On board the Steamship "New York" I am nearing Great Britain and the dear brethren there whom I know by correspondence and so dearly love, and whom I hope soon to greet personally. Nevertheless, all the dear readers of the WATCH TOWER are before my mental vision, and I take this opportunity for sending you a message of love and fellowship. It is a source of great pleasure and encouragement to me to realize that your love and prayers are with me on my journey; and I well know that every feature of my experiences will be of interest to you.
Just a week ago (on April 14th) I bade farewell to a goodly company of the Church at the railway depot in Pittsburg. On the previous Sunday I said "Goodbye" to the Church at Allegheny as a whole, shaking hands with about 300 personally; but I was cheered, nevertheless, by the final parting at the train. Next morning I was met at New York depot by representatives of the Churches of New York, Brooklyn, Yonkers, Jersey City, Perth Amboy and Philadelphia, who saw me on board my steamer and tarried until the starting of the vessel,—then from the pier waved me their love and good wishes as they assured me previously that I had their prayers.
I was not so vain as to accept these love-tokens as personal tributes; but received them, on the contrary, as expressions of devotion to the Lord and appreciation of his truth, with which in his providence I had become associated as a servant;—a minister of the Lord, a minister of his Word, a minister of his people. All may be sure that my heart fully reciprocated the kind wishes and blessing accepted from these dear friends, who in a still larger sense represented to me all of the dear WATCH TOWER readers of America who rejoice to send me, with their prayers and love, as their representative for a few weeks to those of like precious faith in Europe.
Our steamer has had a quiet voyage, and in many ways I have been "kept" by divine providence—so that I have had no seasickness since the first two days out, and was able to respond to the invitation of our captain to assist in conducting the usual Sunday morning services of the vessel—including an address of about thirty minutes on the Hope that is the anchor to our souls, both sure and steadfast.—Heb. 6:19.
I had no reason to hope that among the passengers would be many with "an ear to hear"; nor could I expect, in so brief a space, to do more than sound one chord on our precious Harp (the Bible). Committing results to the Lord, I pointed out the great Covenant Promise which our heavenly Father gave to Abraham and his seed: that it was, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed"; that the natural seed, Isaac and Jacob and the nation of Israel, held fast the promise but never inherited it; that the true Seed only began to come in the person of the Lord Jesus; that the true Church, the true members of the body of Christ, are members of this "Seed" and heirs according to that original promise which has not yet had its fulfilment, but awaits the completion of the Seed—the completion of "the Church which is his body." "If ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."—Gal. 3:29.
Briefly noting that this is the Christian's hope of our text, and that it is still unfulfilled, we saw that it is still to be striven for by all who would make their calling and election sure; and that in the light of this [R3198 : page 164] promise and hope all true Christians should recognize present experiences, trials, etc., as so much of their education in the school of Christ,—in preparation for their work in the coming age—the work of blessing the families of earth during the promised Millennial Kingdom.
Only five of the passengers have had either interest or curiosity sufficient to lead them to converse with me on the subject,—and only two of these with earnestness; but if two or even one should ultimately develop as a ripe grain of "wheat" how glad and thankful we would be. So far as I can ascertain, about one-half of the passengers are professing Christians, and about two-thirds of these Episcopalians—of whom not one has seemed interested. Of the two manifesting interest one is a Baptist, the other a Methodist. A Baptist minister aboard declared himself an Evolutionist and in full sympathy with "higher criticism"—denying that the Lord bought us. When pressed with Scripture he denied the authority of Paul and the other Apostles, and claimed to hold to the life and words of Jesus only. When confronted with our Lord's own words to the effect that he came to "give his life a ransom for many" he avoided further discussion.
More and more it becomes evident that we are in the great trial-day of the Christian faith, and that it is not so much a question of Who will fall? as of "Who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. 6:17.) The prophet declared, "A thousand shall fall at thy side" (Psa. 91:7), and so we find it. So far from glorying in the evidences that many are falling from the fundamental [R3199 : page 164] faith, and that many have already fallen, we are pained. Nevertheless, recognizing this as one of the signs of the close of the present dispensation, we can rejoice that the Millennium of blessing will ere long be ushered in;—when dim faith will be swallowed up in the sunlight of truth;—when "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep;" when "the wayfaring man though a fool need not err."—Isa. 9:11; 35:8.
I seal and mail this when near the British shore, where (Southampton) Brother Henninges is expected to meet me and accompany me to London. Continue to remember me in your prayers, that our Father and Elder Brother may direct our every word and act to his glory and to the profit of our dear brethren on this side of the world—of various tongues but of one spirit—in as well as outside of Babylon.