Russell/Barbour connection

by SWALKER 13 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • stev

    Here again is a quote from Russell. This is from the supplement to the first issue of Zion's Watch Tower, July, 1879. I highlighted the portion that indicates that he had heard of the 1873 time proofs.

    I have been a Bible student since I first had my attention called to the second coming of our Lord, by Jonas Wendel, a Second Advent Preacher, about 1869, who was then preaching the burning of the world as being due in 1873. But though he first awakened my interest on the subject, I was not a convert, either to the time he suggested nor to the events he predicted. I, in company with others in Pittsburgh, organized and maintained a bible class for the searching of the Scriptures, meeting every Sunday.

    We reasoned that, if Christ's coming were to end probation, and bring irrevocable ruin upon ninety-nine in a hundred of mankind; then it could scarcely be considered desirable, neither could we pray with proper spirit, "Come, Lord Jesus, Come quickly!" We had rather request--much as we should "love his appearing"--that he remain away and our sufferings and trials continue so that "if by any means we might save some." Not only so, but great masses of scripture referring to the Millennial glory and teaching that "All nations which thou hast made shall come and worship before thee," &c., &c., would be left unfulfilled if at His coming there should be a wreck of matter and a crush of world.

    We first saw Millennial glory--then the glorious work which is offered us as His Bride; that we are by faith the "seed of Abraham;" and as such, heirs of the promises, &c., in whom "all the families of the earth shall be blest." (`Gal. 3`.) This most certainly points to a probation in the future after He has come.

    Thus, speedily, steadily and surely God led us to recognize the second coming of our Lord as being not the sunset of all hope to mankind, but the "rising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings."

    The Lord gave us many helps in the study of His word, among whom stood prominently, our dearly beloved and aged brother, George Storrs, who, both by word and pen, gave us much assistance; but we ever sought not to be followers of men, however good or wise, but "Followers of God, as dear children." Thus growing in grace and knowledge for seven years, the year 1876 found us.

    Up to this time we persistently ignored time and looked with pity upon Mr. Thurman's and Mr. Wendel's ideas. (The latter was preaching the same time as Bro. Barbour; viz: The burning of the world in 1873.) We regarded those ideas as unworthy of consideration, for though we believed the event "nigh even at the doors," yet we recognized the fact that the church will be withdrawn--translated--before there would be any open manifestation to the world, or, in other words, the two stages of Christ's second advent, viz: coming for his saints, and coming with all his saints.

    About this time I received a copy of the "Herald of the Morning," Bro. B. was its publisher; I read with interest how he and others had been looking for (to use his own expression) "a bonfire"; how scriptural arguments pointed to the autumn of 1874 as the time it was due; how that as the disappointment connected therewith began to abate, he and others had re-examined the scriptural proofs that appeared to teach that the end of the world was due at the time supposed; how clear and firm all those proofs still seemed; etc.; how that then, they began to examine what was due to take place at the end, and found that instead of a bonfire, scripture taught that "The harvest is the end of the world" (or age), and that though the age ended, the earth remained and a new age unfolded in which "All the families of the earth shall be blest."

    When I read the account I was deeply interested, and as I read on I saw that, if the arguments were true they proved that we had entered and were then in the harvest or end; and if in the harvest, Jesus was due to be here present. This was all reasonable enough for it was much what we had been expecting, and it linked time to our expectation in a harmonious and beautiful manner. My thought now was: Are there sufficient proofs of our being in the time of harvest? If so, this brother and I were in perfect harmony. The paper came in the morning, and I had read it and written to brother B. before noon. I examined more of the time proofs, and though not yet settled with reference to them, made arrangements with brothers B. and Paton to come to Philadelphia, where I was engaged at the time (1876), and hold some meetings, giving evidences, etc., of time, to which I listened with interest, and of the truth of which I felt convinced.

  • stev

    Russell gives another account of the early history in ZIon's Watch Tower, Feb. 1881, in the article "CAST NOT AWAY THEREFORE YOUR CONFIDENCE." It is found on R 187. It is quite detailed and goes on for several pages. I quote the beginning regarding the failed 1873 expectation.

    A GLANCE BACKWARD at the steps of progress, and let all notice that the progress is not only forward but upward; i.e., the tendency is from the natural to the spiritual. We will look, not at any one person's experience, but at what serves to show the advance of the knowledge of truth for ten years past. Looking back to 1871, we see that many of our company were what are known as Second Adventists, and the light they held briefly stated, was that there would be a second advent of Jesus-- that he would come to bless and immortalize the saints, to judge the world and to burn up the world and all the wicked. This, they claimed would occur in 1873, because the 6,000 years from the creation of Adam were complete then.

    Well 1873 came, the end of 6,000 years, and yet no burning of the world, &c.; but prophecies were found which pointed positively to 1874 as the time when Jesus was due to be present, and the resurrection of Daniel was also due as proved by the ending of jubilee cycles and the 1335 days of `Dan. 12`. The autumn of 1874 anxiously expected, finally came, but the earth rolled on as ever; "all things continued as they were from the beginning of creation." All their hearts were sad; they said, surely we have been in error--but where? Surely it is clearly taught that Jesus will come again; perhaps our calculation of time is at fault. Carefully they examined the chronology but it seemed faultless and positively declared that the 6,000 years ended in 1873. Then the prophetic arguments were carefully re-examined: Was an error found? No, they stood the test of all investigation and the jubilee argument and "1335 days" of Daniel could not possibly be prolonged beyond the fall of '74 or spring of 1875 and these periods were both past.

    Dark indeed seemed the outlook; all were discouraged. It had seemed as though the Lord had been leading in the past, and yet now all these things which had been thought light seemed to be proved darkness.


    So Stev...are you saying you believe Russell's rendition rather than other sources that point to a different understanding? I have trouble believing that he just picked out the cross/crown symbol used by the Knights Templar out of thin air to put on the front of his magazine along with the Watchtower knowing the implications to the Masons. I have trouble believing these were HIS ideas!!! Seems like others taught these things long before he did.

    If I were to start a religious magazine and thought all other religions were wrong, I would try very hard to come up with symbolisms that had nothing to do with any known secret society or false religion.

    This just reaks to me of taking on other viewpoints that he picked up along the way and calling them his own...saying the lord had chosen him as the faithful and discreet slave...which we know has nothing to do with truth whatsoever.

    Back to my point in the beginning...are you of the opinion that Russell is right and his writings are the "truth?"


  • stev

    On the whole, the quote that started this thread is correct. However, I don't find anywhere that Russell stated that he had never seen the Herald of the Morning, or was not acquainted with Barbour. This is going beyond what is written. Russell had heard the 1873 time proofs from Wendell, and might have heard or read of Barbour, since he had also used the same proofs. It is true that Barbour had a magazine called "The Midnight Cry" that had a circulation of 15,000. But after the disappointment of 1873, the circulation fell, and a magazine with a new title "Herald of the Morning" was started. But the following was small. Although Russell seemed to have known about the disappointment of 1873, it seems from his account, that he was not aware of the movement's activities, or change of beliefs. He does not tell how the magazine came to him.

    But there are questions that remain about this. What was the connection between that Bible study class that Russell started, and that Advent Christian church of which Wendell was pastor? How did Russell hear about the time proofs from Wendell? How can one unlearn errors without learning truth at the same time? If Russell was not an Adventist, why were his associates Adventists? Barbour, Paton, Wendell, Stetson were all preachers of the Advent Christian Church, and Storrs had been a leading preacher under William Miller. Did he lie about not being an Adventist?

    I don't think he was lying, for one reason because he acknowledges that he was previously familiar with those time proofs of the Second Adventists, and their beliefs that he disagreed with. And the statement that he made that he learned no single truth from the Adventists, but they helped him unlearned errors, and prepare him for the truth - that statement is contradictory. He could have been deceiving himself about the matter.

    There is some ambiguity of meaning to the word "Adventist." It can refer to anything coming out of the William Miller movement. But "Second Adventist" refers to someone belonging to the Advent Christian Church, which at the time was the largest Adventist group. The ACC organized, and the term "Second Adventist" was a denominational label. But many Adventists, like Storrs and others, were opposed to organization and denominations, and rejected therefore the label "Adventist" and would not call themselves an Adventist. They thought denominations were "Babylon", which they had left. There were other Adventists who were called "Age-to-Come" Adventists. They did not believe in the burning in the world, and believed in a literal kingdom on earth, and some believed in a future probation. Wendell was not an Age-to-Come Adventist, but Storrs and Stetson were. Russell as early as 1869 held to this view. He does not tell how he arrived at this view so early after being an agnostic, and regaining his faith in the Bible. My guess is that, since Wendell did not teach this, then he met someone at the Adventist church that steered him in that direction, perhaps this was Conley, who was in Russell's bible class.

    The Age-to-Come Adventists and the Advent Christians would fellowship with each other at that time. They become more organized and separate later on. But the Age-to-Come Adventists were adverse to organization, and they commonly called themselves "The Church of God." Many of the Age-to-Come Adventists later organized as the "Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith." I have their history booklet, called Historical Waymarks of the Church of God. It shows that in the earlier years before 1900, Advent Christians and their believers met in the same church together, more commonly in the Midwest and West.

    I have seen the original paper of the Advent Christian Church, called the World's Crisis and Advent Christian Times. There, in the 1870s, that Allegheny church is advertised as "The Church of God." This might indicate that there were a number of Age-to-Come believers in that church, including Stetson, who was pastor for a while. It is possible that Russell's Bible study class was actually a minority subgroup within that church. So Russell might have regularly attended the meetings of that Advent Christian Church, and heard Wendell and Stetson preach there, and attended his own class on Sunday evening, and yet since he disagreed with some fundamental beliefs of the Advent Christian Church, could in good conscience deny that he was an Adventist.

    However, he does downplay his connection with the Adventists, and does not state Stetson and Storr's connections with the Adventists. Russell was definitely acquainted with the Adventist literature, quoting their articles in the Watch Tower even through the 1880s. In the Advent Christian papers, in the early 1870s, Russell's name appears frequently, not as writer of articles, but acknowledging receipt of his correspondence. I am assuming that he requested literature from them and gave money. So Russell knew about these papers at that time. Barbour's articles on 1873 appear in the Adventist papers, and Russell could have read them at the time.

    As far as what this tells us, history shows that date-setting leads to disappointment. Storrs, Barbour, Wendell - each set dates, and experienced disappointment. The Three Worlds expected that the rapture would occur in 1878. We can see that this was a mistake. Storrs advised Russell and Barbour against date-setting. Storrs learned his lesson through experience, which Russell did not have, he was a young man. Russell made a mistake in following Barbour, and not listening to his former mentor.


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