TWO of our Sunday evenings in London were announced as Christian mass meetings at Royal Albert Hall; the first evening we discussed, "Which is the True Gospel?" the second, "Which is the True Church?" We had good attention on both occasions, and large audiences. No doubt the audiences would have been still larger had the subjects and announcements not limited the invitation to Christians. While we did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God on these subjects, we did, as usual, endeavor to present the Truth as sympathetically and inoffensively as possible. We trust that some seed was sown and found lodgment in earnest hearts. Other services on the same days were held in the London Tabernacle. They were not specially advertised, but the attendance was good. The edifice is rated as accommodating twelve hundred, and on some occasions the place was crowded.
At one of the public sessions our election to the pastorate of the congregation of the London Tabernacle was duly and publicly acknowledged and accepted; but of this, reports have already reached you through the public press. We promised to give Great Britain (and London particularly) as large a share of our time as possible, but reminded the dear friends of the breadths and interests of the Truth, and that much as we appreciate the openings and progress of the Harvest Message in Great Britain, the work in America must not be forgotten nor neglected.
These four cities were visited in the order named, and two meetings were held in each, one specially for the interested, the other particularly for the public. We are glad to report that the Truth has been making good progress in all of these cities and countries. Not only in numbers, but also, we believe, in spiritual development the Lord has richly blessed them all.
At Belfast the public audience numbered nearly two thousand. We had excellent attention for about two hours, and about one-half of the audience remained to a question opportunity, which served to set forth the Truth in stronger contrast with error. Although not all questioners were polite, we endeavored to give a soft answer, but a clear one; we trust with good results.
It will be remembered that on two previous occasions at Dublin, the Y.M.C.A. secretary was present as an objector and questioner—the last time accompanied by a prominent theologian and college professor. The same secretary was present this time with another minister as a mouthpiece and assistant.
Questions were unkindly put, but we trust kindly and thoroughly answered. The majority of the large audience perceived the unfairness of the attack and the Scriptural strength of the replies. Approval was frequently manifested by applause, and in conclusion an elderly gentleman of about sixty-five years moved and carried a resolution of thanks to Pastor Russell for the pleasure and profit of the evening.
Monday of the following week was spent at Bristol. The Truth had spread some here also, and the dear friends seemed cheered by our talk to them in the afternoon respecting the covenant of sacrifice which the Church shares with her Lord, and the difference between this and the Law Covenant made with Israel at Mt. Sinai, and the New Law Covenant shortly to be inaugurated with Israel also, and through which ultimately all the families of the earth shall be blessed. The number present, about eighty, included some from nearby places. The evening meeting for the public had a splendid audience, especially for a week night—nearly twelve hundred. Our topic was "The Great White Throne of Judgment." We had excellent attention. The audience included evidently many of the most intelligent people of the city.
Tuesday evening (April 11) we spent at London. We had a season of very special blessing and refreshment in commemorating the Memorial of our dear Redeemer's death on its anniversary, with the London congregation. The number present at the Tabernacle was about three hundred and thirty, of whom about three hundred and seventeen partook of the Memorial. About one hundred and fifty friends who reside in the outskirts of the city, and were unable to be present on account of business duties, distance, etc., kept separate celebrations; thus the London Church in its different meetings, and the Brooklyn congregation in its different meetings, represented practically the same number.
The next day we traveled to Barmen, Germany, where, on Thursday, we had three very interesting sessions. The interest of the German friends continues to grow, and the numbers also—even though, as already stated, we are disappointed in the total numbers of interested ones in the Truth in Germany—considering the large population and the considerable effort and money expenditure made. The returns seem less than in Great Britain and Sweden.
Friday and Saturday were devoted to meetings with the friends in the northern part of France, whom we had never before met. Our first stop was at Charleroi. We had dinner with the friends, addressed about twenty of them for about an hour, and then resumed our journey, arriving at Denain in time for supper and a two hours' talk to more than a hundred of the dear friends there. Next morning, accompanied by eight, we proceeded to Lens. There our congregation numbered about seventy interested. We had a splendid season of refreshment; then a question meeting, following which we proceeded on our journey toward London, which, by train and boat, [R4816 : page 148] we reached at 7 a.m. Sunday, ready for the services which have already been reported.
The days of the next week were spent in addressing the dear friends in the four places above mentioned. The narrative of one is practically the story of all—keen interest amongst the friends and a general appreciation of the Truth. This was our first visit to Nottingham, and a very enjoyable one. The number of interested is not large, but they are very earnest. We addressed them in the afternoon along the lines of consecration and faithful obedience, both to the letter of the Divine law, the Golden Rule, and to the spirit of sacrifice. They had a large hall for the evening with a capacity of twenty-five hundred. It was comfortably filled, though not crowded. The audience was intelligent and attentive, and we trust that some good was accomplished and the Lord's name to some extent glorified.
We addressed a Sheffield audience for the first time. We were agreeably surprised to find so large a company of friends—about eighty. Like the others they had worked hard with the volunteer matter, and the public service was well received, as was also the address to the interested.
Bradford was our next stop. There also the Truth has been progressing, and there likewise, as indeed in every place, the friends had worked very hard to make the meeting well known—at the same time putting into the hands of the public two or three sermons to read. We were reminded that nearly all the cities of Great Britain had a very large distribution of PEOPLES PULPIT—forty thousand to sixty thousand in each place, or about one PEOPLES PULPIT to every six of the population. Surely all the friends got a blessing through this service, and eternity only will tell how much good seed of Truth was implanted, and how much error and superstition were at least partially broken down.
The meeting with the Bradford friends was interesting, and the one for the public both interesting and exciting. A few objectors were anxious to put questions and to entrap us in our words, and to make the Good Tidings appear false. But God was with us, and we believe that their efforts did not succeed in accomplishing much injury. We trust that they were overruled by Divine providence for good to some at least. The audience numbered about fifteen hundred.
Next came Middlesborough—another place we had never previously visited. About one hundred and twenty were present at the afternoon session for the interested, and about fifteen hundred at the public address in the evening.
Considerable interest had been aroused at this point by reason of some local preachers of the Methodist church having received the Truth. We had excellent attention during the discourse, and a very lively time at its conclusion, when questions were asked and answered. These question opportunities, to some extent, confuse the beautiful outlines of the Divine Plan of the Ages in the minds of the hearers, but possibly there are compensations also. When criticisms and objections are answered readily, freely, Scripturally, a confidence in the entire Plan is, we trust, engendered, fully off-setting the disturbing influence. From Middlesborough we proceeded to London for the next Sunday—already reported.
The next week we disposed of as foregoing. Our first appointment was Cardiff, Wales—the first time we had delivered an address in Wales. Cardiff has largely an English population. The proportion of Welsh faces, both at the public address and the address to the friends, was comparatively small. The hall was crowded beyond its capacity, two thousand, and hundreds failed to gain entrance. Many ministers were present.
The so-called "Plymouth Brethren" helped to advertise the meeting by getting out a little leaflet which set forth ten points in which it was claimed that quotations from "The Plan of the Ages" contradicted the Bible. We set the audience at rest by promising to read and to answer those questions (which most of them had in their hands) at the close of the address. Our topic required nearly two hours, and then we had an interesting after-hour, in which we answered the ten questions and some other objections which were orally put to us. The friends of Cardiff rejoiced greatly with the results of their mutual efforts to glorify the Lord and his Word, and to assist the household of faith.
The Liverpool meetings were enjoyed by the friends, and we trust were profitable to all in attendance. The friends of the Truth in the afternoon numbered about one hundred and fifty, and the crowd in the evening was estimated at fifteen hundred. How much good was done, only the Lord, of course, knows. The friends of the Truth were greatly encouraged, anyway.
Birmingham was our next stop and a very enjoyable one. We noted a considerable increase, both in numbers and in interest, as compared with our previous meetings in this city. We had Priory Hall for the meeting of the friends, and an attendance of about one hundred and twenty-five. At night we had the Town Hall with an attendance of about two thousand. The chariot of the Truth is rolling on grandly in Birmingham, so far as outward indications guide our judgment.
Friday night we had a farewell meeting at the London Tabernacle. First we met with the Elders and Deacons—about thirty-eight of us in an ante-room. We discussed the interests of the work and helpful methods of service. Then we joined the congregation in the Tabernacle proper. About four hundred were present.
We outlined a little the work we hoped the congregation would feel encouraged to engage in with still greater vigor and zeal than ever before. We noted the great possibilities of the largest city in the world, and the responsibilities of the Truth upon all the dear friends there. We exhorted them to remember the great prize of our high calling—and the great privilege of serving the Lord's cause, even at the expense of weariness and self-denial in the present time. We noted the great reward sure to come to all the faithful—the Lord's love and favor, and glory, honor, and immortality; and the privilege of engaging still more fully in his service on the other side of the veil, as associates with our Redeemer, members of the great Prophet, Priest, King and Mediator, who shall bless the world of mankind and bring them Restitution privileges and finally restore the [R4816 : page 149] worthy and obedient to full fellowship with God and to eternal life. The service ended with a goodby handshake with the Elders and the congregation, the Elders standing with us as the congregation filed past.
Next day we took train for our boat at Liverpool, homeward bound. About sixty of the dear Liverpool friends greeted us on the wharf, and sang to us, as the boat receded from the shore, "Blest be the tie that binds," and "God be with you till we meet again."
Our homeward journey on the Cunard steamer "Lusitania" was a pleasant one, and we were able to keep our stenographer busy. The only item out of the ordinary was a conversation with the widely-known Evangelist, Rev. Wilbur Chapman, and his assistant, Mr. Norton. They were returning from a campaign in Wales. We were agreeably surprised to find both gentlemen evidently interested in the doctrine of the second coming of the Lord, and both of them professed full consecration to walk in the Master's footsteps, even unto death. We were glad of this. Our wish for them, as for all of God's true people, is a still greater study of God's Word, wholly without sectarian spectacles, with a consuming desire to know and to do God's will.
As our vessel docked we saw on the pier about a dozen of the brethren—chiefly the Elders of the Church. We received a very hearty welcome and at noon we had the pleasure of meeting the entire family at Bethel, and on the next Sunday the entire New York Ecclesia.