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Sunday, April 19, 2009

John H. Paton

The object of writing this book is to spread the knowledge of what the writer believes to be important truth. We do not presume that it is above criticism, either as to matter or style. We are not infallible; we expect to learn more truth and unlearn error, as we still wait and watch; and wisdom will continue to increase when we are gone. Our aim, as to manner, has been to be understood, and we hope that the importance of the themes will cover all literary defect s. We know of no other book that presents just the same view of God’s plan, but we are indebted to both men and books, as the agencies by which the Lord has given us these things, and we rejoice to hive all due credit to the agent, whoever or whatever it may have been. As we have received from the Lord, so we give to others. "We have this treasure in earthern vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (2 Cor. 4:7. "One soweth and another reapeth;" let both rejoice together. (John 4:36, 37)

We differ from some others in some things, but have not written in a spirit of strife. Our aim has been, not to oppose others, but, to present the subjects as they appear to us. Our motto is: "Malice toward none and Charity for all." While awake to the differences, we would still endeavor "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3.)

We all attention to the charts in the book as illustrations of the subjects presented.

We dedicate our work to the Lord, in the interests of all who know and love Him in any degree, and of humanity in general. That others may be blessed in reading, as we have been in writing, is the earnest prayer of the AUTHOR. [1890]


Next, he invited J. H. Paton, the other assistant editor of the Herald, to write an article in support of faith in the blood of Christ as the basis for atonement for sin. Paton did write the article, and it was published in the December issue. After repeated unsuccessful efforts to reason on the matter with Barbour from the Scriptures, Russell broke off association with him and withdrew support from his magazine. In July 1879, Russell began to publish a new magazine—Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence—which was from the start a special advocate of the ransom. But that was not the end of it.

Two years later, Paton, who was then serving as a traveling representative of the Watch Tower, also began to turn away, thereafter publishing a book (his second one entitled Day Dawn) in which he rejected belief in Adam’s fall into sin and consequently the need for a redeemer. He reasoned that the Lord himself was an imperfect man who by his life simply showed others how to crucify their sinful propensities. In 1881, A. D. Jones, another associate, started a paper (Zion’s Day Star) along the same lines as the Watch Tower but with the idea that it would set out simpler features of God’s purpose. At first it seemed that all was well. Yet, within a year, Jones’ paper had repudiated Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and within another year, it had rejected all the rest of the Bible. What had happened to those men? They had allowed personal theories and fascination with popular philosophies of men to lead them astray from the Word of God. (Compare Colossians 2:8.) The paper published by A. D. Jones continued for only a short time and then faded from view. J. H. Paton decided to publish a magazine in which he set out the gospel as he saw it, but its circulation was quite limited.

Brother Russell was deeply concerned about the effect that all of this was having on readers of the Watch Tower. He realized that it put each one’s faith to the test. He well knew that some construed his criticism of unscriptural teachings to be prompted by a spirit of rivalry. But Brother Russell sought no followers for himself. Concerning what was taking place, he wrote: “The object of this trial and sifting evidently is to select all whose heart-desires are unselfish, who are fully and unreservedly consecrated to the Lord, who are so anxious to have the Lord’s will done, and whose confidence in his wisdom, his way and his Word is so great, that they refuse to be led away from the Lord’s Word, either by the sophistries of others, or by plans and ideas of their own.”

- Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, Published by the WTB&TS, 1993

The book, The Three Worlds, having been for some time out of print, it seemed as if either another edition of that, or else a new book covering the same features, should be gotten out. Mr. Paton agreed to get it ready for the press, and Mr. Jones offered to pay all the expenses incident to its printing and binding and to give Mr. Paton as many copies of the book as he could sell, as remuneration for his time spent in preparing the matter, provided I would agree to advertise it liberally and gratuitously in the TOWER--well knowing that there would be a demand for it if I should recommend it, and that his outlay would be sure to return with profit. (For those books did not sell at such low prices as we charge for MILLENNIAL DAWN.) I not only agreed to this, but contributed to Mr. Paton's personal expenses in connection with the publishing, as well as paid part of the printer's bill at his solicitation.

In the end, I alone was at any financial loss in connection with the book, called Day Dawn, the writer and publisher both being gainers financially, while I did all the introducing by repeated advertisements. We need to give these particulars, because of certain one-sided and only partial statements of facts and misrepresentations which have recently been published and circulated in tract form by Mr. Paton, who is also now an advocate of that "other gospel" of which the cross of Christ is not the center, and which denies that he "bought us with his own precious blood." Mr. P. has since published another book, which, though called by the same name as the one we introduced, being on another and a false foundation, I cannot and do not recommend, but which I esteem misleading sophistry, tending to undermine the whole structure of the Christian system, yet retaining a sufficiency of the truths which we once held in common to make it palatable and dangerous to all not rooted and grounded upon the ransom rock.

The false foundation which it presents is the old heathen doctrine of evolution revamped, which not only denies the fall of man, but as a consequence, all necessity for a redeemer. It claims, on the contrary, that not by redemption and restitution to a lost estate, but by progressive evolution or development, man has risen and is still to rise from the lower condition in which he was created until, by his own good works, he ultimately reaches the divine nature. It claims that our blessed Lord was himself a degraded and imperfect man, whose work on earth was to crucify a carnal nature, which, it claims, he possessed, and to thus show all men how to crucify their carnal or sinful propensities.

- July 15, 1906 Zion's Watch Tower

Author: Chapman Bros. (1892)

ELDER JOHN H. PATON. Our subject who is a resident of Almont, is a scholarly man who has devoted himself largely to the study of Bible subjects and has himself been the author of several important and popular theological works. Mr. Paton is a native of Scotland, having been born in Galston, Ayrshire, April 7, 1843. He is a son of David and Christian (Woodburn) Paton.His mother died when he was only six years old, being a victim of Asiatic cholera. His father married again, and coming to this country, located in Michigan, settling in Almont Township in 1852. He began farming in 1853, securing a one hundred and forty-acre tract of land which had formerly been known as the Saulsbury farm, two miles east of the village of Almont.

From the time of his father's settlement on the farm above mentioned, our subject lived and labored on the farm and gained a fair knowledge of agricultural life. He received a good common-school education and at the age of seventeen entered that best of all schools in which self-government and command is attained, becoming a teacher in the Retherford district. In the fall and summer he worked at home on the farm and attended school in the winter, and in the summer of 1862 he engaged as a farm hand, but in August of that year he enlisted in Company B, Twenty-second Michigan Infantry, under Capt. A. M. Keeler, now of Richmond, this State. The first fall and winter of their service they spent in Kentucky watching for and chasing John Morgan, the famous raider, of that State, the regiment camping during the winter at Lexington. The summer of 1863 our subject spent in provost duty at Nashville, Tenn., until September. The regiment was then sent to the front in time for the battle of Chickamauga, which took place September 19 and 20.

Our subject was taken sick and was sent to the hospital at Chickamauga, remaining there for about two weeks. Soon after rejoining his regiment he was transferred to the United States Signal Corps and remained in Chattanooga that winter; was connected with headquarters of the Fourteenth Army Corps on the Atlanta campaign, and was with Sherman on his famous march to the sea. He was also at the Grand Review at Washington, and was honorably discharged from service July 10, 1865, at St. Louis Mo., having moved Westward with Sherman's headquarters. Our subject returned to his father's home and made his plans to become a farmer, the three years spent in the army having broken up his plan for literary education.

January 13, 1866, Elder Paton was married to Miss Sarah E. Wilson, a daughter of John and Sarah (Cook) Wilson of St. Clair County, there born January 21, 1844. Her parents were born and reared in England. Our subject having previously bought forty acres of land near Armada, Macomb County, moved there in March, 1866. The young couple there made their home for a year and a half, and then Mr. Paton purchased forty acres in Almont Township. The winter that he was in Macomb County he spent as a teacher, and after coming to Almont he taught for two winters, devoting himself to farming during the summer.

Our subject was first personally interested in religion when about fifteen years of age. His father, while in Scotland, had been a member of a church of New Testament Disciples, but there being no church of that kind here, our subject joined the Baptists, and a number of his father's family did the same. While teaching and living in Armada, he began preaching, and there and after moving to Almont, held services in school-houses until he was ordained a minister of the Baptist Church, October 19, 1870. He is now pastor of the Church of Christ at Almont, but does not confine his labors here; he preaches at Peck, Yale and elsewhere throughout the State, and also every alternate Sunday in Washington Union Church in Macomb County. Eider Paton is a man to whom stereotyped creed is galling. He believes in studying the Bible and living according to one's best conscientious understanding of its teachings.

Our subject has six children whose names are as follows: Henry W., George Wilber, Nora E., David W., Chrissie E., and Annie E. They were all born in Almont Township, with the exception of Henry W., who was born in Armada Township November 1, 1866. In 1880 Elder Paton published a book of three hundred and twenty-eight pages, entitled "Day Dawn," and in 1882 issued a revised edition. The first edition had four thousand copies, the second three thousand, and sold readily, and the third edition is now out, being revised and enlarged to four hundred pages. Mr. Paton also gets out a semi-monthly magazine which has been published since 1882. It is in pamphlet form and is entitled "The World's Hope." In 1882 he got out a work of two hundred and twenty pages, the first edition numbering two thousand. It was entitled "Moses and Christ," and the sales are still going on.

Mr. Paton is now President of the Larger Hope Publishing Company, which name is suggestive of the liberality of his religious views, and of his large hope for mankind.

- Lapeer-Macomb County MI Archives Biographies.....Paton, John H. 1854 -

John H. Paton (1843-1922)

John H. Paton was born on April 7, 1843 in Galston, Scotland, the fourth of twenty children, and died September 6, 1922 in Almont, Michigan. As a soldier for three years during the American Civil War he was “led to search the Scriptures for himself, and became unsettled concerning the popular church doctrine of human destiny.”

He was inclined at first to the idea of “Conditional Immortality,” and taught this view first as a Baptist pastor, then in a small church affiliated with the Advent Christian Conference of Michigan. Eventually “he grew to believe in a ‘larger gospel’ of Christ – that He is the First and the Last, the All-Comprehensive One, the Unit of the whole race; that He is therefore the Life, the Light, the Judge and the Savior of all; and that no one will be hopelessly lost.”

He wrote and published three books which upheld this position (among other topics), Day Dawn, Moses and Christ, and The Perfect Day, and published a magazine called The World’s Hope, which emphasized his views on human destiny. He also traveled as an evangelist and teacher of “The Larger Hope.”

In his magazine in early 1900 he included a discussion he had with some neighboring pastors on the question, “Is Hell Endless?” The following are his thoughts regarding the “doctrine of hopeless annihilation”:

But, if I may express my opinion concerning such a judgment, it really places the endless punishment on the righteous – those who are to live on eternally, and who alone could suffer the loss of their dear ones – and not on the wicked at all. It seems strange how any thinking person can speak of “eternal punishment” of what does not exist. I fully believe that the Christian life is by far the happiest life in the world; and if I could have my choice I had rather be snuffed out of existence at death, than to be one of the few to live eternally without the companionship of the many loved ones on earth. – The World’s Hope (vol. 18, p. 31)

It is on account of the oneness of Christ with the race, as its Head, that what He did, or what was done to Him, is gospel for all mankind. The apostle Paul tells us that the gospel consists in the fact that Christ died for (on account of) our sins, and was raised for (on account of) our justification (Romans 4:25; I Corinthians 15:1-4). In II Corinthians 5:14 we learn that “if one died for all, then were all dead.” Then there must have been a sense (fundamental and essential) in which all were in Him, He being their Representative. – The Paton-Williams Debate (February 4 and 6, 1906, p. 1)

It is doubtful that a full set of Paton’s magazine is still in existence. Even his books are difficult to find. A few years ago the Saviour of All Fellowship republished the portion of Moses and Christ which was entitled, The Great Revelation, but this is also now out of print. Yet the scant records of his remarkable ministry still available make us wonder how many others through the centuries were troubled by the traditional view and similarly were led by searching the Scriptures to “a larger hope,” even a firm expectation of universal reconciliation.

Copyright © Saviour of All Fellowship

I find it most interesting that the last two articles make no mention of John H. Paton’s relationship with Nelson H. Barbour and the Herald of the Morning. Nor of Charles T. Russell and Zion’s Watch Tower. - Sherlock (JW1983)