Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

May 22, 1900

The Camp-Meeting in Victoria

Mrs. E. G. White

The camp-meeting for the Central Australian Conference was this year held at Geelong, Victoria. This city is about fifty miles southwest from Melbourne, on the same bay, and can be reached from Melbourne by either boat or cars. It ranks third in Victoria for population, and is a prosperous and beautiful town.

For several years there have been a few Sabbath-keepers in Geelong, and they have occasionally been visited by our ministers. About two years ago, in company with Elder A. T. Robinson and others, I spent a few days here, and held meetings with the little company of believers. We also had two public meetings in a large hired hall; but no extended effort has been made in presenting the truth in this place.

Our camp-meeting opened Thursday evening, March 8. The ground is a five-acre paddock, centrally situated, and well sheltered. There were about fifty tents in the encampment, besides the large pavilion, one hundred and four by fifty feet. This was seated to accommodate about fifteen hundred persons, and it was well filled at the opening service.

The meetings have been conducted by Elders Daniells, Farnsworth, and Starr. From one thousand to fifteen hundred persons have been in attendance at the evening services. The word of the Lord has been presented with power, and the people have listened with intense interest.

I have spoken once each Sabbath and Sunday, and have attended some of the morning meetings. At these I have dwelt especially upon faith, the necessity of our taking God at his word, and the duty of cultivating cheerfulness and gratitude. Our voices should be oftener heard in praise and thanksgiving to God. His praise should continually be in our hearts and upon our lips.

This will be a benefit to ourselves. It is the very best way to resist the temptation to indulge in idle, frivolous conversation. We are represented as bearing the insignia of heaven, and by our offerings of prayer and praise we are to show that we are guided and controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Why do we keep so silent in regard to the goodness of the Lord? Why is there so little praise and thanksgiving? How heaven must look upon our ungrateful silence, so like the sullenness of peevish children! All heaven is interested in our salvation. The Lord God himself is our helper. “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.” “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” This is the testimony the Lord desires us to bear to the world.

Such a testimony will have an influence upon others. As we seek to turn men from their errors, we must show them that we have something better. If more joy were revealed in our religious experience, a much more favorable impression would be made. Unbelievers would see the consistency of our faith. If we praised God's name as we should, the flame of love would be kindled in many hearts.

On the Sabbath, March 10, few outsiders came to the camp-ground. But there were present over a hundred of the workers from the Echo publishing house at North Fitzroy, and a goodly number of our brethren and sisters from the suburbs of Melbourne, from Ballarat, and from Adelaide in South Australia. We had excellent meetings. A meeting for the youth and another for the children were held in some of the larger tents. These were continued every day during the week.

On Sunday a large number attended the six o'clock morning meeting. I united with the people in prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I then dwelt upon the necessity of believing that we do receive the blessings for which we ask. “Ask, and it shall be given you,” is the promise. Our part is to rest on the word with unwavering faith, believing that God will do according to his promise. Let faith cut its way through the shadow of the enemy. When a questioning doubt arises, go to Christ, and let the soul be encouraged by communion with him. The redemption he has purchased for us is complete. The offering he made was plenteous and without stint. Heaven has a never-failing supply of help for all who are needy.

It is the Saviour's delight to see his followers co-laborers with God, receiving bountifully all the means of fruit-bearing, and giving bountifully, as workers under him. Christ glorified his Father by the fruit he bore, and the lives of his true followers will produce the same result. Receiving and imparting, his workers will produce much fruit. “Hitherto,” Christ said to his disciples, “have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”

On Sunday morning a Sabbath-school convention was held. I spoke in the afternoon on the subject of temperance, taking the first chapter of Daniel as my text. All listened attentively, seeming surprised to hear temperance presented from the Bible. After dwelling on the integrity and firmness of the Hebrew captives, I asked the choir to sing,

“Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known!”

The inspiring notes of this song rang out from the singers on the stand, who were joined by the congregation. I then resumed my talk, and I know that before I had finished, many present had a better understanding of the meaning of Christian temperance. The Lord gave me freedom and his blessing, and a most solemn impression was made upon many minds.

In our work, more attention should be given to the temperance reform. Every duty that calls for reform involves repentance, faith, and obedience. It means the uplifting of the soul to a new and nobler life. Thus every true reform has its place in the work of the Third Angel's Message. Especially does the temperance reform demand our attention and support. We should call attention to this work, and make it a living issue. We should present to the people the principles of true temperance, and call for signers to the temperance pledge. In other churches there are Christians who are standing in defense of the principles of temperance. We should seek to come near to these workers, and make a way for them to stand shoulder to shoulder with us.

On Tuesday I was attacked with influenza, and was unable to attend meeting again until the next Sabbath. This was a holiday, and there was a large attendance from the city. I was still suffering from the influenza, but the Lord gave me his sustaining grace, and my voice was clear and strong as I spoke from the first chapter of Second Peter. On Sunday afternoon the audience was very large. I spoke from Isaiah 58, explaining every verse, but dwelling especially upon the words, “They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord: and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

Sunday evening the tent was crowded, and hundreds were standing outside. Elder Farnsworth gave a most powerful discourse on the subject of the Sabbath and Sunday. Then he asked for an expression from those to whom the claims of the Sabbath had been made clear. A large number rose to their feet. When the meeting closed, the people gathered in little groups to discuss what they had heard. Our ministers were in the midst of these gatherings, and talked with the people. Some were expressing their astonishment at the truths presented, some with trembling hands were trying to find the Scripture proof for Sunday-keeping. Others declared that the things which the minister had read were not in their Bibles. They felt that the people who had turned the world upside down had come to Geelong. Many seemed to realize their need of Bible instruction. Never before had the gospel of truth come to their ears as they had heard it at this meeting.

The meeting this last Sunday evening surpassed anything we have before witnessed. In some respects it resembled the meetings held in 1843 and 1844.

In the work at our camp-meetings we should give prominence to the truths of the Third Angel's Message. We are in danger of giving this message in so indefinite a manner that it does not impress the people. So many other interests are brought in that the very message which should be proclaimed with power becomes tame and voiceless. While the professed Christian world claim to believe in Christ, they are violating the law which Christ himself proclaimed from Sinai. The Lord bids us, “Lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” The trumpet is to give a certain sound. Lift up the standard, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Make this the important theme. Then by strong arguments wall it in, and make it of still greater force. Dwell more on the Revelation. Read, explain, and enforce its teachings.

Our warfare is aggressive. Tremendous issues are before us, yea, and right upon us. Our prayers should ascend to God that the four angels may continue to hold the four winds, that they may not blow to injure or destroy, until the last warning has been given to the world. Then let us work in harmony with our prayers. Let nothing lessen the force of the truth for this time. The Third Angel's Message must do its work of separating from the churches a people who will take their stand on the platform of eternal truth.

Our message is a life-and-death message, and we must let it appear as it is, the great power of God. We are to present it in all its telling force. Then the Lord will make it effectual. It is our privilege to expect large things, even the demonstration of the Spirit of God. This is the power that will convict and convert the soul.

From the first of our meeting in Geelong, we have been treated in the most kind and courteous manner by the people of the city. Among the crowds that have come to the camp-ground no disrespect has been shown. Even among the children and youth there has seemed to be no disposition to create disturbance. Our audiences have not been made up of men and women of the baser sort. They have been persons of intelligence. And they have not come in order to gratify curiosity. Very few have been seen strolling about the grounds, observing the homes of the campers. The people made their way directly to the tent. All were quiet, and appeared reverential. There seemed to be as great solemnity as if we were within the walls of a church. The people listened as if for their lives. We have never attended a meeting where there was better order or a greater interest than there has been here.

After the evening meetings the people would linger for half an hour, and often longer, talking together of the things they had heard. Some of our workers would engage in conversation with them, and answer the questions and objections that arose in their minds. Our ministers make it a point, as far as possible, to meet the people at the close of the evening service. They take their hands in a friendly grasp, expressing pleasure at meeting them, and the hope that they will come again. Thus is woven a thread in the tie that binds heart to heart. The social hand-clasp brings a warmth to the heart, and a sense of relationship. “All ye are brethren.”

To these advances the people are ready to respond. They promise to come again, saying, “We have never heard such sermons: and all the teaching is from the Bible.” Many hearts are stirred, and they are asking, “What must I do to be saved?” “How can I come into harmony with God?”

It was proposed to continue our meeting on the camp-ground over the third Sabbath and Sunday. But there was an appearance of rain, and knowing that the equinoctial storm would soon be due, we decided to transfer our services to a large hall in the city. This hall is the one in which Elder Robinson and I spoke when we were here two years ago. It is well seated, and will accommodate a larger number than the tent. The regular rent is one pound per night, but it has been secured for our meetings as long as we desire it, for half this sum. And we have the hall, free, for Sabbath and Sunday afternoons. We thank the Lord for the use of this large hall in which to continue the work so favorably begun.

Our camp-meeting closed free from debt. Economy has been exercised in all the arrangements, and by earnest effort, sufficient means has been raised to meet expenditures; so there will be no debt from this source to burden the hearts of the workers for the coming year. And a hundred pounds has been pledged for the new Sydney Sanitarium. This is a good donation to come from the little company of believers assembled at this meeting. They have done what they could.

The precious blessing of God has attended our meeting from the beginning to the close. Every meeting has been a victory. We have had evidence that the Lord Jesus and his army of angels were with us. Their presence has been in our tent, and they have encompassed us round about. The peace of heaven has invaded our encampment. The softening, subduing influence of the Holy Spirit has been upon human hearts, and not an inharmonious note has been heard.

Had we needed greater evidence as to the ministry required for giving the last message of mercy to the world, we have had it at this meeting. Thousands of all classes of people have had the word of God opened to them. But for the camp-meeting many of these might never have been reached. Such a solemn awakening has never before been witnessed in this place. Of a truth it could be said, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.”

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