Relating to Jehovah’s Witnesses
Links to Sources & Articles Relating to Watchtower History
The history of the Jehovah’s Witness/Bible Student movement cannot be properly appreciated apart from understanding their emphasis on biblical chronology. This played a major role even before their beginnings with Charles Taze Russell as their pastor in the early 1870s. Russell himself explained the background of his movement in an article entitled "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence" in the February 1881 Watchtower:
“Looking back to 1871, we see that many of our company were what are known as Second Adventists, and the light they held briefly stated, was that there would be a second advent of Jesus-- that he would come to bless and immortalize the saints, to judge the world and to burn up the world and all the wicked. This, they claimed would occur in 1873, because the 6,000 years from the creation of Adam were complete then.”
Second Adventists should not be confused with Seventh-Day Adventists. The Second Adventists were some of the spiritual heirs of the Adventist movement begun by William Miller in the late 1830s and early 1840s. A good overview of the Adventist movement in the nineteenth century can be found in this article from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Russell was primarily influenced by and fellowshipped with those who were in the Advent Christian Church and the Life and Advent Union. See these links for more on these influences on Russell:
Biography of William Miller – nineteenth century biography of the man who was the founder of the Adventist movement.
Evidence from Scripture & History for the Second Coming of Christ About the Year 1843 Lectures by William Miller published in 1842.
In Chapter VII of the above work, Miller detailed his view that the “seven times” of Daniel chapter 4 had an additional fulfillment on the “people of God” and was a period of “seven prophetic times,” being 2,520 years from 677 BC to AD 1843:
"Seven times," in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, was fulfilled in seven years. Nebuchadnezzar, for his pride and arrogancy against God, was driven among the beasts of the field, and was made to eat grass as oxen, until seven times passed over him, and until he learned that the Most High ruled in the kingdoms of men, and gave it to whomsoever he would. This being a matter of history, and as an allegory or sample to the people of God for their pride and arrogancy, in refusing to be reformed by God, and claiming the power and will to do these things themselves,--they, too, like Nebuchadnezzar, must be driven among the beasts of the field, (meaning the kingdoms of the world,) until they learn the sovereignty of God, and that he dispenses his favors to whomsoever he will. That, being a matter of history, and a sample only, was fulfilled in seven years; but this, being a prophecy, will only be fulfilled in seven prophetic times, which will be 7 times 360 years, which will make 2520 years….
Then, if Babylon was the nation which was to scatter the people of God, and this, too, in the days of Manasseh, I ask, When was this captivity? I answer, In the year 677 before Christ; see 2 Chron. xxxiii. 9-13; see also the Bible chronology of that event; this being the first captivity of Judah in Babylon. Then take 677 years, which were before Christ, from 2520 years, which includes the whole "seven times," or "seven years," prophetic, and the remainder will be 1843 after Christ; showing that the people of God will be gathered from among all nations, and the kingdom and greatness of the kingdom will be given to the saints of the Most High; mystical Babylon will be destroyed by the brightness of his coming; and sin, and suffering for sin, will be finished to those who look for his coming.
Chronology Chart by William Miller “Seven times” begin in 677 B.C. and run until 1843 A.D.
The Signs of the Times DJVU scans of original issues (1840-1841)
The Midnight Cry PDF scans of original issues (starting in 1842).
Critique of Miller's Work by a Baptist minister named John Dowling written in 1840. Chapter IV refutes Miller’s 2,520 year chronology as a “stretch of ingenuity.” With a bit of sarcasm he criticizes Miller’s 677 BC date as “calculating backward” to make the chronology work. Ironically, he suggests 606 BC would have been a more appropriate beginning date for such a 2,520 year period but he notes this would not have served Miller’s purpose of supporting his predictions for 1843:
He then looks into his Bible chronology, and finds that in the year BC 677 one of the kings of Judah, named Manasseh, was carried a prisoner to Babylon. Here, then, says Mr. M., must begin this punishment of seven times.
It would have answered his purpose, doubtless, much better had this subtraction happened to have brought out the number 606 BC, the date of the commencement of the 70 years captivity of the Israelites in Babylon; but figures will not bend, and therefore, for want of a better, this date of Manasseh's being taken prisoner is adopted, though it was the mere captivity of an individual king, and not of the Jewish people, as the Babylonish captivity was, 71 years after.
This is precisely the date that later Adventists (such as Nelson Barbour) adopted as the beginning of this 2,520 years!
The idea of a 2,520 year prophetic time period was put forth by several different people in the 19th century.
Miller Overthrown or The False Prophet Confounded --Fascinating contemporary criticism of William Miller published in 1840. From the Introduction:
The Almighty has wisely hidden that day from us. Let the man who would rashly essay to raise the veil, ponder well upon the responsibility he assumes. Let him not imagine that he does God service by terrifying the weak, and, in this way, driving them into the church. Such was not the policy of the apostle, who cautioned the flock not to be terrified by word or by epistle, as if the great day of the Lord was at hand. Let those clergymen who willfully encourage Miller's imposture bear in mind that the cause of truth can never be aided by deception; and that, if they should now gain a few converts through his instrumentality, their loss will eventually be greater than their gain. That portion of their wall which is built with his untempered mortar will, when it fall, carry with it some of the more sound mason-work, and "great will be the fall thereof." Those who are driven into the church by groundless fears will prove sad converts when those fears are removed by the disgraceful exposure of their prophet. A sectarian triumph of three years will hardly compensate them for the reproof of their own consciences, and for making merchandise of men by feigned words, or by withholding sound ones. Suppose that Christ had not risen from the dead; then would the apostle's faith have been in vain; and how can it be expected that those who have embraced religion on the credit of Mr. Miller's prediction will remain firm in the faith after the imposture is exposed?
New York Herald Articles on the Millerites Contemporary news coverage of the Millerite movement
Cover illustration of March 2, 1843 New York Tribune (front page) edited by Horace Greeley
History Channel video clip on William Miller and his spiritual heirs.
How the original 1843 prediction was supplanted by predictions for 1844 based upon chronological and theological reasons is explained here. The development of the different Adventist groups after the “great disappointment” of 1844 is outlined here and how the date 1844 was re-interpreted by some Adventists after that disappointment from a prophesied earthly event to an unseen heavenly event is explained here.
The Advent Christian Church still exists today. Its doctrinal stance can be found here: Declaration of Principles of the Advent Christian Church
The History of the Second Advent Message and Mission, Doctrine and People by Isaac Wellcome (1874) in djvu format. Advent Christian History
One of the influences for the Millerite movement and 19th century Protestant premillennialism was the book The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty, written in 1811. The author was Manuel Lacunza, a Spanish Jesuit who took the pen name of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra. The book and its ideas were eventually censured by the Catholic Church but found support among some Protestants, notably Edward Irving. Background on Irving can be found here and the Millerite connection can be read about here. Irving’s translation of Lacunza’s work is in 2 Volumes: Volume 1 and Volume 2. The ideas of Christian Zionism and a secret return of Christ to gather his saints can be attributed to Lacunza and Irving.
Another influence was the book HORAE APOCALYPTICAE by Rev. E.B. Elliott, published in 1844. In discussing chronology, it mentions the year 1914 on pages 1429 and 1431 as one of “the extreme dates.” Elliott was focused on the year “1865, or thereabouts” as the time for the return of Christ (see page 1421). Although not an Adventist, his book had quite an influence on Protestants who held to premillenialism. Nelson Barbour acknowledged his debt to Elliott for his understanding of chronology in the March 1874 issue of The Midnight Cry and Herald of the Morning:
The chronology published in the "Midnight Cry," of 1873, is the only strictly Bible chronology from Adam to Cyrus, ever published. -I know how comprehensive is this statement, and what I am saying-I do not claim to have been the author, or even the compiler. It was advocated by Bowen, then by Elliott, of England, and lastly by myself.
Books by Second Adventists who influenced Charles Russell:
The Present Truth or Meat in Due Season , written by Jonas Wendell in 1870. (Wendell was the Adventist preacher Russell credited with restoring his faith.) On pages 35-36, Wendell explains Miller’s “mistake” and proposes 1873 as the year chronology pointed towards:
All those who are familiar with the views of Father Miller know that he terminated the seventy weeks or 490 years at the crucifixion of Christ, in A.D. 33. Here we discover a mistake of thirty years: for it is certain the seventy weeks did not end at the cross, but extended on to about the time of the Roman army going against Jerusalem. In one of the published lectures of William Miller, he said: "Let my enemies show any other year in which all these periods will center, then I will admit I may be mistaken." Time proved that which his enemies could not do. I must confess that it did appear to me that no other year could be found, in which all the periods would center, until within a few months; and now I am satisfied that the year 1873 is the year in which the 2300 days [years], the 1335 days [years], and the 6000 years end. They come together in that year without the sound of a hammer; there is no passage of Scripture strained from its plain, literal meaning to reach this result.
On page 45 Wendell gave 1880 as an outside date for Christ’s return:
"This generation" who see these things begin to come to pass "shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled." It is certain. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." That this is the true import of the passage is to my mind clear, from the fact that the events here specified did not take plane in the lifetime of those who heard him, but were to, and did, take place since the "great tribulation" ended. There is no other rational conclusion but that the same generation who see the signs of an event should live to witness the event signified by those signs. As a generation is equivalent to a hundred years (compare Gen. 15:16 with Matt. 24:13), and the first sign was the darkening of the sun in 1780, this generation will end in 1880: therefore we may expect the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven before 1880.
George Storrs’ earlier involvement with William Miller and the 1844 prediction can be read here
On pages 32 & 33 Barbour explains how he came across the chronology he would come to accept while in London. Referring to himself in the third person, he explains:
On arriving in London, he went to the library of the British Museum, and among many other extensive works on the prophecies, found Elliott’s Horae Apocalypticae, which at that time, 1860, was a standard work; advocating 1866 as the time for the coming of the Lord. There the chronology was found as now given in these pages, with some slight additional proof. Elliott, who was trying to prove the end in 1866, had worked it up. But it overran the time, and finding no possible way of shortening it a single year; he closed with the remark, "It seems to overrun a few years, but it is barely possible some mistake may have occurred among so many periods, though I am unable to discover it."
After adopting Elliott’s chronology, he predicted the Second Advent would occur “a few years” later than Elliott’s prediction. Barbour explained there was a 30 year “tarrying” from 1843 to 1873 paralleling the time from Christ’s birth to the beginning of his ministry. (See page 99)
Nelson Barbour's Articles on Chronology in various Advent Christian magazines. In an article entitled “The 1873 Time” in the November 11, 1873 issue of Advent Christian Times, Barbour gives his reasons for revising his 1873 prediction for the year 1874:
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.
Midnight Cry & Herald of the Morning March 1874 magazine edited by N. H. Barbour. Towards the end of this issue Barbour explains his expectations for the fall of 1874:
I believe the "sign of the Son of man in heaven." will appear this coming AUTUMN; that, then the Gospel will have ended, God’s spirit be withdrawn, and a reign of terror, such as this world has never yet experienced, be inaugurated.
I believe that time of trouble has already began, and in progress in its incipient state, since last September.
I believe the six thousand years from Adam ended at that time, and that we are now "IN THE DAY OF THE LORD," and that probation and the Spirit of God lingers a little fraction of time, to fill up certain jots of prophesy, and that a few months will usher in the "Time of Trouble" in all its dread reality, and that this state of things will continue for YEARS, before the age of peace, and millennial glory will commence.
I believe in the midst of all this trouble, when all existing political and social organizations are shaken to the center, and all confidence between man and man has fled from the earth; that Christ and his saints will organize a kingdom, "which shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and stand forever."
Picture of the cover of Barbour’s Herald of the Morning
Later articles from Barbour's magazine Soon after 1874 Barbour came to believe that Christ had returned in 1874, but invisibly. For example, this statement appears in the July 1875 Herald of the Morning (page 28) :
Every careful reader of this paper must have become satisfied the old traditions, and loose ideas which have obtained in relation to the manner of Christ's coming are, in the main, unscriptural; and that there is, and must be a period of time called, "the days of tie Son of man;" in which, although He is here, the world will be ignorant of his presence. Otherwise, how can they be "building, planting, and marrying; and know not"? For "as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be, in the days of the Son of man."
In the September 1875 Herald of the Morning, Barbour explains his developed understanding of chronology. 1914 is mentioned as the terminus of the “time of trouble.” The “harvest” is to end in the spring of 1878, culminating in a gathering of the living saints with the resurrected saints “to the Lord in the air”:
I believe the earth [or cosmos] abideth forever; but that the ages, [aionies] are continually passing. That we are now in the end of the gospel age, and the commencing of the age of, or "times of restitution of all things." That this transition period is called "the time of harvest" And that it began in the autumn of 1874, and will end in the spring of 1878; measuring three and a half years. And that the events of this time of harvest, are first the resurrection of the dead in Christ; second, the binding of the tares in bundles; third and last, the translation of the living saints and gathering of them together with the risen ones to the Lord in the air.
I believe that though the gospel dispensation will end in 1878, the Jews will not be restored to Palestine, until 1881; and that the "times of the Gentiles," viz. their seven prophetic, times, of 2520, or twice 1260 years, which began where God gave all, into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, 606 B.C.; do not end until A.D. 1914; or 40 years from this.
I believe that during this 40 years, just begun the "time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation;" will be fulfilled. And in the mean time, the kingdom of God will be set up, "break in pieces, and consume all these [Gentile] kingdoms," "and the stone become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth," and usher in glory of the millennial age.
When the "harvest" is ended, I believe the most terrible judgments of war, famine, pestilence, and desolation, this world has ever witnessed; will prevail, until one universal reign of terror obtains, from pole to pole: until life shall be a burden to the most favored; and death earnestly desired.
Barbour's 1876 Article on the Pyramid says the Great Pyramid points to year 1914. Speculations on how pyramidology spread in Second Adventist circles can be read here. Background information on Charles Piazzi Smyth and pyramidology among Russell’s followers. Pictures from Smyth’s Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid.
C.T. Russell explains how in 1876 he came to be affiliated with N.H. Barbour in the July 15, 1906 Watch Tower, Reprints page 3822.
Some Advent Christians were not pleased with Barbour & Russell’s preaching that Christ had returned invisibly in 1874. From the Advent Christian Times of July 18, 1877, pp. 89-90:
"One N. H. Barbour, called Dr. Barbour, with his confreres, J. H. Paton and C. T. Russell, is traveling around the country, going everywhere that they can find Adventists, and preaching that Jesus has come secretly, and will soon be revealed and mingling in their lectures a lot of "Age-to-come" trash, all to subvert their hearers. They are not endorsed by Adventists, "Age-to-come" folks, or anybody else, yet having some money and a few sympathizers they will probably run awhile. They have been to Ohio and Indiana and are working westward. We are credibly informed that one of them boasted in Union Mills, Ind., a few days since, that they would break up every Advent church in the land. We guess not. Their whole work is proselytizing. The Lord never sent them on their mission. Give them no place, and go not near them or countenance them."
As cited here from the forum Zion's Watchtower Society--The Early Years (Discussion group on this early period of Watchtower history). See also: 19th Century Pioneers of Jehovah's Witnesses (Discussion group on similar topics). For some background on the “age-to-come” theology presented by Barbour, Paton and Russell, see the section “Age-to-Come Controversy” at this site.
Books by Russell’s early associates:
The Three Worlds by Nelson H. Barbour and C.T. Russell, published in 1877. (The book was written by Barbour and financed by Russell.) Pages 104-108 explained that Christ returned invisibly to the earth in 1874-1875. Page 108 says the resurrection of the saints happened in the Spring of 1875. The end of the “harvest” is expected to be in the Spring of 1878 (pages 68, 89-93, 124, 125-126, 143). See, for example, this interpretation of the sounding of the “7th trumpet” mentioned in Revelation chapters 10 & 11 on page 143:
With this message the “mystery of God will be finished, as he declared to his servants the prophets.” And from August, 1840, to the Spring of 1878, or 37 and a-half years, will consummate this part of the work. Then look out for “angry nations” “and the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come…” (verse 18).
The year 1914 is seen as the final end of the “day of wrath”:
…the “times of the Gentiles,” reach from B.C. 606 to A.D. 1914, or forty years beyond 1874. And the time of trouble, conquest
of the nations, and events connected with the day of wrath, have only ample time, during the balance of this forty years, for
their fulfillment. [page 189]
Shortly after the Spring of 1878, C.T. Russell wrote his first article for Herald of the Morning (July, 1878). Russell refers to the failed realization of expectations for the translation of the Church to heaven and explains (based on parallels to first-century chronology) that the harvest will last another 3 ½ years--for a total of 7 years—ending in the autumn of 1881. The “time of trouble” for the world will not have its “entire accomplishment” for another 37 years (1914-1915). However, the “burning of the tares” of the harvest is expected by the end of this second 3 ½ years, with the translation of the Church presumably “soon thereafter.” The text for the following article can be found on page 10 of this collection of Russell’s writings:
When a short time since our expectations of translation failed of realization, doubtless all who understood the foundation upon which those hopes were based felt somewhat disappointed; yet we did not for a moment feel cast down. We realized that what God had so plainly declared must some time have a fulfillment….WHEREIN DID WE ERR?
We had supposed that this gathering was accomplished in the one day of Pentecost, which followed Christ's ministry; but we now see that while some of the wheat of that age was there gathered into the garner, the gospel dispensation, yet those were not all the wheat. No, the gathering of the wheat required time, and we shall show had three and a-half years allotted to it, making the harvest seven years long….
Our harvest, like theirs, has two special kinds of work.
1st. A separation between wheat and tares, by the tares being bound in bundles.
2dly. The gathering of the wheat, while the tares are burning. We have all along recognized the separation as the work of the three and a-half years just ended….
That this work has been accomplished in the three and a-half years of
the harvest just ended, we thoroughly believe, but as there, so here, there is
a "gathering into the barn" to be done, and the pattern teaches us
that it will require three-and-a-half years for this part of the harvest work;
but remember this is not setting a time for translation, the translation not
being due until all are gathered, and how long after we know not, but presume
soon thereafter. But, says one, I thought the gathering "into the
barn" was translation.
So we all did, and that was the mistake; we supposed the separation took three and a-half years, and the gathering one moment. We now find that the gathering here, as in the end of the Jewish age, takes three and a-half years; and know that the "gathering into the barn" is not translation, but a work that precedes it. Translation, or the changing of the living, (1 Cor. 15:51) is the work of the Spirit (Phil. 3:21)….
TARES ARE BEING BURNED.
What is this? We have seen that there is a great time of trouble coming upon the world, and that it has already commenced, but has some thirty-seven years future for its entire accomplishment; but while this trouble upon the world is expressed by the figure of fire, yet it must be a different fire from this which burns up the tares, for the tares are not the world. No, "the field is the world," "the tares are the children of the wicked one." They are hypocrites pretended wheat "wolves in sheep's" clothing." During this three and a-half years we expect (Matt. 13:41-42), to be fulfilled.
We therefore anticipate a dreadful burning of tares, and a scorching of all wheat, which has not been separated from them.
By the next year, C.T. Russell and N.H. Barbour’s disagreement over the nature of Christ’s atonement led to their parting. Russell began publishing the magazine Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence in July, 1879. By 1881, Russell was reporting that Barbour had reversed his views and no longer taught that Christ had returned invisibly in 1874. (See the February, 1881 Watch Tower, Reprints p. 188). Barbour continued to publish The Herald of the Morning for several years.
The exact time when the resurrection of the dead, or the translation of the living church is due, we do not pretend to know,
but think we have good reason for believing that they will have taken place before "The time of the end" has expired, or before 1914.
In an article in the April 1880 Watchtower Russell explains his view of the role of Miller and other Adventists in what he felt was the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. William Miller is mentioned specifically and Nelson Barbour is acknowledged (the author of “The Midnight Cry”) but not named. (Complete issue of the April 1880 Watchtower can be read here.) In that article, Russell explains how he did not hear the “Midnight Cry” about Christ’s invisible return until 1876:
The writer, among many others now interested, was sound asleep, in profound ignorance of the cry, etc., until 1876, when being awakened he trimmed his lamp (for it is still very early in the morning.) It showed him clearly that the Bridegroom had come and that he is living "in the days of the Son of Man." [Reprints p. 87]
Russell acknowledged the role Wendell, Stetson, Storrs, Paton and Barbour had played in an article in the May 1890 Watchtower entitled "Harvest Gatherings and Siftings."
Writings by Charles Taze Russell:
Early Writings of Charles Taze Russell before he started the Watchtower magazine. On pages 3 & 4 from the October 1876 Bible Examiner (published by George Storrs) Russell explains that by 1914 the “Gentile Governments shall have been dashed to pieces” and the Jews and “Jerusalem shall be delivered forever.” The “escape of the Church” or the “taking by Christ of His Bride” is seen as occurring earlier as “one of the first acts in the Judgment.”
Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return scanned and in another format.
Russell’s early views on biblical chronology (and the dates 1874, 1878, 1881 and 1914) are explained in the articles "A Stone of Stumbling" and "How Long, O Lord" in the January 1881 Watchtower. The February 1, 1881 Watchtower (page 5) indicates that the “change” to heavenly glory was expected for the autumn of 1881:
And now we come nearer to the time when
OUR CHANGE SEEMS DUE
(We know not the day or hour, but expect it during 1881, possibly near the autumn where the parallels show the favor to Zion complete and due to end, the door to the marriage to shut, and the high calling to be the bride of Christ, to cease.)
But, see also "The Year 1881" and "The Door Was Shut" in the May & October 1881 Watch Towers where this is downplayed and October 2, 1881 is said to mark the time when the call to be part of the “Bride of Christ” ended.
Picture of Watch Tower magazine from June, 1886.
Russell explained in the July 15, 1894 Watch Tower (page 226) in an article entitled “Can it be Delayed Until 1914?” that 1914 would be the end of the “time of trouble.” The chronology, he believed, was “God’s dates” and “not ours”:
in view of recent labor troubles and threatened anarchy, our readers are
writing to know if there may not be a mistake in the 1914 date. They say that
they do not see how present conditions can hold out so long under the strain.
We see no reason for changing the figures-- nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble. (Emphasis his)
Russell’s mature view on eschatology and chronology can be found in Study IX of Vol. 3 of Studies in the Scriptures, particularly pages 305-308. There he ties together the Adventist movement of William Miller to the Second Advent of Christ in 1874 and the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. Russell believed that Christ had resurrected the saints in 1878 as spirit beings to be with him on the earth during a time of harvest. He hoped that “shortly” those of the saints still alive on earth would be “changed to the same glorious likeness”:
Behind us are all the prophetic landmarks which point to this time as the most wonderful period in all the history of the world. They have shown us that since 1873 we have been living in the seventh millennium; that the lease of Gentile dominion, "The Times of the Gentiles," will expire with the year 1914; and that the advent of him whose right it is to take the dominion was due in 1874. They have shown us that in the days of these Gentile kings, before their lease of power expires, the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom, and that the setting up of that Kingdom has actually been in progress since the year 1878; that there the resurrection of all the dead in Christ was due; and that therefore, since that date, not only is our Lord and Head invisibly present in the world, but all these holy messengers are also with him. And observe, farther, that this date of the resurrection of the dead in Christ parallels the date of the resurrection of the Head of the body. Our Lord's resurrection occurred three and a half years after his advent as the Messiah, in A. D. 29; and the resurrection of his body, the Church, we have seen, was due in the year 1878, three and a half years after his second advent, in October 1874.
Prophecy has also indicated the manner of our Lord's return, so that, though he is present, we should not expect to see either him or the risen saints, who are now in his likeness, except by the eye of faith — faith in the "sure word of prophecy;" though we have learned that those who now constitute "the feet of Christ" shall also shortly be changed to the same glorious likeness. They shall then be spirit beings, like him, Christ, and like all the risen saints who are now with him, and will in due time see him as he is. (1 John 3:2.)…
We have marked, too, the fixed dates to which the Prophet Daniel calls attention. The 2,300 days point to 1846 as the time when God's sanctuary would be cleansed of the defiling errors and principles of Papacy; and we have noted the cleansing there accomplished. We have noted the fulfilment of the 1,260 days, or the time, times and half a time, of Papacy's power to persecute, and the beginning there, in 1799, of the Time of the End. We have seen how the 1,290 days marked the beginning of an understanding of the mysteries of prophecy in the year 1829, culminating in the great movement of 1844 known as the Second-Advent movement, when, according to the Lord's prediction, the wise virgins went forth to meet the Bridegroom, thirty years prior to his actual coming. We have seen the fulfilment of the predicted tarrying; and for fifteen years the midnight cry, "Behold the Bridegroom!" has gone forth. We have marked with special delight the 1,335 days, pointing, as they do, to 1874 as the exact date of our Lord's return; and we have since that time experienced the very blessedness promised — through the clearer unfoldings of the wonderful mysteries of the divine plan.
Then we have seen the great harvest work, in its appointed
time and order, beginning in the autumn of the year 1874, gradually and
silently, but rapidly, progressing. We have marked the bundling and binding of
the tares, and the gathering of the wheat. And what blessing and joy come to us
in the assurance that since the summer of 1878, when the King took his great
power and began his reign by the resurrection of those who slept in Jesus, it
is no longer needful that his members should "sleep" and wait for
glory, but that for each the moment of finishing his course in death is the
moment of the joyful "change" to the full perfection of the divine
nature and likeness. Indeed, "blessed are the dead who die in the Lord
from henceforth" forever. They rest from their labors, but their
works continue; for the work on the other side the vail is the same work in
which all the overcomers are engaged on this side the vail; except that, with
those who have entered into the glory of the divine nature, the work is no
longer laborious, and no longer costs fatiguing sacrifice.
In addition to all this, we see the beginnings of the return of divine favor to fleshly Israel already manifested in the beginning of a turning away of their blindness and prejudice against Christ Jesus, in the opening up of the land of promise and their expulsion from other lands, and also in the returning fruitfulness of Palestine itself. These outward signs alone, aside from all prophetic dates and times, would be strong evidences that we are living in the close of the age appointed for the selection of the Church or Kingdom class, because of the positive assurance of the Scriptures that their blindness and cast-off condition would continue only until the members of the body of Christ had been selected.
C.T. Russell Photo & Movie Gallery includes video clips from The Photodrama of Creation
The Tabernacle and Its Teachings Supplement to February 1882 Watchtower (not in Watchtower Reprints)
The text for these editions of the volumes of Studies in the Scriptures is the 1916 edition.
Studies in the Scriptures -- in PDF format
Studies in the Scriptures – best viewed in Internet Explorer.
Studies in the Scriptures – has a searchable database
The Divine Plan of the Ages Volume 1
The Time is at Hand Volume 2
Thy Kingdom Come Volume 3
The Battle of Armageddon Volume 4
The Atonement Between God and Man Volume 5
The New Creation Volume 6
(Resurrection of the “dead in Christ” to heavenly life in the year 1878 is mentioned on page 663.)
Pastor Russell's Sermons published by the Watchtower Society after Russell’s death
Pastor Russell's Sermons --PDF
Works by C.T. Russell Online a searchable database
Two classic oral debates:
Russell vs. Eaton (Methodist Episcopal)
Russell vs. White (Disciples of Christ)
Expanded Biblical Comments Commentary on the Bible from Russell’s writings--PDF
Expanded Biblical Comments From another source with links to commentaries.
The Laodicean Messenger A biography of C.T. Russell (scanned PDF version)
The Laodicean Messenger html version
The Messenger of Laodicea short booklet with photos of Russell
How firmly the Bible Students held to the published chronology can be seen in an article entitled “A Father’s Letter to His Son” in the
September 1, 1908 Watchtower. Russell, as editor of The Watch Tower, published a letter written by an anonymous Bible Student father to his infant son. The letter is to be opened by this son on his 10th birthday in the year 1916:
TO MY DEARLY BELOVED SON:--
It has been on my heart for a considerable time to write you a letter, to be opened on your tenth birthday, __________, 1916, to endeavor to express something of the feeling of love and tenderness I have towards you, and to point out, for your eternal joy, and for your safety, certain principles, which I hope you will receive into a good and honest heart. At last a favorable opportunity has come, and as my last message to you I beg you to give earnest heed to all that this letter contains.
[He explains why Mom and Dad are gone:]
I know that when this letter is read your papa and mamma will have passed from earthly scenes forever, and the great time of trouble, "such as never was since there was a nation," will no longer be a matter of prophecy, but of history.
[Mom and Dad will have been “changed from earthly to heavenly conditions”:]
The time when the suffering shall be finished is now very near, hence it follows that, if we have proved sufficiently faithful to the Lord, the time is near at hand when we shall share with him the glory that is to follow. This means that very soon it will be true of us, as it is true of the Lord, that we shall be changed from earthly to heavenly conditions, and the world will see us no more, forever.
[This Father is concerned for his son’s future on this earth after the “time of trouble”:]
I come now to the special object of this letter. The Scriptures indicate that in the year 1915, the year before this letter is read, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Isaiah, Daniel, and all the holy prophets and patriarchs from Abel to John the Baptist, will have been raised from the dead and will be in charge of the earthly phase of the Lord's Kingdom, with headquarters at Jerusalem. The Lord's Word also seems to indicate that this truth, and the fact that there has been a change of dispensation, may possibly not be generally believed until the year 1918. I am writing this to you so that you will not be one of those who will be mistaken on this point, but will understand that, by the time this letter is read, the squaring and straightening of earth's affairs will be in progress from Jerusalem, at the hands of the Ancient Worthies.
[This Father also hopes his son may qualify to be later reunited with his Mom and Dad in “the heavenly courts”:]
In addition to this I wish to hold out to you a hope which I feel justified in mentioning. There are some Scriptures which show that, after the close of the Millennial Age, the Ancient Worthies may possibly be given heavenly honors and stations, and there is some reason to believe that, as the child of consecrated parents, you may possibly be counted in with the Ancient Worthies if you make at once a full consecration of your heart to the Lord. If I understand the matter rightly, you occupy a different relation to our heavenly Father than other children, up until the time when you reach years of accountability, and I am hoping that you will take advantage of this special relationship to place yourself as close to the Lord and his work as it is possible for you to do….
Should it be the Father's will that you be permitted to be counted in
with the Ancient Worthies, be assured, dear son, that a loving father and
mother will greet you in the heavenly courts with joy untold, but in any event,
you may be sure we shall always watch your course with fondest affection, doing
all we can to aid you in carrying out your good resolutions, and hoping in the
end to see you attain to perfect everlasting life, under the happy conditions
to be obtained in the golden ages to come, after the last enemy has been
destroyed. With tenderest love,
Your devoted father,
The following books were circulated amongst Bible Students (as the Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known) during Russell’s era:
The Emphatic Diaglott Interlinear Greek New Testament by Christadelphian Benjamin Wilson
Daily Heavenly Manna devotional book
Hymns of the Millennial Dawn hymn book
Great Pyramid Passages--Volume 2 by John and Morton Edgar
Man's Salvation From a Lawyer's Viewpoint J.F. Rutherford’s first book written 1909
Eulogy of C.T. Russell by Rutherford in December, 1916 Watchtower
Watchtower Reprints: Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence
In 1920, the Watchtower Society reprinted all the back issues of the Watchtower magazine from 1879-1919. This set was published in 7 volumes and called Watchtower Reprints. All issues of the Watchtower magazine from 1879-1916 are available online:
Watchtower Reprints Online 1879-1916 A huge database with each separate article a link.
Watchtower Reprints Online 1879-1916 Each issue is linked to this index.
Watchtower Reprints Online 1879-1916 Includes searchable database
PDF files of each issue are also available. They cover the period edited by Charles T. Russell starting with the July 1879 issue and ending with the December 1916 issue. (Some months were combined issues or were omitted due to the release of volumes of Millennial Dawn or Studies of the Scriptures.)
Publications printed under the Presidency of J.F. Rutherford:
The Finished Mystery 1917 (this PDF file is from the 1918 edition)
The Finished Mystery 1917 (this scan is from the 1926 edition so some dates are changed).
Comparisons with earlier editions can be seen at the following links:
Harvest Siftings Rutherford’s defense of schism at Bethel in 1917
Light After Darkness 1917 (critical of Rutherford, written by four ousted directors)
Harvest Siftings--2 Rutherford’s reply to above
Harvest Siftings Reviewed 1917 (critical of Rutherford by P.S.L Johnson)
Harvest Siftings Reviewed--Itself Reviewed Pro-Rutherford by manager of British Branch Office
Facts for Shareholders written in defense of the four ousted directors
Another Harvest Siftings Reviewed 1918 (critical of Rutherford by P.S.L. Johnson)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ--According to the Sinaitic (1918) extremely rare
Millions Now Living Will Never Die by J.F. Rutherford 1920
Millions Now Living Will Never Die Photo-scanned
Talking With the Dead by J.F. Rutherford (1920)
See review of the book on page 702 of the July 30, 1924 Golden Age.
See also pp. 150-151 of the December 3, 1924 Golden Age.
Sample issue of the Golden Age: December 31, 1924 Golden Age magazine
The Harp of God--1921 edition by J.F. Rutherford (PDF)
The Harp of God affirmed on page 231 that “the Lord’s second presence dates from 1874.” This view was held up until about 1933. For example, the March 1, 1922 Watch Tower and the book Prophecy (published in 1930) reiterated this position. By 1930 some vagueness can be seen. For example, the October 15, 1930 Watch Tower, page 308 says the “second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ dates from about A.D. 1875.” The November 1, 1932 Watch Tower, page 325 is even less precise, stating that from “approximately 1875 forward” Christ was preparing the way. The year 1914 was not recognized as the beginning of Christ’s Second Coming until the December 1, 1933 Watch Tower (page 362). This marked the discarding of 1874 as being a date of prophetic significance.
The Way to Paradise by W.E. Van Amburgh. Published by the Watchtower Society (International Bible Students Association) in 1924.
See title page . Included are some select scans from a Dutch website.
Several scans from the Chapter XI, “Princes in All the Earth” can be found here.
Comfort for the Jews by J.F. Rutherford (1925)
Deliverance by J.F. Rutherford 1926
Deliverance PDF version
Creation by J.F. Rutherford 1927
Creation PDF version
Reconciliation by J.F. Rutherford 1928
Reconciliation PDF version
Government by J.F. Rutheford 1928
Life by J.F. Rutherford 1929.
Life PDF version
On pages 129-131, Rutherford explained how the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 meant a return to favor for the Jewish people in their struggle to reclaim Palestine:
This period of 2520 years began in the year 606 B.C. with the overthrow of Zedekiah, and necessarily ended with the year 1914 A.D. Reckoning by Jewish time, and having in mind the atonement day at the end of which the jubilee trumpet was sounded, this period of 2520 years must end about August 1, 1914. If this calculation is correct, and it must be, then something should have occurred in 1914 to mark the end of God's favor to the Gentiles, and something shortly thereafter to indicate that God's favor was returning to the Jew. We find it even so….
While this was not the first effort of the Jews to get possession of the land of Palestine and to rebuild it, this was the first official recognition by the Gentile powers of the right of the Jew to rebuild his homeland. And be it noted that this first recognition was given by the greatest world power amongst the Gentiles.
Exactly on time, then, in 1914, and at the end of the seven times, the war began; and the good that resulted to the Jew from this war was the recognition by the world powers of the right of the Jews to return to Palestine and rebuild their country.
Within a short time the United States and a number of other Gentile governments concurred in the expression of the British Empire to have the Jews reestablished in Palestine. The British government was appointed as mandatory over Palestine; and the League of Nations, on July 24, 1922, confirmed this mandate.
Prophecy by J.F. Rutherford 1930
Light, Book One by J.F. Rutherford 1930 (Commentary on book of Revelation)
Light, Book One PDF version
Light, Book Two by J.F. Rutherford 1930—commentary continued
Light, Book Two PDF version
News article about J. F. Rutherford from March 31, 1930 Time magazine
(This was from a small magazine published at a Watchtower convention. On the next day (July 26, 1931) the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was adopted.)
Vindication--Book One by J.F. Rutherford—1931
Vindication--Book One PDF version
Vindication--Book Two by J.F. Rutherford—1932
Vindication--Book Two PDF version
Vindication--Book Three by J.F. Rutherford—1932
Vindication--Book Three PDF version
Preservation by J.F. Rutherford 1932
Preparation by J.F. Rutherford 1933
Jehovah by J.F. Rutherford—1934
Jehovah PDF version
Riches by J.F. Rutherford—1936
Riches PDF version
Enemies by J.F. Rutherford—1937
Enemies PDF version
Salvation by J.F. Rutherford 1939
Religion by J.F. Rutherford—1940
Children by J.F. Rutherford—1941
Armageddon, Inc. article from the Saturday Evening Post in 1940
Peddlers of Paradise article from the January 1941 Reader’s Digest
The New World published in 1942
The New World PDF version
Newspaper clippings relating to JW assemblies from 1940s to 1960s:
Parts 1-12 in one file (Long download)
The Kingdom is at Hand – 1944
Equipped for Every Good Work – 1946
"Jehovah's Traveling Salesmen" Article from the November 2, 1946 issue of Collier’s magazine.
A condensed version of this appeared in the January 1947 issue of Reader’s Digest.
This Means Everlasting Life – 1950
New Heavens and a New Earth - 1953
Qualified To Be Ministers (1st edition) – 1955 (Pages 297-360 contain first published history of Witnesses)
"Who Are Jehovah's Witnesses?" by Neil G. McCluskey. News article from The America Press (1956)
Your Will Be Done on Earth – 1958
Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose – 1959 (First book-length official history of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Aid To Bible Understanding – 1971 (Long Download)
Historical Idealism and Jehovah's Witnesses –a thorough study—with extensive documentation--by Thomas Daniels
Jehovah's Witnesses: The New World Society by Marley Cole. Published 1955.
Triumphant Kingdom by Marley Cole. Published in 1957.
Faith on the March by A. H. Macmillan (associate of Russell & Rutherford).
The Great Second Advent Movement by J.N. Loughborough. Published in 1907 by a 7th Day Adventist
The Midnight Cry by Francis D. Nichol (a defense of William Miller and the Millerites)