The National Labor Tribune, December 10, 1914


New York City, Dec. 6-Pastor Russell, speaking today at New York City Temple, West Sixty-third Street and Broadway, took for his text, "Cry aloud, spare not; show My people their transgression." (Isa. 58:1) He prefaced his address with some remarks respecting the unpleasant duty implied in his text, declaring that he would far rather speak only smooth, pleasant things to everybody and concerning everybody. The Pastor certainly has the happy faculty of stating pungent truths in sympathetic language well supported by kindly tones. He speaks from the heart and carries conviction as respects his sincerity.

He said in part:

Every unbiased student of the Bible surely will agree that our Redeemer and His disciples manifested great humility, in contrast with the clergy of our day and of centuries past. None of our Lord's disciples were Reverends, Right Reverends, Most Reverends none of them were clergymen. They knew nothing whatever about the distinction between clergy and laity which subsequently developed. Jesus indeed did receive the title of the Lord, or Master, Teacher; but with great humility He pointed out that His teaching was not His own, that He spoke the Message of the Father. Similarly the Apostles glorified God, and declared themselves "men of like passions with ourselves." Jesus taught His disciples that they should not be self-seeking, that they should not seek the honor which cometh from men, but only that which cometh down from Above. "One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren," was His way of forewarning us against the error which afterward divided the Lord's people into clergy and laity.


It is but reasonable to assume that many Christian ministers have neither studied deeply nor thought carefully on this subject, but have merely followed the beaten path of their various denominations without inquiring for the Divine authority of their ordination, titles, and honors of men as titled ecclesiastics. But our sympathy should not hinder us from freeing our minds of the shackles of ignorance and superstition, nor hinder us from helping others to the liberty wherewith Christ makes free.

The persecutions of the Second and Third Centuries undoubtedly tended to keep the Church humble and free from hypocrites, but the prosperity dating from the beginning of the Fourth Century had a bad effect. Many of the bishops, according to Church history, neglected to follow the example of Jesus and the Apostles, and became lords, dignitaries in the Church seeking to impress the worldly, especially the rulers, with their importance.

In the year 330 A D, under the patronage of the Emperor Constantine, all Christians who acknowledged the Nicene Creed were not only protected but honored, the Emperor seeking to strengthen his political power thereby. By him the Bishop of Rome was granted special honor as a chief amongst the Bishops, this also suiting the Emperor's plans of making Rome the center on both political and religious influence. In the century following, the power of the Bishops was greatly increased by various false doctrines which gradually crept in. The doctrine of a fiery Hell of torture was one of these, followed later by a theory that members of the true Church would never be sent to it, but instead to Purgatory, the tortures of which would furnish them a second chance for purification and preparation for Heaven.

The clergy gradually grasped more and more of the power and money for services in this world and beyond. Every marriage not performed by them would not be valid. Those married otherwise would be living in sin. The theory of infant damnation made the ministers additionally necessary to sprinkle babes, to preserve them from eternal torture. Then followed classification of sins and the fixing penalties and arranging for masses for the sooner deliverance of the culprit from Purgatory. Rites and ceremonies connected with the dead were also declared necessary. All of these served to bind the people to the clergy, and more and more separated them from the simplicity of the Gospel and the example of Jesus and the Apostles, to which we are seeking to return, but are fought at every step by ignorance and superstition within and without.


Favored by conditions prevailing, the Bishop of Rome became more and more prominent, while the Roman Empire gradually went to pieces. The Bishop of Rome took to himself the title Pontifex Maximus, which signifies "highest religious dignitary," a title which previously had been held by the Caesars. Another step in the wrong [HGL635] direction, which thoroughly separated the clergy from the laity, was the doctrine still held by the Church of Rome; namely, that the clergy alone constitute the Church, and that the common people are the "children of the Church." Many Catholics are not aware of this fact, but think that they are members of the Catholic Church. They forget that while they are privileged to call the unordained students by the title Brother, all the ordained number must be recognized as Father.

The year 800 found Pope Leo III in great honor, and the Church flourishing and making higher claims than ever before; namely, that the Church became at that time the Kingdom of God. Catholics still hold that the Millennium, or Christ's thousand-year Reign, began that year. They claim that the Popes, each in turn, represent Christ in His Throne; hence the declaration that the Popes are Christ's Vicegerent reigning instead of Him.

When the Pope represented Christ, the Cardinals as an order were brought in to represent the highest order of the Church in Glory; then Archbishops, Bishops and the lower clergy all separated from the people by a great gulf the Clergy, the Elect of God, holding the power and the destinies of the laity in their control; the laity dependent upon the clergy for baptism, marriages, funerals, holy candles, holy water, consecrated burying-ground, and finally, an entrance into Purgatory instead of into eternal torment, with the ultimate hope of rescue to glory and with assistances by the way obtainable through the office of the Mass.

I am discussing the Church of Rome only, because for a time there was no other. Indeed, for a time it was dangerous to even suggest another. The Pope and the College of Cardinals, representing the Almighty, instructed the people who should be their kings and princes; and, as a matter of course, they were instructed to be obedient only to such as recognized the papal power, and they were absolved from obedience to others.

Thus the separation amongst Christ's followers of clergy and laity was established for centuries before the Protestant denominations of today were born. It was but natural that the Protestants should more or less copy the practices and many of the doctrines with which they had been familiar from childhood. The Greek, Armenian and Anglican Churches copied very closely the "Mother." They still preserve the likeness in many respects, even though they came out of her as Protest-ants and have sought to return to the Bible teachings and methods. But power and ceremony are difficult matters to get rid of. In consequence we see everywhere forms of godliness without seeing much manifestation of its power. We see much lip reverence without much manifestation of the Spirit of Christ.


Protestants are much confused respecting the papal claim that Christ's Kingdom has been set up. They, of course, deny that the Popes are Christ's vicegerent. Nevertheless, they have followed Papacy's lead in telling earthly kingdoms and rulers that they are part and parcel of Christ's Kingdom- "Christendom." They send their chaplains with the armies and navies of these kingdoms. They receive financial support and recognition from them, and call upon the civil power to suppress so-called

heretics, refuse them license to preach, etc. Thus they follow closely in the footsteps of their Brother. Altogether these false doctrines are surely responsible, not only for many of the wars of the past, but also for the present European war.

We may assume that some of the clergy, Catholic and Protestant, are thoroughly confused and honestly doing what they believe to be the Lord's will in these matters. But, on the other hand, we are bound to assume that in the light of our day there are thousands of ministers who are not deceived who know full well that the world is ruled, not by Christ and His teachings, but by self-seeking kings, princes, nobles, financiers, politicians, etc.

But knowing these things, seeing the people in ignorance, what have the ministers of so-called "Christendom" done to open the eyes of the people to the truth on this subject to tell them that these kingdoms are not Christ's Kingdoms in any sense of the word? How few of them ever even refer to the Second Coming of the Redeemer! How few of them have ever pointed their people to St. Peter's words respecting the glorious Times of Restitution which Messiah's Kingdom will usher in: "Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the Heavens must retain until the Times of Restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets since the world began." Acts 3:19-21.

Policy, self-seeking, lack of candor, are certainly manifest in the course of the preachers of all denominations. Now as the hour of their judgment approaches they deserve our sympathy. They have held on so long to the errors of the past that they are ashamed now to turn about and make confession. Many of them think that the safer course is to "bluff" the people. But it will not do. The light is shining too brightly for that. Knowledge is increasing every moment. Many in the pews are as well educated as the occupant of the pulpit, and decline to be any longer fed on chaff and wind. Hence the complained of decline in church attendance.


In an endeavor to intimidate their people, to hinder them from hearing me and from reading my books entitled "Studies in the Scriptures," the preachers are going to absurd lengths. They have tried all kinds of slander and vilification, but still the common people are hearing gladly in all parts of the world the Message of the Bible its anti-clerical Message. They have published me as a heretic, only to find that the most thoughtful and intelligent of their people realize that their creeds are unsatisfactory and are the more anxious to know what I have to tell them respecting the Bible Message of God's Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power, operating through Jesus now for the blessing of the Church, and during the Millennium for the blessing of the remainder of the world.

Let me make plain the subject of ministerial ordination. Each sect ordains, that is, authorizes its own preachers. A Pastor passing from one denomination to another, is, therefore, properly reordained. In a word, ordination is a [HGL636] human authority to be a preacher for the ordaining sect. Certain vows of ordination are required before the ordination service takes palace. The vow is that they will preach the doctrine, the creed, of the sect, and not otherwise. The entire matter is a fraud; for no educated or intelligent minister in any denomination believes the creed of his own denomination. He knows that more than half of it is absurd nightmare from the Dark Ages. He takes his vow to preach that creed, knowing that he does not believe it and intending never to preach certain features of it. The preacher is bound by his Ordination Vow so far as an outward nominal course is concerned, but privately he acknowledges his disbeliefs and thereby stultifies himself.

An occasional minister will be found in country districts willing to preach the Creed of his denomination in full. But they are few and generally uneducated and, therefore, excusable. Some, however, when called to task respecting things which they preach, but which they admit they do not believe, make Answer'that their denomination stands back of them and is responsible for the Creed and bound them by Ordination Vow to preach it. Thus are the people deceived. The glorious Truth of the Bible is largely hidden. Sectarianism, Churchianity, is maintained, and hypocrisy and unbelief stimulated.

Personally, I would not have such an ordination to preach false doctrines, misrepresent God's character, deceive the people and stultify myself, if it were backed by all the wealth of the world. On the contrary, I rejoice in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made me free and in the ordination which comes to me through God's Word, "Go, teach all peoples" and the ordination mentioned in the Scriptures as the Divine authority; namely, the anointing of the holy Spirit and the understanding of God's Word. Isa. 61:1-3

I am glad that they are making know that I am not an ordained minister of their kind as St. Paul says, I am not ordained of man or by man, but by the Lord. (Gal. 1:1) In mentioning ordination, these ministers are counting on the ignorance of their people on the subject. Let me make the subject plain. The Church of Rome does not recognized the ordination of any Protestant minister. Until quite recently the Church of England recognized the ordination of the Church of Rome and the Greek church, but did not recognized the ordination of Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. ; nor do the others recognize each the Baptist ordination. If a preacher goes from one denomination to another, it is not requisite that he change his mind at all respecting the creed however different but it is necessary that he be re-ordained by the denomination which he enters. As I refuse to be identifies with any of these earthly churches, I, of course, do not wish an ordination or an authority to preach from any of them.


Nothing in the Bible gives authority for the organization of any of these churches. The Church which Jesus founded, and of which the Apostles were the inspired teachers, is Scripturally declared to be "the Church of the First-borns, whose names are written in Heaven." This Church is joined only upon God's terms, and the names are written or blotted out only by the Redeemer Himself. On its roll-call we doubt not there are saintly persons who are members of all denominations; but their earthly membership, contrary to the Scriptures, does not promote them in the Lord's esteem; but, on the contrary, they are hindered thereby.

According to the Bible, whoever joins the Church of Christ does so by joining Christ Himself by surrendering his will to the Master by becoming His pupil and follower by exercising faith in Him by being begotten of the holy Spirit by cultivating the fruits and graces of that Spirit by thus being made ready for the inheritance of the saints the Millennial Kingdom. These, as the Apostle declares, are children of God and, if children, then heirs heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, if so be that they suffer with Him, that they may be also glorified together in His Kingdom, now soon to be manifested. Rom. 8:17

The Church of Christ, according to the Bible, has an early association, but it is not a bondage. It has no creed but the Bible. All of its members are brethren. None of them are lords. None of them are of the clergy class. None lord it over God's heritage. In their voluntary association as brethren some are recognized as Elder brethren, and are given more particular charge in the Church by the stretching forth of the hands of the Congregation in voting for them and by the subsequent co-operation of the holy Spirit assisting them in the service of the Ecclesia. There are also Deacons, or servants in the Ecclesia who specially attend to other matters. There are also, according to the Scriptures, some who may be recognized as Pastors or shepherds of the flock, under the great Chief Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, the Lord Jesus Christ.

So far from separating God's people into clergy and laity, the Scriptures insist that only One is the Master, that all others of the Lord's people are brethren. They are all ordained of God to be Divine ambassadors, to speak forth the Word of God as they have talent and opportunity. The qualifying ordination set forth in the Scriptures is that they shall have received the begetting of the holy Spirit. This is said to be "an unction from the Holy One" an anointing.

This is typified in the holy anointing oil used by the Jewish high priest. As that anointing was poured upon the head of the priest and ran down to the skirts of his garment, so in antitype the anointing of all the members of the true Church took place in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was anointed of the Father to be the Bishop of our souls, to be the Head over the Church which is the Royal Priesthood. He is our great High Priest. His ordination and anointing is the one which extends to all the members of His Church, giving the humblest of the Lord's people full ordination of God to speak His Word in His name and to expound the same to the extent of his talents and opportunities.

This ordination came upon Jesus at the time of His baptism, and was recognized as coming to the Church a

t Pentecost and has been with the Church ever since. Whoever, therefore, comes into the true Church of Christ by union with the living Head comes under the Scriptural ordination. What was prophesied of the Head is applicable to all his members; namely, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because He hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; to bind up the broken-hearted; to declare the acceptable year of the Lord."

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