Manuscript Releases, vol. 21 [Nos. 1501-1598]


MR No. 1550—Oregon's Camp Meeting and Ministerial Needs in 1878

(Written June 27 and 28, 1878, from the campground at Salem, Oregon, to James White. At this time Salem was the largest city in the Northwest, with a population of about 6,000.)

Your card came yesterday. Glad to learn that you were as well as could be expected. I am in some respects improving in health. The meeting opened this morning at six o'clock. We did not get upon the ground till the ten o'clock meeting. Elder Loughborough spoke from these words: “What think ye, that He will not come to the feast?” John 11:56. I was not present. In the afternoon I addressed the people with freedom. 21MR 241.1

I have had the pleasure of meeting Brother Maxson and wife, and Sister Wood, their daughter. Brother Maxson is a very pleasant-appearing old man. His wife does not bear so pleasing an appearance, but they say she is a very good-hearted woman. This looks like a small meeting indeed, compared with our camp meetings [in the] East. But the people here think it is a big thing. 21MR 241.2

I see and feel that although Brother Van Horn is an excellent man he lacks the qualifications for a successful laborer. He is slow and dull. He is, I think, affected with heart difficulty. At any rate, there should be a man to connect with him who is energetic and thorough in financial ability. He does not discern good opportunities and seize them, making the most of the situation. I tell you there is a serious lack. If anything is accomplished here in Oregon in the future, some man must come here who is quick to see and understand the wants of the cause. 21MR 241.3

No one has made a word of complaint of Brother Van Horn, but I see his deficiencies. Someone must connect with him of altogether a different organization. There is one universal testimony, that Brother Van Horn is a good man. His discourses, they say, are pure and elevated; as a speaker he cannot be excelled. But I see great need of qualifications that he has not, and never will have. 21MR 241.4

Brother Waggoner was highly esteemed on this coast and should not have left. If Brother Jones could have the right starting in, he would make a promising young man, but here again I fear he will not commence right and be balanced by experienced laborers. Brother Jones is young and needs to be molded. He is a conscientious young man; he feels deeply and is sensitive. All these peculiarities are good, but need to be balanced aright. There is no one here to teach him—no one that he can look to for education or example. I wish he could attend college this winter, and next summer I think he could start in with better understanding and better courage. There is not much here to give a young man courage unless he has a superabundance of it naturally. 21MR 241.5

Oregon is a good field, but the men who labor here must possess not only ability but indomitable courage to meet a godless element existing in the ministry and in society, and to press their way through all discouragements and moral darkness and depravity. If Brother Jones could be instructed as some young men are being instructed at Battle Creek, it would be the making of him, I think. 21MR 242.1

Everything on the ground is fitted up in nice order. It has cost considerable labor to take a forest and prepare it for a campground, making it attractive and beautiful, but this has been done here. It is the admiration of all who look upon it. The man owning the ground has promised them the land for five years without cost to them, in consideration of the work done to prepare it. The trees are fir and tower up high like the redwood trees of California, only more beautiful in foliage. Some oak and walnut are interspersed. White pine here reminds me of Maine. The very atmosphere is fragrant with the perfume of these evergreen trees. 21MR 242.2

June 28—One day of our meeting is already in the past and soon the first camp meeting in Oregon will be ended. Will there be souls saved as the result of this effort? May God work for us, is my prayer. God only can turn the hearts and transform the affections and character. Shall we see of His salvation here? We are hoping and praying that this may be the case. 21MR 242.3

I feel the necessity of deeper piety and more earnest faith among our people. Because there are revivalists who labor for excitement and move the people by impulse this is no excuse for our ministers having the theory of the truth without the deep moving of the Spirit of God. 21MR 242.4

Jesus connected His disciples with Himself in His ministry that they might be educated to carry forward the work where He should leave it. They were not only to be conversant with the Scriptures but to do the works that He had done, in His name. They were to witness His life of daily self-denial and self-sacrifice, His life of prayer and of doing good that He might be the Light of the world. His followers are to pursue the very same course. Close connection with Jesus Christ alone will give our ministers a fitness for the great work which must be done in warning the world and in winning souls from deceptive errors to the truth which involves a cross. 21MR 242.5

There are some excellent souls here who love the truth and whose eyes are open to see the deceptions that exist in the popular ministry. The ambition with many in the ministry is to please the people who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. The Congregationalist minister went into the desk about six weeks since and took from his pocket a yellow-covered novel and read several pages in regard to the mermaids of the sea, and after extolling Victor Hugo as a writer far ahead of our American writers, he opened his Bible, read a few words, made a few remarks, and closed. The people generally seemed well pleased with this effort, but not all. This dish of pleasing fables suited the appetite of a pleasure-loving people who see no attraction in truth which requires practical godliness. 21MR 242.6

Another minister seeks to please his congregation, and tells them [that] young people must have pleasure; it is no harm to go to the theater and attend parties of pleasure and to dance, for Jesus attended a wedding feast. All this is in keeping with the theory that you are not saved by good works but by Christ and Christ alone. The ministers tell the congregations they cannot keep the law; no man ever kept it or ever can keep it. What a theory! The wise and good God presents to His people a law that is to govern their actions which it is impossible for them to observe! What a character to give our heavenly Father, who so loved man that in order to save him He did not withhold His only Son, but gave Him up for us all! How much more, says the inspired apostle, will He not with Him freely give us all things? 21MR 243.1

It is a marvel to me that God will bear with the perversity of the children of men so long, bearing with their disobedience and yet suffering them to live, abusing His mercies, bearing false witness against Him in most wicked statements. But God's ways are not as our ways, and we will not marvel at His loving forbearance and tender pity and infinite compassion, for He has given an unmistakable evidence that this is just like His character—slow to anger, showing mercy unto thousands of those who love Him and keep His commandments. 21MR 243.2

I am thankful indeed for the sweet peace I enjoy this morning. I rested well last night and feel to rest my soul upon God this morning. He will not leave me nor forsake me. He will be to me a very present help in time of need. I think of you much and pray for you and then do not worry but believe that you have good care—much better than I can give you. 21MR 243.3

Souls are perishing in their sins on every side. My soul is drawn out after them. I long to arouse them from their stupor of death. Oh, how many have never yet been warned, never heard the truth, while expostulations and warnings and prayers fall upon the ears of others who pay no heed but reject privileges and opportunities which would be for their salvation if they would profit by them. They seem ice-bound. But our own hearts must be warmed with the divine fire. Our own Christian efforts and our Christian example must be earnest and powerful. The obligations resting upon us are not small. Our sense of dependence will drive us closer to God, and our sense of duty to be performed will summon us to effort, combined with our earnest prayers—works, faith, and continual prayer. 21MR 243.4

Power! Power! Our great cry is for power without measure! It awaits us. We have only to draw, to take God at His word, to act faith, to stand firmly upon the promises, to wrestle for the endowment of the grace of God. Learning is not essential, genius is not necessary, eloquence may be lacking, but the prayer of the lowly and contrite heart God hears, and when He hears no obstacles on earth can hinder. The power of God will make us effectual.—Letter 35, 1878. 21MR 244.1

Ellen G. White Estate

Silver Spring, Maryland,

February 28, 1991.

Entire Letter.