My dearly beloved people!
I feel that it would be quite impossible for me to give expression to all that is in my heart at this moment. I am simply overwhelmed by all the expressions of your love and appreciation which you finally symbolized in these tangible presents. I feel that this day was of great significance in my life, especially because I have felt, you have made me feel, the bond of love in Christ that unites us. I can only express my heartfelt gratitude to the committee that worked so hard to prepare this day, and to you all who cooperated to make the day the complete success it actually was. Thanks, too, for these beautiful tokens of your appreciation. I know that my wife joins me in this, and wants me to express her thanks to you for the beautiful floral piece with which you remembered her personally. She is worthy of it. A strong support she was to me, especially in times of storm and trouble. Often when I was discouraged and “in the dumps,” it was she who by her word of faith was the means to lift me out.
If you should ask me what impressed me most deeply today, and what I appreciate most highly, I would answer, that it was the spontaneous expression of your love and my sincere response to it. I have felt deeply that your love finds a very ready response in my heart. It is very easy to join you in the prayer that was so often expressed today, that it may please the Lord to allow me to labor still another twenty five years in your midst. And this is especially true of my work in the church of Fuller Ave., for of all my work I still love it most. I am constrained to labor in different fields, to be a professor, an editor, a lecturer; but at heart I am still a preacher.
For the same reason I could have thought of nothing that you could have given me on this occasion in the form of a present, that I would value more highly than this beautiful album, with the names of all our people in their own handwriting. In the future, I think, I will sometimes peruse the contents of this album, linger over all these names, and recall this celebration of my twenty-fifth anniversary.
The thought was expressed repeatedly today by the various speakers, that we do not celebrate this day in order to glorify mere man. Of that I am glad. I can assure you that on my part there was not the slightest inclination of heart to boast in the flesh. One thing always has been a great marvel to me, and it has become rather more marvelous as the years passed by, that God can and will use a sinner like myself to preach His Word to His people, and that through this preaching by a sinful man He will speak His own Word and accomplish His purpose of salvation. How then could we feel inclined to glory in self? The glory is all His, not ours.
I feel, finally, that it is but proper that I express a few words of appreciation and thanks to others, who in the past have been a source of comfort and strength to me. Stormy years, these twenty five of my ministry were, even from the very beginning. There are some people here, who were members of my first charge in Holland, Mich., who reminded me of a certain speech I delivered to that congregation before I accepted their call. They expressed their desire to have me repeat that speech on this occasion. I could not very well fulfill their wish, of course. But certainly, that speech was the beginning of a period of storm and strife. It was a fight for the truth; of this I feel convinced even tonight. But in all these years, especially the last sixteen, there were those that faithfully stood on our side. I wish to express my thanks to my consistory, especially to the consistory that was deposed with me in 1924, but also to the consistory of my own church through all these years. They have been a strong support to me. I wish to remember our brother, the Rev. G. M. Ophoff, who I often feel is not appreciated as he ought to be. He is staunchly Protestant Reformed, is a faithful brother, and has proved himself to be a diligent laborer in the cause of God’s Kingdom. I wish to express to my own congregation in Fuller Ave. that they have always been very good to me, and that their prayers and their attitude toward me in the past have been a comfort to me. And, finally, in wider sense, thanks to you all for your loyal support in my labors and strife!
May God make the memory of this day a blessing to you and to me! To Him be all the glory only and forever!