EACH year seems to add to the interest of the Lord's people in the celebration of the great event which lies at the foundation of all our Christian hopesthe celebration of the death of "Christ, our Passover." Each year the matter seems to be more clearly grasped by a larger number, and correspondingly the solemnity and holy joy proper to the occasion seems to be the more intense, and the overflowing blessing to be more pronounced.
Many of the little companies of the Lord's people who celebrated on the evening of April 12th have responded to our request for information respecting the numbers participating, and the measure of the Lord's Spirit and blessing prevailing. From these reports we judge that the number participating this year was considerably more than last year. Though we have not heard from nearly so many, the totals are larger. We believe, too, from the letters that the meaning of the institution was very deeply appreciated, not only as marking the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, but also as marking the consecration of his people to be one with him in his sacrifice.
The Allegheny Church had a most blessed season, about 290 participating. We first reviewed the general meaning of the Passover, as it was instituted with the Jews, tracing the relationship between the typical Passover Lamb and Christ the Lamb of God, our Passover, and saw in the first-born of Israel passed over in that night a type of the Church of the First-born, which God is passing over during this Gospel night. We saw that subsequently these first-born ones became the leaders of Israel as a whole, and their deliverers from Egyptian bondage, and we saw that the anti-type of that deliverance will be the ultimate deliverance of all who love God and who desire to serve him, from the bondage of the world and of sin and of Satan, the antitype of Pharaoh, and that this ultimate deliverance would be during the Millennial age, when "the Church of the First-born" ones will be associated with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom.
Next we saw how that the Jews had celebrated the type for over sixteen centuries, with no knowledge of the antitype, and yet that in God's due time Christ, the antitypical Lamb, was slain on the very same day of the month that the typical Lamb was slain; and that on the very same day in which he and his disciples met as Jews to celebrate the typical Lamb and the typical passing over, our Lord instituted a new memorial, which should not look back to the type, but to himself, as the antitype. We noted also the appropriateness of the emblems which Jesus chose to represent his flesh and his blood; we saw that unleavened bread most beautifully illustrated the purity, the sinlessness, of our dear Redeemer, and that the cup, the fruit of the vine, represented his sufferingsnot sufferings that were grievous, but joyous, endured willingly, gladly, on our behalf, and we rejoiced in these things.
We considered how we were to feed upon the Lord in our hearts while using the bread emblematicallythat we could feed upon his flesh in the sense of calling to mind the fact that only through his sacrifice could we have life, only by his becoming our substitute in death could we, as a race, be set free from the condemnation that was upon us through Father Adam's transgression. We considered the fruit of the vine, the symbol of our Lord's blood, as the sealing of the New Covenant under which God, through Christ, could be merciful toward our imperfections, accepting our intentions, even though the weaknesses of the flesh might sometimes hinder us from attaining all the desired results.
Then we viewed the matter from the other standpointthe secondary one mentioned by the Apostle in 1 Cor. 10:16,17, viz., that the entire Church is one loaf, and that it is the duty and the privilege of all who have become members of the one loaf, the one body of Christ, to be broken in the service of the Head and in the service of each other, that thus we might have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings and ultimately be sharers in his glory. We saw that the cup of blessing with which we bless is indeed our communion or fellowship in the blood [sufferings] of Christ, our mingling of our lives with his life, our joining with him in "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." We sought to enter into the [R2622 : page 132] very deep meaning of the beautiful symbol, and to have it in our hearts a power of God, leading us to keener appreciation of our dear Saviour, and to a keener devotion as his disciples, to walk in his footsteps.
Then, after a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the living Bread that came down from heavenfor Jesus, who was not a condemned member of the human family, but a specially provided one, suitable to be our Saviour, our Bread, our Life-giver, and for all the blessing which we have through his great sacrifice, we partook of the bread. After this we gave thanks for the cup, acknowledging that we have no righteousness of our own, even though all the past were forgiven, and that we could not hope to stand before God acceptably or to have any dealings with [R2623 : page 132] him except under the gracious provisions of the New Covenant, sealed with the precious blood of Christ. We gave thanks also that by God's grace we have been called to fellowship with Jesus, and told the Lord of our hopes that by his grace we might run our course with faithfulness and eventually be received to joint-heirship with our Master in his glory when we are partakers with him of the joys of the Kingdom.
The simple but impressive memorial being ended, it was requested that in order that the solemnity of the hour might abide with us, to our mutual comfort and joy, we should part on that evening without entering into any conversation likely to attract our minds from the precious things which filled them, but rather might, for the hours following, remember the severe trials of the disciples, and the dear Master's trials, and seek to enter into close sympathy with his faithfulness, and to be all the more on guard against the wiles of the Adversary, which seem to be so potent at this season of the year. Then singing the first hymn we were dismissed.
An incident which added to our blessing in connection with this service was the fact that our dear Brother Horace A. Randle, who for about twenty years has been a missionary in China, was with us, and took part in the service with evident pleasure to himself and profit to us all. Bro. Randle wrote us in January last that he was about to start on his long journey of 16,000 miles, with the desire and intention to reach Allegheny in time for this Memorial service. He arrived just the day before, and was very warmly welcomed by us all. He addressed us on Easter Sunday, amongst other good things telling us of his great joy in the harvest truth, and of his intense desire to make known the grace of God to all the Lord's dear people, and of some efforts he had already put forth, and some of the fruitage which the Lord had permitted him to see amongst the missionaries of his acquaintance. Yet with regret he told us of how few of the missionaries seem to have any interest in these matters, and how the majority of the responses he received were in the nature of scoffings. We hope that our dear brother will put his address into writing that we may lay it before the larger Church some time in the near future.
We have received reports, all of them excellent, from 280 celebrationsfrom every State of the Union and from Canada. A few of these were from solitary individuals, who had no opportunity of meeting with others, but to whom the Lord granted much blessing, compensating them for their loneliness otherwise. It may be interesting that we give the numbers participating at some of the gatherings reported, as follows:
Baltimore, Md., 20; Brantford, Ont., 29; New York, 18; Poughkeepsie, N.Y., 16; Washington City, 23; Scranton, Pa., 28; Boston, Mass., 97; Philadelphia, Pa., 55; Toronto, Ont., 37; Tiffin, O., 22; Sippo, O., 19; Youngstown, O., 25; Cleveland, O., 38; Columbus, O., 27; Canton, O., 22; Toledo, O., 28; Wheeling, W.Va., 16; Dayton, O., 16; Indianapolis, Ind., 34; Chicago, Ill., 70; Saginaw, Mich., 18; St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn., 23; Weatherford, Tex., 24; St. Louis, Mo., 55; Omaha, Neb., 19; Council Bluffs, Ia., 16; Vanetia, Tex., 16; Los Angeles, Cal., 61; Allegheny, 290.
We are not foolish enough to think that these figures give any occasion for boasting, for the total amounts to only a few over 2,600, and we have every reason to suppose that we have heard from two-thirds of those who celebrated: foreign reports will come later. However, we have every reason to believe that these numbers represent people who not only profess Christ, but who also are seeking daily to live the Christ-life. Moreover, they are full of the Jubilee music, and having heard the joyful sound they are all repeating it far and near. Consequently we expect a much larger showing next year, as others of the Lord's truth-hungry, famished household are found and fed with things new and old now supplied us by our Lord.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:It is with positive pleasure I can say that sectarian bondage has no more power over me. Meditation upon this subject has occupied my thoughts for several years past. I have been deliberate and slow to act, weighing the subject on every side, lest too hasty a decision should have a reacting effect filled with hopeless regret. Indeed, I did not take the step until after much earnest prayer. Since that time the conviction has been growing stronger that no child of God can make a mistake by stepping away from modern churchianity, for instead of such an act being a step away from God, it is making a long stride towards God.
Last evening it was my privilege to partake of the Memorial Supper, tho it was taken alone. I am rejoicing in the fact that my God counts me worthy to do my share to fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:Last evening ten of us met to commemorate our dear Master's great ransom-sacrifice on our behalf, and to renew our covenant [page 133] with the Father. It was a glad, yet solemn time. Gladness for the great privilege of a "participation of the same loaf" and in the "same cup" and for the joy to know of all the blessings that will soon come to "all the families of the earth;" it was a solemn time as we realized to some extent the price with which we were bought, and the meaning of the covenant which we had made. Prayer was offered by each one present, and we felt that we had the witness of the spirit.
We were not quite so many in number as last year, owing to three being at another little gathering, one detained by sickness, and one, we fully believe, to have "gone home" during the past year. Truly it will be a glad time when we all get "home," for we do not feel at home here. All the brothers and sisters send you love and greetings in the Lord.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:The Memorial Supper was celebrated in our homeparticipated in by four who met in His name. The Prince of Peace was with us and his presence and power was manifest, not to the natural eye or ear, but in holy communion with him. Bro. Barker from Boston served the little company for the first time. Bro. Heald and wife were also sharers of a rich blessing. I did not so much at the time realize or appreciate his precious presence as afterward, when left alone in sweet meditation and communion. His blessed word and promises became spirit and life to me, increasing faith and love, until I fell at his feet in wonder and worship, that I, so unlike my blessed Redeemer, so unworthy of such love and grace, be allowed even to share some little suffering for his sake. How could it be? Only that "we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us;"we, indeed, the clay in the hands of the potter, yielding wholly to his touch. Thus in all things I will answer, not only unrepiningly, but gladly, "Father, not my will, but thine." I thank God for his divine love, as it makes me, as a humble child, for good conscience toward God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
I thank God for the many helps he has provided and is providing. MILLENNIAL DAWN and the WATCH TOWER have been and are such rich food to assist us in the knowledge and truth of God, and am only sorry that I cannot induce more to eat the food they contain.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:I am addressing you a few lines to inform you of the blessed time we had at the Passover Supper on Thursday evening, when thirty-seven dear ones met to remember our dear Lord's death and to renew their vows of consecration. I may say this is just one-half more than we had at the Memorial Supper of 1899.
In our lessons of last Sunday and on Thursday afternoon we studied the trials and sufferings of our Lord and Master, in the garden of Gethsemane, during the various trials before the High Priests, before Pilate and Herod, and his finishing the work upon the cross. All seemed much interested and touched; all seemed thoroughly imbued with the responsibility and necessity of a more thorough consecration in the future, to the Lord's service, and love, harmony and zeal seemed to pervade, as also at the Lord's Supper in the evening.
All seemed to realize the deep solemnity of the occasion and there was apparent but one heart, one mind and one thought in desiring to energize for the crown of immortality and every heart seemed overflowing with love to our blessed Redeemer, and our prayer is that we may be permitted to "die daily" in his cause and to his honor and glory. We ask your prayers, dear brother, and the prayers of all the dear ones in Allegheny, that we may be kept bound together in love, harmony and peace, with our Heavenly Father, our loving Master and each other during the coming year.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:I thought I would send you a little report of our Thursday evening (Memorial Supper) meeting. On the eighth of the month I gave a talk to the friends on both sides on the subject, "Christ our passover," and the import of the bread and wine. I did this because I intended to visit Elgin on the 12th, which I did. They told me that they were specially in need of help for that occasion, and urgently requested me to be with them. Bros. Christensen and Sims took charge of the South Side meeting and Bros. Johnson and Petersen the West Side one. The friends of both sides say they had splendid meetings;attendance at both meetings was about 70. The attendance at Elgin was 15. We had a glorious time there. I presume you had a splendid time in Allegheny on Thursday night. With best wishes and much Christian love, I remain as ever,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:Concerning the Memorial Supper there were twelve participants, Bro. Brown having gone to Plymouth to conduct the memorial services there, and two sisters being prevented by sickness from meeting with us. No doubt Bro. Watts will advise you of our meeting, but lest he should not, I give you the details. We first sang hymn 23, "Blest be the tie that binds," which is so appropriate. As we repeated the words I was filled with a sense of the solemnity of the hymnthe tie which binds us to Christ, not only here, but all over the world. Then we had prayer, in which several joined. Bro. Watts then read quite a few texts appropriate to the occasion, with comments. He dwelt particularly upon the sacrificial featurethat our partaking of the cup symbolized our willingness to suffer, even to death, with him, that we may be raised with him. As there were five present who had never partaken of the memorial with us before, Bro. Watts explained the symbols particularly. We then sang the 122nd hymn and partook of the unleavened bread and grape juice, the broken body of our dear Lord and his shed blood, renewing our covenant to be broken with him, to die with him. We then sang hymn No. 1 and dispersed quietly. My heart is filled with joy and gratitude that I am permitted to share in these spiritual blessings.
May God bless and keep you near to him, and also your co-laborers! And in this thought I am sure [page 134] all the Church here would join, did they know of my writing to you.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:Friends numbering ninety-seven in all gathered last evening to commemorate the death of our dear Savior and Redeemer, our now present Lord. Our gathering was held in our usual place of worship and seated in nearly a circle, three to four rows deep about the Lord's table. We meditated on the events of that greatest scene in the world's history, listened to the lesson brought us by the Lord's faithful servant, our leader, and prayed for the similar gatherings, larger than ours, and the twos and threes scattered about throughout the world. Thanks were then offered for His body broken for us, of which we all then partook in symbol, and likewise concerning His shed blood. The 23 who were immersed the Sunday previous, thus symbolizing their consecration, were with us (except five from Lynn), and this added to the impressiveness of the service, calling vividly to our minds the remembrance of our own baptism and promise of obedience, even unto death, and causing us to have a desire to be more watchful and more faithful.