The season of year when these meetings
can be held with comfort is rapidly approaching. As the writer has attended hundreds of these
gatherings, and has taken a prominent part in many of them, it may not be
deemed improper for him to express some thoughts concerning them.
These meetings have been very important in the progress of
this cause in the past, and it is reasonable to expect they will be still more
important in the future. In the early
growth of this work, a great need was felt for large gatherings of our people
for consultation, for instruction, for seeking God, and for promoting unity and
oneness of purpose in carrying on the great work that God has committed to His
people. The lack of such opportunities
was deeply felt. . . .
Our people believed that all gatherings for the worship of
God should be orderly, reverential, and solemn, with everything savoring of
fanaticism discarded. In short, if we
were to have camp meetings, we should have them with as good order as meetings
in a church. The question with our
leading brethren was whether or not this could be done.
Our first camp meeting was held in Wright, Michigan. It was a matter of
great importance, and our people were deeply interested in its success. Of course everything was crude in comparison
with our camp meetings at the present time.
We had no family tents, so we had to learn how to make them. The campers were made as comfortable as
possible. The attendance was quite
good. Our leading brethren were present
to supervise, and the order was as good as at meetings conducted in a
church. Best of all, the Lord was there
by His Spirit, and those attending were greatly blessed. The meeting was a great success.
. . .
The purpose served by our camp meetings has been similar to
that of the great feasts celebrated by ancient Israel. God required Israel of old to attend these gatherings, which were considered
very important. The people came hundreds
of miles, in many instances on foot, to attend these feasts. In the Saviour’s
time, when the Jews were scattered among the nations, many thousands gathered
at Jerusalem on these occasions.
The spiritual life of our people is largely influenced by
our camp meetings. At these gatherings,
all important interests in the cause of God are considered and advanced. Through indifference in attending these
meetings, some of our people are suffering great loss spiritually, and are in
danger of getting worldly-minded and careless.
A large number of souls will be lost because of this great mistake. The camp meetings are a very prominent means
of grace, to keep us as a people spiritually alive. They cost considerable money, to be sure, but
what is the loss of a little money in comparison with jeopardizing the salvation
of our souls?
We are coming rapidly to the time when our people will be
terribly tested. The time of trouble
such as never was since there was a nation is just upon us.
. . . My dear brethren and
sisters, we must be spiritually awake or be lost. There is no escaping this conclusion. There will be a terrible shaking before this
shaking time ends.
Many among us are
liable to be shaken out and lost, lost forever.
Shall we not use this blessed means of grace provided at much cost, preparatory
to the terrible scenes before us? How
can we escape, if we neglect the means of grace designed to warn and arouse
us? May the Lord impress this thought on
all our hearts.
Reprinted from The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Vol. 93, No. 26, Takoma Park Station, Washington, D.C., May 25, 1916.
George Ida Butler, twice president of the General
Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (1871–1874
and 1880–1888), was a
church administrator for many years.