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OUR Put-in-Bay Convention is a thing of the past, though its sweet memories, we doubt not, will be with us to eternity. It was not only the greatest convention ever held under the auspices of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, but in some respects it was one of the most remarkable gatherings of Christian people in modern times. The attendance was variously estimated at from 3,000 to 4,800, probably 3,500 would be a safe estimate. With so many meetings on the programme and some of the visitors very weary from travel and under mental strain, it is safe to suppose that one-seventh of the whole might have been missing from any one service; and it is estimated that 2,500 were present on several occasions.
It was a grandly inspiring congregation, because the faces were not only intelligent, but lighted up with a spirit of Christian love. It was a peculiar gathering in that it represented no sect or party, but professed the Bible creed alone. It was a peculiar audience further in that nearly all were consecrated people in the fullest sense of that term; it was peculiar in that so vast a company of Christian people were thorough believers in redemption through the precious blood of Christ, and disbelievers in the now popular but unscriptural Evolution Doctrine. The Pacific Coast from Washington to California, the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida, and all the States intermediate were well represented. The convention cost to those who attended it approximately $100,000. Each paid his own way, except in some noble instances, where the poorer friends were assisted. For instance, the Chicago Church voluntarily donated $1,500, and in so doing permitted the blessing of this convention to reach some of the dear friends who would not otherwise have enjoyed it.
It can surely be said that this was the best of all the Society's conventions thus far held, and not merely the largest. The spirit of the convention was the spirit of brotherly love, which found abundant expression, not only in the meetings, but also in the social gatherings and dining halls. The dear friends had come for a blessing, and it was only what we expected—that the Lord fulfilled his gracious promises in granting us refreshment. Our cups of joy ran over, time and again. Our hearts were enlarged. Our capacity for spiritual joy was increased, and we came time and again to the Father's table and partook of the refreshments, giving thanks in Jesus' name.
The place was in many respects ideal for such a convention—spacious, beautiful, quiet. The great hotel at which we made our headquarters accommodated about 2,400, while smaller hotels and cottages housed and fed the remainder. Naturally the crowd overtaxed the preparations and some of the dear friends were crowded more than we would have preferred. Nevertheless even the hotel people were astonished at the patience and kindly forbearance exhibited. In the congested condition, instead of murmuring, some of the dear friends assisted in waiting at the tables. Others helped by making up their own beds. Altogether the determination seemed to be a fixed one—that we had come together for a spiritual rest, a spiritual feast, and that nothing should hinder us from obtaining; and we got it according to the Lord's promises. Lessons learned in the matter of providing hotel accommodations will doubtless prove helpful to us, should [R4239 : page 275] we ever again attempt so large a convention, either at the same place or elsewhere.
So important an event seemed to us to justify the devoting of one entire issue of our journal to a report of it. This we have done in a manner which, we trust, will be acceptable to all of our readers. We have not attempted to give a full report of any of the discourses, but divided equally the space at our disposal, giving a synopsis of each discourse.
"Dear Brethren in the Lord—We are glad to welcome you in the name of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society to this the greatest convention of the Lord's people that has yet been held, or that may be held, this side of the vail. We rejoice to come here, for some of the Lord's people have been looking forward to this day, believing that a great blessing is to flow out to his dear ones during the next ten days. We come here, dear friends, with the purpose of building one another up in the most holy Faith, and of giving thanks for what the Lord has done for all of us."
The chairman made apt application of the statement of the Prophet that the Lord's praises should be declared in the "island." It was suggested that this convention, being held on an island, in the midst of the turbulent sea, symbolized the condition of heart of those who amid the distressed condition of society still had their confidence resting in the Lord; that the Lord's people are the stable ones in society now. It was also considered suggestive that so many of the dear friends were gathered together from various quarters, practically under one roof, and the name of the building "Victory." This was declared to be expressive of the common sentiment entertained by all of the Lord's people—Victory! The brother further said:
"Dear friends, we all desire the victory; we all desire to be victors, yea, more than conquerors." It was suggested further that this island in the midst of the beautiful seas was named "Put-in-Bay," which presented a further picture to the mind. A bay is a haven of rest from the storms that beat upon the sea. The brother very fervently urged that all of the dear friends have their hearts overflowing with the spirit of love; love for God supreme, love for the brethren, love for truth and righteousness and sympathetic love for the poor, groaning creation, now in darkness, waiting for the manifestation of the glorified sons of God.
The chairman made it plain that every one who is a believer in the atoning blood of Christ would be made heartily welcome. Especially did he welcome the Colporteurs, likening them to the brave warriors of Balaklava, as they [R4239 : page 276] pass onward in their campaign against the stronghold of error, heeding not the undesirable circumstances and conditions with which they continually come in contact; heeding only the command of their King to be faithful unto death.
Also the others specially engaged in the harvest work were very cordially welcomed—the volunteers and the pilgrims. The brother further stated that he felt sure that the hearts of all were united in love and appreciation for him whom God had so highly honored as to place in a position where he would be privileged to bring the precious truths of the harvest period to the attention of so many who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
Each one of the dear friends was exhorted to bear in mind the nobility of his calling, and to conduct himself with appropriate dignity. The friends were given the comforting thought that even though the Adversary was in close proximity on the island they were absolutely invulnerable as long as they kept close to the Master and had his Spirit, banishing thoughts of hatred or fault-finding.
After Brother Rutherford's address a hymn was sung, "Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love," in the midst of which Brother Russell ascended the platform. He was greeted with the Chautauqua salute, the waving of handkerchiefs, and he returned the same, waving his own to the enthusiastic gathering. On being introduced by the chairman he said:
"I am here on this occasion to offer you salutation. I salute you in the name of our great heavenly Father, in the name of our great Redeemer and Lord, and in the name of all the dear brethren and sisters who are interested in ZION'S WATCH TOWER and the truths which it continues to present to the best of its ability."
The brother continued to state that he considered it a blessing indeed to have the privilege of greeting so many, of whom he supposed a large proportion were fully consecrated to the Lord. He expressed himself as thinking it a most wonderful thing indeed that so many had laid their all upon the altar for sacrifice, for most of the Lord's people, no doubt, had found by experience, by actual inquiry among their acquaintances and friends, that very few would be willing to say that they had made a full, complete consecration to the Lord, and while this was saddening to the heart, yet it demonstrated the truth of the Lord's own statement, that the "elect" class would constitute only a "little flock."
He stated that it was not an uncommon thing for audiences of that size to be convened, but that it was a very uncommon thing to see an audience of that size composed of individuals, most of them not wealthy in this world's goods, who were attending for their own personal edification and not as paid delegates from large and wealthy congregations.
He expressed gratification that the dear friends had come together for personal benefit, and felt sure that they could not have come with a desire to shine before the world, for nothing connected with the truth had that tendency. Rather, as the Apostle says, "We are counted fools." But this is merely the estimation of the world, which estimation is foolishness in God's sight. We have taken God's side and this is the foundation of our confidence and of our rejoicing.
The brother stated that this was the only meeting in the whole world, so far as he knew, composed of so many whose hearts, as well as heads, were so thoroughly convinced in harmony with the Bible. While they were free from error and superstition, nevertheless they had come into a most abject bondage, bond-slaves of the Lord. On the one hand free, on the other hand bound; bounden by their minds and by their hearts; bound by love—"Blest be the tie that binds"—bound in that after their acceptance they are not permitted to do a single thing out of harmony with his will; that only upon these conditions is a man permitted to be the servant of the Lord. The speaker urged that they let nothing come between them and this spirit of service—
We are not bound for a day or a week or a month, but to the end of our journey, until we die. "Be thou faithful unto death," is the divine condition imposed for the obtaining of the crown of life. It is a full surrender to all eternity. He made the statement that it was no doubt true that those who had been in this condition of bondage for ten years had more joy, more rest in the Lord, than those who had been in that condition for only one year; that as our experiences increased, our blessings increased, from grace to grace, from glory to glory, in our hearts now, in our whole being now; and that by and by there would be the attainment of the glory that God hath in reservation for those that love him.
The brother closed by exhorting the dear friends to be faithful, to keep their eyes on the final and glorious hopes and promises, on the grand consummation of our hopes, that we might be permitted to share in "the resurrection of the dead," and that each is assured of a share in the glory upon condition that he continue to share in the sufferings of this present time.
After supper the friends mingled in sweet Christian fellowship in the spacious halls and parlors of Hotel Victory. In the immense parlors, offices, corridors and verandas the friends had full possession, and if any went away unblessed, unrefreshed, uncomforted, unstrengthened, we surely believe that it must have been for some cause of his own.
For more than an hour in advance of the programme announcement the friends gathered in the vast auditorium. A praise and prayer service prepared for a discourse from Brother John Harrison, which we briefly report below:
"My dear friends, I esteem it a great honor as well as privilege to be permitted to greet you in the first service this morning. We come to you this morning with a message recorded in 2 Tim. 4:6-8, 'I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give [R4240 : page 276] me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.' These words form a part of the last charge of the great Apostle to the Gentiles to his son Timothy. They form a climax to one of the greatest lives recorded in the annals of men. The Apostle Paul had but one superior, and that was our Lord Jesus Christ. 'Seeing the time is at hand, I am ready to depart.' We look at this character and are amazed that he ever could attain thereto. Paul had his fight. He had his hour of trial, moments of despair. His was a rough pathway. And the Apostle was almost overcome in the conflict. We are not surprised that the Lord let Christ set his heart upon him. He told Paul that he should suffer much for him. Paul was a man of no mean parts. He could boast of Roman citizenship and that he had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. He was a man full of wisdom, of zeal, of understanding, and he was zealous in persecuting the Christians, thinking that he did God service. The name of Saul of Tarsus is the only name recorded in the description of the death of Stephen. He it was who held the garments of those who crushed out the life of the martyr. Thus was Paul when he was taken captive by our Lord Jesus Christ. Blindness was his portion until mercy spoke and the scales dropped from his eyes. The foes were indeed mighty that confronted this man (a defender of the cross of Calvary) when he entered the narrow way. His conquest of himself was a mighty one. He made a complete sweep of the things of the earth when he entered this race. He eliminated all the ambitions of this life, recognizing the fact that it was for Christ's sake. Not many men can measure to that altitude of character.
"Paul said, 'I am dead with Christ.' But then, just then, began the greatest conflict—to bring everything into subjection to the will of God. 'The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.' Such a change in Paul's condition of mind must have been attended by a marvelous grasp of faith in the man whom he had persecuted in his previous life. I speak the experiences of many when I say that we did not fall into this way easily. What a wonderful conflict of soul there must have been when Paul turned about and recognized the Christ, the Truth.
"I meet with different ones who say, 'I don't see how I can ever be an overcomer; how I can win the prize.' Let me ask you, who put you into the race? God did. Our [R4240 : page 277] heavenly Father knows all about you. And the Lord understands the whole situation, just as he did for Paul. Let no one take your crown. It has been assigned to you.
"Paul was permitted to look into the future as well as retrospectively over the past. He was ready to say, no more conflicts, no more besetments, no more doubts. I am ready. We are in the last end of the age, whereas Paul stood in the first end of it. We stand in the last end of the Gospel Age and the first end of the Millennial Age. Paul said that there was a crown laid up for him, which the righteous Judge should give him in that day. We will receive it in this day. May our confidence become firmer, our rest in him become sweeter as the days go by."
"'Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one law-giver, who is able to save and to destroy; who art thou that judgest another?'—James 4:11,12.
"He that speaketh evil of another speaketh evil of the law. What law? The law of honor, the royal law, the law of Love. The law of love says, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' If a man love another as himself he will cover the faults of that one just as he would his own. If a man with the law of love, the love of God, in his heart hears something about others, is he to keep it to himself or to tell it to others? The Apostle Peter says that above all things we should have fervent love amongst ourselves. A man never makes himself great in making another less. We have a rule for everything in Matt. 18:15-17, 'If thy brother trespass against thee, go to him alone' about it. And if he hear thee, what then? Ah! then thou hast gained thy brother.
"Paul going to Damascus to persecute the Christians heard our Lord's voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?' If it was hard for Paul, so it is hard with every fault-finder. If thy brother trespass against thee go and tell him alone, and if he will not hear, take one or two others. If he will not hear them, take it to the congregation that they may restore him. The Bible tells me not to speak evil of anyone. The Lord will judge righteously. The judges of the earthly courts cannot judge righteously. Many a man has been hung for the crime of another. And many a man has gone free who would not have done so with righteous judgment. Our Lord will know who is to blame and who is not. Judge nothing before the time. If you want to get on that judgment-seat in the Millennial Age, my friends, you must keep down now, 'Who art thou that judgest another?' Before you judge, find the book and chapter and verse in the Bible which gives you the authority to judge. We should consider it well to look into ourselves and to attend to our own business, to our own consecration. If we do this, we shall not have time to see the faults of others. The Apostle Paul said, 'I keep my body under, lest after having preached to others, I myself become a castaway.'
"He who judges others lays the foundation for his own judgment. God will be just as loving and kind—and just as severe also—as we are to others. The Apostle James says that he who gives no mercy shall have judgment without mercy. God has no mercy for you if you have no mercy for others. 'With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.'
"Think for a moment of the words in the 15th Psalm: 'Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle or who shall dwell in thy holy hill?' It is one thing getting in and another staying in. What is meant by taking up a reproach against a man's neighbor? To take up a reproach against a man's neighbor is to violate the law of love. So that if I hear anyone speaking against my sister or brother and do not oppose this I take up a reproach against him. We see then, dear friends, that a person is guilty if he listens to evil things. If we have the love of God in our hearts we will not believe anything against our brother until it is proved against him. But suppose a man tells us something about a brother high in the Truth. Should we not believe it? No! If an angel from heaven should tell it, do not believe it. If we have the love of God in our hearts we will not be against our brother unless he acknowledges the wrong. Love will cover a multitude of sins. When one is honored, all should rejoice. There is no envy in the true Body of Christ. Neither a back-biter nor one who listens to a back-biter will get into the Kingdom. In I Peter 3:10 the Apostle says, 'For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.' Well, who does not love life and love the good days promised? If we want to get into the Kingdom, let us refrain from evil and speak no guile."
Brother Barton stated that it was customary to take a text and then to preach from that text, but that this time he intended to reverse the usual order, to preach the sermon and then have the text at the end. He had a special reason for this—to avoid the prejudice of the minds of those in the audience; that oftentimes when the text was announced it sounded so familiar that the opportunity for drawing specially helpful thoughts from that text was almost gone.
The brother proceeding said that every individual member of the human race would spend eternity in one of four conditions. He cited Gen. 2:10-14 as containing a suggestion of what these four classes would be. The river that went forth out of Eden, he said, might represent the human race, which also originated in Eden and which was brought forth to be the crowning blessing to the earth. From thence the river was divided into four heads, so the human race has gone out of Eden because of sin, and since it has left the garden it has been divided into four classes. The first river was named Pison, which compassed the land of Havilah, where there was much gold, and the gold of that land was good. How often in the Scriptures gold is used to symbolize the divine nature, the condition of the "little flock." The second division was Gihon, corresponding to the servants before the throne, the palm-bearers of Revelation, touching a symbolical Ethiopia, for that country was used to represent servitude. The third division was Hiddekel, flowing toward Assyria, the world, the restitution class. And the fourth was Euphrates, the river which was made dry by Cyrus, and concerning which we read that it shall be dried up, like those who go into the Second Death, as unworthy of a continuation of the moisture of hope.
The statement was emphasized that all must come under one of these divisions, and the query was given as to which of them would contain us. Some were represented as saying, "Oh, I would like to be of the company typified by the [R4241 : page 277] river Pison, flowing where there is much gold; I would like to be of that special class which shall have the divine nature rather than be of the restitution class." "But why this desire? What would be the reason; what the motive?" It was suggested that the individual might even be deceived for a time and not understand his own mind in this matter, as to what the real foundation motive was. Some of the motives that have been entertained are these: "I want to be of that class because I want the very best there is; others can have the second best." Such, however, will not be of that company, for their motive is selfish, the same spirit which actuated them before meeting with the truth. These feel that they could not be satisfied with any other position, not knowing the glories in store for the restitution class, when even the words which compose our language will be materially changed. Others state their motive as being a desire to see the Lord, to see him face to face, to enjoy his communion and fellowship. Others desire to be of that class because they want to help the world, they say. But so carefully is the foe entrenched in us that this even may be a snare. It was suggested that our desire may be that we may do this work; not so much that the work might be done, but that we might do it. No! we must "glorify the Son."
Another praise and prayer service rested and prepared the congregation for Brother Russell's discourse. Jesus said to his disciples, "Come ye yourselves aside into a desert place and rest for a while."
We do not report this discourse because so many of you as desire it already have a fuller report in various newspapers publishing these sermons every week. Clubbing rates can be secured by addressing the WATCH TOWER office.
In the two hours devoted to a praise, prayer and testimony meeting, the great congregation had an excellent opportunity [R4241 : page 278] for communicating the one to the other respecting the Lord's providences in their behalf and in praise and petitions. The time was well improved and many hearts were made glad.
"'Be ye not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.' (Rom. 12:21.) This question confronts all of us. The Church must overcome evil now; the entire world must overcome evil in the next age. The Apostle tells us that the 'Adversary as a roaring lion seeks whom he may devour.' The experiences of these times are going to be terrible. So were the closing scenes of Christ's life terrible. Do you esteem it a privilege to so suffer?" The speaker quoted repeatedly many forceful texts of Scripture throughout the entire discourse, going to the "Law and to the testimony" to prove all statements made by him.
"The whole question with us," he said, "as we think of our text, is one of faith. It is already real in God's sight. Everything depends upon ourselves. There must be no schism in the Body of Christ. The Apostle says in Rom. 12:4,5, 'For as we have many members in one Body, and all members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one Body in Christ, and everyone members one of another.' We are now the family of God." At this point the speaker quoted the following Scriptures:—Eph. 2:19-22; Rom. 8:29; Psa. 21:9; Eph. 5:15.
"In the rules of consecration presented by the Apostle, we see that Love is the principal thing. The command of our Master is that we love one another. He shows us that we must hate evil and seek good. 'Be fervent in spirit.' Do not render railing for railing. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. Love would not avenge itself. Instead of judging in an avenging spirit, this new mind will try to cover the fault. Again we say that everything rests upon faith. We see that Satan is now ruling; that Satan has caused all the sin and trouble; that God will destroy both sin and Satan; that God hath reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ. It requires faith to abide in this world and not be of it. We must have faith. A want of it is fatal. Evil can be rooted out, overcome, destroyed by good. God's methods are exact and simple and true. We are laboring together with God. His Word instructs us. Just restraints are placed upon the souls hoping to become joint-heirs in the Kingdom with our Lord." Again the speaker drew from the numerous Scriptures which he cited many helpful illustrations for the child of God.
"It is by prayer and fasting and supplication that we keep out of sympathy with the evil and in close touch with our Lord, until he turns loose upon us the holy Spirit. We cannot have the heart filled with two things at the same time. If we are filled with love there is no room left in our hearts for evil. (2 Cor. 10:5.) 'Casting down imaginations and bringing into captivity every thought to Christ Jesus.' There are two indispensable things for the Christian to do. He must study, study, study; and he must read, read, read. It does not require much to decide your chance. Love and trust the brethren if the heavens fall. You will be misunderstood, but God is for us. Keep with those who have the same mind that you have, the same hope, the same desires. What concord the Apostle advises! How can two walk together unless they are agreed? 'If ye do these things, ye shall never fail,' says the Apostle. By willingness to endure hardness the new mind must be polished and purified. Character must be established so that throughout all eternity there will be no deflection from the will of God.
"Three things are necessary for us—God's power and help, our own co-operation, and our consecration. God is for us, if we can only grasp it. The world calls us fools, but God's Word calls us wise virgins. God will energize these new minds and we must press forward until we shall achieve and accomplish the victory. Satan is directing all his forces against us, but our Lord overrules all these things to our good. They have a contrary effect. Satan means evil against us, and the flesh rebels and cries out for ease and pleasure."
"Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid." Brother Draper's subject was, "The Ransom and the Philosophy of It." He took it for granted that most of those present recognized the necessity of comprehending the wonderful doctrine of the ransom. He realized with the rest that there are very few that believe in the doctrine of the ransom at the present time, simply because they have not comprehended that which is the foundation for all Christian faith. If it be not understood we lay ourselves open to all the wiles of the Adversary. He expressed his finding that a majority of the D.D.s seemed quite ready to lay it aside, without feeling very much concerned about the matter, declaring that there was no fall; that if man fell at all he fell upward. The speaker related having inquired of a learned doctor if he believed that "Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man." The answer was: "No, I do not believe any such foolishness as that. No one but backwoodsmen believe that any more." Brother Draper was grateful that he was still a backwoodsman; that he recognized that had Christ not died there could no real blessing come to the human race; if Christ did not die, then the Scriptures are a farce from beginning to end.
The speaker stated that in this time it is especially necessary to have a more clear understanding of the ransom from the standpoint of philosophy than it ever was at other times and ages because of the trying circumstances in which the Church finds herself. We understand that God had created man perfect, in his own image, that he fell into sin, into degradation, into shame, when he veered aside from the course of perfect obedience, and that the only hope for any restoration lies in the fact that a great price has been paid, even the death of our Redeemer.
The love of the heavenly Father was pointed out in having caused the earth to be cursed and in arranging all of the circumstances in the most helpful way possible. How kind of him to make the sentence a death sentence lest wickedness abound even more than it has! When man was driven from the Garden of Eden it was necessary for him to begin to battle with the world in its imperfection, and hence he went down gradually into oblivion. The brother stated that according to the Scriptures there was just one little ray of hope found in the promise, "The Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." On went the years, sixteen centuries, and yet no further revelation, wickedness becoming so rife that it was necessary to cleanse the face of the earth by the flood. Four hundred years more; then came the promise of a blessing through the Seed of Abraham, yet no intimation as to what that Seed should be. Then "the Law was added because of transgression."
It was clearly shown that the angels had failed in their attempt to lift the race to a righteous plane. The law had made nothing perfect, because an imperfect man could not keep a perfect law. Then in the fulness of time God manifested his love in that he sent forth his son to die as a ransom for all, the just for the unjust. He actually died, actually took the sinner's place. Wherever the sinner was, there the Lord went. He was as dead as the vilest sinner.
It was impressed upon the hearers that it was this fact that made possible the promised blessing to all the families of the earth, as his death was the means which would be [R4242 : page 278] used to relieve the death sentence, and usher in the glorious work of the Gospel and Millennial ages.
Brother Hoskins sought to impress upon the minds of the dear friends the foundations of the things that had caused their gathering together. The brother remarked that our faith in God is not only that God intends to be good, but that he is good; that our faith not only affects our hope for the future, but gives us a foretaste of it in the present time; that it takes hold of matters pertaining to the present, not only the hope that now is, but also that which is to come. He impressed all with the thought of the dignity of their calling and with the necessity for walking in accordance therewith, remembering that we are being prepared to have a share in all the glories and wealth of the heavenly condition.
The text was Matt. 25:21, "Well done, good and faithful servant." The special effort was to show what the divine approval signifies, and the value of it. Approval, he said, suggests the thought of having measured up to some standard, and that the standard with which the Lord's people are to measure is the standard of his Word, the standard of his own character, which is right and true and good. "Think of what the divine approval means," he said; "the approval of the mighty Maker of the Universe, the Self-Existing One." "The Lord, our God, is gracious in all his works. What does God want of you and me?" he queried. "We were able to judge of our present approval by the amount of joy which his promises inspire in us. Eternal life is God's favor, condemnation his disapproval, his disfavor. He endorses them because they are fully and completely in harmony with his [R4242 : page 279] arrangement." Brother Hoskins produced the Scripture proof that the human race as a whole had been in God's disfavor for now six thousand years, caused by the transgression of and nonconformity to the perfect law of God, and that the Lord could not endorse them in this condition. Yet it was shown that the Word of God was full of loving arrangements which the Lord had in store for the race and that it was a source of joy to all rightminded people to realize that the Lord, because of the ransom sacrifice offered in the person of his only begotten Son, could eventually establish favor to all the people.
But how, it was asked, can we gain the divine approval now and prove ourselves worthy of God's eternal favor, eternal life? In the past God's favor was with Abraham, then with Isaac, then with Jacob, then with the whole Jewish nation in a special sense; but now the covenant entered into for the obtaining of favor is a special covenant, a covenant with God by sacrifice, first made acceptable by having received the merits of the ransom sacrifice, being justified by faith, legally at peace with God, meeting his approval thus far. But a fuller favor was granted by responding to the invitation extended to those thus justified to present their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to the Lord. But even after having done these things, what then? he asked. Can we win God's final approval, the "well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord"? As an answer this text was read, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." The dear friends were exhorted to continue to study to know the Lord and his will that they might conform themselves to his requirements, and their success depended upon the attitude with which they went about the matter; that "with God a meek and quiet spirit is of great price." He further urged that under the influence of the holy Spirit we should gradually attain a degree of actual righteousness, above that which we had when we entered into the justified state, and that thus cleansing ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit we would have the Lord's final approval, which is of inestimable value.
This closed the third day of our blessed convention so far as discourses on the Truth were concerned. In the evening the Pilgrim brethren had a spiritual fellowship meeting amongst themselves, while the concourse of people walked and talked and sang in nearly every part of the spacious building and on its lawns. We are well satisfied that the feature of social fellowship is an added blessing when rightly exercised. True, it can be made a fruitful source for evil amongst those under the domination of the world, the flesh and the Adversary—as an opportunity for scandal-mongering, evil-speaking, slander, etc. We praise the Lord, however, for the evidences we have that the spirit of a sound mind is coming more and more unto the Lord's people, and the conversations seemed to be confined to the glorious hopes by the way. On other occasions where these meetings have been held the special opportunity for fellowship was lost. It is this particular feature that has become helpful and comforting upon this occasion.
In harmony with the programme the day opened with a five-o'clock meeting. The original idea of having general testimony, praise and worship was not carried out, Brother Russell considering it an opportune time to deliver a little address, which is briefly given below. It was respecting the suggestive thought in the words of the Prophet, "Unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his beams."
"This morning for a little while let us consider Paul's epistle to Timothy, first chapter, fifth verse: 'Now the End of the Commandment is Charity, Out of a Pure Heart, and of a Good Conscience, and of Faith Unfeigned.' Now the end of the command is love or charity which proceeds from a pure heart and from true faith and a good conscience. We find Paul, in addressing Titus, says also, 'Speak the things which mean sound doctrine.' 'My word, which goeth forth out of my mouth shall not return to me void.' The thought here is to show the incorruptness of the Word of Truth. Many Christians fail to rightly divide the Word.
"God is gathering from the Gentiles a people to bear the name of Christ; but the seed of the flesh is not the Seed of promise. The Church will be part of that Seed by resurrection from the dead. So it is along this line that the Apostle Paul is addressing Timothy. He admonishes him to rightly divide the Word of Truth, which was given by inspiration. Rightly dividing the Word of Truth we see that Jesus came into the world to save sinners. We read that 'By one man's disobedience' all were made sinners. By one man, Adam, death is reigning. And before God's justice could be appeased the price must be paid.
"The members of the Body of Christ should have the same care for each other that the Lord has for them. 'If one member suffer, all suffer with it; or, if one member be honored, all rejoice with it.' We also find the Apostle Paul instructing Timothy not to rebuke an Elder and to endure hardness; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. Finally, in his closing epistle, Paul tells Timothy that much of his work would go to him. Paul says that we must have true faith, and that we must have our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.
"'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' God not only loves the Church, but the world. He showed his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Our Lord was at the mark of love at his consecration. He remained at this mark all through until he gave up his life. Remember Paul's words, 'Follow me, as I follow Christ.' He draws to our attention that those who are strong should bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please ourselves. It was for this reason that God placed in the midst of us some Apostles, some pastors. We need to have our minds girded about with the Word of Truth. The Lord's people who are in the narrow way must expect not only to appreciate justice, but also they must not look for justice from the world, who know it not. But they must be just and express love and compassion not only towards the brethren, but also to the world in general. There is only a little light shining here and there. And the light is with the Lord's people. Rejoice in your tribulations. It will increase your faith in the Lord. All will be made perfect through sufferings. These sufferings we ourselves are made partakers of. Let us more and more appreciate our privilege of suffering with Christ, that we get not discouraged. We realize that God is for us; and if God be for us, who can be against us? He that endures to the end shall be saved. He shall receive an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
This Psalm, it was declared, was written under very peculiar circumstances by the prophet David, after his deliverance from Saul. The conclusion was drawn that this utterance applied not only to David but to the David class, that class of persons which God has been selecting to be heirs of the Kingdom, even as David had been anointed to the position of king. The context was brought in to show that some of the experiences could not have referred to David as an individual and must therefore be understood to apply in a prophetic way to the great antitypical David.
The significance of the expressions that the Lord had used were brought forth. The bringing forth into a large place [R4243 : page 279] was the first experience and the deliverance because of the Lord's delight, the second. The term, "large place," was represented as specially emphasizing the thought of freedom, release from the condition of bondage—the place of freedom, of rest, to which the Master referred in his gracious invitation: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"; that condition of freedom was described as being a large, gracious, refreshing place. But the large place of the text evidently referred to more than merely justification by faith and the accompanying peace with God, the blessing described evidently included the advance grace of Rom. 5:2, "by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." That, he said, was the large place in which those who properly appreciate the opportunities of the present time were privileged to be, the place of God's peculiar favor. They had taken a step beyond mere justification. Yet it was by reason of the step of justification that they might take the step of consecration. When these gave themselves to the Lord the Lord gave them something—the hope of the glory of God. This, it was claimed, was not true of those who had been merely justified, for even perfect human beings could [R4243 : page 282] not rejoice in the hope of divine glory, all they could hope for would be a restitution to the place once occupied by Father Adam in the Garden of Eden. But those who have presented themselves as living sacrifices have the hope of a heavenly inheritance because they have been begotten again to a hope of another life; seated with Christ in heavenly places.
Special stress was laid upon the deliverance feature of the text. This could not apply to us as individuals, could not apply to any only as they were members of the Body of Christ, that great class in which he could delight. The deliverance was accomplished in two ways; deliverance out of the vexations and deliverance in the distresses. Sometimes the troubles, the trials, and difficulties were removed. Sometimes the Lord increased his grace and gave the ability to stand the trials, deliverance out of which would mean the depriving of the refining fire. Deliverance from worry was one of the chief blessings of the present experiences, according to the Apostle's exhortation, "Be care-full for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God."
Our trials need to be analyzed, he said, in order to determine their cause and in order that we might pray for and expect deliverance accordingly. The trial may have been caused by transgression of the covenant and would of course bring chastisement. Then we may have transgressed some natural law and we should not expect the Lord to work unnecessary miracles for us. It may be suffering for righteousness sake. But if it is none of these three then we may conclude that it is specially permitted for our development of character, like Paul's thorn in the flesh.
"The Scriptures abound in symbols, making use of many articles and objects in every-day life to represent certain spiritual truths for those who are taught of God. Our heavenly Father is represented in the Scriptures as a 'sun'; as the Psalmist says, 'The Lord God is a Sun,' whose glorious perfection is beyond all power of description. Inasmuch as he is beyond all comparison of Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power, he is well represented in that glorious orb of day—the Sun. The difference between the glory, power and majesty of Jehovah, as compared with that of the human race, is far greater than the difference between the glorious Sun and the grass under our feet.
"Jehovah, in his infinite love and wisdom, foreseeing the blighting effect his glorious perfection would have upon our race, has provided a shield in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, under whose protection those who desire may seek shelter. The length of God's wisdom provided everlasting life for all of his creatures who demonstrate their obedience to him. The breadth of God's justice, as represented in his divine law, is the full measure of a perfect man's ability. The depth of God's love was in providing Christ as a shield. The height of God's power was manifested in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death, oblivion, to immortality.
"The light or knowledge received by the justified individual, if not used by him for the purpose intended, consecration, does not continue. He has failed to render his 'reasonable service.' Who were those of whom it was said that they should not be smitten? It was the class spoken of by the Prophet as having 'obtained a good report through faith.'
"How wise are God's provisions. The spiritual phase of the Kingdom, composed of Christ and the Church, possess the characteristic of the Sun with its light and heating power, quickening into life the dead race, while the earthly phase of the Kingdom, being in the midst of the people, as dew from the Lord, will modify and temper the glorious rays to the proper degree, so that they will not wither and blight those who are designed to receive the blessing. That this is necessary is manifest by the words of the Apostle saying concerning Jesus Christ that he will 'in his own times show who is that blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen nor can see.'—I Tim. 6:15,16.
"Thus with these two phases of the Kingdom of God, Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem, in operation the words of the Psalmist will be fulfilled, 'Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the City of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the North, the City of the Great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge.' (Psalm 48:1-4.) And then indeed will mankind be filled with joy and gladness and life and happiness and be enabled to sing the praises of the Lord, 'Praise ye the Lord. Praise, O, ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord's name is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. Who is like unto our God who dwelleth on high, who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dung-hill; that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.'"—Psa. 113.
This in the program was designated "Colporteur Day." It opened with prayer and praise service, and by 9:30 the spacious tent was filled to overflowing by the dear friends to hear Brother Russell's address to the
He said, "I address you as Harvest Co-Laborers because that will include nearly all of you—Pilgrims, Colporteurs, Sharpshooters, Volunteers. How wonderful it seems that the Lord has been pleased to associate us imperfect beings with his dear Son, the Chief Reaper, in this harvest time! How glad we all are that a place for each of us has been found in the work! The Lord and not man surely opened up the various avenues of harvest service—one and all so different from anything else in vogue to-day or at any time during the past. How wonderfully, too, the Lord has been blessing and prospering these various agencies is indicated by this immense gathering of Bible Students—not to mention the thousands whom we have left at home!
"We do not boast, however, dear friends. All they of 'this way' are few, and amongst them are not many great, wise or learned, as the Apostle implies. God has been pleased to pass by the innumerable company of angels who would have been glad to be associated in this work, and has given the opportunities to us. Let us appreciate them and let us show our appreciation by using them solemnly, cheerfully, joyfully, with all our mind and all our strength.
"I congratulate you also, dear friends, that although the quantity of tracts and booklets going forth from our office seems to be far exceeding those of our competitors, who are much better supplied with financial strength than we, our work, as you know, is carried on without appeals for money, while nearly all religious works make the money-getting feature extremely prominent. Thank the Lord for all of his blessings, mercies and privileges! Let us recognize his hand in the entire harvest work. Thus our faith, our love, our hope, will greatly increase.
"ZION'S WATCH TOWER is still joyfully a servant of the Church, visiting its members in all parts of the world twice a month. I congratulate you that in the Lord's providence, and with your co-operation, the subscription list is increasing, tho not so rapidly as we could wish. We have reluctantly dropped recently quite a good many because neither request nor subscription price came to hand, as required by the new postal rules.
"I remind you of the Pilgrim service, and the comfort and joy and blessing which it has brought to many of you, watering the seed of Truth and harrowing it. I remind you that there are certain recognized qualifications for this service—three in particular. (1) We inquire, Is the man consecrated? (2) Is he humble? (3) Has he ability? We look [R4244 : page 282] for these three qualifications in the order stated. Consider the Lord's providence in respect to the selection of these Pilgrims, that while they are widely different in their general characteristics, they are all men of more than average ability. Their training has chiefly been in the school of Christ, and it still continues, we trust, and will do so. We have no theological mill from which to grind them out. We prefer that their individuality be preserved, and that thus the Church, by the Lord's providence, should have the larger variety of talent in this service. Evidently the Lord has had to do with their preparation for the work. While urging that these Pilgrims receive encouraging words from you, we counsel you to be wise in the matter—not to spoil them through flattery and laudations. Remember that the ability manifested in these is not so much their natural talent, but rather the ability of the Truth, which has a refreshing taste and strengthening power however humbly and brokenly presented.
"I remind you of the Colporteur work and its blessed opportunities. I suggest that each Colporteur, however humble [R4244 : page 283] his talents, has greater opportunities in this quarter of the Harvest field than he would have if chosen to be the pastor of the leading congregation of the land. In the latter position he would reach but a part of one congregation; while going from door to door he leaves a number of sermons wherever he makes a sale—discourses which may preach to many for many years. For your encouragement, I note the fact that although this is known as the panic year, nevertheless, the sale of DAWN-STUDIES is thus far in excess of last year's work, and we doubt not will maintain the ascendency until the close of the year. We find indeed that the peculiar financial conditions of the country have had a sobering effect upon many and that in consequence proportionately larger numbers are willing to examine the Truth. Doubtless, too, many of the books that are now being placed in libraries throughout Christendom will be diligently sought for by the Great Company during the Time of Trouble. I remark also that we find that territory is good for reworking within two years after it has been finished, and that generally the latter canvass yields the better results. We urge that all who can, employ the glorious opportunities of this department of the harvest work.
"The Volunteer work seems to have been specially provided of the Lord for the help and development in courage of his dear flock. The numbers who engage annually in the distribution of this volunteer matter increases, and so far as our judgment goes, those most active in thus endeavoring to serve the Truth to others are amongst the most blessed. 'He that watereth shall himself be watered.'"—Prov. 11:25.
Brother Russell, in closing this address, informed the audience that he was called to St. Louis, Mo., to preach the funeral sermon of our beloved brother, Gen. A. P. Stewart, once of the Confederate army, and ranking Lieutenant-General in the same. The funeral address on that occasion, we believe, was published by several of the prominent newspapers. Brother Russell returned to the convention after an absence of two days.
From 4 P.M. to 5:30 short addresses were given along the line of encouragement to the dear Colporteurs and helpful suggestions as to the best methods of performing that particular feature of the Harvest work; suggestions as to how to prepare one's own heart and how best to conduct one's manner and speech while at the door. Talks were given by Brothers VanHyning, Hettenbaugh, LaFerry and Cole, presenting helpful pictures of the harvest work; how that when in the time of extremity even in an ordinary harvest the women sometimes left the housework to assist in the fields lest some of the grain be lost. Also beautiful examples of meekness on the part of some of the dear friends were recited to the encouragement of all. One brother suggested that we could not give out what we did not have ourselves. We must have our own hearts filled with the love of God before we can hope to influence others of the truth of our message. Examples of tact in the canvass were shown in a very interesting manner. Brother Cole closed the meeting with a very interesting and helpful rehearsal of the prophetic picture of the harvest work drawn from the incidents related concerning the rebuilding of the Jewish temple; how that all the circumstances which surrounded that experience seemed to be very illustrative of the conditions at the present time when the antitypical walls are in process of reconstruction to the glory of God. The thought was brought out that the Colporteurs corresponded to the masons who were laboring on the wall, who worked with the one hand and with the other held a weapon, the Sword of the Spirit. "Every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me."
"Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." (Psa. 50:5.) "Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar." (Psa. 118:27.) "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."—Mal. 3:17.
In our Lord's parable of the sower and the seed the stony ground represented those who had no root in themselves. They heard the word and received it gladly, but when persecution arose for the Truth's sake they found that they had indeed entered the narrow way. They did not keep the covenant they had made with the Lord by sacrifice. They didn't have what our Lord called "root in themselves." Those who have root in themselves are the Lord's consecrated. These fully consecrated of the Lord have wills in harmony with the Divine will. They would not think of taking the sacrifice from the altar. They are glad to have the privilege of sacrifice. Each of these says, "I delight to do thy will, O God." These are jewels, diamonds. They have root in themselves. They are walking in the Master's steps.
We are to love all except Satan. We can have no love for him. Do we have to make an effort to love our enemies? No! because we have this kind of love, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." How we love the brethren! not after the flesh, but after the spirit. We love each other from the Christian standpoint. Some people are very disagreeable in manner and hard to get along with. Those who have the love of God in their hearts will throw the mantle of charity over the faults of others. "In this we know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren."
This period is the acceptable time. Surely the acceptable time will end. Surely the Lord will rise up in authority. Let us fully resign our wills to him. Are we willing to do this? Yes, we are willing to do whatever is necessary to become the disciple of Jesus. Are you able? No, not of yourselves. Are you willing? Yes, by God's help, we are willing! Then, dearly beloved, my admonition is, "Enter now." Offer yourselves a willing sacrifice. There will be one great family in heaven and earth. Present your body a living sacrifice. No wonder our text says to "bind the sacrifice to the altar." It is a very hard thing to do—to "die daily." And this is true of all of the Lord's faithful. They are daily sacrificing their lives. That is the cost our Master referred to when he said, We must take up our cross daily. Burying our wills enables us to say, "Lord, thy Will be done. I have laid my body on the altar. I do not want to take it back. Do with this sacrifice, Lord, as you please." The Lord's love for the brethren who are in this attitude is manifest. The language of all such is, "I delight to do thy will, O Lord, thy law is written in my heart." "This one thing I do." "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling." Remember that we do not glory in the flesh. God forbids that we should glory except in the cross of Jesus Christ. I am dead to the world. I am glad that I am the Lord's disciple. Can you bear the pain, sorrow and joy, as they come, rejoicing always in the Lord? Then you are a cross-bearer, and the Lord will say, "Well done."
Let us examine this particular feature of the Abrahamic Covenant, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." That Covenant had no mediator. It required no mediator. It will never have a mediator. Jesus is the Head of the Seed class. St. Paul shows us that those who are baptized with Christ are members of the Seed of Abraham, through which all the families of the earth are to be blessed.
Brother Robison's talk at 9:30 A.M. was on "Suggestive Features of the Tabernacle Structure." The text was I Cor. 1:30, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." As the Apostle had made the statement that the things related to the Jewish polity were for a testimony of the things which were to be spoken after it was taken as probable that the Lord would indicate in the structure of the tabernacle the whole course of the Christian way from start to finish, from the outside world to the very throne of God.
A comparison was drawn between the four steps of the text, which evidently begin with the first faint tendencies toward the Lord and righteousness and culminate in the "redemption of the Body," and the four positions connected with the tabernacle—Camp, Court, Holy, Holy of Holies.
Wisdom, he said, was reasonableness, discretion, that characteristic which prompts us to pursue the right and appropriate course. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The world in general, it was claimed, typified by the camp, had not even this initiative wisdom; in other words, they were foolish. They had not used their senses sufficiently to recognize the existence of the Lord and to revere him. Some, however, had been brought to a position where they [R4245 : page 284] were able to appreciate the Lord and where inspired with a desire to know him and to be in harmony with him, they began feeling after God if haply they might find him. To such the call went forth from the gate of the court, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." To as many as had responded Christ was made unto them righteousness and they entered into the court or condition of acceptability before divine justice.
The speaker brought Scripture citations to show that the court condition was only intended as a stepping-stone to ulterior graces. The justified individual was then able to have access by faith into the additional grace of presenting his body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. Then by a full consecration and begetting of the spirit he passed into the Holy, into the process or condition of sanctification, into the condition where the Lord agrees to make all the experiences of the earnest, honest Christian to work together in such a way that they will have a sanctifying effect upon him, making him meet for the inheritance of the saints in light whereunto he was called.
On the left was the Golden Lampstand, the light from which typifies the light which the entrance of his truth gives. On the right was the table of shew bread, suggesting the holding forth or the witnessing of that truth to others. Both of these, it was stated, were great blessings, great favors, the one a left-hand favor, the other a right-hand favor; "it is more blessed to give than to receive." But the Golden Altar was declared to be the most desirable spot in the Holy, the mark of perfect love, the most advanced stage this side the vail, and occupied the most conspicuous position in the sight of the one entering the Holy. "Though I have all knowledge and understand all mysteries and have not love I am nothing." "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am become sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal."
It was also suggested that the relative sizes of the holy and the most holy were significant. As the holy of holies was a perfect cube and as it represented one condition of existence, it might be drawn that the holy, which contained two perfect cubes, represented two conditions, two realms of influence, namely, the will and the organism, and hence indirectly the two classes of spirit begotten ones whose courses are influenced by the disposition of the Lord and the disposition of the flesh respectively. All of these experiences were declared to be for the purpose of acquainting the royal priesthood with the characteristics of Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power.
Brother H. C. Rockwell spoke at 11 A.M. from the text found in I Tim. 5:7,8, "But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little; but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
We find in the school of Christ, which is indeed the school of God, all the lessons that are necessary for the spiritual man. In these we may recognize seven cardinal points: (1) Dieting; (2) Exercising; (3) Resting; (4) Bathing; (5) Sun-light; (6) Cheerfulness; and (7) Breathing. These seven cardinal points are set forth in the Scriptures. We cannot expect to become strong in the physical lines by subsisting on chaff. A strong man cannot expect to remain strong by subsisting on milk alone. And so for us. We find that the Lord is regulating the diet. We find that when we were weak he led us along carefully, but as we grow stronger we receive stronger meat.
Dear friends, after we have been members of the Lord's school for some time and have been partaking from the Lord's table for some time, we begin to grow and develop. But it is impossible to grow properly without breathing aright. The majority of people do not know how to breathe properly. Dear friends, the new creature, the new man, in order to develop along spiritual lines properly must breathe deeply of the holy Spirit of the Lord. Many breathe only on the upper surface. If we breathe properly we find in the course of time that our spiritual life is enlarged. Deep breathing tends to enlarge capacity for breathing. So then, dear friends, let us bear these things in mind—let us strive in all ways to be filled with the spirit of love.
Hearken to our Teacher, consider our great Pattern, see where we come short and where we need development. So then it is imposed upon us most forcibly in order to attain that high development which the Lord wishes us to attain to that we be conformed to the image of Christ—to the glorious image shining through the mirror of the Scriptures. God wishes us to be "copies of his dear Son." The great Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ, knows the experiences it is best for his people to go through in order that they may be properly developed. It requires constant experiences in order to produce proper development. If we do not have these experiences we may know that we do not belong to the School of Christ. It was the purpose of our Lord to glorify his heavenly Father; and so in giving instructions to his followers, he is giving them experiences in order to glorify and honor their heavenly Father. We should be submissive to our Lord.
Another feature we examine is the rest referred to above. The children in the school of Christ are all specially exhorted to take rest—the rest of God, and rest of joy and of hope. There is a great time of trouble coming. The world sees this. They are disturbed. They have not the rest, the peace, that is reserved for the people of God. But the children enjoy this as a foretaste of what is beyond.
As bathing is necessary to our physical health, so we find in the Scriptures that we are washed through the Word. We partake of the Water of Truth. Another important requirement is the Sun-light. "We are walking in the Sun-light all the way." It is our hearts' desire for the Lord to try and prove us day by day that we may be rounded out into his glorious likeness. The standard set before us by our Master is Perfect Love. Perfect Love means that we love the Father with all our heart and mind and soul. It also means that we love our brethren, and not only them, but that we love our enemies also.
Brother Brenneisen's subject, at 2:30 P.M., was "The Three Ways." He declared that it was pleasant to repeat the old, old story, the message of salvation, according to which testimony the Scriptures declared one must speak, or be devoid of light. The intention was not to show the three ways of man nor any of man's devices, but the three ways of the Bible.
He quoted from Isaiah's declaration respecting the height of God's plans and purposes and the surety of them, that his Word would not return unto him void, but it should accomplish that which he pleased and prosper in the thing whereunto he sent it. He affirmed that either the generally accepted thought concerning God's plans was not true or else the prophecy was not true; that if God's plan has been to convert the world he has made a failure. But, he urged, let God's Word speak though it make every man a liar.
Texts from Matt. 7:13,14 and Isaiah 35:8 were read: "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat, because strait is the gate and narrow the way which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it." "And an Highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness."
The broad way was opened up in Eden at the very beginning of mankind's experience with death, at the time of the loss of the homestead. The broad way was the way leading unto death, unto destruction, not to eternal torment, not to everlasting life in torture. The sentence was given, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread until thou shalt return unto the ground." One could not return to a position which he had not previously occupied, and the Scriptural account made it clear that Adam had not been taken from eternal torment at the time of his creation, but that "The Lord God formed man out of the dust of the earth." Because of Adam's wilful disobedience he had brought upon himself the sentence of death—deprived himself of the privilege of indefinite existence under the blessing of the Lord. Being endowed with procreative powers he begat children, but as his own life rights and privileges had been subtracted he could not give a perfect life to his offspring; hence all of them partook of the death sentence, all of them began the downward course, which has of necessity become broad to be able to include every member of Adam's family, and which course finally terminates in oblivion for the individual.
But because of God's love and mercy he has provided two ways of escape from this broad road leading to destruction, only one of which would open at any one time, however. First, after hundreds of years of waiting and of various experiences under the Lord's providence, came Jesus, the [R4246 : page 285] Messiah, who opened up the new and living way in contrast to the old and dying way. He brought life to light by giving himself a ransom for all and furnishing the opportunity for that ransom merit to become effective by faith to those who were hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Through this action they had an acceptable entrance into the narrow way, which, followed to the end, would mean a participation in the highest form of life, immortality. This way, however, was opened up not to convert the world, but to choose a peculiar people to be associated with the Lord in his spiritual Kingdom.
Last is the highway, which shall be opened up at the beginning of the Millennial Age that the residue of men might seek after the Lord. This highway is designed to lead, not to the throne, but to the Edenic condition, from which the broad way had led them.
Brother Wright spoke at 4 P.M., taking for his text Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." The word "repentance" is not very well understood. It does not mean what it is often supposed to mean. Nor do we understand that it means a proper sorrow on account of sin. Nor does it mean a being frightened on account of eternal torment. Repentance, dear friends, is simply a change of mind or conduct, or both. And anyone who would come into harmony with God must repent of his sins. The next step we notice is that of conversion. They must not only repent, but they must be converted. What is conversion? Conversion means a turning or being changed. Repentance is included in conversion. But conversion means more than merely repenting. There are millions of so-called Christians in the world, but only a few real Christians. The conversion that the Church is to obtain is to be a complete conversion—a complete turning away from the things of this world. The Apostle tells us to "present our bodies a living sacrifice, which is our reasonable service." Now if we take this step we are that much more converted. And we must be fully consecrated to the Lord to prove what is that good and acceptable Will of the Lord. Some who become consecrated allow themselves to be conformed to the things of this world. These have not become transformed by the continual renewing of their minds.
Paul said, "This one thing I do." So the Lord's people at this time are to be thoroughly repentant and thoroughly converted. Particularly are we to give heed to those Scriptures which will tell us if we have transgressed. If the Word tells us that we have transgressed we will acknowledge it. That is the only way to get along with the Lord—to go to him just as quickly as we recognize the transgression. He has promised to help in time of need.
When the "Times of Restitution" shall have come that will be a time of refreshing. Then all sin will be eradicated and all mankind will be made perfect. Then the spirit will be poured out upon all flesh. For the Lord's people there is a refreshing shower at this present time. How refreshing to get together and talk about the precious things of the Lord! What great blessings we have time and again in these wonderful conventions! Surely the Lord is responsible for this refreshing! Somehow or other the Lord provides that we may meet more and more. It is the Lord's will that his people shall convene more and more. And there is a reason.
The time is coming for the One General Convention and the Lord wants his people to get ready. If we did not know what it is to love the brethren we might feel "like fish out of water" when we get on the other side of the vail. Dear friends, we want to get on and to keep on the upward track and get into the One General Convention! Thank God for this glorious time of refreshing! Let us notice that some have the idea that this matter of being repentant of our sins is so that we may go to heaven when we die. I think that there are very few who want to go to heaven if they had their choice. One man told me that he had a desire to remain here on earth, but that of the two evils of going to heaven or hell, he would choose to go to heaven.
Had it not been for the fall of Israel we Gentiles might not have had the opportunity of coming "out of darkness into the marvelous light" of this Gospel favor, for evidently the Lord originally proffered to take the predestinated number from his chosen people, natural Israel. Let us seek to run patiently the race that is set before us, following in the footsteps of our Master. May the Lord's blessing be upon us continually as we thus seek to walk faithfully until death.
Brother Johnson's discourse was on "Strengthening the weak Graces," applying the principle from the text, "Ye that are strong ought also to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please yourselves."
The Christian graces were classified into four classes: active, passive, quiescent, and mixed. Among the active were mentioned kindness, self-denial, appreciation, thanksgiving, patience, gentleness, adoration. Among the passive: meekness, forbearance, longsuffering, hope, joy, peace, humility. Among the mixed: sympathy, forgiveness, self-control, resignation. The graces thus developed will find themselves brought into play and they are made perfect through suffering, through trial and testing. The danger existed, he said, of some of our weak virtues coming in contact with forces that are stronger and of the former giving way because the individual had no knowledge of how to bring in relief from the other graces to act as a brace, to bear that which the weak grace was unable to bear, to bring in reinforcements from a quarter which had not been directly attacked. Heb. 12:2,3 was cited as an expression of this principle: "Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame." Here the joy came to the support of his endurance and helped him win the victory. Sympathy for the poor, groaning creation inspired this joy. Another instance, "Your adversary walketh about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, whom resist steadfast in the faith." Here the faith comes to the support of the resistance, or endurance.
It was made plain that to be able to do this it was necessary to know oneself and to be able to recognize the graces which were being attacked and also the proper ones to send to their assistance. Self-control must always be present as well, a realization that in former experiences the Lord's grace has been effective toward a victory. Care must be exercised, he declared, not to throw all the burden on the strong graces, for that would evade the very benefit desired, the strengthening of that weak grace.
For instance, suppose the faith were weak. How could it be helped? Hope would show that he has called us unto the glorious things described in his Word, the participation in the throne, etc., and the illumination which that hope gives relieves the weight which has been cast upon faith. Love, clinging to the Father's heart, would let the weak faith lean on it. Humility will not think that we are being treated in this matter unfairly. Meekness is here very helpful, and patience. Appreciation also comes to the assistance when it recognizes what great things the Lord has done for us.
Hope was also taken up, and how it could best be strengthened when weak, when one desponds rather quickly. When the hope of finishing the race and coming off more than conquerors seems dim and the requirements seem so hard, then faith can be called on to support hope by bringing forth the earnest convictions from the promises of the Scriptures. Then love cheered the heart when hope was weak. Joy thrown in the balance would hold hope in the proper place. Patience and appreciation also strengthen hope.
Likewise other graces were taken up and treated in the same way, all with a view to assisting in the strengthening of the weak graces, which graces, however, he said, should not always remain weak but should by this careful and prayerful process be gradually made stronger and finally meet for the inheritance on high.
Brother Rutherford's topic was The Great Counselor. His text was taken from Psa. 73:23,24, Leeser, "Thou hast seized hold of me by the right hand, by thy counsel wilt thou guide me and afterward take me on to glory." The counsel by which the Lord guides us, he said, is his Word. We rejoice to be able to know what his counsel is, that God has a wonderful plan, that he is indeed a God of love: his counsel to the effect that mankind was under the condemnation of death, that a promised Seed of Abraham should come which should bless all the families of the earth, that the Lord Jesus did come from heaven and that in the fulness of time he died, gave himself a ransom for all, came to seek and to save that which was lost, and when he had died he was raised by the Father's own power and exalted to be the head of that Seed; that during the Gospel Age it was the Father's plan to choose out a special class which should be associated with the Head and all he comprehended as that Seed. The speaker also showed that our Lord as a natural man had no need of the Father's special counsel, that he was perfect and able to guide [R4247 : page 286] his own way in harmony with the Father's will. But as a spirit begotten individual he, like the members of his Body, needed the Father's counsel. Indeed the psalm referred only to the one class, the Christ class, and was misapplied when it was appropriated by any others.
It was not the man Christ Jesus that was received into glory, for his flesh he gave for the life of the world, but the glorified Christ who was raised far above angels, principalities and powers and every name that is named after his lowly way was ended. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. He had absolute reliance in his heavenly Father, absolute reliance in the great Counselor. He reached his Gethsemane and there he knew that he must go into eternal destruction if he had failed in any way to heed the counsel of the Most High.
Many, he said, had made wrongful claims concerning this promise. Some who denied the merits of Jesus' blood and who had made creed beds and provided themselves coverings would say, "Surely the Lord is leading us; see how we are increasing in numbers." But the Scriptures say, "Woe unto them that go down unto Egypt for help, that stay on horses."
Those who were being guided by his counsel were those who had recognized the merit of the ransom sacrifice accomplished by the dear Redeemer and were justified by faith and who on the basis of that standing had presented themselves in sacrifice to the Lord and were striving faithfully to fulfil that covenant.
There is a class, however, he claimed, which comes nearer home to us than those who are of the nominal brand, merely. There are those who recognize that we are living in the harvest time, who recognize that this is the truth, but who disregard the admonition to come out of her my people, who think they can accomplish more good by staying in the church and by teaching in the Sunday-school, etc. Then there were some, he said, who had come into a fuller fellowship yet, who had long enjoyed the privilege of associating with the friends of Present Truth and who then became careless in the heeding of the Lord's counsel in respect to love for the brethren and who were consequently drawn into a snare by the Adversary and moved to speak evil of the Lord's dear brethren. Others were not heeding the Lord's counsel in some other way. Some failed to recognize the ampleness of the Lord's providence in respect to the publishing of the truth and were driven by a desire to publish something of their own. But only those who were seeking diligently to know the minutest feature of the Lord's counsel would afterwards be received into glory.
At 2.30 p.m. Brother Barton addressed the Convention on the subject of "Baptism," after which 292 brothers and sisters symbolized their burial into Christ's death by water immersion. Two other baptism services were held during the Convention to accommodate friends desiring the service previous to and after the general arrangements. These services furnished opportunity for a total of 363 friends to symbolize their covenant of consecration.
Another delightful sun-rise meeting opened a splendid day. It was a Praise and Testimony Meeting. Brother Rutherford led it. It was good to be there. Testimonies turned to the Vow and the blessing of nearness to the Lord resulting. Some of these testimonies were remarkable, all of them refreshing. As only a few of the vast crowd could have opportunity to express themselves the leader suggested that those present who had taken the Vow and received a great blessing in consequence wave their right hand. The result indicated that a very large proportion of the friends had taken the Vow.
Brother Hall's discourse at 9:30 A.M. was on the "Bread of Life," from John 6:51. 'I am the bread of life, which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.' Dear friends, the trouble with the world is that they are starving to death. Looking back into the Garden of Eden we see that when man lost his perfect human condition he began to starve to death. It seems to me that God placed there in the Garden of Eden a sample of what the whole earth will be in God's due time. I would think that God had arranged something very beautiful there as a picture of what earth restored will be.
"As we look at the condition of sin in which mankind is wrapped at present, what a grand and glorious thing it is to know that our God is a God of wisdom! As we see God's wonderful provision for the uplifting of mankind, we see what a blessing is in store for the whole human race. It is necessary that we seek the knowledge of how God gives this blessing. First we must hear that God has made a way. We have to first become justified. All mankind has something of the original perfection left in them. 'Where sin abounded grace doth much more abound.' Now, dear friends, as we all received this reckoned justification by faith, we begin to feed upon this bread. All are by nature astray from God. When God accepted us he covered us with the righteousness of Christ. We know that in the Millennial Age God purposes that the Lord shall bring back the human family to perfection. God reckons us now to have attained to this perfection. The Apostle says that we are to put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness. It is no wonder that we are in trouble all the time, because we are a class of spirit beings living in a world of sin, offering our bodies living sacrifices. We see that this new life in Christ begins when we become new creatures.
"Whatever are his thoughts, so is the man. If he has bad thoughts he has a bad character. If he has good thoughts, his character is good. The Lord shows us that if we would reign with Jesus we must give up earthly hopes—that we should willingly give up the hopes, aims and ambitions of earth. We are begotten to the spiritual nature and plant the seeds of spiritual thought one after another. The new creature can be developed in this way, dear friends. As this new creature grows we see that it becomes stronger day by day. Both the new and the old creatures are in the same house. They cannot both live compatibly in the same house. We must daily crucify and overcome the old nature. The many beautiful lessons received along the way will help us to do this. In order to crucify the old man it is necessary, dear friends, for us to control this organization by keeping the body under and bringing it into subjection, lest having preached the good tidings to others we ourselves become castaway. Considering the dual condition we are in it is necessary to see whether we are warring a good warfare. We are to give up the things of the old mind—to forget them. We are to give up not only sinful things, but even the things that are right—these latter are our sacrifices."
Brother M. L. Herr's discourse at 11 A.M. was on the subject, "The Lord be between thee and me."—I Sam. 20:23.
Dear friends, with a very great deal of pleasure I bring to your mind the words from Genesis 31: "Therefore was the name of it called Galeed; and Mizpah." The Lord, through his providence, is leading us all to an appreciation of this fellowship through Zion's Watch Tower. Our dear pastor "speaks often" to us through its pages. The things in our experiences that may seem small to us may be very important in God's sight. What words can more fully express these things which are of so vital importance to us than the words, "Beloved, the Lord be between thee and me forever." The new fellowship that never before was given is that we may love one another as he loved us. Does the Lord love the angels of heaven as he loved us? No! It is a sacredness not given to any other of his creatures. The Lord prayed to the Father, for us, "That the love wherewith thou lovest me may be in them." Was there ever uttered a prayer that carried such significance? We are having poured upon us the same love from the Father that he poured upon the Son. We are here because we were willing to forget our own people—to lay aside our own wills. We are offered a fellowship never before offered to any in the universe. We are to be lifted up, restored, cleansed. What in the sight of angels—what in the sight of men could be more desirable than this relationship! Only when we say "our brother" do we appreciate what a glorious thing this relationship is.
"I have overcome the world." We do not have to do this. It is our privilege to accept the same mind which was in Christ Jesus. What mind? The same mind which enters into God's Spirit and views matters as God would view them. If we let this mind be in us which also was in Christ Jesus, then we are walking in the spirit. May the Lord help us everyone to look at matters as he looks at them and not as the world looks at them. "THE LORD BE BETWEEN THEE AND ME." We are to know our brother according to the spirit and not according to the flesh. If we are looking at our brother as the Lord looks at us that will be "The Lord Between Thee and Me." I prefer to take the Lord's way. The Scriptures show us a beautiful picture that the [R4248 : page 287] cherubim were made exactly alike. And then notice how the Lord represented his presence by the Shekinah light between—God's Spirit. Let us read the words of our text in two ways, dear friends: "Now the Lord be between thee and me forever." The Adversary be between thee and me never.
I wonder if the Lord's people ever have any temptation to do "wooden swearing" or evil speaking? "Above all things, brethren, swear not." Why does the Apostle give such admonition to those who are walking in the Truth? Because those who lose their patience easily represent the ones referred to by the Apostle. "Be patient, therefore, brethren." Notice the language the Father used in the case of Adam. "Because thou hast sinned." And so we must be kind and gentle in the language we use to our brothers—not to use that of blame or condemnation. There are only two masters and there are only two condemnations. The one is the condemnation of the Lord. And if the righteous smite us we are glad. And there is the other condemnation of the devil. We do not want to fall under that condemnation and we do not want to give it to another. If we allow ourselves to be blamed—to receive condemnation, it requires a great deal of grace not to give it again. We are in the evil day.
Let us remember the word "Mizpah" in connection with the WATCH TOWER service. What does it represent? The light. It is an exact representation of wisdom, love and power—this grand, glorious symbol of the divine Presence. Let us pray that the Truth may so keep our minds that the brethren may dwell in unity, and let us feel sure that it is "The Lord between thee and me."
"But let all those who put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee."—Ps. 5:11.
This, the speaker said, was a wonderful message to bring to such a gathering as the one he was then addressing and an exceedingly appropriate message to bring before the Lord's people, for those who love the name, the character of God, and to those who are endeavoring by his grace to develop it. Indeed it was for no one else, not for the world. The Lord had a message of joy for the world too, he said. Thank God for that, that the world in due time is to learn the joyful sound, the glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. But now the world does not know the joyful message, accordingly men's hearts are failing them for fear, looking forward to the troublous times that are coming upon the world.
But it is true, he declared, that many of the Lord's people to-day find it hard to rejoice. In fact he had encountered a brother recently who thought it rather inappropriate to be in a rejoicing attitude of mind in consideration of the great responsibility which attaches to a knowledge of the truth; because, he had said, we should be so impressed with the feeling of responsibility that belongs to the children of the Lord, so impressed with the solemnity of the situation that we would have no time to feel joyful. But while it was realized that we ought to rejoice, remembering that the Lord's dealings were designed to work out in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, yet the matter is not presented to us in the Scriptures in a one-sided light. But we are also informed that the enemy, the great Adversary, is hurling his fiery darts against the children of the Lord and that they must rely solely upon him through all the persecution and the distress and the sorrow and the death.
Let us, he said, examine some of the statements of the Lord's Word to see why those who put their trust in him are enjoined to rejoice, bringing to mind the covenant which they have made with the Lord, a covenant of suffering and death; then let us look at the other side, at the sustaining grace, so that we may be enabled to accomplish his good and acceptable will. What is it that the Scriptures point out to us as being part and parcel of our covenant? Is it not the "narrow way" entered by the strait gate, which few find and which implies suffering, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." Having entered into the narrow way, having placed ourselves under the particular care and keeping of the Lord, then we may appropriate the text which proclaims that his grace is sufficient for us, his strength is made perfect in our weakness. "They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, so that ye can confidently say, 'the Lord is my helper, and I shall not fear what man shall do unto me.'" With this goes the promise that God will not suffer us to be tempted above that which we are able to bear. If suffering, are we rejoicing?
Brother Kuesthardt began to speak at 4 p.m. from the text, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye."—Psa. 32:8.
"We see here clearly that the one who is speaking through the mouth of the Prophet is a teacher, a teacher of Christians, to which class we consider ourselves as belonging. So let us keep in mind from this hour that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who is our teacher and let us go to our lessons in a prayerful spirit that we may receive a rich blessing. I take for granted that all here have made the Tabernacle Shadows a study. We know that the Lord gave Moses instruction how to construct the Tabernacle. We understand that the camp is the world. We see different compartments: first we find the court, then the holy, then the most holy. All those who have been justified by faith are in the court condition. This is the kindergarten of Christ. It is free to any one who wants to enter and the teacher is our Lord Jesus Christ. Who will come? Only a few know of it and those who enter there will be justified by faith. How can we know that we are justified? When we understand that he has given his life a ransom for all, that gives me a right to accept.
A man once asked me, "Must I believe in MILLENNIAL DAWN to be saved?" I asked him how he would feel if he were invited to partake of some sugar that was laid up in a pile, there being old brass spoons to take it with and some one offered him a nice silver spoon with which to go and get the sugar. MILLENNIAL DAWN is the bright new help—the silver spoon. It is well for us if we make the proper use of this help.
After the kindergarten let us go on further and enter the next compartment. You have to pay a tuition fee. The price we pay for tuition is that we present our bodies a living sacrifice. Now see if we can find the primary department. This is represented by the shew bread in the tabernacle. Whoever will partake of that table must stoop quite low. We find next the frankincense in the tabernacle. This is very precious. We realize that this had a sweet odor, but when we had eaten it became very bitter. From the primary department we go to the intermediate department. Here we find the candlestick. What do we find specially in this candlestick? We find that it gave the proper light. The very finest olive oil was used. But something else is needed too. We need a piece of wick. The Word of God is the only channel through which we receive the holy Spirit, but we ourselves are likened to the little piece of charred wick. We find that one who has attended thus far in the school of Christ and gets into opposition generally finally goes out of the camp—into death. Those who have received their lesson here in the intermediate department go into the high school. What is the significance of the smoke ascending and filling the holy and penetrating into the "most holy"? This means full obedience on our part to the Lord. And this is expressed through our prayers, both for ourselves and for all of the saints.
So we find that the Lord at the present time is preparing the building stones for his spiritual temple. Do you consider yourself one of these stones? When stones are taken out of the quarries they are rough and unshapely. So is our condition when first taken out of the world. After the stones have been quarried and chiseled they must be polished. What is the polishing done with? It is done with the same material. So we are polished by our contact with one another and made fit for the Kingdom.
Put off all these: (1) Anger; (2) Malice; (3) Envy; (4) Hatred; (5) Strife. Put on these: (6) Meekness; (7) Gentleness; (8) Patience; (9) Brotherly Kindness; (10) Love. Be ye clothed with (11) Humility; and add to your (12) Faith (13) Virtue, and to Virtue (14) Knowledge, that (15) Grace and (16) Peace may be multiplied unto you.
Brother Russell's discourse at 2.30 p.m. we do not print here, for those who desire same already have it in the newspapers. His text was Heb. 12:22,23. "But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn which are [R4248 : page 288] written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect."
By four p.m. the Love Feast was under way and it was a most impressive service. The "Pilgrim" brethren present, about twenty, faced the congregation, the brethren at either end and one in the center each bearing a plate of bread. Brother Russell stood opposite and was the first to give the glad hand of fellowship. The Colporteurs present, about 400, preceded the congregation, filing past greeted each other with a warm clasp and a kind word, while the singers on the platform and the audience sang, "Blest be the tie," and other precious hymns. Many eyes were moist and many hearts evidently very tender when Brother Russell greeted them saying, "It is good to be here! It will be better to be there! As the Grand Army of the Redeemer, fight a good fight! We must die to win," etc. Undoubtedly a great blessing was carried away to the cheering and comfort of loved ones who could not be with us.
Brother Van Amburgh's subject was from the text, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." (Prov. 4:23.) Or the marginal reading, "Above all keeping, keep thy heart," intimating that we might be very careful and diligent in keeping our heads, our knowledge, our possessions, etc., and neglect the keeping of the vital thing, the heart, the affections. Whatever our minds feed upon, upon that would our minds build. If we feed upon doubts and trouble and worry, just so would our minds and characters be less stable, but having our minds fed with the Lord's Word we would not need to worry about the difficulties.
He stated that there might be special trials after the convention, but that we need not anticipate these and spoil the pleasures of the present. Sometimes people may save themselves a great deal of distress in a storm-tossed sea by looking not at the breakers but at the land which is ahead of the breakers, realizing that that which is firm and abiding awaits after the distressing and disturbing experiences. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." If we become fearful of the troubles and have fearful thoughts in our hearts it is doubtful if we will ever be more than conquerors. Instead it would be better for us to consider what a great God we have. Then we would find the knowledge of him so boundless that we would have no time to think of the trials that might be coming, and this knowledge of him is contained in his Word. "How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent Word."
The speaker said he had heard some complaining that they did not have enough pilgrim visits at their place and that while the desire for the association with different brethren was no doubt commendable, yet it was well to bear in mind that each one has the privilege of association with the Lord and the reading of his letters and of the comments which the Lord has provided, even in the most remote sections. Let the thought of gratitude keep us from worry when things arise which seem unpleasant.
The Apostle gave a suggestion as to what was the proper food for the mind and heart. "Whatsoever things are true, think on these things." But as there were so many things that were true that would not minister to the edification of the new creature it was necessary to still further sift the thoughts. Much in science is true, much in art, much in other branches of study, but because of our very limited talents we ought to confine our thoughts and attentions to the Lord's testimony. Once on a railroad train, which was being run in such a way as to excite the trepidation of most of the passengers, a little girl was asked if she were not afraid, too, whereupon she replied, "I'm not afraid, my papa's on the engine." The thought drawn was one of increased confidence in his loving care. Our Father has provided the covering of Christ's righteousness, likewise he is providing all of our experiences if we are keeping close to him.
Brother Bohnet's subject was "The Wise and Foolish Virgins." He stated, however, that it was not his intention to treat the subject in the way which would be generally supposed, namely, from the parable called by that name, but that he proposed to consider the fifth chapter of the Song of Solomon, which, he claimed, gave even fuller suggestions respecting these two classes than did the 25th chapter of Matthew. Supposing that some would declare that they believed in taking everything literally he read the chapter and asked how much could be gotten out of it from a literal interpretation. Then he proceeded to give an explanation, using the various expressions in a symbolic way and changing the Song from what appeared to be a silly, love-sick ballad into an edifying and instructive prophecy full of wisdom.
"Awake, oh north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out." This the speaker understood as follows: A wind is a force, an unseen force. The north wind is a wind of sorrow, trouble, disagreeableness. The south wind is a wind of pleasantness, joy, peace, etc. Blow (actuate) upon my garden (the great mass of nominal Christianity including the true Church) that the spices thereof may flow out (the graces of the spirit may become manifest). In other words, let the joys and sorrows, pleasant and unpleasant experiences, try the Church to demonstrate which is the true and which is the false.
"I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse." It is the Lord who speaks in both of these verses, one utterance prior to his second advent, the other after his arrival. The garden is that aggregation of individuals which contains both the sister class and the spouse class, hence the wise and foolish virgins, the two classes which would be in evidence to the Lord at the time of his long-looked-for second presence. A sister is one who is related, who has many common hopes and interests but not experiencing the absolute union which exists between husband and wife, or even between lover and betrothed. So the foolish virgin class corresponds to the Great Company, the associated or sister class. The spouse is the chaste virgin betrothed unto Christ, eventually to be the Lamb's Wife. Then followed the description of the kind of food the Church as a whole has been appropriating during the Gospel Age, honey and honey-comb, wine (under the influence of which men are heard for their much speaking) and (the sincere) milk (of the word).
"I sleep, but my heart waketh." This would indicate, the brother said, that in exact correspondence with other statements of the Scriptures the great body of nominal Christendom would be asleep when the Lord would come, but the heart, the little flock, the wise virgins, would be awake.
Then follows the invitation of the Lord to open the door of the heart and admit him to govern their every action and word and thought. The reply is that she has put off her coat, has failed to recognize the necessity of the robe of Christ's righteousness and has esteemed it lightly.
The symbolic picture was then drawn further to show that the Lord's presence would be made manifest in the early morning and also the manner and means of the annunciation of that presence. Finally the foolish virgins were awake and realized that the very thing for which they had been praying for eighteen hundred years was just now about to be consummated and their zeal was aroused to the extent of suffering bitter persecution and finally succeeding in interesting the Jews in the message of the Gospel.
Questions were asked concerning the Vow which has recently been suggested in the TOWER. Answers were given along the lines of the comments which had previously been published; that it was not regarded as a law but that it rather came in under the head of expediency, that from the signs of the Scriptures, corroborated by the signs of the times, the Satanic hosts would have special liberty similar to that which they had before the flood, and that the world would be very generally deceived by their machinations because of the prevalent beliefs in Satan's lie, that the dead are not dead, and that this experience as a whole would assist very materially in sweeping the world with the besom of destruction as foretold by the prophet and from which bitter experience the Little Flock were to be spared. He said that he did not think it proper to make it a subject of controversy but that each one after careful consideration and prayer had a right to his own conclusions in regard to the matter and he himself claimed the same right, believing that it could not work other than blessing.
The Hotel Victory manager gave us a very pressing invitation to return, assuring us that he had never entertained such people before, and that they had left a favorable impression upon his mind toward Christianity of our kind.