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OUR steamer "Neptune" reached Bergen, Norway, at 2 p.m., Monday, May 17. On the quay stood our dear Brother Luttichau, the Society's representative, who had come from Copenhagen to be our interpreter. With him to welcome us were about 20 dear fellow-disciples. After a hearty greeting came the 3 o'clock meeting. It was well attended by the friends—about 50—and others to the number of about 400. We spoke on "The Overthrow of Satan's Empire" for about two hours. Next came a luncheon and then an evening session—a Question Meeting for the interested, which lasted three hours. We were pleasantly surprised at the intelligence displayed in the questions asked. Eyes and hands expressed to each other our mutual joys in the Lord and his Truth, emphasizing the words spoken through the interpreter.
Tuesday morning early we took the train for Christiania. By 8 p.m. we reached Glucken, where in summer the journey is continued for 28 miles by lake steamer. But the ice was still in the lake and hence navigation not opened. We made the journey quite comfortably in a one-horse, two-wheeled vehicle wrapped in a fur coat hired for the occasion by one of the friends. By two o'clock at night our party (some ten of the Bergen friends accompanied Brother Luttichau and myself to Christiania) had again reached the railway, and by 10 a.m. were at Christiania.
Here, also, we had a most cordial reception from Brother and Sister Lindquist (who entertained us) and all of the dear household of faith—all of whom have the one spirit because they have the one faith and one baptism into Christ. The Norwegian people reminded us of the Scotch in general appearance and also in mannerisms. Indeed, we found that those who could speak and understand English would have understood us better if we had a little of the Scotch brogue.
Wednesday and Thursday were well filled with enjoyable services for "the brethren" and for the great "Elder Brother" and for the "Father of us all." Some of the sessions were for the public and were crowded with intelligent looking and attentive hearers (about 500 to 600). Other sessions were specially for the interested—including a Question Meeting. We had a fellowship dinner provided by one of the friends. Over one hundred participated—all of them deeply interested in Present Truth.
We left the dear Norwegian friends at 6 p.m. Thursday and reached Orebro 8:23 a.m. Friday. Four of the dear friends met our train a few stations ahead, and as we alighted at Orebro probably a hundred and fifty were on the platform singing and waving their handkerchiefs and hats. Here again flowers were presented while we shook hands and presented our greetings through our interpreter, Brother Lundborg, the Society's representative for Sweden. We learned that some of these dear friends had come a journey of over one thousand miles for the spiritual privileges of this Convention. How our hearts flowed together in the Lord, notwithstanding the impediments of speech, none but the spirit-begotten can understand!
The time was filled full. At 10 o'clock we gave a discourse on the Covenants, which lasted more than two hours. Then came general dinners at three restaurants. From 3 to 5 p.m. we preached on Baptism and its import, following which 53 were immersed, understandingly, including an ex-Baptist minister. About 200 attended all these meetings for the interested.
The State-College Auditorium had been secured for the addresses for the public in the evenings. It was full to overflowing and many stood for fully two hours. Attendance 800. Our topic was "The Overthrow of Satan's Empire."
Saturday was similarly full of blessed fellowship and service. At 10 a.m. we had a Question Meeting until 12:15; then a general dinner at restaurants. The afternoon session was a "Colporteur Meeting," but as usual it took up in general the harvest work and the privilege of each of God's children in some of its departments [R4423 : page 197] as under-reapers—colporteurs, sharp-shooters, volunteers. As the evening meeting would be for the public, this one closed the Convention proper. We sang together, "God be with you," while all who were Elders of Congregations, by invitation stood on our either hand (about 20 in all) and the Congregation singing filed past and gave a farewell hand-shake and greeting. The evening meeting was a duplication of its predecessor, except that a still larger crowd stood—probably 160—and that our topic was different, "Where are the Dead?"
After a good night's rest refreshed us we took the 6 a.m. train Sunday morning, which brought us to Stockholm just in time for the 11:30 morning meeting. We would have been late had not friendly arrangements provided an automobile. The auditorium was packed before we reached it, and some, refused admittance, were still lingering near the door when we arrived. The attendance was about 700 to 800, about 100 standing. Our topic was "The Overthrow of Satan's Empire." We closed at 1:30 and greeted the friends of the Truth. The same dear friends who entertained us six years ago had a cab awaiting us and entertained us at luncheon.
A meeting for the interested was held from 3 to 4:15, when the doors were thrown open for the 4:30 public service on "Where are the Dead?" Again the auditorium was crowded and many stood until 6:20. An interlude of singing gave opportunity for strangers to depart, and then a special meeting with the interested lasted until 8:15, when we departed for our train accompanied by nearly a hundred of the friends, who gave us a final goodby and requested that we come soon again. Brother Lundborg accompanied us to Copenhagen.
Monday morning brought us to Copenhagen. Here we were met by about thirty or forty dear friends at the depot. They were headed by Brother Luttichau, who parted our company at Christiania in order to prepare our way at Copenhagen. A cab soon brought us to the office of our Dano-Norwegian WATCH TOWER, maintained by our Society. By 10 o'clock about 100 of the interested had gathered there and we addressed them for two hours on "The Covenants." Then followed a general dinner provided by the friends in an upper room. Our seat was at the head of the table with Brothers Luttichau and Lundborg on either hand. Close by was a little girl of ten years, reported to have made a full consecration four years ago. She had read the DAWNS and had come a journey of about 300 miles, using therefore small sums of money given her last Christmas and since, so anxious was she to meet us and to enjoy the anticipated spiritual feast.
In the evening we had a session for the public. The house was crowded, many standing, about 600 present. We had closest attention for two hours. The earnest singing of the hymns assured us that our hearers were of the devout sort aside from those specially with us in the Truth. Indeed, all of our experiences in Scandinavia were very encouraging. The people as a whole impressed us as much more reverential than the masses of our beloved America. We believe that God has much people amongst the Scandinavians. We shall expect great things there during the next few years.
Our train was to leave shortly after midnight and probably sixty of the friends remained after the meeting and took a cup of tea with us, and accompanied us to the railway station, where they sang for us in English a specially-learned hymn and sent greetings to the friends we would meet in Germany, Great Britain and America on our tour, at the same time urging us to come again and soon.
Our train brought us to Hanover about 11:30. We were met by Brother Koetitz, the Society's representative for Germany; with him were about eight local friends and two from outside places to greet us. We had a pleasant and profitable hour; then said farewell and started for Berlin, Brother Koetitz accompanying as interpreter.
At Berlin three dear brethren awaited our coming and welcomed us and escorted us to the home of one of them, at which a congregation of about 50 was already waiting for us. Our chair and table were festooned with evergreen and forget-me-nots and back of us was the text: "I will bless thee and make thee a blessing."—Gen. 12:2.
The evening session was for the public, and the brethren, although few in number, had so thoroughly advertised it that the room was crowded, so that nearly 150 were obliged to stand for the two hours of the meeting. We had excellent attention and trust that some were impressed with the Truth.
A good night's rest refreshed us and we took train Wednesday morning for Dresden, which we reached about noon. Four brethren awaited us at the depot and escorted us to a dining hall, where nearly one hundred greeted us with a song and an address of greetings, to which we responded, giving the greetings of others sent with us as well as our own. Next came an address to the interested on "The Covenants"; then a Question Meeting; then tea; then the public meeting in a larger hall had our attention on the topic, "The Present and the Future in the Light of the Bible." Although the evening was very wet the Auditorium was full—about 600—and we had excellent attention. We were entertained most hospitably by Brother and Sister Wentzel, and, refreshed, we started next morning on an all-day journey for Barmen, where we arrived just in time for an evening meeting at 8:30 o'clock. A crowd of the Barmen friends met us at the depot and escorted us. It was a public meeting. About 800 were present, many of these standing. The interest evidenced by the singing was good and spiritual. All seemed to sing, and with their whole hearts, so that the Auditorium rang. If close attention and keen eyes are an indication, many who heard were interested and should be heard from later.
Friday forenoon we inspected the Society's new quarters, wrote some letters and conversed with Brother Koetitz and family. The afternoon was devoted to a Question Meeting. It was deeply interesting. The Vow and the Sin-Offering, and how opponents of these should be regarded and treated, were among the interesting questions. Our replies were taken by a brother who is a stenographer and may appear later in these columns. In the evening we discussed The Covenants. At the close about 180 friends sang to us, "God be with you," and we waved each other goodby with our handkerchiefs, and departed for the 10:50 train for London.
On the railway platform about 60 of the friends gathered to give us a parting greeting with the hand and by song and later with their handkerchiefs. We surely have a very warm place in our heart for our German friends, and in answer to their request promised to do what we could to visit them ere long again.
A night and a day by boat and rail brought us to London at 5 p.m., May 29. About 200 of the friends, headed by Brother Hemery, the Society's British representative, greeted us at the railway station, singing, "Blest be the tie that binds our hearts" and waving us the Chautauqua salute with their handkerchiefs. We returned the salutations, and a little later expressed to the assembled Convention our appreciation of the privilege of being with them and the greetings we brought from the friends in America, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. We noted the oneness of spirit and joy in the Lord of all those walking in the light of Present Truth.
The Convention had already begun; an excellent Testimony Meeting had been held, and Brother Bundy had given an interesting address in the afternoon. Brother Hemery spoke very acceptably in the evening, and we had an excellent opportunity for a little rest in preparation for the Sunday services. It was at this service that Brother Hemery announced, publicly, that from the time the Vow first was promulgated he had made it his own, in spirit, but that now finally he had taken it formally to the Lord, in the fullest sense. He felt that already he had a blessing through this tighter binding of his sacrifice to the altar. Many others informed us that they had taken the Vow but had not written us of the matter. We requested them to send us at least a post-card of information, as we desire as full a list as possible.
There were three sessions on Sunday. In the morning a Praise, Prayer and Testimony Meeting gave excellent opportunity to the dear friends to tell the Lord and each other of their appreciation of Present Truth, and of their resolutions respecting further faithfulness in the service of the King, and his message, and his brethren.
The Sunday afternoon meeting was attended by about 800 to 900, who gave closest attention to our two-hour presentation of "The Covenants." The evening service was the public one. The hall was crowded, about 1200 being present. We discussed "Where are the Dead?" and had closest attention.
Monday forenoon was devoted to an immersion service. One hundred and twenty-nine symbolized their consecration (66 brethren, 63 sisters) all adults. In the afternoon we discoursed for an hour on the Ransom and the Sin-Offering, and then for an hour answered questions on the subject, apparently to the satisfaction of the hearers. The evening session was similarly devoted, the first hour to a discourse and the next to the answering of questions.
On Tuesday afternoon we had a Symposium on the graces of the holy Spirit, in which six speakers participated, evidently to the pleasement of the attending friends. Then came the closing service of the Convention. We addressed the dear friends in a general way, pointing out the trials of the "narrow way" and the propriety and necessity for loving sympathy one with the other in love, forgiving one another and encouraging one another, after our Lord's example. Then came the Love Feast. We stood in the centre, Pilgrims Hemery and Bundy on either side and the Elders of the London Church on either side of these. Brothers Bundy [R4424 : page 198] and Hemery held the plates of bread. The congregation singing familiar hymns filed past, giving and receiving parting hand-grasps and words of cheer. It was an inspiring and affecting scene long to be remembered. Many said, "Pray for me that I may meet you in the Great Convention—the General Assembly of the Church of the First-Borns; I always remember you." Many remarked that they had taken the Vow, but had not yet sent us word of it, but would do so. Thus closed our best British Convention and one of the best ever held anywhere.
On Wednesday we had a look about London in search of a more favorable general meeting place for the friends there. On Thursday we had a conference with the London Church Elders respecting the general interests of the work, and suggested that if a more central meeting place were found we might consider it a leading of the Lord's Providence for a return next October to endeavor to give the work in the world's metropolis a further boost—so greatly are we impressed with the wonderfully ripe wheat-field, of which London is the centre.
Traveling by night we reached Belfast Friday and were entertained as on our last visit by Brother and Sister McComb. The afternoon was spent with the interested in their usual meeting room and was very enjoyable and we trust profitable. The evening meeting was for the public. About 450 were present, of whom about 100 stood for two hours. Great interest was manifested, many remaining for a Question Meeting until 11 p.m.
After a good night's rest we started for Dublin, where we were met by a committee of four representing the Church and were hospitably entertained. Here we preferred a Church-meeting only. It lasted from 4 p.m. to 11:10 p.m., tea being served in the same room. The Dublin company is not in a most happy condition; several of the dear friends have become afflicted with "independent thinking," and claim "new light," which we tried to show them is really the "outer darkness" in which Christendom in general is discomforted. Our discussions of these differences were conducted in a most kindly manner, yet we fear not to any great profit to the disaffected, who seemed determined to hold to and to magnify their differences rather than to prefer harmony and seeing eye to eye. The beauties of the Divine Plan, once seen, they saw no more and seemed not to desire to see them again. We urged upon all the cultivation of love and humility and prayer and study as being all that could be counseled under the circumstances. The loyal ones expressed themselves as greatly strengthened, and incidentally mentioned that they had taken the Vow, while, so far as they knew, none of those who had turned aside had done so.
We reminded them that we must not think strangely of such matters; that we know that we are in the harvest time of testing and separation and have already been forewarned that "a thousand shall fall" at our side, and that it is indeed a question "Who shall be able to stand?" rather than who shall fall?
Notwithstanding our protests five of these dear friends accompanied us to the station at 3 a.m. Sunday, when our train left to connect at Queenstown with our steamer "Mauretania," which we boarded at 8:30 a.m. homeward bound.
We had a pleasant homeward journey and, thanks to God's Providence in sending with us Brother Huntsinger (stenographer), we were enabled to write articles for the WATCH TOWER columns covering the points principally treated at the London and other conventions. We had but one opportunity for a public address on the steamship, but through it got into communication with several passengers, some of whom, we trust, may develop "hearing ears."
Our vessel landed us at New York on June 11, a [R4424 : page 199] month and seven days from time of departure. Much as we had enjoyed our visit to the friends abroad and their fellowship, we were glad to be back—to re-engage in the services at the Brooklyn Tabernacle and Bethel.
As our steamer docked we discovered on the pier some of the friends waving with their handkerchiefs a welcome home. Some of them had been waiting for us for three hours. We reached Brooklyn Bethel at noontime and the entire family, gathered in the parlor and study, sang to us their welcome in some words composed [page 199] by Sister Land, as follows:—
Welcome home to those who love you—welcome, Brother dear!
Daily have our hearts been with you o'er the sea!
E'en the ocean cannot separate between God's children here,
Bound by cords of love divine to him and thee.
We behold gross darkness gathering all around us here below,
Men's hearts failing them through dread and doubt and fear;
We rejoice with you to send out Truth's pure light of hope,
Until nations, kindreds, tongues may God revere.
When we bade "Farewell—God speed thee!
Bear his harvest message true
To the dear ones waiting on that foreign shore,"
Then our fervent prayers ascended, that grace might still
Bring you safely back to home-ties as of yore.
Noble heart! May God sustain you and rich blessings send
While you're striving Truth's fair banner to uphold;
God hath guided and preserved you for this special time of need,
And through you hath sent us mercies manifold.
So this day our hearts are glowing and in gratitude ascend
To the one who kept you in his tender care;
May the angel of his presence guard you to the end,
And God crown you in his Kingdom—is our prayer!
We returned the greeting, telling them of how the Lord had blessed our journey and encouraged us on the way and that we brought them the greetings of the friends in England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
We briefly rehearsed the blessed season we had enjoyed with the friends abroad, telling them in few words of the forty-nine addresses given and the Lord's watchful care over all our interests in the long but speedy journey.
Then followed another surprise and blessing. Brother Rutherford placed in our hands a bundle of papers, explaining that during our absence a number of other friends had concluded that it would be the Lord's will that we should be relieved of certain burdens and annoyances which have been our portion for some time, in connection with Mrs. Russell's request that the monthly allowance be increased from $40 to $100, which was allowed by the Court, but which we were unable to comply with, because all of our property, except that which brought the income of $40 per month (which Mrs. Russell had been receiving), had been donated to the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY. The dear friends concluded to surprise us on the return home by clearing off these obligations. They handed us receipts aggregating over $9,000, showing a payment of Mrs. Russell's alimony into 1913, with Court costs, attorneys' fees, etc. Our heart returned thanks to the Great Giver of every good gift for this, a fresh manifestation of his loving care and for such evidences of brotherly love.
What shall we render unto the Lord our God for all his benefits to us? We will take the cup of salvation. We will partake of the blood of the New Covenant. We will call upon the Lord for grace to help. We will pay our vows unto the Most High.—Psa. 110:12-14.
Incidentally we remark that numerous false rumors have gotten abroad amongst the dear friends—to the effect that the Society's property in Allegheny had been sold and that its property in Brooklyn was attached, etc. There is no truth whatever in any of these rumors. Nevertheless we believe that the dear brethren who so nobly came to our relief did well. They surprised us with surprise, too, in that they did not seek a compromise, but paid every penny that was or could be asked, believing this to be the wisest plan and the one most pleasing to the Lord.
Next our attention was drawn to stacks of mail awaiting our attention. Many of these were kind Christian greetings from individuals and Churches all over the United States—hundreds of them. One from Chicago was signed by the Elders and Deacons and other friends there to the extent of 167 names. The Boston Church, to be sure that their greetings would reach us in time, sent them by wireless to the ship, reaching us a day before our arrival. As a sample of the kind expressions received we give the following:—
The occasion of your return from a foreign shore, to continue your faithful ministry of the holy Word to the Lord's "little ones" at home, gives me opportunity to express my heart gratitude for the Master's blessing at your hands.
Please accept, Beloved Brother Russell, this humble expression of my continued appreciation of the Harvest Work and of your faithful service and my whole-hearted sympathy in, for and with you in this noble service of the Lord—my pledge of a deeper zeal and a quickening of the spirit of sacrifice as I witness your untiring devotion as you so unsparingly seek to "lay down your life for the brethren." "Your labor is not in vain in the Lord." God bless you!