BLESSED are the people who do know the joyful sound." (Psa. 89:15.) No Convention yet held by us better illustrated this text than the Niagara Convention. It was a joyful meeting of happy people. Not merely did the association conduce to happiness, but nearly all in attendance were happy before they came, and merely increased their joys by their fellowship there with the Lord and with one another.
The Boston railway agent remarked to the Brother who secured the arrangements for the sixty brethren and sisters from that quarter,—"You all seem to be anticipating a good time. Every face is happy—not a frown, not a vexed or cross word." He was the more surprised because the people were of no sect or party—merely Christians—and enroute for a Bible Students' Convention. He became interested in "the happy people," and says he wants to read "DAWN" to find the secret. A similar experience attended another party.
The watchman at the Conservatory had not expected arrivals before 10 a.m. Sunday and refused to open the building, but finally did open it, inquiring, "What is it that makes you all so happy?" He was informed that the people were happy because they loved and trusted the Lord and his Word. He thought he would attend some of the meetings and learn why those people were so happy in coming long distances at their own expense. He attended, declared it was a different gospel from any he ever before heard, and got the DAWN to study further.
The janitor of the building not only noted the joy of the Lord in the faces and conversation, but remarked also that this was the only Convention ever held in the Conservatory, attended by men, that did not litter the carpets, etc., with cigar ashes and stumps and tobacco quids. A number of the employes, we learn, are now reading DAWN as a result of their having read the "living epistles" of the Lord's "people who do know the joyful sound."
Niagara Falls, N.Y., is a quiet, clean and beautiful city, all that could be desired. Its citizens let us alone, and we let them alone; except that the 1,100 conveners got their lodgings with them at not unreasonable rates. We did not advertise this Convention to the public, preferring to have it chiefly a gathering of those already deeply interested in Present Truth. No doubt this contributed to the general sentiment that this was the best Convention yet held under our Society's auspices. Hereafter we prefer to follow this plan in respect to the [R3611 : page 246] "General Convention" (except perhaps one discourse for the public) leaving to the "One Day Conventions" more particular appeals to the local public.
The Natural Food Co., manufacturers of "Shredded Wheat Biscuit," granted us the free use of the fine auditorium in their extensive buildings. It was scrupulously clean, well lighted, well ventilated and seats 1,000 persons. It was more than full on two occasions, on Sunday. The Convention voted its thanks to the management and their courteous employes.
Some in attendance came long distances—two from Florida, one from Tennessee, some from Nebraska, but the majority, of course, from the more central districts. Boston, Chicago and Allegheny churches seem to have been most liberally represented—about 60 from each.
From the opening of the Convention to its close the keynote was loving gratitude to God and love and sympathy to the brethren and the entire groaning creation. About a dozen brethren took part in the public [R3612 : page 246] services. More than a dozen others present would have been quite competent for service had there been opportunity for them. No doubt the discourses did good by stimulating faith and zeal, but after all the great feature of the Convention surely was the heart-fellowship of the occasion. No earthly family-reunion compared with the gathering of the Lord's family and their loving interest in each other's welfare. Introductions were not waited for—each knew the other's heart and soon reached it.
Ninety-four brethren and sisters symbolized their consecration as being "even unto death." It was a beautiful and solemn witnessing. The pastor of the Baptist Church, which so kindly granted us the free use of their baptistry, was present at the service, we learn, and is now reading DAWN. An Episcopal minister and his wife, also a Baptist minister and his wife, were conventioners with us, having come considerable distances. We believe they were favorably impressed and blessed. We hope to hear from them further, ere long.
We reminded the dear friends that we surely had the prayers and blessed wishes of others of "the happy people," "the Truth people," all over the world, thousands of whom would have been with us had the Lord's providence permitted. We remembered you all earnestly in our prayers that the Lord would compensate your unwilling absence by pouring upon you a portion of our blessing; and we exhorted all of the dear friends present to endeavor to carry back to their homes some of the precious words and experiences of the Convention. We doubt not some of them will talk about their experiences for a year to come.