God requires no less of His people in these last days, in sacrifices and offerings, than He did of the Jewish nation. Those whom He has blessed with a competency, and even the widow and the fatherless, should not be unmindful of His blessings. Especially should those whom He has prospered render to Him the things that are His. They should appear before Him with a spirit of self-sacrifice and bring their offerings in accordance with the blessings He 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 use these bounties as cords to bind them to the love of their possessions; they allow worldly business to take possession of their affections and of 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 by serving their own temporal interests to the neglect of His requirements.
Men who possess 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 Him the small offerings which He requires 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 His 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 interests, and live for this world and this life alone? Do they expect their eternal interest to take care of itself? They cannot obtain spiritual strength without an effort on their part.
Many who profess to be looking for the appearing of our Lord are anxious, burdened seekers for worldly gain. 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 lives.
Let 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 which He 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 Him. Come, brethren and sisters, to these sacred convocation meetings, to find Jesus. He will come up to the feast; He will be present, and 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 at the cost of all you have and the toils and sufferings of a lifetime. A strong, clear sense of eternal things, and a heart willing 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 very 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 freewill offering. Let none who are able to give 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.
The object of a camp meeting is to lead all to separate from business cares and burdens, and devote a few days exclusively to seeking the Lord. We should occupy the time in self-examination, close searching of heart, penitential confession of sins, and renewing our vows to the Most High. If any come to these meetings for less worthy objects, we hope the character of the meetings will be such as to bring their minds to the proper objects.
Some are sufferers through extra labor in preparing for camp meeting. They are liberal-souled people, and want nothing done with stinginess. Some make large provisions and are thoroughly wearied out when they come to the meeting, and as soon as they are released from the pressure of work, exhausted nature causes them to feel that she has been abused. Some of these persons may never have attended a camp meeting before and are not informed in regard to what preparations they are required to make. They lose some of the precious meetings they had purposed to attend. Now these mistake in making so great preparation. Nothing should be taken to camp meeting except the most healthful articles, cooked in a simple manner, free from all spices and grease.
I am 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. None should go through the entire meeting without some warm food. There are always cookstoves upon the ground, where this may be obtained.
Brethren and sisters must not be sick upon the encampment. If they clothe themselves properly in the chill of morning and night, and are particular to vary their clothing according to the changing weather, so as to preserve proper circulation, and strictly observe regularity in sleeping and in eating of simple food, taking nothing between meals, they need not be sick. They may be well during the meeting, their minds may be clear and able to appreciate the truth, and they may return to their homes refreshed in body and spirit. Those who have been engaged in hard labor from day to day now cease their exercise; therefore they should not eat their average amount of food. If they do, their stomachs will be overtaxed. We wish to have the brain power especially vigorous at these meetings and in the most healthy condition to hear the truth, appreciate it, and retain it, that all may practice it after their return from the meeting. If the stomach is burdened with too much food, even of a simple character, the brain force is called to the aid of the digestive organs. There is a benumbed sensation upon the brain. It is almost impossible to keep the eyes open. The very truths which should be heard, understood, and practiced are entirely lost through indisposition, or because the brain is almost paralyzed in consequence of the amount of food eaten.
I would advise all to take something warm into the stomach every morning at least. You can do this without much labor. You can make graham gruel. If the graham flour is too coarse, sift it, and while the gruel is hot, add milk. This will make a most palatable and healthful dish for the campground. And if your bread is dry, crumb it into the 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 or baked. Dilute a portion of them with water, add milk or cream, and make a broth; the bread can be used as in graham gruel.
I am gratified to see the progress that many have made in the health reform, yet am sorry to see so many behind. If any become sick upon our encampments, inquiry should be made as to the cause, and note should be taken of the case. I am not willing that the reputation of our camp meetings should suffer by their being reported as the cause of making people sick. If a proper course be pursued at these important gatherings, they can be made a blessing to the bodily health as well as to the health of the soul.
Chapter 75—A Solemn Dream
On the night of April 30, 1871, I retired to rest much depressed in spirits. For three months I had been in a state of great discouragement. I had frequently prayed in anguish of spirit for relief. I had implored help and strength from God, that I might rise above the heavy discouragements that were paralyzing my faith and hope, and unfitting me for usefulness. That night I had a dream which made a very happy impression upon my mind. I dreamed that I was attending an important meeting at which a large company were assembled. Many were bowed before God in earnest prayer, and they seemed to be burdened. They were importuning the Lord for special light. A few seemed to be in agony of spirit; their feelings were intense; with tears they were crying aloud for help and light. Our most prominent brethren were engaged in this most impressive scene. Brother A was prostrated upon the floor, apparently in deep distress. His wife was sitting among a company of indifferent scorners. She looked as though she desired all to understand that she scorned those who were thus humiliating themselves.
I dreamed that the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I arose amid cries and prayers, and said: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. I feel urged to say to you that you must commence to work individually for yourselves. You are looking to God and desiring Him to do the work for you which He has left for you to do. If you will do the work for yourselves which you know that you ought to do, then God will help you when you need help. You have left undone the very things which God has left for you to do. You have been calling upon God to do your work. Had you followed the light which He has given you, then He would cause more light to shine upon you; but while you neglect the counsels, warnings, and reproofs that have been given, how can you expect God to give you more light and blessings to neglect and despise? God is not as man; He will not be trifled with.
I took the precious Bible and surrounded it with the several Testimonies for the Church, given for the people of God. Here, said I, the cases of nearly all are met. The sins they are to shun are pointed out. The counsel that they desire can be found here, given for other cases situated similarly to themselves. God has been pleased to give you line upon line and precept upon precept. But there are not many of you that really know what is contained in the Testimonies. You are not familiar with the Scriptures. If you had made God’s word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies. It is because you have neglected to acquaint yourselves with God’s inspired Book that He has sought to reach you by simple, direct testimonies, calling your attention to the words of inspiration which you had neglected to obey, and urging you to fashion your lives in accordance with its pure and elevated teachings.
The Lord designs to warn you, to reprove, to counsel, through the testimonies given, and to impress your minds with the importance of the truth of His word. The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed. Man’s duty to God and to his fellow man has been distinctly specified in God’s word; yet but few of you are obedient to the light given. Additional truth is not brought out; but God has through the Testimonies simplified the great truths already given and in His own chosen way brought them before the people to awaken and impress the mind with them, that all may be left without excuse.
Pride, self-love, selfishness, hatred, envy, and jealousy have beclouded the perceptive powers, and the truth, which would make you wise unto salvation, has lost its power to charm and control the mind. The very essential principles of godliness are not understood because there is not a hungering and thirsting for Bible knowledge, purity of heart, and holiness of life. The Testimonies are not to belittle the word of God, but to exalt it and attract minds to it, that the beautiful simplicity of truth may impress all.
I said further: As the word of God is walled in with these books and pamphlets, so has God walled you in with reproofs, counsel, warnings, and encouragements. Here you are crying before God, in the anguish of your souls, for more light. I am authorized from God to tell you that not another ray of light through the Testimonies will shine upon your pathway until you make a practical use of the light already given. The Lord has walled you about with light; but you have not appreciated the light; you have trampled upon it. While some have despised the light, others have neglected it, or followed it but indifferently. A few have set their hearts to obey the light which God has been pleased to give them.
Some that have received special warnings through testimony have forgotten in a few weeks the reproof given. The testimonies to some have been several times repeated, but they have not thought them of sufficient importance to be carefully heeded. They have been to them like idle tales. Had they regarded the light given they would have avoided losses and trials which they think are hard and severe. They have only themselves to censure. They have placed upon their own necks a yoke which they find grievous to be borne. It is not the yoke which Christ has bound upon them. God’s care and love were exercised in their behalf; but their selfish, evil, unbelieving souls could not discern His goodness and mercy. They rush on in their own wisdom until, overwhelmed with trials and confused with perplexity, they are ensnared by Satan. When you gather up the rays of light which God has given in the past, then will He give an increase of light.
I referred them to ancient Israel. God gave them His law, but they would not obey it. He then gave them ceremonies and ordinances, that, in the performance of these, God might be kept in remembrance. They were so prone to forget Him and His claims upon them that it was necessary to keep their minds stirred up to realize their obligations to obey and honor their Creator. Had they been obedient, and loved to keep God’s commandments, the multitude of ceremonies and ordinances would not have been required.
If the people who now profess to be God’s peculiar treasure would obey His requirements, as specified in His word, special testimonies would not be given to awaken them to their duty and impress upon them their sinfulness and their fearful danger in neglecting to obey the word of God. Consciences have been blunted because light has been set aside, neglected, and despised. And God will remove these testimonies from the people, and will deprive them of strength, and humble them.
I dreamed that, as I was speaking, the power of God fell upon me in a most remarkable manner, and I was deprived of all strength, yet I had no vision. I thought that my husband stood up before the people and exclaimed: “This is the wonderful power of God. He has made the testimonies a powerful means of reaching souls, and He will work yet more mightily through them than He has hitherto done. Who will be on the Lord’s side?”
I dreamed that quite a number instantly sprang to their feet and responded to the call. Others sat sullen, some manifested scorn and derision, and a few seemed wholly unmoved. One stood by my side and said: “God has raised you up and has given you words to speak to the people and to reach hearts as He has given to no other one. He has shaped your testimonies to meet cases that are in need of help. You must be unmoved by scorn, derision, reproach, and censure. In order to be God’s special instrument, you should lean to no one, but hang upon Him alone, and, like the clinging vine, let your tendrils entwine about Him. He will make you a means through which to communicate His light to the people. You must daily gather strength from God in order to be fortified, that your surroundings may not dim or eclipse the light that He has permitted to shine upon His people through you. It is Satan’s special object to prevent this light from coming to the people of God, who so greatly need it amid the perils of these last days.
“Your success is in your simplicity. As soon as you depart from this, and fashion your testimony to meet the minds of any, your power is gone. Almost everything in this age is glossed and unreal. The world abounds in testimonies given to please and charm for the moment, and to exalt self. Your testimony is of a different character. It is to come down to the minutiae of life, keeping the feeble faith from dying, and pressing home upon believers the necessity of shining as lights in the world.
“God has given you your testimony, to set before the backslider and the sinner his true condition and the immense loss he is sustaining by continuing a life of sin. God has impressed this upon you by opening it before your vision as He has to no other one now living, and according to the light He has given you will He hold you responsible. ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.’ Lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgressions, and the house of Israel their sins.”
This dream had a powerful influence upon me. When I awoke, my depression was gone, my spirits were cheerful, and I realized great peace. Infirmities that had unfitted me for labor were removed, and I realized a strength and vigor to which I had for months been a stranger. It seemed to me that angels of God had been commissioned to bring me relief. Unspeakable gratitude filled my heart for this great change from despondency to light and happiness. I knew that help had come from God. This manifestation appeared to me like a miracle of God’s mercy, and I will not be ungrateful for His loving-kindness.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 599-608
- Father in Heaven, accept our thanks for Your abundant blessings.
- Increase our gratefulness for all that You do for us.
- Teach us how to bring our sacrificial offerings when we come before You to worship.
- Help business cares not prevent us from attending yearly and special convocations.
- Thank You for Your love in delivering us from the slavery of sin, the bondage of error.
- May we put forth necessary effort to obtain spiritual strength.
- May the most important work of our lives be the preparation for eternity.
- May we find Jesus at sacred convocation meetings.
- Give us peace, hope, and a strong, clear sense of eternal things.
- May our hearts be willing to yield all to Christ.
- Help us respect every privilege that You offer us to obtain clearer views of Your truth and Your requirements.
- Help us obtain the necessary preparation for Your coming.
- May we have a calm, cheerful, obedient trust in You, which is all that You require!
- Bless the government of the country in which we reside.
- Please bless our local mission’s leadership, projects, and needs.
- Please bless our leaders as they prepare for Annual Council.
- Please bless all the preparations for General Conference Session, 2020.