First Watchtower Magazine 1879 July to December ready to Download PDF Print E-mail

(downloadlink at the end of this article) PREFATORY NOTE THE WATCH TOWER is unique among all the publications in the world. Since the Apostles, the followers of Christ Jesus have looked for and expected his second appearing. St. Paul made this particularly prominent in his writings to the church. That he would come again, Jesus himself gave unmistakable testimony in his message delivered to the disciples on the last night of his earthly existence. Many Christians have thought the Lord would reappear in the body of flesh that was crucified and which did not see corruption. In due time, however, it was made clear to the watchers that the presence of the Lord must be invisible, because he is divine, and the Apostle Paul had clearly stated concerning him : Whom no man hath seen nor can see, with the natural eye.

In 1868 Charles Taze Russell, a lad of but sixteen years, fully consecrated to the Lord and a member of the Congregational Church and the Y. M. C. A., began a careful investigation of the Scriptures. His previous training had led him practically into infidelity, because the theories advanced by the churches with reference to the torment of the masses of mankind seemed wholly inconsistent with the character of a God of love.

In 1870 he was a member of a Bible class, organized solely for the careful and prayerful investigation of the Scriptures, and by 1876 this had grown into a congregation of Bible students to which he preached. In October of that year he was elected Pastor of this class of Bible students, and he continued to occupy that relationship to Bible students until his death, in October, 1916.

In 1876 Mr. N. H. Barbour was editing and publishing at Rochester, New York, a sixteen-page monthly magazine under the title, The Herald of the Morning, and Pastor Russell became assistant editor of that paper that year, devoting his time to writing and preaching the Bible truths as they were being unfolded to him. His jnvestigation led him to the conclusion that Jehovah has a great plan for the salvation and blessing of mankind, and that the keynote to that plan of salvation is the philosophy of the ransom sacrifice. In 1878, while he was yet assistant editor of The Herald of the Morning, Mr. Barbour published in that paper an article in which he erroneously treated the doctrine of the ransom sacrifice. In fact, in that article Mr. Barbour practically repudiated the ransom. Pastor Russell published in the columns of the same paper his conception of this vital doctrine of the divine plan; and the difference arising between himself and Mr. Barbour on this question resulted in the birth of ZIONS WATCH TOWER, the first issue appearing July, 1879; the title thereafter being changed to THE WATCH TOWER.

Consistent with its mission and with the great doctrines of truth it has promulgated, THE WATCH TOWER has at all times carried the subtitle, The Herald of Christs Presence. It is the first paper ever to make announcement of the invisible presence of our Lord and to submit the clear, Scriptural proof to show that since 1874 he has been present, invisible to man, yet exercising his power and doing the preliminary work among the nations and peoples of earth preparatory to the inauguration of his kingdom of righteousness, which soon will administer blessings to all the groaning creation.

Through its columns the features of the divine plan, as revealed, have been ably discussed. It has made clear to Bible students such vital questions as the ransom sacrifice, the doctrine of the atonement, the sin offering, the great covenants, and other subjects vital to the development of Christians and to their in-gathering during the great harvest period of the Gospel age. THE WATCH TOWER has never carried any advertisements beyond the mere announcement of the publications of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, devoted exclusively to religious purposes. It has always been supplied to the poor free of charge to them, the expense being met by a voluntary fund contributed for that purpose.

Prior to his death, Pastor Russell was the Editor of THE WATCH TOWER, since which time it has been edited by a committee of five Bible students, prcvided according to the terms of his last will and testament.

The readers of THE WATCH TOWER have increased from year to year. There has been such a great demand among its later readers for earlier issues that it has been determined to republish the entire series, from the beginning, in July, 1879, up to and including June, 1919, a period of forty years; and to arrange these in seven volumes.* We believe that this will result in a great blessing to students of the Lords Word, and serve as a splendid series of reference books to be used in connection with our Berean Bible. The publishers therefore send it forth with a prayer that this republication may serve as a great blessing to Gods people and as a lasting monument to the untiring energy, zeal and loving devotion of Pastor Russell, the seventh and last messenger to the Gospel church.

Your servants in the Lord,
Pittsburgh, Pa., July 1, 1919

*In order to reduce the bulk we have omitted some of the less interesting letters, as well as other unimportant items such as those respecting pilgrim visits, conventions, business notices and publications, but in other respects the record is complete. We have not even excluded articles which subsequently were seen in clearer light, but have endeavored to indicate by footnotes where the later presentations could be found. For reference purposes we have retained the old page numbers throughout, inserting them in parenthesis at top of each page.

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