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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
Those of our readers who were not privileged to attend the Convention and Memorial Supper, recently held in Allegheny, will be anxious to learn something of it.
It was a most blessed occasion in every sense of the word; and it was the general sentiment among those who had attended on previous occasions, that for spirituality this meeting not only surpassed any of the previous ones of the same order, but also any other religious convention they had ever attended. Truly it is good to be here, was the testimony of all.
The attendance from surrounding towns and States was about 140. They came various distances—Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky being represented. A goodly proportion of our regular Allegheny congregation was also in constant attendance.
The requests made in the March TOWER, that only those trusting in the merit of the precious blood of Christ should come, and that all coming should do so with a desire and prayer to do some good as well as to get some profit, seems to have been heeded. The spirit of meekness, gentleness, brotherly kindness and zeal for God’s Word—all elements of the spirit of love—which pervaded the meetings and displayed itself privately as well as publicly, was very marked. Some, in the closing testimony meeting, said they had not supposed such perfect heart-union and sympathy possible on earth, especially in such a promiscuous gathering from far and near of people used to thinking for themselves, and without a bond of any sort except that of the spirit of the truth—the spirit of Christ—Love.
The program announced in the March TOWER was carried out. The morning and evening sessions of the first day (Sunday, April 19th) were testimony meetings, and were truly feasts of fat things, spiritually. One after another, many related, briefly, how the Lord had graciously led them out of darkness into his marvelous light, into the sunshine of his truth, into love, into the fellowship of his sufferings and joys, and into the glorious and sustaining hope of ultimately attaining his likeness and joint-heirship with him in his Kingdom. Early in the first session it was decided by general consent that the trials, difficulties and discouragements, in which each one had a large experience, should be forgotten and passed by to give room for the more blessed consideration of our present joys and future hopes through the Anointed One, thus putting in practice the Apostle’s injunction to forget those things which are behind and to reach forward for those things which are before, and thus to press along the course for the great prize of our high-calling, looking unto Jesus, the author and soon to be the finisher of our faith.
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Many of the testimonies will never be forgotten. They came from all classes and ages, and from those gathered out of nearly every sect of the nominal church, and from some reclaimed from Infidelity. Those who once called themselves Baptists, Methodists, Adventists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics and Infidels, here united their hearts and voices in praising God for leading them out of darkness and bondage into the marvelous light of present truth. Christians in the vigor of life joining with the aged and the new beginners formed a scene long to be remembered. One brother, with tears, told how he had once been an unbelieving blasphemer, how he had examined the creeds of the various sects, and had concluded that Christianity was a tissue of nonsense, but how the truth had finally reached him, how he at first treated it lightly, but how he was finally convinced and converted, and how he had given himself fully and unreservedly to God and his service, and was now trying to let the true light shine, by living a consistent Christian life and by scattering the reading matter through which, under the blessing of God, his gross darkness had been dispelled and the light of truth let into his heart.
The discourse of Sunday afternoon was designed to show that while the whole armor of God, fastened with present truth, is necessary to those who would be overcomers of the world in this evil day, and will be supplied to all the consecrated ones seeking it, yet more than this is necessary. It is necessary that the spirit of the truth shall be received as well as the letter of the truth. The spirit of the truth was shown to signify the true, proper influence of the truth, the influence which God designed it should exert upon all who rightly receive it. The spirit of the truth is a spirit in full accord with the truth; a spirit or disposition which, so far from wishing to warp or twist the truth to suit former prejudices, gladly surrenders all else and seeks to know and to do in fullest harmony with God’s will and plan. The spirit of the truth leads those possessed of it to count it all joy to sacrifice conveniences, time, money and influence in the service of the truth. And it was shown that none could have the full spirit of the truth without becoming a living sacrifice to its service, and thus following in the footsteps of Jesus. Then some scriptures were noticed which teach that all who do not become partakers of the spirit of the truth will surely lose the form of the truth and go into the outer darkness in which the world is enveloped—upon whom will come, in the great time of trouble now approaching, the chagrin, disappointment and vexation figuratively described as weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Master’s words, recorded in John 15:2-6, were found to be in full accord with this. He there addresses only the consecrated ones, who have by faith and consecration been admitted into membership in the one true Church—as branches of the Vine, which is Christ. And his warning is explicit as to the only terms and conditions upon which this membership may be retained. „Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he [the Father, the great Husbandman] taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he pruneth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” „If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered.”
We noted carefully that while God in Christ had opened up the way and made it possible for us to become members of his body, his Church, yet the joining of that Church is our part under that arrangement, and can be accomplished only by a full consecration or baptism into his death. (Rom. 6:3). And we noted likewise that as no man could join us to Christ but ourselves only, so no man could „pluck us out” or separate us from Christ but ourselves only; and hence the admonition of the Lord, „Abide in me.” The resemblance between this thought and that illustrated in the parable of the Wedding Garment was noted. The latter parable specially marks the present time, the end of the Gospel age, and shows how some will cease to abide in Christ by putting off the wedding garment—Christ’s imputed righteousness. This we saw clearly fulfilling on every hand by some who, having been admitted into the light of present truth under and because of the robe of Christ’s righteousness, are now discarding that robe by claiming that Christ’s death was not a corresponding price (a ransom) or covering for our
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sins—thus attempting to stand before God without any imputed righteousness—standing, therefore, in all that they have left, which the Apostle pointedly describes as the filthy rags of their own righteousness.
Such, we saw from the parable, were to be forced out of the light of present truth as unworthy to have part in the feast to which they had been admitted only because clothed in the garment of Christ’s righteousness. And having ceased to abide in Christ, the Vine, they can no longer bear the real fruit.
We noted, too, the words of the Apostle regarding this evil day, as to how God would send strong delusions for the very purpose of separating, cutting off, such branches as do not bear fruit—such as receive the truth, but not the spirit of it, the love of it. Then, remembering the justice and love of the great Husbandman, we sought to ascertain what principle he recognized when he would thus send strong delusions to cut off and cast forth some whom he declares no man can separate from him and his love, or pluck out of his care, or sever from membership in Christ. We found the answer in the Master’s words: „Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.”
Seeing, then, the importance of this fruit-bearing quality in God’s estimation, we sought the meaning of the words „fruit,” and „much fruit.” We found that the fruits of the spirit are Meekness, Gentleness, Patience, Brotherly Kindness, Love; and that these develop gradually, and not instantaneously—that as with the grapes, first came a fruit-bud of promise, next the flower, next the tiny green grape, next the developed but unripened fruit, and lastly the ripe, luscious fruit, so with these fruits of the spirit: they are all the same fruit, Love, only in various stages of development, just as the flower and the green grape are developments toward the fully ripe grape.
The husbandman, as he looks at a new branch, does not expect to find immediately a ripe cluster of grapes; nor does the great Husbandman expect perfect Love in a new branch or member of the body of Christ. But as the fruit-bud is looked for very early, and the branch which has none is counted merely „a sucker,” and is cut off from being a member of the vine, so, says the Great Teacher, will be God’s dealing with those who have joined the body of Christ: if they put forth no effort to bear the fruits of th
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spirit, they can have no place among the branches.
We noted, too, a difference between the present probationary membership and the full membership in the Church of Christ as it will be when glorified, neither a member too many nor one too few. They shall be pillars in the temple of God to go no more out forever. We saw that the Church in its present condition of trial or probation contains many who will not be accounted worthy of a place in the glorified Church of the Kingdom—the real bride. We saw that all who come unto the Father through the merit of the Son (during the acceptable time) are accepted and counted in as probationary members of the one Church; that their names are recorded as such in heaven; that crowns are apportioned to all these; and that if they do not attain full, everlasting membership and glory with Christ, the fault will be entirely their own. And in this connection each seemed to hear the Master’s words: I will not blot out the names of the overcomers who abide in me and bring forth fruit; and also his warning: Take heed, let no man take thy crown.
These considerations seemed to stir up all to greater attention to fruit-bearing, and especially to hastening forward the full ripe fruit of Love, which every branch must bear to be worthy of a place in the glorified Church. We marked the tendency of even fruit-bearing branches to reach out and take hold of other things than those provided for their support by the husbandman, and noted the same tendency among the consecrated to seek supports outside the Word of God and to lay hold upon the things of this world. Yet we felt encouraged by the Master’s assurance that if we are really fruit-bearers the great Husbandman will prune us, cut us loose from all things contrary to his truth and to our best interests, and will thus make us more faithful. We rejoiced, then, in the loving care of God which keeps all who abide in the Vine, and which will not cut off from membership in Christ any who bear fruit.
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Finally, we examined what must be the use of the ripe fruit; and we saw that as the ripe grapes are always sacrificed, thus to yield pleasure and profit to others, so Love, fully ripe Love, always leads those who possess it to sacrifice themselves—first, to the will and pleasure of the Lord, the Husbandman, and secondly, to the pleasure and profit of those to whom he sends them to minister. This showed us that all possessing the real spirit of the truth, Love, must be active sacrificers of self in the service of the Truth; and when we remembered how this was the very spirit of our Master, we gladly owned that to have the spirit of the Truth is to have the spirit of Christ—Love.
Monday the 20th and Wednesday the 22nd were all-day sessions with intermissions for necessary physical food. They were devoted to the answering of questions, because it was believed that in that way a larger field of investigation could be covered than in any other. The questions were plentiful, and generally of a sort that indicated deep thought, and careful study of the plan of the ages.
Tuesday’s meetings: In the forenoon a discussion on „Baptism—the real and the symbolic” was followed by an opportunity for questions on the subject from those contemplating obedience to the watery symbol. The afternoon session was fully occupied by the immersion of such as desired thus to symbolize their death with Christ, their begetting to the new nature and their hope of full birth to the divine likeness as sharers with Christ in his resurrection. (Phil. 3:10,11.) It was deeply impressive to see first fifteen sisters and then thirty-six brethren buried in the water in the likeness of death and raised from it in the likeness of a resurrection to newness of life.
Most of those immersed were Christians of long experience and well advanced in years, the youngest being a brother in his twentieth year. These, recognizing the force of the symbol, of their own choice, without any constraint, desired to follow the Master in the symbol as well as in the reality. The solemn scene of this token of the entire consecration of fifty-one of the Lord’s dear children to his blessed service was one never to be forgotten.
Following this service, the immersed ones gathered in the front of the chapel, and, in the name of the one Lord and the one Church, his body, consisting of all the faithful consecrated ones, from Pentecost to the present, they were accorded the right hand of fellowship. May the sweet memories of that occasion long abide with each of them and with us all.
On Tuesday evening, the anniversary of our Lord’s last Passover Supper, we celebrated the memorial of his great sacrifice as our Paschal Lamb—the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. There were about three hundred present. The significance of the emblems representing the flesh and blood of our Redeemer was shown, and how his sacrifice of the human nature and its rights was for us, that we, who had lost these in Adam, might receive them back again as the gift of God through Christ, our Lord. It was explained that our eating (partaking) of the merit and rights thus provided was by faith—an acceptance and appropriation of his ransom-sacrifice, and of the blessings thus secured, by each.
Then we looked further and saw that the emblems, as explained by the Apostle (1 Cor. 10:16), represent not only the death of our Lord Jesus as our ransom, but also our participation with him in death—not as ransomers, but merely as joint-sacrificers with him, that we might be accounted worthy also to be his joint-heirs in the glory of his Kingdom. We seemed to hear him explain that to drink of his cup meant on our part a pledge to die with him; and then his inquiry, Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And our hearts replied in the words of James and John, We are able. We pledged ourselves to faithfulness to him, to his Word and to all the fellow-members of his body, and then rejoiced to hear his assurance, Ye shall indeed drink of my cup and be baptized with my baptism. We sang in conclusion that precious old hymn—
„Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the cross I spend;
Life and health and peace possessing
From the sinner’s dying Friend.”
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Then we quietly adjourned to our abodes, reflecting the while upon the scenes and incidents of eighteen centuries ago—Gethsemane, Pilate’s judgment-seat, and Calvary.
The succeeding days were devoted chiefly to the Colporteur work and to private counselling with those who desired to enter it. The interest in the Colporteur work seems to be growing. Several persons, by previous arrangement, started out to give their lives thenceforth as missionaries in this, which more and more seems to commend itself as the best method of preaching the gospel at the present time. Beside these, some nine others declared their desire to engage all their talents in this fruitful quarter of the harvest field, and left the convention determined, by the grace of God, to lay aside present weights and hindrances, and to shape their affairs so that they may soon be able to give their entire time to the work of spreading the good tidings, and thus serving the Lord by helping his body, the consecrated Church. Thus it is that the Bride is to make herself ready.—Rev. 19:7.
The Colporteurs’ meetings included several lessons and illustrations of the best methods of presenting MILLENNIAL DAWN to the attention of the people so as to interest them without exciting their prejudices. The more experienced and more successful of the Colporteurs in this way did great service to the less experienced and less successful, and thus to the cause in general.
We have heard from a number of those who were present from a distance, since their return to their homes, that the blessed influence of the meetings, as a sweet perfume, abides with them as a foretaste of the General Assembly of the Church of the First-born Ones, whose names are written in heaven.
— May, 1891 —