FROM every direction come reports of interesting and profitable commemorations of our dear Redeemer's death, on the anniversary of his "Last Supper," April 2nd. Our hearts have been greatly refreshed by these letters, and we doubt if the space of our columns could be better used than in holding of a "testimony meeting" and hearing from representatives of all classes of "brethren." We can, of course, only publish a small sample lot of letters—being forced to omit some of the very choicest. Up to time of going to press we have received 171 reports of meetings, the average attendance being twelve. Last year the average reported was ten.
Beginning at home: the Church at Allegheny (Pittsburg, across the river, included) had a most delightful season of fellowship and communion with the Lord and each other. The attendance was about 325, of whom about 310 partook of the elements representing our Lord's broken body and shed blood. The meeting opened at 7:30 p.m., with appropriate hymns, and prayers by various brethren, after which a short discourse was preached, setting forth prominent features of Israel's passover and showing that these were typical of Christ our Passover, slain for "the Church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven;" whose deliverance now means ultimately the deliverance of all who, when brought to a knowledge of the truth, shall demonstrate that they are God's people, "Israelites indeed," glad to escape the bondage of sin and Satan, typified by the Pharaoh of Egyptian taskmasters, etc.
We rejoiced together in the death of Jesus, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, while deeply sympathizing with his sufferings on our behalf. We discussed the necessity of the "blood of sprinkling" upon the door-posts of our faith structure, and that none of the "first-born" could be safe from the "destroying angel"—the Second Death—except as the saving blood was thus publicly confessed. We saw, too, that only by eating the lamb—appropriating the merits of Christ, feeding upon him in their hearts, can any have the strength needful for the journey out of Egypt, the world.
Then followed a reminder of how our Lord instituted the memorial of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, to take the place of the literal lamb and to represent the antitype; and that only those who partake of the realities which these symbolize have part or lot with the Lord in the elect first-born class, now being sought. The secondary feature was also set forth;—that, as the Apostle explains, the one loaf represents the complete Church which must be broken, and the cup symbolizes the covenant of the Lord's people to share his sorrows and sufferings—death—with their Lord.—1 Cor. 10:15-17.
Then asking blessings of God upon the bread and the cup, as did our Lord, we partook of the emblems with reverent and grateful hearts and sang a hymn and went out—avoiding unnecessary conversation, and seeking to meditate upon the incidents connected with our Lord's betrayal and death; remembering his words to his faithful eleven, "Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation," and applying the lesson to ourselves, remembering that this is always a time of special temptation and testing and for remembering our Lord's words to Peter: "Satan hath desired to have thee that he might sift thee as wheat;—but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." The same Lord is interested in each of us, and we, as members of his body, also pray one for another, and seek to assist one another in the narrow way. The Lord's scattered sheep everywhere were remembered in our petitions to the throne of grace, as we are sure we at Allegheny were remembered by you all.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—About fourteen of the friends met at my house last night to celebrate the Memorial Supper. We felt our Lord's presence and received a great spiritual uplifting. Brother Smith, formerly a Baptist clergyman, was with us, as was also his wife, two daughters and one son. They were very much impressed and said they had never understood it in the light in which it was presented to them last night. This same brother with his wife and two sons symbolized their consecration last Sunday, in Boston, by immersion. Altogether, from Lynn we had six immersed. The Church at Lynn is prospering wonderfully, and never since I have been here has the spiritual condition seemed so good. Tho in time past our work did not seem to bear much fruit, we have kept on, and now we can see the results. I had the pleasure of meeting a sister who came out of Babylon into the truth through a WATCH TOWER that I gave her while serving one of the out-of-town churches in the Volunteer service. The interest here seems to be increased and we have a good attendance at our services.
We received a great spiritual blessing during and since our dear Brother Samson's visit. I praise God for such men as he. Oh! it is blessed this fellowship with the saints and I can never thank our Father enough for it and for his wonderful goodness in bringing me into the light. I am enjoying the walk with my blessed Savior each day, and tho some times I pass through shadows I am striving to say "Thy will be done." We desire your prayers, dear Brother, that we may learn more perfectly the lesson our Heavenly Father would teach us.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—The friends of Truth here observed the Lord's Memorial supper. We were blessed spiritually; and I think all felt the importance of the occasion, and that it was good to be there. There should have been 20 there, but on account of bad weather only 14 were present, 12 of them partaking of the supper.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—On Tuesday night twenty-six of the brothers and sisters here met and commemorated the Last Supper of our Lord Jesus. All present seemed to realize more clearly than ever before the significance of this supper. We praise our dear Redeemer with all our hearts. First, for what that drinking of the cup (death) by our Lord accomplished for fallen man; and second, for his wondrous condescension in inviting those who believe on him unto justification of life, to partake with him in his sufferings. We look forward to the time when the loaf shall have been entirely broken, and when, if faithful, we shall have the great joy promised with our Lord in our Father's Kingdom. We praise our Heavenly Father for his guidance and grace during the past year, and with our sacrifices bound afresh to the altar we shall, by his grace, make greater efforts than ever before to serve him during the present year.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—The Churches of Bethlehem and Allentown, Pa., joined in "remembrance" of Him last evening (12 being present), and renewed their consecration to our blessed Lord. It was a profitable occasion to us all.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I wish to inform you that the memorial last evening was a very impressive one, and one long to be remembered. There were 25 present, willing to accept and share our Redeemer's death and sufferings. With love in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I just wanted to write you a few lines concerning the good meeting we had on the evening of April 2nd. We surely enjoyed a blessed season of commemoration of our Dear Savior's suffering and death. There were eleven present this year, about double what we have ever had before. We opened our meeting with hymns 23 and 13. Then we all knelt in prayer led by Bro. Towne. And tho we were saddened in recalling the scenes of Gethsemane, were rejoiced that we were ransomed and that Jesus was exalted to such a glorious position, "with all power in heaven and in earth." As some were present who had not met with us before on a like occasion, a few words were said in explanation of the occasion of our meeting, why meet tonight, and what it takes the place of. Then concerning the emblematical bread and juice of the vine, and the real, we read from pages 69, 70 and 71, TOWER 1898. Then followed testimonies in which all took part, expressing our deep appreciation of what our dear Savior accomplished for us. After offering prayer for the blessed "bread from heaven" that was broken for us, the emblem was served. And after a few moments meditation and communion with the Master, and prayer for the precious blood represented by the cup, it was passed. In closing we sang hymn 276.
We seemed to realize more than ever what a great work the Lord did for us, our unworthiness without His merits, and the opportunity of ourselves now becoming a part of the great Sin-offering, laying down our lives jointly with Him, being broken with Him, that we might also have a part in His resurrection, and jointly reign with Him, in blessing all the families of the earth. We remembered you all at Allegheny and were very thankful for the "meat in due season" which the Lord has so graciously provided through you. We prayed the Lord's blessing might be with all the little companies through-out [R2812 : page 159] the world, met in memory of His broken body and spilt blood.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—We met last night to memorialize the sacrifice of our dear Redeemer. Six of the dear friends partook of the emblems. (Sister Herr met with the friends at Scranton.) It was a blessed meeting and a season of great refreshment to all. Yours in His love and service.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—On Tuesday evening of this week the Church at Buffalo celebrated the Lord's Supper at the home of Sister Eckhardt. The participants were only twelve, but, counting Christ's presence with us, of which we all felt assured, it made up the same number comprised in the little company [R2813 : page 159] who were present on that memorable occasion centuries ago, when our Saviour as a man celebrated the Passover with his disciples. We trust, however, that Judas was not represented.
Although few in number, each one seemed animated by the same Spirit, and I think all felt like saying with Paul,—"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world." I believe each one present was strengthened by that true Bread from Heaven, and that all departed with a stronger determination, if possible, to "run with patience the race which is set before us," and to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling."
DEAR BROTHER:—Sister Black and I partook of the emblems with Sister Hasson, at her home. We had a blessed season, entering into fellowship, in our thoughts and prayers, with the different groups and single celebrants all over the field. As a result we hope to take up our work with added zeal and courage.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Have just concluded Memorial service this evening. Myself and wife only. We have had a profitable hour and have been greatly blessed, as I hope many of the little circles of the household have been this evening. We purposed going to Clifton to meet the friends there for this occasion, but snow storm and muddy roads rendered it out of the question. Please accept our very kind regards and believe us to be yours in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Our celebration of the Memorial in Adrian, Mich., was an occasion of much, and we think, deep and lasting blessing. As we strove to appreciate more fully the significance of the celebration, the depth and breadth of the great At-one-ment sacrifice by our dear Redeemer, and the fulness of the "common union" of the saints in "his sacrifice," we felt that the participation in "this" needed nothing short of self surrender, self abnegation, that our "heads" may be completely cut off,—"Beheaded! Beheaded! no will of my own." There were eight of us who thus participated. The dear brethren send their sincerest regards, and wish to express their deep interest in "the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ," and their earnest desires to serve the truth under all circumstances and at every opportunity.
DEAR BRETHREN:—The Memorial of our dear Redeemer's death was observed in this city last evening. Seventeen were present and partook of the emblems. It was a simple and impressive service, and the brethren and sisters present seemed to well appreciate the import of the emblems. A beautiful spirit of joy and thankfulness was shown, and the value of the precious blood and broken body of our Lord, and what these make possible for us, was gladly confessed. Our Father is indeed kind to his children.
DEAR BROTHER:—The Church at Portsmouth celebrated the Memorial supper last night. There were present 8 brethren and 1 sister, besides another lady who does not hold with us. Great solemnity and profound joy pervaded every heart. All agreed in saying it was "good to be there." Yours in Him,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I just want to say a word about our meeting last night. There were present 16 persons. The meeting was lead by Brother Pritchett; he gave us a very good discourse on the Memorial Supper; one point that he made prominent was "Love," the bond of perfectness, which should bind the members of the body of Christ together.
We think that this anniversary of our Lord's death has been the most precious of any that we have yet observed, because the spirit of Love has been growing among us this last year. It seems that all of the little company here have been drawn closer together lately than ever before. One matter that rejoices my own heart is, after so long a time (nearly 10 years) my dear wife is taking a lively interest in our meetings. I wish to thank you at this time, for the TOWER of '95 which you sent me in answer to my question about the "Resurrection." It was very satisfactory.
DEAR FRIENDS:—Memorial service was held last evening at 7:30. Brothers Barton and Walker were in charge, with 72 present. Eight were immersed, and quite a number of friends from outside of the city were with us. We had an unusually precious and [page 160] profitable season, the Lord being with us in the power of his spirit, and blessing us. With love to all,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I write also to tell you of the great blessing which all received in the celebration of the Lord's Memorial Supper last night. We met in a parlor and had the comfort of having with us many who live too far to attend our regular meetings. There were probably twenty-five in all present. All seemed fully consecrated to the Lord, and many were the moistened eyes as all whom the time would permit gave testimony of their gratitude to the Master for his great gift of himself for us. Our thoughts were especially prepared for the Memorial by a good sized meeting Sunday morning, when Brother Wyndeltz, in a marvelously clear manner, brought out the subject of the ransom, the Passover; and how it is our blessed privilege to be joint participators in that one Loaf. We had you and the Allegheny work in memory to the Lord in prayer that he may graciously guide and preserve you, and continue the blessings you have heretofore bestowed.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—There were 26 of us assembled to partake of the emblems of sacrifice, and the occasion was one of solemnity and blessedness. Brother Thompson gave us a very good talk and we feel strengthened to run the race more zealously and gain the promised possessions of the faithful few.
DEAR BRETHREN:—Am pleased to be able to say that at the Memorial services 29 partook of the emblems. A deep interest was manifested, and our leader spoke quite pointedly, emphasizing self-examination and discerning the body of Christ. The sacredness of the occasion also was commendably observable; would that such sacredness could at all times be realized.
Our eyes have beheld with wonder marvelous doings of the Father in the past few days; our ears have listened with rapture to the new song, and this evening our hearts have swelled with gratitude and emotion, as we have commemorated the death of his dear Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Have we not just witnessed flocking to the baptismal waters twenty-eight dear brothers and sisters upon whom God has poured out his Holy Spirit, seeking to symbolize their real baptism by immersion in water? Have we not heard for the past two weeks the dear Pilgrim, our brother sent out from your office, as he has sweetly and harmoniously sung for us the new song, which at present not many know, and so few can sing? And, beside two smaller companies of four or five each, led by brethren who generously absented themselves from the main gathering in order that aged and infirm ones, living at a distance, might not be deprived of the same blessed privilege,—has not a company of ninety-six (the largest number we have ever had) partaken of the bread and the wine, during what was perhaps the most impressive Memorial service we have ever had? Our dear brother, the leader, pictured to us, as he read from the Scriptures, the events leading up to that hour; and called our attention to the appropriateness of the symbols of unleavened bread and wine, to represent the body and blood of the sinless, undefiled One, and the inappropriateness of using leavened bread for the purpose,—leaven being the type of sin. And after our leader had inquired if we should not remember the drops of blood, the cruel thorns, the taunts and insults, His sinking under the cross and His suffering and death for us, we, like the disciples, sang a hymn and went out, to follow in our thoughts the events that followed the departure of the disciples from the upper room on that night.
And how they have followed in my own case! After going six miles out of the city to my own home, the chill in the air makes me think of the cold chill of that night in Jerusalem, as some of them were gathered about a fire warming themselves; but stranger and more worthy of mention than the chill air is the fact that, while writing the foregoing thoughts between midnight and one A.M., I have been permitted to hear (12:40 A.M.), four or five times, the distinct crowing of a cock in the neighborhood! Thinking that sleep, which seemed far from me at midnight, may more readily come now, I will close. With much Christian love,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Here at St. Paul twenty-seven partook of the symbols, the meeting being conducted as nearly in the prescribed order as we were able. May God so bless this feast for us that we may be strengthened in the great race. I feel special need, having a hand to hand conflict with the Adversary, especially the last few days; but I trust that he shall be crushed under our feet shortly. Pray for me and us all that we may be able to overcome by the blood of his cross and the Word of his testimony.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I have the pleasure to inform you that 63 souls met in E. London, to memorialize with bread and wine our Lord's death for us, and our death with him. According to his promise we had a blessing. In our prayers we counted it a privilege to remember the joint-sacrificers scattered abroad who were participating in the same service.
Besides the above number, six solitary ones, who would have been glad to meet with us, had they been able to do so, were supplied from our portions of bread and wine. At the same time with us, the brethren in North London were having their meeting for this purpose, and will doubtless report in due course. With love to all, yours faithfully, in Christ,