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OUR train reached Seattle Thursday morning, July 22nd, and the four days of our stay will surely long be remembered by all who participated in the blessings of this Convention. The weather was ideal; the arrangement excellent; and the cheap railroad rate brought many friends living within a radius of five hundred miles. One brother eighty-three years old told us that he had come a distance of over two thousand miles. The friends were very warmly enthusiastic and gave many evidences of great love for the Lord, for the Truth and for each other. As our company of ninety alighted at Seattle station we were greeted by approximately one hundred and fifty, who welcomed us warmly in the name of the Lord and his children. We returned the salutations and quickly realized that we were in the loving company of the Lord's brethren.
The Convention opened at 10:30 o'clock. Brother Acheson, of the Seattle class, as its representative, greeted us and assured us of the love of the local Church and of their happiness in having us with them. Following this, Brother Baker, speaker for the friends of the entire Northwest, greeted the Convention tourists, assuring us that the friends of the extensive district which he represented were of one heart and mind in thanking us for our coming, and in anticipation of Divine blessing for the Convention, and laden with prayers for Divine benediction upon the services which were to be held.
Next, as the President of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, we greeted all the dear friends in attendance at the Convention, assuring them all of our Christian love and good wishes and that we were pleased to be in their midst and to receive their welcome and to return to them our cordial greeting. We assured them of the Society's endeavors at all times and under all circumstances to look out for the interests of the Lord's flock and to do everything in our power to aid the dear sheep to a full appreciation of the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of God. We then introduced Brother J. F. Rutherford as the permanent chairman of the Convention, which was opened with a testimony meeting, at which many hearts unburdened themselves, telling of their love for the Lord and the Truth; how in Divine providence the Truth had first come to their attention; how they had been growing in grace and knowledge; how their love for the Lord and for the brethren kept increasing; how they realized the closing of the age and that the harvest would soon be past and the summer of Divine favor soon ended, and how they were striving by Divine grace "to make their calling and their election sure."—2 Pet. 1:10.
Following a praise service in the afternoon we addressed the Convention from the text, "Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor?" (Rom. 11.32.) We outlined the Divine Plan as outlined in the Scriptures, beginning with Satan's deflection, and showing the testing of the angels in connection with man's fall, and the lessons of man's fall and redemption and restitution and final test. We endeavored to make clear that obedience to God is the ultimate test by which all of his creatures on any plane will be tried. None but the obedient shall have eternal life. All of the disobedient shall be destroyed. We endeavored to note what the Divine injunctions are which must be obeyed, and found that they include faith, humility and loyalty, and these out of a pure heart inspired by love, and that this love not only relates to the Father and Son, but must be a general element of character applicable to all men and in proportion as they are in accord with the Divine character and applicable also even to the new creation.
In the evening after praise service Brother O. L. Sullivan addressed the Convention. We did not have the pleasure of hearing the address, having accepted an invitation to visit a Brother and a Sister, residing at Everett, who were physically unable to attend the Convention. We were most cordially received and found that they were rejoicing in the Truth and strong in the Lord. The Brother is eighty-seven years old and physically in a most deplorable condition, but his heart is happy and his face bright, because of the light of the knowledge of the Lord which had shined into his heart. His affliction is of a rheumatic character and has affected his joints, so that the slightest movement of them is with intense pain. Cheerfully and patiently he told me that he was waiting for the Lord's time for his "change," and that his entire consolation is the Truth. The dear Brother who took us to see him remarked that whenever he felt discouraged or in any wise inclined to murmur he took a little run up to see this Brother, with the result that he always concluded that in comparison he had no difficulty, no trials, no pains, and that if this dear Brother can praise the Lord under such conditions not a murmur or a sigh should escape those who are in a more favored condition, except the sigh of sympathy.
Friday morning we had another praise and testimony meeting, after which Brother F. A. Acheson, of Seattle, gave what was reported to be a very interesting discourse. In the afternoon we conducted a Question Meeting for over two hours and greatly appreciated the questions, which indicated breadth and depth of thought. In the evening one of the local brethren, Brother W. A. Baker, addressed the Convention, evidently much to its satisfaction.
Saturday, July 24.—The day opened with a testimony meeting, reported to have been most interesting, and this service was followed by a discourse by Brother J. A. Bohnet, of which we heard excellent reports. We regretted inability to be present when others were speaking, but [R4461 : page 260] our time, in harmony, we believe, with the Divine will, was given to private appointments with friends who had particular and private matters to discuss. In the afternoon we gave a discourse on Baptism, its import and its symbol, following which eighty were immersed, forty-three brethren and thirty-seven sisters. In the evening we had a symposium on the gifts and graces of love, nine dear brethren participating to the pleasure and profit of the Convention.
Sunday, July 25.—The meetings of this day were held in New Armory Hall. Brother J. F. Rutherford spoke in the forenoon, the congregation being composed chiefly of the friends of the Truth, to the number of about five hundred. His text was Malachi 3:2, the particular point of the discourse being the trials of the present time—Who will stand? and, What assistances the Lord has provided for them.
The afternoon service was specially for the public, our topic being, "Where are the Dead?" A large and very intelligent audience was present—residents of Seattle, and people from all parts of the world attending the [R4462 : page 260] Seattle Exposition. The crowd was estimated at 4000. We had closest attention and in conclusion many were the warm greetings and expressions of joy, hope and pleasure connected with the "good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people." The evening session was a love feast, when we said farewell to one another and "God bless you. Let us hope to meet again in the Great Convention on high, where we surely shall be if faithful to him who called to us out of darkness into his marvelous light." Probably one hundred accompanied our party to the train. Those on board and those on the platform united their hearts and voices in sweet songs, "Blest be the tie that binds," "God be with you till we meet again," etc.
Our train arrived in time for the appointed meeting at 3 p.m. About twenty of the dear friends met us in the depot as representatives of the congregation. We were escorted to the hall, where about one hundred others were waiting. In other words the total number of friends gathered was in the neighborhood of one hundred and fifty—including a goodly number from surrounding towns. We had a most enjoyable season of fellowship together for about two hours. We received the greetings of the local congregation through Brother Field and assured the brethren of our love and our appreciation of the privilege of being with them.
Our address was from the text, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." We endeavored to show that the testings of the Lord are all along the line of fitness for life eternal or death eternal; that so it will be with the world during the Millennium and that so it is with the Church at the present time. We endeavored to make clear that it is the heart condition that the Lord is inspecting; that according to the loyalty or disloyalty of the heart will be the decision. The loyal shall have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord; and the disloyal, the wages of sin, death eternal. We pointed out the numberless privileges and favors and blessings and advantages every way which, by the grace of God, we have enjoyed. All these are indications that God is for us; that he desires that we shall make our calling and election sure; and hence that the whole responsibility for success or failure rests with us and depends upon our loyalty to him, our keeping of our hearts in a proper relationship to God. We showed that this keeping, to be successful, must be done with all diligence, because the world, the flesh and the Adversary are continually offering to us seductive temptations to disloyalty, which must be resisted. The Lord permits these temptations, because he desires to test us, to prove us. "The Lord your God doth prove you, whether or no ye do love the Lord your God with all your heart."—Deut. 13:3.
The evening session was for the public, the topic being, "The Thief in Paradise; The Rich Man in Hell; Lazarus in Abraham's Bosom." A very intelligent audience was present and gave close attention for two hours. The number was estimated at fifteen hundred. From the meeting we went direct to our train, accompanied by a considerable number of the friends.
On the arrival of our train we were met at the depot by about twenty friends of the Truth, eight of them local residents and the remainder from nearby towns, who escorted us to the meeting hall, where we addressed the friends from the text, "You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."—Eph. 2:1.
We endeavored to show something of the difference between the dead world and the quickened "new creature" in Christ Jesus, to whom all things have become new. The world, in ignorance and superstition, has little conception of the object of its creation. Eating, sleeping, working, and endeavors to have pleasure constitute the sum total of life for the few years of earthly existence to the masses. Added are fears respecting the future—horrors and torment of mind lest the next life should be worse than the present one. On the contrary, the Christian has much advantage everyway, not only as respects future prospects, but as regards the present living also. To him there comes an object for living, a purpose, an end to be sought, a heavenly ambition. Additionally we showed that the figure or illustration here used is that of a human embryo. After begettal must come the period of quickening, of energizing; otherwise there would be no life, no growth, no preparation for birth. Thus the Christian, begotten of the holy Spirit through the message of the Lord, must reach the quickening stage, the vitalizing period, the stage of activity, so surely as he makes progress. In this condition of activity he must still progress and become strong and ready for the birth of resurrection, that he may share with the Lord in the glory, honor and immortality of the First Resurrection and be born from the dead, incorruptible.
In the evening we had a service for the public, but only about three hundred and fifty were present. These, however, gave excellent attention to our discourse on "Where are the Dead?" At the conclusion the free literature was eagerly taken and some expressions were made which indicated that a considerable degree of interest had been aroused in the minds of several. Here appeared a man who had heard the Seattle discourse. He declared that he had been all over the world and that, after hearing and examining all religions in existence, he had become an infidel, until at Seattle for the first time he had heard God's Truth and was promptly fully converted to faith in the great Author of the Divine Plan of Ages.
A ride of two nights and nearly two days brought us to Denver in time for an afternoon meeting Thursday, July 29. The Denver Convention had already commenced. A good Testimony Meeting had greatly refreshed the friends already gathered and assisted in making them acquainted with each other. The total attendance of the interested was about three hundred.
Our discourse for the afternoon was based upon the text, "The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Psa. 111:10.) This we treated as upon a previous occasion, emphasizing the fact that as our coming to the Lord was inspired by reverence for him so our faith in Christ was based on reverence for God's message of grace. Then consecration followed, a result of further reverence. Then reverence aided in perfecting our sacrifices and kept us back from presumptuous sins and helped to fix the characters God had predestinated should alone be acceptable to the elect. In such faithful ones personal ambition will not only be subjected to the Divine arrangement, but will be crushed out, "mortified," [R4462 : page 261] eradicated, and the highest ambition of the heart will be that expressed by our Lord, "I delight to do thy will O my God; yea, thy Law is written in my heart." (Psa. 40:8.) Such delight in sacrifice in the Lord's service and never forget that obedience is still more highly prized of the Lord than sacrifice. Such the Lord will keep by his own power, "As the apple of his eye," "In the hollow of his hand." (Deut. 32:10.) Nothing shall by any means injure these. All things must work for good to these. Even their weaknesses and blemishes shall not stumble them, because their hearts being loyal, their unintentional imperfections are covered by the Lord's grace and will be made to serve them as stepping stones instead of stumbling stones. Should they lack in talent or education, the Lord will make up to them such deficiencies in his own way. He stands pledged to do so through Christ, because they are members of his Body.
Thursday evening meeting was for the public, the topic being, "Where are the Dead?" Over one thousand were present, filling the First Christian Church, and several hundred were turned away. We had the closest attention and trust that some were profited.
On Friday morning at 10:30, following a praise service, we conducted a Question Meeting for the interested. Many of the questions were deeply interesting and important and indicative of study in the Truth. A number of them related to the Covenants, sin-offering, etc., and indicated that the dear friends were thinking considerably along proper lines. The attendance was about four hundred.
Shortly after noon we were obliged to bid the friends goodby and proceeded onward to the St. Joseph Convention. If the program we outlined was followed the afternoon service was a discourse on baptism by Brother Frank Draper and was followed by symbolic baptism in water (25 were immersed we since have learned) and then in the evening by a Praise and Testimony service. On Saturday Brothers F. L. Hall and G. M. Hunt delivered addresses, and on Sunday Brother Frank Draper and Brother F. L. Hall were the speakers. The closing session was a symposium on Love, participated in by several of the brethren.
We preceded the excursion party and reached St. Joseph Saturday morning, July 31. The Convention had already been under way two days with Brother Rutherford as chairman. Brother S. D. Senor gave the opening address of welcome, which was responded to by the chairman. Then followed a most interesting praise and testimony meeting. The friends seemed very early in the Convention to reach a goodly degree of [R4463 : page 261] spiritual fervor. On Friday a.m. Brother S. D. Senor gave an address. In the afternoon Brother P. S. L. Johnson spoke and was followed in the evening by Brother Raymond. Brother G. B. Raymond spoke on Saturday afternoon and Brother J. F. Rutherford in the evening.
At the time of our arrival on Saturday morning the Praise and Testimony Service, already under way, had just reached its conclusion. We stepped upon the platform while the dear friends were singing that precious hymn, "Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love." The scene was very affecting. Many eyes were moist and the entire congregation, estimated at 800, seemed deeply affected by the occasion and the appropriate words they were singing. We joined heartily with the friends in the singing and then addressed them from the text, "The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich; and he addeth no sorrow therewith."—Prov. 10:22.
We showed that the blessing of the Lord had not made rich the world, but would do so in God's due time. We pointed out that the blessing of the Lord had made father Adam rich, but that the sin of disobedience had spoiled his blessing and brought upon him instead the sentence of the curse of death. Next we showed the promise of new blessings in the Divine Covenant with Abraham and that the knowledge of this coming blessing means refreshment and joy to all who can see it and hear it with the eyes and ears of faith. We traced the fulfilment of the promise in Christ and the Church and noted how rich the Divine blessing is to all who will receive even the present foretaste. We concentrated attention upon the thought of the fulfilment of the Divine promises in God's due time—how the blessing of the Lord in the end would make the Church rich indeed, to the extent of the Divine nature and glory and honor and immortality promised to those who will be then joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus in his Millennial Kingdom and his work of blessing to the world.
We pointed out the truth of the statement of our text, "He addeth no sorrow therewith." We showed that the sorrows are not of the Lord's providing or adding, but come as a result of sin and imperfection and that in proportion as we reverence the Lord and seek to walk through life close to him, in that same proportion we shall avoid the sorrows which come from outside sources. We noted also the fact that it is the Divine intention that those who would live godly should suffer persecution, but that such persecution is not of the Lord, though permitted by him, and that with his grace in sufficient supply we may be enabled to "glory in tribulation also."
We pointed out the Divine order for all these blessings: that our Lord Jesus, born under the Law Covenant as well as under the Abrahamic Covenant, was thus obligated to keep the Law, and did so perfectly; and that thus he was declared to be the one perfect man through whom accrued all blessings to us from the Lord, including the opportunity of becoming members of "Abraham's Seed." (Gal. 3:29.) By fulfilling the Law Jesus was entitled to everything that father Adam had originally possessed as a perfect man, everything he had lost through disobedience. Thus Jesus was entitled to everlasting human life and fellowship with the Father—entitled also to be the Ruler or King of earth and to all the earthly dignity and honor from God which this implied—having dominion over the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air and the fish of the sea, as well as over the fallen race. Had our Lord chosen to exercise those earthly rights he might indeed have blessed the world to a considerable degree through wise laws and regulations respecting diet, etc., etc. But his empire would still have been subject to death, because the death sentence would still be hanging over Adam and his posterity.
Such a blessing was just about what the Jews had expected as a result of the Abrahamic promise. They awaited the Messiah, who, as their Instructor and great King, would rule and guide and bless them and ultimately extend that rule and blessing to all the families of the earth with generally favorable and uplifting influences. God, however, had higher plans for mankind. For "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's plans higher than man's plans and his methods higher than man's methods."—Isa. 55:9.
In harmony with the Divine plan our Lord Jesus, instead of keeping the earthly life and empire to which he had a right as the obedient heir of the Law Covenant, sacrificed it—laid it down in death. This was the Father's proposition—that if he would show his faith and obedience to the extent of fully sacrificing the earthly life and rights the Father would raise him up by power Divine from the dead, not to earthly conditions again, but to heavenly conditions—"Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named." (Eph. 1:21.) It is the Father's proposition that being thus exalted he might still possess the earthly rights which he had sacrificed—possess them as an asset or valuable possession which he might give away for the blessing of Adam and his race, whose lives and earthly rights were forfeited by sin. We showed that our risen, glorified Lord had in his possession when he ascended up on high enough of blessing to mean the restoration of Adam and every member of his race, or as many of these as he might choose to apply this benefit [R4463 : page 262] to. Christ's one sacrifice was sufficient for all if so applied. We requested all to notice that the blessings which Jesus had to give away were earthly blessings, earthly life, earthly power, earthly Paradise, etc., and not heavenly things.
We reminded the friends that the Israelites under the Law Covenant had been hoping for these great earthly blessings from Messiah. At first they thought that Moses should be the great Deliverer, through whom they would get the wonderful blessings. But as they perceived that Moses and all of their race were dying, they to some extent realized that their (Law) Covenant was not bringing them the great blessings they had anticipated. Then the Lord sent to them through the prophets assurances that he would make a New (Law) Covenant with them after certain days, thus implying that the (Law) Covenant in which they had trusted was not wholly satisfactory and could not accomplish for them what they needed. They, of course, knew that if they would have a New Covenant, it must also have a mediator. And the Lord, through the prophets, indicated that the great Messiah would be that Mediator. The Lord spoke of those things yet future as though they already were. He spoke of them prophetically. Thus also our Lord was referred to as the Lamb of God slain (in the Divine purpose) from the foundation of the world. Similarly Jesus, before his birth, was mentioned prophetically as the Mediator of the New Covenant—neither the Covenant itself, nor its mediator, being in existence, except in the promise of God. God said to Israel—"Behold, I will send my Messenger,...even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in [the servant or Mediator of the New Law Covenant for whose coming you are so desirous]. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap."—Mal. 3:1,2.
We pointed out that even though Israel slew the Redeemer it was done ignorantly and that our reasonable expectation might have been that after our Lord had finished his sacrifice at Calvary and had ascended up on high and appeared in the Father's presence, his appearance would have been for Israel, as the Mediator of the promised New Covenant—to make application of his blood as the sealing of that New Law Covenant. Thus he would have given to Israel the right of earthly life, earthly honor, earthly dominion, which he had a right to through keeping the Law, but had sacrificed so that he might give it to Israel, and through Israel to all the families of the earth. But to our surprise he did nothing of this kind. Instead of showering the blessing of restitution upon natural Israel he did the very reverse. He said to them, "Your house is left unto you desolate. Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord"—at his second coming as the King of glory, the great antitypical King, Priest and Mediator between God and men—between God and the world. (Matt. 23:38,39.) The Apostle declares that Israel was blinded, but he equally assures us that their blindness will not last forever, and that Divine favor will return to them under their New Covenant.
What did our Lord do with those earthly rights, earthly honors, earthly life privileges, etc., which were his to bestow? We remember that it is written, that "He ascended up on high, there to appear in the presence of God for us"—for the "household of faith," the antitypical Levites, including the antitypical priests. We called attention to the apparent incongruity of this, namely, that the Church is hoping for spiritual blessings, glory, honor and immortality on the spiritual plane, and not hoping to get earthly rights, earthly life, etc., such as Jesus had to bestow. We pointed out, however, that the offer made to the Church is from the Father, who, co-operating with our Lord Jesus, has given us who are now called a similar invitation to that which was given to our Lord Jesus. Our Lord Jesus tenders to us first the earthly rights and blessings which he acquired through obedience to the Law and which, by virtue of his sacrifice, he has now to give away. He offered them all to us—to the "household of faith" of this Gospel Age, but conditionally and not otherwise. The conditions are that we shall, as he did, agree to sacrifice these earthly rights, to abrogate them, to lay them down, to die to those earthly restitution rights and privileges and honors. In [R4464 : page 262] so doing we shall be following the example of our Lord, walking in his footsteps, and be obeying his Word, and shall be accounted worthy of a share with him in the heavenly glory, honor and immortality, and in his Millennial reign.
Explaining the proposition to us the Master says that we may first of all count ourselves justified by faith—justified freely from all sin, as though we were actually perfect. But this justification by faith is merely granted to us for a purpose and for a time—to furnish us the opportunity for sacrificing those earthly rights. And whosoever does not use the opportunity and make the consecration, his justification will lapse—will amount to nothing. If, however, any desire to be his disciple and to follow his leading, to share in his death, to share in his sacrifice, to be dead with him, that disciple may have the assurance of participation with him in the heavenly state, condition and glory. "If any man will be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me," "and where I am there shall my servant be." In line with this the Apostle exhorts all believers, all members of the household of faith, to present their bodies living sacrifices, counted as "holy," justified freely from sin through the merit of the blood of Jesus, which makes them "acceptable" sacrificers and enables them to become joint-heirs with Christ in the heavenly glory on the same terms and conditions that the Father granted to their Redeemer.—Rom. 12:1.
We thus saw that by this Divine program the merit of Christ's death, earthly rights, restitution privileges and honors will pass through the Church without the slightest diminution; for all that the Church receives by faith through Christ must be laid down again in sacrifice. So, then, at the close of this Gospel Age, the merit of Christ will be neither more nor less than at the time he died; but, in God's providence, that merit will meantime have been used as the basis or condition upon which the "elect" Church shall have been lifted, not only out of sin and death conditions, but out of earthly conditions altogether—to heavenly conditions, to the divine nature. We paused a moment to consider with the Apostle the wonderful wisdom of God and to say with him, Who knew the mind of God in advance or who was his adviser in this wonderful, economical, judicial, loving and generous arrangement by which we, the "elect" of this Gospel Age, receive grace upon grace or favor upon favor and are permitted to share with our Lord in his great work of blessing the world of mankind with an uplift, social, mental, moral and physical?
Then we inquired, What next will Christ do with this merit of his own sacrifice? We hearkened to the Apostle, who explains this entire matter in Romans 11:25-33. He assures us that Israel was not cast off forever, but merely until we Spiritual Israelites shall first have been sought and found, polished and fitted and brought to perfection. Then "all Israel shall be saved" from the blindness which God sent upon them at the beginning of this age. By that time the Deliverer shall have come out of Zion. The Head, our Lord Jesus, was brought to the birth more than eighteen centuries ago. His Body, the Church, is now being born in the end of this Gospel Age by having share in "his resurrection."—Phil. 3:10,11.
Israel and the world have been waiting for the development of this great Deliverer—Jesus the Head and the Church his Body. This is the great antitypical Mediator like unto Moses, of whom Moses said, "A prophet the Lord our God shall raise up unto you of your [R4464 : page 263] brethren, like unto me." (Acts 3:22.) The Head was raised up nearly eighteen centuries ago. The Body is now being raised up and, with the "change" of the feet members, the antitype, Mediator, Priest and King of the world will stand forth. We are not left to doubt as to how and when and where the blessing will begin. The Divine blessing is to reach the world of mankind through Israel and under their New Covenant. They have been blinded and turned aside, waiting for the Deliverer—waiting for the Mediator. Shortly he will be completed. His first work will be to pass to the credit of the New Covenant that same "precious blood" which, during this Gospel Age, has blessed and comforted the Church and opened for us the way to joint-heirship with the Redeemer through sacrifice.
The blood of Christ represents his sacrificed life and all the earthly rights represented therein. His right to the earthly life, by his obedience to the Law, is still his asset or merit, passed through the Church, which is his Body. It now becomes the blood of the New (Law) Covenant, the basis of reconciliation between God and Israel. It seals that Covenant, which, through Israel, shall extend the privilege of eternal life to every nation, people, kindred and tribe. This blood of the New Covenant our Lord invites his Church to share in, saying, "Drink ye all of it." And again, "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" Except we partake of the merit of his flesh and are thus justified by the merit of his sacrifice, and unless additionally we share in "his cup" as partakers of his blood, "his death," his sacrifice, we have no life in us. Sharing with him in his cup, partaking of his sufferings of this present time, buried with him by immersion into his death, we shall be associated with him as members of the Mediator in the work of dispensing the blessings of that New Covenant, under its terms, to whosoever wills to accept them.
We note the Apostle's comments further. In verse 27, still speaking of Israel, he says, "This is my [New] Covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins." We pointed out that the Apostle could have referred only to the New Covenant promised to that nation, and the fact that their sin should be taken away at the time when that Covenant is sealed—made operative. St. Paul continues, declaring that natural Israel was treated as God's enemy and turned aside during all this Gospel Age—that we might have the privilege of becoming members of the Spiritual Seed of Abraham under the original, primary Covenant. St. Paul points out that as soon as the Church, the Deliverer, shall have come out of Zion and their New Covenant has begun to operate the effect will be, not only to "save" them from their blindness, but also to "turn away their ungodliness."
We noted especially that St. Paul declares of natural Israel, blessed under its Covenant, that "They shall obtain mercy through your mercy." We pointed out that this does not signify that the mercy to Israel, the earthly seed under the New Covenant, will not be Divine mercy, nor does it signify that it is not the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the contrary, it will be of the Father and by the Son and through the Church. "They shall obtain mercy through your mercy." We reminded the friends that every good and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of Lights and that every blessing comes to us by his representative, our Lord Jesus Christ, and that we, the Church, are by and through him. Hence, the expression, "They shall obtain mercy through your mercy," is merely bringing to our attention the fact that the Divine purpose is to honor the Church by passing through her the Divine blessing, which from of old had been promised to the natural seed of Abraham.
We pointed out that in Ezekiel 16:45-60 the Lord clearly indicates that his dealing with the outside nations will be through natural Israel. Referring to the Sodomites and to the Samaritans the Lord used these two nations as illustrations of the other nations of the world and how they are received to Divine blessing, saying, "I will give them unto thee for daughters [to be instructed], but not by thy Covenant." Their Covenant of that time was the Law Covenant of Sinai. But the Covenant under which these are to be given to them will be their New (Law) Covenant—instituted by the better Mediator—the Christ, Head and Body.
We showed that thus all the nations of the world will be privileged to come back into harmony with God under Israel's New Covenant. This would imply that to have the benefit of the New Covenant they must become Israelites indeed, with true circumcision of the heart. Thus Abraham will become gradually "a father of many nations." We reminded the friends of the prophecy which declares that after the time of trouble and after the Ancient Worthies shall have been established as the rulers of natural Israel, and after God's blessing and the New Covenant shall have begun to operate toward them, the other nations of the world will begin to take notice. Sin and death will still be reigning amongst them, but they will behold in Israel the beginning of the reign of righteousness unto life eternal. Then they will say to each other, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord's house"—let us come into line with the Divine government established in Israel; Israel's great Lawgiver then will be our Teacher also and we will walk in the paths which he directs; for the Law shall go forth from Mount Zion [the glorified spiritual Church] and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, the earthly representative of the heavenly dominion.—Micah 4:2.
Brother Coward was on the program for Saturday afternoon, but the excursion party did not arrive in time to permit him to serve. Instead the congregation of the [R4465 : page 263] Convention was greatly edified by a Berean Scripture study conducted by Brother P. S. L. Johnson. Since the congregation was too large to be treated as one general class, Brother Johnson called for the Elders of various congregations to indicate themselves, and then asked them to come forward and sit together in the front rows. He conducted the Berean study with these, asking them the questions and drawing out from one and another the proper answers to them. It is hoped that the lesson was very helpful and that the custom of using these Berean Lessons will grow in the future as they have been doing for some time past. We request that the Pilgrim brethren shall give one sample of the Berean Scripture Study at each point visited. Through these the dear friends at every place may have extremely helpful, profitable and interesting meetings. The classes using these, we believe, are making the best of progress.
After a Praise Service at 7:30 p.m., we conducted a Question Meeting at which some excellent queries were presented, which showed that many of the dear friends were thinking earnestly and deeply on the features of the Divine Plan. True, many of the questions are already answered in the "Dawn-Studies" and some of these we preferred to reply to by referring to the reading matter, assuring all that the answers would be more satisfactory than would be possible for us to make in the few moments at our disposal. On the whole the meeting was a good one.
The Sunday morning topic at 8:30 was baptism and its import. We addressed the friends with all the earnestness of which we were capable, explaining the True Baptism and how it differs from many erroneous theories respecting it. Following the service those desirous of symbolizing in water their burial or baptism with Christ into his death were invited to come forth, and after being questioned, were given the righthand of fellowship [R4465 : page 264] in "the Church...whose names are written in heaven." Ten street cars were waiting to carry the large audience to a not distant lake, where thorough arrangements had been made in advance for serving the friends. One hundred and twenty-six (126) adults were baptized symbolically in water. It was a deeply impressive occasion, the surroundings all favoring.
Our afternoon topic was an address to the public—"Where Are the Dead?" It had been very thoroughly advertised and a splendid audience, estimated at 4,500, was present. The closest of attention was given, some, notwithstanding the great heat, standing throughout the service of two hours' length. In the evening, after a praise service, Brother Johnson again addressed the Convention.
On Monday morning from 8:30 to 10:30 the friends enjoyed a very delightful season of refreshment in the praise and testimony meeting. Promptly at 10:30 we addressed the Convention. After explaining that Brother Jones would deliver a discourse in the afternoon, and that a Symposium on Love would be the last meeting of the Convention in the evening, we in a sense drew the Convention to a close, giving a vote of thanks to the brethren of the congregation for the favors received at their hands in connection with the very wise and helpful arrangements provided for our comfort; and also to the Business Men's Club, which had, through their local committee, granted us the use of the fine Auditorium in which we were meeting. We called to mind the blessings of the Lord in connection with the Convention and how we owed to him more than to all others thanks and praise and reverential service. We reminded all that from him cometh every good and perfect gift; to whom we should render all the service of our being. We considered the improbability of our ever all meeting again this side of the vail, but the possibility of our all meeting with the Lord, if faithful, beyond the vail. Our hearts looked forward yearningly to the "General Assembly of the Church of the Firstborn." We considered the loved ones who had gone before, and the dear ones who, in the spirit of their minds, were with us at the Convention, although unable to be with us in person; and the fact that we would soon part; and the blessed assurance that when the new conditions should be reached there would be no more such uncertain partings to those who should be found worthy to a share in the fellowship Divine. While longing for the "change" and that the trials of life shall be ended, and while trusting to hear the Master's "Well done!" we resolved to be patient and to remember that a true reverence for the Lord forewarns us that we should wait patiently for his time, and meantime accept his providences as being for our highest welfare.
Following this the Pilgrim brethren were called to the front and to each one was given a plate of bread. Then the Elders of the local Church were called to the front, with the Pilgrim brethren on either hand. Then the Colporteurs were called and, to our surprise, responded to the number of nearly two hundred. Then the congregation was given opportunity to pass along the line and greet us all with a handshake, that they might interchange with us a word of God-speed while we shook hands and bade each other Goodbye! The congregation meantime sang familiar hymns, while those participating in the fellowship were often moved to tears. It was a blessed and most affecting experience and surely many will long remember it and be strengthened by it to know and to do the Father's will. The service closed with a word of prayer commending us all to the Father's protecting care and remembering the loving ones everywhere not permitted to be with us. We were then taken to dinner and afterward in an automobile to the railway station. Some of the dear friends were there for a final adieu. The afternoon ride and then all night and until noon of the next day brought us to Aberdeen, S.D.
The Aberdeen Convention met on August 1 under Brother G. H. Draper as chairman. He addressed the Convention with greetings from the local Church and vicinity and was responded to on behalf of the Society by Brother Henry Hoskins, Sr., in suitable terms. Then followed a hearty Praise and Testimony Meeting until noon. In the afternoon Brother Hoskins addressed the Convention. In the evening after a praise service Brother George Draper gave a discourse. Monday morning was fully given over to praise and testimony on the part of the dear friends attending the Convention, who were chiefly from North and South Dakota and Minnesota. Many of them spoke of it as being their first Convention and told how precious the Truth is to them and how much they enjoyed meeting others of like precious faith and experiencing the fellowship of kindred minds so like to that above.
Brother George Draper delivered a discourse on Consecration, following which opportunity was afforded for symbolic immersion for those who desired to avail themselves of it. Sixteen were immersed. In the evening, following a praise service, Brother John Hoskins gave a discourse.
Brother Henry Hoskins, Sr., addressed the Convention and we arrived in time for a short discourse before dinner in the nature of a greeting and exhortation. The afternoon discourse, which had been advertised, was well attended by the public. Our topic was, "The Overthrow of Satan's Empire." We had an excellent hearing, especially considering the fact that it was a week day afternoon and quite warm. The attendance was estimated at between six and seven hundred. The other sessions of the Convention showed an attendance of about two hundred. In the evening at 6:30 p.m. we addressed the friends of the Truth from the text, "Be careful for nothing, and in everything give thanks." We endeavored to show how secure God's people are and that, while they are all the time to exercise the fear of reverence, proper fear will cast out all other fear and that the more we know of the great Creator the more we shall appreciate his faithfulness and his ability and willingness to fulfil his good promise to make all things work together for good to us, because we love him, because we are seeking to make our calling and election sure. We endeavored to show that those who keep their hearts thoroughly loyal to the Lord and their earthly all upon the altar of sacrifice have no cause for murmuring or complaining, because our Lord is willing to make his grace abound to all that are his and because the privileges of service and sacrifice are our assurances of coming glory, honor and immortality, and because without these "sufferings of Christ" we cannot be "his members."
We exhorted the dear friends to encourage all of the Lord's people everywhere to rejoice, whatever their earthly condition may be—in sickness, in poverty, in wealth, in honor, in dishonor—because they are his and because the King of Glory is supervising their experiences. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God," "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (1 John 3:1; Rom. 8:17.) Even in tribulation, the Apostle assures us, we may triumphantly rejoice. However, it requires some maturity of faith and of reverential trust to permit of rejoicing in tribulation. We exhorted all to grow in grace and in knowledge and suggested the illustration of St. Paul and Silas in the prison with their hands and feet fast in the stocks and their backs wounded and lacerated from scourging. We remarked that if they were able to sing praises unto God under those conditions, so we, under the same promises and inspired by the same hopes, may likewise rejoice in tribulation. We rejoice that, under Divine providence, we are in preparation for the Divine Kingdom and that, under the supervision of our Heavenly Lord, all things are working together for our good, permitting us to rejoice therein and in the glorious hope of being with him soon.
We closed the address with some words of comfort and cheer and reminders of the time when we all hoped to meet our Lord and each other and all the faithful in Christ Jesus in the heavenly Kingdom. Then came our love feast, which closed the Convention. It was a blessed season and our hearts melted and flowed together. We experienced oneness in fellowship in the Body of Christ in the Church and rejoiced therein and in each other's love, with best wishes and hopes for each other indicated by word and grasp.
A number accompanied us to the train. On the platform we had further blessed intercourse and parted while singing to each other and to the Lord hymns of praise and gratitude. Soon we were speeding on our way towards St. Paul, Minn., where we arrived an hour late and found about forty of the friends on the platform awaiting us. We had barely time to shake hands and to make connections, but did so, thanking God for the spirit of love and oneness which unites all the children of peace. As we parted, songs of thankfulness ascended from both hearts and lips to the Giver of every good gift.
One of the Milwaukee friends boarded our train before we reached their city and prepared us to meet about twenty-five of the Milwaukee Class, who greeted us on the platform during the ten minutes stop. We had a delightful experience with them. Some told us of their intention to attend the Saratoga Springs Convention, but one dear Sister, asked if she were coming, said, "No, I cannot come; but I am in hopes to meet you at the great Convention on High and I am living in hope of that." Surely the dear friends everywhere manifest the Spirit of the Truth and show forth its fruitage in their words and conduct.
Arrived at Chicago we found that the dear friends there had arranged for a meeting. We fell in line with the program and spoke to them for thirty-five minutes. Many of them then accompanied us to the depot, including five who accompanied us to the Toledo Convention. Again we had very affectionate farewells, "God bless you's," etc. About forty were united in heart and voice in song when the train started.
We arrived at Toledo Thursday morning, August 5. A committee met us at the depot and escorted us to breakfast and, later on, to the meeting-place. The Convention had already been in session for two days with a large degree of interest manifested on the part of all. A baptism discourse and service arranged had been conducted on the morning of our arrival. It was reported a very solemn and impressive occasion. An even one hundred were immersed. The whole number of friends at the Convention was about six hundred.
In the forenoon we had a Question Meeting and the questions were good and to the point and the service interesting. This service was followed by a Love Feast, in which the six Pilgrims present participated and about one hundred and twenty Colporteurs, ranged on either side of them, while at the very center of all stood the four Elders of the Toledo congregation. The friends filed past as usual, extending their greetings by hand and voice, seeking to encourage each other to faithfulness and zeal in the Lord's cause. It was a happy occasion. The afternoon session consisted of a discourse by Brother Dr. L. W. Jones. During the afternoon we had a "trouble corner" which, we trust, resulted in the helping of some over difficulties and perplexities. The evening service was for the public and gave a large attendance—about eleven hundred. We had closest attention while we endeavored to present "The Past, Present and Future of Man from the Bible Standpoint." En route to the depot refreshments of ice cream soda were supplied and soon goodbyes were said and we were off for Pittsburgh, five accompanying us.
We had extreme pleasure in meeting the dear friends of Pittsburgh and vicinity, their faces bringing back to us pleasant memories of bygone days. The Bible House Chapel was packed even into the entryway. We assured the dear friends that we had had the Lord's blessing and precious and repeated spiritual feasts during the Convention tour, but that no meeting gave us greater pleasure than the present one, and that while our heart-love is broad and deep towards all of the Lord's dear flock, we will ever think with loving interest of the dear ones of Allegheny. We then gave a discourse in which we endeavored to set forth certain features of the Divine Plan which, we hope, were helpful to our dear hearers—relative to the Covenants, tracing the same back to father Abraham and into the glorious consummation at the close of the Millennial Age. The meeting closed at 9:10 p.m., but we soon found that we had not left a sufficiency of time for saying Goodbye and, as the dear ones discovered that we must go without greeting them, in order to catch our train, we were "most kindly mobbed," and tried to satisfy them by shaking with both hands. We finally reached the sidewalk and then the depot, to find that a considerable crowd had gathered there, where fresh adieus were said. Saturday's rest at Brooklyn prepared us for Sunday, another enjoyable One-Day Convention.
The forenoon service consisted of a Prayer, Praise and Testimony Meeting, which was well attended and the testimonies were full of fervency of spirit. It was good to be there. Such of the congregation as were from outside the city and had never had a meal at "Bethel" were invited to embrace the opportunity and take dinner with us. About forty responded, the Bethel family joining with the remainder of the congregation in a luncheon in the Tabernacle chapel.
The afternoon service was well attended for a mid-summer day, about six hundred being present. For nearly two hours we discussed with them the Word of the Lord found in Isaiah 40:1, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." At the conclusion we were told that the difficulty with the service was that it was not long enough. Our evening luncheon was participated in by about two hundred. Then came the evening service of praise from 7 to 7:30, followed immediately by a Question Meeting attended by about four hundred, who gave the closest attention. The questions were excellent.
Our attention is drawn to the fact that in preparing the San Antonio Convention we omitted the notice of the public service on the evening of July 13. It was held in the Opera House, and was in every way successful so far as we can judge. The edifice was crowded and the attention excellent. We spoke for about two hours on "Where Are the Dead?" The literature was taken freely at the conclusion of the service. About thirteen hundred were present.