The Review and Herald


May 8, 1883

Practical Thoughts for the Camp-Meetings


[At our camp-meeting at Hanford, Cal., one year ago, I felt urged by the Spirit of the Lord to speak to our people concerning the importance of maintaining right habits of life in order to enjoy the benefits of the meeting. As the points there dwelt upon are of general application, a summary of the remarks made are here given for the benefit of all who attend these annual gatherings.] RH May 8, 1883, par. 1

Our yearly convocations are held for a special purpose. We desire to obtain spiritual strength by feeding upon the bread of life. We have separated from God by yielding to the maxims, customs, and practices of the world. We have allowed temporal things to absorb our attention, and have regarded the service of God as of secondary importance. As a consequence, we find ourselves in a state of great spiritual weakness. The season we spend here together should be a time of humiliation, brokenness of heart, and confession of sin. We want here to seek the Lord, and find him to the joy of our souls. To do this, we must cleanse the soul temple from its defilement; we must banish therefrom selfish thoughts and interests. Jesus is among us, to hear our penitential confessions and pardon our sins. RH May 8, 1883, par. 2

We should not devote this precious time to needless labor merely to gratify the appetite. We have not come here to indulge in feasting. Those who have taken charge of our restaurant at previous camp-meetings, have had the privilege of attending but few of the meetings. Much care and thought were given to the preparation of the food,—the cooking of meat, pies, cake, and a variety of other dishes to please the appetite. Was this really necessary? I think not. A few simple articles of food, prepared with care and skill, would supply all our real wants, and at the same time would do no injury to stomach or brain. The food should be abundant in quantity, and of good quality. We should not be compelled to live on a meat diet because nothing else is provided to supply its place. The money that is expended in buying meat, would purchase a good variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Meat is not essential for health or strength, else the Lord made a mistake when he provided food for Adam and Eve before their fall. All the elements of nutrition are contained in the fruits, vegetables, and grains. RH May 8, 1883, par. 3

If we are careful in our diet, at the same time clothing ourselves in a healthful manner during the changes that are liable to occur, we may avoid the unpleasant consequences of neglect of these important matters. Parents should give special attention to the diet of their children. Let them have good, wholesome food, prepared in a simple, palatable manner. But many housewives do not know how to cook. Light is shining upon them, but they do not care to receive it. Turning with contempt from a method of cooking which requires skill and inventive power, they depend on injurious substances to supply the lack. We profess to be reformers, and as such should be constantly seeking to bring all our customs and habits to a correct standard, instead of conforming to the hurtful practices of the world. RH May 8, 1883, par. 4

Hot biscuit raised with soda or baking powder should never appear upon our tables. Such compounds are unfit to enter the stomach. Hot raised bread of any kind is difficult of digestion. Graham gems which are both wholesome and palatable may be made from the unbolted flour, mixed with pure cold water and milk. But it is difficult to teach our people simplicity. When we recommend graham gems, our friends say, “Oh, yes, we know how to make them.” We are much disappointed when they appear, raised with baking powder or with sour milk and soda. These give no evidence of reform. The unbolted flour, mixed with pure soft water and milk, makes the best gems we ever tasted. If the water is hard, use more sweet milk, or add an egg to the batter. Gems should be thoroughly baked in a well-heated oven, with a steady fire. RH May 8, 1883, par. 5

To make rolls, use soft water and milk, or a little cream; make a stiff dough, and knead it as for crackers. Bake on the grate of the oven. These are sweet and delicious. They require thorough mastication, which is a benefit both to the teeth and the stomach. They make good blood, and impart strength. With such bread, and the abundant fruits, vegetables, and grains with which our country abounds, no greater luxuries should be desired. RH May 8, 1883, par. 6

We should avoid errors, not only in the quality, but in the quantity of our food. Eating too largely of even a simple diet will injure physical, mental, and moral health. Some persons have formed the habit of eating at any time between their regular meals. If this practice is continued, it becomes second nature. The stomach may be so educated as to desire food eight times a day, and feel faint if it is not supplied. But this is no argument in favor of so frequent eating. Three meals a day, and nothing between meals—not even an apple—should be the utmost limit of indulgence. Those who go further violate nature's laws, and will suffer the penalty. Two meals a day are better than three. RH May 8, 1883, par. 7

Our brethren and sisters often bring upon the camp-ground food that is wholly unsuitable for such occasions,—rich cake, pies, and a variety of dishes prepared in a manner to make a healthy man sick. Of course, the best food is considered none too good for the minister. They invite him to their tables, and send these articles to his table. Many ministers are dyspeptics; they have injured their health by taking food in too great quantity and of an injurious quality. They suffer from hot head and cold feet and limbs; the blood is called to the stomach to assist in disposing of the burden imposed upon it. Those men cannot become spiritual workmen until they observe strict temperance in their dietetic habits. God cannot let his Holy Spirit rest upon those who are enfeebling themselves by gluttony. RH May 8, 1883, par. 8

Precious talent has been lost to God's cause through intemperance in eating. Many, while they do live, are thus deprived of half the vigor and strength of their faculties. The brain is oppressed because the stomach is burdened. Ministers, above all others, should economize the strength of brain and nerve. They should avoid all food or drink that has a tendency to irritate or excite the nerves. Excitement will be followed by depression. Over-indulgence will becloud the mind, and render thought difficult and confused. Our people err when they tempt their ministers with unhealthful food. RH May 8, 1883, par. 9

And let us not come to the camp-meeting to break the Sabbath by cooking on that day. The instructions which God gave to Israel should not be disregarded: “Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe;” for “tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.” God meant what he said; and shall we who are presenting to the people the claims of the divine law, break that law ourselves, merely to please the appetite? God forbid! I know that frequently the Lord has withheld his blessing because we have failed to honor him by keeping the Sabbath according to the commandment. There has sometimes been nearly as much cooking done on the Sabbath as on other days. I would prefer to eat bread and water only, rather than to run any risk of breaking the fourth commandment. All needful preparation for the Sabbath should be made on Friday. On Sabbath morning, if the weather is cool, let hot gruel be provided. Further than this, all cooking should be avoided as a violation of the Sabbath. RH May 8, 1883, par. 10

If right habits are ever observed, let it be at our holy convocations. Here, if anywhere, we want our minds clear and active. We should honor God at all times, and in all places, but it seems doubly important at such meetings, where we assemble for the purpose of drawing near to God, and gaining a better knowledge of his will. One reason why we do not enjoy more of the blessing of the Lord is, we do not heed the light which has been pleased to give us in regard to the laws of life and health. If we would all live more simply, and let the time usually given to the indulgence of appetite and the gratification of pride in dress, be spent in searching the Scriptures and in humble prayer for the bread of life, we would receive greater spiritual strength. We need to give less attention to our mere temporal wants, and more to our eternal interests. RH May 8, 1883, par. 11

Will those who have charge of our camp-meetings see that God is not dishonored or his instructions disregarded? Will they heed the light which has been given them upon health reform, and thus aid the people in securing both physical and moral health? Let us in our yearly gatherings seek to return unto the Lord, gather up the rays of light we have neglected, comply with the conditions laid down in God's word, and then by faith claim his blessing. RH May 8, 1883, par. 12