You will all be anxiously waiting to know about the anniversary meetings, and nothing would give us more pleasure or be more to your profit, possibly, than a full report of the session. But this is impossible. We can only give you a brief, summary view.
It seemed to be conceded that though former meetings of the sort had been seasons of wonderful blessing, this one was the most blessed in many respects. One very marked feature was the spirit of full consecration which seemed to be manifested by all in the evident brotherly love, patience and sympathy which pervaded the meetings and the social chats between meetings.
As announced, the session opened on Thursday morning, April 3rd, and we might say continued as one meeting until Sunday night (though some stayed until Wednesday night following and continued the meeting after the formal close). The only intermissions were for food and sleep. One aged brother, who had been in the U.P. ministry for years and attended many of their conventions, declared that he never saw the like. He said that since his arrival in the city—whether in the meetings, on the streets going and coming, at the table, or even in the bed-chamber, late and early, where seven brethren were lodged with him—he had heard nothing discussed from first to last but God's word. It was the first thing on waking and the last thing on retiring, and talked of between bites at every meal. Thank God that this was true. Can you wonder that with such a company of God's children gathered together, the Lord's blessing and spirit would be felt and manifested? It was, in a most marked degree; and this was attested by the joyful faces of all; and by the tongues of those who spoke at the first meeting, which was one of general introduction of the visiting brethren and sisters, and also at the Sunday night meeting, which was one for general testimony.
There were about seventy-five in attendance from outside the city, and many of them came long distances. Four were from Wisconsin; one from Nebraska; two from Minnesota; four from Manitoba; some from New England, quite a number from New York, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Indiana and Illinois, and of course most of all from Pennsylvania.
About two hundred of God's ministers were in attendance, all told—for all are ministers, servants of the truth, from our standpoint and from the standpoint of God's word; in which all are recognized as priests—of the royal priesthood—who, justified by the precious blood, have offered themselves living sacrifices to God and his truth. Among these two hundred were some who had been public pastors in various human organizations and who had been formerly accustomed to the title of Reverend, etc., but here all of God's priests stood on a common footing and recognized the one Chief Priest of our order, Christ Jesus, and each other as brethren. Among these ex-Reverends were some who had served the Lutherans, Presbyterians, United Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Protestant Methodists, and United Brethren. It was a glorious sight to see these all confessing only the one Church, whose names are written in heaven, and the one creed, God's Word, and the one Lord and Teacher, Christ Jesus, and the one title of brethren, and the one holy order, the Royal Priesthood. It reminded us of the Pentecost occasion when Parthians, Medes, Elamites and dwellers in Mesopotamia and beyond Jordan (Acts 2:8-12), united together in praising God; for all these were of one heart and one mind to know and serve the truth.
All in all, it was good to be here, and we trust that every soul received a blessing. And more, we trust that a great blessing may extend to all quarters of the vineyard; as those who were present and filled their vessels with the holy oil of God's spirit of truth go forth to water and bless others with the same. We learned of some indeed who, being too poor to pay their way, were assisted by others, who said, Go to the meeting, and returning bring some of the overflow blessing to us.
And the dear scattered ones who were not permitted to be present with us were not forgotten in the words and prayers of those present. They were tenderly and fervently remembered, both those known to us to be already free from much of the sectarian error and misconception, and those yet in bondage who are really and truly God's saints, and whose names are written, we trust, with ours, in the Lamb's book of life. The general sentiment of those who departed was, that they would be all the more diligent hereafter to pass the pleasant bread of truth to the hungering sheep of the Lord, both in and out of Babylon; and be all the more wise in reaching it to them, not to be unmindful of the weaknesses, prejudices and fears which so interfere with their receiving the good tidings of great joy. On the contrary, all seemed to purpose to be yet more tenderly affectionate and loving in the presentation of the message of the love of God, which so far surpasses men's understandings.
Water baptism and its symbolic import was the subject of one discourse, in which it was scripturally shown that the real baptism is the full consecration of a believer—his burial to the world and every worldly ambition—into the will and name of Christ; and that the immersion in water, enjoined and practiced by our Lord and the apostles, was merely a symbol of that reality. Thirty-one availed themselves of the opportunity offered and were thus symbolically buried and raised in illustration of the reality begun in them, which it so beautifully expresses. A few of these were new beginners in the Christian pathway, but mostly, they were such as had long been buried with Christ in the real baptism of consecration to death with him; and who only now had come to see the beauty and propriety of the water symbol of that death.
As we parted, singing that beautiful hymn, "Blest be the tie that binds," it was with the thought that now, free from all fetters of sectarian union, we have, thank God, reached the perfection of union—union in Christ, union of heart, union in the truth.