OUR EUROPEAN CONVENTIONS
OUR VARIOUS STOPS in Europe were not announced as Conventions, but nevertheless they were more or less of that character, in that friends from the surrounding parts attended. Although our principal attention was given to the public meetings we greatly appreciated the opportunities of addressing those already interested. In every case we sought to leave practical lessons, and to show their relationship to the Scriptures.
We sought specially to impress the necessity for character development on the part of all hoping to share Christ's Kingdom. We emphasized the brevity of the time for so great a work, provided our understanding of God's times and seasons be correct. We freely admitted, as we have always done, that we are walking by faith and not by sight. But we pointed out that the evidences seem more and more to corroborate our expectations. At the same time we suggested that should our expectations for October, 1914, not be realized--for years thereafter--this delay would not invalidate God's Great Plan nor our faith therein. Our consecration vow calls for faithfulness, "even unto death"--whenever death may come.
Leaving London our first stop was at Denain, France. The two meetings were for the interested--the attendance being about one hundred. The brethren, mostly coal-miners, manifested a deep and intelligent interest in the Truth. We had a blessed season of rejoicing with them.
Our next stop was at Paris, where we had much pleasure in meeting and addressing the brethren, but no public meeting. Our friends considered the Trocaderro the only suitable place. It was partially promised, but afterward refused. It is under Governmental control, and its regulation forbids that it be used for religious purposes. [R5110 : page 311]
On we went to Geneva--the chief city of Switzerland --Calvin's city. In the forenoon we visited Calvin's Cathedral and tried the hard wooden seat once used by the scholarly Reformer. Its hardness reminded us of the hard doctrine of the predestination of the non-elect to eternal torture.
We visited the monument erected to Servetus by the Free Thinkers. It pictured Servetus in jail in rags pleading vainly for a change of garments, and saying, "The lice are eating me up." It was shortly after that appeal that Servetus was roasted alive at the stake for four hours, with the wood fire just far enough away not to choke or asphyxiate him--that he might suffer the most horrible death imaginable. His crime was his inability to count "three times one is one." He was too honest to profess what he could not believe.
We visited the city of Servetus' execution and saw there the new monument to him erected by Calvin's friends as a partial atonement for their leader's error. It declares that they deplore the error and repudiate the crime as dishonoring to God and man. We thank God [R5110 : page 311] that the world is progressing in the spirit of the Truth, even though more slowly in the letter of it.
Our public meeting in Victoria Hall was well attended (about 1500), notwithstanding that it was out of season, we were told. (Calvin's Cathedral had only about 300 the same day.) The attention was excellent. We will hope for results later on. The Society's office for France and Switzerland will hereafter be at Geneva. It is a good centre for whatever of the old Huguenot Protestant influence yet remains in France and Switzerland.
Mulhausen, Als., came next in our journey. Although it rained incessantly the large hall was crowded and hundreds were turned away. The audience was exceptionally intelligent and gave closest attention. Some fruitage has already appeared. More will follow, we trust.
Basle came next in our itinerary. Here also we had the best hall and many standing and hundreds turned away.
This same report fits to the succeeding places--Zurich, St. Gallen, Munich, Reichenbach and Dresden. Splendid interest was manifested both before and after the meetings. The brethren, after follow-up meetings, assure us that an awakening of thought has stirred the people as they never were stirred by religion before.
DRESDEN'S WELCOME IN VERSE
Our welcome everywhere was with deepest manifestations of Christian love. This at Dresden was emphasized by its poetic form, so feelingly expressed that it brought tears to the eyes of those who understood the German. Later we obtained a copy of the address in German and also an English translation, which herewith we present:
(Translated from the German.)
[Dedicated in loving remembrance to our Dear Brother Russell on the occasion of his visit to Dresden, August 17th, 1912, by the Class at Dresden.]
Child of God, wait patiently and calmly, tho' steeper grows
Committed to His care whose grace thus far hath kept thee;
And tho' the night of trouble draweth on, with clouds both black and dense,
Follow faithfully the Lamb; the morrow will be light!
Child of God, rest fearlessly in Him whose arm securely
Thou mayst trust Him as a child doth trust, because thou art His own.
And tho' the night be very long, thou art His child, be not dismayed,
Confiding in His Word, for it proclaims the light of morn.
Child of God, does His commission send thee out in all the
Thou shalt feel, yea, very surely, how He in His love upholds.
Proclaim in North, South, East and West the Kingdom now in sight,
And gather in what still remains of children of the Light.
Child of God, pursue thy journey, as doth a star;
And when thy plea to Heaven ascends, let us remembered be;
With thee, relying on His might, we come before His face;
No fear can trouble in the night, through which we pass to light.
The Berlin meeting for the interested (like the one at Dresden) showed a considerable gathering of the dear friends from the surrounding country--two from Russia. The hall for the public gathering held 2000, but it is estimated that 5000 were turned away. The acoustics of the hall were not the best, but a grand witness to the Truth went forth. Some of the hearers manifested great interest.
Next came Elberfeld. We had the City Hall. Every seat was filled, about 200 stood and crowds were turned away. The audience here was one of the best, if we may judge from their intelligent appearance and close attention. The Barmen-Elberfeld region is one of the most religious in Germany. And, by the way, we learn that higher criticism and the evolution theory have made great havoc with Christian faith in Germany. We have it from several that not one person in ten believes in the Bible as a Divine revelation; and our informants thought that even a personal, intelligent Creator is not believed in. If it is really half so bad it is terrible--"Without God and having no hope in the world."
Copenhagen, Denmark, was our next stop. Here we had fresh evidences of the warmth of the Danish sentiment. Our friends assembled in goodly numbers to our mutual joy. And the public meeting was a repetition of those of Germany. A crowded hall--hundreds turned away--intelligent and deep interest.
In Finland, a part of Russia, was our next appointment --at Helsingfors. Our first visit to the Finnish people was encouraging. We liked the people. Their humiliation at losing their liberty to Russia may be a blessing-- working in them meekness and preparing some of them for the Truth.
Two Finnish brothers have been specially active for two years to serve the Truth to all the Truth-hungry. They have translated three volumes of the SCRIPTURE STUDIES and EVERYBODY'S PAPER for free circulation, at their own expense. Now about fifteen Colporteurs are carrying the Truth to every nook and corner of the land.
The public meeting was crowded to the capacity of the hall--1000--many standing; some almost in tears because they could not gain admission. Certain seats were reserved for some of the elite of the city, but the crowd climbed through the windows, etc., and no seats could be kept; and those who had tickets for reserved seats could not get near the doors long before the time for beginning the lecture.
Here we were interpreted first in Swedish and afterward in Finnish, because the population is mixed. The evidence is that God has some true children in Finland to whom his Harvest Message is now due.
SUMMARY OF THE HARVEST-WORK IN FINLAND
The work in Finland is quite new. It seems to make excellent progress. The number of Colporteurs engaged, and the fact that it is self-sustaining, speak well for the depth of interest. The following report will prove interesting:
NOVEMBER 1, 1911, TO AUGUST 1, 1912.
STUDIES IN SCRIPTURES (Colporteurs 16)...... 9,792
Various booklets, TABERNACLE SHADOWS, etc... 14,087
Bibles sold................................. 215
Number of subscribers to the Finnish PEOPLES
Volunteer Tracts............................ 185,000
Number of meetings held..................... 357
Total attendance............................ 37,866
Number of miles traveled in preaching tours. 9,570
Letters and cards sent out.................. 717
Letters and cards received.................. 741
Total expenditures...........Mk. 18,234:03 $3,646.81
Total receipts...............Mk. 18,135:33 $3,623.07
Stockholm, Sweden, was one of our very interesting appointments. We addressed about 300 of the friends four times with great pleasure and, we trust, with profit. We also had a grand opportunity for a public witness, in the "Circus." About 1,500 were present notwithstanding it was a rainy forenoon. May God grant His blessing!
On our journey back to London we stopped at Kiel, Germany, where we had a repetition of our previous experiences-- an earnest class of Bible students numbering about 30; a great crowd, and deep interest at the public meeting, and many turned from the doors with reading matter.
London got the evening before our start for Liverpool and Brooklyn. We had first a social meeting with the Elders and Deacons, and then a general meeting with the Tabernacle congregation, which was well represented. We concluded with a farewell; and, asked when we could return, we promised--"Soon as the Lord seems to indicate-- possibly within six months!"
Arrived at our boat's wharf in Liverpool, we found about forty of the dear Liverpool friends waiting for us. They sang for us, "Blest be the tie that binds," and as we started--"God be with you till we meet again."
Some of the passengers afterward remarked to us the sweetness of the Farewell song! It reminded them of God and His protective power, and of human dependence on Him, especially on the mighty deep.
Our home-coming was equally pleasant. About twelve of the Brooklyn Elders met us at the pier as representatives of the class and especially of the family. And on our arrival at Bethel we had mutual felicitations, a hymn of praise to our God and a prayer of grateful thanks to Him whose mercy endureth forever.
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Nothing else, perhaps, better shows that we have the Truth than does the fact that it produces the same spirit wherever it goes. From Maine to California, from Canada to Texas, from Great Britain to Japan--the spirit of God's people is the same. Why? Because ye were all baptized by one spirit into one Body--Christ.