A LOVE FEAST from beginning to end! This was the public expression of many, and apparently the sentiment of all in attendance. Our Lord surely poured us out a grand spiritual blessing and refreshment. Surely if any went away empty it was in part or in whole his own fault. None of our conventions ever exhibited more love for the Lord and his truth and his brethren. Indeed each succeeding one seems just a little better than its predecessors, however grand they were. And may we not expect this, as we approach nearer and nearer in our journey toward "The General Assembly and Church of the First-borns?" It would be but reasonable that the ripening of the hearts of a larger number should be more and more manifest in the exhibited fruits of the spirit.
The attendance was the best we have ever had;—three important items contributing: (1) Chicago's large population and the goodly number already interested in the truth there. (2) The city's central location. (3) The unusually low rates of railroad fare granted from every direction and over all roads. The number in attendance was estimated at between 500 and 600, and of these about 300 were from outside Chicago.
We had a grand time! The Lord be praised! May the blessing so abundantly poured out not only be lasting in its effect upon those who received it, but may it overflow from them upon the brethren at their various homes, and thus become wide-spread. We know well that we had the loving thoughts and earnest prayers of many thousands not privileged to meet with us. Eighty-two symbolized their consecration to death by water baptism (46 brothers, 36 sisters). It was a grand sight, such as is seldom witnessed on earth. We may be sure that our Lord, the great Chief Reaper, and the saints who have already joined him "beyond the vail," and also our guardian angels who continually minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation, looked upon that scene with deep interest, as did some three hundred brethren in the flesh who were witnesses.
The split between Northern and Southern Presbyterians during the Civil war made of them practically two distinct bodies or denominations. The troubles and suggestions respecting the Confession of Faith have all been amongst the Northern brethren, until lately. However, at the last "General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (South)" a petition was received from the Presbytery of Brazos, Texas, requesting that the Assembly "modify the statements of the Confession regarding the eternal damnation of non-elect infants."
The resolution was strangled in committee which reported adversely to any discussion of the Confession, fearing no doubt that the question once opened never would close. The representatives of the Brazos Presbytery asked an amendment to the Confession reading thus:—"All dying in infancy are elect infants, and [R2687 : page 260] are regenerated," etc., Chapter 10, paragraph 3.
Note now the shrewd but dishonest treatment of that petition (formulated by the committee and adopted by the Assembly) in these words,—"We recommend that the prayer of the overture be declined, inasmuch as the present language of the Confession cannot, by any fair interpretation, be construed as teaching that any of those who die in infancy are lost."
Let us read over this paragraph 3, Chapter 10, of the Confession and see whether or not the Brazos brethren and humanity in general have mis-read it. Here it is: "Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word."
If the General Assembly were sincere in averring that in their judgment these words do not teach that there are non-elect infants who dying in infancy are lost, then it follows that these brethren have totally repudiated the doctrine of election taught in other paragraphs of their Confession of Faith. For if all infants are elect, or if the election does not take place until after the period of infancy, then they must deny all that Calvinism stands for in the way of Predestination and Foreordination. Otherwise they would be forced to the position that only elect persons die in infancy and hence must assume that God specially intervenes to prevent the non-elect from dying in infancy, specially supervising the deaths of the millions of infants dying annually from infanticide, lack of care, etc.
But to think of the General Assembly taking any of the above positions would be altogether unreasonable, and hence we are unwillingly forced to think of their resolution as lacking in honesty, lacking in truthfulness, which they no doubt excused on the Jesuitical plea that—It is right to do wrong if thereby you can serve God and the Church. However, the Church is not served by this false statement, even if a sect is thereby held together a little longer. The true Church "whose names are written in heaven," and which will eventually include all the truly "elect" "little flock," is never benefited or served by error or falsehood; but, as our Lord declared, only by the truth—"Sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth." Nor is God served or honored by such false representations of his Word and plan.
Furthermore, the specification of "elect infants" implies that the framers of this Confession had in mind non-elect infants who die in infancy, whose fate they left to be implied by the intelligent reader, who, if he accepted this Westminster Confession as a whole, would believe in elect and non-elect adults, and coupling this with the specifications of the same Confession on predestination would conclude that every non-elect adult must at one time have been a non-elect infant, who dying in infancy would have died non-elect and unregenerated and unsaved by Christ through the spirit who worked not upon them at any time nor anywhere nor anyhow, because he pleased not so to do, they being non-elect.
One would suppose that our dear Presbyterian friends, finding themselves in such inextricable confusion on this doctrine of election, and yet finding much on the subject in the Bible, would be ready, yes anxiously and hungrily waiting for the reasonable Bible-solution of the subject presented in Millennial Dawn. Yet comparatively few of them seem to be so. The only reasonable explanation is that the majority are not sufficiently honest with themselves and with each other, and with God and his Word. They do not sufficiently love the truth—error is preferred. They do not hunger and thirst after right. Hence also the comparatively few who are "sanctified through the truth"—the large number failing to make their calling and election sure, because unsanctified by reason of their false doctrines.
Friends of the cause naturally feel a deep interest in everything connected in any manner with the harvest work. We have frequently been urged to publish the Editor's picture either in the DAWNS or in these columns; but have as persistently refused. It is the truth rather than its servant that should be honored and proclaimed. There is too much disposition to credit truth to the preacher, forgetful that all truth is of God, who uses one or another servant in its proclamation as it may please him.
However, when requested to publish a photo of our work-shop, the "Bible House," we could think of no reasonable objection, and hence it appears on the last page of this issue. The third floor is the chapel in which Sunday and other services are held. On the top floor, centre, is the Editor's study: his usual seat being near the window at the head of the spiral fire escape.
Heavenly Father, Holy One!
May thy will in me be done;
Make my heart submissive, meek,
Let me ne'er mine own way seek!
Loving Savior, I would be
Ever more and more like thee,
Free from pride and self-desire,
Fervent with a holy fire.
Blessed Lord, thy saints defend,
Watching o'er them to the end;
Day by day their faith increase,
Keep them in thy perfect peace.
Comfort, strengthen, guide and bless,
Lead them through the wilderness;
And when thy due time shall come,
Gather all thy children home! —G.W.S.