Donate ....Site map.... Contact us








"Herbert," said Captain Erdman-the two had become friends- "I'm short a guard at the Printing and Publishing House to-night. It's Otto Harbush's night on, but he phoned me he had to leave to-day for a week's work in Peoria. He's a plumber, you know, and his firm has a contract down there. How'd you like to have a go at it? Andy MacLachlan is the other guard for to-night (we al­ways watch in pairs), and you'll find him good company."

"Sure, I'll be glad to," agreed Herbert.

"All right, you stay and have dinner with me, and I'll take you over."

Dinner with Captain Erdman meant dinner also with John and Nancy Harrow. When he had his lunches in the big dining-room he always sat with them, and their friendship had grown. More and more Herbert had enjoyed and sought their company. They had been hiking and skating together on Saturday afternoons. An occasional hour was spent with them at their office in the evening. Their talk was of their school and college days, of their work since leaving college, of books and authors, economics, politics, business, and international topics. Religion-and espe­cially the religion of Zion-they avoided by unspoken consent.



That evening at dinner they all four talked and laughed until bearded elders and their meek wives~ at other tables~ scowled at them. This was one of their lively times.

Herbert walked down the avenue to the publish­ing house with John and Nancy and Chris Erdman. The captain found his guard~ Andy MacLachlan~ waiting for them~ and introduced Herbert.

Zion Guard was a volunteer organization. Its mem­bers took turns in watching the various Zion proper­ties. So many had joined that~ in ordinary times~ each member spent but one night a month on duty. He had, in addition, his regular trick at the Tabernacle on Sunday, when practically the whole force was mobilized as body-guard to the General Overseer and his family and to keep the crowds in order. Their leader, Captain Erdman, was also personal attendant upon Dr. Dowie, private and 'confidential messenger for him upon important errands, and, between times, night clerk at the desk of Zion Home. Another of his duties was supervision of attendants at the waiting-room where Herbert had seen elders and evangelists patiently lined up on their hard chairs. These attendants filled in their spare time by going over newspapers and magazines~ clipping out every reference to Zion and Zion’s head, and pasting them in scrap-books. Captain Erdman rode as footman on the General Overseer's carriage.

Andy MacLachlan was a tall, solemn-looking Scot, with a crackling burr. During the long night, perched on a compositor's stool, Andy told Herbert his story.

"Aye," he said, "I was a r-reckless lad. I ran away



tae sea when I was thirrrteen and lairnt the weeked­ness of the ships and porrrts of the wurrrld. Befure I was twenty, I was, ye micht say, a har-r-r-dened crreeminal. I could drink, and gamble, and blas­pheme the Name o' God, and run with bad women, and fight, and smuggle, and rob, and smoke opium, and do things I canna even name to ye, laddie, with the dr-r-egs and scum o' all races. I've been in jail, monny's the time, and desairvedly too, in seaports on both sides of the line."

Andy got down and walked to the front door. In a moment he returned. 'Twas only the wind," he said. Then, climbing back on his stool, he went on: "A chance sailin' on a lake schooner brought me tae Chicago twenty year ago. 'Twas so monny ways of excitin' and siller-makin' evil I found here that I thocht I'd bide a while. 'Twas a gay life, laddie, a gay life, but, I'm ashamed to tell ye, awfu' bad. At one time I was runnin' a saloon, with gamin' tables and a bawdy house on the side. But drrink and drrugs and women did for me and I lost everythin'. Lower and lower they dragged me down until I slept in saloons or in the gutter or in jails and workhouses, tryin’-­but barely succeedin' -to live by my evil wits. I was a r-ragged, dir-rty, diseased, drrunken, dopey bum- ­an outcast, ye understand.

"Then the guid God, in His mysteerious maircy, sent pur-r-ty Jean Hamilton down into the dir-rt and muck to me with a copy of  'Leaves of Healin'.' In it I read of how He had made a new mon of yon guid Captain Airdman, in answer to Doctor Dowie's prayers.



"Bein' sober, fur a wonder, and not muckle dr-rugged, l went down to Jackson Park and Sixty-­second Street, to old Zion Tabernacle Number Two, and had the boldness to ask for the 'captain.

"Aye, I mind the noo what an awfu' sicht I must ha' been, like summat swept up out of the gutter. My guid Lord, I must ha' stunk! But did the dear Captain--or dear Doctor Dowie, either, when he took me to him-despise me for a' that? Nay, you'd a' thoucht I was their ain blood brrrother come home at last. Why, mon, the dear doctor took me in his ain blessed arrrms when he prayed for me!

"An' I felt all the sin, all the wildness, all the dirrt, all the seeckness, all the evil cravings go out of me as if swept away by God's clean Highland winds. They never come back, God be prrraised!"

Tears stood in Andy's eyes and he gulped. Then he smiled. "Purrty little Jean Hamilton is Meestress MacLachlan the noo, we have two bonnie bairns, I'm a boss stone-mason, and the guid Lord has prrros­pered me. We've a fine home of our ain on the South Side, with rent comin' in from other prrroperty be­sides, and siller in the bank. Ah, laddie, ye canna deny this Zion is the guid God's wurrk-and where can ye find its like anywhere else in the whole rround wurruld?"

Herbert's eyes stung with tears and his throat hurt, as always when he was deeply moved with joy. Al­most he decided, then and there, to let himself go-­to throw overboard all his doubts and questions and hesitation and to cast his lot with Zion.

Then Andy began to tell of his work, as a member



of Zion Seventies, among those still festering in the pit whence he, himself, had been digged. Night after night, his day's work done, Andy and his wife went into the depths of Chicago's underworld, carrying their message. Often they were jeered at, cursed, and even kicked and beaten. But now and then they res­cued some derelict, some fragment of what had once been man or woman. And this more than paid them for all their pains.

Again Herbert was more wrought upon than he dared admit, even to himself.

"That is what these people are doing with their evenings," he thought, "while the members of other churches are dancing, playing cards, going to the theater, or, at best, sitting in on a dreary prayer meeting, where they have to be begged and urged to stand up and 'speak a few words for Jesus'! Gosh, what a farce! If a man believes the Bible at all, here's where he belongs. These people live the Bible, while others have to be clubbed into talking about it."

He walked over to the Home for breakfast with a whirling head.


Every Sunday there were meetings in Central Zion Tabernacle, which began at half past six in the morn­ing and ran on, with brief interruptions, until ten or eleven at night, many of the people taking all three meals of the day at a Zion refectory in the base­ment of the Tabernacle.

On his first Sunday in Zion Herbert attended all the meetings. The General Overseer frowned on the fleshly indulgence of breakfast before early meeting,



so he and every one else in Ezra's family rose at half past five, got into Sunday clothes, and took the South Side Alley El, carrying a cold lunch. Ezra could not afford to feed his family at the refectory.

They found the place well filled. Some had come from far-away suburbs.

The General Overseer preached for an hour and a half.

At eleven o'clock came a children's service, con­ducted by Elder Connaton and Evangelist Howells, who had come into Zion after many years of touring among rural Sunday schools with a folding melodeon.

At three o'clock came the big public meeting, with the tabernacle crowded. Herbert sat in a front seat of the first gallery with Myra. It began with a pro­cession of Zion White Robed Choir. This was led by the littlest girls in their black cassocks, white sur­plices, and black mortar-board caps. Their sweet treble voices were the first heard. From this tiny tinkle of sound the music swelled and mounted until the full choir of three hundred and fifty filled the building with a volume of melody.

When the processional was hushed in a chanted amen, the General Overseer bounded upon the plat­form. He wore a black silk robe, tied about his shoul­ders with broad, purple ribbons, and ballooning gro­tesquely from neck to heels. When he raced across the broad platform, as he did most of the time while speaking, this robe, which was open in front, flapped out behind, like a cloud of smoke from a tugboat's funnel.

Zion children liked to play church and thrilled to



rush about with a black cloth tied to their shoulders, looking back to see it stream out behind.

Mrs. Jeanie Dowie, Elder James Michael Darling (unofficial assistant General Overseer) and one or two other elders sat on the platform in high-backed ecclesiastical chairs.

On mounting the platform the General Overseer knelt behind his pulpit for a moment of silent prayer, while the audience stood waiting. Then, rising and lifting his hands, he invoked Divine blessing.

“Now we are going to sing number two seventy-­nine," the General Overseer's steel-file voice cut the silence:


"Oh, Wondrous Name, by prophet heard,

Long years before His birth;

They saw Him coming from afar,

The Prince of Peace on earth.


"Stupid people held a 'Peace Jubilee' here in Chi­cago a few weeks ago. But there is no peace. Ameri­can soldiers are killing Filipinos to-day. All Europe groans under the weight of huge armies and navies. Peasants, workers, and women carry on their bowed backs millions of young men who produce nothing and are being taught to kill and to destroy."

He continued for twenty minutes to talk about the crime and folly of war.

“Now let us sing, 'Oh, Wondrous Name!'"

When the hymn had been sung the General Over­seer began again.

"I shall read from the inspired Word of God in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, the eighth chapter.



“’When Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed-' the Apostle Peter?"

Audience: "Followed Him."

General Overseer: "Followed Martin Luther?"

Audience: "Followed Him."

General Overseer: "Followed John Wesley?"

Audience: "Followed Him."

General Overseer: "Followed the Masonic Methodist Episcopal Church?"

Audience: "Followed Him."

General Overseer: "Whom did they follow?"

Audience: "Jesus."

General Overseer: “I know many people who say they are Methodists first, last, and all the time. What are you? Do you follow Jesus first, last, and all the time?"

Audience: “Yes."

General Overseer: “Are you willing to follow Jesus if He leads you out of the Methodist Church?"

Audience: “Yes."

General Overseer: “Are you willing to follow Him wherever He leads you?"

Audience: “Yes."

General Overseer: “All right. You remember you promised me that at the start, and I will hold you to it."

Proceeding to the end of the seventeenth verse, the General Overseer closed his Bible, saying, "May God bless the reading of His Word."

The choir chanted Gloria Patri to music from Sul­livan's "Lost Chord."



The choir sang an anthem while an offering was being taken.

Again a hymn was announced, Dr. Dowie com­menting vigorously upon some of its lines. When it had been sung, he rose, lifted his hand, and, looking up reverently, recited:


Let the words of my mouth,

      And the meditations of my heart,

Be acceptable in Thy sight,

                  O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.


Then he began his sermon.

Herbert furtively looked at his watch. It was half past five. He had been sitting there for more than two hours and a half and marveled that he was not tired. Looking about, he saw that the audience was fresh and interested. Every seat was occupied. The people were eager, expectant.

The preacher's text was from Isaiah, "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples."

"The latter days have come," he said, "All God's old leaders-Moses, David, Isaiah, Saint Paul, and others have passed away. The dead cannot rule us, whether they were theologians, politicians, scien­tists, philosophers, or preachers.

“A living God rules us-and He must have a living church. Every age must have God's living witnesses to date.

“Zion stands for the rule of God in everything. ·

“Zion's Gospel is not fashionable. It was not fashionable



when Jesus brought it to Palestine-or when I brought it to Chicago. It is not fashionable now.

“As we witness to that gospel we lead men and women to deliverance from sin, disease, death, and hell. And so leading, we command.

“This is not a time for advice-I do not give it. It is a time for command. What would soldiers think of a commander who gently advised them to arm them­selves, form in ranks and attack a vague objective?"

He made this ridiculous by aping the circumlocu­tion and hesitant courtesy of such an officer.

“Would you want to be in that army a single day? Tell me!" he shouted, in the midst of his hearers' laughter.

"No," they shouted back at him, still laughing. "would you want to have a general who would command?"


“Well, now, you have got him. If I obey the Commander-in-Chief, have I not a right to command?"


“Does He command you to repent?"


"Then repent, you sinners, of your stinkpot busi­ness, of your. liquor. Repent, you sinners, of your sins, your adulteries, your fornications-"

A high, full-throated scream cut like a saber through the preacher's eloquence, the people's tense absorption. For a long moment it held, while Her­bert's heart seemed to die in his chest, breath to be snatched from his throat. Then slowly the sound dropped lower and lower in pitch. It had begun




an ecstasy of fear-it ended .a howl of agony.

Herbert, sitting on a front seat of the balcony, gradually recovering his breath and senses, saw that the sufferer was a well-dressed young woman sitting just below him on the ground floor. Her head was turned sharply to her right and bent back at a sick­ening angle, as if wrenched by unseen hands. Her face was thus turned toward him and he saw that it was knotted with pain and terror. As he averted his eyes he heard the General Overseer shout:

“Come out of her, you dirty Devil!"

He was leaning far over the edge of the platform, stamping and bellowing, his eyes blazing, his face turgid.

“Leave her, in God's Name, you foul fiend!"

Again Herbert looked at the young woman. Jerk­ing convulsively, her body was hurled from side to side, backward and forward, thrashing against those around her.

Guards and ushers had gathered, by this time, and her now seemingly lifeless form was carried out.

Resuming his discourse, he reiterated the divine authority of his ministry.

“But," he said, “my place of command is no bed of roses. I will quickly change places with any of you who will show me that you hold a commission from God.

“Are you willing to surrender your individual lib­erty that the army of God may smite the Devil hip and thigh?"


“Do you know what you are promising? The



battle will wax hotter and hotter. Some of you will lose your lives for His sake.

“Will you enlist with me-for a year?"

Audience: "For life!"

“For two years?"

“Forever: for life."

“May God grant it," said the preacher.

And then he made them rise and repeat after him, sentence by sentence, a prayer of consecration that bound them to him more strongly than ever.






About a week before Christmas, one day at their luncheon, Dr. Dowie handed Herbert a long list 'of Chicago names and addresses. “These," he said, "are members of Zion who own business and residence property in Chicago.

“You have had experience in this business. I want a complete list of all the property owned by Zion people, not only in Chicago, but all over the world. We can do a great deal for our people when they want to buy or sell property. I have even more im­portant things in mind, which I cannot talk about now. As a beginning, we can get our Chicago list in proper shape. So I want you to call on all these people, and get full information about their hold­ings."

A maid entered with a fresh pot of tea, and Dr. Dowie poured his third cup. Herbert declined a second.

“Now take plenty of time-what I want is a good list, not a quick job."

Whatever the economic value of this work, it ac­complished something for young Mr. Herbert Ren­brush. Meeting and talking with hundreds of the healthiest, most intelligent, most prosperous, and hap­piest of Zion people in Chicago crumbled the last defenses of his mind against this "new" religion.



On New Year's Eve came the great "All Night with God in Central Zion Tabernacle." This was one of the big occasions in every Zion year.

People gathered at half past seven in the evening for a complete, characteristic Dowie service-proces­sional, chants, responses, anthems, Bible reading and comment, a long prayer, and a two-and-a-half-hour sermon by the General Overseer, followed by the Lord's Supper.

Herbert had never before attended such a cele­bration of this ancient ceremonial of the church. In it the General Overseer's uncanny gift of eloquence and dramatic power was at its best. Crudities, vul­garities, rages, rantings, and bombast were forgotten. At the communion-table he was humble, reverent, poetic, devout. In this he was supported by a well ­trained corps of elders, evangelists, and deacons, his great Zion White Robed Choir, and a responsive con­gregation. Here, as nowhere else in public, he made himself lovable.

Herbert's love of beauty, religious training, and his sensitive sympathies responded to the power of this scene. It gripped and held him. His decision to join Zion had been intellectual. He had procrastinated in taking the actual step because his emotions balked. This service overwhelmed opposing emotions in a flood of solemn enthusiasm. Reasons why he ought to join Zion were swept away by feelings that he wanted to.

Midnight approached-the last moments of a dy­ing year. Dr. Dowie and his aids knelt beside the Lord's table. Moved by music, ritual, and eloquence,




in the solemnity of that hour, the people were recep­tive, suggestible. In hushed tones their leader began to speak:

"Friends, I am not living for to-day.

"I am not living for to-morrow.

"I am not living for the passing year.

"My eyes are looking away from Zion's watch­tower over the darkness around, and the light has come: the morning has dawned, and the Sun of Righteousness is rising with Healing in His Wings. Amen.

"Listen, ye poor toilers! The days are coming when 'ye shall not sow and another reap; when ye shall not build and another inhabit.' The days are coming when 'ye shall sow and reap together, when ye- shall build and inhabit together.'

"0 ye weary toilers, lift up your eyes.

"0 ye weary toilers, it is the Christ who fed the hungry; whose hand touched the leper's sores and cleansed their impurity; who bade the widowed mother weep no more, and gave her back her dead son from the grave.

"0 ye toilers, brokenhearted, widowed ones, Re­demption draweth nigh: for the Christ has come in power once more, and you can find Him here to-day. Amen. And He is just the same in Zion.

"We present you no creed but 'Christ is All.' "

The whole audience knelt.

Without organ accompaniment, the General Over­seer sang:


Pray, brethren, pray! The sands are falling;

Pray, brethren, pray! God's voice is calling,

Yon turret strikes the dying chime;

We kneel upon the verge of time.

            After each stanza, choir and audience joined softly in the refrain:


Eternity is drawing nigh!

Eternity is drawing nigh!


For a moment silence reigned, broken only by sounds of sobbing.    '

The kneeling people, even those who had been sobbing and praying, scarcely breathed. Their emo­tions at the breaking-point, three thousand souls were as one-and that one wholly in their leader's hands. With his merest whisper he could have sent them, cheering, into the jaws of certain death.

Thus they waited.

As the first faint notes of bells and whistles out­side told of the Great Moment, the man rose, brought his audience to its feet.

“A glad New Year to you and to all of Zion every­where! Turn each of you and salute those near you, wishing them a glad New Year. Husbands, kiss your wives, you wretches, you've been neglecting them."

The audience relaxed, laughed, broke into a happy bedlam of greetings.

How could these people help loving a man who carried them to such utter self-forgetfulness-and then gave them back their souls with a happy laugh?

Herbert had shaken hands with Ezra, kissed his sister-in-law Myra, and greeted John and Nancy



Harrow. Now he hurried out to the vestibule. There, he knew, he would find printed blank applications for membership in the Christian Catholic Church in Zion. People all around him were laughing, exchang­ing New Year's greetings, making up parties for sup­per. He neither saw nor heard them. Taking out his fountain pen, he sat down at a little table and wrote out his application. Doing so, he signed the creed of the Church:

“First-That we recognize the infallible inspira­tion and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures as the rule of faith and practice.

“Second-That we recognize that no persons can be members of the Church who have not repented of their sins and have not trusted in Christ for Salva­tion.

“Third-That such persons must also be able to make a good profession, and declare that they do know, in their own hearts, that they have truly re­pented, and are truly trusting Christ, and have the witness, in a measure, of the Holy Spirit.

“Fourth-That all other questions of every kind shall be held to be matters of opinion and not mat­ters that are essential to church unity."

Having signed, he turned, made his way as quickly as he could through the crowded aisles, and knocked on the door leading into Dr. Dowie's office. It was opened by Captain Erdman, who almost hugged him. "Chris, I want to see the General Overseer."

“Well, I don't know," doubtfully. "He's with his family and doesn't like to be disturbed."

“Do you think this would disturb him?" asked



Herbert, showing his signature to the fateful applica­tion.

Then the captain did hug his young friend.

"Thank God, thank God," he said, tears in his eyes. “God bless you, Herbert, my boy! I knew you'd come."

With these words he threw open the door into Dr. Dowie's private room, where the great man sat with his family at an exquisite supper. The doctor looked up with a glance of annoyance. Before he could speak, the captain crowed, "Look what I've got, Gen­eral Overseer!" and with his left arm around Her­bert's shoulders drew him into the room, his right hand· extending the application.

Was it mere whim or impulse, or knowledge of psychology, that made the General Overseer receive this exuberant announcement coldly? Or was it a feel­ing that, now Herbert was committed, it was bad judgment to flatter him by attaching great impor­tance to his step? Whatever his motive, Dr. Dowie suc­ceeded in making Herbert feel that he had been ego­tistically melodramatic. The snub, gentle though it was, cooled the young man's overwrought feelings, gave him a saner view of his own relative size, and bound him to his master more firmly than any adu­lation.

People were leaving the refectory and gathering again in the auditorium. Already the choir leader was conducting a song service. Herbert, John, Nancy, Ezra, Myra, and the. children found seats together in the balcony. There they joined in the singing. Her­bert had a lusty baritone, not always quite on the




key, that sounded well enough in a chorus. He loved to sing. John and Nancy were both trained vocalists. Ezra and Myra had led country congregations in singing for years and their voices were natural and sweet. An emotional thrill in singing together caught them up. People looked around at them and smiled in sympathy.

It was nearly two o'clock when Dr. Dowie came swiftly on the platform. There was fire and vigor in him. The crowd, which had grown listless, came alive. His harsh voice rang out with virile force. His face radiated joy, confidence, kindliness.

"God was good to Zion in eighteen ninety-eight," he cried. "We have seen thousands saved and healed. We have gone forward in proclaiming the Full Gospel throughout the world. Our message has been blessed and God has been glorified. Zion has grown in num­bers, in riches, and power. And this growth is but a small beginning in Zion's progress. In God's Name and as His people, we shall go forward until His di­vine plan for us is fulfilled. Let the heathen rage and the Devil's people imagine vain things. No power on earth or in hell can stop Zion as long as we are faith­ful to the trust God has imposed upon us. Zion's ene­mies on the outside cannot harm her. If she is ever harmed, it will be by enemies on the inside. Help me to find all the grumblers and traitors in Zion. I will not permit any one--not even my own wife or my own son or daugher-to jeopardize the great and glorious work God has called me to do in these times of the end of all things.

"Now let us spend the remaining minutes of this



All Night with God in praising and glorifying Him with our testimonies to His goodness in saving and healing."

There followed a long tale of testimonies, with which Herbert was becoming familiar. He marveled not so much at the stories these people told as at the irrepressible gusto of the General Overseer, who had heard most of them dozens of times. Occasionally, at the close of a testimony, he would burst out in some triumphant hymn. Within a phrase or two the or­ganist would find the key, strike up, and the choir and congregation would join their leader.

Although the services had been going on for hours and it was nearly daylight, there was no letting down. Air in the Tabernacle was hot and close, eyes and ears had been assailed with sensations without pause, feelings had been roused and shaken again and again, yet Dr. Dowie played upon his favorite instrument, an audience, and the instrument responded, apparently without weariness.

This was Sunday morning, and at half past six the All Night with God swung, without intermission, into the regular early morning meeting of praise and prayer, the General Overseer preaching for another hour.

At three that afternoon the great service opened with all seats filled. After the sermon, Herbert joined about fifty others in receiving the right hand of fellowship in the Church.