The year 1919 apparently has some sort of significance to
the Watchtower Society. Something about that being the year that Jebus picked
Rutherford’s gang to be the ones to represent him. For those of you who are wondering what the significance of 1919 really is, you may find the following interesting. I am sure that the present day WTBS does not include the mystical sign of the number 7 in their explanation as to why 1919 is so significant.
In 1919, Rutherford and his cronies were released from jail. Wm. Hudgings was one of the Bible Students that was also in prison. Hudgings was named, along with Clayton Woodworth, as one of the original editors/owners of the Golden Age magazine that was also released in 1919. Hudgings would go to use that magazine to promote one of his books – a book about Einstein and the theory of relativity. He also was an inventor who invented an ‘asshole flusher’ (guess that came in handy at WTS headquarters). Hudgings later had a falling out with Rutherford (who didn’t??) and would go on to write for a pro-Zionist magazine and, at the time that Bible Students in Germany were being imprisoned in the 1930s, he would be giving public sermons with a pro-Zionist message. More than likely, this doctrinal difference with Rutherford contributed to Hudgings leaving da Gang sometime pre-1930, along with upwards of three quarters of the original Bible Students.
Regardless, Wm. Hudgings had a strong influence on post-WW1 Watchtower writings and organizational decisions.
Hudgings gave a sermon titled “Prison Experiences” in February
I usually don’t like to include large amounts of quotes in a post but in this case I am going to make an exception because the material is no longer in the copyright domain. I have highlighted some of the sections that refer to why Hudgings was sure that Jebus had picked their society as the one to represent him on earth. This belief was, according to Hudgings, based upon obvious signs from above.
So, for anyone wanting to know why the year 1919 is so
significant in the Watch Tower history, be assured that there really were ‘signs’
that this was God ordained!
January 1919 IBSA Convention Report
February 2,1919, 8 P. M., Discourse by Bro. Wm. F. Hudgings
Academy Hall, New York City
Subject: "PRISON EXPERIENCES"
OUR text for this evening, dear friends, is found in. the 1st Chapter of Philippians, verses 27, 28 and 29, in part: "Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake."
I believe I voice the sentiment of all when I say that this text has been one of the most comforting to the Church as a whole that we have had before our minds during the past year. We have all been called upon to suffer much. Perhaps we may have some further privileges along that line. But it isn't the suffering, is it, dear friends, that specially concerns us when we realize the great favor that has been bestowed upon us to be ambassadors for the great Kingdom, which is now being
established upon the ruins of the old order; when we realize that the Lord has permitted us to have an inside understanding of His great plans and purposes in advance of the world? Can we not appreciate it as a privilege indeed, to suffer a little in connection with the dissemination of that message? I believe that is the spirit of the Lord's people generally. That was the spirit of the Apostle; and when he penned these words he was undergoing crucial trials and tests, when he was in prison and was called upon to suffer considerably because of the fact that he was faithfully upholding the banner of truth amidst that crooked and perverse generation. It is even so today! And in our text he calls attention to the fact that the truth is not imparted to you and to me for the purpose merely of our own benefit — our own enjoyment. He indicates that the Lord is not now disseminating His message simply that you and I might fold our hands and say, "Isn't this wonderful!" And then put forth no effort in carrying on the blessings to others. He indicates that unto us it is given not only to believe (enjoy) the truth, but also to suffer for His sake. "Hereunto were ye called;" and we shall be partakers of the Divine nature; we shall share with the Lord as joint heirs with Him in the Kingdom, "if so be that we suffer with Him that we may be glorified together." That is the spirit of the Apostle, as shown through all his writings. That is the true spirit of discipleship! And I believe we will find that spirit still prevailing amongst the members of the Church.
The Lord's people, during the past six months, have been called upon to undergo some very peculiar trials and tests. We have had trials from the very beginning of our consecration, to be sure; but not in such a public way have we been held up to scorn and ridicule as has been true during the past few months. But even this is a blessing! And when we come to view it in that light, dear friends, we can realize that we have the blessing of the Lord and that we are following the Apostle — even as he followed Christ, and so he asked us to do!
Now in the opening clause of this text which we have read there is a suggestion that seems to me peculiarly applicable to this time, and one which we should follow very literally, just as it reads: "Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel. How complete and succinct are the Apostle's words in this connection! He leaves nothing out. We find a few today who are advocating very zealously the first two words of this text. They say that we must "stand fast." But they utterly ignore the balance of the Apostle's advice. He didn't say merely to "stand fast," and then close the admonition; but he emphasizes three times in this one sentence the importance of the Lord's people pulling together, — standing together, while they "stand fast." "Stand fast in one mind; striving together for the faith of the Gospel." That is the argument of the Apostle in this connection; and some are preaching and advocating that the friends should "stand fast," but instead of "striving together" in one spirit, in one mind, they are pulling apart and separating themselves from others and starting various sects and schisms in the body, just exactly contrary to the Apostle's advice. Let us, dear friends, follow the admonition of the Apostle. "Stand fast in one spirit — with one mind; striving together" to carry forward the message that the Lord has given to you and me, as ambassadors of His Kingdom, to proclaim.
Well, you say, "That may cost us something!" Yes, it will cost us something. It has cost us something in the past, and will cost us something in the future, and if we think we can stand as ambassadors of this great Kingdom which is to supplant the present earthly order without opposition we are figuring wrong. The Scriptures clearly indicate that everyone who seeks to hold forth this message of truth amidst this crooked and perverse generation will meet with opposition. It is going to mean suffering and trials and tests, just as we have seen in the past, and will probably see in the future.
I have heard some of the friends make statements respecting our dear brethren who are now suffering in bonds for Christ's sake, and some have even gone so far as to say the brethren "are suffering because of indiscretion; that if they had been careful they could have avoided their experience." And I agree. We all agree that they could have avoided it. So could Jesus. So could the Apostle Paul, and the other faithful martyrs of the past. They all could have avoided their experiences of suffering in connection with disseminating the truth message. But why are we talking about avoiding these experiences, when the Lord's Word clearly indicates that "hereunto were ye called," and that we "shall be joint heirs with the Lord, if so be that we suffer with Him." And why did He suffer? Because of holding forth the message of truth; because He pointed the finger of derision at the Pharisees — the clergy of that time; because He went into the Temple and drove out the money changers; because He went against the common thought of the day. That is the reason He suffered. "If so be that you suffer with Him, you shall be glorified together" with Him.
Some say, "Well, we should proclaim the truth, but why stir up strife? Why not merely preach the 'Divine Plan of the Ages,' and leave out this other feature about 'The Day of God's Wrath,' and 'The Day of His Vengeance upon Ecclesiasticism'? Why say anything about that? Why feature that part of the message?" I will tell you why: Because the Lord has commissioned us to do so.
Do you recall that on one Sabbath morning the Lord stood in the synagogue of His home city — Nazareth — and read a prophecy from the 61st of Isaiah, and He said, "These words are fulfilled in your hearing." What were the words? He said, "I am anointed to preach the glad tidings unto the meek, to bind up the brokenhearted, etc., etc." And He dosed the book, and sat down. When we read those words today we are naturally interested in the statement of the Prophet Isaiah which thus applied to the Lord, and thereby applies to every member of His anointed body. Now when we open the book of Isaiah and we read the original prophecy which the Lord quoted, we find He only quoted it in part. He must have had some reason for so doing. We find the balance of the prophecy which He did not quote says this: "And to proclaim the day of vengeance of our God." Why did the Lord not quote that part of the statement of Isaiah when He read it in His home synagogue at Nazareth? The answer must be this: that part of the prophecy did not relate to the Lord at the time that He read this in the synagogue on that Sabbath morning, but that the whole prophecy applies to the anointed body of Christ, of which Jesus is the Head. He, therefore, quoted the part that applied to Him personally; the message that was due at that time. But the message of proclaiming "the vengeance of our God" was not then due; the "Day of Vengeance" was then eighteen centuries off. But now, how is it? We are standing right at that very time! If that prophecy of Isaiah is true, it must apply to you and to me, now; and that is the reason we understand the Lord did not quote it then, — because He left it for you and me to fulfill. He knew that the feet members of the body would courageously go forward and they would proclaim the message which the Prophet Isaiah foretold they should. Therefore, the peculiar message of today is the message that the Lord has here put into your mouth and mine — to proclaim the "Day of the Vengeance of our God." Vengeance upon whom? Upon the nation? Yes, but how and why? We investigate the Scriptures and see the reason for it. Principally, it is because of the unfaithfulness of the clergy class: and hence especially upon them God's vengeance is now directed.
Therefore, dear friends, if I understand anything about this prophecy of Isaiah, if I understand anything about the Scriptures applicable to the feet members of the body of Christ now living on the earth, it is this: That the Lord expects us to carry forward the message that is peculiarly applicable at this time, and to tell the people that Babylon is going to fall; that it is already tottering. It has not yet finally gone down to destruction, but it will go shortly. There are no doubt thousands upon thousands of the foolish virgin class that are still in darkness in those systems and they must come to know the truth.
Now, dear friends, it seems to me that those of us
who have folded our hands and said, "Well now, there is hardly anything else to do on this side the vail, except the development of character — no opportunity to proclaim the message," — I think they are making the mistake of their lives! I believe the Lord is going to show to every one of us before long that instead of mere being nothing to do, the very greatest work that we have ever been called upon to perform is just before us! Whereas, during the forty years harvest period we have had the privilege of bringing one another to the knowledge of the truth; and there are about fifty or seventy-five thousand rejoicing in the truth, — and many of these consecrated to the Lord. Nevertheless, I believe that we are going to see, within the immediate future, such a privilege extended to the Lord's people as never before, i.e., the bringing of the Message of Truth to the thousands upon thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands, of the Foolish Virgin Class who are still slumbering and sleeping and who do not know of the Divine Plan. You and I have already been made acquainted with the message. We are standing upon the very threshold of the Kingdom. These people are still in darkness !
The Lord intends to wind up earth's affairs, glorify the Church, bring the Great Company to a knowledge of the Truth, and then install these as servants of the Bride on the other side of the vail — and this is all to take place within a comparatively short time. If that be true, dear friends, who will the Lord use to bring the Message of Truth to those Foolish Virgins? Do you think He will use someone who does not know the Divine Plan? He wouldn't use anyone to teach the plan unless they understood the plan themselves. Who in all the earth is equipped to carry forward this message to these brethren in darkness unless it be the remaining members of the Church on this side the vail? Some of us have been disappointed because we have not been glorified sooner. I believe, dear friends, that we will come to realize that the Lord knew exactly what He was doing and kept us here for a purpose, and now He is going to extend a great privilege to those who are desirous of having a share in His service; and I think that time is nearing.
Thinking of how the Lord may bring about conditions by which we will see thousands upon thousands coming to a knowledge of the truth and coming with a desire to know the Divine Plan, I have come to the conclusion, as no doubt you have, that the Lord will undoubtedly use some one, spectacular thing to rouse the attention of these who are now slumbering and sleeping and who do not realize the presence of the Lord and the nearness of His Kingdom. I believe as surely as I know I am standing here tonight that the suffering experiences that the Church has passed through during the past six months may be the pivot on which public sentiment will turn; that the facts we make known respecting the imprisonment of our brethren who at this moment are suffering in prison bonds without being admitted to bail will prove of such interest that we will find multitudes of people desiring to know all about the case. I should not be surprised that we will come to realize before long, dear friends, that the Lord's hand has been in this whole experience — not merely for the good of the Church in the way of character development; not merely for the good of the brethren themselves in bonds; but for the good of His cause in connection with the carrying forward of the Kingdom Message to those now slumbering in darkness. I scarcely need to refer to the facts in connection with the brethren's experience in order for you to appreciate the Lord's providence in it all. But we will mention a few things which were discussed by us during that blessed week in Raymond Street jail before they were taken away from me to Atlanta.
As you know, it was my privilege to precede them in bonds about ten days. On the 21st of June they were brought into that place where I was being held, and during the daily recreation periods (three times a day, of about an hour each) we had the privilege of fellow-shipping and discussing some very interesting things in connection with their experience. I tell you, dear friends, it lifted the burden, and we could hardly see anything but joy in connection with the whole experience, and could realize vividly the words of the Apostle that we should rejoice in tribulation. And we were able to do it!
Doubtless many of these facts have already come to your attention, but they were so interesting to us that we have feasted upon them ever since. First of all, we might mention how the Lord has set this experience of the brethren before the Church as a most representative one and has painted an index finger to it so that you and 1 can realize vividly that the Lord has a grand purpose in connection with the whole affair. For instance, the prominence of the figure seven in connection with the whole trial has so protruded itself upon our attention that we cannot mistake that it is more than merely a set of coincidences. For instance, the trial itself covered exactly fourteen court days — seven of those days were devoted to the preliminaries and the prosecution, whereas seven days were devoted to the defense. At the conclusion of that period the brethren were sentenced and convicted — eight of them — and then in the most remarkable way the eighth was separated from the others and the sentence came upon only seven, on the 21st day of June. The eighth was sentenced exactly twenty-one days later — three times seven.
Then they were taken down to Raymond Street jail. None of us knew how long they would be there. They kept them there exactly seven days, and while there, the officers of the Society and both compilers of the Seventh Volume were placed on a tier of cells known as Number Seven on the North side.
At the end of the seven days they were removed to Queen's County jail.
Nobody knew how long they would be kept there. They were kept there exactly seven days.
And on the seventh day they were removed from there and taken to Atlanta on the 4th day of July (the seventh month), which day was being celebrated by exactly seven nations for the first time in history.
These things are more than coincidences, and serve as so many index fingers pointing to the importance of the circumstances, and saying in no uncertain manner, to you and to me: This is one of the most remarkable occurrences in the history of the Church, and these brethren are representatives of the Church in suffering; and that instead of the Lord permitting us all to go to jail He has taken seven representatives there and their sentence (resting upon them) rest also upon you and upon me because of the fact that the court in pronouncing the sentence said:
"In the opinion of the Court, the religious propaganda which these defendants vigorously advocated and spread throughout the nation, as well as among our allies, is a greater danger than a division of the German army. If they had taken guns and swords and joined together the German army, the harm they could have done would have been insignificant compared with the results of their propaganda. A person preaching religion usually has some influence, and if he is sincere he is all the more effective. This aggravates, rather than mitigates the wrong they have done, etc." Indicating in clear cut terms that it was because of the doctrines that they were being sent to prison.
Now, dear friends, where does your responsibility and mine come in? Are we standing by those doctrines? If we are, then we are involved in that sentence, are we not? If we are not, dear friends, I think we are missing something. I like to think of the brethren as not only themselves suffering for Christ's sake, but you and I are companions with them in tribulation, and the sentence that rested upon them rests upon you and me; and I am glad to assume a share in the responsibility.
Let me tell you, dear friends, just something in this connection. I happened to know that at least one of those dear brethren could have avoided his sentence by just remaining silent. One of those brethren who is now in prison at Atlanta was going to have the case dismissed against him because of insufficient evidence. I will tell you his name: It was Brother MacMillan. At the end of the government's case, the Court indicated he would probably dismiss Brother MacMillan from the indictment because of insufficient evidence offered. That night
Brother MacMillan went to the attorney's office and said, "I want you to withdraw your motion for the dismissal of my share in this indictment; if Brother Rutherford and Brother Van Amburgh and these other brethren are going to prison because of Volume Seven I want to go, too," and he sat down and wrote out a statement taking his share of the responsibility, signed his name to it, and handed it to the attorneys, and the case went on; and he, as a voluntary sufferer, is there now in Atlanta penitentiary, and I think that the Lord loves him for it. And you love him for it, for we like to see such a spirit as that.
Now, dear friends, are we not ashamed? Some are trying to side-step the responsibility that is resting upon us, and say, "It is not because of the doctrines these brethren disseminated, but because of their own indiscretion." Oh, dear friends, let us ask the Lord to forgive us if we have ever had such a thought in our minds!
Now, dear friends, the words of the Apostle here come very close to our minds; "Unto you is given not only to believe the truth, but also to suffer for its sake." Are we willing to do the latter? We are willing to do the former! We are willing to believe the truth! We are glad to believe the truth! But are we willing to take the rest of the statement? We are, dear friends, are we not? Oh, I hate the spirit of fear that is sometimes shown by a few. We are glad that it is a few.
I remember the case of one brother who was arrested and put into a filthy prison and the time came for his trial, and he said to his attorney, "It will not be necessary for you to subpoena any of the witnesses in my case. I am a Bible Student, and I will find plenty witnesses in the class who will be just anxious and glad to testify on my behalf, you won't need to subpoena any of them." But that brother was disappointed: he found at least two or three in that class — consecrated and prominent in the class, too — who hesitated or refused to appear as witnesses because they were afraid they might get into trouble themselves. They would not volunteer their service to sit upon the witness stand for a half hour, and answer truthfully questions which might be asked them by an attorney, because they feared they might be put in prison for contempt of court, or something like that. Oh, dear friends, isn't it enough to make us ashamed?
I recall Brother Rutherford speaking one day, just before the distribution of the Fall of Babylon tracts. Even then there were some who were afraid! There was one brother who wrote in and said, "I want you to send me a copy of the paper, and I will look it over, and tell you whether I will be willing to co-operate with the Society in distributing them." And that brother was supposed to be in heart harmony with the Truth. Brother Rutherford . wrote back and said: "I do not believe the Society would want you to co-operate in the distribution of any of its literature, if you want to first examine and look it over and then decide. I do not believe that shows a very appreciative spirit of the agency the Lord has been pleased to use for more than forty years." I believe he answered the brother properly.
I think that the ones who are going to follow the admonition of the Apostle, — not only to "stand fast in the faith," — but to strive together in one spirit and in one mind; co-operating for the advancement of the faith of the gospel; and we know, dear friends, that the great work that is before us is one which the Lord has clearly outlined.
The Fall of Babylon is near, and there is undoubtedly a great message that is yet to go forth in connection with its accomplishment. The Lord is able to bring about the conditions, and He will bring about the conditions so that His work will be effective. I believe that He is doing it now, and that we will see before long that instead of our having to hammer and drive to get anybody to listen to the truth, we will find a great many hungry hearts yearning for it. And as we intimated a while ago, it may be the publishing of the facts in connection with the case of our brethren that may be the entering wedge. But that we will wait and see.
In addition to the prominence of the figure seven in connection with their case, I wish to also mention some parallelisms suggested during the blessed week we were in Raymond Street jail together. First one brother would suggest something and then another, and by the end of the week we had some very interesting data compiled that I think has gladdened the hearts of the friends who have heard it. The Lord, in a most remarkable way, has shown a direct relationship between the experience of the feet members of the body and the experience which came upon the Head of the body nineteen centuries ago.
We know that the moon was pictorial of the Jewish dispensation, which came to a close in the days of our Lord. Even as the sun is a picture of the Gospel dispensation. There were great privileges that had been extended to the nominal Jewish house that passed away because they did not appreciate the Lord from Heaven, who had come. Even now we see that the Lord has cast aside the great nominal spiritual Israel because of the fact that they have not appreciated the Lord's Second Presence and co-operated in the carrying forward of the message now due. Rather, they have fought against it; even as they fought against our Lord and persecuted Him to His death. Now let us note some parallels.
Once a year the sun reaches its zenith in the heavens. Brother Russell suggests that the waning of the moon at the time of our Lord's crucifixion was suggestive of the passing away of the privileges that had been extended to that nominal Jewish house back there. Our Lord was crucified when the moon was at its zenith in the heaven. He was crucified on the 15th of Nisan at high noon, according to Matthew's account. "There was darkness over the earth from the sixth hour." That would be noon, because the Jews reckoned daylight from about 6 A. M. It was apparently at high noon, therefore, that our Lord's activities on earth were cut short, on the 15th of Nisan when the moon was at its monthly zenith in the heavens.
These seven representatives of the Lord's people, and you and I, and all of us as feet members, had our activities in connection with the harvest cut short on the 21st day of June, 1918, the longest day of the year, when the sun was at its zenith in the heavens. It was at that hour that the sentence was pronounced upon our seven representatives.
This matter is further emphasized when we look into the details of the circumstances as they occurred. Our brethren were convicted the day previous (June 20th), and the Court had announced that at noon on the following day he would pronounce sentence. About 11 A. M. the officers came to Raymond Street jail and took our brethren to the courthouse. Everything was arranged just before 12 o'clock for the judge to make his appearance in the court room and pronounce the sentence according to schedule. But 12 o'clock came, then 12:10, 12 :30, 12 :40, and the judge had not yet put in his appearance. He did not arrive and impose sentence until 1 P.M.
"Oh," you say, "I am sorry he spoiled the picture. Why couldn't he have gotten there on time?" I do not know why. He did not explain, but merely apologized for having been delayed an hour; and then he pronounced the sentence at 1 P. M. instead of 12 o'clock, — as announced. But, isn't it a fact, that all the clocks were running one hour fast all last summer? (Laughter.) And if he had pronounced that sentence at 12, it would have been one hour before the sun reached its zenith in the heavens, on this longest day in the year. The Lord permitted him to be one hour late in order that the sentence might come upon the seven representatives of the feet members of the body at exactly high noon, when the sun was at its very highest point in the heavens.
And then the sun began to wane, even as the moon waned back there at the crucifixion of our Lord, and showed the passing away of the privileges upon the nominal Jewish house. Just so, this pictures the passing away of the privileges of nominal Christendom down here. The picture is complete.
Let us see further: the 13th of Nisan back there when the Lord was crucified occurred on Friday. You look at the calendar and you will find the 21st day of June in the year 1918 came upon a Friday.
Furthermore, the Lord was found guilty the night previous, — Thursday, at a late hour. Our brethren, the seven representatives of the Feet Members of Christ, were found guilty the night previous, at a late hour.
I tell you we cannot say that these are merely coincidences and that the hand of God has not been in the whole circumstances; we cannot shut our eyes and say this is merely an incident in which seven or eight men were involved. It is something in which you and I and everyone as members of the feet of Christ are involved.
Now, dear friends, in view of the fact that the Lord has thus so peculiarly and particularly set forth this circumstance before our minds leads me to the conclusion that He is not through with the circumstances; that He intends to use the case of our brethren for bringing the truth to the attention of the world, and especially the Foolish Virgin Class, with such telling force that it will arouse them from their slumbers. Many will say, "Why did these seven Christians have to go to prison on a twenty-year sentence, and why were they denied bail pending the appeal of their case, when real out-and-out seditionists the country over were freely admitted to bail?" We are not finding fault, we are merely stating, the facts as they exist. But the Lord in His own due time will make manifest the answer to these questions. The people will want to know the answer, they will demand the answer, I believe! Then they will say: "What were these men teaching? What was that book?" And the Lord in His providence may give us the privilege of answering their further questions.
I had a talk with an editor in St. Louis the other day. I merely alluded to the book, I was talking about the case in general, and I was struck with the interest that was aroused in his mind — not merely the fact of those men being in bonds — but his interest was in what they were teaching that sent them to jail. I was telling him about the case, and he would bring me back to the point. "But — what is that book they were publishing?" And after awhile he said: "Say, can you send me a copy?" I said, "No, I cannot, the book is under the ban." After a while he mentioned the book again, and just as I was leaving, as he shook my hand, he said, "Say, young man, will you promise me one thing? Will you promise to mail me a copy of that book the very day that the ban is lifted?" (Laughter.) And so I promised! and I am going to keep my promise. (Applause.)
I think, dear friends, that sentiment is rapidly changing, and I believe that it will not be very long before the people will be hungering for the truth. It seems that every picture in the Scriptures relating to these things sets forth that very fact. You recall that beautiful and wonderful article in the Watch Tower about "Joseph and His Brethren"? Our dear Pastor has written upon the subject at various times, treating Joseph and Benjamin as typical characters, and Benjamin as a type of the Great Company class. If that picture means anything, it undoubtedly shows that there is a great work to take place soon; that there will be all of this Benjamin class hungering for the truth before long, and you and I apparently are the only ones in the world who can give it to them. Of course, the Lord could give the blessing of truth by the angels of Heaven if He wanted to, but He has kept you and me on this side of the vail — For what reason? I think we will see the reason before long. We know that our dear Pastor always expected a literal fulfillment of the 149th Psalm on a scale that we have thus far never witnessed. "Let the saints be joyful in glory, and sing aloud upon their beds." "Sing aloud — " Do you get that? "Sing aloud on their beds with the two-edged sword in their hands," and he says that that refers to this side the vail. You remember that article in the Watch Tower from our dear Pastor regarding that applying to this side the vail: that the saints would have a glorious privilege of wielding that two-edged sword on this side the vail, "crying aloud upon their beds, and binding the kings with chains, and the nobles (of Babylon) with fetters of iron"? This honor hath all the saints.
We have had some privileges along that line already. But I believe the greater part of those privileges are in the future. No doubt we will soon see the message of truth brought to the attention of kings, and rulers and great ones of earth; even as Revelation 10:11 shows. I think that we will find that the Lord has not put these statements in the Scriptures as mere idle words, but that He intends that before the Church on this side the vail have accomplished their mission they will have so successfully and thoroughly spread the truth from one end of the earth to the other that it will not be true, as it is today, that you can go right out in this city and find people who have never heard of Brother Russell or Brother Rutherford. I dare say that already more people have become acquainted with the I. B. S. A. through last year's experiences than through any other one thing that has ever occurred in the history of the Church. If this be true even now, what will it be when the Lord's time comes for us to send forth the message and tell these facts before all the world? With sentiment rapidly changing we will probably enjoy before long the greatest privileges that you and I have ever had, — and perhaps have ever dreamed of.
Probably most everyone here has had some privilege along the line of bringing somebody into the truth. If so, you know the joy it brought to your heart as you went to your neighbor, day by day, evening after evening, and brought them to the class meetings and to Sunday lectures. You gave them tracts, and you gave them books, and you nourished them along and, oh, the joy that filled your heart when you realized the fruits of your labors! How will you feel, dear friends, if the Lord gives you the privilege before long of not only bringing one individual to a knowledge of the truth, but probably letting you bring into the truth tens or hundreds of those who are yet in darkness — real Virgins, even though foolish? Oh, the joy that will come to your heart if the Lord gives you that privilege! It will be a glorious privilege indeed, and we can see we would be "joyful in glory, singing aloud upon our beds," wielding this two-edged sword of truth, binding the kings (of ecclesiasticism, as well as otherwise) with chains, and the nobles with fetters of iron — the strong words of the gospel. Let us hold ourselves in readiness and if the Lord extends any privileges like that to us before long, let us take hold of them and leave the results to the Lord, realizing that "hereunto we have been called." It is not for us merely to believe the truth, but also to suffer for its sake.
We will now devote five or ten minutes to the discussion of our recent prison experiences, inasmuch as several of you have requested that I do so tonight. I do not consider these as matters of so much importance. In fact, there is not very much to tell, so far as my own experiences are concerned; but I believe if all the interesting facts in connection with the case of the other brethren were made known, you would appreciate that a great deal.
I was in prison for six months to a day. I was three months in Raymond Street jail, Brooklyn, and then was transferred to the Nassau County jail at Mineola, N. Y. I found conditions there very different from what they were here in the Brooklyn jail. They always searched the prisoners at Raymond Street jail every time they came back from court, and even literature, books, papers, etc., are taken away from them. When I entered I had a copy of the Bible, a copy of the Seventh Volume and a Watch Tower. They took the Watch Tower away from me, but let me have the Seventh Volume and the Bible. I think they thought both of them were Bibles. (Laughter.) And isn't it a fact? Volume Seven is merely part of the Bible. It is two books of the Bible with a few notes and comments upon those books. I asked the guard why he took the Watch Tower away from me. I explained that it was a religious magazine, and presumed he would be glad to have the prisoners surrounded with all the religious reading possible. He said, "Yes, but not that kind," (Laughter.) He muttered something as he threw it over into the waste basket, and I kindly asked him what it was he said. He responded, "I said, if it wasn't for that stuff you wouldn't have been here." (Laughter.) I guess he was right.
At the Raymond Street jail, the conditions are very different from what they are at Mineola. At the former place the prisoners are locked up twenty-four hours a day, with the exception of three recreation periods of one
hour each, with only one recreation period on Sundays and holidays. But I had much opportunity for study, and I appreciated that very much, indeed.
Finally I was transferred to Mineola, — much to my relief. It seems that all the officials at the Raymond Street jail are Catholic — from the warden down — and I was surprised to find out that at Mineola everything is Protestant — from sheriff down. And I had the privilege of relating to the Mineola keepers some of my experiences. They extended a very sympathetic ear and I was privileged to talk with the prisoners there, too. Some of them showed some interest in the truth. One or two read the First Volume almost through while I was there. One of them had almost finished Volume Two at the time I left. After I had been there about three days, they ceased locking me up. I was placed among the "trusties."
On Thanksgiving Day (indicative of the kindness of the officials there) the sheriff and the warden and keepers, at their own expense, gave a turkey dinner to every prisoner in both the male and female part of the institution. Learning that I was a minister, as they called me, they asked me if I would offer thanks at the Thanksgiving meal. This I did! Then the sheriff asked me to go into the female prison and speak a few words to the women. It was my privilege to give a short discourse to the female prisoners about the Kingdom; which seemed to be very much appreciated by the unfortunates.
It was wonderful how the Lord seemed to prepare circumstances for me so I could do a great deal of studying there at Mineola. But I regretted very much there was no light in my cell. It was always very dark during the evenings. There was only a faint glimmer that entered the cells from the outside of the tier. But one night when I came down to my cell one of the prisoners followed me in and said, "Why don't you turn on your light?" I said, "I wish I had one," and he immediately reached up and turned on a light. The prisoners there had gone to the trouble of procuring a cord which gave them light, and ran it into my cell that I might have a light. And they had done it entirely unknown to me, and with the consent and approval of the keepers! From that time on I had the privilege of studying as long as I wanted to each evening. I tried to use this added blessing to the glory of the Lord as much as possible, because I considered that as another direct evidence of the Lord's favor upon one of His children.
The time came for me to leave. It was through habeas corpus proceedings in the Supreme Court that I was released. When the petition for the writ was granted, Chief Justice White of the U. S. Supreme Court at Washington said he considered my imprisonment one of the greatest outrages upon justice which had come before the court, and for this reason the petition was granted in a most unusual manner. It was granted by a means which never occurred before in the history of the Supreme Court.
The procedure first of all is this: You file a copy of the testimony and a preliminary brief, and if the Supreme Court sees any merit in the case they will then notify your attorney to file an application for the writ, which will be considered. But that does not mean the writ will he granted. But in this case, they didn't even wait for the attorneys to file an application. As soon as we filed the preliminary brief and they read over the testimony and found I had been held for contempt of court for six months for such truthful testimony as there given, they went right ahead and granted the writ before formal application was even made.
The result was that I was out on bail within about two weeks from the beginning of the proceedings, whereas ordinarily it might have taken four or five months. I am very thankful to the Lord for that! But I am specially thankful from this standpoint: that if Chief Justice White would characterize my imprisonment (which was merely an incident in the case of the other brethren) as one of the "greatest outrages on justice his mind could conceive of," what do you suppose the Supreme Court may say when they find that 125 other errors occur in the record of our brethren's case?
And now you know why the year 1919 is so significant in Watch Tower history - it is because of the number 7.