The Review and Herald


October 21, 1884

Notes of Travel

Marshalltown, Iowa


With Sr. McOmber, who accompanied me from California, and my son Edson and his wife, I left Kansas City, August 13, to attend the camp-meeting at Marshalltown, Iowa. We were warmly welcomed by our brethren and sisters, who did everything possible for our comfort. We feel deeply grateful to them for their loving care and kind attentions. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 1

On Friday morning we attended their early meeting. Many of the testimonies were excellent; but others were not of a character to indicate that those who bore them were building on the sure foundation. We are in this world to form characters for eternity. God does not want his people to be under constant condemnation. He would have them learn to confide in him. We need not be content with merely formal prayers; we may come to Jesus as to a friend, and in the most simple-hearted, definite manner tell him all our worries, perplexities, and trials, and he will carry our burdens for us. When our minds and our lives get tangled, we may take them to One who knows just how to untangle them. But after we have asked God to do this work for us, let us rest it with him. Here is where so many fail. They tell the Lord all their troubles, and then go on worrying just the same. They pray about their cares and sins, but do not cast off their cares nor cease to sin. Jesus invites us to cast all our cares upon him, for he cares for us; then let us leave them with him, and receive his peace and rest into our hearts. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 2

I looked over the large congregation assembled in the tent, and thought, If all who have a knowledge of the truth were carrying its sanctifying influence into their home-life, what a light would they be in the world! Home duties are not to be neglected. It is in the home that the real work of properly training the children is to be done, repressing every wrong tendency, strengthening and developing the right. But all here—ministers, parents, and children—needed a work done for them which they did not realize. There was a manifest lack of the Spirit of God. I hoped to see the clouds break; for I knew many would never see their true spiritual condition until they should begin to return unto the Lord with full purpose of heart, with repentance, and confession of sins. Some even of those who were preaching the word were as destitute of the Spirit of God as were the mountains of Gilboa of dew and rain. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 3

An effort was made to arouse them by presenting our true position in the antitypical day of atonement, when every man should afflict his soul before God, when sins should be confessed and go beforehand to Judgment, that when the times of refreshing shall come they may be blotted out. But the ones who most needed to humble their hearts before God, seemed to be almost unimpressible. Some made advancement; others were left about as we found them, and these prevented the work of God from going forward. Had they confessed their sins, the moral atmosphere would have cleared; the bright rays of the Sun of Righteousness would have shone into their own hearts, and the whole encampment would have been as the house of God, the gate of heaven. Jesus was waiting to supply their great need from his abundant fullness, to give them a large measure of his grace. But they did not feel their need; they did not realize their destitution. Although we had many precious seasons, the surrender to God was not full and entire. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 4

We felt that the message of the True Witness to the Laodiceans applied with peculiar force to this people. On the part of many, a spirit of self-satisfaction was manifested. There is a disposition to be contented with forms and theories of the truth; and as a consequence, those who might be giants in the cause and work of God are mere dwarfs. As a people we are in imminent danger; for we are becoming superficial, deficient in practical godliness. In our camp-meetings we never receive the blessing that it is our privilege to gain; for we cease our efforts too soon. There is some confessing in a general way; but the real evil is untouched. There is no sense of the hatefulness of sin. There is repenting without brokenness of heart; there is professing to leave the world, but the life is still governed by its principles. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 5

Dear brethren and sisters, your hearts must be humbled before God. You need divine grace, not merely for your own enjoyment, but that you may help others also. All your powers belong to God. He asks the whole heart. He asks your physical and mental strength; for it is his own. He asks your money; for every dollar of it has been intrusted to your keeping, and you are his stewards. Will you rob God of your service! Will you rob him in tithes and offerings, and let his treasury be empty? Will you use the time, talents, and strength he lends you in serving your own selfish interests? RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 6

On Sabbath morning a large company met for Sabbath-school. Classes were soon arranged including all except a few who chose seats outside the tent. But these were not left to themselves; teachers were appointed, and two or three interesting classes formed. All were as busy as bees, and everywhere, in the tent and out of it, was heard the hum of voices. The school was well conducted and orderly, and to me the exercises were very interesting. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 7

By request I spoke about thirty minutes, warning them against letting their Sabbath-schools degenerate into a mere mechanical routine. We should not seek to imitate Sunday-schools, nor keep up the interest by offering prizes. The offering of rewards will create rivalry, envy, and jealousy; and some who are the most diligent and worthy will receive little credit. Scholars should not try to see how many verses they can learn and repeat; for this brings too great a strain upon the ambitious child, while the rest become discouraged. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 8

Try none of these methods in your Sabbath-schools; but let superintendents and teachers make every effort to have life and interest in their schools. What a blessing it would be if all would teach as Jesus taught. He did not aim to attract attention by eloquence or by overwhelming grandeur of sentiment. On the contrary, his language was plain, and his thoughts were expressed with the greatest simplicity; but he spoke with loving earnestness. In your teaching be as near like him as possible. Make your exercises interesting. Let the teachers show that they have thoroughly learned the lesson, and are intensely interested in it. Let there be no frivolous or superficial interpretations of the Scriptures, but let each be prepared to go to the bottom of the subject presented. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 9

Parents should feel it a sacred duty to instruct their children in the statutes and requirements of God as well as in the prophecies. They should educate their children at home, and should themselves be interested in the Sabbath-school lessons. By studying with the children, they show that they attach importance to the truth brought out in the lessons, and help to create a taste for Bible knowledge. On the part of many who believe present truth, there is an alarming ignorance as to what the Scriptures really do say; and yet if we would be prepared to stand amid the perils of the last days, we must understand them for ourselves. A better knowledge of the Bible would be a blessing to all. Says the psalmist, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.” The Bible contains the truest history, the purest devotion. Nothing strengthens the intellect like the study of the word of God. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 10

The teachers should be earnest in this work; they should watch for souls as they that must give an account. Their efforts should tend to lead the minds of those under their care to the contemplation of heavenly things; their instruction should be of a character to deepen the force of every lesson. They should be co-laborers with the parents for the salvation of the children; and Jesus will help them, and there will be a harvest of souls. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 11

Several meetings were held for the ministers. In these we tried to impress upon them the necessity of carrying the burden of the work. They cannot do this while at the same time they are carrying the burden of farms or other business enterprises, having their hearts on their earthly treasure. The want of a full consecration to the work on the part of the minister is soon felt all through the field where he labors. If his own standard is low, he will not bring others to accept a higher one. It is easy to preach; but it is an important part of the minister's work to visit families, and to converse, and if possible pray with every member. Let them see that you care for their souls. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 12

Some have preached the truth intelligently, and yet have not touched the hearts of their hearers because their own hearts were not affected and broken. They are whole, self-sufficient, self-confident. They do not know how to labor for souls and bring them to the foot of the cross; for they have never been there themselves. They have never felt helpless and undone without Jesus, never felt their sinfulness, nor experienced the transforming grace of Christ. They have loved self. They have extolled the theory of the truth, and made that everything. Feeling rich and proud in their knowledge, they have presented the truth in a boasting manner; and their preaching has produced no fruit. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 13

Their experience in the truth has been outside of Christ, and the simplicity of true heart religion they know nothing about. Now the important question is, Will these ministers, so long deficient in genuine Christian experience, ever so feel their need that they will gain an experience in the truth as it is in Jesus? Will they practice self-denial? Will they exemplify the principles of the Christian religion in their daily deportment and conversation? Will they grow daily in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, so that when temptations assail them, and their need is greatest, Jesus will prove their staff and stay, and keep them from stumbling in the darkness. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 14

Ministers of Christ, your experience must be of a higher type, or you can never be co-laborers with the Master. Learned or great men have not been chosen, but those who fear God and reverence spiritual and eternal things. Such will have the mind of Christ. His Spirit, shining through humanity, lights up the face, and finds expression in the tones of the voice. It is something that cannot be defined, and yet is plainly felt. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 15

Sometimes the manifestations of the Spirit of God, lifting the soul above self and away from everything earthly, may be transient; but it is our privilege to have an abiding sense of the presence of Christ, who dwells in the heart by living faith. Benevolence, gentleness, patience, nobility of thought and action, and the love of God, if cherished permanently, impress the countenance, and win souls, and give power in preaching. If this is possible in fallen man, who is often humbled through a sense of his sinfulness, what power must have attended the ministry of Jesus, who was pure, spotless, and undefiled, though dwelling in a world all seared and marred by the curse; through whose face divinity looked out upon a world that was his own; in whose heart dwelt love that is without a parallel,—love that shone in his eyes, and was revealed in words and acts! RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 16

And what was the mission of Christ? It was to save the fallen sons and daughters of Adam. John pointed him out to the multitude with the words, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” And with their gaze thus directed to him, they saw a face where divine compassion was blended with conscious omnipotence. Every glance of the eye, every tone of the voice, every lineament of the features, while revealing divine power, was marked with humility and expressive of unutterable love. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 17

Here, ministers of Christ, is your Pattern. You are to copy the life and character of the Master. Humility, meekness, and love are to be revealed in your character as they were in his. Your labors need not be without marked results. If they are fruitless you should investigate your own case,—examine yourselves whether you be in the faith. If Christ abide in your hearts, you will go forth, weeping, bearing precious seed, and will doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. You who have labored year after year, and have seen no souls brought to the knowledge of the truth, no churches raised up and organized, should change your manner of labor. You should fast and pray. You should lay the matter before your brethren, and solicit their counsel and prayers, lest you be self-deceived, and, what is more, deceive others also. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 18

Ministers who have not true spirituality are not needed. The churches that have most of their labor degenerate until they possess a mere form of godliness. God calls for consecrated men, who will leave all to follow him. The truth intrusted to us is the most solemn and weighty ever committed to any people. Moses asked concerning Israel, “What nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” But the glory and excellence of that dispensation are far surpassed by the light and truth enjoyed in this generation. There “are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 19

God designed that his work should be continually increasing and extending in the earth; and the reason that it makes no greater advancement is because men who handle sacred things are not what they might be, nor what Christ has made every provision that they should be. If we slight the superior privileges so freely offered us, which have been purchased for us at an infinite cost, we show contempt of Christ. His claims are continuous. They are in accordance with the ability he has intrusted to us; and the enlightenment given. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 20

We saw some tokens for good among those who are laboring in word and doctrine in Iowa; but it was a matter of grief and alarm to see youth preparing to enter the ministry who had no knowledge of true religion. They had a form of godliness, but their experience had been wholly superficial. How can they lead souls to the fountain of living waters, when they themselves have never drank of those waters? RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 21

The elder ministers should be qualified to so educate the younger men that they may become able ministers, who will feel the responsibility of the work, and will build upon the sure foundation. There are many who neglect their duties outside the desk, and the condition of the churches testifies to the character of their work. Doubts, unbelief, backsliding, formality, exist in a marked degree. Oh! how much men of God are needed, who will faithfully warn the people of their sins. The Lord calls upon his people in Iowa, laymen as well as ministers, to let their light shine, and to be workers in his cause. Talents are now buried in earthly, temporal pursuits, that should be used in saving souls from perdition. When the church stand as God's chosen people should, they will be a peculiar people, zealous of good works. There will be no slackness, no concord with Belial. Oh that we could realize what God's people might now be, had they kept themselves in his love, without any compromise with evil, and had retained the peculiar character that distinguished them, and separated them from the world! In experience, in wisdom, in true holiness, they would be years in advance of what they now are. But as a people our obedience, our devotion, our spiritual attainments, are very far from being in proportion to our privileges, and to our sacred obligation to walk as children of the light. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 22

We were glad for the tokens of good which we saw during this meeting, but unless there is an awakening, the state of indifference and worldliness which prevails will prove the eternal ruin of very many who claim to have a knowledge of the truth. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 23

On the Sabbath a large number came forward for prayers; but many, even of these, failed to make thorough work. They seemed like the blind man whom Jesus healed; at first he could only see men as trees walking. Jesus gave him the second touch; then he could see all things clearly. We longed to see a similar work done for these repenting ones. We longed to see them so thoroughly in earnest that they would not give over their efforts until Jesus should impart unto them the riches of his grace. Had there been humble confession, we should have seen the mighty movings of the Spirit of God. There is divine aid for all who will help themselves. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 24

The outside attendance was good. On Sunday, especially, a large number listened with interest to the word spoken. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 25

Monday I labored in the different meetings, speaking, in all, five hours. I could not spare myself; for I knew the need that an advance move should be made in Iowa. Elds. Farnsworth and Olsen worked hard; some of the young ministers tried earnestly to do what they could; and the Lord blessed their efforts. When we bade our friends farewell, and took the cars for Chicago, we were glad that there remained another week of the meeting, and we hoped that before its close a higher standpoint would be reached by these brethren and sisters. Many felt that they had already received a blessing, and for this we were grateful; but we trust that before they returned home they received a much greater blessing; that they were transformed in character, prepared to work the works of righteousness. RH October 21, 1884, Art. A, par. 26