GOD HAS greatly blessed us on our present tour. The meetings have been grandly inspiring. Not only have the attendances been large, but the interest has been keen and evidently deep. The friends as well as myself have been encouraged. In every place thus far visited the very best halls available have been secured. The volunteering has been thoroughly done, and the posters have been well placed.
All of our Sundays were apportioned to London Tabernacle except one given to Glasgow on the occasion of its Convention. Good audiences were the rule. The Tabernacle was packed in the evenings, sometimes with standing room only. This is encouraging to us and to all the friends who shall read this report and who properly feel that the work is theirs, because it is the Lord's and the Society's.
This Convention was every way a success. The attendance ranged from 700 to 800 at the ordinary sessions, and the meeting advertised for the public ran up to 5,000, of whom about 500 stood, while about 200 failed to gain admission.
And such attention from so vast an audience! You could have heard a pin drop. For nearly two hours they studied with us "Which Is the True Gospel?" Together we considered what has been presented as the Gospel by various denominations, and then came to the one preached in advance to Abraham, and finally announced "in due time" by Jesus, who brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. The audience saw a vast difference between the creeds of the Dark Ages and the Gospel of Divine grace, of which St. Paul was not ashamed and in which we, too, may well rejoice.
We had three delightful days of spiritual refreshment at this Convention. Friends attended from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Our goodby greetings were at the railway platform, where about 300 tried to shake hands with us; they all waved and sang us away, using "Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love" and "God be with you till we meet again."
In the South of England, where we had few or no friends, we now have some loyal defenders of the Divine Plan of the Ages; and more, we trust, are ripening. At Brighton we had a grand auditorium, The Dome, whose capacity, 3,000, was none too much. We spoke on the "Hereafter" and had close attention to the message of God's Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power. Besides this witness 35,000 PEOPLES PULPITS had been previously used in announcing the meeting. The Lord only knows how many or how few had really "hearing ears."
At Southampton we had the Coliseum, seating 2,000, and a splendid audience; we used same topic; 20,000 copies of PEOPLES PULPIT had been distributed. Some told of blessing received; others are thinking.
Portsmouth: Another rousing meeting, in Town Hall, seating 2,000, crowded, middle class, reverential, thoughtful, many gray and bald heads; mostly men; same subject, "Hereafter"; 20,000 PEOPLES PULPIT. How many ripe grains of wheat and what will the Harvest be only the Lord knows.
Bournemouth: 10,000 PEOPLES PULPIT; we had an extremely intelligent and attentive audience—700—in St. Peter's Church Hall. The volunteering in some of these places was done considerably by brethren, who journeyed 100 miles or more at their own expense to thus serve the Lord, the Truth and brethren as yet unknown to them. How precious is such loving service in the sight of our Lord and his brethren!
Our visit amongst the Scotch Bible students was extremely interesting and encouraging, in the smaller places as well as in Glasgow. Everywhere we had the best halls obtainable, and correspondingly large and intelligent audiences. Our weekly sermons in some of the newspapers [R4925 : page 435] affected our audiences favorably, and we trust that the oral presentations will make the printed discourses more popular and more profitable.
It was our first visit to Perth, but the friends had advertised our coming thoroughly. The City Hall, of 2,000 capacity, was crowded in the evening with the public, while we gave an afternoon talk to the interested students of God's Word. A witness to the "Gospel of the Kingdom" was given which, we trust, will tell something for good when the Lord of the harvest shall reckon with His own servants, to whom He gave talents and pounds for service. Ten thousand copies of PEOPLES PULPIT were distributed to announce the service.
Dundee we visited some years ago, and amongst those who helped arrange for this visit were some interested then. Our afternoon session was for the interested in Masonic Hall. Nearly one hundred were present, their faces beaming out the joy within—the joy the world can neither give nor take away. Gilfillan Hall, 1,600 capacity, was well filled by the public at night to hear respecting [R4925 : page 436] "The Great Hereafter." We believe the Lord's blessing was upon the meeting and that good was accomplished; how much we may not judge. Our united services, dear friends, are rendered to the Lord. We are sure He accepts them irrespective of results seen.
Paisley we visited for the first time. We had a splendid hearing of intelligent middle-class people. Although the night was stormy, Good Templar Hall (capacity 1,000) was nearly full, although there were several public functions to divert. The message of God's Word respecting the "Hereafter" was presented in contrast with the horrible fantasies of the Dark Ages. Some got a start in Bible study and sober thinking such as they never before comprehended. Surely, as the Bible declares, the woman, with the golden cup in her hand full of explanations of her abominations, made all nations drunk with her false doctrines.—Rev. 17:1-5.
Greenock we visited for the first time. We had a splendid reception. The Town Hall, holding 3,000, was crowded. Here as elsewhere on this tour the intelligence of our hearers impressed us. Surely people with such heads and faces could not hear of God's Hereafter in contrast with human theories without being thereby impressed in regard to the Truth.
The North of Ireland people like to remind us that their country was the original Scotland according to history; that some of their brothers conquered Caledonia and gave it the name Scotland, and that they have furnished the United States more than half her Presidents and statesmen. Thus impoverished for the blessing of others they fear the proposed "Home Rule." They declare that the Catholics of the south and west of the island, outnumbering them, will trample them.
We encouraged them to believe that Catholics as well as Protestants are more civilized than of yore, and that anyway it will not be long until Messiah's Kingdom shall set all matters right. We encouraged them to do all in their power to be well represented in that glorious Kingdom, in comparison to which victories in Scotland and America will be as nothing.
Belfast was our first stop. We were accompanied by three brethren of Irish birth or lineage from the Glasgow Church, and they rendered valuable aid in various ways in connection with the meetings. We had blessed fellowship. The meetings were quite successful, even though the attendances were smaller than in England and Scotland. Every night was stormy, and the night at Belfast was Hallowe'en. We certainly had very intelligent audiences, and many evidences that a good impression was produced. There were follow-up meetings held by Brother Hemery which manifested considerable depth of interest.
At Belfast we met about forty Bible students in private session. We discussed with them the great blessing of God upon the Elect Church, which, it is declared, is "His workmanship." Although God rested from His work with mankind to permit the Savior to redeem and restore it, God did not rest from His still higher work of developing the "New Creation." He is now "working in us to will and to do His good pleasure"—drawing, calling, sanctifying us by His Word and Providences.
In the evening we had about 1,000 present in the Large Ulster Hall. It was a remarkable gathering in many respects. (1) The personnel: The people were intelligent, fine looking and most attentive. (2) About three-fourths of the audience were men. (3) There were other large meetings and it was Hallowe'en Night. Our address was on, "Which Is the True Gospel?" We made it quite clear that we are in fullest sympathy with all Christians, but opposed to the creeds of the past, which have divided God's people into 600 sects and dishonored God and violated human reason.
We defended the Bible against the modern infidelity, which styles itself "Higher Criticism," and is undermining Christian faith and leading on toward Atheism and anarchy. We reminded our hearers that all Christians believe that there is but "ONE Church of the First-borns whose names are written in heaven: but ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism; that our forefathers organized our different "Churches," each as the only one, and consigned members of other churches to eternal torture, and sometimes even tortured them to death. All that is past, thank God; but the faulty creeds we still hold, and they still separate us. God's time has come for us to return to the Bible and to ignore and destroy all human creeds and isms if we can find, surely, what is the true Gospel, of which St. Paul was not ashamed. That Gospel we presented to the best of our ability.
Ballymena we visited for the first time and had a good hearing. The attendance was about 250; at Portadown about 500; at Dublin about 800. We had excellent order everywhere, except, we might say, at Dublin. At the latter place the same Y.M.C.A. secretary who formerly tried to catch us in our words was present, accompanied by about 100 young men of his association, who gave no great evidence of a work of grace. Evidently the "hell-fire" faith which they profess has not had sanctifying power in their lives. On occasions they yelled and hooted like "hoodlums," and quite disgraced the fair name of Dublin and of the Y.M.C.A.
The questions were of the usual order and were answered fully and promptly and to the apparent satisfaction of all the audience except the "Y.M.C.A." rowdies. One of the questions was inspired by an attack made on me there recently by the Rev. Dr. Torry. It was, "Is it true that you are divorced from your wife?"
I replied that my topic was, "Which Is the True Gospel?" and that my home affairs and my relationship to my God were my personal affairs. Nevertheless I would answer the question. "I am not divorced from my wife. The decree of the court was not divorce, but separation, granted by a sympathetic jury, which declared that we would both be happier separated. My wife's charge was cruelty, but the only cruelty put in evidence was my refusal on one occasion to give her a kiss when she had requested it." I assured my audience that I disputed the charge of cruelty and believed that no woman was ever better treated by a husband. The applause showed that the audience believed my statements.