The last evening we enjoyed upon the Nora campground, the Lord blessed me with unusual freedom in speaking to the people, of the necessity of having Jesus in their company as they returned to their homes. I spoke of the importance of coming to such meetings with a mind to work for their own salvation, and that of others. They should have the object before them of earnestly seeking for a deeper work of grace, and a more thorough knowledge of the truth, that they may “be ready always, to give an answer to every man that asketh, a reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience, that whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (I Peter 3:15, 16). “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good. And an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45).
There can be no influence so detrimental to a camp meeting, or any gathering for religious worship, as much visiting and careless conversation. Frequently men and women assemble in companies, and engage in conversation upon common subjects; which do not relate to the meeting. Some have brought their farms with them, and others their houses, laying their plans for building. Some are dissecting the characters of others, and have no time or disposition to search their own hearts, to discover the defects in their own characters, that they may correct their wrongs, and perfect holiness in the fear of God. If all who profess to be followers of Christ would improve the time out of meeting in conversing upon the truth, and dwelling upon the Christian’s hope, and in searching their own hearts, and in earnest prayer before God, pleading for His blessing, there would be a much greater work accomplished than we have yet seen. Unbelievers, who falsely accuse those who believe the truth, would be convinced, because “of their good conversation in Christ.” The words and actions are the fruit which we bear; “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20).
God gave direction to the Israelites to assemble before Him in the place which He should choose, and observe special days, at set periods, wherein no unnecessary work was to be done; but the time was to be devoted to a consideration of the blessings of God bestowed upon them. At these special seasons they were to bring gifts, free-will offerings, and thank-offerings, unto the Lord, according as the Lord had blessed them. They were directed to rejoice—the man-servant and maid-servant, the stranger, the fatherless and widow—that God had by His own wonderful power brought them from servile bondage to the enjoyment of freedom. And they were commanded not to appear before the Lord empty. They were to bring tokens of their gratitude to God for His continual mercies and blessings bestowed upon them. These offerings were varied, according to the estimate which the donors placed upon the blessings they were privileged to enjoy. Thus the characters of the people were plainly developed. Those who placed a high value upon the blessings God bestowed upon them, brought offerings in accordance with their appreciation of His blessings. Those whose moral powers were stupefied and benumbed by selfishness and idolatrous love of the favors received, rather than of fervent love of their bountiful Benefactor, brought meager offerings. Thus their hearts were revealed. Besides these special religious feast-days of gladness and rejoicing, the yearly passover was to be commemorated by the Jewish nation. The Lord covenanted that if they were faithful in the observance of His requirements, He would bless them in all their increase, and in all the works of their hands.
God requires no less of His people in these last days, in sacrifices and offerings, than he did of the Jewish nation. Those whom God has blessed with a competency, also the widow and the fatherless, should not be unmindful of His blessings. Especially should those whom God has prospered render to God the things that are God’s. They should appear before Him with a spirit of self-sacrifice, and bring their offerings in accordance with the blessings God has bestowed upon them. But many whom God prospers manifest base ingratitude to Him. If His blessings rest upon them, and He increases their substance, they make these bounties as cords to bind them to the love of their possessions, and they allow worldly business to take possession of their affections, and their entire being, and neglect devotion and religious privileges. They cannot afford to leave their business cares, and come before God, even once a year. They turn the blessings of God into a curse. They serve their own temporal interests, at the neglect of God’s requirements.
Men, with their thousands, remain at home, year after year, engrossed in their worldly cares and interests, and feel that they cannot afford to make the small sacrifice of attending the yearly gatherings to worship God. He has blessed them in basket and in store, and surrounded them with His benefits on the right hand and on the left, yet they withhold from God the small offerings He has required of them. They love to serve themselves. Their souls will be like the unrefreshed desert without the dew or rain of heaven. The Lord has brought to them the precious blessing of His grace. He has delivered them from the slavery of sin, and the bondage of error, and has opened to their darkened understandings the glorious light of present truth. And shall these evidences of God’s love and mercy call forth no gratitude in return? Will those who profess to believe that the end of all things is at hand be blind to their own spiritual interest, and live for this world, and this life alone? Do they expect their eternal interest will take care of itself? Spiritual strength will not come without an effort on their part.
Many who profess to be looking for the appearing of our Lord are anxious, burdened, gain-seekers for this world. They are blind to their eternal interest. They labor for that which satisfieth not. They spend their money for that which is not bread. They strive to content themselves with the treasures they have laid up upon the earth, which must perish. And they neglect the preparation for eternity, which should be the first and only real work of their life.
Let us all who possibly can, attend these yearly gatherings. All should feel that God requires this of them. If they do not avail themselves of the privileges God has provided for them to become strong in Him, and in the power of His grace, they will grow weaker and weaker, and have less and less desire to consecrate all to God. Come, brethren and sisters, to these sacred convocation meetings, to find Jesus. He will come up to the feast. He will be present, and He will do for you that which you need most to have done. Your farms should not be considered of greater value than the higher interests of the soul. All the treasures you possess, be they ever so valuable, would not be rich enough to buy you peace and hope, which would be infinite gain, if it cost you all you have, and the toils and sufferings of a life-time. To have a strong, clear sense of eternal things, and a heart of willing obedience to yield all to Christ, are blessings of more value than all the riches, and pleasures, and glories of this world.
These camp meetings are of importance. They cost something. The servants of God are wearing out their lives to help the people, while many of them appear as if they did not want help. For fear of losing a little of this world’s gain, some let these precious privileges come and go, as though they were of but little importance. Let all who profess to believe the truth, respect every privilege that God offers them to obtain clearer views of His truth, and His requirements, and the necessary preparation for His coming. A calm, cheerful and obedient trust in God is what He requires.
You need not weary yourselves with busy anxieties and needless cares. Work on for the day, faithfully doing the work which God’s providence assigns you, and He will have a care for you. Jesus will deepen and widen your blessings. You must make efforts if you have salvation at last. Come to these meetings prepared to work. Leave your home cares, and come to find Jesus, and He will be found of you. Come with your offerings as God has blessed you. Show your gratitude to your Creator, the giver of all your benefits, by a free-will offering. Let none who are able come empty-handed. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
The Review and Herald, August 2, 1870.