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Alexander Hugh Macmillan (June 2, 1877–August 26, 1966)

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Alexander Hugh Macmillan (June 2, 1877–August 26, 1966), also referred to as A. H. Macmillan, was an important member of the Bible Students, and later, of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He became a board member of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Societyin 1918. He presented a history of the religious movement in his book Faith on the March, published in 1957.

Early life

Macmillan was born in Canada. From an early age he had a deep interest in serving God. At age 16, he decided to be a preacher, attending a school away from home, but ceased his studies when he suffered a nervous breakdown. With financial aid from his father, he relocated to Boston, Massachusetts. There, he came in contact with the Bible Student movement. In about 1897, he obtained a copy of the book, The Plan of the Ages, the first of the six-volume series Millennial Dawn (later called Studies in the Scriptures), written by Charles Taze Russell. He later obtained the second volume in the series, The Time Is At Hand, which claimed that the end of the Gentile Times would occur in 1914. He believed he had finally found biblical truth and later used the books as a basis for his theory that he and others would be 'taken home' to heaven in 1914.[1]


Macmillan first met Russell in 1900. In June of that year, he traveled to Philadelphia to a convention sponsored by the Watch Tower Society. In September, he was baptized in Boston. The following year he became a missionary and full-time minister in Massachusetts.
In September 1901 he traveled to Cleveland to attend a convention, after which he was invited by Russell to live at the Watch Tower Society's headquarters in Allegheny. Macmillan traveled extensively with Russell, and in 1905 during a convention tour, he met J.F. Rutherford.

Requirements for the Ministry - A talk by A.H. Macmillan at the 1953 "New World" Assembly in Yankee Stadium

Macmillan's proclamation of 1914

In the decades prior to 1914, Watch Tower Society publications claimed that Armageddon would take place in 1914. As the year approached, their publications stated that October 1914 would mark the "end of the Gentile Times" and the beginning of Christ's kingship. Many Bible Students believed they would be sent to heaven in 1914. At a convention at Saratoga Springs, New York, on September 27–30, Macmillan, believing that "the church was "going home" in October", he announced that "This is probably the last public address I shall ever deliver because we shall be going home soon."[2]

Following the convention, at a meeting at the Brooklyn headquarters, Russell announced: "The Gentile Times have ended; their kings have had their day," and added that, "At 10:30 Sunday morning Brother Macmillan will give us an address." Those present laughed about Macmillan's previous announcement of his "last public address"; in the subsequent talk, Macmillan acknowledged, "some of us had been a bit too hasty in thinking that we were going to heaven right away".[1][3] Despite his expectations for October 1914, Macmillan remained committed to the Watch Tower Society.
In 1919, The New York Times characterized Macmillan's address to a meeting of Bible Students as proposing a "new date for the Millennium" in the year 1925.[4]

Watch Tower Society board of directors

In Faith on the March, Macmillan described a private meeting he had with Russell in 1916. According to Macmillan, Russell spoke of his poor health and indicated a desire for Macmillan to take over the affairs of the Allegheny office. Russell died several weeks later, on October 31, 1916. By 1918, The New York Times described Macmillan as "Superintendent of the Bethel Home"[5] and as one of "the leaders of the International Bible Students Association".[6]
After the January 5, 1918 annual meeting of the Watch Tower Society, Macmillan joined the Society's board of director, and Rutherford became a board member and president. That year, Macmillan—along with Rutherford and other Watch Tower Society officials—was arrested, charged with violation of the Sedition Act of 1918 as a result of anti-war sentiments expressed in the book, The Finished Mystery; they were sentenced to federal prison in Atlanta, but were released and exonerated in 1919.
During the 1920s, Macmillan traveled extensively on service tours to Europe and the Middle East, for public speaking engagements and to monitor activities at branch offices around the world. Such assignments included Scotland,[7] Denmark,[8] Finland,[9] Norway,[10] Palestine,[11] Lebanon and Syria,[12] Italy,[13] and Sweden.[14]
Macmillan also traveled throughout the United States and Canada as an appointed "pilgrim", performing twice-yearly visits with local congregations.[15] By the 1930s, Macmillan, based in Brooklyn, was a "traveling representative" speaking at congregations and larger assemblies, encouraging individuals to pursue the full-time ministry.[16] Macmillan also met with local law enforcement and government officials to explain the significance of the dozens of then-recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions which were mostly favorable to Jehovah's Witnesses.[17] Macmillan was permitted by the director of the United States Bureau of Prisons to regularly visit Witnesses in federal prisons in the United States who had been incarcerated for refusing military service during World War II.[18][19]

Later years

In 1955, Macmillan was granted permission to use Watch Tower Society records to compile a history of Jehovah's Witnesses. In 1957, he published his account, under the title, Faith on the March.[20]
Macmillan became an on-air personality on the Watch Tower Society's radio station WBBR, answering questions and providing counsel[21] until the station was sold in 1957.[22]
Macmillan experienced pain associated with increasing health problems, and he privately likened himself to the biblical Job, leading up to his death on August 26, 1966.[23][24]Macmillan's funeral service was conducted by Watch Tower Society president Nathan Knorr on August 29, and he was buried at a private burial plot on Staten Island, New York.[25]



  1. ^ :a b Watchtower, ed. (1993). Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Brooklyn, New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
  2. Faith On The March. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1957. p. 46.
  3. ^ "Doing God’s Will Has Been My Delight", The Watchtower, August 15, 1966, page 62
  4. "New Date For Millennium: Russellites Now See It Coming on Earth in 1925"(PDF). New York Times. June 2, 1919.
  5. ^ "Russelites Guilty of Hindering Draft", The New York Times, June 21, 1918, As Retrieved 2010-03-02
  6. ^ "Russellites to Testify", The New York Times, August 20, 1918, As Retrieved 2010-03-02, "Alexander H. Macmillan and William E. Van Amburgh, two of the leaders of the International Bible Students Association"
  7. ^ "Staying Close to Jehovah’s Organization", The Watchtower, July 1, 1987, page 27
  8. 1993 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, pages 80-81
  9. 1990 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 155
  10. "Norway", 1977 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 206
  11. Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, ©1993 Watch Tower, page 142
  12. "Lebanon and Syria", 1980 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, pages 169-170
  13. "Italy", 1982 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 133
  14. 1991 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, pages 134-135
  15. ^ "Development of the Organization Structure", Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, page 222
  16. ^ "Pursuing My Purpose in Life", The Watchtower, August 1, 1957, page 457
  17. ^ "Pursuing My Purpose in Life", The Watchtower, August 1, 1956, page 456
  18. ^ "Objects of Hatred by All the Nations", Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom//, page 654
  19. ^ "United States of America", 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 206
  20. Introduction, //"Faith On The March"//, Introduction]
  21. Faith On The March by A. H. Macmillan, ©1957, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., page 4
  22. ^ "WBBR Sold by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society", The Watchtower, May 15, 1957, page 301, "[Watch Tower] Society decided to sell WBBR and did so April 15, 1957. WBBR had served its purpose... People could not ask questions over the radio as easily as they now can through personal contact and study in their homes with their own Bible."
  23. ^ "Job Endured—So Can We!", The Watchtower, November 15, 1994, page 10, "‘THE Devil is after me! I feel just like Job!’ With such words A. H. Macmillan expressed his feelings to a close friend at the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Brother Macmillan finished his earthly course at the age of 89 on August 26, 1966. ...His friends rejoiced that Brother Macmillan obtained that [heavenly] reward. In his declining years on earth, however, he was beset by various trials, including health problems that made him keenly aware of Satan’s attempts to break his integrity to God."
  24. ^ "Alexander H. Macmillan Of Jehovah's Witnesses, 89", The New York Times, August 28, 1966, page 92
  25. ^ "Announcements", The Watchtower, October 1, 1966, page 608

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    • Probably depends on the book or article and the particular writer assigned. For example, 1914 is mentioned in Chapter 8 but the whole big section on 1914 with charts and diagrams in "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" were moved to the Appendix, whereas they had previously been in the main text. The 2018 Watchtower Study edition never mentioned 1914 once. The 2018 Watchtower Public edition only mentioned 1914 once.* The 2019 Watchtower Public editions never mentioned 1914 once. *And only as a fulfillment for Jesus' prophecy about wars and reports of wars, NOT as a fulfillment related to Christ's enthronement. Compare this to 76 mentions in the Watchtower for 2014. This is not enough to measure a trend yet, but it's something to watch for.
    • @Srecko Sostar  Here in the UK we would say that you have 'opened up a can of worms'  with your words above.  You have opened the way to hundreds of questions.  And although @Witness gives some very fine comments, she/he also opens the way to many questions.  For God to fulfil his 'plans' I would think He would need some kind of 'united people' Earth wide. And hence He would need to guide those people by using/sending His Holy Spirit to them.  But as the GB and presumably the Writing Dept et al, admit to not receiving God's Holy Spirit  then I presume God cannot be using them at this time. No i don't expect humans to be perfect or to act perfectly. But I do expect anyone chosen by God, to become leaders in God's chosen 'united people', to be inspired by God's Holy spirit so as to do their jobs properly.   As you say Srecko, God works through His Holy Spirit. He has always done so in the past, why would He not do so now ?  
    • It was Splane's "historic" (they called it) Annual Meeting talk in October 2014, especially when he referred to how Brother Bert Schroeder had counseled exactly this, many years earlier. Schroeder's statement was kind of a "motto" that Brother Splane repeated as the primary takeaway for this new way of looking at these portions of Scripture. That point was rewritten in the March 15, 2015 Watchtower, p.18 as follows: “Humans cannot know which Bible accounts are shadows of things to come and which are not. The clearest course is this: Where the Scriptures teach that an individual, an event, or an object is typical of something else, we accept it as such. Otherwise, we ought to be reluctant to assign an antitypical application to a certain person or account if there is no specific Scriptural basis for doing so.” The original video is now here: https://www.jw.org/en/library/videos/#en/mediaitems/VODPgmEvtAnnMtg/pub-jwbam_201410_1_VIDEO "Types and Antitypes." It starts at about 2 hours:8 minutes into the video. At 2h:13m:07s he says: "Now we know that these [ones spoken of by Jesus and Paul] are genuine types because the word of God says they are. But here is the question: Who is to decide if a person or an event is a type, if the word of God doesn't say anything about it? Who is qualified to do that? Our answer? We can do no better than to quote our beloved Brother Albert Schroeder who said, 'We need to exercise great care when applying accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures as prophetic patterns or types if these accounts are not applied in the Scriptures themselves." Wasn't that a beautiful statement! We agree with it. After giving several examples of this "typology" (as he called it) from several different religions, including religions the Bible Students had been part of. And these religions often applied these types to themselves, just as the Watchtower applied many of them to Bible Students and Witnesses in modern times.  Brother Splane repeats that the most important problem with them is that these applications were not found in the Scriptures themselves. He even asks, "If the study of a certain subject makes chills run up and down your spine, could it possibly be mistaken?' And the answer was YES!" Then at 2h:19m:22s he repeats this idea again, and says: "Well, in recent years the trend in our publications has been to look for the practical application of Bible events and not for types where the scripture themselves do not identify themselves as such. We simply cannot go beyond what is written!" There's a funny thing Splane does in the video where he almost makes it look like the Pyramid idea came from a Brother A. Smith who wrote the Society from time to time to tell them his ideas about how the Pyramid told of God's purpose. He gives the impression that Russell only mentioned it once, but that this brother was so "emotionally" involved with the idea that he wrote to the Society about it several times. You can compare this to the actual things that Russell and Rutherford said about the Pyramid, and draw your own conclusion as to what Brother Splane is doing here. I also think it's curious that Albert Schroeder had died many years before, and this particular idea had been first expressed by others and finally by Brother Schroeder, too, several years before he died. Evidently not enough members of the Governing Body agreed with it at the time. But, even though it was now several years later, Brother Splane in 2014 can say it was a beautiful statement, and that 'we agree with it.'
    • I was just kidd8ng about thor, I know he doesn't really exist. So when Christians get together for Thanksgiving and pray to Yaweh, you jw's are calling Yaweh a pagan god....this is blasphemy of the highest sort.
    • I have not noticed 1914 diminishing in importance. It gets aired anytime there is a reference to the times of the end, and its closeness (in publications, convention talks and Broadcasting). But you are right, there seems to be a certain hesitancy in directly including 1914 as being part of our "core doctrines". At least in the above mentioned days text. There is also no reference to it in the questions for baptism. Under Christian beliefs, Question 19 asks: How do you know that Kingdom blessings will soon be here? The answers are references to Matthew 24 and 2 Timothy (last days critical times..). IF 1914 was to be mentioned, what scripture references would be used? We can all see it would get very complicated, hence as you rightly called it, it is a difficult doctrine. But the irony is, it is a very fundamental doctrine, so it should be explained (with all the dozens of scriptures) and be a part of the questions for baptism, strictly speaking. So I wonder, why is it not there?    That's fine with direct and obvious scriptures and Bible books. But how would you explain (interpret) books such as Revelation, Ezekiel, Daniel etc? And I thought we already established that no one would any longer be inspired after the last of the apostles died.
    • Quote "Neither the word opportune nor appointed is found in the Greek, only the word time. But the more typical meaning is "opportunity" as in: "  Isn't this then ADDING to the scriptures ?  Just using the word time would surely have done the job. And to use the phrase 'appointed times' is surely wrong as it suggests a pre-planned time / a set time.  Isn't it a sin to add to the scriptures ?   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Separate comment.  Quote @JW Insider Sounds like you disagree with what Brother Splane said when he admitted that over 100 teachings that had turned Bible parables and Bible historical narratives into specific prophecies were examples of going beyond the things written. Quote "But if you think about it, almost every single past error where the Watchtower has made an interpretation that was later changed was also a matter of going beyond the things written. Whenever there was a changed teaching where the Watchtower had said "this is what it means" instead of "this is what it might mean" was a matter of going beyond the things written." WOW ! This should be put up in lights outside every Kingdom Hall, for all Witnesses and members of the public to read.  And that in itself is good enough reason for not being a JW, because the GB and it's Writing Dept GO BEYOND THE THINGS WRITTEN, and they admit to not being inspired.   But, they say that one has to be a baptised JW to gain salvation.  That is so funny when you consider it all.   
    • This is an excellent comment, Srecko.  Has the organization’s leaders, with their consistent errors in doctrine and prophesy, ever had God’s Spirit? 2 Pet 1:21 - "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." NKJV “for prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men borne along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  Mounce "But you must understand this at the outset, that no prophecy of scripture arose from an individual’s interpretation of the truth. No prophecy came because a man wanted it to: men of God spoke because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit." (Phillips) It is so clear; if JWs would only take the guiding scriptures to heart and not the “guiding” words of men who not only admit they are not inspired, but have proven it to be true.   Holy Spirit at Work - the Token:  http://4womaninthewilderness.blogspot.com/2013/07/holy-spirit-at-work.html
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