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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ernest C. Henninges and the New Covenant Fellowship

By 1904 upward of a hundred people were receiving Zion’s Watch Tower in Australia. It now seemed appropriate to organize a branch office of the Society in Melbourne, allowing for the distribution of People’s Pulpit and other tracts, bearing an Australian address.

The first branch organizer, E. C. Henninges, announced that the list of subscribers for Zion’s Watch Tower in the state of Victoria had increased eighteenfold during the first eight and a half months of the branch’s operations. One subscriber donated ten pounds (which was then equal to $40, U.S.) to the tract fund, requesting it be used to pay postage on packets of tracts being mailed out. For this sum the brothers were able to mail 4,800 packets! How were names obtained? The brothers took them from electoral rolls and thus mailed out thousands of copies of the People’s Pulpit to the extremities of the country for the cost of one shilling (10 cents, [U.S.]) per 100.

Workers and lone cottagers along the railway tracks received the message of the coming Kingdom as friends threw bundles of tracts from train windows. Seeds of truth found good soil in the hearts of some lonely folk in this way. Tons of paper in tract form carried the message into mailboxes. On Saturday afternoons groups of enthusiastic Bible Students would each frequently distribute up to five hundred copies of The Bible Students Monthly, which also advertised meetings. Ships were visited when they tied up at city wharves, and newspapers and periodicals published column-length sermons weekly.

In 1907, property, consisting of two identical houses side by side, but with separate deeds, was purchased on George Street, East Melbourne. This housed the Bethel family of that time. The office was eventually situated in a building on Collins Street, Melbourne.

At the rear of the house, numbered 20-A George Street, was a small building (actually the old stable) that became known to the brothers as The Tabernacle. In 1925 a vertical Miehle printing press was received from the United States. William Schneider, and later Bert Shearmur, operated this printing press at The Tabernacle, where tracts and other literature were printed and sent out to the whole of Australia and New Zealand. Prior to this, all printing was done by outside firms. From earliest times the Melbourne ecclesia, or congregation, used the Masonic Hall on Collins Street for meetings.


In 1908 there was an upheaval in the organization in Australia. As indicated in a report appearing in The Watch Tower in 1910, the volunteer work slowed down. Branch organizer Henninges defected, “carrying the bulk of the Melbourne class with him,” The Watch Tower reported. Out of 100 associates, only 20 stood firm.

Describing the defectors, Edward Nelson, who endured the test, wrote to Brother Russell: “Many of them are not readers to any extent and have been drawn to his [Henninges’] meetings rather by his eloquence than by the truth. Some of them do not even acknowledge the ‘parousia,’ and one who happened to come in yesterday still had the thought that man has an immortal soul.”

- 1973 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS

The Volunteer work shows a bit less output than previously; but the outlook for the ensuing year is better, and able and willing ones are now getting systematically to work. One dear elderly Brother comes in regularly for his weekly supply, his face always beaming with joy at the privileges which he has of being able to put out 1,000 to 1,200 PEOPLES PULPITS per week. Throughout Australasia the work goes forward and new interest continually comes to light of some who are rejoicing in the very truths from which others have turned aside. It is as though those who have become upset over the Vow and become blinded as regards the Covenants and the Church's high calling have made room for others to "take their crowns." The great lesson appears to be "Take heed"--"Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

Of course, as was anticipated, Bro. H. carried the bulk of the Melbourne class with him. He had such a hold upon them that there was small opportunity for assisting them to the truth on the points at issue. He also did what he could to prevent their reading the TOWERS, so that some TOWERS received from America were simply readdressed to this office unopened (only two or three). Some whom I had not seen for two years and had left at that time in good fellowship--nothing having passed between us in the meantime--wanted to pass us on the street as though we were poison.

We have tried to take advantage of any opportunity that any would give us of helping them, and the Lord has been pleased to bless our efforts in this way so that some have been regained. When we started here there were about twelve with us; now we have usually about twenty-five at our Sunday evening meeting--but probably not more than twenty are thoroughly established in the Truth. Bro. H., I think, still holds about eighty or so, but many of them are not readers to any extent and have been drawn to his meetings rather by his "eloquence" than by the Truth. Some of them do not even acknowledge the "parousia," and one who happened to come in yesterday had still the thought that man has an immortal soul. I do not think that Bro. H. is making any progress, as I have not heard of any that he has gained, while we can count a few, say about ten, around Melbourne, besides more in other parts. Though our numbers remain low, it is not because there have not been additions, but on account of so many going out of the city, either to go into the Colporteur work or for private reasons. All the same, we are not discouraged and do not want to accomplish more than the Lord is willing for us to do; only we do not wish to leave a stone unturned to the end that we may gather every grain of "wheat" in the vicinity.........................

- Published in the February 15, 1910 ZWT

The vow was recommended to the "Watch Tower" pilgrims in 1908 March. In response to two letters, it was also suggested to colporteurs, elders, and deacons in June, and then to all IBSA associates. Most of the pilgrims had taken the vow within a few months. Several individuals in scattered locations objected to the vow and did not take it, though in 1908 there was no organized resistance to it.

With one article in 1908 Oct. 15, and in many more beginning in 1909 Jan. 1, the Watch Tower made a sharp distinction between a Gospel Age grace covenant and a Millennial Age new covenant. As early as 1908 Nov. 22, E.C. Henninges in Melbourne, Australia (previously prominent in the Bible House), expressed opposition to both the covenants doctrine and the vow, and a few months later protested emphatically that the church has no part in the sufferings and sacrifice of Christ. The use of the six volumes of “Studies in the Scriptures” in the Bible studies also became an issue (led by Horace Randle). The Henninges provided the leadership of the opposition, beginning publishing New Covenant Advocate 1909 April 1 and issuing a leaflet "Wake Up!" M.L. McPhail of Chicago (and his wife, though not his daughter, Laura [later Mrs. Benj. Hollister]) sided with the Henninges and published a booklet on the Covenants and Mediator. Others who terminated fellowship with the IBSA included J.H. Giesey (then Watch Tower vice president), James Hay of Liverpool, England, a Mr. Randall [Horace Randle?], Russell’s own sister Mae Land, and a handful in the New York-Brooklyn ecclesia (including the Williamsons). The total number leaving may be estimated at many hundred out of several tens of thousands.

- The Bible Student Movement, In the Days of C.T. Russell, Third Edition, 1999 Jan.

What did Pastor Russell have to say about this: “All who cut loose from the Society and its work, instead of prospering themselves or upbuilding others in the faith and in the graces of the spirit, seemingly do the reverse—attempt injury to the Cause they once served, and, with more or less noise, gradually sink into oblivion, harming only themselves and others possessed of a similarly contentious spirit. . . . If some think that they can get as good or better provender at other tables, or that they can produce as good or better themselves—let these take their course. . . . But while we are willing that others should go anywhere and everywhere to find food and light to their satisfaction, strange to say, those who become our opponents take a very different course. Instead of saying in the manly fashion of the world, ‘I have found something which I prefer; goodbye!’ these manifest anger, malice, hatred, strife, ‘works of the flesh and of the devil’ such as we have never known worldly people to exhibit. They seem inoculated with madness, Satanic hydrophobia [rabies]. Some of them smite us and then claim that we did the smiting. They are ready to say and write contemptible falsities and to stoop to do meanness.”

- Pastor Charles T. Russell, October 1, 1909

Additional Reading:

Ernest Charles Henninges died on February 3, 1939. His sect the "New Covenant Fellowship," is still active and offers his books and copies of the "New Covenant Advocate and Kingdom Herald." Henninges defection caused the second largest split in Watch Tower Society history, second only to the 1917 - 1931 schism. Ernest C. Henninges was also married to Rose Ball. When in England Henninges sought and found suitable premises in Forest Gate, East London, to accommodate an office for the British branch of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. On Monday, April 23, 1900, E. C. Henninges opened the first branch of the Society outside the United States. He also formed a branch in Germany in 1902, and one in Australia in 1904. By 1908 he was no longer working with the Watch Tower Society. Rose Ball Henninges died on November 22, 1950.

In 1905 Paul S.L. Johnson, one of Russell's pilgrims and a former Lutheran minister, pointed out to Ch. T. Russell that his doctrines on the New Covenant had undergone a complete reversal: until 1880 he had taught that the New Covenant would be inaugurated only after the last of the 144,000 anointed Christians had been taken to heaven, but from 1881 he had written that it was already in force. Russell reconsidered the question and in January 1907 wrote several Watch Tower articles not only reaffirming his 1880 position - that "the new covenant belongs exclusively to the coming age" - but adding that since the church was under no mediated covenant, it had no Mediator at all. Further, the church itself would join Christ as a joint Messiah and Mediator during the Millennium. Several prominent Bible Students vigorously opposed the new teaching.

On October 24, 1909 former Society secretary-treasurer E.C. Henninges, who was by then the Australian branch manager of the International Bible Students Association, based in Melbourne, wrote Russell an open letter of protest trying to persuade him to abandon the teaching and calling on Bible Students to examine its legitimacy. When Russell refused, Henninges and most of the Melbourne congregation left Russell's movement to form the New Covenant Fellowship Hundreds out of the estimated 10,000 US Bible Students also left, including pilgrim M.L. McPhail, a member of the Chicago Bible Students and A. E. Williamson of Brooklyn. The dissidents formed the New Covenant Believers. In 1908 they began publishing "The Kingdom Scribe", which ceased publication in 1975. Since 1956 they have published "The Berean News", a small newsletter. The group still exists under the name Berean Bible Students Church.

In 1928 the Italian Bible Students Association in Hartford, CT., withdrew their support from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania and later established the Christian Millennial Fellowship as a publishing arm for their ministry work. In 1940 they began publishing The New Creation, a Herald of God's Kingdom. The publishing house eventually reorganized and has relocated to New Jersey, with branch offices in Australia, Austria, England, Ghana, Germany, India, Italy, Japan and Romania. They withdrew their support in 1928, and in 1940, they produced the New Creation - a Herald of Christ's Kingdom magazine. However a few years later, Gaetano Boccaccio, began to be influenced by the writings of E.C. Henninges and M.L. McPhail. The CMF eventually discarded most of Russell's writings as error and converted to "New Covenant Bible Students." Gaetano Boccaccio was its leader since its inception, having been with the Society since 1917, he died in 1996. For over fifty years he led this group from Hartford, Connecticut. Today the group is international, has been relocated to New Jersey and is headed by Elmer Weeks.

This group refer to themselves as "Free Bible Students", implying that they are no longer under the control of a man or organization. Unlike the Bible Students, they eventually discarded most of Watch Tower Society founder Charles Taze Russell's writings as erroroneous. Now located in New Jersey, the Free Bible Students; published The New Creation magazine since 1940.

- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monday, April 20, 2009

William Miller's Home and Farm

William Miller's home and farm (1614 County Route 11, Whitehall, NY 12887) is nestled in the scenic Adirondack Mountains near Hampton, New York. Through the efforts of AHM it is being restored to its 19th century appearance because of its cultural and religious significance. The site includes the home, farm buildings, Chapel and ascension rock, all of which are registered with the National Register of Historic Sites. Also located nearby is the cemetery where William and Lucy Miller are buried.

Find a Grave:

William Miller (1782-1849) was an American farmer and Baptist preacher born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and reared in Low Hampton, in northern New York, almost on the Vermont line. He was largely self-educated, with only eighteen months of formal school. Upon his marriage to Lucy P. Smith in 1803, he moved to Poultney, Vermont. Through friendship with several prominent citizens who were Deists, Miller abandoned his religious convictions and became an avowed skeptic.

In the war of 1812, Miller served as lieutenant and captain. At the close of the war he moved his family to Low Hampton, where he hoped to live quietly as a farmer through his remaining years. At various times he served his community as duputy sheriff and justice of the peace. But Miller was not at peace with himself, for he was at heart a deeply religious man. In 1816, he was converted. Challenged by his skeptical friends, he set out to study the Bible.

Miller concluded that Scripture "is its own interpreter," and that the words ought to be understood literally, that is in their ordinary historical and grammatical sense, except in those instances where the writer used figurative language. In his study of the prophecies, he reached the conclusion that the writers pointed to his day as the last period of earth's history. Specifically, he put his first and greatest emphasis on the prophetic declaration, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (Daniel 8:14), from which he reached his conclusion in 1818, at the close of two years' study of the Bible, that "in about twenty-five years...all the affairs of our present state would be wound up."

Finally in August, 1831, he agreed to preach his message for the first time. The preaching of the soon coming of Christ seemed naturally and inevitably to lead men to seek to make ready for that solemn event.

In 1832, Miller published a series of eight articles in the Vermont Telegraph, a Baptist Weekly. In 1833, he incorporated these articles into a pamphlet. In that year he was given a license to preach by the Baptist, and by the close of 1834, he was devoting his whole time to preaching.

From October, 1835, to June, 1839, Miller's manuscript record book lists 800 lectures that he had given. He accomplished this single-handedly at his own expense, and with no theological training, wholly in response to direct invitations. By the summer of 1844, the number of lectures he had given had grown to 3200.

In December, 1839, he was invited by Joshua V. Himes, of the Christian Connection, to speak at the Chardon Street Chapel in Boston. Himes assured "Father Miller" that "doors should be opened in every city in the Union, and the warning should go to the ends of the earth." Himes, an abolitionist and a born promoter, immediately began publication of the Signs of the Times. Thus was launched the extensive publication activates of the Millerites.

From 1840 onward, Millerism was no longer the activity of one man primarily, but of a great and increasing group of men. Miller kept closely in touch with the activities of the movement, even when he was absent from the lecture platform because of illness.

What type of man was Miller that he could persuade preachers of different denominations to accept his teaching? There must have been a certain force and appeal not only in the earnestness of the man but in the logical way in which he marshaled his arguments. He lived in a day when it was not uncommon for preachers to make major appeal to the emotions, yet he did not appeal primarily to the emotions, but to the intellect through a reading of the Word.

Miller used the general phrase "about the year 1843" to describe his belief as to the time of the advent until in January, 1843, he set forth the time as some time between March 21st, 1843, and March 21st 1844." He never set a date or day within this period.

After the passing of October 22, 1844-- a date that Miller did not set, but accepted about two weeks earlier-- he believed that perhaps a small error in the reckoning of chronology might still explain the Lord's delay in coming (Condensed from SDA Encyclopedia, pp. 889-891).

The Miller Chapel

Near the Miller home is the chapel he built in 1848, four years after the Disappointment and but one year before his death, when his Baptist church had cast him out. The Advent Christian Church now owns it, though it is maintained jointly with the Seventh-day Adventists. A little light on Adventist history should here be let in.

After the Disappointment of October 22, 1844, when there was a scattering of believers and a confusion of beliefs, Joshua V. Himes, with Miller, Josiah Litch, Sylvester Bliss, and some other leaders, sought to hold all Adventist factions together; and for this purpose called a meeting at Albany, New York, on April 29, 1845. This Albany Conference has a very considerable representation, but notable among the absentees were Joseph March, editor of the Voice of Truth, in Rochester, New York; George Storrs, who had introduced to Adventists the doctrine of conditional immortality, or the sleep of the dead, and who had a paper of his own, The Bible Examiner, of New York City; and Enoch Jacobs, editor of The Day Star, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Neither was Joseph Bates there, nor James White, but the latter was young and only locally influential then. Bates had only this very month accepted the seventh-day Sabbath, and White was yet a year and a half away from that. There was nobody know as Seventh-day Adventists.

The Albany Conference was only partially successful in its purpose, though Himes, and Miller for the four years he yet lived, were generally acknowledged as the leaders of the Adventists. Storrs' party, however definitely separated, and there were many factions. These all eventually put up a common front against the "Seventh-day people," as that faith grew.

Miller, in 1848, built the chapel on his farm for the local company of Adventists who all, if they kept his faith, believed in the natural immorality of the soul. There was no church organization among Adventist, for they held, as George Storrs put it, that organization was in itself Babylon. Nine years after Miller's death, however, his followers under Himes and Bliss organized the American Millennial Association, afterward known as Evangelical Adventists.

The Advent Christian Church had its origin among the followers of Jonathan Cummings, who in 1852 made great inroads in the Adventist ranks by setting the time for Christ to come in the fall of 1853 or the spring of 1854. The doctrine of conditional immortality had by this time made much headway, and most of Cummings' followers were of this persuasion. They established their own paper, The World's Crisis. When Christ did not come at their set time, they were invited back into the Evangelical body, but, mainly on the question of the nature of the soul, refused, and in 1861 completed their country-wide organization as a church. In time they came to be the chief and only significant first-day Adventist body. Himes joined them in 1864, and left them in 1875. The Evangelical Adventists dwindled, and in 1916 disappeared from the United States Census of Religious Bodies.

The Adventist Company at Low Hampton, after Miller's death, in the main adopted the doctrine of conditional immortality, and retaining the observance of Sunday, identified in their possession. It was built, however, not for the Advent Christians, but for the Evangelical Adventists. William Miller belonged to no Adventist body now existing; yet, differing from all in some particulars, he is father of all (Adapted from A. W. Spalding, Footprints, pp. 25-27).

- Adventist Heritage Ministry @

George Storrs, was publisher of the magazine Bible Examiner, in Brooklyn, New York. Storrs, who was born on December 13, 1796, was initially stimulated to examine what the Bible says about the condition of the dead as a result of reading something published (though at the time anonymously) by a careful student of the Bible, Henry Grew, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Storrs became a zealous advocate of what was called conditional immortality—the teaching that the soul is mortal and that immortality is a gift to be attained by faithful Christians. He also reasoned that since the wicked do not have immortality, there is no eternal torment. Storrs traveled extensively, lecturing on the subject of no immortality for the wicked. Among his published works was the Six Sermons, which eventually attained a distribution of 200,000 copies. Without a doubt, Storrs’ strong Bible-based views on the mortality of the soul as well as the atonement and restitution (restoration of what was lost due to Adamic sin; Acts 3:21) had a strong, positive influence on young Charles T. Russell.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

John H. Paton

The object of writing this book is to spread the knowledge of what the writer believes to be important truth. We do not presume that it is above criticism, either as to matter or style. We are not infallible; we expect to learn more truth and unlearn error, as we still wait and watch; and wisdom will continue to increase when we are gone. Our aim, as to manner, has been to be understood, and we hope that the importance of the themes will cover all literary defect s. We know of no other book that presents just the same view of God’s plan, but we are indebted to both men and books, as the agencies by which the Lord has given us these things, and we rejoice to hive all due credit to the agent, whoever or whatever it may have been. As we have received from the Lord, so we give to others. "We have this treasure in earthern vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (2 Cor. 4:7. "One soweth and another reapeth;" let both rejoice together. (John 4:36, 37)

We differ from some others in some things, but have not written in a spirit of strife. Our aim has been, not to oppose others, but, to present the subjects as they appear to us. Our motto is: "Malice toward none and Charity for all." While awake to the differences, we would still endeavor "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3.)

We all attention to the charts in the book as illustrations of the subjects presented.

We dedicate our work to the Lord, in the interests of all who know and love Him in any degree, and of humanity in general. That others may be blessed in reading, as we have been in writing, is the earnest prayer of the AUTHOR. [1890]


Next, he invited J. H. Paton, the other assistant editor of the Herald, to write an article in support of faith in the blood of Christ as the basis for atonement for sin. Paton did write the article, and it was published in the December issue. After repeated unsuccessful efforts to reason on the matter with Barbour from the Scriptures, Russell broke off association with him and withdrew support from his magazine. In July 1879, Russell began to publish a new magazine—Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence—which was from the start a special advocate of the ransom. But that was not the end of it.

Two years later, Paton, who was then serving as a traveling representative of the Watch Tower, also began to turn away, thereafter publishing a book (his second one entitled Day Dawn) in which he rejected belief in Adam’s fall into sin and consequently the need for a redeemer. He reasoned that the Lord himself was an imperfect man who by his life simply showed others how to crucify their sinful propensities. In 1881, A. D. Jones, another associate, started a paper (Zion’s Day Star) along the same lines as the Watch Tower but with the idea that it would set out simpler features of God’s purpose. At first it seemed that all was well. Yet, within a year, Jones’ paper had repudiated Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and within another year, it had rejected all the rest of the Bible. What had happened to those men? They had allowed personal theories and fascination with popular philosophies of men to lead them astray from the Word of God. (Compare Colossians 2:8.) The paper published by A. D. Jones continued for only a short time and then faded from view. J. H. Paton decided to publish a magazine in which he set out the gospel as he saw it, but its circulation was quite limited.

Brother Russell was deeply concerned about the effect that all of this was having on readers of the Watch Tower. He realized that it put each one’s faith to the test. He well knew that some construed his criticism of unscriptural teachings to be prompted by a spirit of rivalry. But Brother Russell sought no followers for himself. Concerning what was taking place, he wrote: “The object of this trial and sifting evidently is to select all whose heart-desires are unselfish, who are fully and unreservedly consecrated to the Lord, who are so anxious to have the Lord’s will done, and whose confidence in his wisdom, his way and his Word is so great, that they refuse to be led away from the Lord’s Word, either by the sophistries of others, or by plans and ideas of their own.”

- Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, Published by the WTB&TS, 1993

The book, The Three Worlds, having been for some time out of print, it seemed as if either another edition of that, or else a new book covering the same features, should be gotten out. Mr. Paton agreed to get it ready for the press, and Mr. Jones offered to pay all the expenses incident to its printing and binding and to give Mr. Paton as many copies of the book as he could sell, as remuneration for his time spent in preparing the matter, provided I would agree to advertise it liberally and gratuitously in the TOWER--well knowing that there would be a demand for it if I should recommend it, and that his outlay would be sure to return with profit. (For those books did not sell at such low prices as we charge for MILLENNIAL DAWN.) I not only agreed to this, but contributed to Mr. Paton's personal expenses in connection with the publishing, as well as paid part of the printer's bill at his solicitation.

In the end, I alone was at any financial loss in connection with the book, called Day Dawn, the writer and publisher both being gainers financially, while I did all the introducing by repeated advertisements. We need to give these particulars, because of certain one-sided and only partial statements of facts and misrepresentations which have recently been published and circulated in tract form by Mr. Paton, who is also now an advocate of that "other gospel" of which the cross of Christ is not the center, and which denies that he "bought us with his own precious blood." Mr. P. has since published another book, which, though called by the same name as the one we introduced, being on another and a false foundation, I cannot and do not recommend, but which I esteem misleading sophistry, tending to undermine the whole structure of the Christian system, yet retaining a sufficiency of the truths which we once held in common to make it palatable and dangerous to all not rooted and grounded upon the ransom rock.

The false foundation which it presents is the old heathen doctrine of evolution revamped, which not only denies the fall of man, but as a consequence, all necessity for a redeemer. It claims, on the contrary, that not by redemption and restitution to a lost estate, but by progressive evolution or development, man has risen and is still to rise from the lower condition in which he was created until, by his own good works, he ultimately reaches the divine nature. It claims that our blessed Lord was himself a degraded and imperfect man, whose work on earth was to crucify a carnal nature, which, it claims, he possessed, and to thus show all men how to crucify their carnal or sinful propensities.

- July 15, 1906 Zion's Watch Tower

Author: Chapman Bros. (1892)

ELDER JOHN H. PATON. Our subject who is a resident of Almont, is a scholarly man who has devoted himself largely to the study of Bible subjects and has himself been the author of several important and popular theological works. Mr. Paton is a native of Scotland, having been born in Galston, Ayrshire, April 7, 1843. He is a son of David and Christian (Woodburn) Paton.His mother died when he was only six years old, being a victim of Asiatic cholera. His father married again, and coming to this country, located in Michigan, settling in Almont Township in 1852. He began farming in 1853, securing a one hundred and forty-acre tract of land which had formerly been known as the Saulsbury farm, two miles east of the village of Almont.

From the time of his father's settlement on the farm above mentioned, our subject lived and labored on the farm and gained a fair knowledge of agricultural life. He received a good common-school education and at the age of seventeen entered that best of all schools in which self-government and command is attained, becoming a teacher in the Retherford district. In the fall and summer he worked at home on the farm and attended school in the winter, and in the summer of 1862 he engaged as a farm hand, but in August of that year he enlisted in Company B, Twenty-second Michigan Infantry, under Capt. A. M. Keeler, now of Richmond, this State. The first fall and winter of their service they spent in Kentucky watching for and chasing John Morgan, the famous raider, of that State, the regiment camping during the winter at Lexington. The summer of 1863 our subject spent in provost duty at Nashville, Tenn., until September. The regiment was then sent to the front in time for the battle of Chickamauga, which took place September 19 and 20.

Our subject was taken sick and was sent to the hospital at Chickamauga, remaining there for about two weeks. Soon after rejoining his regiment he was transferred to the United States Signal Corps and remained in Chattanooga that winter; was connected with headquarters of the Fourteenth Army Corps on the Atlanta campaign, and was with Sherman on his famous march to the sea. He was also at the Grand Review at Washington, and was honorably discharged from service July 10, 1865, at St. Louis Mo., having moved Westward with Sherman's headquarters. Our subject returned to his father's home and made his plans to become a farmer, the three years spent in the army having broken up his plan for literary education.

January 13, 1866, Elder Paton was married to Miss Sarah E. Wilson, a daughter of John and Sarah (Cook) Wilson of St. Clair County, there born January 21, 1844. Her parents were born and reared in England. Our subject having previously bought forty acres of land near Armada, Macomb County, moved there in March, 1866. The young couple there made their home for a year and a half, and then Mr. Paton purchased forty acres in Almont Township. The winter that he was in Macomb County he spent as a teacher, and after coming to Almont he taught for two winters, devoting himself to farming during the summer.

Our subject was first personally interested in religion when about fifteen years of age. His father, while in Scotland, had been a member of a church of New Testament Disciples, but there being no church of that kind here, our subject joined the Baptists, and a number of his father's family did the same. While teaching and living in Armada, he began preaching, and there and after moving to Almont, held services in school-houses until he was ordained a minister of the Baptist Church, October 19, 1870. He is now pastor of the Church of Christ at Almont, but does not confine his labors here; he preaches at Peck, Yale and elsewhere throughout the State, and also every alternate Sunday in Washington Union Church in Macomb County. Eider Paton is a man to whom stereotyped creed is galling. He believes in studying the Bible and living according to one's best conscientious understanding of its teachings.

Our subject has six children whose names are as follows: Henry W., George Wilber, Nora E., David W., Chrissie E., and Annie E. They were all born in Almont Township, with the exception of Henry W., who was born in Armada Township November 1, 1866. In 1880 Elder Paton published a book of three hundred and twenty-eight pages, entitled "Day Dawn," and in 1882 issued a revised edition. The first edition had four thousand copies, the second three thousand, and sold readily, and the third edition is now out, being revised and enlarged to four hundred pages. Mr. Paton also gets out a semi-monthly magazine which has been published since 1882. It is in pamphlet form and is entitled "The World's Hope." In 1882 he got out a work of two hundred and twenty pages, the first edition numbering two thousand. It was entitled "Moses and Christ," and the sales are still going on.

Mr. Paton is now President of the Larger Hope Publishing Company, which name is suggestive of the liberality of his religious views, and of his large hope for mankind.

- Lapeer-Macomb County MI Archives Biographies.....Paton, John H. 1854 -

John H. Paton (1843-1922)

John H. Paton was born on April 7, 1843 in Galston, Scotland, the fourth of twenty children, and died September 6, 1922 in Almont, Michigan. As a soldier for three years during the American Civil War he was “led to search the Scriptures for himself, and became unsettled concerning the popular church doctrine of human destiny.”

He was inclined at first to the idea of “Conditional Immortality,” and taught this view first as a Baptist pastor, then in a small church affiliated with the Advent Christian Conference of Michigan. Eventually “he grew to believe in a ‘larger gospel’ of Christ – that He is the First and the Last, the All-Comprehensive One, the Unit of the whole race; that He is therefore the Life, the Light, the Judge and the Savior of all; and that no one will be hopelessly lost.”

He wrote and published three books which upheld this position (among other topics), Day Dawn, Moses and Christ, and The Perfect Day, and published a magazine called The World’s Hope, which emphasized his views on human destiny. He also traveled as an evangelist and teacher of “The Larger Hope.”

In his magazine in early 1900 he included a discussion he had with some neighboring pastors on the question, “Is Hell Endless?” The following are his thoughts regarding the “doctrine of hopeless annihilation”:

But, if I may express my opinion concerning such a judgment, it really places the endless punishment on the righteous – those who are to live on eternally, and who alone could suffer the loss of their dear ones – and not on the wicked at all. It seems strange how any thinking person can speak of “eternal punishment” of what does not exist. I fully believe that the Christian life is by far the happiest life in the world; and if I could have my choice I had rather be snuffed out of existence at death, than to be one of the few to live eternally without the companionship of the many loved ones on earth. – The World’s Hope (vol. 18, p. 31)

It is on account of the oneness of Christ with the race, as its Head, that what He did, or what was done to Him, is gospel for all mankind. The apostle Paul tells us that the gospel consists in the fact that Christ died for (on account of) our sins, and was raised for (on account of) our justification (Romans 4:25; I Corinthians 15:1-4). In II Corinthians 5:14 we learn that “if one died for all, then were all dead.” Then there must have been a sense (fundamental and essential) in which all were in Him, He being their Representative. – The Paton-Williams Debate (February 4 and 6, 1906, p. 1)

It is doubtful that a full set of Paton’s magazine is still in existence. Even his books are difficult to find. A few years ago the Saviour of All Fellowship republished the portion of Moses and Christ which was entitled, The Great Revelation, but this is also now out of print. Yet the scant records of his remarkable ministry still available make us wonder how many others through the centuries were troubled by the traditional view and similarly were led by searching the Scriptures to “a larger hope,” even a firm expectation of universal reconciliation.

Copyright © Saviour of All Fellowship

I find it most interesting that the last two articles make no mention of John H. Paton’s relationship with Nelson H. Barbour and the Herald of the Morning. Nor of Charles T. Russell and Zion’s Watch Tower. - Sherlock (JW1983)

Nelson N. Barbour


"Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."

VOL. XI. --- NO. 14. CHICAGO, NOVERMBER 11, 1873 WHOLE NO. 497


For about fourteen years I have been looking for the Lord to come in 1873. And to me the arguments have seemed unanswerable. The first month and the seventh month were the only two periods in the year to which I could look. These are passed; hence my hope, or rather expectation, of seeing the Lord this year is at an end.

The advice of one brother is, "Give up this subject and preach the age to come." Another, (Free Methodist,) says, "Come with us and preach salvation." And yet another, "Give up the investigation of the prophetic periods and preach His coming near." Thus each is doing his part to give force to the proverb, "The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth," and to discourage future investigation. But notwithstanding all this I am still enforcing the 1873 arguments with more faith and a greater zeal than ever, though I do not expect the Lord until the seventh month of 1874. This may seem a paradox, but I have a reason for my position which is more satisfactory, for it adds immensely to the strength of all the arguments.

If I can show that God claims, when it so pleases Him, to call it 1335 days until it is 1336, or 1335 when it is only 1334 and a fraction, I shall have shown that though the periods pointing to the end are revealed and therefore "belong to us and our children;" yet God may have reserved a fraction of time in His own power, to be made known in His way, without invalidating the reliability of the periods revealed to His holy prophets, or our correct understanding of those periods.

What God does once, he may do again. In other words, a precedent of His own is a safe position on which to base a future calculation, and there are just two periods of time in which He has used this liberty.

"David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years." "Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem."

One of these statements is made three and the other five times in God's word, as if to enforce the idea that there is no mistake. And yet the facts are that Zedekiah reigned only ten years three months and nine days. (See Jer. 52:1-12,) while David reigned forty years and six months. (See 2 Sam. 5:5)

Now, suppose instead of a statement, these had been prophetic periods. "David shall reign forty years, at the end of which special event will transpire." The people wait anxiously; the forty years end, and the promised event does not come. The vision has failed, and God is slack concerning His promises, would be the natural conclusion. Again, they wait in fear of a threatened judgment. "Zedekiah shall reign eleven years in Jerusalem, and then the city shall be taken captive. (See Jer. 1:3.) Ten years pass, and while they feel confident of another year, God cuts it short, "And it came to pass in the fourth month and the ninth day of the month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the city was taken." Shall the clay say to the potter what doest thou?

God has given just these two precedents, from which some men reason that all definite time in the Bible is loosely stated, and inaccurate. I do not so reason, but believe they were given for a special purpose. If the time had overrun one whole year the statement would have been as false in spirit, as though it had come short that much.

These two periods teach us that when God pleases to shorten or lengthen a given time He may so do, within certain limits, without invalidating the spirit of the word.

The 1260 days of Papal dominion fell short about a year.

From the best authority we can find the abomination was not "set up," viz: The providences of Italy, or civil powers, did not declare in favor of the Catholic party until near the close of 538 (I have always taught that the "woman" [Rev. 17] who had the name "Abominations" on her forehead, and was drunken with the blood of the saints, was "the abomination that maketh desolate;" and that she was "set up" when she took her seat on the beast, that the "seat" was Rome, the seat of the dragon, and that she took her seat when the civil power, or province of Italy changed their allegiance from the Arian to the Catholic party.) The Goths were expelled from the main part of Italy in the month of March, but the provinces which Gibbon tells us had afterwards embraced the faith of the Emperor, could not have organized and changed their allegiance without consuming time.

From the Autumn, of 538 to the 15th of February 1798, when the Roman republic was declared, was only 1259 years and a fraction. Thus the period of oppression on his church was cut short almost a year.

The 1335 days began when the abomination was "set up" near the end of 538; hence they end near the close of 1873. But the time to which we can look for our High Priest to leave the holy place in 1873 is passed.

From near the close of 1873 to the seventh month of 1874 is only a fraction of a year. This fraction, I am satisfied, from all the jots and tittles God will appropriate.

No negative is ever advanced until there has been an affirmative. And Peter declares, "That God is no slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is long suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish; but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." Now God has given a precedent for us to call it 1335 days until it is a large fraction over that: and we know he is long suffering, and there is to be a proverb in the land, "that the days are prolonged and every vision faileth," and some men will say that God is slack concerning his promises in relation to the event, so that faith will be almost extinguished when the Son of man cometh, and certain servants will say "my Lord delays his coming;" and bringing it about in this way gives that class of servants such a good opportunity to smite such fellow servants, and thus try to faith of those who endure to the end; in view of these things I believe God will "spare the tree this year also, and after that thou shalt cut it down."


Bruce W. Schulz and Rachael De Vienne: Nelson Barbour: The Millennium's Forgotten Prophet, 2009.

Nelson Horatio Barbour was born in Throopsville, New York, August 21, 1824, and died in Tacoma, Washington, September 1, 1905. He is best known for his association with and later opposition to Charles Taze Russell.

Barbour was the son of David Barbour and the grandson of Friend Barbour. Both the family and official documents use the spelling "Barbour" and its alternative spelling "Barber."

He was related to a number of prominent New Yorkers including Dio Lewis. He attended Temple Hill Academy from 1839-1842. While at Temple Hill he also studied for the Methodist Episcopal ministry with an Elder Ferris, probably William H. Ferris.

Barbour was introduced to Millerism through the efforts of a Mr. Johnson who lectured at Geneseo, New York, in the winter of 1842. Barbour associated with other Millerites living in that area. These included Owen Crozier, William Marsh, and Daniel Cogswell. Cogswell would become a life-long friend as would Henry F. Hill. Cogswell would go on to become president of the New York Conference of the Advent Christian Church. Hill would become a prominent author associated with the Evangelical Adventists.

Adventists in the Geneseo area met in Springwater to await the second coming in 1843. Their disappointment was profound, and Barbour suffered a crisis of faith. Later, he would write: “We held together until the autumn of 1844. Then, as if a raft floating in deep water should suddenly disappear from under its living burden, so our platform went from under us, and we made for shore in every direction; but our unity was gone, and, like drowning men, we caught at straws.” [Barbour, N. H.: Evidences for the Coming of the Lord in 1873, Or the Midnight Cry, 1871, page 26.]

Barbour abandoned his faith. He pursued a medical career, becoming a Medical Electrician, a therapist who treated disease through the application of electric current. It was seen as a valid therapy in those days.

He left for Australia to prospect for Gold, returning via London in 1859. There is some evidence that he preached on occasion while in Australia. A ship-board discussion with a clergyman reactivated his interest in Bible prophecy. He consulted books on prophetic themes at the British Library and became convinced that 1873 would mark the return of Christ. This was not a new speculation but had been advanced by others at least as early as 1823.

Returning to the United States, Barbour settled in New York City, continuing his studies in the Astor Library. When fully convinced he wrote letters and visited those whom he felt might best spread the message. Few were interested.

Barbour became an inventor and associated with Peter Cooper, the founder of Cooper Union. He patented several inventions. By 1863 he was in medical practice, dividing his time between Auburn and Rochester, New York. He returned to London in 1864 to demonstrate one of his inventions. He used his association with other inventors and scientists to spread his end-times doctrine, and some of his earliest associates in that belief were inventors and physicians.

He published something as early as 1867, though it has been lost. In 1871 he wrote and published a small book entitled Evidences for the Coming of the Lord in 1873, or The Midnight Cry. It quickly went through two printings and articles by him started appearing in the Second Adventist press, notably the World’s Crisis.

A significant movement advocating 1873 grew up, though it was divided into several parties. Jonas Wendell lead one; another centered on the magazine The Watchman’s Cry, and the rest associated most closely with Barbour. British Barbourites were represented by Elias H. Tuckett, a clergyman.

Many gathered at Terry Island to await the return of Christ in late 1873. Christ failed to return and the group dissolved. Barbour and others looked to the next year. That proved a disappointment too.

Led by Benjamin W. Keith, an associate of Barbour’s since 1867, the group took up the common belief in a two-stage, initially invisible presence. They believed that Christ had indeed come in 1874 and would soon become visible for judgments. Barbour started a magazine in 1874 to promote his views, calling it The Midnight Cry. He quickly changed the name to Herald of the Morning. After announcing the invisible presence doctrine, the group dwindled into insignificance.

In December 1875 Charles Taze Russell, a businessman from Allegheny, received a copy of The Herald of the Morning. He met the principals in the Barbourite movement and arranged for Barbour to speak in Philadelphia in 1876. Barbour and Russell associated together until 1878 when they parted ways over conflicting views on Ransom and Atonement doctrine.

During their association Barbour wrote the book Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption (1877) and published a small booklet by Russell entitled Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return.

By 1883 Barbour abandoned belief in an invisible presence and returned to more standard Adventist doctrine. He had organized a small congregation in Rochester in 1873, and by 1878 he was in better quarters. He changed the name of the congregation to Church of the Strangers. In later years the congregation would associate with the Church of the Blessed Hope and call themselves Restitutionists.

Barbour continued the Herald of the Morning, though with breaks, until at least 1903, occasionally issuing statements critical of C. T. Russell. He wrote favorably though cautiously that he was persuaded 1896 was the date for Christ's visible return. This wasn't original with him, but grew out of the Advent Christian Church. The last date set by Barbour for Christ’s return was 1907.

By the time of his death the Rochester church numbered about fifty and there was very minor interest elsewhere. In 1903 Barbour participated in a conference on Mob Spirit in America. He advocated the establishment of a predominately black state in the American south west.

Barbour died while on a trip to the west in 1905 of “exhaustion.”

After his death some of his articles from The Herald of the Morning were collected and published in book form as Washed in His Blood (1908).

Material for this article is derived from:

B. W. Schulz and Rachael De Vienne: Nelson Barbour: The Millennium's Forgotten Prophet, 2009.

B. W. Schulz and Rachael De Vienne: Nelson Barbour: The Time-ists Last Breath, Journal From the Radical Reformation, Spring 2008, page 54ff. - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Harvest Gatherings and Siftings"

During this time, too, we came to recognize the difference between our Lord as "the man who gave himself," and as the Lord who would come again, a spirit being. We saw that spirit-beings can be present, and yet invisible to men, just as we still hold and have set forth in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chap. 5. And we felt greatly grieved at the error of Second Adventists, who were expecting Christ in the flesh, and teaching that the world and all in it except Second Adventists would be burned up in 1873 or 1874, whose time-settings and disappointments and crude ideas generally as to the object and manner of his coming brought more or less reproach upon us and upon all who longed for and proclaimed his coming Kingdom.

These wrong views so generally held of both the object and manner of the Lord's return led me to write a pamphlet--"The Object and Manner of The Lord's Return," of which some 50,000 copies were published.

It was about January, 1876, that my attention was specially drawn to the subject of prophetic time, as it relates to these doctrines and hopes. It came about in this way: I received a paper called The Herald of the Morning, sent by its editor, Mr. N. H. Barbour. When I opened it I at once identified it with Adventism from the picture on its cover, and examined it with some curiosity to see what time they would next set for the burning of the world. But judge of my surprise and gratification, when I learned from its contents that the Editor was beginning to get his eyes open on the subjects that for some years had so greatly rejoiced our hearts here in Allegheny--that the object of our Lord's return is not to destroy, but to bless all the families of the earth, and that his coming would be thief-like, and not in flesh, but as a spirit-being, invisible to men; and that the gathering of his Church and the separation of the "wheat" from the "tares" would progress in the end of this age without the world's being aware of it.

I rejoiced to find others coming to the same advanced position, but was astonished to find the statement very cautiously set forth, that the editor believed the prophecies to indicate that the Lord was already present in the world (unseen and invisible), and that the harvest work of gathering the wheat was already due,--and that this view was warranted by the time-prophecies which but a few months before he supposed had failed.

Here was a new thought: Could it be that the time prophecies which I had so long despised, because of their misuse by Adventists, were really meant to indicate when the Lord would be invisibly present to set up his Kingdom --a thing which I clearly saw could be known in no other way? It seemed, to say the least, a reasonable, a very reasonable thing, to expect that the Lord would inform his people on the subject--especially as he had promised that the faithful should not be left in darkness with the world, and that though the day of the Lord would come upon all others as a thief in the night (stealthily, unawares), it should not be so to the watching, earnest saints.--`I Thes. 5:4`.

I recalled certain arguments used by my friend Jonas Wendell and other Adventists to prove that 1873 would witness the burning of the world, etc.--the chronology of the world showing that the six thousand years from Adam ended with the beginning of 1873--and other arguments drawn from the Scriptures and supposed to coincide. Could it be that these time arguments, which I had passed by as unworthy of attention, really contained an important truth which they had misapplied?

Anxious to learn, from any quarter, whatever God had to teach, I at once wrote to Mr. Barbour, informing him of my harmony on other points and desiring to know particularly why, and upon what Scriptural evidences, he held that Christ's presence and the harvesting of the Gospel age dated from the Autumn of 1874. The answer showed that my surmise had been correct, viz.: that the time arguments, chronology, etc., were the same as used by Second Adventists in 1873, and explained how Mr. Barbour and Mr. J. H. Paton, of Michigan, a co-worker with him, had been regular Second Adventists up to that time; and that when the date 1874 had passed without the world being burned, and without their seeing Christ in the flesh, they were for a time dumb-founded. They had examined the time-prophecies that had seemingly passed unfulfilled, and had been unable to find any flaw, and had begun to wonder whether the time was right and their expectations wrong,--whether the views of restitution and blessing to the world, which myself and others were teaching, might not be the things to look for. It seems that not long after their 1874 disappointment, a reader of the Herald of the Morning, who had a copy of the Diaglott, noticed something in it which he thought peculiar,--that in `Matt. 24:27,37,39`, the word which in our common version is rendered coming is translated presence. This was the clue; and, following it, they had been led through prophetic time toward proper views regarding the object and manner of the Lord's return. I, on the contrary, was led first to proper views of the object and manner of our Lord's return and then to the examination of the time for these things, indicated in God's Word. Thus God leads his children often from different starting points of truth; but where the heart is earnest and trustful, the result must be to draw all such together.

But there were no books or other publications setting forth the time-prophecies as then understood, so I paid Mr. Barbour's expenses to come to see me at Philadelphia (where I had business engagements during the summer of 1876), to show me fully and Scripturally, if he could, that the prophecies indicated 1874 as the date at which the Lord's presence and "the harvest" began. He came, and the evidences satisfied me. Being a person of positive convictions and fully consecrated to the Lord, I at once saw that the special times in which we live have an important bearing upon our duty and work as Christ's disciples; that, being in the time of harvest, the harvest-work should be done; and that Present Truth was the sickle by which the Lord would have us do a gathering and reaping work everywhere among his children.

I inquired of Mr. Barbour as to what was being done by him and by the Herald. He replied that nothing was being done; that the readers of the Herald, being disappointed Adventists, had nearly all lost interest and stopped their subscriptions;--and that thus, with money exhausted, the Herald might be said to be practically suspended. I told him that instead of feeling discouraged and giving up the work since his newly found light on restitution (for when we first met, he had much to learn from me on the fulness of restitution based upon the sufficiency of the ransom given for all, as I had much to learn from him concerning time), he should rather feel that now he had some good tidings to preach, such as he never had before, and that his zeal should be correspondingly increased. At the same time, the knowledge of the fact that we were already in the harvest period gave to me an impetus to spread the Truth such as I never had before. I therefore at once resolved upon a vigorous campaign for the Truth.

I determined to curtail my business cares and give my time as well as means to the great harvest work. Accordingly, I sent Mr. Barbour back to his home, with money and instructions to prepare in concise book-form the good tidings so far as then understood, including the time features, while I closed out my Philadelphia business preparatory to engaging in the work, as I afterward did, traveling and preaching.

The little book of 196 pages thus prepared was entitled The Three Worlds; and as I was enabled to give some time and thought to its preparation it was issued by us both jointly, both names appearing on its title page--though it was mainly written by Mr. Barbour. While it was not the first book to teach a measure of restitution, nor the first to treat upon time-prophecy, it was, we believe, the first to combine the idea of restitution with time-prophecy. From the sale of this book and from my purse, our traveling expenses, etc., were met. After a time I conceived the idea of adding another harvest laborer and sent for Mr. Paton, who promptly responded and whose traveling expenses were met in the same manner.

But noticing how quickly people seemed to forget what they had heard, it soon became evident that while the meetings were useful in awakening interest, a monthly journal was needed to hold that interest and develop it. It therefore seemed to be the Lord's will that one of our number should settle somewhere and begin again the regular issuing of the Herald of the Morning. I suggested that Mr. Barbour do this, as he had experience as a type-setter and could therefore do it most economically, while Mr. Paton and I would continue to travel and contribute to its columns as we should find opportunity. To the objection that the type was not sold, and that the few subscriptions which would come in would not, for a long time, make the journal self-sustaining, I replied that I would supply the money for purchasing type, etc., and leave a few hundred dollars in bank subject to Mr. Barbour's check, and that he should manage it as economically as possible, while Mr. Paton and I continued to travel. This, which seemed to be the Lord's will in the matter, was done.

- Published by Pastor Russell, July 15, 1906 Zion's Watch Tower

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Sign of the Cross

The Two Babylons
Alexander Hislop

Chapter V
Section VI
The Sign of the Cross

There is yet one more symbol of the Romish worship to be noticed, and that is the sign of the cross. In the Papal system as is well known, the sign of the cross and the image of the cross are all in all. No prayer can be said, no worship engaged in, no step almost can be taken, without the frequent use of the sign of the cross. The cross is looked upon as the grand charm, as the great refuge in every season of danger, in every hour of temptation as the infallible preservative from all the powers of darkness. The cross is adored with all the homage due only to the Most High; and for any one to call it, in the hearing of a genuine Romanist, by the Scriptural term, "the accursed tree," is a mortal offence. To say that such superstitious feeling for the sign of the cross, such worship as Rome pays to a wooden or a metal cross, ever grew out of the saying of Paul, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ"--that is, in the doctrine of Christ crucified--is a mere absurdity, a shallow subterfuge and pretence. The magic virtues attributed to the so-called sign of the cross, the worship bestowed on it, never came from such a source. The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by Paganism to the same magic purposes, was honoured with the same honours. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians--the true original form of the letter T--the initial of the name of Tammuz--which, in Hebrew, radically the same as ancient Chaldee, was found on coins. That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries, * and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol.

* TERTULLIAN, De Proescript. Hoeret. The language of Tertullian implies that those who were initiated by baptism in the Mysteries were marked on the forehead in the same way, as his Christian countrymen in Africa, who had begun by this time to be marked in baptism with the sign of the cross.

To identify Tammuz with the sun it was joined sometimes to the circle of the sun; sometimes it was inserted in the circle. Whether the Maltese cross, which the Romish bishops append to their names as a symbol of their episcopal dignity, is the letter T, may be doubtful; but there seems no reason to doubt that that Maltese cross is an express symbol of the sun; for Layard found it as a sacred symbol in Nineveh in such a connection as led him to identify it with the sun. The mystic Tau, as the symbol of the great divinity, was called "the sign of life"; it was used as an amulet over the heart; it was marked on the official garments of the priests, as on the official garments of the priests of Rome; it was borne by kings in their hand, as a token of their dignity or divinely-conferred authority. The Vestal virgins of Pagan Rome wore it suspended from their necklaces, as the nuns do now. The Egyptians did the same, and many of the barbarous nations with whom they had intercourse, as the Egyptian monuments bear witness. In reference to the adorning of some of these tribes, Wilkinson thus writes: "The girdle was sometimes highly ornamented; men as well as women wore earrings; and they frequently had a small cross suspended to a necklace, or to the collar of their dress. The adoption of this last was not peculiar to them; it was also appended to, or figured upon, the robes of the Rot-n-no; and traces of it may be seen in the fancy ornaments of the Rebo, showing that it was already in use as early as the fifteenth century before the Christian era." There is hardly a Pagan tribe where the cross has not been found. The cross was worshipped by the Pagan Celts long before the incarnation and death of Christ. "It is a fact," says Maurice, "not less remarkable than well-attested, that the Druids in their groves were accustomed to select the most stately and beautiful tree as an emblem of the Deity they adored, and having cut the side branches, they affixed two of the largest of them to the highest part of the trunk, in such a manner that those branches extended on each side like the arms of a man, and, together with the body, presented the appearance of a HUGE CROSS, and on the bark, in several places, was also inscribed the letter Thau." It was worshipped in Mexico for ages before the Roman Catholic missionaries set foot there, large stone crosses being erected, probably to the "god of rain." The cross thus widely worshipped, or regarded as a sacred emblem, was the unequivocal symbol of Bacchus, the Babylonian Messiah, for he was represented with a head-band covered with crosses. This symbol of the Babylonian god is reverenced at this day in all the wide wastes of Tartary, where Buddhism prevails, and the way in which it is represented among them forms a striking commentary on the language applied by Rome to the Cross. "The cross," says Colonel Wilford, in the Asiatic Researches, "though not an object of worship among the Baud'has or Buddhists, is a favourite emblem and device among them. It is exactly the cross of the Manicheans, with leaves and flowers springing from it. This cross, putting forth leaves and flowers (and fruit also, as I am told), is called the divine tree, the tree of the gods, the tree of life and knowledge, and productive of whatever is good and desirable, and is placed in the terrestrial paradise." Compare this with the language of Rome applied to the cross, and it will be seen how exact is the coincidence. In the Office of the Cross, it is called the "Tree of life," and the worshippers are taught thus to address it: "Hail, O Cross, triumphal wood, true salvation of the world, among trees there is none like thee in leaf, flower, and bud...O Cross, our only hope, increase righteousness to the godly and pardon the offences of the guilty." *

* The above was actually versified by the Romanisers in the Church of England, and published along with much besides from the same source, some years ago, in a volume entitled Devotions on the Passion. The London Record, of April, 1842, gave the following as a specimen of the "Devotions" provided by these "wolves in sheep's clothing" for members of the Church of England:--

"O faithful cross, thou peerless tree,
No forest yields the like of thee,
Leaf, flower, and bud;
Sweet is the wood, and sweet the weight,
And sweet the nails that penetrate
Thee, thou sweet wood."

Can any one, reading the gospel narrative of the crucifixion, possibly believe that that narrative of itself could ever germinate into such extravagance of "leaf, flower, and bud," as thus appears in this Roman Office? But when it is considered that the Buddhist, like the Babylonian cross, was the recognised emblem of Tammuz, who was known as the mistletoe branch, or "All-heal," then it is easy to see how the sacred Initial should be represented as covered with leaves, and how Rome, in adopting it, should call it the "Medicine which preserves the healthful, heals the sick, and does what mere human power alone could never do."

Now, this Pagan symbol seems first to have crept into the Christian Church in Egypt, and generally into Africa. A statement of Tertullian, about the middle of the third century, shows how much, by that time, the Church of Carthage was infected with the old leaven. Egypt especially, which was never thoroughly evangelised, appears to have taken the lead in bringing in this Pagan symbol. The first form of that which is called the Christian Cross, found on Christian monuments there, is the unequivocal Pagan Tau, or Egyptian "Sign of life." Let the reader peruse the following statement of Sir G. Wilkinson: "A still more curious fact may be mentioned respecting this hieroglyphical character [the Tau], that the early Christians of Egypt adopted it in lieu of the cross, which was afterwards substituted for it, prefixing it to inscriptions in the same manner as the cross in later times. For, though Dr. Young had some scruples in believing the statement of Sir A. Edmonstone, that it holds that position in the sepulchres of the great Oasis, I can attest that such is the case, and that numerous inscriptions, headed by the Tau, are preserved to the present day on early Christian monuments." The drift of this statement is evidently this, that in Egypt the earliest form of that which has since been called the cross, was no other than the "Crux Ansata," or "Sign of life," borne by Osiris and all the Egyptian gods; that the ansa or "handle" was afterwards dispensed with, and that it became the simple Tau, or ordinary cross, as it appears at this day, and that the design of its first employment on the sepulchres, therefore, could have no reference to the crucifixion of the Nazarene, but was simply the result of the attachment to old and long-cherished Pagan symbols, which is always strong in those who, with the adoption of the Christian name and profession, are still, to a large extent, Pagan in heart and feeling. This, and this only, is the origin of the worship of the "cross."

This, no doubt, will appear all very strange and very incredible to those who have read Church history, as most have done to a large extent, even amongst Protestants, through Romish spectacles; and especially to those who call to mind the famous story told of the miraculous appearance of the cross to Constantine on the day before the decisive victory at the Milvian bridge, that decided the fortunes of avowed Paganism and nominal Christianity. That story, as commonly told, if true, would certainly give a Divine sanction to the reverence for the cross. But that story, when sifted to the bottom, according to the common version of it, will be found to be based on a delusion--a delusion, however, into which so good a man as Milner has allowed himself to fall. Milner's account is as follows: "Constantine, marching from France into Italy against Maxentius, in an expedition which was likely either to exalt or to ruin him, was oppressed with anxiety. Some god he thought needful to protect him; the God of the Christians he was most inclined to respect, but he wanted some satisfactory proof of His real existence and power, and he neither understood the means of acquiring this, nor could he be content with the atheistic indifference in which so many generals and heroes since his time have acquiesced. He prayed, he implored with such vehemence and importunity, and God left him not unanswered. While he was marching with his forces in the afternoon, the trophy of the cross appeared very luminous in the heavens, brighter than the sun, with this inscription, 'Conquer by this.' He and his soldiers were astonished at the sight; but he continued pondering on the event till night. And Christ appeared to him when asleep with the same sign of the cross, and directed him to make use of the symbol as his military ensign." Such is the statement of Milner. Now, in regard to the "trophy of the cross," a few words will suffice to show that it is utterly unfounded. I do not think it necessary to dispute the fact of some miraculous sign having been given. There may, or there may not, have been on this occasion a "dignus vindice nodus," a crisis worthy of a Divine interposition. Whether, however, there was anything out of the ordinary course, I do not inquire. But this I say, on the supposition that Constantine in this matter acted in good faith, and that there actually was a miraculous appearance in the heavens, that it as not the sign of the cross that was seen, but quite a different thing, the name of Christ. That this was the case, we have at once the testimony of Lactantius, who was the tutor of Constantine's son Crispus--the earliest author who gives any account of the matter, and the indisputable evidence of the standards of Constantine themselves, as handed down to us on medals struck at the time. The testimony of Lactantius is most decisive: "Constantine was warned in a dream to make the celestial sign of God upon his solders' shields, and so to join battle. He did as he was bid, and with the transverse letter X circumflecting the head of it, he marks Christ on their shields. Equipped with this sign, his army takes the sword." Now, the letter X was just the initial of the name of Christ, being equivalent in Greek to CH. If, therefore, Constantine did as he was bid, when he made "the celestial sign of God" in the form of "the letter X," it was that "letter X," as the symbol of "Christ" and not the sign of the cross, which he saw in the heavens. When the Labarum, or far-famed standard of Constantine itself, properly so called, was made, we have the evidence of Ambrose, the well-known Bishop of Milan, that that standard was formed on the very principle contained in the statement of Lactantius--viz., simply to display the Redeemer's name. He calls it "Labarum, hoc est Christi sacratum nomine signum."--"The Labarum, that is, the ensign consecrated by the NAME of Christ." *

* Epistle of Ambrose to the Emperor Theodosius about the proposal to restore the Pagan altar of Victory in the Roman Senate. The subject of the Labarum has been much confused through ignorance of the meaning of the word. Bryant assumes (and I was myself formerly led away by the assumption) that it was applied to the standard bearing the crescent and the cross, but he produces no evidence for the assumption; and I am now satisfied that none can be produced. The name Labarum, which is generally believed to have come from the East, treated as an Oriental word, gives forth its meaning at once. It evidently comes from Lab, "to vibrate," or "move to and fro," and ar "to be active." Interpreted thus, Labarum signifies simply a banner or flag, "waving to and fro" in the wind, and this entirely agrees with the language of Ambrose "an ensign consecrated by the name of Christ," which implies a banner.

There is not the slightest allusion to any cross--to anything but the simple name of Christ. While we have these testimonies of Lactantius and Ambrose, when we come to examine the standard of Constantine, we find the accounts of both authors fully borne out; we find that that standard, bearing on it these very words, "Hoc signo victor eris," "In this sign thou shalt be a conqueror," said to have been addressed from heaven to the emperor, has nothing at all in the shape of a cross, but "the letter X." In the Roman Catacombs, on a Christian monument to "Sinphonia and her sons," there is a distinct allusion to the story of the vision; but that allusion also shows that the X, and not the cross, was regarded as the "heavenly sign." The words at the head of the inscription are these: "In Hoc Vinces [In this thou shalt overcome] X." Nothing whatever but the X is here given as the "Victorious Sign." There are some examples, no doubt, of Constantine's standard, in which there is a cross-bar, from which the flag is suspended, that contains that "letter X"; and Eusebius, who wrote when superstition and apostacy were working, tries hard to make it appear that that cross-bar was the essential element in the ensign of Constantine. But this is obviously a mistake; that cross-bar was nothing new, nothing peculiar to Constantine's standard. Tertullian shows that that cross-bar was found long before on the vexillum, the Roman Pagan standard, that carried a flag; and it was used simply for the purpose of displaying that flag. If, therefore, that cross-bar was the "celestial sign," it needed no voice from heaven to direct Constantine to make it; nor would the making or displaying of it have excited any particular attention on the part of those who saw it. We find no evidence at all that the famous legend, "In this overcome," has any reference to this cross-bar; but we find evidence the most decisive that that legend does refer to the X. Now, that that X was not intended as the sign of the cross, but as the initial of Christ's name, is manifest from this, that the Greek P, equivalent to our R, is inserted in the middle of it, making by their union CHR. The standard of Constantine, then, was just the name of Christ. Whether the device came from earth or from heaven--whether it was suggested by human wisdom or Divine, supposing that Constantine was sincere in his Christian profession, nothing more was implied in it than a literal embodiment of the sentiment of the Psalmist, "In the name of the Lord will we display our banners." To display that name on the standards of Imperial Rome was a thing absolutely new; and the sight of that name, there can be little doubt, nerved the Christian soldiers in Constantine's army with more than usual fire to fight and conquer at the Milvian bridge.

In the above remarks I have gone on the supposition that Constantine acted in good faith as a Christian. His good faith, however, has been questioned; and I am not without my suspicions that the X may have been intended to have one meaning to the Christians and another to the Pagans. It is certain that the X was the symbol of the god Ham in Egypt, and as such was exhibited on the breast of his image. Whichever view be taken, however, of Constantine's sincerity, the supposed Divine warrant for reverencing the sign of the cross entirely falls to the ground. In regard to the X, there is no doubt that, by the Christians who knew nothing of secret plots or devices, it was generally taken, as Lactantius declares, as equivalent to the name of "Christ." In this view, therefore, it had no very great attractions for the Pagans, who, even in worshipping Horus, had always been accustomed to make use of the mystic tau or cross, as the "sign of life," or the magical charm that secured all that was good, and warded off everything that was evil. When, therefore, multitudes of the Pagans, on the conversion of Constantine, flocked into the Church, like the semi-Pagans of Egypt, they brought along with them their predilection for the old symbol. The consequence was, that in no great length of time, as apostacy proceeded, the X which in itself was not an unnatural symbol of Christ, the true Messiah, and which had once been regarded as such, was allowed to go entirely into disuse, and the Tau, the sign of the cross, the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false Messiah, was everywhere substituted in its stead. Thus, by the "sign of the cross," Christ has been crucified anew by those who profess to be His disciples. Now, if these things be matter of historic fact, who can wonder that, in the Romish Church, "the sign of the cross" has always and everywhere been seen to be such an instrument of rank superstition and delusion?

There is more, much more, in the rites and ceremonies of Rome that might be brought to elucidate our subject. But the above may suffice. *

* If the above remarks be well founded, surely it cannot be right that this sign of the cross, or emblem of Tammuz, should be used in Christian baptism. At the period of the Revolution, a Royal Commission, appointed to inquire into the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England, numbering among its members eight or ten bishops, strongly recommended that the use of the cross, as tending to superstition, should be laid aside. If such a recommendation was given then, and that by such authority as members of the Church of England must respect, how much ought that recommendation to be enforced by the new light which Providence has cast on the subject!

Why Do You Believe in the Trinity?

FOR centuries millions of people have believed the doctrine of the trinity, which teaches that “in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another. Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: ‘The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods, but one God.’” (The Catholic Encyclopedia) Do you believe this doctrine? Why?

Many persons think the trinity is a Christian teaching based on God’s Word, the Bible. However, early Roman Catholic writers did not hesitate to admit that the trinity could not be proved by Scripture alone. Cardinal Hosius is quoted as having said: “We believe the doctrine of a triune God, because we have received it by tradition, though not mentioned at all in Scripture.” (Conf. Cathol. Fidei, Chap. XXVI) Other persons are just as frank about declaring the trinity to be of pagan origin. Arthur Weigall, in his book The Paganism in Our Christianity, states: “Jesus Christ never mentioned such a phenomenon, and nowhere in the New Testament does the word ‘Trinity’ appear.” He says the idea of a coequal trinity “was only adopted by the [Roman Catholic] Church three hundred years after the death of our Lord; and the origin of the conception is entirely pagan.”

On page 198 of his book Weigall gives a brief history of the trinity doctrine, saying: “In the Fourth Century B.C. Aristotle wrote: ‘All things are three, and thrice is all: and let us use this number in the worship of the gods; for, as the Pythagoreans say, everything and all things are bound by threes, for the end, the middle, and the beginning have this number in everything, and these compose the number of the Trinity.’ The ancient Egyptians, whose influence on early religious thought was profound, usually arranged their gods or goddesses in trinities: there was the trinity of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, the trinity of Amen, Mut, and Khonsu, the trinity of Khnum, Satis, and Anukis, and so forth. The Hindu trinity of Brahman, Siva, and Vishnu is another of the many and widespread instances of this theological conception. The early Christians, however, did not at first think of applying the idea to their own faith. They paid their devotions to God the Father and to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and they recognized the mysterious and undefined existence of the Holy Spirit; but there was no thought of these three being an actual Trinity, co-equal and united in One, and the Apostles’ Creed, which is the earliest of the formulated articles of Christian faith, does not mention it.” Still there are persons who insist that the doctrine of the trinity is a Christian doctrine based on the Holy Scriptures. Let us briefly examine and see.

First of all, the words “trinity,” “triune,” “God-man,” “first person,” “second person,” “third person,” “three persons,” do not appear anywhere in the inspired text of either Catholic or Protestant Bibles. Nowhere in the Bible do we find terms such as “God the Son,” or “God the Holy Spirit,” but rather we read “the Son of God,” “the spirit of God,” or just “holy spirit.” Nowhere in Scripture is God revealed as three persons, but always as one God. Now if the very words that are necessary to express the doctrine of the trinity do not appear in the Holy Scriptures, how can we suppose the doctrine to be found or taught therein? Impossible.

There are three texts (1 John 5:7, AV; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14) that speak of the Father, Son and holy spirit in formal connection, but not one of these says anything about a trinity. If the trinity doctrine is the central doctrine of “Christian” religion, why, out of 31,173 verses in the Bible, should there be only three to use Father, Son and holy spirit in formal connection, and one of these, that is, 1 John 5:7 admittedly spurious? John wrote this letter in Greek in the first century, but 1 John 5:7 cannot be found in any Greek manuscript written earlier than the fifteenth century. Concerning the verse, Bishop Lowth says: “I believe there is no one among us, in the least degree conversant with sacred criticism, and having the use of his understanding, who would be willing to contend for the genuineness of the verse 1 John 5:7.” Dr. Adam Clarke, in his Commentary, closes a lengthy dissertation on this verse in these words: “In short, it stands on no authority sufficient to authenticate any part of a revelation professing to have come from God.” Therefore, 1 John 5:7 is rejected by all impartial scholars of God’s Word.

As for Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14, they say nothing about there being three coequal persons in one God. They do not say that each of these mentioned is a God. They do not say that all three are equal in substance, power and eternity. They do not say all are to be worshiped. Since they do not say these things, then they do not teach the trinity, for all those claims are made concerning the trinity. Peabody, a highly reputable writer, in his Lectures on Christian Doctrine, page 41, says: “I am prepared to state, without fear of contradiction, that the doctrine of the equality of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cannot be found in any genuine Christian work of the first three centuries, and that there cannot be found, with reference to the Divine nature, in any genuine Christian work of the first two centuries, any statement of doctrine equivalent or approaching to, or consistent with, the modern doctrine of the Trinity.” Why is this so? Because the trinity doctrine is of pagan origin, as historians point out. Early Christians of the first century did not believe in it. They did not worship a triune god. There is absolutely no Scriptural grounds for believing in the trinity. Tradition alone is not reason enough, because Jesus stated that the ‘word of God was made invalid because of tradition.’—Matt. 15:6.

Faithful servants of God believed in God as being one: “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah,” said Moses. (Deut. 6:4) Jesus Christ said the same thing at Mark 12:29. It is serious that we worship the true God Jehovah, because there is no salvation in any other: “Anyone that calls upon the name of Jehovah will be saved,” said Peter. Call upon him, worship Jehovah, take in knowledge of the true God and Jesus Christ, because this means everlasting life.—Acts 2:21; John 17:3.

- Published by the WTB&TS, in 1960


Many religious people say that Jesus is God. Some claim that God is a Trinity. According to this teaching, “the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.” It is held that the three “are co-eternal and co-equal.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia) Are such views correct? Jehovah God is the Creator. (Revelation 4:11) He is without beginning or end, and he is almighty. (Psalm 90:2) Jesus, on the other hand, had a beginning. (Colossians 1:15, 16) Referring to God as his Father, Jesus said: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) Jesus also explained that there were some things neither he nor the angels knew but that were known only by his Father.—Mark 13:32. Moreover, Jesus prayed to his Father: “Let, not my will, but yours take place.” (Luke 22:42) To whom was Jesus praying if not to a superior Personage? Furthermore, it was God who resurrected Jesus from the dead, not Jesus himself. (Acts 2:32) Obviously, the Father and the Son were not equal before Jesus came to the earth or during his earthly life. What about after Jesus’ resurrection to heaven? First Corinthians 11:3 states: “The head of the Christ is God.” In fact, the Son will always be in subjection to God. (1 Corinthians 15:28) The Scriptures therefore show that Jesus is not God Almighty. Instead, he is God’s Son. The so-called third person of the Trinity—the holy spirit—is not a person. Addressing God in prayer, the psalmist said: “If you send forth your spirit, they are created.” (Psalm 104:30) This spirit is not God himself; it is an active force that he sends forth or uses to accomplish whatever he wishes. By means of it, God created the physical heavens, the earth, and all living things. (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:6) God used his holy spirit to inspire the men who wrote the Bible. (2 Peter 1:20, 21) The Trinity, then, is not a Scriptural teaching.* “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah,” says the Bible.—Deuteronomy 6:4.

- Published by the WTB&TS, in 2005