As regards “the time of the end,” Daniel foretold a very positive development. (Read Daniel 12:3, 4, 9, 10.) “At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun,” said Jesus. (Matt. 13:43) How did the true knowledge become abundant in the time of the end? Consider some historical developments in the decades prior to 1914, the year when the time of the end began.
In the late 1800’s, a number of sincere individuals were searching for an understanding of “the pattern of healthful words.” (2 Tim. 1:13) One such person was Charles Taze Russell. In 1870 he and a few other truth-seekers formed a class for Bible study. In 1872 they examined the subject of restitution. Later, Russell wrote: “Up to that time we had failed to see clearly the great distinction between the reward of the church now on trial and the reward of the faithful of the world.” The reward of the latter will be “restoration to the perfection of human nature once enjoyed in Eden by their progenitor and head, Adam.” Russell acknowledged that he had been helped in his study of the Bible by others. Who were these?
Henry Dunn was one of them. He had written about the “restoration of all things of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old time.” (Acts 3:21) Dunn knew that this restoration included the elevation of mankind to perfection on earth during the Thousand Year Reign of Christ. Dunn also examined a question that had puzzled many, Who will live forever on earth? He explained that millions will be resurrected, taught the truth, and have the opportunity to exercise faith in Christ.
In 1870, George Storrs also came to the conclusion that the unrighteous will be resurrected to an opportunity of everlasting life. He also discerned from the Scriptures that a resurrected one who fails to respond to this opportunity “will end in death, even if the ‘sinner be a hundred years old.’” (Isa. 65:20) Storrs lived in Brooklyn, New York, and edited a magazine called the Bible Examiner.
Russell discerned from the Bible that the time had come to make the good news widely known. So in 1879, he started publishing Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, now called The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. Previously, the truth about mankind’s hope was understood by very few people, but now groups of Bible Students in many countries were receiving and studying The Watchtower. The belief that only a few will go to heaven, whereas millions will be given perfect human life on earth, set the Bible Students apart from most of Christendom.
The foretold “time of the end” began in 1914. Did true knowledge about the hope of mankind become plentiful? (Dan. 12:4) By 1913, Russell’s sermons were printed in 2,000 newspapers with a combined readership of 15,000,000. By the end of 1914, over 9,000,000 people on three continents had seen the “Photo-Drama of Creation”—a program including motion pictures and slides that explained Christ’s Millennial Reign. From 1918 until 1925, the talk “Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” which explained the hope of everlasting life on earth, was presented by Jehovah’s servants in over 30 languages worldwide. By 1934, Jehovah’s Witnesses realized that those hoping to live forever on earth should be baptized. This understanding filled them with renewed zeal for preaching the good news of the Kingdom. Today, the prospect of living forever on earth fills the hearts of millions with gratitude toward Jehovah.
- August 15, 2009 Watchtower, WTB&TS
Pastor Russell pointed to 1799 as the beginning of the “time of the end,” not 1914. For Russell 1914 was the end of the Gentile Times and the end of the time of trouble. "We see no reason for changing the figures - nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble." - The Watchtower Reprints, July 15, 1894, p. 1672. Also see: "THE “Time of the End,” a period of one hundred and fifteen (115) years, from A.D. 1799 to A.D. 1914, is particularly marked in the Scriptures. “The Day of His Preparation” is another name given to the same period, because in it a general increase of knowledge, resulting in discoveries, inventions, etc., paves the way to the coming Millennium of favor, making ready the mechanical devices which will economize labor, and provide the world in general with time and conveniences, which under Christ’s reign of righteousness will be a blessing to all and aid in filling the earth with the knowledge of the Lord. And it is a day or period of preparation in another sense also; for by the increase of knowledge among the masses, giving to all a taste of liberty and luxury, before Christ’s rule is established to rightly regulate the world, these blessings will gradually become agencies of class-power and will result in the uprising of the masses and the overthrow of corporative Trusts, etc., with which will fall also all the present dominions of earth, civil and ecclesiastical. And thus ::page 24:: the present is a day of preparation (through such an overthrow) for the establishment of the universal dominion of the Kingdom of God so long prayed for." - http://www.mostholyfaith.com/bible/volumes/C02.asp
The current Watchtower view holds that the Gentile Times ended and the "time of the end" began in 1914.
Four articles by Henry Dunn appear in Zion’s Watchtower (Reprints, pp. 644, 649, 653, and 796). All come from Dunn’s book, The Study of the Bible written in 1871. “Bros. George Storrs, Henry Dunn and others were preaching and writing of ‘the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets’ (Acts 3:21) and that ‘In the ages to come, God would show the exceeding riches of his grace.’ (Ephesians 2:7)”—Charles Taze Russell, Supplement to Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, July 1, 1879.
For many years Dunn was the secretary of the British and Foreign School Society and was identified with the history of public education in England. After retirement he went to Italy and joined the Protestant missions there, devoting his life to a study of the Scriptures and the writing of Christian literature. He published his own magazine, The Interpreter, in 1860-61 and was said to have been heard to “express his obligation to a remarkable book, never much known and now almost forgotten: Dunbar Isidore Heath’s Future Human Kingdom of Christ. It was this book that inspired Dunn’s Destiny of the Human Race that is credited by both George Storrs and Charles Russell as helpful in the thoughts on the doctrines of two salvations and times of restitution. Shortly before his death, Dunn wrote a series of articles for Storrs’ magazine, The Bible Examiner. Pastor Russell wrote that on these doctrines both Storrs and Dunn were influential in his thinking. Also See: http://www.archive.org/stream/destinyofhumanra00dunn#page/n5/mode/2up
- The Herald of Christ's Kingdom, published by the Pastoral Bible Institute