OGDEN, Utah, was our next appointment. By this time our company was small, as some came no farther than Denver; however, others joined us en route for Portland. The Ogden friends met us at the depot, and showed abundantly, by words and deeds, that they were glad of the one-session Convention. They had secured the use of the Mormon Tabernacle and had thoroughly advertised our discourse, "To Hell and Back. Who are there? Hope for many of them."
About 600 were present, a very large audience for us in a city of Ogden's size. Excellent attention was given for nearly two hours, while we endeavored to show forth that the real penalty for sin is death, that the tomb is the hell of the Bible and that the salvation promised as a result of Christ's death and a consequent reconciliation with the Father is awakening and resurrection—for whomsoever wills. We believe that some were helped.
We took train for Portland at 2.30 o'clock in the morning—spending nearly two nights and two days on the journey. A crowd of dear friends awaited us at the depot, though our train was several hours belated. We got a good opportunity to wash and rest and visit before the opening of the Convention on Friday, September 8.
The Portland gathering had the distinction of being the only three-days Convention on this trip, and it was a most enjoyable season of refreshment. The local friends had made every preparation for the nearly two hundred visiting friends who, while chiefly from Oregon, Washington and Utah, included representatives from British Columbia, Dakota, Minnesota, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and one from Australia. The interspersed testimony meetings were rich treats, as always, and caused many hearts to "burn" as they recounted their experiences and heard of similar mercies of God variously manifested toward others.
We had "Woodmen's Hall" for all the meetings except the Baptism service, which was held in the Christian Church, and the service specially advertised for the public, which was held in the Taylor St. M.E. Church on Sunday, Sept. 10th. At the latter our topic was, "To Hell and Back," etc., and an audience of about 900 gave close attention for about two hours and then took our free literature with avidity.
The program was followed throughout. One of the Elders opened the Convention with words of greeting and welcome, after which Brother A. H. MacMillan became the permanent chairman and greeted all present in the name of our Society, and then the first testimony meeting began. Pilgrim Brother Harrison gave an able address in the afternoon, his subject being, "The cost to our Lord for the world's redemption." The necessity and value of the ransom were shown, as well as the Master's great sacrifice in leaving the realms of glory and enduring all that our redemption cost. "Take heed to the doctrine" of the ransom was the essence of his discourse. The evening service, introduced by a service of praise, was a Chart Discourse by Pilgrim Brother Barton, who made the various features of the divine plan very plain and very interesting.
Saturday morning's opening service was one of praise and prayer, after which a question meeting, occupying two hours and involving a great variety of topics, prepared us all for noon refreshments and rest.
The entire afternoon was devoted to the consideration of Baptism, showing the erroneous views, and, in contrast, the true teachings of the Bible on the subject—substantially as set forth in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. VI. Following the discourse twenty-nine requested and received symbolic immersion in water, as illustrating and confessing their true baptism into Christ's death.
Saturday evening Pilgrim Brother Barton addressed the Convention on the lessons of the Ninety-first Psalm—showing what it is to be safe under the protecting shadow of the Almighty, and how these secured ones are protected from the various snares and deceptions [R3644 : page 308] of this harvest time. About 300 heard very attentively.
Sunday forenoon brought another blessed testimony, praise and prayer meeting, after which we spent over an hour discussing the spiritual lessons taught by the Exposition, which many of you have read through the columns of the Pittsburg Dispatch and other Monday publications, which now carry extra messages from the editor of this journal to so many of the friends weekly.
The Sunday afternoon discourse we have already mentioned. The Convention closed that evening with a Love Feast introduced by a short discourse on the Twenty-third Psalm. We parted, hoping to meet at the great Convention, "The General Assembly of the Church of the Firstborn." We left on the night train for Everett, Washington, about twenty friends of those parts accompanying us.
Warm hearts and hands greeted us and entertained us at Everett. An afternoon meeting for the interested [R3645 : page 308] was attended by seventy-five. We discoursed to them for nearly two hours on the terms on which our calling and election may be made sure; and the evidences we have of the divine favor with us to assist us in overcoming the world, and how all things work together for good to the faithful.
The evening service for the public, on "To Hell and Back," was held in Everett's Carnegie Hall, whose capacity of about three hundred was fully taxed. We had excellent attention and were pleased to learn of several who were "greatly helped" by the service. After a good night's rest we proceeded to Seattle.
As Seattle friends and others accompanied us to Everett, so many from Everett, etc., came with us to Seattle. The opening was a praise and testimony service, followed at 3 p.m. by a discourse on "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom," in which we emphasized the favor of the present age call and the blessings to result to the Church and the world in the Kingdom. About 200 were present and they mostly the interested from various parts, adjacent and distant. Our evening address on "To Hell and Back" was heard with great attention by an audience of about 650, and we trust that good fruitage will appear in God's due time. The afternoon services were held in Third Avenue M.E. Church edifice, the evening service in the Arcade Hall. The midnight train speeded us back to Portland, where, on the 13th, we took the Pacific steamer for San Francisco, our next appointment.
The ocean journey from Portland to San Francisco was a delightful and restful one. Our party numbered six—three on return journey to Los Angeles, one from St. Louis and one from Millvale, Pa., besides the Editor. Brother MacMillan preceded us to Los Angeles to open the Convention there.
Every morning we had our usual "Heavenly Manna" as well as our physical refreshments and in the day time we had Scripture question meetings, in which all participated, and by which we trust all were profited. Thus our journey passed pleasantly, bringing us to San Francisco, Cal. on Saturday morning, Sept. 16th. At the landing awaiting our arrival were seven of the dear brethren and sisters of that vicinity, who gave us most hearty greetings, to which we as fervently responded.
Complete arrangements had been made, and we were soon comfortably located in the home of one of the dear ones, where a question meeting engaged us all pleasantly until dinner, after which came the general gathering of the friends of that vicinity, so far as it was possible for these to be in attendance on the busiest day of the week. There were about forty present, to whom we spoke on "God's Election"—our opportunity for making our calling and election sure, and the mark of the prize, perfect love. The service lasted from 2 to 4 p.m.
A goodly number accompanied us to the train which speeded us to Los Angeles, a distance of over 400 miles. Many were the hopes expressed that we should meet again in the "General Assembly," if not in another Convention on earth. Many prayers went up for a share in the heavenly Kingdom, even though led by the Master in the narrow way and by the way of the cross.
As per program, this Convention opened Saturday, Sept. 16th, with a rally and testimony meeting. An unannounced feature, much enjoyed by the friends was a Chart Talk by Brother MacMillan. This Convention thus happily opened was already under good headway and awaiting us Sunday morning, when we had a praise and testimony meeting participated in by many, including a Methodist minister and an ex-Methodist minister and ourself.
Our afternoon topic was for the public, "To Hell and Back. Who are there? Hope for many of them." The attendance was estimated at 700. The closest of attention was given and we trust some good seeds of Truth were planted in honest hearts, and that others partly assured were fully convinced respecting our Father's character and plan.
By general desire the Convention held over Monday, Sept. 18. The morning session was a praise and testimony meeting, during which we made a trip to Santa Monica at the urgent solicitation of one disabled from attending the Los Angeles meetings. There we had an opportunity for a talk on the Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices to a little group which included a Presbyterian minister of an apparently thoughtful cast of mind.
The evening session, which closed the Convention, was a question meeting. A number of questions were proffered but the first one occupied our entire time until 9.15 p.m. and the remainder we brought with us, to be answered in the WATCH TOWER columns from time to time. The topic which was so engaging was respecting "The satisfaction of Justice." Many seemed edified and we hope at some time to take up the subject again in the WATCH TOWER for the benefit of all.
Bidding Los Angeles adieu, we started (two only) on our journey to San Antonio, Texas, an item of 1,430 miles, mostly through a sandy desert, growing little but sage brush—extremely hot and dusty, especially one stretch which dips one hundred feet below sea level.
What means the oath that God hath sworn?
Have Christians from their Bible torn
The great Jehovah's seal?
When Christ shall bring the world's reward,
Will not each tongue confess him Lord—
Each knee in homage kneel?—Psa. 82:8.
Will every kindred, every tribe,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And glorify his name?
Yet while the nations bow so low,
Will vengeance hurl the bombs of woe,
To blast with endless shame?—Psa. 86:9.
Will God his lowly creatures cheat—
Or call the nations to his feet,
To feel a tyrant's rage?
Then will He scorn their prayerful breath—
Will nothing but a deathless (?) death
His stern revenge assuage?—Rev. 15:4.
What being do you worship then?
What unrelenting foe of men
Has chained you to his throne?
What form of error doth supply,
Your awful views of God Most High
To sacred truth unknown?—Mal. 1:11; Isa. 26:9.
Our God is love, of Gospel mould;
Who sent the Shepherd of the fold
To seek his sheep astray,
With yearning still His heart will burn,
Until the countless lost return,
To see the "Living Way."—Jno. 12:32; Rom. 8:21.
The love that brought salvation nigh,
Will heed the bruised sinner's sigh,
And soothe away his pain,
While "whosoever," great or small,
Upon Jehovah's name shall call,
Will never call in vain.—Acts 2:17 and 21; Rev. 22:17.
—G. M. BILLS.