By camp meetings held in the cities thousands will be called out to hear the invitation to the feast: "Come; for all things are now ready." Luke 14:17. After arousing the interest of the people, we should not cut these meetings short, pulling down all the tents and giving the impression that the meeting is over. Just at the time when hundreds have become interested, the greatest good may be accomplished by faithful and earnest work. Therefore the meetings should be so managed that the public interest may be maintained.
After one of the camp meetings the question as to the continuance of tent meetings was under consideration. I told the brethren a dream I had had. I dreamed that I saw a partially completed building. The workmen were gathering up their tools, preparing to leave it unfinished; but I entreated them to consider the matter. "The building is not finished," I said; "come back, and keep at work until it is roofed." Then they came back and continued the work. So the brethren heeded my counsel to remain and continue the work of the camp meeting. As the result a number accepted the truth.
There need not be so many failures in the expensive efforts put forth in camp meetings and tent meetings; there need not be so few sheaves to bring to the Master. In places where the standard of present truth has never been lifted, more souls will now be converted as the result of a certain amount of work than ever before. For everyone whose hands seem to be weakening and losing their hold I have the word: "Grasp the standard more firmly." Faith says: "Go forward." You must not fail nor be discouraged. There is no weakness of faith in him who is constantly advancing.
After a camp meeting it may sometimes be difficult to hold the principal speakers for several weeks to develop the interest awakened. It may be expensive to retain the ground and to keep a sufficient number of the family tents standing to maintain the appearance of a camp meeting. It may be at a sacrifice that several families remain on the ground to assist the ministers and Bible workers in visiting and Bible study with those who come to the meetings, and in visiting the people at their homes, telling of the blessings received at the meetings and inviting them to come. No doubt it will be difficult to secure a sufficient number of workers to carry forward the work successfully. But the results will justify the effort. It is by such earnest and energetic efforts as these that some of our camp meetings have been instrumental in raising up strong working churches. And it is by just such earnest work that the third angel's message must be carried to the people of our cities.
Sometimes a large number of speakers attend a camp meeting for a few days, and just when the interest of the people is fully aroused, nearly all hurry away to another meeting, leaving two or three speakers behind to struggle against the depressing influence of the tearing down and removal of the family tents. How much better it would be if the meetings were continued for a longer time; if persons would come from each church prepared to remain a month or longer, helping in the meetings and learning how to labor acceptably. Then they could carry a valuable experience to their churches when they return home. How much better if some of the same speakers who aroused the interest of the people during the largest attendance at the meeting would remain to follow up the work by a thoroughly organized protracted effort. To conduct meetings in this way would require that several be in progress at the same time, and this would not permit a few men to attend all the meetings. But we must remember that the work is to be accomplished "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Zechariah 4:6.
The work should not stop when the meetings on the camp ground close. Doctrines have been presented that are new and strange to the people. Those who are convicted and who desire to accept the truth, will have to meet the most determined and subtle opposition. Ministers, friends, and acquaintances will put forth every effort to catch away the seeds of truth sown in the heart. We must not leave the seed to be thus caught away. We must not allow it to wither for want of moisture.
Changes tend to weaken the influence of the meetings. Continue the meetings on the camp ground whenever practicable. But when it seems advisable to move, let the large tent be removed to some favorable location, and let the services in it be continued. A mission should be established. Secure a suitable place, and let a number of workers unite to form a mission family. This should be in charge of a man and his wife who are persons of ability and consecration and whose influence will give character to the work.
In following up the interest after a camp meeting, helpers are needed in various lines, and these occasions should be as a training school for workers. Let young men work in connection with experienced laborers who will pray with them and patiently instruct them. Consecrated women should engage in Bible work from house to house. Some of the workers should act as colporteurs, selling our literature and giving judiciously to those who cannot buy.
Let some of the workers attend religious gatherings in other churches and, as there is opportunity, take part in them. Jesus when only twelve years old went into the school of the priests and rabbis at the temple and asked questions. In this temple school, studies were conducted daily, somewhat as we conduct Bible studies. Jesus asked questions as a learner, but His questions furnished new matter for those learned priests to think upon. Similar work might be done today. Judicious young men should be encouraged to attend the meetings of the Young Men's Christian Association, not for the sake of contention, but to search the Scriptures with them and suggest helpful questions.
Had work in these various lines been done earnestly and vigorously after all our camp meetings, many more souls would have been gathered in as the fruit of the seed sown at the meetings.
Let the workers become acquainted with the people and read to them the precious words of Christ. Lift up Jesus crucified among them, and soon those who have listened to the messages of warning from the ministers at the tent, and have been convicted, will be drawn out to ask for further information. This is the time to present the reasons of our faith with meekness and fear; not a slavish fear, but a cautious fear lest we speak unadvisedly. Present the truth in all its loveliness, in simplicity and sincerity, giving meat in due season, and to everyone his portion of meat.
This work requires you to watch for souls as they that must give an account. The tenderness of Christ must pervade the heart of the worker. If you have a love for souls you will reveal a tender solicitude for them. You will offer humble, earnest, heartfelt prayers for those whom you visit. The fragrance of Christ's love will be revealed in your work. He who gave His own life for the life of the world will co-operate with the unselfish worker to make an impression upon human hearts.
The Work of the Evangelist
Teaching the Scriptures, praying in families--this is the work of the evangelist, and this work is to be mingled with preaching. If it is omitted, preaching will, to a great extent, be a failure. Come close to the people by personal efforts. Teach them that the love of God must come into the sanctuary of the home life.
Take no glory whatever to yourself. Do not work with a divided mind, trying to serve self and God at the same time. Keep self out of sight. Let your words lead the weary and heavy-laden to carry their burdens to Jesus. Work as seeing Him who is at your right hand, ready to give you His efficiency and omnipotent power in every emergency. The Lord is your Counselor, your Guide, the Captain of your salvation. He goes before your face, conquering and to conquer.
In the Highways and Hedges
The command of Christ to His people is: "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled." Luke 14:23.
The call to the gospel feast is first to be given in the highways. It must be given to those who claim to be in the highways of Christian experience--to the members of the different churches. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Revelation 2:7. In these churches there are true worshipers and there are false worshipers. A work must be done for those who have fallen from their first love, who have lost their first zeal and interest in spiritual things. We must bring the warning before professed Christians who are transgressors of the law of God. To them the message must be given.
The Lord says: "Unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." Revelation 3:1-3.
The warning for the last church also must be proclaimed to all who claim to be Christians. The Laodicean message, like a sharp, two-edged sword, must go to all the churches: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." Verses 15-19. It is our work to proclaim this message. Are we putting forth every effort that the churches may be warned?
We have a work to do for the ministers of other churches. God wants them to be saved. They, like ourselves, can have immortality only through faith and obedience. We must labor for them earnestly that they may obtain it. God wants them to have a part in His special work for this time. He wants them to be among the number who are giving to His household meat in due season. Why should they not be engaged in this work?
Our ministers should seek to come near to the ministers of other denominations. Pray for and with these men, for whom Christ is interceding. A solemn responsibility is theirs. As Christ's messengers we should manifest a deep, earnest interest in these shepherds of the flock.
The call to be given in "the highways" is to be proclaimed to all who have an active part in the world's work, to the teachers and leaders of the people. Those who bear heavy responsibilities in public life--physicians and teachers, lawyers and judges, public officers and businessmen --should be given a clear, distinct message. What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mark 8:36, 37.
We talk and write much of the neglected poor; should not some attention be given also to the neglected rich? Many look upon this class as hopeless, and they do little to open the eyes of those who, blinded and dazed by the power of Satan, have lost eternity out of their reckoning. Thousands of wealthy men have gone to their graves unwarned because they have been judged by appearance and passed by as hopeless subjects. But, indifferent as they may appear, I have been shown that most of this class are soul-burdened. There are thousands of rich men who are starving for spiritual food. Many in official life feel their need of something which they have not. Few among them go to church, for they feel that they receive no benefit. The teaching they hear does not touch the soul. Shall we make no personal effort in their behalf?
Some will ask: Can we not reach them with publications? There are many who cannot be reached in this way.
It is personal effort that they need. Are they to perish without a special warning? It was not so in ancient times. God's servants were sent to tell those in high places that they could find peace and rest only in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Majesty of heaven came to our world to save lost, fallen humanity. His efforts included not merely the outcasts but those in places of high honor. Ingeniously He worked to obtain access to souls in the higher classes who knew not God and did not keep His commandments.
The same work was continued after Christ's ascension. My heart is made very tender as I read of the interest manifested by the Lord in Cornelius. Cornelius was a man in high position, an officer in the Roman army, but he was walking in strict accordance with all the light he had received. The Lord sent a special message from heaven to him, and by another message directed Peter to visit him and give him light. It ought to be a great encouragement to us in our work to think of the compassion and tender love of God for those who are seeking and praying for light.
There are many who are represented to me as being like Cornelius, men whom God desires to connect with His church. Their sympathies are with the Lord's commandment-keeping people. But the threads that bind them to the world hold them firmly. They have not the moral courage to take their position with the lowly ones. We are to make special efforts for these souls, who are in need of special labor because of their responsibilities and temptations.
From the light given me I know that a plain "Thus saith the Lord" should now be spoken to men who have influence and authority in the world. They are stewards to whom God has committed important trusts. If they will accept His call, God will use them in His cause.
There are men of the world who have God-given powers of organization that are needed in the carrying forward of the work for these last days. Men are needed who can take the management of institutions, men who can act as leaders and educators in our conferences. God calls for men who can look ahead and discern the work that needs to be done, who can act as faithful financiers, men who will stand firm as a rock to principle in every peril and crisis that may arise.
The cause of God needs now, as it has needed in past years, talent which it was God's purpose that it should have. But so much selfishness has been woven into our institutions that the Lord has not wrought to connect with the work those who should be connected with it. He has seen that they would not be properly recognized and appreciated.
God calls for earnest, humble workers who will carry the truth to the higher classes. It is by no casual, accidental touch that wealthy, world-loving, world-worshiping souls can be drawn to Christ. Decided personal effort must be put forth by men and women imbued with the missionary spirit, those who will not fail nor be discouraged.
We should hold convocations for prayer, asking the Lord to open the way for the truth to enter the strongholds where Satan has set up his throne, and dispel the shadow he has cast athwart the pathway of those whom he is seeking to deceive and destroy. We have the assurance: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16.
Solicit prayer for the souls for whom you labor; present them before the church as subjects for their supplication. It will be just what the members of the church need, to have their minds called from their petty difficulties, to feel a great burden, a personal interest, for a soul that is ready to perish. Select another and still another soul, daily seeking guidance from God, laying every thing before Him in earnest prayer, and working in divine wisdom. As you do this, God will give you the Holy Spirit to convict and convert the soul.
There are some who are especially fitted to work for the higher classes. These should seek the Lord daily, making it a study how to reach these persons, not to have merely a casual acquaintance with them, but to lay hold of them by personal effort and living faith, manifesting a deep love for their souls, a real concern that they shall have a knowledge of the truth as it is in the word of God.
In order to reach these classes, believers themselves must be living epistles, "known and read of all men." 2 Corinthians 3:2. We do not represent as fully as we might the elevating, ennobling character of the truth. We are in danger of becoming narrow and selfish. With fear and trembling lest we fail, we should ever remember this.
Let those who work for the higher classes bear themselves with true dignity, remembering that angels are their companions. Let them keep the treasure house of mind and heart well filled with "It is written." Hang in memory's hall the precious words of Christ. They are to be valued far above silver or gold.
We are not to conceal the fact that we are Seventh-day Adventists. The truth may be ashamed of us because our course of action is not in harmony with its pure principles, but we need never be ashamed of the truth. As you have opportunity, confess your faith. When anyone asks you, give him a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.
It is the constant realization of the preciousness of Christ's atoning sacrifice in our behalf that qualifies us to point others to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. We must become exponents of the efficacy of the blood of Christ, by which our own sins have been forgiven. Only thus can we reach the higher classes.
In this work many discouragements will be presented, many heartsickening revelations will be made. Christ has said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. But all things are possible with God. He can and will work through human agencies upon the minds of rich men whose lives have been devoted to money getting.
The heavenly universe has long been waiting to co-operate with human agents in this work which they have shunned and neglected. Many who have attempted the work have given up in discouragement, when, had they persevered, they would have been largely successful. Those who faithfully do this work will be blessed of God. The righteousness of Christ will go before them, and the glory of the Lord will be their rearward.
There are miracles to be wrought in genuine conversion, miracles that are not now discerned. The greatest men of the earth are not beyond the power of a wonder-working God. If those who are workers together with Him will be men of opportunity, doing their duty bravely and faithfully, God will convert men who occupy responsible places, men of intellect and influence. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, many will accept the divine principles. Beholding Jesus in His loveliness, in His self-denial and self-sacrifice, the self-sufficient rich man will see himself in contrast as wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, and will become so small in his own estimation that he will prefer Christ to himself, and will lay hold on eternal life.
Converted to the truth, he will become an agent in the hand of God to communicate the light. He will have a special burden for other souls of this neglected class. He will feel that a dispensation of the gospel is committed to him for those who have made this world their all. Time and money will be consecrated to God, means will be brought into His treasury, talent and influence will be converted to the truth, and new efficiency and power will be added to the church.
Christ instructs His messengers to go also to those in the byways and hedges, to the poor and lowly of the earth. Many of these do not understand what they must do to be saved. Many are sunken in sin. Many are in distress. Disease of every type afflicts them, both in body and in soul. They long to find a solace for their troubles, and Satan tempts them to seek it in lusts and pleasures that lead to ruin and death. They are spending their money for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which satisfieth not. These souls must not be passed by.
With the work of advocating the commandments of God and repairing the breach that has been made in His law, we are to mingle compassion for suffering humanity. We are to show supreme love to God; we are to exalt His memorial, which has been trodden down by unholy feet; and with this work we are to manifest mercy, benevolence, and the tenderest pity for the suffering and the sinful.
In every place where the truth is presented, earnest efforts should be made from the first to preach the gospel to the poor and to heal the sick. This work, faithfully done, will add to the church many souls of such as shall be saved.
Those who engage in house-to-house labor will find opportunities for ministry in many lines. They should pray for the sick and should do all in their power to relieve them from suffering. They should work among the lowly, the poor, and the oppressed. We should pray for and with the helpless ones who have not strength of will to control the appetites that passion has degraded. Earnest, persevering effort must be made for the salvation of those in whose hearts an interest is awakened. Many can be reached only through acts of disinterested kindness. Their physical wants must first be relieved. As they see evidence of our unselfish love, it will be easier for them to believe in the love of Christ.
Missionary nurses are best qualified for this work; but others should be connected with them. These, although not specially educated and trained in nursing, can learn from their fellow workers the best manner of labor.
Talk, pharisaism, and self-praise are abundant; but these will never win souls to Christ. Pure, sanctified love, such love as was expressed in Christ's lifework, is as a sacred perfume. Like Mary's broken box of ointment, it fills the whole house with fragrance. Eloquence, knowledge of truth, rare talents, mingled with love, are all precious endowments. But ability alone, the choicest talents alone, cannot take the place of love.
This love must be manifested by God's workers. Love for God and for those for whom Christ has died will do a work that we can scarcely comprehend. Those who do not cherish and cultivate this love cannot be successful missionaries.
Let all who decide for Christ be set to work for others who are dead in trespasses and sins. Wherever the truth has been proclaimed and people have been awakened and converted, the believers are at once to unite in exercises of charity. Wherever Bible truth has been presented, a work of practical godliness is to be begun. Wherever a church is established, missionary work is to be done for the helpless and the suffering.
Caring for our Own Poor
We are commanded to "do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:10. In our benevolent work special help should be given to those who, through the presentation of the truth, are convicted and converted. We must have a care for those who have the moral courage to accept the truth, who lose their situations in consequence, and are refused work by which to support their families. Provision should be made to aid the worthy poor and to furnish employment for those who love God and keep His commandments. They should not be left without help, to feel that they are forced to work on the Sabbath or starve. Those who take their position on the Lord's side are to see in Seventh-day Adventists a warmhearted, self-denying, self-sacrificing people, who cheerfully and gladly minister to their brethren in need. It is of this class especially that the Lord speaks when He says: "Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house." Isaiah 58:7.
Church Officers and Workers
Great care should be exercised in selecting officers for the new churches. Let them be men and women who are thoroughly converted. Let those be chosen who are best qualified to give instruction, those who can minister both in word and in deed. There is a deep-seated necessity for work in every line.
Never allow the interest to flag. Devise methods that will bring a deep and living interest into the new churches. All connected with the church should feel an individual responsibility. All should work to the utmost of their ability to strengthen the church and make the meetings so full of life that outsiders will be attracted and interested. All should feel it a sin to let the interest wane when we have such sacred, solemn truths from the living oracles to repeat over and over again. Impress upon all the necessity of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the sanctification of the members of the church, so that they will be living, growing, fruit-bearing trees of the Lord's planting.
God calls for self-denying, self-sacrificing workers. Those who devote their God-given time to hunting for souls, travailing for souls, watching for souls as they that must give an account, will obtain a rich experience. As they communicate the precious truths of God's word to others, their own hearts will be opened for the entrance of the word. They will be instructed by the Great Teacher.
Christ has opened a fountain for the sinful, suffering world, and the voice of divine mercy is heard: "Come, all ye thirsting souls; come and drink." You may take of the water of life freely. Let him that heareth say, Come; and whosoever will, let him come. Let every soul, women as well as men, sound this message. Then the work will be carried to the waste places of the earth. The scripture will be fulfilled: In that day the Lord shall open fountains in the valleys, and "rivers in the desert," and "with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." Isaiah 41:18; 43:19, 20; 12:3.