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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Opening the Door of “Newspaper Gospelling”

By the end of the 19th century, the world was crisscrossed with telegraph lines. Telegraphic communication was inexpensive and fast; it revolutionized the press. News could be quickly transmitted over long distances and printed in newspapers. In the early part of the 20th century, C. T. Russell and his associates saw newspapers as an effective way of reaching large numbers of people. Russell later said: “The newspaper has become the great factor in the daily life of the civilized world.”

The December 1, 1904, issue of the Watch Tower announced that sermons by C. T. Russell were appearing in three newspapers. The next issue of the Watch Tower, under the heading “Newspaper Gospelling,” reported: “Millions of sermons have thus been scattered far and near; and some at least have done good. If the Lord wills we shall be glad to see this ‘door’ keep open, or even open still wider.” The door of “newspaper gospelling” did open still wider. In fact, by 1913 it was estimated that through 2,000 newspapers Russell’s sermons were reaching 15,000,000 readers!

How, though, did Russell manage to get a weekly sermon printed even when he was traveling? Each week he telegraphed a sermon (about two newspaper columns long) to a newspaper syndicate. The syndicate, in turn, retelegraphed it to newspapers in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Russell was convinced that the Lord had pushed the door of newspaper preaching wide open. During the first decade of the 20th century, the Bible message that Russell and his associates proclaimed became widely known through such newspaper sermons. A publication called The Continent once stated concerning Russell: “His writings are said to have greater newspaper circulation every week than those of any other living man; a greater, doubtless, than the combined circulation of the writings of all the priests and preachers in North America.” - Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS, Also See:

In 1908 it was decided to transfer headquarters of the Society to Brooklyn, New York, as it was considered a more impressive place from which to carry on the newspaper work by which the weekly sermons of the president of the Society were published in newspapers throughout the land. At that time Brother Russell’s sermons were being published in eleven newspapers. But in course of time the number rose to more than 2,000 newspapers, with a combined circulation to 15,000,000 readers, concurrently publishing his sermons. All together, there were over four thousand newspapers in several lands which at one time or another published these sermons either free or for a charge. So Brother Russell became the greatest syndicate writer of his day. Many came to a knowledge of the truth by means of these published sermons. At the time of transfer Brooklyn was known as “The City of Churches”, and within a radius of a few miles of it there lived a population of seven and a half million of many nationalities. So Brooklyn was chosen as “our most suitable center for the harvest work during the few remaining years”. (The Watch Tower, Dec. 15, 1908) - July 15, 1950 Watchtower, WTB&TS

“Another feature [of the work] that cannot be overlooked lightly,” says George E. Hannan, “was the publishing of Pastor Rusell’s sermons in the newspapers.” An international newspaper syndicate featuring C. T. Russell’s sermons was developed. Though Russell might be traveling, weekly he would send this syndicate, made up of four members of the Society’s headquarters staff, a sermon about two newspaper columns in length. They, in turn, retelegraphed it to newspapers in the United States, Canada and Europe. The Society bore the telegraph expense, but the newspaper space was given free.

A publication named “The Continent” once stated concerning C. T. Russell: “His writings are said to have greater newspaper circulation every week than those of any other living man; a greater, doubtless, than the combined circulation of the writings of all the priests and preachers in North America; greater even than the work of Arthur Brisbane, Norman Hapgood, George Horace Lorimer, Dr. Frank Crane, Frederick Haskins, and a dozen other of the best known editors and syndicate writers put together.” But it was not Russell as a man that was important. The wide circulation of the good news was vitally significant. “More than 2,000 newspapers, with a combined circulation of fifteen million readers, at one time published his discourses,” said The Watch Tower of December 1, 1916. “All told, more than 4,000 newspapers published these sermons.” Here, then, was another means of spreading Bible truths. - 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS

From the 1870’s down to 1914, the Bible Students were relatively few in number. By 1914, only some 5,100 were actively sharing in giving a public witness. But what an extraordinary witness it was! In 1881, just two years after the Watch Tower was first published, they undertook distribution of the 162-page publication Food for Thinking Christians. Within a few months, they put out 1,200,000 copies. In a few years, tens of millions of tracts were being distributed annually in many languages.

Also starting in 1881, some offered their services as colporteur evangelizers. These were the forerunners of today’s pioneers (full-time evangelizers). Some of the colporteurs, traveling on foot or by bicycle, personally witnessed in nearly every part of the country where they lived. Others reached out to foreign fields and were the first to take the good news to such places as Finland, Barbados, and Burma (which is now Myanmar). They manifested a missionary zeal like that of Jesus Christ and his apostles.—Luke 4:43; Romans 15:23-25.

Brother Russell himself traveled extensively to spread the truth. He went to Canada repeatedly; spoke in Panama, Jamaica, and Cuba; made a dozen trips to Europe; and circled the globe on an evangelizing tour. He also sent out other men to initiate and take the lead in the preaching of the good news in foreign fields. Adolf Weber was sent to Europe in the mid-1890’s, and his ministry reached out from Switzerland into France, Italy, Germany, and Belgium. E. J. Coward was dispatched to the Caribbean area. Robert Hollister was assigned to the Orient in 1912. There, special tracts were prepared in ten languages, and millions of copies of these were circulated throughout India, China, Japan, and Korea by native distributors. If you had lived then, would your heart have moved you to make an earnest effort to reach others in your community and beyond with the good news?

As the Gentile Times neared their end, newspapers were used to publish Bible sermons delivered by Brother Russell. Their primary emphasis was not on the year 1914 but, rather, on the purpose of God and the surety of its fulfillment. As many as 2,000 newspapers at a time, reaching 15,000,000 readers, regularly featured these sermons. Then, as the year 1914 dawned, the Society began its public showing of the “Photo-Drama of Creation.” In four 2-hour presentations, it presented Bible truths from creation all the way into the Millennium. Within just a year, audiences totaling over nine million in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand had seen it.

According to available records, by the latter part of 1914, this zealous band of evangelizers had spread their proclamation of God’s Kingdom into 68 lands. But that was only a beginning! - May 1, 1994 Watchtower, WTB&TS

PASTOR RUSSELL is known the world around as "the most celebrated preacher of modern times. When a young man of about twenty years of age he began to preach the Gospel of Christ Jesus, and continued faithfully to do so until his death, October 31, 1916. His explanatory writings on the Bible are far more extensive than the combined writings of St. Paul, St. John, Arius, Waldo, Wycliffe and Martin Luther—the six Messengers to the Church who preceded him. His sermons and other writings have been translated into many languages and are read appreciatively everywhere.

All Christian people will concede that St. Paul was the greatest of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. He was the Apostle who averred to the Church of his day, "I have not shunned to declare to you all the counsel of God." (#Ac 20:27.) St. Paul’s greatness was due to the fact that the Lord used him most wonderfully to enlighten others concerning God’s great Plan of Salvation for mankind. Since the days of the Apostle Paul there have been other great reformers in the world, other great exponents of the Scriptures. But when the history of the Church of Christ is fully written, it will be found that the place next to St. Paul in the gallery of fame as an expounder of the Gospel of the great Master will be occupied by CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL.

In the first three chapters of the Revelation we are informed that to the Gospel Church have been sent seven special Messengers. Of these St. Paul was the first, and Pastor Russell the last. To him, as the Seventh Messenger, was granted the wonderful privilege of clearly presenting to the minds of the people the magnitude and the vital importance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord, and of explaining how that sacrifice will ultimately bring a blessing to every man. Through the Pastor’s preaching multitudes have come to know that Jehovah God is not a fiend, as many of the creeds of Christendom imply, but a mighty God of Love.

For a period of forty-two years Pastor Russell preached the Glad Tidings of great joy—a Message which must yet be heard by all, from the least unto the greatest. Those who heard him and had their hearts made glad by his Message passed it to others; and in time a public demand was created for Pastor Russell’s sermons. The public press furnished the medium through which this demand could be met. Then followed that which has never been duplicated in the history of the world—approximately three thousand newspapers published the Pastor’s sermons weekly. Approximately ten million people were reached every week by these newspapers; and doubtless many thousands read the sermons. The good thus accomplished will never be fully known until all things are revealed.

For many centuries the world had been deprived of the opportunity of Bible study. That period has well been styled the Dark Ages, during which there prevailed great darkness in the world and gross darkness upon the people. The clergy of both Romish and Protestant churches had induced the laity to believe the God-dishonoring doctrine of eternal torment—that the soul of man is immortal, that therefore death does not mean death, but only a change of condition, and that all except a very few would spend eternity in a hell of fire and brimstone. The Lord has used Pastor Russell to remove from the minds of thousands this foul stain upon the name of Jehovah.

His discourses have made luminous many of the dark places of the Bible. They throw a flood of light upon the Word of God, making it a new Book to the faithful and prayerful student. In simple and beautiful language these sermons disclose God’s dealings with man from the dawn of creation to the blessed days of restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy Prophets of Israel. They show why God has permitted evil in the world, how long evil will persist, and who will profit by experiencing it. They also show God’s wise provision for the redemption, enlightenment and complete blessing of all who accept the Divine blessings upon the terms proffered. In these sermons the Pastor points out why this great Time of Trouble upon which we have entered has come upon the world, what its result will be, and what blessings will accrue to all peoples and nations that are properly exercised thereby.

Thus they are indeed a balm for the broken-hearted and a comfort for those that mourn. Blessed is he who reads them with unbiased mind!

During the term of his ministry CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL was pastor of a large congregation at Allegheny, Pa.—now a part of Pittsburgh; London Tabernacle, London, Eng.; and of The New York City Temple; and was elected pastor of over 1200 other congregations. His reputation was international. His sermons were published in more than thirty languages. He was indeed the world’s ubiquitous preacher.

On October 31, 1916, after a most eventful career, Pastor Russell finished his work on earth. Suddenly the order-loving peoples of the world learned that a great force for good had been removed from their midst.

An aching void was left in many hearts, and thousands of people have continued to hunger for more of that precious mental and spiritual food which his discourses had supplied. To meet this demand, and as a lasting monument to the memory of Pastor Russell, we issue this selection of his sermons in book form. Some of these have never before been published.

St. Paul under inspiration wrote that at the end of the Age would come greater light. Pastor Russell was privileged to live in the close of the Gospel Age; and as a chosen vessel of the Lord he was permitted to point many thousands to the illuminated pages of the Divine Word.

In fulfillment of St. Paul’s prophetic statement, and as a result of Pastor Russell’s preaching, thousands of people today are enabled to see that God has a great Plan which He is working out in an orderly manner, and which will culminate to His glory in the blessing of mankind.

In these sermons Pastor Russell gives clear proof from Scripture that the Secrets of the Lord can be understood by those who, trusting fully in the merit of Christ Jesus, have made a consecration to do the will of God, who have been accepted by the Heavenly Father and who then apply themselves studiously to understand the Divine Plan. Christian people have long been confused upon many questions; such as, What is the condition of the dead? Is there hope of salvation for any aside from the truly consecrated? What will be the office of the Church in the ages to come? The reader of these sermons will see that Pastor Russell makes these questions clear, answering them to the satisfaction of all honest minds. He magnifies the merit of Christ Jesus’ sacrifice, and shows that in due time every man will receive the benefit accruing from the Ransom-price and will be given one fair, impartial trial for life.

Long before the great international war began, Pastor Russell fore-showed in his sermons the coming trouble upon the earth, made clear from the Scriptures the cause of the war, and pointed out what would be the result and what would follow after the trouble had subsided.

Both Christians and those who have never claimed to be Christians will find much satisfaction in reading these sermons. Order-loving Christians will desire to leave a copy of these discourses as a heritage to their children, that they may better understand God’s great Plan. It is our prayer that these sermons may prove a blessing to all who read them.



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