The Review and Herald

673/1902

June 6, 1893

The New Zealand Camp-Meeting

EGW

Thursday morning, March 16, we boarded the steamer “Clansman,” at Whangaroa to return to Auckland, and from there to proceed to Napier, where the Conference and camp-meeting were to be held. As on our trip from Auckland, the weather was almost perfect, and the sea was not rough. The captain and stewardess told us of the fearful storm they had a week before, and expressed their pleasure that we were not with them then, according to our intention. We too were very thankful that our plans had been interfered with, and that providentially we had been kept from going at the time of the heavy storm. At first, when the news came to us that the change of sailing of the boat on which we had expected to go from Auckland to Napier, would delay us a week, we felt much disappointed; for we were anxious to be on the ground, and to do all we could to encourage and help our brethren to prepare for the first Seventh-day Adventist camp-meeting ever held in the southern hemisphere. But now we could see that the change was of double advantage to us, as it had given us another week to work in Kaeo, and had brought us to a time of beautiful weather for our trip. Again my bed was made on my own spring cot, on the steamer's deck, where the air was pure and plentiful, and I was saved from the torture of stifling rooms, and hard beds, which are the usual thing on the smaller ships along this coast. RH June 6, 1893, par. 1

We reached Auckland Friday morning, and were soon transferred to the large steamer which was to take us to Napier. Here our party of eight, from Kaeo, was joined by ten from Auckland and vicinity, who were going to the Conference. The ship was well filled with passengers, and it was going to be difficult to secure for me a well ventilated room. There were no deck cabins on this ship, and I dreaded the night; but by the kindness of the chief steward, we were allowed, after 10 P.M., to make up my bed in the ladies’ boudoir, a beautiful airy room on the upper deck. Thus I was again saved the suffering consequent on occupying a small, stifling room. RH June 6, 1893, par. 2

Sabbath afternoon, our ship cast anchor near Gisborne, and waited for the small boat to come for the passengers and freight. Here thousands of pounds have been spent in vain, to build piers out into the deep water, so that large ships can come to the docks; but as fast as the pier is built, the sea washes in the sand, so that nothing has been gained. Soon the little steamer came out, rolling and tossing by the heavy waves, and brethren Starr, Edward, Wesley, Samuel Hare, and W. C. White, went ashore to visit the little church assembled for meeting. As a result of the labors of Elders Robert Hare, A. G. Daniells, and others, a small church has been raised up here, and a commodious meeting-house purchased. This church, like others in this Conference, is pleading for ministerial help. O, that we had a hundred laborers where there is one. Everywhere there are fields suffering for help. When our brethren found the church, the Sabbath-school was in session, and they had opportunity briefly to present some of the many evidences that we are in a time when we should look up, and rejoice, because the coming of the Lord draweth near. They also labored to encourage all who could, to come to the camp-meeting. RH June 6, 1893, par. 3

About eight o'clock, the little steamer came back. She was tossed about by the waves, and it often looked as if the water would go over the deck where most of the passengers were seated; but she came safely alongside, and the passengers were brought on board without using the huge basket which was on the deck, ready for use when it is too rough to use the plank. When the sea is so rough that the plank cannot be used, the passengers are placed, two at a time, in this large basket, and hoisted up by the machinery that is used to load and unload the freight of the ship. RH June 6, 1893, par. 4

From Gisborne it is a short run to Napier. The sea was not rough, and we woke Sunday morning, anchored close to Napier. Here, also, an extensive breakwater is being constructed; but for some time yet, large ships must anchor in the bay, and all passengers and freight must be transferred to a smaller steamer, which carries us safely over the shallow waters to the pier. At the landing we were met by Elders Israel, McCullagh, and Wilson, and Mrs. Dr. Caro, who took us at once to her hospitable home, where we met Dr. Caro. He gave us a hearty welcome, and at their earnest invitation, we shared their kind hospitality all through our stay in Napier. Here I had a large airy room, with a fireplace, and every sunny day was encouraged to ride out with a horse and buggy, lent to us by thoughtful friends. We found Napier to be a beautiful place, the resident portion of the town being built on a series of high hills, overlooking the sea. RH June 6, 1893, par. 5

Sunday evening I spoke on my favorite theme, “The Love of God,” to an attentive audience in the Theater Royal. Tuesday evening Elder McCullagh gave the first discourse in the large tent on the camp ground. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, our brethren were very busy fitting up the camp. Weeks before, letters had been sent to the churches, asking all who would come to the meeting, to report, and the responses were so few, that it did not seem necessary to get many tents, or to lay out a large camp. The necessity of having a dining tent had been discussed, and it was so doubtful about its patronage, and so certain that it could only be conducted at a loss, that it was decided to have those who could not cook for themselves, patronize a restaurant in the town near by. RH June 6, 1893, par. 6

As the boats and trains brought in the delegations from the different churches, there were about twice as many as had been expected, and it was plain that the plans must be enlarged. A reception tent was proposed, and a dining tent was much needed. To have a large number of our people obliged to go up town for their meals, would break into our program, waste precious time, and bring in a hap-hazard state of things that should be avoided. It was presented to the committee, that although a restaurant in the camp would not pay expenses, it ought to be established, for its educating influence. We felt that there were lessons of the highest value as to unity of action, regularity, and the best methods of conducting camp-meetings, that would be lost if our people were not supplied upon the camp-ground, with wholesome food, prepared upon hygienic principles. RH June 6, 1893, par. 7

We felt that this first camp-meeting must be as far as possible, a sample of what every other camp-meeting held in the future ought to be. Over and over again I said to the people, “See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.” As a people, we have lost much by neglecting order and method. Although it takes time and careful thought and labor, and often seems to make our work cost more, in the end we can see that it was a paying business to do everything in the most perfect manner. Jesus said to his disciples, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” The principles found in the instruction given to the children of Israel are to be given to all who are connected with religious services in these last days. All the specifications and arrangements of detail we cannot copy; but we can understand that the order, the perfection of arrangement, particularly specified by Christ, who was enshrouded in the cloudy pillar, are patterns of the perfection and order that are to be carried into all our plans and arrangements for religious service. In these last days we are to give no lessons in connection with our worship, that will lead minds to think that the God of heaven is pleased with disorderly arrangements, careless work, and untidy surroundings. God is as well pleased with cleanliness, order, and energy now, as when he gave direction to nearly a million of people, encamped in the wilderness. Those who follow Jesus will give a right example in all things. RH June 6, 1893, par. 8

Well, the camp was enlarged, more tents were procured, a reception tent was fitted up, not extravagantly, but plainly and tastefully, and was presided over by sister Starr. The most serious difficulty about having a dining tent, was the matter of getting some one to manage it, and persons to do the work. But we learned that sister Wilson had superintended the dining tent in two camp-meetings in America, and she readily consented to take the oversight of this one. Three or four other sisters were engaged to assist in the work, and soon furniture and supplies were procured, and the dining tent ready for service. About a dozen were expected to patronize it, but soon there were about thirty boarders. The food provided was plain, substantial, and plentiful. It was prepared on hygienic principles. Meat was scarcely seen on the tables, and was only asked for by a few, although we doubt not that more than half of those present had not for years been for half so long a time without eating of flesh. RH June 6, 1893, par. 9

The weather was beautiful while the camp was in preparation, and during the first days of the meeting. On the first Sabbath it began to rain, and continued for a week. It did not rain all the time, but was showery, with occasionally a heavy downpour. Notwithstanding, the people of the Napier church came out well to the meetings, and those on the ground kept up good heart and courage, and made but little complaint about their damp surroundings. Many members of the Napier church had employment which deprived them of the day meetings, but they were very regular in attending the evening and morning meetings. Most of the time I was able to attend the early morning meetings, and felt that I was deprived of a privilege, when unable to be present. All seemed to enjoy these early social meetings. One family, who were always present, came a mile and a half from their mountain residence, the mother and daughters sometimes running part of the way, rather than be late to the meeting. Many testified that this was the best meeting they had ever attended. Every day we were encouraged to see hope, courage, and faith growing in the hearts of the people, as they received light from the Scriptures. RH June 6, 1893, par. 10

After the meeting had been two or three days in progress, one who had been a member of the church, but who left it about two years ago, because of his opposition to the Testimonies, arose and said that he desired to take his stand again with the church. It was the written testimonies of sister White which had led him to leave the church, and now it was her testimony, her preaching at this meeting, that brought him back to the church. He wished to be baptized again, and to be received as a brother by his former brethren and sisters. Many hearts rejoiced greatly that this brother was restored to the church. Some said that this alone was worth all that the meeting had cost. RH June 6, 1893, par. 11

On the first Sabbath afternoon, I spoke about thirty minutes, and then invited those to come forward for prayers, who had never given their hearts to Christ. The invitation was also extended to those who professed to be the followers of Christ, who had not the evidence of his acceptance, and those who professed to believe the truth, but had not carried out its holy principles in their lives. These were the very ones who most needed to seek the Lord, that they might find Jesus a present help, ever ready to supply his grace, that they may overcome every defect in character. RH June 6, 1893, par. 12

We rejoiced to see the response that was made to this call. Many seats had to be cleared, and were quickly refilled by those coming forward. The tent was not a perfect place for such a meeting. The rain was falling heavily, and the tent leaked in many places. But this seemed of little consequence. The interest in eternal matters was too deep to be affected by the surroundings. A sense of fearful consequences actuated the congregation. The Spirit of God was moving the hearts of the congregation to a consciousness that the time had come, spoken of in the first chapter of Isaiah: “Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well.” Many hearts were impressed that we are hastening to the judgment, when every case will be decided for eternity. RH June 6, 1893, par. 13

Elder Starr gave precious instruction and exhortation, urging that each one should bring heart and mind to Jesus. Then we had a season of prayer, and the blessing of God rested in rich measure upon the congregation. After the prayers, it was proposed that those who had come forward should go to another tent, where time would be given for them to speak, and to seek such help and instruction as each should need; but again the rain came down so heavily that no one wished to leave the tent, and the meeting was continued till sundown. Many confessions were made of neglected duties, of impatience, and neglect of parental government. Many confessed their worldliness and love of dress; and some bore testimony who were giving their hearts to Christ for the first time. RH June 6, 1893, par. 14

Sunday was a busy and joyful day at the camp. In the morning Elder Starr continued the Bible studies, and in the afternoon I spoke to a tent full of attentive listeners. In the evening six were baptized. On Monday the business meetings occupied most of the time. Elder McCullagh preached in the evening, and in the course of his sermon, spoke of the evil effects of the study of, and placing dependence in, the science of phrenology. He showed that its tendency was to lead men to undervalue the power of the grace of God, and to place too high an estimate on their own judgment. Some who had devoted much time to the study of phrenology, and placed much dependence upon it, were offended, and spoke freely against what had been said. RH June 6, 1893, par. 15

In the early meeting on Tuesday, this matter was referred to, and some who had been rescued from the snares of Spiritualism, related their experiences. We were surprised that so many had barely escaped the subtle delusions of Spiritualism. Quite a number spoke of their interest in phrenology, and their desire to know wherein its study was injurious. After breakfast, the regular program for the forenoon was suspended, and I presented to the people some of their dangers, as they had been shown to me before coming to this country. I pointed out some of the evil results from the study of “science, falsely so-called,” and related the sad experience of some American ministers who had followed it, for influence or for gain. Before the meeting closed, some who had been most ardent students of phrenology, arose and said they would accept what had been presented regarding it, as the truth, and that they should act accordingly. RH June 6, 1893, par. 16

A day or two later one of the canvassers brought to Elder Starr a pamphlet containing the sermon of an influential Wesleyan minister, delivered at a recent Conference held in Dunedin, in which he defended the “higher criticism” of the Bible, and made light of the opinion that it was a divine book, and that all portions of it were inspired. This led to more lessons on this subject, and a sermon on the “Higher Criticism” that was well attended by the people of Napier. We were surprised to see the extent to which our own brethren had been affected by this infidelity, and were satisfied that in this alone there was abundant explanation for the lack of success that has of late attended the canvassing work. We see more and more clearly, that in all our labors the Bible must be exalted, and that our people must come to know the wisdom and the power that are in the word of God. To the close of the meeting, and in all our labors since, this subject has been made prominent. RH June 6, 1893, par. 17

The camp-meeting was to close Wednesday, April 5, two weeks from the beginning of the workers’ meeting; but the steamers on which the delegates were to return home, were both late, so the meeting continued till Thursday, April 6. The interest was good till the close of the meeting, and the people of Napier were disappointed that it did not continue longer. They could not understand how we could afford to fix the camp so nicely for so short a time. RH June 6, 1893, par. 18

On the last Sunday of the meeting, it was arranged that I should speak in the afternoon, and Elder Starr in the evening, at Hastings, a prosperous town about twelve miles west of Napier. A tent meeting had been recently held in this place, and there are a few who obey the message, and others who are on the point of decision. Our meeting was in a large hall, and although the audience was not large, those present seemed much interested. We had a most comfortable conveyance, and the ride was enjoyable. Near Hastings, we passed a Maori village, where preparations were being made for a national council. In one inclosure there was a church, and several wharreys,—large houses in which they entertain a great number of guests,—also long tents in which hundreds were to be served with food; in other fields near by were long rows of little tents, for the occupancy of those coming from abroad. The Maoris seem to be an intelligent people, and it seems that true missionary work is much needed among some of their tribes. Where are the young men who will devote their lives to work among this people? RH June 6, 1893, par. 19