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|It is ironic that such a large
share of the criticism made by various critics
within the Seventh-day Adventist church is often
buttressed by words from the writings of Ellen
White. This seems to suggest that Ellen herself
was such a super-critical person, always looking
for flaws in others and encouraging others to
think that it is a moral duty to observe and
correct whatever they see wrong in their
associates. But this is not the case, as is
clearly seen in this letter, written to be read
publicly to those assembled for a camp-meeting in
Lt 6, 1899, copyright: Ellen G. White Estate. Reproduced by permission.
Permission is granted to share, but not to publish it for sale. Any reproduction or forwarding of it must include this source and permission statement.
This is the complete, unabridged version, never published in its entirety before. The lines below in bold italics indicate those previously published in the devotional book, The Upward Look, page 28.
To the Brethren and Sisters in Camp Meeting at Ballarat:
From the beginning to the close, our camp meeting at Newcastle was one of continual work in spiritual lines. There was no Conference business to attend to, and this was as it should be. Our camp meetings ought not to be burdened with the transaction of business.
At this meeting there was earnest seeking of the Lord, as there should be in every camp meeting. On the first Sabbath, after I had spoken to the people, we called forward all who wished to become children of God, and those who had not the evidence of their acceptance with Him. A number came forward and bore their testimony. Then we had a season of prayer for them. The Lord was with us. On the second Sabbath, also, the invitation was given to those who desired to seek the Lord. A large number responded, and a special meeting of prayer and counsel was held with them.
There were those at the camp meeting who in the past had had a special experience, and they realized its value, but they greatly desired to obtain a fresh, vital current from the Source of all power. We felt that great interests were before us, that great results depended upon this meeting, and we were not disappointed. We have the promise of the Holy Spirit if we love God and keep His commandments, and we never felt more sensible of the willingness of the Lord to bless and sanctify, refine and ennoble, His people than at this meeting. We have seen the salvation of God.
The presence of the Holy Spirit was felt by those not of our faith. We had expected that this would be a small meeting, but the attendance of the outside people from the first to the last was larger than at any other camp meeting we have had in Australia, and we have never seen a better attendance at any of our camp meetings in America. The people come from all directions, some from Maitland, twenty-two miles away, and some from a longer distance. At many of the afternoon and evening meetings during the week the large tent was full, and there was a wall of people standing around the outside. Even on weekdays, the congregation numbered twelve hundred, fifteen hundred, two thousand, and at one evening service nearly three thousand. And this at the holiday season, when in the city there are all kinds of games and amusements to attract the people.
At the close of the first week, we took a vote of the audience as to whether the meeting should extend over another week. The vote in favor of this plan was so large that we at once decided to continue the meetings a week longer, holding them over the third Sabbath and Sunday. I am sure that this was right, as the attendance on the last Sabbath and Sunday was even larger than it had been before. The people came not merely as sightseers, but to listen to the Word of God. The whole community is stirred by the truths presented. In all the suburbs of Newcastle, the people are saying, "Are these things so?" and the interest extends to other places.
Our camp meetings should ever be of such a character that the convicting, converting power of God will be with us. We are too readily satisfied with a ripple upon the water, when it is our privilege to expect the deep moving of the Spirit of God. Many have educated themselves to expect little, and they receive little. We need faith and love and a sound religious experience, not a religion as changeable as the waves of the sea. A religion dependent upon moods and feelings is not satisfactory. Every one of the workers needs the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Self must be submerged in Christ.
Then there will be no one-sided movements, no uncertain, restless actions. Those who are handling sacred things will be weighted with the Spirit, and will become intelligent Christians. They will not be dwarfs. Neither will they dwarf others through professing to know the truth as in the living Oracles, while they do not have a daily, hourly consecration to God. None can honor God unless self is daily crucified in them, and there is no self-exaltation, no striving to be first. All who have any relation to Christ must know His life by an experimental knowledge, else they are none of His.
Satan is playing the game of life for the souls of men and women. We are living in a time when he has come down with great power, working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. None will need to take the side of the power of darkness, and stand under his banner, unless they choose to do this.
All who unite themselves with Christ should consider that they are His soldiers. They are to obey orders, and not fret like children at everything that does not harmonize with their ideas. They are not to indulge the spirit of criticism, except with themselves; every one should closely investigate his own heart, for out of it are the issues of life. Sure it is that all who do their very best to place themselves in right relation to God will walk with Him as did Enoch. Then they will have with them holy angels as companions in the place of evil angels.
We praise the Lord that at the Newcastle meeting we heard no criticism or complaining. There seemed to be with all a spirit of harmony. If Satan can excite criticism among any of the Lord's professed people, then it is communicated like leaven from one to another. Give the spirit of criticism no quarter, for it is Satan's science. Accept it, and envy, jealousy, and evil surmisings of one another follow. "Press together," is the command I hear from the Captain of our Salvation. Press together. Where there is unity, there is strength. All who are on the Lord's side will press together. There is need of perfect unity and love among believers in the truth, and anything that leads to dissension is of the devil. The Lord designs that His people shall be one with Him as the branches are one with the vine. Then they will be one with each other.
We are to seek most earnestly to be of one mind, of one judgment, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit of God, and nothing less, will bring us into this state. This is God's agency, and only as the Holy Spirit brings us into unity can we be representatives of Christ.
There is no hope for the success of any religious organization where criticism is cherished as a fine art and called spiritual discernment. Men might far better be blind to other's faults than to be inspired by that keen, detective spirit that will watch for defects in those whom the Lord loves, and through whom He works. We all need to humble ourselves, not to have an exalted idea of self. We must all give heed to the words of Christ, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Every Christian should beware of picking flaws in others, and thus destroying the influence which God would have them retain, that they may be a blessing to His people. In every one of our schools, all are either receiving an education in straight, perfect lines, forming the character according to the character of Christ, or they are receiving an education in the opposite direction. In every camp meeting there is opportunity for close, critical self-examination. If individuals will seek to rid themselves of every thought and action that is not of a Christlike order, they will, if worked by the Holy Spirit, see the necessity of washing their own robes of character and making them white in the blood of the Lamb, and their minds will become as the mind of Christ.
The greatest sorrow of heart I have borne has been caused by the want of love and unity among brethren. In word and spirit and life we are to express Christ, not the peculiar ideas and notions of self. By these ideas many have been trammelled and clogged all their life long, and they knew not what was the trouble.
I want to impress this upon my brethren who shall assemble in camp meeting at Ballarat: Do not lose this opportunity of committing your particular concern for yourself into the care of Jesus Christ. Lose sight of all others except Christ. We want Christ in our humanity, and Christ wants to abide in us. We are human and fallible, every one of us, and unless Christ is formed within, the hope of glory, we shall make wonderful blunders in estimating our fellow workers according to our pattern and measurement. God sees beneath the surface. He sees all the good, and He marks all the evil. Leave to Him the work of passing judgment on your brethren.
Have a care for the young men and young women who are now forming their characters. Converse with them, and help them all you possibly can. Let no one educate the young men and young women in the science of picking flaws. Let not the youth hear you finding fault with those who do not please your fancy. The youth are Christ's servants, to be cared for, to be encouraged in good, pure, holy thoughts. They need no lessons in evil surmising. Satan stands ready to instruct them in this line. Teach them to be kind, to respect and love one another as Christ has loved us.
Keep the perfume of Christ's character in your own words and actions. Let querulous complaints forever cease. Then there will flow into your heart the sunbeams of the righteousness of Christ. God will bless you, and make you a blessing.
We are individually held responsible to God for our influence in the home, in the church, among all with whom we associate. We are to receive our traits of character from an indwelling Saviour. He says, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me." The kind of fruit we bear, in words, in spirit, in action, testifies whether we are abiding in Christ or in ourselves. If we abide in ourselves, the taint of a disagreeable disposition will often manifest itself. Christ says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing."
You may have had good advantages for gaining an education, but unless you are under discipline to Christ, your education will be of no real benefit to you. You will not form a right character. "If a man abide not in me," Christ said, "he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire."
O, how much we prize and glorify self! How much we wrestle for the supremacy! How much we keep self in the foreground and Jesus Christ in the rear! Let all who assemble at the Ballarat Camp meeting bear in mind that it is the place to pray, the place where God will meet with them. Let us not profess to be Christ's followers, and yet follow our own mind and spirit. If we do this, we shall reveal such weakness of character as in no way represents Christ. We must be born again. We must have a new life from above. And this new life can be preserved only by daily watchfulness and prayer.
Men must become as little children; they must keep as humble as a child. Then they will indeed see Jesus Christ by faith, and [they] can reveal Him to the world as the uplifted Saviour. They can represent Christ in character by daily living Christ, showing that they have learned of Him His meekness and lowliness. In all our dealing, in all our business and relation one with another, there should not be a thread of the old habits of selfishness, self-seeking, or self-exaltation. This is the great barrier that separates the soul from God.
I want to cry to my brethren, Clear the way for Jesus Christ by self-renunciation. Let the great work be done in us and for us, so that we shall not say, "See what I am doing," but, "Behold the goodness and love of God," for "his gentleness hath made me great." The Lord will work wonderfully for you in your camp meeting if you will renounce self, and do every little duty in the name of Jesus. We are to write the name of Jesus on all that we do and on all that we have. We are to express His love in our words. We can reveal His Spirit in the very tones of our voice, in the expression of our countenance, in our walk and conversation. We are to imitate Christ in all His perfection. Constantly we are to improve our powers, that we may do better work for Christ.
I entreat of you, my brethren, to leave the darkness and come to the glorious light of the Sun of Righteousness. To be a Christian means more than many suppose. It is the character, not the placing of our names on the church books, that makes us Christians. What manifestations will appear when Christ, abiding in the heart, is shining in the faces of those who love Him and keep His commandments. Truth is written there. The man is transformed into Christ's image. A worldling may pass by and not mark the change, but those who have had communion with Christ discern the expression of Christ in word, in spirit.
The influence upon the heart is seen in a habitual gentleness, a more than human love. The sweet peace of heaven will be in the soul, and will be revealed in the countenance. There is no striving for the highest place, no seeking the supremacy. There is a constant changing from glory to glory, from character to character. "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Do you feel that this experience is beyond your reach? It is the very experience that you must have. The truth sanctifies the receiver. Uplifting, refining, sanctifying truth is the only thing that can lift us out of ourselves, and bring up into open communion with God. In our life in this world the human and the divine are to be united. The things of the Spirit are not discerned by any strength of intellect that man may possess. He may be a minister of the Word, opening the Scriptures to enlighten others, but this in itself will not fit his soul for heaven. The highest eloquence is not religion. Teachers may suppose they know all that is worth knowing, but God designs that every teacher shall be a continual learner. When we cease to be learners, then we are no longer fit to be teachers. Every worker needs to come to Christ and learn of Him who is meek and lowly in heart in order to find that trust and rest and quietude in God which it is our privilege to have.
Christ's glory was manifested while He was working at His trade in the carpenter's shop. He was assailed more fiercely by temptation than were other youth, according as there was more at stake in His life. But He overcame the wicked one. The Saviour in His human character resisted all the assaults of Satan. Just as Christ overcame temptation, so every one of us may overcome. And He says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne."
It is a battle for life, eternal life, and if we are indifferent in the warfare, if we are not overcomers here, we shall never see the King in His beauty.
There is something to learn besides that which is contained in school books, something that the greatest intellect, unaided, cannot reach. It is the power to recognize what belongs to the life of the Christian. in the schoolroom, in the carpenter's shop, in all manner of business, in all kinds of trades, the abiding Christ will be revealed by all who possess Him. Beholding the glory of Christ's character, they will carry it unto the home life. Their lips will not utter foolishness, their tongues will not frame deceit. The living Christ, shining out in the character, will be carried to the house of mourning, to the sick bed. He will bring comfort to the suffering. He will be manifest in the heavenly life which, in all humility of mind, His followers live.
It is the duty of all believers to turn away from beholding Satan. Then they will not reflect his character in their words, in a peevish spirit, in evil thinking or evil speaking of their brethren. Those who have an abiding Christ will do none of these things. God has forbidden us to cherish any such thoughts or feelings. All have the privilege of catching the divine rays of light from Christ if they will look unto Him. The greater their need, the more open will be the way to Christ. They may seek His face, and flash back the light of the glory of God. To them that have no might, He increaseth strength. All who live Christ's character will be like Him. "Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
There will be no irritable tempers in heaven, and certainly we want no irritable tempers here on earth. Satan's subjects have this kind of character. Let every Sabbathkeeper seek most earnestly to have Christ mold and fashion the human mind to His divine similitude. We shall have to fight the devil without and within. Unholy hands, unruly tongues, quick tempers, these are foes we have to meet; but through Christ we are able to bring them into subjection. Looking unto Him we may say, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."