OUR greeting on arrival at Los Angeles depot was most cordial. Probably thirty of the dear friends awaited us, though the train was many hours late and it was Saturday night—May 7th. Words are not adequate to describe our mutual joys as we realized that our long-looked-for pleasure of meeting was at last fulfilled. It made us think of the waited-for "General Assembly of the Church of the First-born" in the Kingdom glory. Indeed it was in many respects a foretaste of it. We were made glad when we learned that the opening sessions of the Convention had been joyous and profitable, and by midnight we were safely abed at the home of our dear Brother and Sister Sherman, with a "Rest" motto at the head of the bed and others on the walls, and all wrapped in the perfume of roses. We gave hearty thanks to the Lord for his care and bounty and slept refreshingly after our tedious two-days' journey through the desert.
Sunday was the principal day of the Convention. Its morning hours were for all—a Testimony and Praise Meeting. It was good to be there. Many of the testimonies were remarkable as tributes of praise and thanksgiving to the Heavenly Father for the "meat in due season" received in various ways, often peculiar and unexpected. After this session we were privileged to shake the hands of the dear friends of the Los Angeles Church and about as many more—visitors from abroad, far and near—the total being about 250. The writer greatly enjoyed this, and the words and tones and looks and hearty hand-grasps assured us that many had their cups of joy full to the brim.
The afternoon discourse was specially for the public, from a platform covered with flowers—surely a thousand of them—on the topic, "Salvation—from what are we saved and to what are we saved?" We had a house full, estimated 750, who gave very careful attention. A full report of the discourse appeared in the Gazette, which so many of our readers now receive regularly.
The sessions of Monday forenoon from 10 to 12 o'clock were occupied by Pilgrims Draper and Van Amburgh, who spoke ably to attentive listeners. Monday afternoon the discourse was on "Baptism and its import." This was followed by the symbolic burial in water of twenty-two, who witnessed a good confession of their faith, devotion and obedience.
The evening service was, as per our program, a "Love Feast." After a few remarks explanatory—showing that there is no relationship between such "breaking of bread" and the Memorial Supper—we made brief reference to the blessings which by the Lord's providence the Convention had brought to us all, and exhortations that we each strive diligently to make our calling and election sure so as to be participants in the joys of the great Convention in glory—"the General Assembly of the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in heaven." Then with the Elder of the local Church, Brother Sherman, and Pilgrim Draper at one end and Pilgrim Van Amburgh and the writer at the other end, and intermediately elders of other churches and colporteurs (about 25 in all), we bade good-bye to the dear brethren and sisters, greeting each with a hearty hand-shake. The first-named four each had on a plate a loaf of bread cut into strips, that the passing friends might break bread with each as representatives of all present, and indirectly, in the writer's loaf, with all absent members of the Society—who also were remembered in our prayers. Thus the Convention proper closed.
However, further pleasures and privileges were open to those who could and did remain over. Tuesday morning we had a most interesting gathering of colporteurs and those meditating engaging in that fruitful and blessed service. In the afternoon we addressed many of the Convention friends and others in a suburban village in a Presbyterian Church on the occasion of the funeral of a dear sister who for weeks had been hoping to see us in the flesh, and whose death occurred just in season to gratify another wish of her heart,—that her neighbors should hear from our lips respecting the hopes built upon God's Word, common to us both.
In the evening we met in the W.C.T.U. rooms and had the postponed Question Meeting, about 150 being present. Some very interesting queries were propounded and answered. Then final greetings and partings and hopes for the future, when we shall be forever with the Lord and all who are his. A goodly [R3383 : page 185] company, however, was on hand at the depot as we left next day for San Francisco.
Each of these precious gatherings had its own special and peculiar features of interest; but we must not detail them all lest we weary you, for however distinctive they each were to us and to those met at the different points, the accounts must needs be in similar language.
At San Francisco dear brethren awaited us at the depot and saw to our comfort and refreshment. Two meetings were held, dear friends being present from various quarters and introducing themselves—Brother A——-from B——-ville, Sister C——-from D——-ville, etc. Some said they had come 60 miles, some 100, some more and some less. And their radiant faces and hearty grasp told the same story as their lips: that the occasion was one of the grandest experiences of their lives—long to be remembered as an encouragement in the "narrow way." May it be so: we all need each other's help, sympathy and prayers. Attendance about 150.
Saturday night (May 14) we reached Portland, Oregon, and were greeted at the depot by about twenty of the dear friends most enthusiastically, and you may be sure we reciprocated the joy. We were most comfortably entertained at the home of "Grandmother" Baker and the Sunday convention began and ended most enjoyably.
The morning session was devoted to general testimony, interspersed with praise and prayer. It was good to be there—to hear the thanksgiving of many overflowing hearts acknowledging God's goodness in "so great salvation," and for the knowledge of his grace coming to us now as "Present Truth." About 125 were present.
The afternoon session for the public was on "The Oath-bound Covenant." About 300 attended, some of whom were obliged to stand throughout. Our hope is that some good was done—some glory brought to our God and Savior, and some blessing and refreshment to his hungry flock. The evening discourse on "A night of weeping and a morning of joy" appeared in the Pittsburgh Gazette of the following day and thus [R3384 : page 185] many of you already have it in full. After this service we took the train for our next appointment at
Seattle, Washington, which we reached next morning, Monday, May 16. A group of seven brethren awaited our arrival at the depot, giving us a most cordial welcome and greeting. An afternoon and an evening session were held, and from the latter quite a group accompanied us to the 10.30 East-bound Express, on the N. Pac. R.R. Their earnest expressions of good wishes, requests for our prayers and hopes for our return will long be remembered.
Spokane, Wash., we reached on Tuesday (May 17). We deeply regret our inability to spend a few hours with the loyal little band of "fellow-soldiers of the cross" at this place. But as the train stopped here for five minutes we had opportunity for greetings and found seventeen of the dear friends awaiting our arrival at the depot. The love and enthusiasm and zeal manifested everywhere by those who know and love Present Truth is very encouraging indeed. With the Apostle we thanked God and took courage, accepting a bouquet of flowers as a love token. Most of the dear friends here were no longer young, but all had the bright, joyous look so general among the "Truth people."
Constant riding day and night brought us on Thursday to the dear ones at St. Paul and Minneapolis, whom we had met before, but who were none the less beloved on that account. True love, begotten of the Spirit through the word of grace never grows cold but goes on increasing.
We were met at the train by Brothers Thori and Dickinson, who conducted us to the meeting place, where the friends were already assembled. We had time for personal greetings before the advertised meeting hour and enjoyed the privilege greatly. Some of the dear friends had come considerable distances, and fully one-half we had never met before. They had the family likeness, namely earnestness and fulness of the Truth, and beaming faces. The afternoon discourse was chiefly for the interested, and in the evening, to which the public was invited, the topic was "The Oath-bound Covenant." At the close of the meeting we bade all adieu, being accompanied to our train by nine of the friends.
Milwaukee, Wis., was reached the next forenoon, and there we were cordially welcomed and entertained by Bro. Page and his family. Our time permitted of but one meeting here; it was not publicly advertised, but afforded a most enjoyable opportunity for meeting eighty dear friends of the Truth—about half of whom had come from other points in Wisconsin and thirteen from Chicago. Our text was, "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward."—Heb. 10:35.
We reached Chicago the same evening and had an hour and a half before train-time to spend with a surprise party of seventeen of the Chicago Church who met us in the depot and with whom we had supper near by. The love for the Truth, manifested here as everywhere, was most refreshing. How often the Lord has thus comforted us, and how such comfort [R3384 : page 186] offsets the adverse conditions incident to the present pilgrim-way! As the Apostle expresses it:—
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort by which we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation [comfort] also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted it is for your consolation [comfort] and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation [comfort] and salvation."—2 Cor. 1:3-6.
We reached Allegheny safely the next morning, where two of the Bible House family met us at the depot and escorted us to the sitting room, in which were gathered the office helpers—about 30. We united our hearts and voices in praise and then in prayer, when on behalf of the whole a few words of greeting and welcome-home were expressed by one of the brethren. We responded that though greatly pleased and refreshed by recent meetings with the dear friends in various places, nevertheless none could have a warmer or a closer place in our heart than the dear fellow-laborers of the WATCH TOWER office.