My dear Brethren: – Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
Comes once more the time of year when many of us are sadly reminded of the passing of the Parousia and Epiphany Messengers – accompanied howbeit by many pleasant memories of our personal experiences with them. In Rev. 1:16 we are told that “He (the Lord) had in His right hand seven stars”; and v. 20 explains that the “seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” That these “stars” are not individuals, as some have taught, is clearly demonstrated in Rev. 12:1, where the “woman” (the true Church) is adorned with “a crown of twelve stars.” Those twelve stars are the twelve Apostles, who comprised the composite star, or special messengers, to the incipient Gospel‑Age Church. And, as was true of the first epoch of this Age, the same has likewise been true of all seven epochs of the Gospel Age – each epoch had more than one “angel” as the special Pastor and Teacher. In the last, or seventh, epoch – in which we have been since 1870 – the “star” contained but two individuals, the same being Brother Russell and Brother Johnson. Thus, we caption this paper “The Star of Laodicea”; and we hope to relate certain items about both of them to the pleasure and inspiration of our readers.
The “angels” all during the Age were under the Lord's special guidance, protection and care; they were His messengers, or representatives. (See Berean Comment for Rev. 1:20) It is well to note this fact as a sobering influence upon each of us in our appraisal and attitude toward them. Especially is this thought emphasized for the first and the seventh epochs of this Age, of which more later on.
It was never our privilege to meet Brother Russell personally, although we have received much information from various brethren who were closely attached to him. In Vols. 9 and 14 Brother Johnson has eulogized him far beyond anything we might here present; but to what he wrote about him we add one item he related to us personally and is not given in detail anywhere in his writing, so far as we know – although a kindred thought is expressed in E:8‑561. As most of us know, Brother Russell never attended any institutions of higher learning; therefore, his knowledge of Hebrew and Greek was limited. On the other hand, Brother Johnson was highly skilled in both languages, so much so that he often quoted copious sections of the Bible in English, then quoted the same text in Hebrew. Therefore, Brother Russell often asked his interpretation on difficult texts; and, in over four hundred such instances, Brother Russell himself had the correct meaning before asking Brother Johnson's opinion. And it was this, said Brother Johnson, that thoroughly convinced him that Brother Russell was “That servant,” because no one unschooled in Hebrew and Greek could have been so consistently right without the special enlightenment, guidance and care of the Lord.
And, as That Servant, “The Parousia Messenger was given charge of the Church, of its doctrinal, correctional, refutational and ethical teachings, of its work.... specifically of the correct interpretation of the Scriptures on the ransom, atonement, sin‑offerings, mediator and covenants” (E:11‑107); and “as a priest in his relations to the errors and wrong practices of the nominal church. Certainly his face was set like brass in strength against these errors and wrong practices.” (E:11‑108) Of course, this aroused venom and vituperation from those whose errors and wrongs he exposed – just as the same course led Jesus to the cross.
Many were our personal experiences with such people in the years we spent in the colporteur work early in the Epiphany. On one occasion, as we approached a man, the hardening of his features became apparent, as he declared he wanted none of the literature; he had known “Russell” and attended a number of his lectures. In politeness we asked what opinion he had formed of the man. His answer: “I think he was just an old crank!” In another instance we allayed the ire of a Mormon by mildness and politeness, after which he became affable enough to offer us this advice: “Young man, you have all the qualities, and you could be an Evangelist if you just got away from the influence of that old quack!” Many such instances could we relate as we learned from experience the truth of the Lord's words: “Men shall revile you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely.” And by such treatment That Servant learned that “the servant is not above His Master” – he drank of the same cup as did Jesus. Brother Johnson said he once affectionately told Brother Russell that he was the most loved man on earth. Brother Russell's answer: “Yes, Brother, and the most hated!”
BROTHER RUSSELL'S STEWARDSHIP DOCTRINE
On previous occasion we have stated that Brother Russell's stewardship doctrine was the correct interpretation of Leviticus 16, the central feature of which is Restitution. In support of this conclusion, we quote from E:11‑94 (24): “It was especially during this period, in 1879, that the light on the tabernacle in general, and on Leviticus 16 in particular, was by Jesus given, first to That Servant and then later to the Church, showing the two antitypical Sin‑offerings, the two salvations in natures separate and distinct.... Here, too, the doctrine of the World's High Priest was brought to light.”
Corroborating the foregoing is this in Parousia Vol. 3, p. 216 by Brother Russell himself: “And strange to say, it is the message of God's loving provision, in the ransom, for the restitution of all things, by and through Christ Jesus and His glorified body, the Church, God's Kingdom.... that is to develop and draw into heart-union the true class only, to test them and separate them from the nominal mass.” This statement by Brother Russell clearly states that the preaching of Restitution would accomplish the Harvest reaping work; and this is substantiated even in the name of one of his types in E:14‑114:
“Jashobeam, the people shall return, in allusion to his preaching much on restitution.”
And further in E:14‑155 (16): “Brother Russell also charged these Sunday Pilgrims to exhort the public to declare continually the restitution salvation.” It was the understanding of Restitution that harmonized the Bible, and made vital the Harvest Message. (See E:8‑384 – top) As at the first Advent, “The people that sat in darkness saw great light,” so all of us “saw great light” when the restitution message was explained to us. But, just as the great light at the first Advent roused great opposition, so here in the Harvest time the Truth people became “the sect that everywhere is spoken against.” (Acts 28:22) Nevertheless, Brother Russell continued with vigor and determination to preach Restitution “through evil report, and good report”; and, surely we all can join with Brother Johnson in exclaiming “God bless his memory!”
THE SECOND STAR
Brother Johnson was Brother Russell's companion helper, and faithfully carried on in spirit and in Truth the teachings and practices established by him. As he himself states it in E:11‑107, it was his duty “to expound and defend correctly, everything connected with the antitypical Tabernacle.” If he was right in that statement, then the attempts to change the teachings of that Tabernacle which have been made since his death, are all anathema.
As some of our readers know, it was in the fall of 1942 that we were privileged to accomplish a month's pilgrim trip with Brother Johnson to the West Coast of the United States and back. This gave us many intimate hours of travel together, during which he related details of his life from infancy, which he said he had never before revealed to any one. Clearly enough, he was among us “as one that serveth,” – “an example of the believers,” and to the believers. Nothing was ever too bad; he had that “godliness with contentment, which is great gain.” On occasion when the going was rough, he would emit his hearty chuckle with the observation: “When we get into the Kingdom, won't we look back and laugh at some of these experiences.”
As we said at his funeral on October 27, 1950, he was a man, even as you and I; and he made mistakes, even as you and I. But when we consider all the good he did for us in his years of faithful ministry, we reveal our sad limitations if we dwell upon his mistakes, rather than his virtues. As for us, and our house, we heartily exclaim, God bless his memory!
“MY SERVANT MOSES”
It is not good that we should extol the Stars of Laodicea beyond fact; although we should be guided by St. Paul's clear admonition to “count them worthy of double honor who labor in word and doctrine.” (I Tim. 5:17) They themselves repeatedly exhorted all likewise to “labor in word and doctrine” – to “prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good.” Thus, as faithful Pastors and Teachers, they “Watched over your souls as they that must give an account,” and continually waged war against clericalism and sectarianism – two besetting Gospel‑Age sins of the Great Company that developed after the Apostles passed away. The Ephesus period of the Church was commended for avoidance of these evils: “This thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Rev. 2:6) Note the Berean Comments: “Those who lord it over God's people. The word 'Nicolans' means 'A conqueror or lord of the people.'“
And, while we should not “fall at their feet and worship,” neither should we take the other extreme of discounting them too much, or become overly critical. The outstanding warning against this latter evil is to be found in Numbers 12, where the Lord's anger was kindled against Miriam and Aaron: “Were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” We do well to take close note of this, and apply it properly and according to our time. Jesus specifically told the “Star” (the twelve Apostles) of the first Church: “He that receiveth you receiveth me.” (Matt. 10:40) At that time those that rejected the Apostles were not blessed with the Harvest Truth. That condition did not prevail between the two Harvests, because the Interim Stars did not possess the same authority as the Apostles. But with the inception of the Gospel‑Age Harvest much the same authority attached to the Laodicean Star; That Servant was made ruler over all His goods. Those who refused to receive him never came into Present Truth; and those who did receive him, then “spoke against” him soon found themselves “leprous,” as was Miriam – they became “plagued” with error. Especially would we say it is markedly true of those who came to an understanding of the Numbers 12 type. Once such began to “speak against” him, it was not long before they became noticeably “leprous”; they rejected some Truth they had, thus becoming “unclean” (John 15:3).
These are troublous times, with the tendency in every direction being toward Anarchy; and the Lord's people should be on guard that “it shall not come nigh thee” (Psa. 91:7). We believe all would do well at this time to read Chapter 6 of Parousia Vol. 6 – “Order and discipline in the New Creation.” This will be honoring both members of the Laodicean Star.
It is well for us to note here once more that “the Lord seeth not as man seeth.” Moses was the youngest child – the “baby” in his family. Then, as is still true in many countries, the oldest boy was given the preeminence in inheritance and prestige. Even yet, in Germany the oldest boy is considered the head of the family after the father dies, regardless of the superior brilliance and integrity that may reside in a younger son. We have the striking example of this in the way Joseph's older brethren envied and discounted him – hated him, and “could not speak peaceably unto him” (Gen. 37:4). Somewhat similar was the situation of Brother Johnson, who was one of the younger pilgrims at Brother Russell's death; and his older brethren would not bring themselves to accept instruction from him. Yet, it is now clear to us who hold his memory blessed, that he was more qualified than all of them combined to be leader of God's people. Again there was demonstrated the truism that “Age is no proof against folly,” coupled with the advice of St. Paul to Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth!” (1 Tim. 4:12) It is well that we honor those whom God honors, regardless of age or youth, and to strive honestly to “see not as man seeth.”
It is our opinion that both Brother Russell and Brother Johnson did the best they knew how to do; nor will greater tribute ever be paid to any of us. As Jesus said of Mary, “She hath done what she could,” so may it eventually be said of each of us – We have done what we could! And again, God bless their memory!
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy Palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the House of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.” Psa. 122:6‑9
ABOUT SHAKING HANDS
At this Philadelphia Labor Day Convention R. G. Jolly once again demonstrated his “love of the Truth” to be as limited as is he himself in stature when he himself approached Sister Wells with his hand extended to her. Then, when she attempted to give him that common courtesy which we owe “a heathen,” he made a spectacle of himself before all in his tirade against her; then went into quite a tirade from the Convention platform about a “sifter” trying to shake hands with him.
A few years ago at Chicago he carried his “sleight-of-hand” to greater extreme when he smilingly approached Brother and Sister Clinard, and with feigned enthusiasm actually shook hands with them; then made quite some ado from the platform about “sifters” shaking hands with him. on another occasion he did the same with Sister Dunnagan and Sister Price – approached them with outstretched hand and welcomed them (although Sister Dunnagan had formerly disfellowshiped him).
Knowing from sad experience that R. G. Jolly's limitations in character are as small as R. G. Jolly the man, we had coached all of these brethren beforehand what they might expect of him. In January 1957 at Jamaica he actually came smilingly (as though greeting warm friends) across a room about twenty feet to offer his hand to us, which we reciprocated in keeping with customary civility – without, however, addressing him as “Brother.” Later in the Kingston Convention meetings he assailed us in such venomous fashion that one sister remarked that had he been free to use “dark-age” tactics “he would have burned you at the stake.” There, too, he was very profuse in his denunciation of the “sifters in our midst” – warning the brethren assembled there not to approach us, etc.
Whether R. G. Jolly knows as little about the truth respecting hand-shaking as he does about many other Truth matters, or whether he viciously shows his contempt for the Truth, we cannot be certain. Either state offers distressing revelation of the man. Apparently, he is concerned not at all that he be “caught with guile” (Thes. 2:1-3); and we are caused to wonder if he has ever assimilated Brother Russell's teaching in Volume six on such matters. In that writing we are instructed to follow our Lord's teaching to treat disfellowshiped brethren “as an heathen man” (Matt. 18:17) – “but not injured or treated unkindly in any way” (Vol. 6, p. 303).
Since we do not hesitate to shake hand, or do business, or extend ordinary civility to “a heathen man,” neither should we deny such amenities to a disfellowshiped person – although we should not greet him as “brother.” This course we followed with R. G. Jolly at Jamaica (despite the fact we knew he had carried on a “whispering campaign” against us and had slandered us shamefully because of our resistance of his evils in doctrine and in practice), and other instances; as we also counseled those mentioned above to do. In so doing we were quite in keeping with the letter and the spirit of our Lord's counsel, as explained by Brother Russell. It is our desire to have them “turn from the error of their way,” rather than follow them in their error. So long as any of these New Creatures have their standing in the Great Company, though uncleansed, there is hope for their recovery. We realize, of course, that R. G. Jolly has been so often and so conclusively humiliated by us on his many errors that he in fact has nothing left but “carnal weapons” – the cheap trickery of the unprincipled politician or the unscrupulous Jesuits. That is for him to answer, of course; but we advise our readers to be ''without guile,” and to be guided by That Servant's instructions in such matters.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the House of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.” Psa. 122:6-9
Sincerely your brother John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
LETTER OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Brother Hoefle: Grace and peace through our Beloved Lord!
Recently several of the Winston-Salem Class attended the Jehovah's Witnesses' Convention in Salisbury, N. C., to serve the Three Babylons tracts. There were over 900 present, and we were able to serve quite a few of the tracts. The 'promise' the speaker made to those who would join with the “new order” (their sect) was “live forever.” When he told them they could “live forever” the crowd burst out in loud applause. It was something to behold! But there are others in Little Babylon beckoning to the world (Restitutionists) to consecrate now before the Highway of Holiness is opened, with their Epiphany Campers Consecrated, or Quasi-elect Consecrated, etc. (although we hear very little mention of this false doctrine at the L.H.M.M. Conventions – if anything).
We did manage to get quite a few of the Three Babylons tracts out before the ''watch dogs'' were sicked on us (by the “clergy”). They ordered us around and took hold of our arms and steered us away (and not too gently either!). They threatened some of us with the police if we didn't get moving fast. They tried to take some of the tracts away from their adherents and advised for rather commanded) them not to accept the tracts. I went to the street and put some of the tracts in parked cars, where the windows were open. One fellow came up and said: “Don't put any of that stuff in my car!” I asked him kindly which one was his car and told him we had no desire to force the Truth on any one, as this is not the day of force so far as the Truth is concerned. One said he knew all about the tract – had read it. Another asked me questions (one of the ''escorts” – “watch dogs”) about the tract and the Movement. I offered him one (he was as nice as he could be, having received his orders in regard to us), but he was afraid to take it and read it. I told them their attitude toward us betrayed their weakness! that we always accepted their literature, if they had any for free distribution, and read it – nor were we opposed to having any in our group accept their literature and read it. We told them if they would come to our meetings we would treat them with courtesy – would appreciate their interest in us. He said “We wouldn't go to your meetings.” I told him I knew he wouldn't if he knew it. They have been to our meetings and disrupted it on Sunday mornings (although I didn't tell him that). We didn't chase them away either, but they were only too happy to get going, even though we treated them kindly and courteously. One said we had no legal right to come to their meetings. I told him that is what the Scribes and Pharisees said about Jesus when He went among them. He said: “But Jesus did have a legal right!” I answered him that I knew that, but they crucified Him to keep Him from coming among them – and that I felt we had a 'legal' right there, even though they said we didn't. He said no more!
It is marvelous to see how fearful they are of this tract! I told one of the fellows following us around, that surely Big Babylon, in all its venom against the Truth under Brother Russell, hadn't shown any more hatred and persecution than we had received from them. When they were 'advising' their adherents not to accept the tracts and not to read them, I said: ''Are you going to have a burning of the tracts? They burned Brother Russell's books, but that only caused honest people to investigate more than they would have otherwise.” How grateful we are to our Heavenly Father to know it is the Truth that is causing all the uproar – and not us personally. These people didn't know us personally, but several of them had read the tract or have had opportunity to read them, as some of the friends have mailed several to some in that group.
We felt it a privilege to follow in the footsteps of our Beloved Lord and suffer for the same Cause that He suffered. We know if we have the Truth and its Spirit that we must suffer such persecutions from the “religious” groups, just as our Lord had to suffer from 'like' “religious” groups – and just as has been true all during the Harvest under Brother Russell and Brother Johnson. The Truth is hated as much today as ever – and if we would be faithful to the Truth and its Spirit we will quickly find that out. There is much more to relate, but this letter is getting long already.
The Lord bless and direct you as you seek to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.”
By His Grace --------- N.C.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF GENERAL INTEREST
As most of our readers know, Brother Johnson each fall designated a period for special effort in antitypical Gideon's Second Battle against eternal torment and the consciousness of the dead. This he did in loving memory of That Servant. We now recommend the continuance of such effort in remembrance of both Star Members, for those of like mind and who are physically able to do so. We suggest October 15 through November 12 for the Special Effort this year. A good method of engaging in this service is at church doors with Where are the Dead, or What is the Soul. Also, the Resurrection tract can be used in this Battle. Witnessing with the tracts, or other pertinent literature, to individuals where opportunity presents itself is always good. We shall be pleased to supply the pertinent tracts free of all charge to those inclined and able to engage in this good work; and to join with us in the petition, “God bless their memory!”