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When good Brother Thomas attended the Jacksonville Convention, but little more than a year ago, he stood almost alone in his community. He heard the testimony of our dear Brother Wright of Boaz, Ala., who found, after patient years, hearing ears and good, responsive hearts in his own family. Now children and their married partners, grandchildren and their friends are warm, devoted friends of the Truth.
Could you have been with us during the last two days you would surely have had evidence that there is a rich ingathering in the South. Today, after little more than a year of quickened effort, at least twenty-three give good evidence of consecration, having symbolized by water baptism. Cotton-planting was forgotten (it was the very busiest season), and the rich blessing the dear Lord poured out was not to be compared to anything on earth.
I thought of the large class at Reedy, Va., mostly of the family of our beloved brotherfamiliarly known as "Cousin Jimmy"; of good and faithful Brother Major Grubb, of Rondo, Va., whose children and grandchildren recently consecrated; of whole families North, South, East and West who just recently have made consecration. After father or mother was called beyond the vail, or stood faithful but alone for twenty years, some were rewarded in their own families.
Scripture texts crowd my mind"after many days," "weeping," "bearing precious fruit," "labor not in vain in the Lord," "he that reapeth receiveth wages." How my heart burns to tell the dear brethren everywhere"the fields are white to the harvest"! Don't overlook the dear home-folk. The Lord will not have more than 144,000, but Brother John, or Sister Mary, or son, or daughter may for all eternity hold before us this joy-giving [R4613 : page 159] thought"My crown came to me because you loved me enough to lead me to consecration."
Perhaps once we presented the Truth smitingly at times. We have learned to present it lovingly, considerately, better understanding the infirmities of our dear ones. How necessary that all our deeds be tender, loving, as were our dear Master's!
I am most grateful to the Great Chief Reaper for this Southern trip and the wonderful harvest-gathering that is in evidence on every hand. Do all the dear friends realize that the opportunities now open will soon pass? Can we withhold our services when people read sermons and PEOPLES PULPIT as never before?
It is my pleasant privilege, obeying the instructions of the Ecclesia here, to inform you that at a meeting held last evening you were unanimously re-elected. Although it has not been our privilege to have you with us in person, we desire to express our grateful thanks to you for sending to us such acceptable representatives in the persons of your able assistants, the dear Pilgrim Brothers, whose visits are always helpful. Then, too, you are always with us, representatively, in the pages of SCRIPTURE STUDIES and THE WATCH TOWER and your other writings and addresseswhich we find invaluableand some of which we use in all our meetings. Just now we are finding new beauty and grander lessons in TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF THE BETTER SACRIFICES. You will never know, dear Brother Russell, until you have "passed the vail," and "know even as you are now known," what you have been, and continue to be, to usand not to us only, but to all who have learned "present truth" through you (and where else have they learned it?).
We desire to tender to you, and to all the dear ones of the Bethel Family, our heartfelt love and affection; and we desire to say that our daily petitions go to the throne of heavenly gracethat you may be kept faithful just a little longerand then hear the welcome"Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." We ask for your prayers, dear Pastor, that we, too, may be kept faithful.