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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Miracle Wheat

Foes of C. T. Russell used not only his domestic affairs but other "weapons" against him. For instance, his enemies have charged that he sold a great quantity of ordinary wheat seed under the name of "Miracle Wheat" at one dollar per pound, or sixty dollars per bushel. They have held that from this Russell realized an enormous personal profit. However, these charges are absolutely false. What are the facts?

In 1904 Mr. K. B. Stoner noticed an unusual plant growing in his garden in Fincastle, Virginia. It turned out to be wheat of an uncommon kind. The plant had 142 stalks and each bore a head of fully matured wheat. In 1906 he named it "Miracle Wheat." Eventually others obtained and grew it, enjoying extraordinary yields. In fact, Miracle Wheat won prizes at several fairs. C. T. Russell was very interested in anything related to the Biblical predictions that "the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose" and "the earth shall yield her increase." (Isa. 35:1; Ezek. 34:27, AV) On November 23, 1907, H. A. Miller, Assistant Agriculturalist of the United States Government, filed in the Department of Agriculture a report commending this wheat grown by Mr. Stoner. Throughout the country the public press took note of the report. C. T. Russell’s attention was drawn to it, and so in Zion’s Watch Tower of March 15, 1908, on page 86, he published some press comments and extracts from the government report. Then, in conclusion, he commented: "If this account be but one-half true it testifies afresh to God’s ability to provide things needful for the ‘times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.’—Acts 3:19-21."

Mr. Stoner was not a Bible Student or an associate of C. T. Russell, and neither were various other persons who experimented with Miracle Wheat. In 1911, however, Watch Tower readers J. A. Bohnet of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Samuel J. Fleming of Wabash, Indiana, presented to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society the aggregate of about thirty bushels of this wheat, proposing that it be sold for one dollar per pound and that all the proceeds be received by the Society as a donation from them, to be used in its religious work. The wheat was received and sent out by the Society and the gross receipts from it amounted to about $1,800. Russell himself did not get a penny of this money. He merely published a statement in The Watch Tower to the effect that the wheat had been contributed and could be obtained for a dollar a pound. The Society itself made no claim for the wheat on its own knowledge and the money received went as a donation into Christian missionary work. When others criticized this sale, all who had contributed were informed that if they were dissatisfied their money would be returned. In fact, the identical money received for the wheat was held for a year for that purpose. But not one person asked for a refund. The conduct of Brother Russell and the Society in connection with Miracle Wheat was completely open and aboveboard.

Because Charles Taze Russell taught the truth from God’s Word, he was hated and maligned, often by the religious clergy. But then, Christians of modern times expect such treatment, for Jesus and his apostles were dealt with similarly by religious opposers.—Luke 7:34.

- 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, pp. 70-1, WTB&TS


The Watch Tower, February, 15, 1913, page 62


MY SUIT against The Eagle for slanderous defamation of reputation has been decided in its favor. A Jury of twelve men have decided that The Eagle was justified in making its vicious onslaughts upon me, notwithstanding the Judge's Charge that, according to the law, the cartoon, at least, was a slanderous, vicious libel in fact. I am urged by my attorneys and petitioned by friends to take the case to the Court of Appeals.

I quite agree with Justice Kelby, who said, "The case was presented fairly and squarely to the Jury." The rulings of His Honor seem to me equitable. I very highly appreciate the ability and energy of my attorneys, Mr. Sparks and Mr. Rutherford. I have no complaint, nor murmuring against the Divine providences which permitted what I consider to be a very unjust verdict. In appealing our Case to the Court we have followed the example of the Master, who inquired why He was smitten contrary to Law. (John 18:23) Likewise St. Paul appealed for such justice as the Law provided. (Acts 25:10) So I have done; and I, like them, have been refused the Law's protection. I murmur not. I am in good company.

I remember, on the other hand, that it has been a part of the Divine will throughout this Gospel Age to allow His faithful servants to suffer reproaches and losses. This was so in the Master's case: "Being reviled, He reviled not again." When it pleased the Father to bruise Him and put Him to shame, He declared, "The cup which My Father hath poured for Me, shall I not drink it?" -- "Not My will, but Thine be done." -- I Peter 2:23; John 18:11; Luke 22:42

It was so with the Apostles, who wrote, "As He was, so are we in this world" -- "As deceivers and yet true; as poor, yet making many rich"; "I bear about in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus" -- evidences that I am His servant and His follower. As St. Paul said, so we see fulfilled all through the Age, "Whosoever will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." The Master said, "Marvel not if the world hate you. Ye know that it hated Me before it hated you; if ye were of the world, the world would love its own." -- I John 4:17; 2 Corinthians 6:8-10; Galatians 6:17; 2 Timothy 3:12; John 15:18,19.


I am interested in everything progressive and tending to prove that we are entering the great Thousand Years of earth's blessings under Messiah. In the columns of THE WATCH TOWER I have noted the coming of Divine blessings in fulfilment of the prediction that "The wilderness shall blossom as the rose," "The earth shall yield her increase," etc. Five years ago we quoted in THE WATCHTOWER columns reports respecting "Miracle Wheat." We gave the name and address (Mr. Stoner) of the farmer who discovered this new wheat and his reports of its remarkable qualities. We published also the report of Mr. Miller, the Government expert, who thoroughly investigated it and pronounced upon its superior qualities.

Some of our readers purchased seed from Mr. Stoner at $1.25 per pound and approved it. In 1910 one of the friends of our Society, who had raised some of this wheat, sold it for seed at $1.00 per pound, and donated the proceeds to our Society. In 1911 the same friend, having raised more seed, asked that THE WATCH TOWER give the benefit of this to its readers at $1.00 a pound post-paid, and appropriate the net results to the furtherance of its work. Another friend, who had some of the same seed, also donated similarly, the total amount being twenty bushels.

For the accommodation of our readers, we allowed this seed-wheat to be put up in pound packages and mailed from THE WATCH TOWER Office, just as the U.S. Government handles such seeds at Washington. We did the business at the request of others and in their interest, and credited them on our books with the results, setting aside to them proportionately voting shares in our Society. We made no claim for the wheat on our own knowledge. We merely gave the report of the Government expert, of the originator, and of our friends who had tried the wheat. We merely acted as intermediary.

Nevertheless, everything that was said respecting the wheat was fully proven at this trial by expert witnesses, interested and disinterested, and their testimony was not shaken. It was also shown that farmer Stoner and his business partner, Mr. Knight, made no sales of this wheat under $1.25 per pound until September, 1911; and that they had a written contract between them that none of the wheat was to be sold at any price until the following year -- 1912. Suddenly in September, 1911, they changed their plans, considering that they had wheat enough accumulated, put the price down to $5.00 per bushel, about the time that THE WATCH TOWER wheat was all sold at a dollar a pound. This The Eagle's attorney claimed was proof of fraud on the part of THE WATCH TOWER -- sufficient excuse for the slanderous assaults of The Eagle upon me.

It was in vain that my attorney sought to show the Jury The Eagle's malice -- that it really was attacking me along religious grounds; that it had set itself as the champion of certain clerical enemies of mine, and was seeking to destroy my influence and, if possible, to drive me from Brooklyn. In the court-room sat about twenty-five of my friends, who had come long distances at their own expense to have an opportunity to speak a word in my behalf. Through some intricacies of the Law respecting evidence, these were unable to be heard in my behalf.

Instead, the Law gave The Eagle's attorney the privilege of saying all manner of evil against me falsely -- for the sake of the Doctrines of Christ, which I hold and teach. He was allowed to picture me, as The Eagle had done in its cartoon -- as a thief and robber, masquerading in the garb of a minister of Christ. He was allowed to ridicule the "Miracle Wheat," although I had nothing whatever to do with it, nor with the naming of it; and notwithstanding the fact that its superiority was proven.

He was allowed to inveigh against the fact as criminal, that I hold the office of President of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, and to claim that I hold the office in some corrupt or unlawful manner, and that I misuse the Society's income in some unexplained way to my own advantage. Meantime, scores present in the courtroom and thousands all over the land, would have been glad to testify that their donations have come to the Society because they have the utmost confidence in my integrity and management of its affairs as its Executive Officer, and that had anybody else been President their donations would have been smaller or none at all.

Presumably because there were seven Catholics on the Jury, The Eagle's attorney was prompted to refer to the Sisters of Charity and their noble work as nurses in the hospitals, without referring to the fact that those nurses are well paid, and that the hospitals in large measure are supported by State taxation.

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was held up to scorn because it did not have any hospital work nor draw any revenue from taxation, and because the female members of the Society do not visit the workshops of the land weekly or monthly on pay-day, and exact donations to its work. Our society was held up to scorn also because we do not send a wagon around the city collecting groceries and provisions for the up-keep of our work; because we do not take up collections even on Sunday; because we have never solicited a penny or a dollar from anybody; and because we never have fairs, grab-bags, "chances" or "raffles." Our Society was held up to scorn and ridicule because it offers its literature free to the poor, while other similar Societies charge both rich and poor for their tracts and other publications. The Eagle was pictured by its attorney as a dove, a bird of Paradise. For defending it the Protestants on the Jury were led to hope for escape from eternal torment through "the pearly gates" of heaven, welcomed with the words, "Well done!" for giving The Eagle the verdict. Neither I nor my attorneys could offer such inducements conscientiously.

Our home, "Bethel," where some of our Society's workers reside, was held up to scorn--likened to a harem, etc. This surely did cut me deeply to the heart. I am quite willing to suffer, if need be, for my faithfulness to the Lord and His Word; but it gave me great pain that the arrows intended for me did not all center upon myself -- that the more than a hundred saintly, earnest men, women and children, co-laborers with me in the Lord's work, should thus be made to unjustly suffer. I can only urge them to apply to themselves the words of the Apostle, "Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward"; "For ye have need of patience that, after ye have done the will of God, ye shall receive the promise"; "Ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock, and partly whilst ye became companions of them that were so used." -- Hebrews 10:35,36,32,33


I have no complaint to make against the Laws of our land, nor against the Jury System, not against the particular twelve men who, in my judgment, gave an unjust verdict. I esteem our Laws to be most wonderfully just. I have often marveled that imperfect, fallen men have succeeded in the erection of such excellent barriers against sin and injustice. I cannot see that a more fair method than our Jury System of trying a case could be arranged by imperfect men. Neither do I believe that the average jury desires to pervert justice. The miscarriage of justice I attribute rather to the imperfection of human knowledge. Suspicion and evil-surmising are weeds which seem to grow prolifically in every mind. They spring spontaneously in the degraded heart. There is such a disposition to judge others by one's self, and such a realization of sinful impulses that the average man naturally enough imputes evil, on every occasion when it is suggested to him.

St. Paul enunciated this principle, saying, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God;... neither can he know [understand] them; for they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14) Our Society and its work, our Lord's work and the work of the Apostles and the regenerate since, are so far beyond the concept of the unregenerate as to be "Foolishness unto them" -- hypocrisies, frauds, impositions. If Jesus and the Apostles and the faithful saints of eighteen centuries have all belonged to this class, I will be of good courage and not be ashamed to belong to the same.

I am the more encouraged because I realize that the great Day of Blessing, the great Thousand-Year Day of Messiah's Kingdom, is near at hand--is dawning now. Soon Satan, the "Prince of Darkness," will be bound for a thousand years, to deceive the nations no more. (Revelation 20:2,3,6) No longer will Darkness be permitted to masquerade as Light, and the Light be slandered as Darkness. All the blind eyes will be opened; all the deaf ears will be unstopped. That glorious period, as the Prophet has declared, shall be "the desire of all nations." (Haggai 2:7) Then not only the Church will see eye to eye, and understand God's providences at the present time, but the whole world will see in the light of that happy time for which we pray, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as in Heaven."

Sincerely, and undismayed, I remain a servant of God.


Brooklyn, January 29, 1913.



There was absolutely no testimony in the case showing that Pastor Russell had induced a single person to purchase Miracle Wheat. Not a word tending to show that anyone was defrauded, On the contrary, shortly after the publication of the libel by the Brooklyn Eagle, the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY published broadcast over the country and sent to each purchaser a notice that if anyone was dissatisfied with his purchase he might have his money returned, and the identical money arising from the sale of said wheat was held for a year for the purpose of refunding. Not a single person asked to have his money refunded.

- A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens, 1915, J. F. Rutherford

William E. Van Amburgh (1863 - 1947)

Brother Van Amburgh recalled that the first convention he attended was in Chicago in 1900, and it was a “big” one—there were about 250 in attendance. After enumerating other “big” conventions over the years, he concluded with this encouraging look ahead: “This convention looks large to us now, but as this convention is large in comparison with the ones that I have attended in the past, so I anticipate this convention will be a very small one in comparison to those just in the future when the Lord begins to assemble his people from all corners of the globe.”

Of course, our dedication is not to a work but to God himself. That point was made clear at the funeral of the Watch Tower Society’s first president, Charles Taze Russell. On that occasion in 1916, the Society’s secretary-treasurer, W. E. Van Amburgh, said: “This great worldwide work is not the work of one person. It is far too great for that. It is God’s work and it changes not. God has used many servants in the past and He will doubtless use many in the future. Our consecration [dedication] is not to a man, or to a man’s work, but to do the will of God, as He shall reveal it unto us through His Word and providential leadings. God is still at the helm.

Many of Brother Russell’s associates were firmly convinced that the Lord had things well in hand. At Brother Russell’s funeral, W. E. Van Amburgh stated: “God has used many servants in the past and He will doubtless use many in the future. Our consecration is not to a man, or to a man’s work, but to do the will of God, as He shall reveal it unto us through His Word and providential leadings. God is still at the helm.” Brother Van Amburgh never wavered from that conviction down till his death.

The reaction of most of the Bible Students was typified by the words of W. E. Van Amburgh, an official of the Watch Tower Society: “This great worldwide work is not the work of one person. It is far too great for that. It is God’s work and it changes not. God has used many servants in the past and He will doubtless use many in the future. Our consecration is not to a man, or to a man’s work, but to do the will of God, as He shall reveal it unto us through His Word and providential leadings. God is still at the helm.”

On January 8, 1942, Joseph Rutherford, who had been taking the lead among Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, died. Five days later the directors of the Society elected Brother Knorr to succeed him. When W. E. Van Amburgh, the Society’s longtime secretary-treasurer, announced this to the Bethel family, he said: “I can remember when C. T. Russell died [in 1916] and was replaced by J. F. Rutherford. The Lord continued to direct and prosper His work. Now, I fully expect the work to move ahead with Nathan H. Knorr as president because this is the Lord’s work, not man’s.” - Published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society

W.E VAN AMBURGH was the Secrtetary-Treasurer of the International Bible Students, later known as Jehovah's Witnesses. Brother Van Amburgh was a very prominent member of the organization and in his time W. E. Van Amburgh was one of only five members of the Watch Tower Editorial Committee qualified, as the Watch Tower said, "to approve as Truth of each and every article appearing in these columns.?

Note the photo of Pastor Russell and Br. Van Amburgh, part of Pastor Russell's Will from 1907 states:

The Editorial Committee is self-perpetuating, in that should one of these members die or resign, it will be the duty of the remainder to elect his successor, that the journal may never have an issue without a full Editorial Committee of five. I enjoin upon the committee named great caution in respect to the election of others to their number--that purity of life, clearness in the Truth, zeal for God, love for the brethren and faithfulness to the Redeemer shall be prominent characteristics of the one elected. In addition to the five named for the committee I have named five others from whom I prefer that selection should be made for any vacancies in the Editorial Committee, before going outside for a general selection--unless in the interim, between the making of this Will and the time of my death, something should occur which would seem to indicate these as less desirable or others more desirable for filling the vacancies mentioned. The names of the Editorial Committee are as follows: WILLIAM E. PAGE, WILLIAM E. VAN AMBURGH, HENRY CLAY ROCKWELL, E. W. BRENNEISEN, F. H. ROBISON.

In his will Brother Russell outlined an arrangement for an Editorial Committee of five to determine the contents of The Watch Tower. In addition, the board of directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society made arrangements for an Executive Committee of three—A. I. Ritchie, W. E. Van Amburgh, and J. F. Rutherford—to have general supervision of all the work of the Society, subject to the control of the board of directors. Who, though, would become the new president? That decision would be made at the next annual meeting of the Society, about two months later, on January 6, 1917. At first, the Executive Committee did its best to hold things together, encouraging the Bible Students to keep active and not lose courage. The Watch Tower continued to be published, containing articles that Russell had written before his death. But as the annual meeting approached, tension began to mount. Some were even doing a little electioneering to get a man of their choice selected to be president. Others, on account of their deep respect for Brother Russell, seemed more concerned with trying to copy his qualities and develop a sort of cult around him. Most of the Bible Students, however, were primarily interested in getting on with the work into which Russell had poured himself.

The five members of the Editorial Committee as named in Russell’s will were William E. Page, William E. Van Amburgh, Henry Clay Rockwell, E. W. Brenneisen, and F. H. Robison. In addition, to fill any vacancies, others were named—A. E. Burgess, Robert Hirsh, Isaac Hoskins, G. H. Fisher, J. F. Rutherford, and John Edgar. Page and Brenneisen, however, promptly resigned—Page because he could not take up residence in Brooklyn, and Brenneisen (later the spelling was changed to Brenisen) because he had to take up secular work to support his family. Rutherford and Hirsh, whose names were listed in the December 1, 1916, Watch Tower, replaced them as members of the Editorial Committee. According to the charter of the Watch Tower Society, the board of directors was to be composed of seven members. The charter provided for the surviving members of the board of directors to fill a vacancy. So, two days after Russell’s death, the board of directors met and elected A. N. Pierson to be a member. The seven members of the board at that point were A. I. Ritchie, W. E. Van Amburgh, H. C. Rockwell, J. D. Wright, I. F. Hoskins, A. N. Pierson, and J. F. Rutherford. The seven-member board then elected the Executive Committee of three. At the annual meeting held on January 5, 1918, the seven persons receiving the highest number of votes were J. F. Rutherford, C. H. Anderson, W. E. Van Amburgh, A. H. Macmillan, W. E. Spill, J. A. Bohnet, and G. H. Fisher. From these seven board members, the three officers were chosen—J. F. Rutherford as president, C. H. Anderson as vice president, and W. E. Van Amburgh as secretary-treasurer. - Published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society


Dedication to God in prayer must precede baptism. (Compare Luke 3:21, 22.) Dedication means a setting apart for a sacred purpose. So important is this step that we should express to God in prayer our decision to give him exclusive devotion and serve him forever. (Deuteronomy 5:8, 9; 1 Chronicles 29:10-13) Of course, our dedication is not to a work but to God himself. That point was made clear at the funeral of the Watch Tower Society’s first president, Charles Taze Russell. On that occasion in 1916, the Society’s secretary-treasurer, W. E. Van Amburgh, said: “This great worldwide work is not the work of one person. It is far too great for that. It is God’s work and it changes not. God has used many servants in the past and He will doubtless use many in the future. Our consecration [dedication] is not to a man, or to a man’s work, but to do the will of God, as He shall reveal it unto us through His Word and providential leadings. God is still at the helm.” - March 15, 1992 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Click on the photo to read:

Clerics Lash Out!

One of the earliest congregations of Jehovah’s people to be established in Canada was the one at Hamilton, Ontario. That strong, very active congregation naturally had the disapproval of the clergy. Not having any Biblical defense against the forceful thrusts of the truth, the clerics resorted to personal invective. They lashed out in a seemingly desperate attempt to destroy one man—C. T. Russell.

A clergyman who used this approach at Hamilton was a bombastic Baptist preacher named J. J. Ross. In 1912, he wrote a scurrilous pamphlet in which he made many false accusations against Russell. Acting on the advice of his legal counselor, J. F. Rutherford, Brother Russell laid a criminal charge of defamatory libel against Ross. As the complainant, Russell attended the trial to give evidence, and he submitted to a long cross-examination of roughly five hours. After the trial, his Baptist opponent falsely charged that Russell had committed perjury when asked about his knowledge of Greek. This “perjury” charge was published in Ross’ second pamphlet attacking Russell. In it the cleric misquoted what had been said in court, giving the cross-examiner’s question and Russell’s reply as follows:

Q. “Do you know the Greek?”

A. “Oh, yes.”

By omitting the word “alphabet” from this question, Ross sought to establish an exact contradiction with a later question and answer:

Q. “Are you familiar with the Greek language?”

A. “No.”

What really happened is clear from the official record (Police Court of the City of Hamilton, Ontario, March 17, 1913). It shows that C. T. Russell did not commit perjury. The cross-examination (by George Lynch-Staunton, K. C.) went as follows, according to the book Jehovah’s Witnesses in Canada, by M. James Penton:

“Question: ‘You don’t profess, then, to be schooled in the Latin language?’

Answer: ‘No, Sir.’

Question: ‘Or in Greek?’

Answer: ‘No, Sir.’”

After this, Russell was asked if he knew individual Greek letters, and he said that he “might make a mistake of some of them.” According to the book just cited, shortly thereafter “Lynch-Staunton asked Russell the question: ‘Are you familiar with the Greek language?’ Russell’s reply was an emphatic ‘No.’”

So, there was no question about matters. C. T. Russell had not committed perjury as Ross falsely charged after the trial. The case itself later went before a grand jury, which declined to return a bill of indictment. So, the case never went on for trial before the Supreme Court of Ontario. Under legal practice in Ontario, only the crown attorney is allowed to speak before the grand jury. We do not know how the case was presented to it or what caused that body to reject it. No decision ever was rendered on the merits of the case. In his subsequent writings, Ross treated this inconclusive result as though he had won a great victory. He and others apparently chose to forget that Russell was not the man on trial.


Despite the hatred of Christendom’s clergy, Jehovah’s people remained undisturbed. In 1923 they held a series of conventions, and these were very successful gatherings. For instance, about 1,000 persons attended the convention in Victoria, British Columbia, and some 4,500 were present for the one in Vancouver. This series of assemblies covered the larger centers of the West before moving on to the week-long gathering at Toronto. There the audience numbered around 1,200, with about half of the delegates coming from the United States.

Over 200 delegates traveled with C. T. Russell from one convention to another. One press report announced the arrival of the special convention train in Edmonton, Alberta, and then said:

“When asked about the charge that he is a ‘no hell’ preacher, Pastor Russell replied:

“‘There is no minister in the world that preaches more hell than I do, but the hell that I preach is the hell of the Bible and not the hell of the fire, brimstone, pitchfork and sandpaper-slide variety. The hell of the Bible is a most reasonable interpretation of the original Greek and Hebrew terms—Hades and Sheol—which means the death state, the tomb.’”

Concerning the later 1913 Toronto assembly, The Watch Tower said: “Some attended this convention largely because they perceived that an evil spirit of slander and misrepresentation was for some reason endeavoring to do injury to a religious work. Satan and his blinded and misguided servants overdo in their endeavors to injure the Lord’s cause. Sometimes the Lord overrules the wrath of man for his own praise and for the forwarding of the truth. As for instance, in the case of a man who, being told that Pastor Russell was Antichrist, went to see what Antichrist might look like. Hearing the joyful message of the Gospel, his heart was captured and now he rejoices.”

At the Toronto convention, some opposers went so far as to come on the grounds with a large banner on which there appeared, disparaging matter including the prominent wording ‘Russellism, Millennial Dawnism, Doctrine of Devils.” But the police made them move on. According to the Toronto News (of July 25, 1913), during that week “the activities of the Toronto anti-Russellites” had not been confined only to that city, for the newspaper said: “Anti-Russell literature has been sent all over the world to different secretaries of that movement, according to Mr. Philip Sidersky of Baltimore, a member of the National Federation of Gospel Missions.” But the News carried a headline indicating that the Bible Students were “not disturbed” by the antics of opposers.

- 1979 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, pp. 93-4, WTB&TS

I am quite familiar with the slanderous screed issued by Rev. J. J. Ross. In Canada they have just two laws governing libel. Under the one the falsifier may be punished by the assessment of damages and money. Under the other, criminal libel, he is subject to imprisonment. I entered suit against Rev. Ross under the criminal act, at the advice of my attorneys, because, as he has no property, a suit for damages would not intimidate him nor stop him. The lower Court found him guilty of libel. But when the case went to the second Judge he called up an English precedent, in which it was held that criminal libel would only operate in a case where the jury felt sure that there was danger of rioting or violence. As there was no danger that myself or friends would resort to rioting, the case was thrown out. I could still bring my action for financial damages, but it would be costly to me and impotent as respects Rev. Ross. He, however, is having troubles of his own. Since he began to attack me, he has split two Baptist Congregations--one in Toronto, the other in Hamilton. The last heard of him, he was in London, Ont., and again in trouble with his congregation. A lying spirit is sure to be a boomerang.

As respects my education in Greek and Hebrew: Not only do I not claim very special knowledge of either language, but I claim that not one minister in a thousand is either a Hebrew or a Greek scholar. To be able to spell out a few Greek words is of no earthly value. Nor is it necessary longer to study these languages, in order to have knowledge of the Bible. Our Presbyterian friends have gotten out at great cost Young's Analytical Hebrew, Chaldaic, Greek and English Lexicon Concordance, which anyone may procure. And our Methodist friends have issued a similar work-- Strong's Analytical Concordance and Lexicon. And there is a still older one entitled Englishman's Hebrew, Chaldaic, Greek and English Lexicon and Concordance. Additionally, Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon is a standard authority. The prices of these are not beyond the reach of the average man. By these works scholarly information respecting the original text of the Bible is obtainable. I have all four of these works and have used them faithfully. Very few college professors, even, would risk to give a critical translation of any text of Scripture without consulting these very works of reference, which are standard. To merely learn to read the Greek and Hebrew without a six years' course in their grammars is more likely to hinder than to help in Bible study; far better take the acknowledged scholarship to which I have referred.

Additionally I remind you of the many translations of the Bible now extant--all of them very good. I have all of these and find them useful in comparison in the study of any text--one sometimes giving a thought which another may not. The other day, for curiosity's sake, I counted Bibles in different translations, etc., in my study and found that I have thirty-two.

- 1914 Watchtower, September 15, page 286

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 1/9/2010

In June 1912 Reverend J.J. Ross, pastor of the James Street Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ontario, published the pamphlet, Some facts about the Self-Styled 'Pastor' Charles T. Russell, denouncing Russell, his qualifications as a minister, and his moral example as a Pastor. Russell promptly sued Ross for "defamatory libel". During the examination on March 17 1913, Russell admitted that at most he had attended school only seven years of his life at the public school, and that he had left school when he was about fourteen years of age. As Counselor Staunton pressed him further, Russell admitted that he knew nothing about Latin and Hebrew, and that he had never taken a course in philosophy or systematic theology, and had never attended schools of higher learning. The Hamilton and Toronto Newspapers reported the claims made by Ross, but made no charges of misconduct on the part of Russell, and instead criticized Ross for his personal behavior and unprofessional demeanor.[64][65] In answer to Ross's accusations, Russell stated through various printed and public sources that he never claimed knowledge of the Greek language, merely the alphabet. He believed that his ordination was "of God" according to the 'biblical pattern', not requiring any denominational approval, and that his annual election as "Pastor" by over 1,200 congregations worldwide constituted him as "ordained", or chosen, to be a minister of the gospel.

64. ^ The Hamilton Spectator, Dec. 9, 1912; also Feb. 7, and March 17,18,22 1913
65. ^ The Toronto Globe, March 18, 1913

Also See:

The Ross Libel

Rev. J. J. Ross, of Hamilton, Ontario, published a libelous pamphlet against Pastor Russell. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Ross. He evaded the officer for some time and even failed to keep his appointment at his church to prevent the officer from taking him into custody. Finally, he was taken before George E. Jelfs, Police Magistrate, on the charge of criminal libel. Upon a hearing he was committed for trial. Upon motion, the Superior Court quashed the commitment because of a technical error the proceedings. Ross was again taken before the Magistrate.

When the case came on for hearing the second time Pastor Russell, who was a necessary witness, was away on an extended trip in Panama and other parts of the South, filling appointments previously made, and had no notice of the date of hearing. Ross and his counsel tried to make it appear that Pastor Russell was evading the trial. As soon as Pastor Russell returned to Brooklyn and heard that he was wanted he immediately notified the Magistrate that he was ready to come to Canada. He did go and gave his testimony. Again the Magistrate committed Ross to appear before the high court to answer an indictment to be preferred by the Grand Jury. When the case came on in that court the Judge of the court in charging the Grand Jury relative to its duties, among other things, said to the jury: "Unless the jury finds that this alleged libel would cause a breach of the public peace in Canada then no indictment should be returned, but the parties should resort to civil suit for damages." The jury returned "no bill," and it is manifest that they could not have done otherwise under this charge of the Court, for the reason that Pastor Russell lived in Brooklyn, New York, and Rev.

Ross lived in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and it would be physically impossible for the libel to cause a breach of the public peace when the parties were so far apart.

Thus it will be seen that the issues were never tried and never determined. Pastor Russell did not resort to civil action for damages, for the reason that he was advised that such an action would be useless, since Ross is irresponsible financially and could not be compelled by such a proceeding to publish a retraction.


Thereafter Rev. Ross published another pamphlet against Pastor Russell which for unmitigated falsehoods and misrepresentations of facts certainly has not an equal. Selecting here and there isolated paragraphs from the court records, he twisted them, added to, misrepresented and made them appear entirely different from their true meaning.

This could not have been accidental on his part. For instance, among other things, he charges: "He (Pastor Russell) sought to evade payment fixed by the court by fleeing from one State to another, making it necessary for his wife to get an extradition order, which she did, and which led to the condemnation of the cunning pastor by a third court, and the increase of the alimony."

Rev. Ross probably did not know that extradition proceedings cannot be resorted to enforce a money judgment. No "extradition order" was made, nor were there any extradition proceedings. But probably Rev. Ross thought the people would believe his statement, even though false, because he is recognized as a Minister.

Upon the hearing of the question of alimony, the Court adjudged that Mrs. Russell should receive from her husband the sum of $100 per month. This order was made March 4, 1908. The amount of alimony was never increased.
In the forepart of the winter of 1908 arrangements were made to transfer the main office of the Bible Society’s work to Brooklyn, New York, for the reasons heretofore stated. Some time was required to accomplish this work, but the removal, which was open and aboveboard, was completed in March, 1909. The Pittsburgh papers made mention of the removal. Pastor Russell remained in Pittsburgh until everything was removed that was to be removed, himself being the last one of the office force to leave Pittsburgh. No attempt was made to interfere with the removal, as indeed there could not have been any successful attempt.

In December, 1908, Mrs. Russell filed certain suits to set aside the transfer of property made by her husband to the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, and to enforce the payment of alimony.

Prior thereto, at a hearing of the testimony on the alimony branch of the separation case, Pastor Russell had testified that before the organization of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, both he and his wife having consecrated their all to be used in the religious work in which they were engaged in serving the Lord, it was agreed between them that all of his property should be turned over to the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, FOR THAT PURPOSE. The property was his and he had the right to do with it as he pleased. That after their separation, acting in good faith and in harmony with their said agreement, he had transferred his property to said Society, and that he had not the means with which to pay the amount of alimony allowed by the Court. The personal property had already been exhausted by the Society, and the real estate was incumbered.