My dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
Today it is a proper appraisal to say that Protestantism is almost dead – the spirit of the Reformers, John Wessel, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Thomas Cranmer, (all confirmed Protesters) has almost vanished from the earth. In this grouping we may also include Brother Russell, because the “protest” that he began in 1874 and continued to 1916 has almost vanished from the sects in Little Babylon. While the Jehovah’s Witnesses do continue the attack upon established systems of religious error, they themselves have become such errorists that it is rank travesty to include them with those genuine reformers – protesters – who manifested “the patience and the faith of the saints.” (Rev. 13:10)
But, with the passing of the spirit of the real protesters there has now come a wide surge of Combinationism. Let us forget our differences, they say, and cooperate against the common enemy now attacking the Church; let us defeat the atheistic rabble now so apparent an every hand. And such a combining is just what we should expect. In the 34th Chapter of Isaiah the Prophet says this: “Yaveh hath wrath against all the nations, and indignation against all their host. He hath devoted them to destruction.... and the mountains shall melt away with their blood.... the Heavens (the present-day prominent religious sects) shall roll up as a scroll.” (See also Rev. 6:14) On every hand there is laud acclaim for this “rolling together” as “the unstable and the unlearned” blindly follow their blind leaders – to fall into the ditch. “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1).
THE PRINCE OF PEACE MAKES WAR
In Rev. 19:11-21 there is a description of the action of this day in which we now live, clearly revealing God’s attitude toward the combining forces of this time. We quote parts of it from the Diaglott:
“I saw Heaven opened (the Plan of God made very clear), and behold a white horse (clear spotless doctrine – a “pure language,” Zeph. 3:9); and He who sat on him was called Faithful and True (just another name for the Prince of Peace, a name not used here in order not to conflict with the “war” to be waged), and in righteousness (not for greed, territory, revenge or other selfish interests, but according to the supreme Law of Justice) He judges and makes war.... And He was invested with a mantle dipped in blood (indicating the bloody nature of the present conflict); and His name is called, The Word (The Logos, the spokesman) of God.... And out of His mouth proceeds a sharp two-edged broadsword (to cut asunder error – secular and religious in whichever way it is wielded), so that with it He may smite the nations.... on His mantle and on His thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (the promise to Jesus’ faithful followers is that they shall be Kings and Priests, and the omnipotent Jesus is to be the King over those Kings, and the Lord over those lords).”
Much of this Scripture is also revealed in Mal. 4:1, “Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven,” with the accompanying promise that “the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.” This great and dreadful day is to accomplish two things: “He maketh sore, and bindeth up: He woundeth, and His hands make whole.” (Job 5:18) Clearly enough, it is only by considering both sides of the situation that we shall come to a proper appraisal of our own personal privileges and obligations if we would be “faithful to the lord, the Truth, and the Brethren.”
It is directly counseled by the Apostle Paul that we should “follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14; see also Rom. 14:19 and 2 Tim. 2:22); but the Apostle James limits the words of Paul by his statement in Jas. 3:17, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable,” And this principle had been emphasized by Jehu hundreds of years before in 2 Kgs. 9:22, “Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms (corrupt teachings and practices) of thy mother Jezebel (typical of the Roman Church – see Rev. 2:20) and her witchcrafts (especially deceptive false teachings) are so many?” But some – even some who have supposedly been schooled in Present Truth – ignore these outstanding and vital exceptions, stressing only peace, and quoting 1 Tim. 3:16 to justify their position, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness.” That this text has been badly corrupted by the translators is quite clear when we read it from Dr. Rotherham’s translation: “Confessedly great is the sacred secret of godliness – who was made manifest in the flesh.” This “sacred secret” is further mentioned by St. Paul in Eph. 5:32: “This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” It needs no argument that it has been a “great mystery” all during the Age that Christ is not one member, but many (Christ and the Church); it needs no argument that this has been indeed a “great mystery.”
Furthermore, the contention “without controversy” is directly contradicted by such statements as “endure hardness as good soldiers” – “fight the good fight” etc.; and these statements are also supported by certain Scriptures that apply especially here in the end of the Age, e.g., Isa. 28:17: “The hail (hard cutting Truth) shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters (great floods of Truth) shall overflow the hiding place.” Also, Isa. 41:15,16: “Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing Instrument (the Harvest sickle of Present Truth – See Rev. 14:14 Berian Comment) having teeth: and thou shalt thresh the mountains (great strong kingdoms), and beat them small, and shall make the hills (democracies and lesser governments) as chaff.... and the whirlwind (the great Time of Trouble) shall scatter them.” The greatest “refuge of lies” of all time has been the Papacy, which has counterfeited almost every fundamental truth of the Bible – and especially so, and in very profuse manner, the truth concerning the glorious Kingdom reign of Christ and the Church.
It is a very easy matter to reach hasty, but erroneous, conclusion from reading just one Scripture; and such is true of those who conclude that “without controversy” means we should follow peace at any price. Old Testament precedent directly contradicts it, as can be seen from the prophets who “waxed valiant in fight.... were tortured.... were stoned, they were sawn asunder....slain with the sword.” (Hob. 11:34-38) All of these outrages occurred because the prophets exposed the evils of teaching and practice of their time – particularly, the evils of the religious leaders of their time. Note specifically 2 Chr. 24:19-21: ‘‘God sent prophets to them.... they testified against them.... the spirit of God came upon Zechariah.... Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord?.... Because ye have forsaken the Lord, He hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king.” Many who were one time in the forefront of the Harvest battle now seem to feel that the laurels gained in the past will suffice to bring them to the Heavenly Canaan; but the entire record decries such an attitude. Of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Zechariah, Jesus, the Apostles, and the multitude of Gospel-Age martyrs, the sublime report is that they died with their boots on – “faithful unto death.” Those people today who advocate the preaching only of winsome truths – giving no offense to any one – can scarcely be classified as “enduring hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ” nor will they eventually be in the same record book with those who have done so – the Fully Faithful, We consider It a truthful observation that none can be faithful to Present Truth without contending for that Truth.
WHO MAY ENDURE THE DAY OF HIS COMING?
“Behold Me! sending My Messenger.... But who may endure the day of His coming? And who is he that can stand when He appeareth (maketh manifest)? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ alkali; Therefore He will sit as a refiner and purifier (polisher) of silver, And will purify (polish, develop) the sons of Levi (primarily the Little Flock and the Great Company), And shall smelt them as gold and as silver; So shall they belong to Yaveh, offering a gift in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:1-3, Rotherham) These texts are undoubtedly prophetic of Jesus’ second advent; and they itemize some of the things He would accomplish at that time. It is stated that He will be (1) like a refiner’s fire; (2) like fullers’ alkali; (3) sit as a refiner and purifier (polisher) of silver; (4) purify (thoroughly polish, develop) the sons of Levi, so they may (5) offer a gift In righteousness.
Our concern in this writing will be mainly with No. 3 above: A refiner and polisher of silver. It needs no argument that literal silver is not here meant. Quite clearly it means the Truth. All who are familiar with the facts know only too will that the Lord did refine the Truth since 1874, by separating from it the conglomeration of error that had attached to It during the interim from His first advent. And not only so, once the error was eliminated, a great polishing work was done with the then refined Truth, giving it a brilliance that made it a thing of real beauty to all who were “of the Truth.” This was true not only of religious Truth, but also applied with great force to secular truth. The “unclean spirits” (teachings) of the Divine Right of Kings, Clergy, Aristocracy and Labor have been mercilessly exposed, so that today in the more enlightened countries very few still cling to the doctrine that “The King can do no wrong,’’ or that the preachers and priests can consign to eternal torment all who do not ‘‘hear’’ them. “Truth shall spring out of the earth (the organized social order); and righteousness (the Holy Spirit will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment—John 16:8) shall look down from Heaven.” (Psa. 85:11)
But just as human agents waged battle against secular error, so human agents were also used of the lord as He “looked down from Heaven.” These human beings were that group that wielded the sickle of Harvest Truth, chief of whom was Brother Russell, He not only put the “ink” into the “inkhorn” (Eze. 9:2) for all to use, but he himself was foremost of the antitypical “three hundred” who waged antitypical Gideon’s battle against the hosts of antitypical Midian (religious errorists) – Judges Chapter 7. Of course, there was much of turmoil and great controversy in all this, with the victory surely coming to those who held to the polished brilliant Truth on the state of the dead, etc. This victory had become so pronounced that toward the end of Brother Russell’s life one secular writer offered this quatrain:
There is a man in our town
Whose name I need not tell;
I’m sure you all must know him,
For he put the fires out of Hell!
As was the case with David, Brother Russell was very much a man of war always in the forefront of some battle somewhere. One brother once said to him, Brother Russell, you are the most loved man on earth. To which Brother Russell replied, Yes, and the most hated! But we believe it is a fair appraisal to conclude that those who knew him well, would certainly classify him as a genteel man a man who would much prefer peace to war. It has indeed been a great Gospel-Age paradox that the “sons of peace” – led by the Son of Peace – have been in almost continuous battle; and many of such have done so contrary to their inherited dispositions. Many of them would have followed a more peaceful path had they been allowed to do the choosing; yet they had forced themselves to be ‘‘good soldiers’’ as duty had appeared to them.
Theirs not to question Why;
Theirs but to do and die!
And for many of them – and especially so as respects Brother Russell – we believe the words of the great Shakespeare are most apt:
His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him
That Nature might stand up and say to all the world,
THIS WAS A MAN!
To do any task well, there must first of all be the knowledge to do; then the will to do; then the tools wherewith to do; then the capacity to do; and finally the providential circumstances to do (the physical, mental and financial strength). This is very well summed up by St. Paul In 2 Tim. 3:15,16, Dia.: “From a child thou hast known those Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise for Salvation, through that faith which is in Jesus Christ. All Scripture, divinely Inspired, is indeed profitable for teaching (doctrine – what we should believe), for refuting (error – that which we should not believe), for correction (that which we should not do), for that discipline which is in righteousness (that which we should do); so that the Man of God may be complete, thoroughly fitted for every good work,” Usually it is by controversy that the clear untainted truth is established; and this has been especially true here in the end of the Age. Thus, the prophecy of Malachi forcefully applies: “He (Jesus) shall sit as a refiner and a polisher, developer, of the Truth.” And those who clamor for peace without first having purity, those who have faulted Brother Russell and others for engaging in controversy, such have in effect been finding fault with our Lord Himself; because this controversy this polishing, this developing – of the Truth is specifically one of the outstanding activities of His Second Advent. It is this “polishing” of the Truth that has directly resulted in ‘‘polishing, developing” the Sons of Levi. And the reason the Sons of Levi must be so developed is that “they may make an offering in righteousness” unto the Lord. Until all such have come into Present Truth – to appropriate the Truth from the table the lord has provided for His people at this time – no activity on their part can be acceptable to the Lord – regardless of any outward appearance of prosperity they may have. Jesus said one of His primary purposes at His first Advent was: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the Truth.” (John 18:37) And, just as the Truth at that time “brought life and immortality to light,” so in His second Advent “the hail (hard cutting Truth) shall sweep away the refuge of lies.”
SOME CORROBORATING CITATIONS
Following is something on this subject from Brother Russell: “Having put on the whole armor of God, and boldly withstood error by a clear and fearless presentation and defense of the Truth during this evil day, when giant errors stalk about, the saints are exhorted, ‘Having done all, to stand,’ clad in the full armor, with the sword of the Spirit ever ready for defense, and with watchfulness and perseverance and prayer for all saints.” (Vol. 3, p. 212) ‘‘And suffering with Christ, we have seen, is not the ordinary suffering common to all in the fallen state, but only such sufferings as are the results, more or less directly, of the following of Christ’s example, in advocating unpopular truths and exposing popular errors.” (Vol. 3, p. 209) In the face of such clear statements by Brother Russell, it seems ridiculous in the extreme for any to decry controversy, and yet claim they are fully faithful to the Harvest Truth and That Servant’s teachings. Indeed, he was fully alerted to the fact that one of our Lord’s outstanding second-advent works would be the “polishing, developing” of the Truth; and those who do not understand this are just that much out of Present Truth.
And more from Brother Russell In Vol. 2, pp. 236,237: “As there (in the Jewish Harvest) The Truth set the father against the son, the daughter against the mother, and the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law, so again, a man’s foes are often they of his own household. This cannot be avoided. They who love peace more than the Truth will be tested, and they who love truth supremely will be accepted and as the overcomers, as in the Jewish Harvest.... As we should expect, we find it here: the blindest are the leaders of the blind, who, like their types, Know not the time of their visitation.” (Luke 19:14)
Now follows something from Reprints 5546,5547: “Today, as in Jesus’ time, many are influenced by the false teachings of those to whom they have been accustomed to look as their spiritual shepherds. If then the world should come to be in sympathy with us as a people, and should speak well of us, and we should become popular, we should come under the condemnation expressed in the Master’s words, ‘Woe unto you when all men speak well of you; for so did their fathers unto the false prophets’.... There are all manner of evil forces and Influences surrounding us (especially from those leaders who are in Azazel’s clutches – abandoned to Azazel—See E-15:525–JJH). These evil influences are of Satan and the fallen angels.... As we look back, we can see that all who have walked in the narrow way have received persecution. Whoever has been in accord with God has been out of accord with the course of this world. There were the Baptists, and then the Methodists, who in the early days had persecution because they had more light than others. The Presbyterians also for a time, because they had had greater light than others, received persecution (from their former brethren, particularly, as was in the case of our Lord and others—JJH). And we must expect the same today. Persecution will come to those who have the courage of their convictions. The lord tells us that the anointing that we have received of Him is for the very purpose that we may show forth His praises.”
All of the foregoing is quite in harmony with St. Paul’s words in Rom. 12:2: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed (changed in nature, disposition, and the like) by the renewing of your mind (with Present Truth), that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” Clearly enough, the great Apostle was a “non-conformist” – “beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (Acts 26:24). As Mark Twain has so ably stated, “If we find ourselves on the side of the majority, it’s time to reform.” But in all of this it is well that we retain “the spirit of a sound mind” and, that we consider well the Apostle’s words to his beloved Philippians 2:3 (Dia.): “Do nothing from party-spirit (sectarianism), or vainglory.... not each one regarding his own Interests, but each one also those of others,” This same point was impressed upon the Jews immediately after they were delivered from Egyptian bondage: “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil (in sectarian blindness, or do-nothing complacency).”—Ex. 23:2..
To be a “good soldier” one must have courage and combativeness – not a good runner, but a good fighter. And, while “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,” many of God’s people throughout the Age have willingly answered the call to battle with “the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.” (Eph. 6:17, Dia.) The Adversary, ever seeking whom he may devour – and being a shrewd appraiser of human frailty was quick to discern that many would face lions in the Roman arena, rather than forsake “the good fight.” Consequently, he aroused their combativeness against each other, with both sides on occasion being in error; yet contending so strenuously for their error that they destroyed each other. This mistake we should studiously and determinedly avoid, giving heed to the prophet’s words, “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” (Isa. 30:15) We should ever bear in mind it is not characteristic of the Lord’s true people to wish destruction upon the gainsayers (Luke 9:53-55); but to recover them if possible from their ‘‘path of error.’’ (Jas. 5:20, Dia.)
Early in the 20th Century a few prominent preachers were alerted to the peace-at-any-price disposition already then appearing in some. Said one of them: “When Christianity disposes wholly with controversy it will be like a sleeping man harmless and helpless; it will be a sad spectacle.... Controversy was the life of Paul’s works – polite controversy, brotherly controversy; but strong in exposing Error and building up the Truth. The Epistles were full of controversy. Moreover, many of Christ’s sayings were strictly controversial.” It is plainly evident that many who attend services in the sects of Little Babylon, and claiming to be “in the Truth” do no more about it than attend meetings – they have a nice place to “go to church.”
In conclusion, we would offer one more quotation from Brother Russell, found in Vol. 2, pp.358,359:
“In 2 Thess. 2:8-12, the Apostle Paul declares concerning Antichrist: ‘Whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the spirit of His mouth, and annihilate with the bright shining (ephaneia) of His presence (Parousia).’ The light of truth is to penetrate every subject. By exposing rights and wrongs it will lead into the great struggle between these principles, and between the human exponents of each, causing the time of trouble and wrath. In this struggle, wrong and evil shall fall, and right and truth shall triumph. Among other evils now to be finally and utterly destroyed is Antichrist, with which nearly every evil, or theory and practice, is more or less directly connected. And it will be this bright-shining (Epiphaneia), this sunlight from the Lord’s presence, which will produce the day of trouble, because of and in which Antichrist, with every other evil system, will be destroyed. ‘Whose presence is with (accompanied by or during) an energetic operation of Satan (Satanic energy and action) with all power, and signs, and lying delusions, and with every iniquitous deception for those perishing; because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be preserved. And for this reason God will send to them a deluding power, that they might believe the error (which is pronouncedly true in those who have had Parousia Truth and now contend for “peace and tranquillity” instead of contending for the Truth – a manifest Truth that they received it NOT in the love of it—JJH): so that all not believing the truth, but taking pleasure in iniquity, may be judged’ unworthy to share the Millennial Kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ (such as the Great Company and those who go completely into perdition—JJH).
“We understand these words to imply that in the time of the Lord’s presence (since 1874), through this Antichrist system (one of the principal of Satan’s agencies for deceiving and controlling the world), as well as through all his other agencies (including those who are in Azazel’s clutches—JJH), the devil will make a most desperate resistance to the new order of things about to be established. He will take advantage of every little circumstance, and all the inherited weaknesses and selfishness of the human family, to enlist their hearts and hands and pens in this final struggle against liberty and the full elucidation of the truth. Prejudices will be enkindled where, if the truth were clearly seen, none would exist; and passionate zeal will be evoked, and partisan unions formed, which will deceive and mislead many (beginning at the House of the Lord – among the Truth groups.—JJH). And this will be so, not because God has not made the truth clear enough to guide all the fully consecrated, but because those who will be deceived were not sufficiently in earnest in seeking out and using the truth provided as meat in due season. And thus it will be manifested that the class misled received not the truth in the love of it, but rather through custom, formality or fear” (revealed in this Epiphany as all who stand when He maketh manifest”—JJH).”
To which the words of St. Paul may be added: “Praying at every season... on my behalf, that eloquence may be given me... to make known the secret of the Glad Tidings, that I may speak boldly concerning it... Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. The favor be with all who sincerely love our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 6:18-23, Dia.)
Sincerely your brother,
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim