The Review and Herald

144/1902

July 10, 1879

Our Camp-Meetings

EGW

These annual gatherings are attended with great expense and wearisome labor. They are designed especially for our people, as the best means of reaching the greatest number. And while wisdom should be manifested in locating them where those not of our faith may be benefited by the light of truth presented, great care should be exercised that the object of the meeting be not lost sight of in the desire to make a favorable impression upon the public mind. RH July 10, 1879, par. 1

I see a marked change for the worse in our camp-meetings. Reporting the meetings through the secular papers, will, if properly conducted, be the means of calling the attention of the people to our faith, and awakening an interest in it; but if not managed in a manner to exalt Jesus and the truth rather than to make a display of what is done, the efforts are thrown away, and time and energy needed to keep up the interest of the meetings are worse than lost. When sincere piety, earnest devotion, and sanctified zeal are manifested by those professing the truth, and our devotional exercises are characterized by the presence of God's Spirit, impressions will be made upon the outside world that no amount of reporting will produce. RH July 10, 1879, par. 2

Our camp-meetings greatly fail of being what they should be, and our people do not gain the spiritual benefit from them that they might. Home burdens and worldly thoughts should be laid aside. Every individual should be upon the ground the first day of the meeting, prepared to remain until the closing service. When one family strike their tent a day or two before the close of the meeting, others feel inclined to do the same, and the interest of the meeting is greatly injured. One full week is none too long a time to devote exclusively to the service of God, having the mind withdrawn from worldly interests and concentrated upon spiritual things; but to abridge the one week to two or three days is robbing God of time which should be spent in his service. Some do not get into the spirit of the meeting before they start for their homes. Such show that they value temporal things above spiritual, and they will receive no permanent good. RH July 10, 1879, par. 3

How must our Lord look upon his people who are thus indifferent and careless when his servants are laboring earnestly to bring them up to the requirements of the Bible, and to awaken in them greater earnestness and devotion in the cause of God. The preaching on Sunday is generally designed more especially for the people outside of our faith, the evidences of our position being dwelt upon. Monday the work commenced on Sabbath for those who are seeking the Lord, is resumed. This, the day for binding off the meetings, is the most important of the series; and our brethren meet with a great loss themselves, and cast a depressing influence upon the meeting, by taking this day for packing, taking down tents, and leaving the grounds. This is a wrong which nearly destroys the good that might be realized from the meetings. RH July 10, 1879, par. 4

We would appeal to our brethren and sisters to come to the camp-meeting prepared to remain to the close. It is disheartening to your ministers to see a disposition on your part to scatter, as if in haste to get away from the camp. Be on the ground the first day, and feel an individual responsibility to labor for the interest of the meeting from the first day to the last. RH July 10, 1879, par. 5

As a people, we are backsliding from God. The hearts of his professed children are being estranged from him. While they have a name to live, the true, vital energies of the soul have become spiritually dead. To such, Jesus speaks: “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!” Christ does not say days, but “day,”—“this thy day.” That last meeting may be the very day of the special visitation of Christ,—a day of rare privileges and blessings so much needed by them. RH July 10, 1879, par. 6

When Christ was upon the earth, attending one of the Jews’ convocations, upon the last day, that great day of the feast, he stood and cried: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” His eye of tenderest pity was cast around upon the multitude who were apparently all joy and rejoicing; but he who reads the secrets of the heart saw that there were many in that festive throng who were thirsting for that peace, and comfort, and consolation which he alone can give. They had failed to quench their thirst at earthly fountains, and his voice was heard by the whole temple crowd: “I am the fountain of living waters. If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” RH July 10, 1879, par. 7

In our camp-meetings Jesus is present with his gracious invitations; and if, on the last day of the feast, he is specially near, and his mercies and blessings are more forcibly brought home to us, how great the loss of those who fail to be present! On the very day of all others when they should be present, they are hasting to their homes; and thus failing to drink of the living waters, their souls are unrefreshed. RH July 10, 1879, par. 8

One family decide that their farm calls them; but if they had a little more faith and trust in their Heavenly Father, who has said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you,” they would be more willing to leave the consequences with God. But very few are willing to make any sacrifice of their temporal things in order to gain eternal riches. RH July 10, 1879, par. 9

We feel to the very depths the spiritual loss that our people are sustaining in not appreciating their privileges and present blessings. They are not becoming more earnest, devoted, and perfect in character. Their faith is dead, because it is not sustained by works. There is every year a growing tendency to assimilate to the world. Self and the world are becoming a ruling power. I state that which I know. Spiritual death is coming upon us, because of the absence of vital godliness. Says Jesus, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” It is one thing to profess Christ, and another thing to follow him. RH July 10, 1879, par. 10

Anciently God commanded his people to assemble three times a year, and from every city from Dan to Beersheba the people came to these annual feasts. The one at the commencement of the season was to entreat God's blessing upon their families, their lands, their flocks, and their herds. The one at the close of harvest was the crowning festal gathering, to bring their offerings to God. The land had yielded its increase, the harvest had been gathered into their granaries, the first-fruits had been stored, and the people came with their tributes of thanksgiving to God, who had thus richly blessed them. Joy and rejoicing were there combined with the solemnities of a holy and sacred convocation. RH July 10, 1879, par. 11

God directed Moses to say to the children of Israel, “Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine.” “Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God, in the place which the Lord shall choose; because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.” RH July 10, 1879, par. 12

Many sacrifices were made at these feasts; and this profusion of blood shed in connection with the harvest of thanksgiving was significant to them of the fact that even the bounties of the earth could come to them only through the cross of Calvary. By thus assembling and bringing their tithes into the treasury, they ever acknowledged the Lord to be the giver of all their blessings. The children of Israel are our ensamples, that while we should imitate their faithfulness and virtues, we should shun those sins which brought the displeasure of God upon them. RH July 10, 1879, par. 13

We have our convocation meetings yearly, and all who possibly can attend them should feel under obligation to do so. If they neglect to improve the opportunities to obtain a better knowledge of the truth, and to become more thoroughly in earnest in their efforts to perfect Christian character, they will be held responsible for the light, and privileges, and blessings which they might have had. Their case is nearly as bad in the sight of God as that of those who attend the meetings but fail to improve by the light and blessings there received. RH July 10, 1879, par. 14

I plead with our brethren and sisters to make the most of their God-given opportunities. Christ, when weeping over Jerusalem, exclaimed, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” Jerusalem's sin was in abusing past blessings and privileges, and she was sealing her doom in rejecting present mercies and warnings. The weak faith of our people today shows that past warnings and reproofs have not been heeded, and hardness of heart, and indifference, and unbelief are the result. RH July 10, 1879, par. 15

The most solemn and awful period for the Jewish nation was when Jesus was in their midst. It was that generation that was responsible for not accepting the light of the world. For many years God has been pleading with his people by mercies, by judgments, and by the most solemn warnings and entreaties. Blessings have been bestowed, and blessings removed, and yet the people who profess to be in advance of every other people in the light of truth have not responded to these warnings and entreaties of the Spirit of God. The Saviour's love has been unrequited. Christ looks mournfully upon the individual members of the church, and exclaims, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” RH July 10, 1879, par. 16

The hour of probation is fast passing; the cup of God's indignation is fast filling. Will those who profess to be waiting for the appearing of their Lord from heaven be found wanting in that day, or will they awake from their carnal security, repent of their indifference and hardness of heart, and in this their day give most diligent heed to the things which belong to their peace? Must the fast westering sun of merciful probation set, and the sentence be pronounced, “but now they are hid from thine eyes”? RH July 10, 1879, par. 17

From the crest of Olivet, Christ overlooked the world. Every soul who has become indifferent to the privileges within his reach, is personally addressed in this appeal. Christ is stooping over his throne today, his great heart of love yearning with deep and tender compassion over those who are careless, and neglectful of their eternal interests. Many professed Christians are now only stumbling-blocks,—false way-marks. They do not represent to the world by good works the principles of the doctrines of Christ. They neglect the study of the Scriptures, and secret prayer, and have become, so far as their influence is concerned, traitors to their holy trust. Their hearts have gradually become hardened; they have a name to live, while the vital energies of the soul have become spiritually paralyzed. Of this class our Saviour speaks: “Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” RH July 10, 1879, par. 18

It is not enough to profess to believe in Christ, saying that we are saved by Christ, when we do not practice the lessons he has given. All such professed Christians are represented by the man who built his house upon the sand; while the hearers and doers of the word are represented by the man who built his house upon the rock, and amid tempest, storm, and flood, it remained unmoved. Thus the true foundation for every soul is represented by those who not only hear the truth but practice it. Those who claim to be children of God and do not his will are hypocrites. RH July 10, 1879, par. 19

He who is indeed a follower of Jesus Christ, will be assimilated to his image. He will be brought into sympathy with him through the fellowship of his sufferings. Storms of trial and adversity may break upon him, but he is not swayed from his foundation, for his soul is riveted upon the eternal Rock. Indolence in spiritual things will bring moral feebleness; active workers in the cause of God will be men of prayer, and will have success. Every day that they labor to do the will of God they will have increased ability to work efficiently to promote his glory. To such he will say by and by, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” RH July 10, 1879, par. 20