I have been thinking of writing to you since coming into the wonderful light of God's Plan, through a young blind brother, Arthur Page, 19 years old; but I have so far refrained from doing so lest I might infringe on your time. However, on reading the article in THE WATCH TOWER of March 1st, "Philip and the Ethiopian." I was so struck with the comparison between Philip and Brother Page that I can no longer refrain. His directness and quite apparent sincerity arrested my attention and interest from the first.
Perhaps I may briefly tell what was clearly the work of our loving Father; After working for three years as a lay missionary of the Church of England, in Canada, in lumber, railroad and mining camps, under the Church Camp Mission (Winnipeg), I was returning last November from Dawson, Yukon, where I had been amongst the miners in the Klondike District. Previous to going to Canada I had been four and one-half years at Trinity College, Dublin, finishing my divinity course there. My object in returning was to be ordained for a curacy in the city of Belfast, Ireland.
There being no Chaplain on board, I was asked to act in this capacity, and after the evening service in the third class dining room on our first Sunday at sea, I was told that a blind boy would like to see me. I was introduced to Brother Page, who asked if I would read to him during the voyage. I was glad of the opportunity, and on the following morning we began. He asked to have only the Bible. Beginning at The Acts of the Apostles, I read the first chapter till, in verse 16, I came to a mention of David, when he asked me pointedly, "Where do you think David is now?" Not knowing, I said so, and he asked further, "Where do you think Adam is?" As I couldn't make out the point of the question I told him that I didn't think Adam's whereabouts was of any importance. He smiled, and quietly pointed out his belief in the matter, and I felt drawn by its reasonableness.
We discussed little more that morning, and for the remainder of the week we had no opportunity for reading, owing to rough weather. However, on the following Monday morning about a dozen passengers asked if they could be present during our reading, as tremendous interest had been aroused by the blind boy's knowledge of the Bible, especially when it was discovered that twelve months previously he couldn't have quoted half a dozen texts. None of the hundreds on board had been able to puzzle him on any point, so they seemed anxious to see how the "parson" would fare.
For the five remaining days of the voyage there was such interest that we had to have studies three times each day, beginning immediately after breakfast. The study went on till the steward came to lay the tables for dinner; then we adjourned till after the meal, when we usually began again at 2, continuing till "table-laying" again, when several invariably asked what time the evening meeting began. Seven-thirty was the usual hour, and the time seemed to fly till a steward came at 11 o'clock to put out the lights. A couple of evenings we were allowed to continue till 12, provided we spoke low.
Every denomination seemed to be represented; all brought forward the various "pet" doctrines. Brother Page did the answering, while I endeavored to keep pace with him in looking up the numerous passages he cited. Right from the beginning not one was able to contradict his reasoning. Of course, I was very much astonished, but I saw that he could reason on points that we daren't touch. Once I grasped the fact that we are souls, instead of the former idea of our possessing a mysterious something, I seemed to realize how wrong had been my former view of this. Soon I was supporting Brother Page, unconsciously, against my own views.
There were always from 20 to 50 at the studies, and so keen was the interest that on one occasion so many crowded on the table the pressure broke the supports. There was a young, unlearned blind boy, calmly answering questions as fast as they could be put, from those who had been professing [page 158] Christians for probably 20 years or more! Yet he was quite clear and convincing. Occasionally some one would attempt frivolity; Brother Page would rebuke him very directly, but lovingly, and his frivolity ended. It was easy to see from the faces of many who attended regularly that we all had similar thoughtsthe Holy Spirit of God was his guide.
We got to Tilbury on Saturday evening, and on Sunday I spent the afternoon and also the evening at the Tabernacle with Brother Page. When I saw the whole congregation going down for tea between the meetings I could scarcely believe my eyes; and the fellowship with all there felt like a foretaste of Heaven. Before crossing over to Ireland I got Volumes I. and V. from Brother Hemery, whose kindness was an inspiration.
I had a rather stormy interview with the Bishop, under whom I had arranged to work. I felt a bit nervous as I went into his study to suggest what seemed very heretical, and I found myself quite confident when with him. It was very sad to listen to his arguments. The interview resulted in my being advised to read three books. I tried to do this, but I found that once having started Volumes I. and V., the old, foggy "creed" books were an impossibility, every page seeming full of error. I felt no pleasure in the old booksrather a feeling of forced medicine. But with the Volumes I could scarcely realize that I wasn't dreaming, everything seemed so reasonable and delightful. Subjects that we read books on, and were lectured on for weeks in College were made beautifully clear in a few pages.
I have now left the Church of Ireland, and feeling that I could not offer the Lord less than my whole time, I have decided to take up the Colporteur work here, as the brethren feel there is work to be done. I have been at it for a week, and enjoyed it immensely. But as I hadn't read Volume VI., I decided to do so before continuing. Words cannot express what a help and pleasure the reading of this volume has [R5904 : page 158] been! I have many a time put it down during reading to try to realize the wonderful love of God that it opens up; and how clear it makes such points as Baptism, Passover, etc!
There seems to be no end to the Lord's goodness. He opened up the way for my going to Liverpool a few weeks ago to see the PHOTO-DRAMA, and this was very delightful, as well as meeting with and being strengthened by the brethren there.
Brother, I fear I have trespassed too much on your time. I find it very hard to write briefly, so this letter has grown beyond bounds; and even then I haven't told the half of the Lord's great goodness!
I feel glad that I had to give up a little in the world in order to be with His followers. I feel I am a weak runner, but I long to run so as to obtain the Prize. It is grand to be a "babe" with such loving, helpful elder brothers and sisters! I would dearly love to thank you personally; but if I win in the glorious Race I hope to do so then. Meanwhile I give all the thanks to the Lord, and all will be His forever. I have been asked to send you the enclosed cuttings regarding the "two horns" of the Image.