The following article was penned by Brother Thomas in answer to a question from a reader and was printed in the Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come 1858 pages 270, 271. It is certainly very challenging to “Christ’s Bowmen” in every generation and particularly to the ecclesia of our own time.

The question submitted by a reader of “The Herald” in 1858 says, in part: “The truth meets with small success here as elsewhere. … If the brethren would cease to hide their light under a bushel, men might be attracted by the glimmering, and drawn to the blessed light of life. As it is, they sit with folded arms in complacent quietude; and instead of “sounding forth the word of the Lord” like the brethren of old, they are content to enjoy the truth in silence; while multitudes—the good and honest hearted too—are perishing for lack of knowledge! Would you be so kind, dear brother, as to let us have the advantage of your enlarged scriptural knowledge on this matter. What is the duty of brethren in relation to the proclamation of the truth? (Page 267). Brother Thomas replied:

As to the duty of brethren in relation to the proclamation of the truth, we would remark that our own practice is an illustration of our conviction of their duty and privilege. We have been studying the Holy Scriptures for the past twenty five years, during all which time we have been running to and fro, and making known to the people what we found therein. We have visited the Old World, and travelled through Britain thrice, addressing the people (sometimes by thousands) two hundred and seventy times, besides writing and publishing Elpis Israel while there. Since our return hither we have travelled extensively in America, ranging from Halifax to Mississippi; and of late years our circuits have been over four thousand miles per annum. Now what are we more than a brother in Edinburgh, Halifax or Nottingham? Have we been “specially called and sent” to draw the bow? We have had no dream, nor heard any voice which they have not heard. Did they then, ever hear that we were called to do what they are privileged not to do? Have they not heard the voice of the Spirit as well as we, saying “Let him that understandeth say, come!” And they know that the Spirit saith, “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Ecclesias”. We confess that we cannot perceive that we are bound to wear ourselves out by much labor, while they are free to “fold their arms in complacent quietude”, doing nothing. Though much may not be effected, yet as we do not know how much and when, it is our common duty to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints”, and with as much energy as though we were going to hurl all the ecclesiastical potentates of gentiledom from their crumbling and tottering thrones. We do not believe in any of Christ’s brethren purchasing exemption from this laborious duty. If they be rich, or flush of means, it is their privilege to give as well as do; if they be poor, to do and to receive, which is less blessed than to give, that an equality may obtain.

Brethren, whether rich or poor, should all remember that when they are redeemed from the sins of the past in putting on the Christ-robe of righteousness through the obedience of faith, they are “a purchased people”; and that when so purchased, the purchaser bought all they possess; so that they are no longer their own, but the property of another. Now when a man purchases a servant, he does not buy him to sit all his days with a bushel on his head in complacent quietude. A “doulos” or slave, owns nothing, neither himself, nor any thing belonging to self before he became a slave. Such is the relation of brethren to Christ their Lord and Master. A complacently quiescent Christian is one who will never inherit the kingdom, though his faith be ever so orthodox, or his baptism ever so valid. He is an unprofitable concealer of his Master’s property in a napkin. He is the napkin, and the property the truth he has received and concealed within himself. Woe be to the Christian brother who presents himself at the tribunal of Christ with nothing else to offer but a hidden truth. Ill starred will he be who can only say, “I received the truth and was immersed and henceforth enjoyed myself in silence”! Quietude and silence are not the prerogatives of the Saints in this present evil world. Their duty is to “cry aloud and spare not; to lift up their voice like a trumpet and show the people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins”. They have nothing to do with results and consequences—let them make the truth known, and leave the rest to Him who gives the increase. Everyone can do something for the extension of the truth, if it be only trying to extend it among his acquaintance and as an element of “the Bride” through whom the Spirit operates, “say come”.

The Bride is the community of the Saints—a community anointed with and the pillar and support of the truth. “The Spirit and the Bride say, come!” Is this done without means? Is it done by complacent quietude and silence? By each individual of the community exhausting his energies upon the secular affairs of life? Surely, if there is one thing more than another we have to guard against in this age, it is against being docketed as slothful, unprofitable, parsimonious do-nothings — lavish of time, labor and riches in the service of the flesh; but covetous of all in the extension of the truth. It is the duty of the Bride to sustain the truth by the press and oral proclamation, individually and collectively. Let her voice be heard in reverberating echoes amid the hills and mountains of the world till the isles break forth in song and forests clap their hands. True this consummation will not obtain till the grand master be apocalypsed; nevertheless, when he comes let him find us so doing.

The usefulness of public discussion depends very much upon the way it is conducted. The duty of the Bride is to proclaim, teach, convince gainsayers and put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. She does not invite the crazy old man of the flesh to discuss the truth, if by “discuss” is meant to ventilate, or fan it with the wind of his stupidity. We used to invite discussion until we found the general public incompetent to the work. Erratic geniuses would start up under pretense of discussing the subject before them, for no other purpose than to preach their own crotchets and vagaries. We take higher ground. We undertake to teach, not discuss with the ignorant; yet to answer any questions put for the purpose of obtaining information. An ignorant man cannot discuss any subject profitably to himself and certainly only to the annoyance of those that hear him. No man can examine an object without light. The ignorant are in darkness and can see nothing; so that to discuss with them is to throw pearls before swine and give things holy unto dogs. The first thing to be done is to “declare the testimony of God”; then reason out the propositions contained therein so as that the blind may be made to see out of obscurity and the deaf to hear the words of the book. Let them ask as many questions about the testimony as they please and even show the fallacy of the reasoning if they can; but not to introduce their wild crotchets as they are too apt to do. In short, it requires tact, as well as talent and information, to conduct impromptu a public discussion with and in the presence of a promiscuous concourse of brains, ignorant of the whole subject in all its premises and conclusions, anterior to its special introduction by yourself.

In our experience of men and things, we have found for the most part, that they make the most outcry about “hard”, and “uncharitable writings”, who have the most sympathy with error, or are least enlightened in the truth. Their faith and comprehension of the truth are so faint and feeble that they cannot discern the broad, distinctive line of demarcation, or great gulf rather, that divides Immanuel’s ground from Satan’s. When error is wounded, they wince and become hysterical at the sight of blood. We have not found such equally sensitive at the throes and agonisings of the truth; and as far as their efforts are concerned, it might be consumed of its own anguish so that their quietude and silence were not disturbed. But what do such outcries effect in this world? What mark do they leave upon their generation for good? Compare the results of our “hard uncharitable” course with their soft and oily displays; “by the fruit the tree is known”. Many are now rejoicing in this truth by our means; but who ever hears of them or theirs? They are too soft and unctuous to hew the men of this perverse and wicked generation into a living image of the truth. The “style” of popular religious writing is too insipid—the little salt in it has too completely lost its savour—to be received without disgust. We write with “the spirit of faith” which endures no compromise with error in matter or style. “I believed”, says David, “and therefore have I spoken”; “we also believe”, says Paul, “and therefore speak”; to which “Amen” is heartily acclaimed by the Editor.