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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Miracle Wheat"

Foes of C. T. Russell used not only his domestic affairs but other "weapons" against him. For instance, his enemies have charged that he sold a great quantity of ordinary wheat seed under the name of "Miracle Wheat" at one dollar per pound, or sixty dollars per bushel. They have held that from this Russell realized an enormous personal profit. However, these charges are absolutely false. What are the facts?

In 1904 Mr. K. B. Stoner noticed an unusual plant growing in his garden in Fincastle, Virginia. It turned out to be wheat of an uncommon kind. The plant had 142 stalks and each bore a head of fully matured wheat. In 1906 he named it "Miracle Wheat." Eventually others obtained and grew it, enjoying extraordinary yields. In fact, Miracle Wheat won prizes at several fairs. C. T. Russell was very interested in anything related to the Biblical predictions that "the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose" and "the earth shall yield her increase." (Isa. 35:1; Ezek. 34:27, AV) On November 23, 1907, H. A. Miller, Assistant Agriculturalist of the United States Government, filed in the Department of Agriculture a report commending this wheat grown by Mr. Stoner. Throughout the country the public press took note of the report. C. T. Russell’s attention was drawn to it, and so in Zion’s Watch Tower of March 15, 1908, on page 86, he published some press comments and extracts from the government report. Then, in conclusion, he commented: "If this account be but one-half true it testifies afresh to God’s ability to provide things needful for the ‘times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.’—Acts 3:19-21."

Mr. Stoner was not a Bible Student or an associate of C. T. Russell, and neither were various other persons who experimented with Miracle Wheat. In 1911, however, Watch Tower readers J. A. Bohnet of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Samuel J. Fleming of Wabash, Indiana, presented to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society the aggregate of about thirty bushels of this wheat, proposing that it be sold for one dollar per pound and that all the proceeds be received by the Society as a donation from them, to be used in its religious work. The wheat was received and sent out by the Society and the gross receipts from it amounted to about $1,800. Russell himself did not get a penny of this money. He merely published a statement in The Watch Tower to the effect that the wheat had been contributed and could be obtained for a dollar a pound. The Society itself made no claim for the wheat on its own knowledge and the money received went as a donation into Christian missionary work. When others criticized this sale, all who had contributed were informed that if they were dissatisfied their money would be returned. In fact, the identical money received for the wheat was held for a year for that purpose. But not one person asked for a refund. The conduct of Brother Russell and the Society in connection with Miracle Wheat was completely open and aboveboard.

Because Charles Taze Russell taught the truth from God’s Word, he was hated and maligned, often by the religious clergy. But then, Christians of modern times expect such treatment, for Jesus and his apostles were dealt with similarly by religious opposers.—Luke 7:34.

- 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, pp. 70-1, WTB&TS

The Watch Tower, February, 15, 1913, page 62


MY SUIT against The Eagle for slanderous defamation of reputation has been decided in its favor. A Jury of twelve men have decided that The Eagle was justified in making its vicious onslaughts upon me, notwithstanding the Judge's Charge that, according to the law, the cartoon, at least, was a slanderous, vicious libel in fact. I am urged by my attorneys and petitioned by friends to take the case to the Court of Appeals.

I quite agree with Justice Kelby, who said, "The case was presented fairly and squarely to the Jury." The rulings of His Honor seem to me equitable. I very highly appreciate the ability and energy of my attorneys, Mr. Sparks and Mr. Rutherford. I have no complaint, nor murmuring against the Divine providences which permitted what I consider to be a very unjust verdict. In appealing our Case to the Court we have followed the example of the Master, who inquired why He was smitten contrary to Law. (John 18:23) Likewise St. Paul appealed for such justice as the Law provided. (Acts 25:10) So I have done; and I, like them, have been refused the Law's protection. I murmur not. I am in good company.

I remember, on the other hand, that it has been a part of the Divine will throughout this Gospel Age to allow His faithful servants to suffer reproaches and losses. This was so in the Master's case: "Being reviled, He reviled not again." When it pleased the Father to bruise Him and put Him to shame, He declared, "The cup which My Father hath poured for Me, shall I not drink it?" -- "Not My will, but Thine be done." -- I Peter 2:23; John 18:11; Luke 22:42

It was so with the Apostles, who wrote, "As He was, so are we in this world" -- "As deceivers and yet true; as poor, yet making many rich"; "I bear about in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus" -- evidences that I am His servant and His follower. As St. Paul said, so we see fulfilled all through the Age, "Whosoever will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." The Master said, "Marvel not if the world hate you. Ye know that it hated Me before it hated you; if ye were of the world, the world would love its own." -- I John 4:17; 2 Corinthians 6:8-10; Galatians 6:17; 2 Timothy 3:12; John 15:18,19.


I am interested in everything progressive and tending to prove that we are entering the great Thousand Years of earth's blessings under Messiah. In the columns of THE WATCH TOWER I have noted the coming of Divine blessings in fulfilment of the prediction that "The wilderness shall blossom as the rose," "The earth shall yield her increase," etc. Five years ago we quoted in THE WATCHTOWER columns reports respecting "Miracle Wheat." We gave the name and address (Mr. Stoner) of the farmer who discovered this new wheat and his reports of its remarkable qualities. We published also the report of Mr. Miller, the Government expert, who thoroughly investigated it and pronounced upon its superior qualities.

Some of our readers purchased seed from Mr. Stoner at $1.25 per pound and approved it. In 1910 one of the friends of our Society, who had raised some of this wheat, sold it for seed at $1.00 per pound, and donated the proceeds to our Society. In 1911 the same friend, having raised more seed, asked that THE WATCH TOWER give the benefit of this to its readers at $1.00 a pound post-paid, and appropriate the net results to the furtherance of its work. Another friend, who had some of the same seed, also donated similarly, the total amount being twenty bushels.

For the accommodation of our readers, we allowed this seed-wheat to be put up in pound packages and mailed from THE WATCH TOWER Office, just as the U.S. Government handles such seeds at Washington. We did the business at the request of others and in their interest, and credited them on our books with the results, setting aside to them proportionately voting shares in our Society. We made no claim for the wheat on our own knowledge. We merely gave the report of the Government expert, of the originator, and of our friends who had tried the wheat. We merely acted as intermediary.

Nevertheless, everything that was said respecting the wheat was fully proven at this trial by expert witnesses, interested and disinterested, and their testimony was not shaken. It was also shown that farmer Stoner and his business partner, Mr. Knight, made no sales of this wheat under $1.25 per pound until September, 1911; and that they had a written contract between them that none of the wheat was to be sold at any price until the following year -- 1912. Suddenly in September, 1911, they changed their plans, considering that they had wheat enough accumulated, put the price down to $5.00 per bushel, about the time that THE WATCH TOWER wheat was all sold at a dollar a pound. This The Eagle's attorney claimed was proof of fraud on the part of THE WATCH TOWER -- sufficient excuse for the slanderous assaults of The Eagle upon me.

It was in vain that my attorney sought to show the Jury The Eagle's malice -- that it really was attacking me along religious grounds; that it had set itself as the champion of certain clerical enemies of mine, and was seeking to destroy my influence and, if possible, to drive me from Brooklyn. In the court-room sat about twenty-five of my friends, who had come long distances at their own expense to have an opportunity to speak a word in my behalf. Through some intricacies of the Law respecting evidence, these were unable to be heard in my behalf.

Instead, the Law gave The Eagle's attorney the privilege of saying all manner of evil against me falsely -- for the sake of the Doctrines of Christ, which I hold and teach. He was allowed to picture me, as The Eagle had done in its cartoon -- as a thief and robber, masquerading in the garb of a minister of Christ. He was allowed to ridicule the "Miracle Wheat," although I had nothing whatever to do with it, nor with the naming of it; and notwithstanding the fact that its superiority was proven.

He was allowed to inveigh against the fact as criminal, that I hold the office of President of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, and to claim that I hold the office in some corrupt or unlawful manner, and that I misuse the Society's income in some unexplained way to my own advantage. Meantime, scores present in the courtroom and thousands all over the land, would have been glad to testify that their donations have come to the Society because they have the utmost confidence in my integrity and management of its affairs as its Executive Officer, and that had anybody else been President their donations would have been smaller or none at all.

Presumably because there were seven Catholics on the Jury, The Eagle's attorney was prompted to refer to the Sisters of Charity and their noble work as nurses in the hospitals, without referring to the fact that those nurses are well paid, and that the hospitals in large measure are supported by State taxation.

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was held up to scorn because it did not have any hospital work nor draw any revenue from taxation, and because the female members of the Society do not visit the workshops of the land weekly or monthly on pay-day, and exact donations to its work. Our society was held up to scorn also because we do not send a wagon around the city collecting groceries and provisions for the up-keep of our work; because we do not take up collections even on Sunday; because we have never solicited a penny or a dollar from anybody; and because we never have fairs, grab-bags, "chances" or "raffles." Our Society was held up to scorn and ridicule because it offers its literature free to the poor, while other similar Societies charge both rich and poor for their tracts and other publications. The Eagle was pictured by its attorney as a dove, a bird of Paradise. For defending it the Protestants on the Jury were led to hope for escape from eternal torment through "the pearly gates" of heaven, welcomed with the words, "Well done!" for giving The Eagle the verdict. Neither I nor my attorneys could offer such inducements conscientiously.

Our home, "Bethel," where some of our Society's workers reside, was held up to scorn--likened to a harem, etc. This surely did cut me deeply to the heart. I am quite willing to suffer, if need be, for my faithfulness to the Lord and His Word; but it gave me great pain that the arrows intended for me did not all center upon myself -- that the more than a hundred saintly, earnest men, women and children, co-laborers with me in the Lord's work, should thus be made to unjustly suffer. I can only urge them to apply to themselves the words of the Apostle, "Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward"; "For ye have need of patience that, after ye have done the will of God, ye shall receive the promise"; "Ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock, and partly whilst ye became companions of them that were so used." -- Hebrews 10:35,36,32,33


I have no complaint to make against the Laws of our land, nor against the Jury System, not against the particular twelve men who, in my judgment, gave an unjust verdict. I esteem our Laws to be most wonderfully just. I have often marveled that imperfect, fallen men have succeeded in the erection of such excellent barriers against sin and injustice. I cannot see that a more fair method than our Jury System of trying a case could be arranged by imperfect men. Neither do I believe that the average jury desires to pervert justice. The miscarriage of justice I attribute rather to the imperfection of human knowledge. Suspicion and evil-surmising are weeds which seem to grow prolifically in every mind. They spring spontaneously in the degraded heart. There is such a disposition to judge others by one's self, and such a realization of sinful impulses that the average man naturally enough imputes evil, on every occasion when it is suggested to him.

St. Paul enunciated this principle, saying, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God;... neither can he know [understand] them; for they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14) Our Society and its work, our Lord's work and the work of the Apostles and the regenerate since, are so far beyond the concept of the unregenerate as to be "Foolishness unto them" -- hypocrisies, frauds, impositions. If Jesus and the Apostles and the faithful saints of eighteen centuries have all belonged to this class, I will be of good courage and not be ashamed to belong to the same.

I am the more encouraged because I realize that the great Day of Blessing, the great Thousand-Year Day of Messiah's Kingdom, is near at hand--is dawning now. Soon Satan, the "Prince of Darkness," will be bound for a thousand years, to deceive the nations no more. (Revelation 20:2,3,6) No longer will Darkness be permitted to masquerade as Light, and the Light be slandered as Darkness. All the blind eyes will be opened; all the deaf ears will be unstopped. That glorious period, as the Prophet has declared, shall be "the desire of all nations." (Haggai 2:7) Then not only the Church will see eye to eye, and understand God's providences at the present time, but the whole world will see in the light of that happy time for which we pray, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as in Heaven."

Sincerely, and undismayed, I remain a servant of God.


Brooklyn, January 29, 1913.


There was absolutely no testimony in the case showing that Pastor Russell had induced a single person to purchase Miracle Wheat. Not a word tending to show that anyone was defrauded, On the contrary, shortly after the publication of the libel by the Brooklyn Eagle, the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY published broadcast over the country and sent to each purchaser a notice that if anyone was dissatisfied with his purchase he might have his money returned, and the identical money arising from the sale of said wheat was held for a year for the purpose of refunding. Not a single person asked to have his money refunded.

- A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens, by Joseph F. Rutherford, 1915