In the early days our brethren and sisters loved to come together around the Word of God. Such occasions were very welcome interspersed with hearty hymn singing. Life held none of the so-called comforts of today’s western society, but enthusiasm for the Truth was a refreshing—exciting experience. In these present days let us not mark down the importance of being with each other and sharpening our minds in eternal things.

We had a pleasant gathering at Orient House on Tuesday, May 10th. A similar gathering took place four or five months previously. The object was to afford a momentary resting place to the Lord’s weary pilgrims as they trudge their way through the desert to the land of promise, and to afford an opportunity of social contact on the basis of the truth—a little of which is profitable. On the first occasion, one half of the better known members of the ecclesia were invited and on the second occasion, the other half. I told the ecclesia that only accommodation limited the invitations, and that if circumstances admitted of it, I would put up a marquee on such occasions, that would hold them all. Things being as they were, we did the best we could. I did not feel a liberty to confine the use of so large and handsome a house to ourselves. Therefore, we proposed as occasion allowed, to share the goodness of God with fellow-servants in his small way. “Ye are not you own”; “As every man hath received the gift, so let him minister, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God,” are practical mottoes with the servants of Christ.

Orient House is two miles from the terminus of the Melbourne tram; and as the intervening distance is rather heavy walking, we arranged to meet the guests at the terminus with conveyances at an appointed hour. Brother Adair lent us his large cab holding nine. This, with the two small affairs of our own—(one of which, with diminutive pony, was made a present of to our remaining daughter on the occasion of her sister’s marriage, till she also should disappear in a change of name)—enabled us to bring them all comfortably to the house, with the exception of one or two who chose to walk. Being arrived, they were invited to inspect a large historical chart which, on one long strip, had been suspended on the inside wall of the verandah, in the open air. This gave material for profitable conversation. They were then invited to look over the place, including the tower, from the top of which, a good view is obtained of the surrounding country. After this, and a little promiscuous [according to the 19th century meaning] conversation round the fire in the large front room—(they call it “the drawing-room,” but this sounds too pretentious, though the room itself is grander than many rooms I have heard called “drawing rooms”—why do they call it drawing-room? It is not used for drawing; perhaps it is the room for showing off the drawings; at any rate, “mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate”) —rather a long parenthesis; I will have to begin again. After a little talk in the said “drawing room,” we were summoned by bell into another room, equally large, where the banquet was spread on two large tables. Being seated and the room quite full (literally “to the door”) I said a word or two before giving thanks. I said sister Roberts and I made them cordially welcome to our house and table, only regretting it was not a welcome to something better. The time was not far off when we all hoped to receive a welcome that would mean something truly good—an invitation to sit down to eat and drink with the Lord at his table in his kingdom, in the company of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets. Till then, it was our part to do the best we could in little things, redeeming the time, because the days were evil. I also said that as much of the comfort and profitableness of such an occasion depended upon due order, and upon their knowledge of it, I would read them a brief programme of the proceedings of the evening—which I did. Thanks were then given, after which an animated repast ensued—all talking freely and heartily. The repast being ended, we adjourned to the aforesaid drawing-room, and formed ourselves in meeting order. The following programme was then gone through—the host presiding: 1, Hymn: “Blessed are they that undefiled” (assisted by the daughters at piano and organ; a harp was in the room, which anyone able was invited to play, as David would have done had he been present, but no one responded, and the harp remained a silent onlooker); 2, Brief reading—Isaiah xli; Prayer; 4, Address by host; 5, Hymn: “Our heavenly Father”; 6, Addresses by brethren Pettigrew, senr, Galbraith senr, and G. F. Walker; 7, Hymn: “Oh, why should Israel’s sons once blessed”; 8, Addresses by brethren Creelman, Lee, W. Galbraith, and Wharton; 9,Hymn: “Oh, Yahweh listen”; 10, Addresses by brethren H. Gordon, Sinclair, and one or two others. Brother Pettigrew then called for the singing of the Old Hundred, which was done very heartily. After this, there were selections from Under the Palms by a few of the brethren and sisters; and last of all, the Hallelujah Chorus. Prayer ended the proceedings. It was now dark. Our three conveyances, and a fourth (in which two of our guests had come), drove up to the front door; and receiving each their quota of guests, conveyed them to the tram. And so ended an evening of pure and profitable pleasure, the particulars of which are here written for future advantage. I have been at social gatherings where the time has been wasted in small talk for want of boldness on the part of those in charge to give the thing profitable shape.