Servant of His people, would make choice of one individual for dispensing meat in due season, though other fellow‑servants would be used in bringing the food to the household.
“BEHOLD THE BRIDEGROOM”
Although the theme “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) ran throughout his ministry, his mission included much more. Since 1799 the world had entered the “time of the end” (Dan. 12:4) and the work of cleansing the sanctuary (Church Class) had been proceeding. The awakening of the Lord’s people on the subject of the Second Advent culminated in 1874 when the above announcement began to go forth. This message was given to the Virgins in Matt. 25:6 (see Diaglott). It does not say He cometh but He is present, He has come. And the further announcement, “Thy God reigneth” was proclaimed (Isa. 52:7). This message was also to the Virgins. The revelation to the world would come later. (Volume 3, page 190, bottom; Reprint 3868, col. 1, par. 4)
A detailed understanding of the different lines of Bible Chronology (genealogies, jubilee cycles, parallel dispensation, types, etc. – 1 Cor. 10:11, Dia.) provided undeniable proof to the watching saints that the Lord’s presence had commenced. Truth on the distinction between human and spiritual natures revealed that Christ’s second presence was an invisible one and that the only manner in which He would be revealed or “seen” by the world was through the eye of faith and understanding. That Servant showed that the first and second comings were related and part of one plan; the first to redeem the world, the second to restore and bless the world through the promised seed. (Gal. 3:8,29) He made clear that the period between the first and second Advents (Gospel Age) was for. calling, testing, and selection of a “people for his name” (Acts 15:14) to reign with Christ in the next Age and share in the work of judging and blessing the world (1 Cor. 6:2). The Lord came as the chief “reaper” at that time, also.
“THE HARVEST IS THE END OF THE AGE”
The Harvest is a term which gives a general idea as to what work should be expected to be done during the 40 years between 1874 and 1914.
Jesus’ presence as Bridegroom and Reaper was recognized during the first three and a half years, from 1874 to 1878. Even though Christ was present in the Parousia as chief reaper, separating the wheat and tares with the sickle of truth (Rev. 14:14), That Servant was the mouthpiece and instrument for overseeing the gathering work. The Lord gave the message to That Servant: “Gather my Saints together unto me.” (Psa. 50:5) The Berean comments on that verse is as follows: “Gather my saints – From every quarter of Babylon into oneness with the Lord and each other, and out of fellowship with mere professors, tares after, and in consequence of, the Lord’s return.” That Servant in turn gave the message to the Saints to “Come out of her my people.” (Rev. 18:4) The Saints were never gathered into one unit at all in the Gospel Age until the Harvest when they were gathered into the sphere of the Truth. As the consecrated came forth from the nominal church during the 40 year period from 1874 to 1914, the Lord’s command of Psa. 50:5 was being fulfilled. The gathering was done under That Servant to an extent never done since the days of the Apostles. (See Volume 3, page 121; Volume 4, page 616, last par.)
At 1878 Jesus took the office of King and began to exercise His power by resurrecting the sleeping Saints (Matt. 28:18); Rev. 11:15‑17; Isa. 52:7). “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.” (Rev. 14:13) Marking a particular time – 1878 – before which it would not be a blessing to die, but after which it would be a blessing to die. (Reprint 5556, col. 2) Since 1878 those Saints who were still alive need not sleep even a moment; but in the instant of dying are changed to spiritual beings. (See also sleep‑even 4, page 621, last par.; Volume 3, page 304, bottom and 305, top)
The date 1878 also was the beginning of the return of Divine favor to fleshly Israel. Their 1845 years double (mishneh), began in AD 33 and ended AD 1878 – 33 + 1845 = 1878. (Volume 2, page 218) The Scripture says, “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem”. (Isa. 40:2) This “speaking comfortably” was to be done from 1878 onward, before they believe In Christ. Every evidence of the return of Divine favor to fleshly Israel is testimony that Divine favor to spiritual Israel had gradually drawn to a close. (Volume 2, page 218)
In Reprint 1395 there is this: “AH! were it not that the Lord has favored us with a share in the work of gathering out the bride and helping make her ready for the marriage of the Lamb, we would be in Jerusalem and, by the grace of God, would do a part in the great work now due of turning away blindness from Jacob (Rom 11:25).”
The date of the complete casting off of Babylon came in 1881. (Volume 2, page 235) The Gospel Age condition of wheat and tares combined is designated the Church nominal, church in name only. This mixed and confused condition is scripturally styled Babylon. That the wheat and tares were allowed to grow together until the Harvest indicates that God’s favor had been upon the nominal church throughout the Gospel Age (“Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand” – Jer. 51:7; Rev. 17:4). This was for the spiritual growth and testing of the Wheat class. As the Harvest truth reached the faithful Brethren throughout all denominations, it became apparent to them that the doctrines of Christendom were scripturally unsound, moving them to leave their various sects and join the assembly of the Saints outside sectarian boundaries. The Truth, therefore, made plain that “Babylon the Great is fallen [no longer under Divine favor – Rev. 3:16]”, and that the only proper response for the true believers was to “come out of her my people.” (Rev. 18:2,4,23; Reprint 3884, col. 1, par. 3)
The date 1881 also marked the close of the special favor to Gentiles, the close of the High Calling, or invitation to the blessings peculiar to this age – to become joint-heirs with Christ. At this time the full number was complete, including those in Heaven and those still on the Earth. However, opportunity was still open for individuals who would take the place of those who lost their crowns. But at no time after 1881 was the full number not complete, because each crown‑loser was replaced immediately. (Volume 3, pages 217‑219)
“As a matter of fact, then, the only ones who see clearly the peculiarly high and grand features of the call of the Gospel Age, the only ones, therefore, who could announce or explain this calling, are the very ones who are also shown from God’s Word that the time limit of this call was reached in October, 1881. Others, while quoting the Apostle’s words concerning a ‘high calling of God in Christ,’ really explain the lower call which belongs to the Millennial Age. Hence the general Gospel call is ended. None can extend it – some because they do not understand it and cannot give it, others because they know it to be at an end.” (Volume 3, page 219, par. 1)
That Servant predicted, according to Bible Chronology, that 1914 would be the end of Gentile Times and a world war would be the sign of that. But everything was so calm and serene all over the world that he began to question the chronology. But he went over it four or five times with other Brethren, but could find nothing wrong with it. Suddenly the war broke‑out due to the assassination of the Austrian Archduke in Serbia. All countries were involved, though some were not active in the battles of war. (Volume 2, page 101)
In Revelation 7:1‑3 we are told that the four angels should “hold the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth... till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” The four winds in this text are the fallen angels (see also Dan. 7:2) the wind is the great war that started in 1914; and the forehead sealing refers to the ministering of the Truth to those who came into the Truth before that war began in each country. It should be noted here that all the Saints were spirit‑begotten (sealed in the heart) by 1914, but all of them had not been sealed in their foreheads (intellectually) with present Truth. “Till we have sealed...” – those on this side of the veil had an important work, to gather together the elect and to seal them in the forehead. Each sealed one became a sealer of others as soon as he himself was sealed. The chief mission of the Church has been her own development. “Edifying one another.” (1 Thes. 5:11) “Building up yourselves on your most holy faith.” (Jude 20) The sealing of one another was done with the present truth, “meat in due season,” given by the Lord through That Servant – the “steward” over the “household.” (Volume 3, page 165, bottom)
However, it should be carefully noted that this restraint was to be only “that no wind [World War One] might blow on the earth... till we have sealed the bondservants of our God in their foreheads” – giving sufficient knowledge of “Present Truth” to enable them to “Come out of her, My people.” (Rev. 18:4) The war did not break out in any country until the saints there had been “sealed in their foreheads.” Our thought is that the evil angels would long ago have done injury to the symbolic earth, sea and trees, had it not been for the restraint of Divine Power.
Symbolically, the earth represents organized society; the sea represents disorganized masses, and the trees represent the Household of Faith.
THE SMITING OF JORDAN
But all of them were “sealed in the forehead” in time to take part in the Smiting of Jordan. This Smiting was sharp, disclosing truths that disproved the doctrines of the Divine Right of the clergy, of aristocrats, of labor, each claiming certain privileges and powers by Divine Right. All the literature exposing these evils was used and directed by That Servant such as: Volume 4, Armageddon; tracts like The World on Fire, Distress of Nations, Clergy Ordination Proved Fraudulent, Why Financiers Tremble, Photo‑Drama, etc. Public lectures and private conversations were used in this smiting, also. This was done from the fall of 1914 to that of 1916. Psalms 149:5‑9 by the expression “this honor have all the saints,” shows that this honor would be shared in, even by the last member of the Little Flock to be called. (Volume 2, page 100, last par.)
Some of the Bible Students who believe they are saints are beginning to use the above mentioned literature as if they are finishing That Servant’s mission.
“UNITY OF FAITH”
If we define the “unity of faith” to be a clear and harmonious understanding of the “ten strings of the harp of God” (Psa. 33:2), then we must conclude That Servant and all who came into and clearly understood Harvest Present Truth indeed came to “unity of faith.” That this is the position God wished His people to accept during the Harvest is shown in Isa. 52:8, “Thy watchmen... shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” Note the Berean Comments on this: “In the harvest of the Gospel Age, clearly, harmoniously.” It was Brother Russell’s Stewardship Doctrine centering about Restitution that brought “unity of faith” for the first time in history to God’s people as a collective group. It is true that St. Peter preached Restitution (Acts 3:19‑21); and it is true that St. Paul was “caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor. 12:4); but it is also true that the General Church of that time had not come to the “unity of faith” – had not come to a clear understanding of Restitution. However, all in the Gospel Harvest were reasonably clear on the Restitution doctrine. (Volume 4, page 610)
Therefore, a Prophet did accomplish the first of the two purposes for which the servants of the Church were appointed – “till we all attain to the unity of faith.” We believe he also accomplished the second of these purposes – the measure of the full stature of the anointed one.” (Eph. 4:13, Dia.) When the last one was reaped in September 1914, there also for the first time was reached “the full stature of the anointed one” in that the Body was then full and irrevocably complete unto that unity which “every joint supplieth, to the effectual working in the measure of every part.” (Eph. 4:16)
Can it be said that the “watchmen” have seen “eye to eye” since 1916? No! Nor can it be said that this oneness is something attained by the Saint Class beyond the veil, because there would be no need for them to be “watchmen” then. If any are inclined to believe that “unity of faith” means understanding the entire Bible, then we must admit that no one does, so far as we know.
That Servant repeatedly said, in both the Towers and the Volumes, that the Kingdom was set up September 21, 1914. (Reprints 5632, col. 2, par. 3) This meant several things: (1) that the full number of the Saints had been won, and between 1914 and 1916 the last ones came into the sphere of the truth “sealed in the forehead.” (Rev. 7:1‑3); (2) that the full number, 144,000, was irrevocably fixed at that date; (3) that there were no more crowns lost after that date to be taken by others. It also meant that the Time of Trouble and the judgment of the nations had begun – “this honor have all the saints.” (Psa. 149:9 Volume 4, page 624, par. 3) Of course, the most severe features of the Time of Trouble have not yet come, but That Servant could not have known how soon or how late this would be. But the severe trouble is to be to and for the world, not for the Saints.
We see then that the following things took place during the period of 40 years from 1874 to 1914: (1) The announcement of the Second presence of the Lord. (Matt. 25:6; Volume 3, pages 190, bottom through 193) (2) Gathering of the Saints. (Psa. 50:5; Volume 3, page 159, par. 2) (3) The beginning of favor returning to the Jews. (Volume 2, page 258, bottom) (4) The close of the High Calling or special favor to the Gentiles. (Volume 2, page 218, top) (5) The smiting of Jordan. (Reprint 5632, col. 1, top; Volume 2, page 101, last par.) (6) The unity of faith. (Eph. 4:13; Reprint 3856, col. 2)
If all the saints were not gathered under Brother Russell during that 40‑year period then he did not complete the mission of That Servant and indeed was not That Servant. In that case, the Harvest has not yet been. That would also mean that the Lord’s second presence has not yet occurred, because His first task was to be the “chief reaper” of the Harvest. If all this be true then what we have learned from Brother Russell about the Plan of Salvation is all wrong. But more Truth, “meat in due season,” was revealed during his ministry than had been since the days of the Apostles, and we can be confident to “contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3) This is not to say that he succeeded the Apostles, or that he was inspired as they were, for we know that there is no such thing as Apostolic succession. But there is no other conclusion than that he was That Servant and that he did complete his mission of gathering the saints.
We love all the Lord’s people including those who believe they are Saints, and we are trying to help and not hurt them. We appreciate the good work they have done in witnessing and in publishing the Volumes and Towers. When we correct their mistakes, it means we love them even more. (Prow. 13:24) Let us remember that the first condition of acceptance with God is loyal obedience to His Word, the evidence of love for Him and faith in Him. Let us remember, also, that the second qualification He will look for in us is love for the brethren, readiness to be, to do and to suffer, to die on behalf of those who are really, truly consecrated children of God, seeking to walk in His ways.
But it is unrealistic to think all in the Bible Student groups are of the Little Flock. That would constitute a great flock. If their numbers could be counted, we believe it would be found that there are more of them now living than the number 144,000 (Rev. 7:4) predestined to be of that class. And, if they are bringing in new ones, the number would be even more inflated.
St. Paul said, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27) It no doubt means he shunned not to give all the elect classes as well as the saved class of the Kingdom of the world, or the Restitutionist of Acts 17:31. Then the Apostle Paul gave us 2 Tim. 2:20: “But in a great house [God’s household] there are not only vessels of gold [the Bride class] and of silver [the Great Company, or the ones that lost their crowns], but also of wood [the Ancient Worthies of Hebrews, chapter 11] and of earth [the unbegotten class that That Servant taught in Reprint 5761, September 1, 1915]; and some to honour [saved Restitutionists], and some to dishonour [these are the ones that disobey and are sentenced to the Second Death].”
We notice there is a difference in how the elect and non‑elect are listed. The elect classes are separated by commas, while the non‑elect are separated from the elect by a semi‑colon. It seems reasonable that That Servant noticed these two texts when he unhesitatingly gave us an unbegotten class, which we call Youthful Worthies, to be won after all the Saints have been gathered. We do not wish to add anything to That Servant’s faithful teaching anymore than to add to God’s Word (Rev. 22:18); nor do we want to omit any of his faithful teaching anymore than we would omit some of God’s word (Rev. 22:19).
Some may ask, what of those who have consecrated since 1914? That Servant did not hesitate to give us the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). He taught four elect classes, including an unbegotten consecrated class between the Ages, after the High Calling is closed and before Restitution begins. (2 Tim. 2:20: Volume 6, page 157, top; Reprint 5761, col. 2; Reprint 5493, col. 1, par. 6) Perhaps in a future paper we will give more details on this unbegotten class in the end of the Age. But it is sufficient to say now that That Servant finished his mission to “gather together the Saints.” (Psa. 50:5) All were reaped into the Harvest movement before he enacted the toga scene in the railroad Pullman in Texas on October 16, 1916, with one of his final statements being, “I have done as thou has commanded me.” (Ezek. 9:11) This was in substance one of the last statements of Jesus, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4) (See Question Book, page 147, Question 1, and page 152, Question 3)
Will our Pastor’s work endure? Temporarily it has suffered and will for a short time continue to suffer a partial eclipse in many minds – but surely as the Truth is powerful and will in the end prevail, so surely the work that the Lord gave That Servant will endure. In the meantime, it is the privilege of all who wish to support his work to protect against deviation from, and perversions of it whenever, wherever and however they can.
We also pay tribute to the Epiphany Messenger who faithfully upheld and defended the Truth in keeping with 1 Sam. 2:30: “Them that honor me I will honor.” We do well to honor those that the Lord honors – not as “angel” worshipers, but in sound and proper appraisal of their position and service in the Household.
Let their memory abide fragrant to us and be an inspiration for greater fidelity to fruitfulness, in the Lord. We heartily proclaim, God Bless their memory!