Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
battle until the Clericalists surrender. Revolutionism in the form of Clericalism, local and general, is the separating practice of the Great Company sifters. In some future issue we will give details on local clericalists as distinct from general clericalists, of whom this article treats especially, rather than of the former.
In every general sifting the Second-death sifters have been active; and they are, therefore, active in this present sifting in the form of Revolutionism against the Truth and its arrangements. Some of them claim that they stand for direct Bible study apart from all human books, a practice which among Truth people is especially directed against that Servant's writings. They treat the Bible as a text book, which it is not, and not as a book of texts, which it is. A text book is an orderly, clear, systematic, progressive and complete treatise on a topic. All Bible Students know that the Bible is not constructed as a text book; on the contrary it is by Divine design, we say it reverently, more complicated, unsystematic and ambiguous than any other book in the world (Is. 28: 9-13). Since it is not a text book, it should not be treated and studied as such. It should be studied topically with its texts topically arranged, e.g., according to the Berean Method (Acts 17: 11). It is so arranged in the Studies In The Scriptures, which God's people of the Little Flock, Great Company and Youthful Worthies will gladly study by the Berean Method. These will avoid Text Bookism, i.e., the use of the Scriptures as a text book, and will use Topical Textism, i.e., the topics of the Bible arranged in an orderly, systematic, clear, progressive and complete manner with proof texts taken from the Scriptures, the Book of texts. Extreme Text Bookism repudiates the Truth, and thus brings one into the Second Death class. This class is now active, and their Revolutionism against the Lord's arrangements of indoctrinating God's people as Scripturally taught by that Servant, leads them step by
step out of the Truth into total darkness with the world. Text Bookism has appeared side by side with Clericalism in the present sifting, beginning in Britain, where so-called "open Bible study," i.e., study of Biblical books chapter by chapter and verse by verse as they occur, is, or at least years ago was, quite general. It has appeared here and in other countries. In its extreme form it leads to the Second Death. We will have more to say on this subject later. Let us avoid Revolutionism in both its forms, Clericalism and Text Bookism, as highly dangerous, the latter in its extreme form being more dangerous than the former.
In 1 Kings 19: 18 we have a passage that applies at this time, and shows that there will be an antitypical 7,000, who will, by not worshiping or kissing Baal, be found worthy to escape the symbolic swords of Hazael, Jehu and Elisha. Those who so escape will doubtless be the Very Elect, the ones that according to this passage (see Rom. 11: 4) Jehovah reserves to Himself. In the 1912 Convention Reports and later in a booklet, our dear Bro. Morton Edgar has given us an able discussion of the Bible and Mythology. Among other things, he shows that Satan was worshiped as the Sun, the chief God of the ancient heathen, under varying names in various nations. In Canaan and in some other countries as the Sun he was worshiped under the name of Baal, Lord. Satan, Baal, has as his central characteristics envy of one's superiors, grasping for power and lording, Baaling, it over others (Is. 14: 12-14). To worship Satan as Baal, means to be subject to Satan in envying one's superiors, in grasping for power and in tyrannizing over others. Since the kiss in ancient times, like the clasping of hands now, was a pledge of loyalty, to kiss Baal, as distinct from bowing the knee to him, seems to represent loyal support given to those who envy their superiors, who grasp for power, and who lord it over others. Hence, power-graspers are meant by those who bow the knee
to Baal, their partisan supporters are meant by those who kiss Baal. Those among God's people who do these two things, according to this passage, cannot be in the Little Flock. If tentatively justified they lose their tentative justification. If consecrated and Spirit-begotten and escaping the Second Death, they are of the Great Company. Accordingly, we see that the new-creaturely Clericalists and their loyal supporters, rebelling against the Lord's arrangements, are not members of the Little Flock. Rather they are of the Great Company. Baal, as the Sun God, "the Lord of the Day," arose in the East, progressed to the South and set in the West. Promotion does not come among God's people from worshiping and kissing Baal, the Sun God (Ps. 75: 6, 7), whose course is in the East, South and West, it comes from God, who is in the North, and who "sets each one in [and in some cases out of] the Body as it hath pleased Him" (1 Cor. 12: 18). The British Clericalists, the Society Clericalists and the P.B.I. Clericalists, etc., with their loyal supporters, as antitypical Baal worshipers and kissers, have forgotten this, and by their getting their supposed promotion from worshiping the Sun God, Baal, i.e., Satan, they receive from God a casting out from the Body of Christ as a just recompense for evil doing. Alas! how are the mighty fallen, whom we would but could not help!
After what we have seen above to be the Antichrist character and purposes of the P.B.I., and their clericalistic revolutionism, especially against the charter of the W.T.B.&T.S., given by the Lord through that Servant, and once so recognized by them, can there be any further doubt that they are graspers for power and lords over God's heritage? If any doubt still lingers among non-partisan and faithful brethren, the Lord will, in due time, dissipate it, we are sure.
Some tasks are disagreeable; and when duty does not call for their execution, they would better be left
undone; but he who refuses to do a disagreeable duty lacks moral courage. All must admit that it is a disagreeable task to bare the errors of which the W.T.B.&T.S. and the P.B.I. leaders have been guilty. And if these brothers alone were to be considered, apart from private and personal correction, we would not have been heard from as disapproving their ways. But, unfortunately, their course involves many others, especially the dear, unwary sheep among God's flock; and no faithful shepherd can be silent, when he sees them misled. Faithfully to perform our duty as an under-shepherd in God's general flock has forced us, with a bleeding heart, to oppose before the Church some of our brethren that we have loved most fervently and above all other living brethren. There were two courses open for us, when we faced the conditions that came to the front shortly after our dear Pastor's death: (1) By letting brotherly and intimate friendship close our eyes to principle, and by supporting certain leaders, float on the crest of popularity and power among the leaders in the Society, and later in the P.B.I. Committee; or (2) suffer the keen sorrow of falling out with dearly loved ones in defending Truth, Righteousness and God's dear children. These leaders seem to place self above God, Truth, Righteousness and the Lord's people in envious grasping for power and lording it over God's people. Therefore, we hesitated not a moment as to our choice. First, we faithfully and lovingly for months sought privately to bring the wrong-doers to recognize and put aside their wrongs. Apparently, it was "love's labor lost." Then, by the principles of God's Word, the leadings of His providences and the needs of His people through the aggressive course of the wrong-doers themselves, we were forced, in open resistance to them, clearly to uncover their wrongs of teaching and practice before the whole Church. With a sad but determined heart we have taken up this disagreeable task, fully persuaded
that it is to the glory of God, the blessing of the faithful and the ultimate good of the wrong-doers and their supporters. Why, then, should we be blamed for this? And since such exposures are for the good of all concerned, all of us ought surely desire them to be made and to inform ourselves on them, to the end that all of us may act wisely and properly amid the present sifting conditions. Therefore, let all bear with us as we give some salient points of P.B. I. history. There are quite a number familiar with some of these things, but the nature of much of our widespread correspondence convinces us that the true situation has been so grossly misrepresented in the minds of many that it would be wrong to withhold the true information from them any longer than it has been.
In the background of its history lie the troubles in the Society's affairs in Britain and in America during 1916 and 1917. Out of these troubles came a number of leaders styled by the Society leaders as "usurpers" and as "the Opposition." On closer examination it will be found that these so-called "Opposition" leaders represented at least seven shades of thought and characteristics. (1) Menta Sturgeon, who for a while kept himself quite aloof from the Society and "the Opposition" leaders, though always sympathetically inclining toward and encouraging the latter as against the former. This position kept him at Bethel until about Nov. 1, 1917, three and a half months after the ousting of the four Directors. (2) A.I. Ritchie, and at first J.D. Wright, both of whom were not pronounced enough in their stand on the trouble in the Board and both of whom, weakening in the Board meeting June 20, 1917, opened the door for the defeat of the program of the Board's majority, the former balking altogether at a suit, and not being very sanguine for the publication of "Light After Darkness" and "Facts For Shareholders"; (3) A. N. Pierson who, both by heredity and training, stood so strongly for peace that he finally
gave up the "Opposition" altogether; (4) R.H. Hirsh, the only one of the four ousted Directors who had nothing to gain, but probably everything to lose from opposing J.F.R., and who did not vote on the Board's compromising resolution on our British activity; (5) 1. F. Hoskins, with whom J.D. Wright is to be counted after the ousting of the Board's majority; (6) F.H. McGee, whose interest in the Board's situation was entirely unselfish, and that of a brother, a Shareholder and a lawyer; (7) ourself, whose position was that of a friend of both parties, but whose knowledge of the situation clearly recognized the evils of the Society leaders in Britain and America and whose constant effort was to have these righted, first, through personal and moral suasion and, failing in this, then through the proper body, the Board of the W.T.B.&T.S. F.H. McGee, writing for the Directors in the Fall of 1917, was right when he said that our case was apart from, though somewhat related to, that of the deposed Directors. These remarks about the seven shades of thought and characteristics in the "Opposition" leaders apply to the time previous to Jan. 1, 1918.
We begin our narrative with our experiences with Menta Sturgeon, with whom we had been on terms of most intimate brotherly friendship. One of the sad features of this present sifting is its breaking of so many tender ties! After our dear Pastor's death, next to J.F.R. and J. Hemery, we loved Menta Sturgeon above all other brethren. Before we saw that the antitypical Elisha had received antitypical Elijah's Mantle (but after we heard in Oct., 1917, that Menta Sturgeon was thinking of leaving Bethel), we counseled him against this course, (1) because the "Present Management" controlled the Truth literature, which, we knew, in every other sifting remained in the control of antitypical Elijah, and (2) because we hoped that a reconciliation in harmony with the Lord's arrangements, charter and will might yet be effected. This suggestion
we made while the large majority of the ousted Directors' sympathizers, goaded on by the course of the Society's leaders, were urging a division in the New York Church, which by the above reasons we succeeded in delaying, until after Elijah and Elisha became clear to us, when we heartily favored the division. On the point of this division, which Menta Sturgeon favored in Oct. before he left Bethel, he and we did not see eye to eye at first; on almost all other important matters we throughout were in harmony; e.g., (1) that there was a separation going on between the Little Flock and what seemed to be the Great Company; (2) that J.F.R. was that Evil Servant of Matt. 24: 48-51, and the foolish Shepherd of Zech. 11: 15-17; (3) that Vol. VII was the seventh vial of Rev. 16: 17 in a vile condition, etc.; but we could not endorse his view that Vol. VII was a part of the Penny. Such was our doctrinal agreement on current conditions before the latter part of Nov., when he left Brooklyn for a Pilgrim trip in New England, from which he did not return until about the time of the election of the Society's officers—Jan., 1918. In Oct., before "Harvest Siftings Reviewed" appeared, he remarked that he did not want to be identified with a movement in which we shared, because he thought that we believed ourself Bro. Russell's successor as teacher. When "Harvest Siftings Reviewed" appeared, showing that we did not consider ourself as that Servant's successor in any sense, he seemed to recede from his view, though subsequent events prove that he had not been able to shake himself loose from his distrust of us.
During his New England trip he developed radical views on current conditions whereon we before agreed; for at Pittsburgh early in Jan., 1918, he told others and us that "the Present Management" and all its ardent supporters were in the Second Death Class; that Vol. VII and the Big Drive were entirely of the Devil; that the first smiting of the Jordan began July 17, 1917, in
Bethel dining room, when the four deposed Directors, F.H. McGee and ourself protested at the ousting of the four Directors; and that these six were the six men with the Slaughter Weapons of Ezek. 9, who, he said, in the Bethel dining room, July 17, 1917, began the first smiting of Jordan. Since he and we parted late in Nov. we continued to make harmonious progress in his and our common views on current conditions; and thus early in Dec. we became convinced that the separation among the Truth people was the antitype of Elijah's and Elisha's separation as set forth in Vol. III, Chap. II. Before learning of his change of views, feeling sure that he would be pleased with the logical unfolding of our common views of the preceding Fall, we expounded to him, in about an hour's conversation, held in part in R.H. Hirsh's presence, our understanding of Elijah and Elisha. He sharply showed resentment, setting forth his radical change of views, adopted since we last saw him. We, of course, took exception to these. From that day forth (it was Jan. 3 or 4, 1918) we drifted further and further apart. His attitude and manner became changed. Those love lit eyes, those smiling lips, and that winning countenance with which he was wont to greet us changed into decided unfriendliness of expression. Impatience, opposition and disdain seemed to take the place of his former sweet spirit. Lovingly and meekly we sought to heal matters; but they became worse. Doubtless the weaknesses of each brother were more or less active; our too eager efforts to help him stirring up his increasing resentment, disdain and seeming envy. Him as well as other erring leaders during this sifting, our meekness and loving exhortations seemed to harden rather than to mellow. Our final break occurred Feb. 24, 1918.
It soon became known during the Pittsburgh Convention, even by some of the Society leaders, that he and we were in interpretational disagreement. This
prompted us to seek harmony on Elijah and Elisha by a discussion before the Pilgrims and elders of "the Opposition" without others being present; and therefore, we suggested holding for this purpose a meeting, which proved to be the first session of the Fort Pitt Convention-Saturday night, Jan. 5, 1918. Others being present, we suggested a special meeting the next morning for pilgrims and elders alone, when our interpretational differences might, we hoped, by discussion be overcome. He objected, saying that all should have a chance to hear, and therefore we gave way. Our reasons for wanting the discussion before the leading brothers only were: (1) Not to let the differences become more widely known than necessary; (2) not to do anything that might tend to humiliate this dear brother, whose position we knew, and who we felt satisfied would fail to make a favorable impression for his view contrasted with what we felt and knew was the Scriptural view; (3) our desire not to make it harder for him to receive the Truth than absolutely necessary; for the pride that we and others felt he was clearly manifesting we feared would, if hurt before others, make it harder for him to accept the Truth. Sunday morning each of us presented our view on Elijah and Elisha in 45-minute addresses, he speaking second. Almost everybody present, though more familiar with his than with our view, regarded ours more favorably. The resentful effect on him of the unfavorable reception of his view, that we feared and sought to avert by a more private discussion, was quite manifest; and in spite of our efforts to lift him above it we failed. In the afternoon session, after a number of consultations between him and I.L. Margeson, the latter proposed the appointment of the Fort Pitt Convention Committee, which later took the name P.B.I. Between the afternoon and evening sessions the Committee met to elect officers. We proposed Menta Sturgeon as both temporary and permanent
Chairman. He was elected. Then silence ensued, which we broke by nominating A.I. Ritchie as Secretary and Treasurer. He also was elected. Then another similar pause occurred. Seeing no one else seemingly would propose a Vice-chairman, we then proposed R.H. Hirsh for that office, who also was elected. Our proposing Menta Sturgeon for the chief place proves our appreciation of him. Our activity in proposing him and others for offices proves that we were not seeking position for ourself. It seems that our course of presenting "meat in due season" impressed him with the thought that we were assuming controllership of the Lord's work, a view that the Group afterward adopted, as their remarks indicated during the discussion of our Philadelphia Evil Servant discourse the afternoon and night of Feb. 23, 1918.
Two days after the Fort Pitt Convention we went home to Columbus, following our delivering (in the hearing, among others, of Menta Sturgeon) a lecture on the Calls, Siftings and Slaughter Weapons (Matt. 19: 27-20: 16; 1 Cor. 10: 1-14; Ezek. 9). This discourse sets forth a different view of the six men with slaughter weapons from that of Menta Sturgeon, who after the Committee's election, in harmony with his view wanted F.H. McGee to settle at Washington, D.C; A.I. Ritchie at Toronto, Canada; R.H. Hirsh at Pittsburgh, Pa.; I.F. Hoskins at Philadelphia, Pa.; J.D. Wright at Boston, Mass., and ourself at London, England, himself, presumably, to direct things from New York, his thought being that these, his six slaughter weapon men, do their smiting at and from these places. He went shortly afterward back to New York, and very actively sought to turn various members of the New York Class against our view of Elijah and Elisha; and succeeded in doing so with not a few who had not heard our understanding of this subject. Thus when we returned to New York, Jan. 20, to attend the first Committee meeting, after
the Convention, we found that he had created a hostile atmosphere against us among not a few members of that Church, some being forward to show it.
At this Committee meeting he, A.I. Ritchie and ourself were appointed a Committee to draft a letter that the large Committee wanted to send to the brethren throughout the world. A.I. Ritchie by Menta Sturgeon's and our request was to work out the rough draft for the smaller Committee to be presented to the larger Committee in two days; i.e., Jan. 22. Jan. 21 he asked us to do this, saying he had not time. With this request Menta Sturgeon was agreed. We wrote out a rough draft, and presented it at the proper time to the large Committee, when to our surprise, A.I. Ritchie also offered one. The Committee decided that our letter be accepted, with such additions taken from A.I. Ritchie's letter as were not in ours. In our letter we suggested, Menta Sturgeon concurring, seven lines of service to submit to the general Church for their consideration and opinion. At this meeting A.I. Ritchie opposed not only the five proposals which were not especially emphasized at the Fort Pitt Convention, but also the one with reference to a periodical, which was favorably considered at that Convention. He wanted nothing but Pilgrim work to be suggested to the brethren in the letter. Two evenings later (Jan. 24, 1918) we presented our letter revised, so as to incorporate the points in A.I. Ritchie's letter, as well as some that occurred to us meantime. At this meeting A.I. Ritchie resigned from membership in the Committee, saying he was not in harmony with the effort to give a general service to the brethren, apart from Pilgrim work. His resignation was accepted. Two days later we sought to regain him by cutting out all except the two recommendations that were generally favored at the Fort Pitt Convention for a general service. He reconsidered the matter, but decided to stand apart from the Committee. Later he told others
and us that we sought to run a cut-and-dried program through the Committee, and wanted to control things, and that partly for these reasons he resigned, though he said nothing of this kind at the time of his resignation. The reason that he gave the Committee should have made him decline election to the Committee. The reasons that he later gave amount to this: He resigned, because, he claimed, that we seemed inclined to control the Committee's affairs. If we had really sought to do this we went the wrong way about it, when we moved the election of others to fill all the offices.
At the same meeting Menta Sturgeon also resigned, alleging that we had the Committee under our influence, and that he suspected anything with whose start we had anything to do. He complained to the Committee that our having made a more favorable impression on the Fort Pitt Conventioners on Elijah and Elisha than he did was due to our taking advantage of him. This claim was promptly and completely refuted. Then he tried to undermine us with the Committee on the Medad matter in the same spirit as J.F.R. did with the Steward matter at Bethel. His spirit on this occasion impressed the whole Committee as being envious of us. In substance, his charge against us was somewhat similar to A.I. Ritchie's later statement as to the cause of his resigning: Brother Johnson was trying to run things. Seemingly our giving out different interpretations from theirs impressed them with the thought that we wanted to control matters! We did not think their giving different interpretations from ours meant their trying to control the Committee. Seemingly our conduct presented to them a riddle whose solution they insisted on being given them on pain of what was in reality a threat to destroy the Committee. It seemed not to strike them that it was their course that in substance meant this: We will bring the Committee to the brink of destruction, unless we have our way about the
matter of undoing Paul S.L. Johnson in the Committee. This sad turn of events occurred within three weeks after the Fort Pitt Convention! About ten days later Menta Sturgeon's resignation was accepted. But the thought that he uttered to the effect that we had the Committee under our influence, did not end there. "Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!" It remained to the great injury of the Committee, as little by little it was allowed to work like a leaven in the minds of some of the Committee members. It is a peculiarity of human nature that it resents the thought of being considered under the influence of another, and that it goes out of its way to disprove such a thing. Apart possibly from A.I. Ritchie, we feel sure that none of the Committee members believed this charge at the times that it was made; but very shortly, from a number of events, it was quite manifest that the effort was being made by certain Committee members to prove that the Committee was not under our influence, the effort becoming the stronger, the wider the two former Committee members spread their reports. The influence of this charge was spiritually corrupting in the minds of several Committee members. Alas, how little did these two brothers realize the world of evil that they would cause the Church through supporting that charge! What a lesson to God's people to guard their tongues!
Before leaving Menta Sturgeon it would be in place to point out briefly how he finally broke with the Committee and the New York Church. Contrary to our Pastor's advice he was teaching along the lines of text-bookism, i.e., a study of Revelation verse by verse at one of the week night meetings of the New York Church. The elders of the Church, ourself among them, after a discussion in which we took part, though not so prominently as several others against this text-bookistic practice, Menta Sturgeon also participating, recommended to the New York Church that such a
study be not a recognized meeting of that Church. This motion was carried, but greatly resented by Menta Sturgeon and some of the members of the class that he led. Seemingly under his influence, Hattie Henderson published a more bitter attack on us than "Harvest Siftings," blaming us mainly, among other things, for the removal of the text-bookistic meeting held in her home from the schedule of the New York Church, and of enviously opposing Menta Sturgeon. Her course resulted in a Church trial, in which evil surmising of a very gross kind on her part was recognized as transforming thoroughly innocent matters into terrible evils. After two long hearings of her charges a vote was taken on a resolution of confidence in our Christian Character, loyalty to principle, and clearness of Scriptural knowledge, proposed by H.C. Rockwell, seconded by J. L. Cooke and defended by I. H. Hoskins, W. Hollister, A.I. Ritchie, etc. The resolution, in a well-attended meeting of that large Church, was passed unanimously, except for three votes; while excepting three votes a resolution of censure was unanimously passed on Hattie Henderson for her course and charges against the New York elders in general and against ourself in particular. Thereupon a few of the members of the New York Church, under the oversight of Menta Sturgeon, separated from that Church. He influenced other Churches to separate from, or not to cooperate with, the Committee. Later, on our motion, a Committee of New York elders, consisting of Pilgrims, was appointed to meet and seek a reconciliation with him; but so changed had this dear brother become that he sent this Committee word that he had nothing in common with them and the New York Church, and therefore refused to meet them. In various places, both in preaching and private conversation, he talked against us, stirring up sentiment against us on the Medad matter, a matter which in a Board meeting,
just after our return from Europe, he heard in a confidential way, just like the others present at that meeting. He began this course of public attacks on us the night of Jan. 20, 1918, before he resigned from the Committee, by a sermon which practically everyone in the New York Church understood to be aimed at us, who being in the audience, of course, knew what he was doing. We took this meekly. Indeed, there is plenty of evidence going to show that our meekness in bearing repeated attacks and our kindness to the attackers hardened their hearts, even as Jehovah's kindness toward Pharaoh hardened his heart. Later, Menta Sturgeon found that pointed attacks on us reverted against himself. Whether this caused him to change his tone in referring to us or not, we do not know; but certain it is that he changed his way of referring to us, though still telling disparagingly the Medad matter, which he must have known would prejudice people against us, unless it was properly explained, a thing that he did not do, as he gave the thought that we considered ourself Bro. Russell's successor as teacher. We are very sure that at first he did not intend the extensive pollution of the Church that his course set into operation. As against him and his supporters the Committee took our side; but the effect of his extended propaganda began and then increased doubt of our usefulness among some of the Committee. We have given details on A.I. Ritchie and Menta Sturgeon with a sad heart, not to injure them, but to show from what seed the plant of P.B.I. trouble sprang.
The Committee felt it a genuine blow to lose these two, both of whom all of us made fruitless efforts to induce to withdraw their resignations. The following Sunday (Jan. 27) R.H. Hirsh, J.D. Wright and ourself (I.F. Hoskins being absent on a Pilgrim trip) met with F.H. McGee at his home to consider the situation. J.D. Wright had to leave early on
account of his work. Already on that day we noticed the first small effect of the inoculation of some Committee members with Menta Sturgeon's charge, i.e., that Bro. Johnson was exercising undue influence in and over the Committee—a thing we were not doing, nor did we even try to do. If a majority of the Committee up to this time favored some views we had, this was not our fault. J.D. Wright showed by what he advocated, as well as by his manner, that he was proving that Bro. Johnson was not influencing him. After his departure we discussed the election of a chairman, during which, using a process of elimination, we remarked as a statement of our opinion, and not, as F.H. McGee misrepresents us, as asking a question, that we would not do for the office, because of the suspicions that "Harvest Siftings" aroused against us. R.. H. Hirsh, as well as F.H. McGee, heard this remark, and agrees with our version of the statement. Months later at a Committee meeting F.H. McGee, anxious now to prove that we were aspiring to controllership in the Committee, expressed to our surprise his perversion of our statement, which we immediately corrected. His referring to the matter in his "Letter of Importance" proves that he did not believe our correction of his misunderstanding, whose origin is difficult for us to explain apart from his characteristic of evil surmising, a characteristic that his legal training seems to have developed in him.
Menta Sturgeon and A.I. Ritchie made it widely known that they had resigned, the responsibility being laid at our door, which, however, all five Committee members denied. Of course, this publicity raised doubts, and letters began to be received, some of which blamed us, and asked for our resignation. I.L. Margeson, who was especially friendly with both of these brothers, wrote and advised that the Committee should dissolve, since, in his opinion, its most important members had resigned. The Committee feared that
he had been influenced by the two brothers to take this position. More and more sentiment was being stirred up against us by agitation, the Committee defending us because of a knowledge of the facts, yet feeling the weight of the criticism, and beginning, therefore, to doubt our usefulness on the Committee. Fearing that Menta Sturgeon and A.I. Ritchie and I.L. Margeson might turn the Boston Class against the Committee, it was thought wise to ask I.L. Margeson to accept one of the vacancies. R.G. Jolly was at the same time asked to fill the other. These two on Feb. 11 met with the Committee to discuss the question of their acceptance of the offer to fill the vacancies on the Committee. Three times during this meeting I.L. Margeson turned to us, and asked us whether we considered ourself as the one who was to act as the head of the Committee; and three times we assured him that such was not our thought; and that the experience in the Society had taught all of us an unforgettable lesson on one-man power in a Board or Committee. Both of these brothers were assured by the whole Committee that it considered that it, not an individual, had under the Lord the controllership over the work given the Committee by the Fort Pitt Convention, in the same way as the Society's Board should have control over the Society's work. At this meeting, these two brothers were assured by the entire Committee that it considered membership on the Committee to be for life, just like membership on the Society's Board, subject to removal by two-thirds votes of the 31 persons that had voted on the appointment of the Committee at the Fort Pitt Convention. This understanding continued in the Committee until the Group decided to rid itself of R.H. Hirsh, R.G. Jolly and ourself, claiming through F.H. McGee, June 8, that no one ought to serve on the Committee unless the Church desired him to serve thereon. To this all of us agreed, three of us, however, not knowing
at the time why the Group advanced this thought in the Committee. We understood later when we learned of this as a part of their "political campaign."
Next to Menta Sturgeon, under whose influence I.L. Margeson seemed to be at the time of his election to the Committee, nobody more than he was responsible for the Group's inoculation with the thought that we were a dead weight on the Committee, and were desirous of controlling its affairs. He began to work on this line immediately after his election to the Committee; and before the next Committee meeting had caused these thoughts to prevail to such an extent as to influence a number of its members to refuse to sign the letter that we had prepared—even making a special trip from his home near Boston to New York for this purpose—and that all seven had expressed willingness to sign at the meeting in which he was elected and to send forth to the Church. The brother even threatened to resign, if the rest insisted on sending out the letter, claiming that he feared the letter was too strong. I.F. Hoskins, influenced by him, without authority of the Committee, prepared another letter, incorporating about half of the one that we by authority of the Committee had prepared, and enlisted the support of some others for the revised letter. The revised letter, in proportion as it omitted parts of the other letter, was admittedly a weaker one than the other on the trouble in the Society and in appealing power. But the spirit of fear and compromise had gained such ground among the brothers that later formed the Group that the weaker letter was substituted for the stronger one, which had already been "set up" by the printer. After the Committee had somewhat emasculated our letter, we also preferred the weaker one in some respects.
We ought to say that I.L. Margeson was more responsible for spreading suspicion in the Committee against us, for working up manipulatory schemes to
put the Group's program through the Committee, and for spreading the spirit of fear and compromise than anyone else on the Committee. He found in I.F. Hoskins a ready ally, whose desire for controllership was repeatedly shown and exercised, as we showed in "Another Harvest Siftings Reviewed," and these so subtly worked on F.H. McGee's weakness of evil surmising as to enlist him, whose mind was brighter than theirs, as the usual mouthpiece of the developing Group. A marked difference between the four members of the Group was this: F.H. McGee, unlike the other three whom almost no argument ever could change from their purposes, was usually convincible, and at times under reasoning acknowledged and apologized for evil surmises that he expressed; as well as changed his opinions, when he saw matters more clearly after thorough discussion. Such a course on his part won our appreciation; and our longsuffering and forgiveness bore with many a remark and act of his that would have worn out the generosity of a less longsuffering and forgiving person. Especially did his attitude against I.F. Hoskins' and H.C. Rockwell's course at Asbury Park touch our heart, and our generous praise of him amid certain limitations in "Another Harvest Siftings Reviewed" was given in the spirit of that charity that covers all things that justice permits to be covered, and not because we approved of his general course in the Committee.
So far we have seen the beginning of the corrupting influence of certain qualities in the Committee, i.e., the spirit of envy, evil surmising, fear, compromise, arbitrariness and craft. Other evil qualities began about this time to manifest themselves, especially in I.F. Hoskins, whom we proposed as Secretary and Treasurer when A.I. Ritchie resigned and who was unanimously elected. It became habitual with the Group to nag at and reproach us. Of course, we saw I.L. Margeson back of this, who ever since coming
into the Committee, both in and out of the meetings, was creating an atmosphere hostile to us in what became the Group. He continued to support the thought that our presence on the Committee was to its detriment, all the time doing it with sanctimonious facial and verbal expressions. Increasingly the spirit was growing "to set down on" and repress us. This we bore quietly, not even remonstrating against it until April 29, when principle forbade more longsuffering.
"That Evil Servant" Discourse, that was heard with appreciation by the bulk of the Philadelphia Church Feb. 17, gave the growing Group an eagerly seized opportunity; and the situation created by two letters from two sisters, one of whom was unduly influenced to write, the other of whom was a special friend of I.F. Hoskins, was laid hold on with alacrity by him, who discussed it with several members of the Committee between Feb. 19, when he received the first of these letters, and Feb. 23, when the Committee met, and who wrote of our address disparagingly to the sisters, but who never intimated anything of the matter to us, until he brought it up at the Committee meeting. Just as the reading of the minutes was finished he and we asked for the floor. But his determined, sharp and repeated calls for the floor won it for him. With set face, firm lips, flashing eyes and unsympathetic words he made a speech against us for what he accused us of doing at Philadelphia the Sunday before. The day before, for the first time, we learned at Philadelphia that some in the Church there did not approve of our discourse. This was from S.N. Wiley, who over the phone assured us that he agreed with the contents and spirit of the talk, but not of the time and service at which it was delivered, because about twelve outsiders were present at that meeting, which, however, was not advertised for the public. S.N. Wiley felt hurt, because the afternoon before, in response to his inquiry, we told him that