Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

July 19, 1870

The Camp-Meetings

The Camp-Meetings in Iowa and Illinois have been meetings of deep interest to me. As we say those who had come, some from quite a distance, at the expense of time, and of money, I inquired whether all would return to their homes, having gained the object for which they came. The objects of these meetings, are, to separate from business cares, and burdens, and devote a few days of time exclusively to seeking the Lord. The time should be occupied in self-examination, close searching of heart, and penitential confession of sins, and renewing our vows to the Most High God. If any came to these meetings for less worthy objects, we hope the character of the meetings was such as to bring the minds of all to the proper objects of the meetings.

In Marion the Lord was indeed merciful to us, and gave us strength to speak the words he gave us, with clearness to the people. There was not a dissenting voice in the meeting. The people came to work, and they did work. The conference meetings were characterized with spiritual testimonies, one following the other in quick succession. The promptness which marked these meetings gave us comfort and strength. We felt rather sad to see several sick upon the ground, which was very unpleasant for the sick, and wearisome to those who had the care of them. Some were sufferers through the extra labor of preparing for the meeting. They were liberal-souled people, and wanted nothing done with stinginess. Some made large provisions; and were thoroughly wearied out when they came to the meeting, and as soon as they were released from the pressure of work, exhausted Nature caused them to feel that she had been abused. Some of these persons had never before attended a camp-meeting, and were not informed in regard to what preparations they were required to make. They lost some of the precious meetings they had purposed to attend.

Now these made a mistake in making so large preparation. Nothing should be cooked, or taken to the camp-meeting, unless it be the most healthful articles, cooked in a simple manner, free from all spice and grease. Much cooking is unnecessary. Pies will not keep in hot weather. Cake will keep better, but is not the most healthful food for the stomach at any time, and is not at all proper food for camp-meetings. Those who are exercising every day, can better take care of food, even if it is not of the very best quality for health. Those who come to attend meetings, especially for the worship of God, to increase in spirituality, should not indulge the appetite, and cannot do it with safety. Pies and cake are not the proper food for those to eat who wish to preserve health at the camp-meeting.

I am well convinced that none need to make themselves sick preparing for camp-meeting, if they observe the laws of health in their cooking. If they make no cake, or pies, but cook simple graham bread, and depend on fruit, canned or dried, they need not get sick in preparing for the meeting, and they need not be sick while at the meeting, from eating the unhealthful food they exhausted their strength to prepare. None should go through the entire meeting, without some warm food. There are always stores upon the ground where this may be obtained.

When we commenced the camp-meeting in Nora, Ill., I felt it my duty to make some remarks in reference to their eating. I related the unfortunate experience of some at Marion, and told them I charged it to unnecessary preparations made for the meeting, and also eating the unnecessary preparations while at the meeting. Some brought cheese to the meeting, and ate it; although new, it was altogether too strong for the stomach, and should never be introduced into it. Cake was brought into our tent. I ate a small piece, and my stomach refused to retain it; it was spiced with cinnamon. If my stomach would not acknowledge this as food, but rebelled against it, what condition must these be in who partook of this food every day. I stated to our brethren and sisters, something like the following: They must not be sick upon that encampment. If they clothed themselves properly in the chill of morning, and at night, and were particular to vary their clothing according to the changing weather, so as to preserve proper circulation, and should strictly observe regularity in sleeping, and in eating of simple food, and should eat nothing between meals, they need not be sick. They might be well during the meetings, and be able to appreciate, with clear minds, the truth, and might return to their homes refreshed in body and in spirit. I stated that if those who had been engaged in hard labor from day to day should now cease their exercise, and yet eat their average amount of food, their stomachs would be overtaxed. It was the brain power we wished to be especially vigorous at this meeting and in the most healthy condition to hear the truth and to appreciate it, and to retain it, and practice it after their return from the meeting. If the stomach was burdened with too much food, even of a simple character, the brain force would be called to the aid of the digestive organs. There is a benumbed sensation experienced upon the brain. There is an impossibility of keeping the eyes open. The very truths which should be heard, understood and practiced by them, they lose entirely through indisposition, or because the brain is almost paralyzed in consequence of the amount of food taken into the stomach.

I recommended them to take something warm upon the stomach every morning, at least. They could do this without much labor, they could make graham gruel. If the graham was too coarse they could sift it. While the gruel is hot they could add milk to suit themselves, this will make a most palatable and healthful dish for the camp-ground, and if your bread is dry you can crumb it into your gruel, and it will be enjoyed. I do not approve of eating much cold food for the reason that the vitality must be drawn from the system to warm the food until it becomes of the same temperature as the stomach before the work of digestion can be carried on. Another very simple, yet wholesome dish is beans boiled and baked, and a portion of them may be diluted with water, add more cream and make a broth, the bread can be used the same as in the graham gruel. Dried corn can be easily prepared, left to soak over night, scald it up in the morning, add milk, which is easily obtained, and you have warm, healthful food, free from spice and grease.

I am gratified to see the progress many have made in the health reform, yet sorry to see so many behind. I stated that if any one became sick upon the encampment I designed to inquire the cause, and make a note of it, for I was not willing the reputation of our meeting should suffer by being reported as the cause of making people sick. These meetings can be made a blessing to the bodily health, as well as to increase the health of the soul, if a proper course be pursued at these important gatherings. I am happy to state that no one was sick, to my knowledge, so that they were deprived of the meetings.

The meeting at Marion was good, souls there were convicted and converted to the truth. We felt assured that Jesus indeed came up to the feast, and made glad the hearts of his people.

At Nora there was an apparent lack of union with some who came to the meeting. They possessed a spirit of fault-finding, of jealousy, which brought sadness of heart upon us, and we were fearful at times that many would leave that meeting with their impenitent hearts bound in darkness and unbelief, unsubdued by the grace of God. But as the meetings progressed testimonies were called out from those who had the burden of the meeting as the occasion required. And as the pointed, solemn truths of God's word were made clear to the understanding of all who had any desire to learn, there seemed to be a decided change with many for the better. Confessions were made by brethren one to another, and a ready response was made to these penitential acknowledgments of their wrongs. The prayer and conference meetings were conducted by Bro. Littlejohn. He labored with unabated interest in all these social meetings, making appropriate remarks as the occasion required. The instructions thus given by our brother in faithfulness upon so many points, we think will not be soon forgotten. There was especially a work wrought for the church at Monroe. Hearts had been enstranged, false reports had been circulated to the injury of brethren, many had been found guilty of carrying a reproach to the door of their neighbors, and some had willingly taken up the reproach against their neighbor which had been left at their door, and in their turn they carried the reproach to others. Thus had God been dishonored, and his precious cause reproached. But there was a good work begun with that church. If this work had commenced at an earlier stage of the meeting, some, who returned to their homes unblessed because of their wrongs, might have so humbled their hearts before God and returned to him with broken hearts and contrite spirits, that they might have gone to their homes rejoicing that the truth had made them free indeed. We are sorry that any returned to their homes destitute of the approving love of God.

We are confident that a large number of our brethren and sisters present at that meeting were greatly benefited, and returned to their homes to take a nobler stand for God, and work from altogether a higher standpoint than they had ever done before. Many bore testimony that they had never seen the force and power of truth, and the necessity of perfecting Christian character as they had during these meetings. Our earnest prayer to God is that they may go forward growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, until they attain to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. By request of the church at Monroe we united in prayer with them that the cementing spirit of God might bind the hearts of these believers in bonds of closest union and Christian fellowship.

Ellen G. White.

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