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THERE has just been concluded, under the title of International Bible Students Association Convention, a most interesting and profitable meeting of the Lord's people. Not only were there one thousand more in attendance than ever before, but the sweet Spirit of the Lord was more abundantly manifest than everwhich is saying a great deal, for all of our conventions have been excellent in this very particular. It is but what we should expect, however, that each year would develop the Lord's people more fully in the fruits and graces of his holy Spiritin meekness, gentleness, long suffering, brotherly kindness, love. The attendance was surely in excess of four thousand, but how many more it is difficult to determine, as not all could be present at one time. The Bible Students crowded the accommodations along both sides of the lake from Jamestown to Mayvilletwenty-five miles. The boat rides were found very restful and very advantageous for Christian fellowship and a more intimate acquaintance amongst the friends. An opportunity was afforded also for witnessing to the truth in the Chautauqua Lake region.
The friends in general preached an appreciated sermon in their deportment, tone of voice, kindness, patience, helpfulness. The people took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus and learned of him. We have friends all around that lake now. Before our arrival some ministers, in disregard of the Word and Spirit of the Master, slandered usfalsified in their endeavor to awaken opposition amongst their people. Things resulted, however, to the contrary. One lady who had contracted to entertain six of our friends was visited by her minister and told that she should have nothing to do with these Bible Students, etc. In perplexity she counseled with her husband how she could get rid of them, seeing she had accepted in advance payment on account of their entertainment. He replied, "Wait a little while; I will run up to the Auditorium and mingle with the people and let you know." He returned shortly, saying that he had heard our opening address of welcome and mingled some with those attending, and wished his wife could get forty into the house, instead of six.
The Chief of Police of Celoron remarked to one of the brethren that if everyone in the world were like the people who were attending the convention there would be no need of a police department, and that saloonmen would have to look for another job. He remarked that he had not noticed even one of the conventioners using tobacco. The policeman stationed at the front of the Auditorium said that his wife was a Christian, but that he had never taken much interest in religion, thinking it mostly a profession. He said, "I am forcibly impressed that the people attending this convention live their Christianity. My wife is away on a vacation, to be back in about two weeks, but I have sent her word to come immediately, as I am sure she will want to get acquainted with these people."
Celoron, where the Auditorium is located, is a worldly place, of course, a small "White City." Its inhabitants are composed chiefly of those who purvey to worldly tastes and appetites. They were disappointed that so large a throng of people should bring so little patronage to their merry-go-rounds, shooting galleries, etc. They all acknowledged, however, that the conventioners were kind, considerate, and minded their own business, and that that business evidently was to hear the speakers of the Convention. One of the showmen, never before interested in religion, attended services on the first Sunday. He was deeply impressed, and said that the message appealed to him as reasonable. He is reading the books. The principal owner of the place was very considerate of our interests and quieted the music in the vicinity of the Auditorium while our services were in progress. Altogether we had a glorious season of spiritual refreshment and have reason to believe that the Truth, through its representatives, made an indelible impression along the shores of Lake Chautauqua. We are most earnestly urged to come again next year, and the suggestion was made that, if we would do so, an auditorium away from the amusement section would be erected for our use.
The Jamestown newspapers devoted much of their space to the Convention, declaring it the largest that had ever visited them. On the Saturday before the Convention closed, one journal gave about two columns of space and another nearly three pages. Those attending the Convention bought many copies of the newspapers and mailed them to their friends in every direction. We understand that one paper sold more than 25,000 extra copies. Those papers in turn will carry considerable of the good tidings to people all over the United States and Canada.
Our arrangements for baptismal services were not all that could have been desired; nevertheless we had much to be thankful for. Doubtless the accommodations were much better than those of our Lord's day. We had two baptism discourses and two opportunities for symbolical immersion, at which, according to official account, 354 adults were immersed.
In our petitions the dear ones at home were earnestly rememberedthat they might have an equal share in the blessing. And we believe that many will get the blessing: (1) Those who submissively bowed to the Divine Providence which hindered their attending the Convention, are sure to learn the lesson of patience and faith. (2) Those who attended the Convention will surely carry back to the stay-at-homes a share of our rich feast, which will overflow in all directions.
Many "poor" attended; some assisted in part or in whole by "better-off" brethren and sisters. Some stayed at home and earned money to permit others to come to the Convention and get a spiritual feast. Surely all thus earnest were richly blessed by the great Shepherd.
We have already remarked that some of the dear friends, on arrival, were not kindly received by those who had contracted to entertain them, and to whom money on account had been paid. This was vexatious and quite a test of patience, and faith in Divine Providence, and brotherly love. Yet we believe that the friends conquered through the Spirit of the Lord. Should we ever return to Chautauqua Lake we would have the very best and kindest of attention from every quarter. Here is one case as an illustration: The man of the house met the visitors at the door, and, in a challenging manner, said, "We are United Brethren," intimating that he did not want any conversation on religious subjects, and that it was questionable if he would receive the friends, even with this assurance. They accepted the situation graciously, determined not to talk religion where it was not wanted. However, in the house a little boy lay dying and unable to eat. One of the friends told the child about the glorious restitution, how he would come back from death in the resurrection, and how the entire world would then be Edenic. Next the child was presented with a copy of the Heavenly Manna, with the suggestion that [R4673 : page 278] that kind of food he could always take with a relish. Before we left all were fast friends, and the guests were urged to come again.
Although we tried to make the matter plain, some of the dear friends, we fear, did not fully grasp the financial part of the arrangement for their comfort. The committee on arrangements undertook to furnish all in attendance at uniform prices, although the cost of entertainment would necessarily vary a great deal. To illustrate: The friends lodged at the upper part would have been obliged to pay $1.00 a day on the electric car or fifty cents on the boat to reach the Convention and return. Those lodged in the Chautauqua grounds would have had the same boat fare and eighty cents on the street car, and the boats do not stop there on Sunday. Additionally the Chautauqua Association charges 40 cents per day admission fee to their grounds, which for the ten days amounts to $4. We secured a concession, but paid $2 a head for all who lodged within their gates. Those lodged at Jamestown, of course, had less expense5 cents each way daily. Our committee averaged the matter and charged all alike, including a noon luncheon.
It was our intention to serve the friends without profit, and our accounts show a shortage of $3,000. This, however, includes the transportation and entertainment of the Bethel family of more than 76. A little idea of the cost of the noon luncheon may be had from a statement of the daily food supplyfresh milk, 1,000 quarts; lemonade, 600 quarts; sandwiches, 4,000; buns, 4,000; sweet cakes and crackers, 6,000; ice, 2,000 pounds; bananas, 3,300; cheese, 135 pounds. This was our daily provision. It was served by 120 volunteer brethren at each meal. Fourteen dear friends spent nearly three weeks in securing the accommodations, while others labored day and night in making the assignments.
While we paid a uniform rate for all rooms, they were not all alike. They were graded A, B, C and D by those who examined and engaged them. Then those who made the assignments gave the A grade to the $14 orders, the B grade to the $11, and the C and D grades to the $9 orders. They may not all have been correctly graded, but we feel sure that all got excellent value for their money; for those who paid $14 for nine days, paid only about $1.50 per day for food, lodging and transportation.
We assure all who attended that whatever was lacking of perfection came short through imperfection of judgment or matters beyond the control of those looking after their interests. We can certainly say that had 4,000 people arrived there without previous arrangements for their comfort they would have been a sorry lot, and would have paid all kinds of prices for entertainment or would have wandered around the streets tired and hungry. Nevertheless, should we return to the same place another time we could do much better for all, because open opposition has disappeared. As several gentlemen of Jamestown remarked, "The only people here who do not seem to have enjoyed your Convention are the preachers and saloonkeepers."
The Convention was every way an interesting one. The presence of Brother Hemery of the British Branch, Brother Lundborg of the Swedish Branch, Brother Luttichau of the Danish Branch, and Brother Lindqvist of the Norwegian Branch, added materially to the interest of the occasion. The list of speakers, as shown on the programme, which many of you have, numbered twenty-four, besides about twelve who took part in the symposium at the last session. On account of the large crowds it seemed unadvisable to attempt to have a Love Feast of the usual type. We therefore arranged that twelve of the Pilgrim brethren should be stationed at the outlets of the various aisles, both on the lower floor and in the gallery of the Auditorium. The friends greeted these as they passed from the Convention Hall on the last Sunday night. At the conclusion all declared, "It has been our very best Convention."
We knew that, on account of the Convention, the letters and orders coming to the Brooklyn office would be fewer than usual. We therefore took practically the entire office force to the Convention, there to continue the necessary features of the work in all departments. The Editor, as President of the I.B.S.A., felt it proper that he should be in attendance throughout the entire Convention.
Nevertheless, as it was necessary for him to keep up his literary duties, it was advisable to isolate himself to some extent from the glad hands and loving hearts of the 4,000 plus, each of whom desired a few minutes' conversation and to shake hands every time they came within reach. Isolation seemed cruel, but necessary, in the interest of the King's Business. Accordingly we rented the Mayville Inn, which was vacant but furnished. There about fifty of the friends were entertained, with the understanding that Brother Russell must not be intruded upon, and could be visited only at meal times and at the evening Receptions. We spoke at the Auditorium five times:
In view of the impossibility of personal contact with any but a very few at the Auditorium, we arranged for six Receptions at the Mayville Inn, with admission only by cards. We had 3,600 of these cards printed, and additional permits were granted for the last Reception on Saturday evening, Aug. 6. The tickets were good only for the date they bore, so that the chartered steamer which took the friends twenty miles to the Inn and back might not be overcrowded. We desired that all should have a view of the beautiful lake and the opportunity for fellowship enroute. We are assured that the arrangements were enjoyed to the full and were seasons of refreshing fellowship and praise.
At the Inn the crowds each evening were received in the large parlors and halls and verandas and spacious lawns. We used a corner of one veranda for a pulpit, and, after greeting the dear friends, spoke a few words along spiritual lines to assist in making the occasion one to be remembered from the standpoint of spiritual refreshment. Then, while hundreds sang some of our sweet hymns, other hundreds were invited into the large dining room, where with zeal they were served by loving brethren and sisters (recruits chiefly from the Colporteur ranks) with a little ice cream, cake, etc., soon exchanging places with the singers. We feel sure that these six receptions added to the comfort and joy and spiritual refreshment of all who participated. The numbers attending furnished [R4673 : page 279] a good gauge of the total number attending the Convention. Yet there were probably nearly 1,000 who, for one reason or another, did not get to the receptionssome of them refrained from attending, fearing that there would not be room, and that they would crowd out others. There was, however, room for all, and more could have been entertained.
August 3.Last evening the second installment from the Bible Students Convention, numbering nearly six hundred, visited Pastor Russell and were addressed by him on the lawn and porches of Peacock Inn. The twenty miles' ride on our beautiful Lake Chautauqua feasted their eyes. Their hymns of praise wafted to the cottages on the shores led many to surname these International Bible Students"The Happy People." Pastor Russell spoke briefly and informally. Referring to the beautiful scenery of the lake, he remarked:
"It turned my mind back to the Garden of Eden, reminding me of the Divine provision for our first parents before sin came to mar the Divine likeness in which Adam and Eve were created. Then my mind went forward into the future, guided by the Divine lampthe Word of God. In its light there arose before my mental vision Paradise restorednot a garden merely, but the entire earth made beautiful, gorgeous, fruitful, sinless, happy.
"I called to mind the inspired promise so familiar to us allThere shall be no more sighing, no more crying, no more dyingfor the former things of sin and death will have passed away, and the great King of Glory shall announce, 'Behold, I renew all things.' (Rev. 21:5.) I recalled also St. Peter's words of assurance respecting these glorious 'times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.' (Acts 3:20,21.) St. Peter adds that this restitution of earth to its designed perfectiontyped in Edenand of man's restitution to God's likeness, delays until the second advent of the Redeemer. And other Scriptures, dear Brethren, assure us that the coming of our Master as the King of Glory is timed by God to take place as soon as the elect Church shall have been called and chosen and tested and found faithful.
"The Divine purpose will not be thwarted by the permission of sin to mar the original. The sacrificial death of Jesus is the complete offset to the penalty pronounced on Adam and his race. Restitution to perfection and Divine favor will result in God's 'due time.' And we believe that time near at hand.
"Do we not see the promised blessing coming? What are our vast irrigation schemes by artesian wells and by aqueducts but fulfillments of the prophecies pertaining to the reign of Messiah and the blessing of the earth? Hark to the message: Streams shall break forth in the [R4674 : page 279] desert; and the wilderness shall bloom as the rose.Isaiah 35.
"Burbank and others are under Divine guidance working miracles in horticulture, just as Edison and others have been the instruments of Providence to give us electrical devices. What beautiful fruits and flowers are the result! It is difficult to imagine greater perfection either in Eden of old or in the world-wide Eden to be restored!
"Referring to the 'times of restitution' of Messiah's reign the Prophet declares, 'The earth shall yield her increase.' (Ezek. 34:27.) Behold preparations for the fulfillment of this promise: About three years ago a Virginia farmer found one abnormal bunch of 120 stalks of wheat from one rootthe offspring of one grain of wheat. Under the name of 'miracle wheat' it is now being developed slowly in various partsthe average yield appears to be about 1,200 grains from one kernel. And this very year the same peculiarity in oats has been founda bunch growing wild by the roadside.
"Additionally the same Divine providence is guiding our chemists to economical methods of extracting nitrogen from the atmosphere for the feeding of the soil and thus to the 'increase' of earth's blessings and in fulfillment of God's promise that he will make the earth (his footstool) glorious.
"Nineteen centuries of preaching shows that the cure of this malady is not in our power, and that only the few even desire or seek for the Lord's spirit of gentleness and tender-heartedness. The great King of Glory is also the Good Physician. He only can cure the disease of sin and its results. Through him God's promise to Israel will be fulfilled: 'I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.' (Jeremiah 31:31.) And this work will proceed from Israel to all the families of the earthuplifting all the willing and obedient out of sin and death to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed at Calvary. And, thank God, the unwilling and disobedient will not be consigned to endless torture, but to 'the Second Death''everlasting destruction.'
A third detachment of Bible Students, after the day's services, took steamer for the upper end of the Lake to attend Pastor Russell's reception. The Lake journey was an enjoyable one along spiritual lines. The students, rendering various well-known hymns effectively, discussed the Convention topics of the day. They were as happy a crowd as ever passed over our beautiful Lake.
At Peacock Inn the visitors crowded the lower floor of the house and the extensive lawn. Pastor Russell, after greeting each visitor, addressed them as a whole. He welcomed those already well known to him, as well as others whom he had not met previously. He congratulated them upon the wonderful day in which we are living; upon the wonderful Bibles from which we may study concerning [R4674 : page 280] the great Divine Plan of the Ages. With an Oxford Bible in his extended hand he remarked, "I fear that even we fail to appreciate the value of this great Book which has exerted more influence in the world than all other books combined." He remarked that few preachers realize that the Bible has been in the hands of the public for only about one century. "Our oldest Bible societies are this very year celebrating their centennial. When they were organized Bibles were possessed only by the rich. Now they are to be found in the homes of allobtainable free by the destitute. Many are learning the value of Bible references and the usefulness of Bible Concordances in Scripture studies.
"Furthermore, we are too apt to forget that general education has only now reached the masses. It is not yet thirty years since free schools were established in Great Britain. It is only about ten years since education has been made compulsory in all the most civilized lands. Thus God has favored our day in a two-fold manner, not only by giving us the Bible, but by giving the masses the intelligence necessary to its study.
"But, alas, just as these precious opportunities are in the hands of the masses; just as these blessings were given to humanity; just as Christendom was prepared for Bible study, the Lord allowed the Adversary to bring forward a most subtle influence in opposition to it. The foul-mouthed infidelity of the past has been supplanted by a far more dangerous enemy to Christian faiththe infidelity known as Higher Criticism. It is dangerous because of its insidious character. It has entrenched itself in all the colleges and in all the theological seminaries. While all of our churches of all denominations ostensibly stand as defenders of the Bible, the citadel of faith is being captured by the great Adversary of God and the TruthSatanwho is deceiving, estranging and misleading the hosts of Christendom through the very theological professors and D.D.'s to whom they have been led to look for spiritual light and direction and whom they had supposed to be staunch defenders of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. This is a severe arraignment, but it is a generally truthful one, as each may demonstrate to himself. Most regretfully I am persuaded that four out of every five of all the ministers and Sunday-School superintendents of Christendom have ceased to believe in the Bible as the Divinely inspired revelation of the Will and Purposes of the Almighty. Some of these, nevertheless, claim to be earnest followers of Jesus as the Son of God, and of Divine origin. Yet how weak is their position! If Moses did not write the Law and if it was not inspired, nor the prophecies inspired, what could we think of Jesus and his Apostles accepting those prophecies as inspired and founding all of their teachings thereupon? Most evidently, Higher Critics who still believe in Jesus as the Divine Son of God have not thought logically on the proposition, and will reject everything pertaining to the Scriptures upon further reflection.
"I congratulate you, my friends, that while sorrowfully we behold the fulfilling of the Scriptures in the falling away of these, our friends, we are not compelled by anything in reason nor in the Scriptures to suppose that their fate for such infidelity will be eternal torment. I congratulate you that, as Bible Students, we are growing stronger in our faith day by day while, in fulfillment of the Scriptures, a thousand fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand. (Psa. 91:7.) I congratulate you that the study of the Bible, with the assistance which God is now providing, is clearing up the mysteries which have perplexed us all our lives and is bringing to us greater appreciation of his glorious purposes and greater loyalty to him and more earnest desire to serve his Cause of Righteousness and to lift up the standard of the Cross of Christ.
"Truly, as the Lord through the Prophet expressed it, 'Our feet have been kept from stumbling,' and instead the stumbling-stone of greater intelligence of our day has lifted us to a higher plane of devotion and appreciation of 'the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of the Love of God which passeth all understanding.'
"Do not misunderstand me to be speaking harshly or unkindly of our dear friends who are stumbling over the educational opportunities of our day. On the contrary, I sympathize with them. Once I stood exactly where they stand. Once I, too, repudiated the Bible as the Word of God. I was as honest then as I am today, and feel bound to give credit for equal honesty. They are blinded by the dazzling glare of the earthly science of our day. If they ever knew, they have forgotten and dropped the light, the science which comes only from above. Some of them may be recovered from the snare of the Adversary, as I was. There is this difference, however: The majority of them seem to exult in their unbelief and to pride themselves and plume themselves on their opposition to the Bible; but my position was the very contrary of this. I deplored the necessity for abandoning the Bible. I considered it the rational thing to expect from the Supreme Creator some Revelation of his purposes respecting mankindthe object of our creation; the purpose to be attained; and how and why.
"I have no doubt that many of you have had experiences similar to my own. Many of you have told me so. Let us hope that, as we have been recovered from the snare of the Fowler, so also may others be. Let us be prompt to lend the helping hand and an encouraging word. Let us realize that to the honest-hearted the loss of the Bible must be a disaster to faith and hope, as it was in our own cases. Let us trust that there are many others honest as ourselves who will yet be recovered. Let us be encouraged to help them by a remembrance of how great a blessing came to us through the proper understanding of the Word of God."
The Mayville Inn and its spacious lawns, with Pastor Russell of Brooklyn Tabernacle as host, entertained the fourth contingent of Bible Students, about six hundred, last night. The numbers each night are regulated by cards of invitation. Like its predecessors, the occasion was an enjoyable one long to be remembered with pleasure and profit. Again the songs of "The Happy People" of the International Bible Students, coming and going, gladdened and cheered the dwellers at the Lake-side [R4675 : page 280] homes, who will not soon forget this Convention. In connection with his greetings Pastor Russell said:
"To the gathering of Bible Students who visited me here last evening I remarked the increasing beauties of nature as foregleams of the great 'restitution' promised in the Bible and which we believe is now nigh at hand. We then considered the world's hope, based on the great sacrifice at Calvary and the Bible's testimony respecting its far-reaching results. Tonight let us consider briefly the future of the Church's hope.
"Like many of our Christian friends, for a long time we did not understand how to 'rightly divide the Word of Truth.' (2 Tim. 2:15.) We did not comprehend that God's Plan provides first a heavenly salvation for [R4675 : page 281] the Church and then an earthly salvation for mankind in general. The study of our Bibles along dispensational lines clears away all of our difficulties. It shows us that the promise that the redeemed shall sit every man under his own vine and fig tree and long enjoy the work of their hands (Isa. 36:16) is God's provision for Israel restored to Divine favor, and for all the families of the earth; but not for the Church. Of the true Church, the Bride of Christ, it is declared that her members shall in the resurrection be like unto the angelsheavenly or spiritual beings.
"St. Paul distinctly says of these, 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.' (I Cor. 15:50.) Jesus tells these that he has gone to prepare them a place in the Father's house on high. But the place for man, the earth, already provided from the foundation of the world, is a very different one from ours, of which we read, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath in reservation for them that love him.'Isa. 64:4.
"Now we understand why it is that from Genesis to Malachi there is not one suggestion of a heavenly or spiritual hope for anyone. Every promise is earthly. In Abraham's case, for instance, we read, 'Lift up now thine eyes and look to the East, West, North, and South; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy Seed after thee.'
"St. Paul refers to this difference between the hopes of the spirit-begotten Church founded at Pentecost and the hopes of all others. Pointing to the faithful of the past he declares that although they had God's testimony to their faithfulness, nevertheless they received not the promises, 'God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.'Hebrews 11:38-40.
"As soon as we get our 'better thing,' our higher reward of 'glory, honor and immortality' in joint-heirship with our Lord as figuratively his Bride, then the worthy ones of ancient times will get their reward of resurrection to human perfection. Then, under Messiah's Kingdom, those perfect men will be the 'princes in all the earth.' Then from the spiritual to the perfected earthly ones, the blessings and instructions for the world will descend to the poor, ignorant, selfish and superstitious worldto help them; to uplift the obedient to the perfections illustrated by the perfected worthies.
"We have all heard of the Sunday-School teacher who told her class about heavenabout its pianos, harps, organs, horses and carriages, fruits and flowers, etc. We see that she was merely thinking of the blessings God has provided for the faithful and obedient of the world, 'in due time.' She had no conception of the heaven of heavens promised to the faithful followers of Jesus in the narrow way.
"The great Teacher explains that it is impossible to describe heaven and its beauties and charms. He said to Nicodemus, 'If I have told you of earthly things and ye believed not, how would you believe if I should tell you of heavenly things?'John 3:12.
"In line with this the Bible makes no attempt to describe heaven itself, nor its inhabitants. We are merely told that God is a Spirit 'dwelling in light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can ever see' personally. Man must discern God in his works, the noblest of which is the perfect man, made in Jehovah's moral likeness on the earthly planea little lower than the angels on the spirit plane. The most that the Word declares of our heavenly inheritance is that 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath in reservation for them that love him.'I Cor. 2:9.
"But while refusing to inform us of the heavenly conditions, God does give us a soul-satisfying portion. Through the Apostle he declares, 'It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he (the glorified Jesus) shall be revealed (at his Second Advent, in power and great glory) we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,' while others not thus 'changed' from human to spirit nature by the 'First Resurrection' power will not see him as he is, but only as he shall be revealed in his providences and judgments, which every eye shall recognize.
"How satisfactory! How far beyond all that we could have asked or thought! 'Like Him.' What more could we ask? 'Like him,' whom 'God hath highly exalted, far above angels, principalities and powers'! We stand amazed at such grace! Moreover, we can realize that he who called us to become 'partakers of the divine nature' and joint-heirs with the Redeemer in his Mediatorial Kingdom has provided for our every comfort and joy in that heavenly state, the details of which we may not now grasp. Prophetically of these it is written, 'I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness.'Psa. 17:15."
Nearly six hundred more Bible Students from the
Convention visited Pastor Russell at The Mayville Inn.
More "happy people".More hymns of praise.Another
delightful ride on our beautiful Lake going and returning.
Pastor Russell welcomed all most heartily.In the
course of the evening he gave a little address as on
previous occasions.He said in part:
"One of old was declared to be a burning and shining light. There is force in this expression. Some lights are cold, austere, unsympathetic; but the kind approved by the Master was the burning kindwarm, glowing, sympathetic, helpful, intensive. The Master himself furnishes the best of all illustrations of the principle enunciated. He was the light which came down from heavenundimmed, resplendent, shining forth to the utmost the light of Divine Truth. Not a cold, forbidding recluse was he, holding himself aloof from the people with a haughty and disdainful spirit, telling coldly 'wonderful words of life.'
"On the contrary, his entire life was sympathetic, whole-souled. One of the charges brought against him by the cold Pharisees was, He receiveth sinners and eateth with them. Even his disciples were shocked that he should converse with a woman of Samaria. But the common people heard him gladly. While recognizing that he was far above their planewhile beholding in him the glories of an only-begotten of the Father, they nevertheless were drawn to him because he was the burning as well as the shining light. And they declared of him, 'Never man spake like this man.'John 7:46.
"Bible Students are all Christians, though, alas, all Christians are not Bible Students. True, God's Book may even be read through by some who are unbelievers. And it may be scanned critically by opponents who seek to find fault with it and to entrap it, as they sought to find fault with the Master. But these are not Bible Students in the proper sense of the word. Only those who have made a consecration of their lives to the Lord and who are anxious to know the Divine will, that they may conform their lives to it, and who, to attain this end, have entered the School of Christ to be taught of himonly these are Bible Students from our standpointsearchers after the secrets of the Lord, because they love him and are appreciative of his glorious plans and desirous of understanding them fully. Such Bible Studentsincluding you, dear friends, and myself, I trustshould be burning and shining lights in the world and amongst our fellow-Christians of all denominations, many of whom, alas, have much of the spirit of the world and are lacking in the spirit of the Truth because of insufficient knowledge of the Truth itselfbecause they are not sufficiently Bible Students.
"'Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.' We are not enjoined to make a show of carrying our Bibles everywhere in an ostentatious manner. We are exhorted to show forth in our daily lives the lessons we learn from its precious pages. As the Bible is our lamp provided by the Lord to all those who walk in his footsteps, so each of these in turn is a lamp which should shed forth upon others the light, the knowledge, the spirit of Truth for their edification. In other words, the holy Spirit is not poured out upon the world of mankind, but merely upon the Lord's servants and handmaidens. It is an anointing for these and upon these, evidencing to them that they have been begotten again to the new nature and making of them light-bearers for the benefit of othersburning and shining lights, sympathetic and helpful lights, 'that they might show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.'
"While keeping the lamp trimmed and burning, while seeking to glorify God as burning and shining lights in the world, we must not forget that the Bible assures us that we will be no more successful in converting the [R4677 : page 282] world than was our Master. His great light shone in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. And the religionists of his day instigated his crucifixion. The Master's prophecy respecting his followers will prove true to the end of the Age: 'The darkness hateth the light'; 'Marvel not if the world hate you. Ye know that it hated me before it hated you.' (I John 3:13.) It is altogether a mistake, therefore, to suppose that you or I or any other person or all of the Lord's consecrated people, letting their lights shine faithfully before men, could convert the world. Such was not God's intention. It is the Church, and not the world, that is being tested at the present time. The opposition of the world and all the powers of darkness serve to test us as New Creaturesto test our loyalty to God and to his Truth. Whosoever receives the light of Truth intelligently must rejoice in it, and, rejoicing in it, he must let it shine out upon others, or, by covering his light with a bushel, he will demonstrate his lack of courage, lack of appreciation, lack of zeal, which the Lord is now specially seeking for amongst those whom he has invited to be sharers with Jesus in the glories of the Mediatorial Kingdom about to be established amongst men. It is important, therefore, that we let our light shine before men. It is important that we be willing, nay, glad if need be, to suffer for our loyalty to the Lord and to his message. And we have his word for it that he that is ashamed of him or of his Word now, of such he will be ashamed by and by and not own them as members of his Bride class, not accept them as assistants with him in his glorious Throne.
"'This is the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.' (John 1:9.) Thus far Jesus has not been dealing with the world, but merely with the blessed ones who have the eye of faith and ear of faith. 'Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears for they hear.' (Matt. 13:16.) The time for the enlightenment of the world will be after the special call of the elect. Then the Church, as the Bride, will be with the heavenly Bridegroom in his Throne. Then all now found faithful in the matter of letting their light shine will be associated with the great Light, Jesus, as members of his Body. Altogether they will constitute the great Sun of Righteousness which will then arise with healing in its beams for the blessing of all the families of the earth. 'Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear.' (Matt. 13:43.) He that hath a desire of heart, let him be obedient, and thus make his calling and election sure to this glorious chief salvation."
In order not to crowd the chartered boat, no more than six hundred were permitted to attend Pastor Russell's reception on any one evening. The restriction was effected by means of visitation cards, not more than six hundred of which were issued for any one of the six evenings. Last evening marked the conclusion of the receptions. The steamer was crowded, but "The Happy People" maintained their equilibrium of spirit and let their songs abound, giving good evidence that they were singing and making melody in their hearts unto the Lord. They evidently enjoyed the scenery of the Lake, but the eyes of their understanding seemed to take in still more beautiful Elysian fields. It was the same on the return journey.
The crowd was welcomed by Pastor Russell, who greeted each one personally. He subsequently addressed them from the veranda, following which a light collation was partaken of. The address in part was as follows:
"My dear friends, our Convention nears its close. To me it has been a very enjoyable one. So far as I can discern, it has been the same to all in attendance. It is a delightful and blessed experience that so many of the Lord's people, by his Providence, have been permitted to turn aside from the busy cares of life to spend ten days in Bible study and in fellowship with each other in spiritual things. We have thus been remembering the inspired [R4677 : page 283] exhortation, 'Forget not the assembling of yourselves together,...and so much the more as ye see The Day draw nigh.' The nearer we come to the great Day of the Lord, in which the Church will be glorified with the Bridegroom, and in which the great work of blessing the world at large will begin, the more precious are our opportunities for Christian fellowship. And more than this; they daily become more important to us for our strengthening and upbuilding in the faith once delivered to the saints.
"As we think of the closing of this Convention, let our minds go out toward the Great Convention promised in God's Word. At it will be gathered all of God's peopleall 'Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile.' That Convention, like this one, will be unsectarian, interdenominational. Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptiststhe holy, the saintly out of each and all of these will be at that Great Convention. St. Paul styles it the 'General Assembly of the Church of the First-born ones.' How grand to think of such a reunion, without a creedal fence between any of the participants and all of them surrounded and safeguarded by the
and the Wisdom and Power Divine! Do you desire to be present at that Convention? The question is an unnecessary one. It is the hope, the desire, the aim of every one of us to be thereto make our calling and our election sure; to so run that we may obtain that great prize of participation in the 'First Resurrection.' Of that resurrection we read, 'Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the First (chief) Resurrection; on such the Second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years'! (Rev. 20:6.) Let us have this in mind, dear friends, that our participation with our Lord in the glories of his Kingdom is dependent upon our faithfulness here in following him through evil report and through good report, through honor and through dishonor in the bearing of the cross along the narrow way of self-denial.
"I remind you that when God brought typical Israel out of Egypt, the first-borns had a peculiar salvation or preservation first. The night before the deliverance all the first-borns were in danger of death, and were saved only when under the blood of the Passover Lamb. We see, dear friends, the significance of this beautiful type. St. Paul tells us that Christ is our Passover Lamb, slain for us. We each have appropriated his flesh, his human nature, which he sacrificed on our behalf. We recognize his sacrifice, the blood of atonement. We see that this entire Gospel Age is the antitype of that night. We are hoping to belong to the first-borns begotten of the holy Spirit who, during this night time of sin and death, will be passed over and, on account of the blood without and the Lamb within, be accounted worthy of being passed overaccounted worthy of eternal life on the spirit plane as members of the 'Church of the First-born'participants in the 'First Resurrection' to glory, honor and immortality with our Lordlike him.
"I remind you that all of these first-borns, passed over, typified all of the Lord's people of all denominations and outside of all denominations who are now passing from death unto life. I remind you, however, that in the type, the first-borns of every tribe were exchanged for the one tribe of Levithe priestly tribe, which thereafter typified the 'Church of the First-borns'the 'household of faith.' But I remind you further that the Lord divided that tribe into two classes. A little handful were made priests and occupied a special position of favor and relationship and nearness to God, and the remainder of that tribe were honored in being used as the assistants or servants of the priests. This is an allegory or type. 'The Church of the First-borns' will consist of two classes, a 'little flock' of priests and a 'great company' of the 'household of faith' and typical Levites who will serve. I remind you that the 'little flock' of priests do their sacrificing now and, if faithful, will shortly be made a Royal Priesthood, a reigning priesthood, joint-heirs with the great King of Glory and High Priest of our professionJesus. I remind you that the 'great company,' typed in the ordinary Levites, will not be in the Throne, but serve before the Throne. They will not be living stones of the Temple, but serve God in the Temple. They will not wear crowns of glory, though they will be granted palms of victory.
"What places will you and I occupy in the resurrection, in the General Assembly of the Church of the First-borns? Will we be of the Royal Priesthood, or of the less honorable, but still blessed, servants? Will we be of the Bride class or of the less honored virgins, her companions that follow her? It is for us, dear friends, now to make our calling and our election sure by our zeal, our earnestness, our devotion to the great King and his Cause. He has called us to the highest place. It rests with us, under his wonderful and gracious arrangements, to determine whether we will be passed over or not passed over, and, if passed over, to determine whether we will accept the place to which we are all called or the inferior place which will be granted to those who do not keep their garments unspotted from the world and who, therefore, [R4678 : page 283] must come through great tribulation to enter into the Kingdom at all.
"I exhort you, dear friends, that we strive to be present at the Great Convention, 'the General Assembly of the Church of the First-borns,' and that we strive to make our calling and election sure, that we may be of the Bride class, the Royal Priesthood class, the members of the Body of the great Prophet, Priest and King of Glory! It is to this end that we have come to this Conventionthat we might encourage each other and be encouraged to maintain the good fight of faith and to gain the victory, so far as our hearts are concerned, over the world, the flesh and the Adversary. I trust that we shall all go away from this Convention strengthened by Divine might in the inner man. I trust that we shall leave behind us a sweet fragrance of the Spirit of the Lord in every cottage and hotel in which we have been lodged. I trust that we shall go to our homes so filled with the Spirit of the Truth, the spirit of meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness and love that we shall carry a blessing to those of our homes, that they may take knowledge that we have been with Jesus and have learned of him and that the blessing may thus overflow and abound to many hearts. I doubt not that such will be the blessed results and that this Celoron Convention of Bible Students will be a marked epoch in the Christian careers of many, marked with blessings from on high and mutual refreshment of spirit amongst all those who have participated."