My dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
Another year gone, with events of much interest to all of us in science, labor, finance and politics. The scientific progress has been most impressive, with the speed of travel ever on the increase. It is no problem at all to go several thousand miles in a day – a distance that would have required our Lord almost a full year to accomplish when He was here the first time. And yet, we find people loud in their complaints if their conveyance is an hour or two late. Also, when we speak of speed of travel we have in mind that travel within the earth’s gravitational pull; the US Astronauts traveled over 17,000 miles per hour, or almost one-half million miles in one day.
Another item of considerable Interest is the improvement in cold storage of fruit. It has been discovered that increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the storage room to a certain level that apples put into storage in the Fall are in just about exactly the same condition in the Spring as when they were placed in the storage room in the Fall. Some of these improvements were developed merely by happenstance, as instance a certain use of mine tailings in northern Canada. The flow of these tailings was considered just refuse, to be disposed of as expeditiously and conveniently as possible, so they were drained into a useless swamp. But it was quickly seen that rank and heavy vegetation began to flourish from the effects of the drainage; therefore, that drainage is now serving two purposes – watering and fertilizing a choice planting of trees. We ourselves were witness to this situation during inspection of the mine in question last August; and in that party were several doctors and scientific men. And, in discussing mine formations, their age and cause, one of the doctors stated positively that it has now been definitely determined that the ice cap formations over the South Pole are not more than six or eight thousand years old. This doesn’t leave much argument between Science and the Bible on the age of some of earth’s formations. Verily, “Truth shall spring out of the earth (the present social order); and righteousness shall look down from Heaven (the glorified Christ).” Psa. 85:11.
The world’s financial status becomes more derelict with each passing month. During 1965 the overall debt in the United States increased another 101 billion dollars, making the sum total now of Federal, State, Municipal and private debt of approximately one and one-half trillion dollars. The US National debt in 1914 was about one billion – considered sizable enough when compared with the then world’s gold supply. The World War brought the debt to 26 billion, which in the next ten years was reduced by ten billion through the astute financial management of Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon. The real gyrations started when the “New-Deal” came into power in 1933, the debt increasing in six years to about 40 billion. In 1939 just before the second World War began – we remember very clearly the observation of a Washington financial service: “No one here in Washington with any intelligence believes this debt will ever be paid off.”
From that 40 billion our National debt has now reached the fantastic figure of about 330 billion – an amount so phenomenal that little comment Is made about it any more. The fear of what may happen has silenced both political party leaders; the philosophy seems to be to leave the sleeping dog lie – when we are either out of office or in our graves, let the next governing body cope with the dilemma. This tends to make normal living extremely insecure; and it would seem rather certain that the undoing of the capitalistic system will be precipitated by the collapse of the financial structure. In a desperate attempt to continue the present erosion in a quiet and orderly manner, the United States has been forced to increase interest rates to around six per cent; and we recall very vividly that it was the drastic increase in interest rates that brought about the collapse of 1929. At that time the US National debt was about 16 billion; so it does not require a very vivid Imagination to visualize what a similar debacle would bring in world affairs today –when our National debt is twenty times the amount it was in 1929.
The political morale is as fragile as the financial structure – with a small minority of the politicians even professing adherence to sound and moral technique. A business man recently stated to us regarding a certain politician that he would kiss a baboon if it would secure a vote for him; and we believe it is a sage observation that about the only thing politicians do well is collect the taxes – from YOU, that is. The tax collectors never give up against tax violators; murder and tax evasion are two crimes never forgiven by law enforcement officers. And while murder is indeed a moral issue, one prominent financial genius made the remark that he does not consider taxes as a moral issue – it is a political issue.
Increasing taxes, and the pressure to enforce collection, go hand in hand with the increasing debt structure and high burdensome interest rates – with the politicians always following the line of least resistance. Thus, they never do anything in fundamental reform until a crisis develops – after which it is too late to accomplish the results that would have come had proper steps been taken In time. The Axiom, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, is not to be found in the politicians’ Book of Rules; and efficiency and economy in Government operation are anathema to most of them. It is well proven by history that the common people seldom rise above the Ideals and morals exemplified in their leaders, and this applies to Governments and to organizations – civic and religious.
Trees die in the top first; so do organizations and governments; so do individuals. Of the last of Judah’s kings it was written, “Thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end.” (Eze. 21:25) Following Israel came Babylon, and “Belshazzar made a great feast.... and drank wine” (Dan. 5:1) on the same night the Medes and the Persians unseated him and took over the world dominion. Came then Alexander, the Macedonian, who overthrew the Medes, but could not withstand the enemy of revelry, wine and satiety. Following him came the Romans, who did similarly, and became an easy prey to the barbaric Teutons. And of Sodom and Gomorrah it is written, “Pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her.... neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” (Eze. 16:49) As Brother Johnson has so deftly declared – Few indeed can stand heavy adversity, but fewer still can stand extreme prosperity. “Sleek-headed men, such as sleep o’nights” – fat and indolent from a life of ease and prosperity. It was “the rulers” in Israel, the High Priest and others waxed fat from the tributes wheedled from the poor of the land, who “crucified the Lord of Glory.” And, when we now hear the leaders of our financial structure whining about certain other countries refusing to cooperate with them in their “controlled currency,” refusing to condone further their house of worthless paper, it is much the same as a man who is a bank robber by profession threatening to shoot his pursuers if they do not quit chasing him. His pursuers just won’t cooperate with him!
Nor is the leadership in religion more virile than are the leaders in Government and labor. This past year the Lutherans in Scandinavia held a ministerial conclave to determine if they should approve of the sex relationship in young unmarried people. Said they, eighty percent of them are doing it anyway, so it might be better if we approve of it. We might inquire, Murders are becoming much more prevalent also, so why not invent a legal method for that, too? The general tendency today is to consider the Law of Moses, given to him in the Mount by God, as outmoded and not applicable to our times. Thus, our prisons are overcrowded with vicious felons, men who would quickly commit heinous crimes were they free to do so. The “poor” criminal is being championed today on every hand – let us be sure he is not abused. But what about the persons he has wronged? Very little is heard about that. The general tendency today is to eliminate the Bible as a rule of faith and practice. Canada and England – both known for their speedy execution of Justice in years gone by – have just about eliminated capital punishment, as have also a number of the States here in America. This can only aid in accentuating the rapidly-decaying moral fiber so prevalent on every hand. When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, the law was clear and unyielding regarding capital crimes: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” (Gen. 9:6 – The law already given to Noah, and emphasized with Noses) And, whenever heinous crimes of rape or murder were committed there was no question raised of bringing in six psychiatrists to determine if the culprit were mentally capable of committing such an outrage; the summary decree was DEATH – two or three witnesses being the only requirement to determine certain guilt. Once the guilt was definitely established, there was no question about the punishment.
“The entrance of thy word giveth light”; and we believe it requires no argument that the wide dissemination of the Bible, and the enlightenment that has come with it, is one of the major factors for the supremacy of the small fraction of the world’s population being so dominant in world affairs today – the Teutons, French, Scandinavians, Angle-Saxon, and America. The intelligence of any nation may be determined by its artistic and inventive genius; and almost all of the great labor-saving and scientific inventions of the past one hundred years have come from this small group of nations. And their rejection now of one of the very important features of their success – The Bible – is one of the contributing factors to their decay. “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and woman rule over them.” (Isa. 3:12) A hundred years ago the wrath of the populace was against the perpetrator of crime; today the clamor is for leniency for the poor criminal.
Most of such tactics is simply a take-off from Communism, which is attacking the vitals of all law and order today. To be a good Communist one must be an Atheist. If one is an Atheist, he has no hope of a hereafter; therefore, he readily reaches the conclusion that anything he has, or ever hopes to have, he must get it here and now. And, once one reaches that conclusion, it is just a slight step to decide he will not be too scrupulous how he gets it. Thus it is that no treaties, trade agreements, or pacts of any kind with Communists are worth the paper on which are written. You ‘fat cats’ make it; we take it, is their philosophy. Thus, he says to his neighbor – I am for peace, Pal. Just give me your house, your money, your wife, your furniture and your old light bulbs; and we will have peace. Otherwise, I will thump you on head, and take them. And, if the neighbor won’t go along with this thievery, he is against peace! And many influential religious leaders condone in mild degree such actions. There should be a re-distribution of the wealth, they say – YOUR wealth, that is. Of course, not all of them are thus guilty, and we offer the following comment from one prominent ‘Doctor’ about the underlying anxiety, depression, loneliness, boredom and pain about the meaninglessness of life:
“A man sits in front of a bad television program and does not know he is bored; he reads of Vietcong casualties and does not recall the teachings of religion; he learns of the dangers of nuclear holocaust and does not feel fear; he joins the rat race of commerce, where personal worth is measured in terms of market values, and is not aware of his anxiety. Ulcers speak louder than the mind.... Theologians and philosophers have been saying for a century that God dead, but what we confront now is the possibility that man is dead, transformed into a thing, a producer, a consumer, an idolater of other things.”
As we ponder upon the foregoing, and similar observations of some thinking men, we are forced to consider an expression by Mark Twain: “When you find yourself on the side of the majority it is time to reform.”
Clearly enough, Sectarianism is about dead. At the beginning of this century devout and pious religionists were vociferous in what they believed, and why they believed it; would quickly do verbal battle with others not of the same mind. Such were characterized as ‘polemics’ – an aggressive controversialist, a disputant. But such persons, or groups, are a rare specimen these days; the contention is now far the other extreme of COMBINATIONISM (a greater evil than Sectarianism), the same being typified by the plague that overtook Israel in their wilderness journey to Canaan, as related in Num. 25:1-9 – in which 24,000 Israelites died – the largest by far of any of the wilderness plagues that smote them. (Lest any misunderstand us, we consider Sectarianism a great sin, because this evil takes the stand: I am for my party, or organization, right or wrong, regardless of the truth. But Satan seldom abandons any sin without producing a worse one in its place; and Combinationism is even a worse evil than Sectarianism.) As early as 1904 Brother Russell said this ‘don’t-care attitude’ was becoming the tendency of the times, because they can’t reconcile their credal views with a God of Love, Wisdom, Power and Justice:
“Away with doctrines! It matters not what a man believes, it matters everything with what he does.... Having a faith is no longer needed – just so you live and let live. Of course, it is of Satanic origin – his last desperate effort to keep the people hoodwinked, blinded, so that His glorious Gospel (good news) won’t be received by the masses. All right-meaning people without the Truth would be inclined to that view – What a man does – the most Important thing for all of us. And we can appreciate and sympathize with that view up to a point, because ‘what a man does’ is very Important - especially ‘what a man does’ who also has faith (the Truth) to live by.”
While COMBINATIONISM has almost completely engulfed Big Babylon, there is still a smattering of Sectarianism in Little Babylon – although they, too, are prone enough to greet Combinationism with any who will not oppose their errors of teaching and practice. Believe what you wish – so long as you don’t agitate! And then they prate about the many churches hither and yon in which they show their Bible in Films. In this they are now more guilty than is Big Babylon, because they have all been the recipients of Harvest Truth, so they should know better. Also, it needs little argument that “the voice of the Bridegroom, and the voice of the Bride shall be heard no more at all in thee” (Rev. 18:23) as respects Big Babylon; but this is not yet true of Little Babylon, most of their leaders falsely claiming they are of the Bride. The only exception to this – so far as we know – is the leader of the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement, who freely admits he has lost “the pearl of great price”; but is now bold in his efforts to give the “unprofitable servant” the same rating as the “good and faithful servant.” (Matt. 25:30 – See Berean Comment).
THE MILLS OF THE GODS GRIND SLOW
The mills of the Gods grind slow, but they grind exceeding fine; and time is often the exacting Master over the foibles of human sleight-of-hand. Thus, time itself is making some of the Levite leaders in Little Babylon to appear very ridiculous – and each passing year makes more glaring the tricky twists of some of them. Let us consider first:
THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES – When the Kerensky Revolution toppled the Czarist regime in Russia in the fall of 1917, it had every appearance of the beginning of the end for all Gentile states. Leading brethren in the Truth at that time were emphatically declaring we were no longer walking by faith; we were seeing with the natural eye the fulfillment of the predictions that had come through Brother Russell. And at the Cedar Point Convention in 1919 much stress was placed upon the accuracy of the chronology as we then understood it – with which we agreed then, and we still agree – and continue to uphold that truth. And, with events shaping up as they then were, it was a very plausible conclusion to accept the slogan ‘‘Millions Now Living Will Never Die” – after 1925; and just about every public lecture of any consequence, regardless of the subject to be discussed, had across the bottom of the advertising announcement “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” Many times this was emphasized at funeral services – with many of the listeners who enthusiastically received the message now dead – and the majority of the speakers who taught the “Millions” delusion also now dead.
But, between 1919 and 1925 conditions over the world improved considerably on the surface, at least – instead of deteriorating precipitously, as had been anticipated. So 1925 came and went, with absolutely nothing occurring to mark that date – nothing occurring to differ it from 1924 or 1926 (the same as the 1954 date of the LHMM) – although 1925 did bring a great humiliation through the failure of the forecasts to materialize. People were born, lived and died just as they had over the centuries past. All of this, however, did teach the Witnesses a little something – they would not make another mistake like that!
Then the second World War broke out in 1939, bringing with it even greater tribulation than the first one had – with the great depression of 1929-1933 in between to give a very shady hue to existing organizations. And in its wake came the second sweeping prediction of the Witnesses: Join us, and you will live right on through Armageddon, and into the Kingdom, and never see death. At that time Armageddon appeared to be but a step in the future, although the Witnesses were canny enough not to state when it would begin, or when it would end. That was a matter of faith, they said.
However, here we are now staring 1967 in the face, with Armageddon not in sight in the immediate future. And the Witnesses continue to die as they have over the past 30 years – even as others – not even living to see Armageddon begin, much less living right on through it and into the Kingdom. And each passing year now makes their position, their promises, their predictions more ludicrous. Even some of their own adherents are now waking to this situation; and the practiced eye of the disinterested and neutral bystanders is discerning the comic and tragic debacle without question of doubt. This condition will become more pronounced in the Immediate future.
THE DAWNS – Time is also making itself felt in persevering fashion with this organization, as they contend the High Calling hope is still available for newcomers into the Household of Faith. This is causing strong dissent even among their own ranks – some classes having split right in half because of the teaching; and we ourselves would venture the guess that they must have in their active adherents more people than there could possibly be crowns available for them – that is, if they still accept the number of the Very Elect as 144,000. Thus, their position becomes more ridiculous and embarrassing with each passing year; and the text is pointedly applicable to them: “For the bed (the creed-bed or crib for spiritual ‘babes’) is shorter than that a man (a fully developed Christian) can stretch himself on it: and the covering (God’s promises, narrowed by a wrong theology) narrower than he can wrap himself in it.” (Isa. 28:20 – See Berean Comment)
THE LAYMEN’S HOME MISSIONARY MOVEMENT – Here also time is cracking the whip in merciless manner. With much ado and fanfare, the Levite leader began their “Attestatorial Service” in 1954 as a ‘parallel’ to the one given by the Fully Faithful in 1914. But that performance back there was fully completed in 25 months – and brought into PRESENT TRUTH every one designed to receive it – the Fully Faithful. His ‘parallel’ is now twelve years gone – with no visible evidence that it has accomplished anything at all; and even the mention of a present twelve-year ‘parallel’ as applying to the 1914-16 action is enough to give any one spiritual Indigestion. And let us keep in mind, too, that each passing year makes this crown-lost leader – and his ‘parallel’ more glaringly ridiculous. Certainly, the Isa. 28:20 text quoted above is pointedly applicable to his invented theology. His bed for spiritual babes (Campers Consecrated) is much too short for a ‘man’ in Present Truth – he also perverts (Azazel means Perverter) God’s promises for spiritual babes today – “narrows them by a wrong theology.” The 1914-1916 parallel was fully attested by the antitypical burnt offering and sin offering. What particular work - or any work at all - attested the antitypical burnt offering and sin offering in 1954-56? A truthful and unbiased answer to that question can only be – NOTHING! The only evidence we have of such a parallel at all is the leader’s talk – and those of us who know him know just how much his talk is worth as he departs from “the faith once delivered unto the Saints.” All of these uncleansed Levites are learning from sad experience that they cannot have flour in their mouths and whistle at the same time. “Blessed is the man that standeth not in the way of sinners” (does not fashion his conduct after the manner of crown-losers--Psa. 1:l; Jas. 5:20, Dia. – See Berean Comment).
JEWISH PROGRESS – The Jews as a national polity have once more arisen since the last great war – a feat they failed to accomplish during the preceding nineteen centuries – although they made almost every effort known to man to regain the Holy land. Their failure in all those years – and now their pronounced success – are clearly treated in prophecy; and we may treat more detailedly on this feature in a future writing. But for the present, we would say that Zionist hopes were greatly stimulated by Pastor Russell in 1910, when he addressed an overcrowded house in the Hippodrome Theater in New York City. So pronounced and enthusiastically received was his address to them at that time that quite a few of the then Jewish leaders afterward fondly referred to him as their “preacher” – and he is still held in high esteem by those who were present at that meeting. Recently a letter came to us asking if the Jews in Jerusalem now officially study the Studies in the Scriptures that were written by him. This question we cannot answer, but we are informed they do have those books in their libraries in Palestine, and that some individual effort is being made to study their contents.
Those of us who are familiar with the prophecies concerning the Jews have clearly before our minds the one In Zech. 12:9,10, which we quote from the Improved Version translation: “It shall come to pass in that day I shall seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem (in the time of Jacob’s trouble – Zech. 12:1-8; Ezek. 38 and 39); and I will pour upon the House of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication, and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced (Rev. 1:7); and they shall mourn for it” (that is, mourn for the piercing of their Messiah).
Motivated somewhat by this and other prophecies, the Jehovah’s Witnesses produced a book “Comfort For The Jews” to go hand in hand with their “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” prediction; but the miserable failure of the latter prediction nullified in large degree the effort toward the Jews – even now replacing the Ancient Worthies (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, etc.) as the visible Rulers in the Kingdom with their present organization – disregarding entirely the Scriptures and promises to Jacob (Natural Israel), a feature we hope to treat in a subsequent writing. The Dawns also made similar effort toward the Jews, with similar results. And since 1950 the leader of the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement has followed in the footsteps of his kinsmen – also with a booklet “Comfort For the Jews,” with similar effort – and similar results. The leaders of all three of these movements were once associated with Pastor Russell before his death just fifty years ago last October; but none of them have been able to win their way into the Jewish hearts as did he. May this not be the frown of the Lord upon them for their rejection of so many of the other truths presented by the beloved Pastor! The astute minds of the present Jewish leaders have not warmed to any of these groups as they did to Pastor Russell; and we reserve further comment on this also for the future. However, we are assured that the teachings of Pastor Russell will, “in due time,” be enthusiastically accepted by Jews everywhere, by those Jews who still have faith in the Abrahamic promises – especially beginning with those in Jerusalem. When those faithful Jews cry unto the lord in their trouble He will hear them and deliver them (Psa, 107:19); He will again deliver them from the hands of their enemies through His Providences and He will remember their sins no more. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their Iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31: 31-34)
As we have viewed the passing show during 1966, we rejoice that we can finish it with the strong assurance that no “plague (pestilential sifting errors) shall come nigh thy dwelling” (Psa. 91:10); and we thus enter the New Year in “quietness and confidence.” It is our fond hope that this may be the portion of all our readers everywhere, as we reciprocate the good Holiday wishes that have come to us from so many of our beloved brethren. As we face 1967 we again ask the question of the Psalmist, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” And the answer is also readily available: “I will pay my vows unto the Most High.” Thus, once more we assure all that we are your brother and servant – always at your service as occasion, time and strength will allow. Character comes from within; reputation comes from without (what other people think of you). Reputation may get you to the top of the ladder, but character keeps you from falling off.
Sincerely your brother, John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Brother Hoefle: Greetings in our dear Redeemer’s name! Thanks for the December paper..... You have truly said that when these crown-lost leaders fall Into Azazel’s hands they talk all sorts of nonsense!.... Brother ------- appreciates the book much and would like to know the price of it... We kept the Memorial service of the two Laodicean Servants – and the friends expressed appreciation for their ministry in their prayers and testimonies... The friends are in good spirit. Remember us in your prayers, as we remember you all in our prayers. Your brother in the Master’s service........ (TRINIDAD)
Dear Brother Hoefle: Grace and peace be multiplied! I received the tracts this morning, and they were in good condition. Thank you! Enclosed is a check for $— for the Lord’s service. Sincere Christian love to all the friends there – and to both you and Sister Hoefle.
Sincerely in the Master’s service .............. (CONNECTICUT)