I was shown that there have been unhappy results from making urgent calls for means at our camp meetings. This matter has been pressed too hard. Many men of means would not have done anything had not their hearts been softened and melted under the influence of the testimonies borne to them. But the poor have been deeply affected and, in the sincerity of their souls, have pledged means which they had a heart to give, but which they were unable to pay. In most instances urgent calls for means have left a wrong impression upon some minds. Some have thought that money was the burden of our message. Many have gone to their homes blessed because they had donated to the cause of God. But there are better methods of raising means, by freewill offerings, than by urgent calls at our large gatherings. If all come up to the plan of systematic benevolence, and if our tract and missionary workers are faithful in their department of the work, the treasury will be well supplied without these urgent calls at our large gatherings.--3T 510.
Sin will rest upon us as a people if we do not make most earnest efforts to ascertain those who have donated to the different enterprises who are too poor to give anything. All that they, in the liberality of their souls, have given should be returned to them with an additional gift to relieve their necessities. The raising of money has been carried to extremes. It has left a bad impression on many minds. Making urgent calls is not the best plan of raising means. There has been manifested an indifference to investigate the cases of the poor and make returns to them, that they should not suffer for the necessaries of life. A neglect of our duty in this respect, of becoming acquainted with the necessities of the needy and of relieving their pressing wants by returning means which has been given to advance the cause of God, would be on our part a neglect of our Saviour in the persons of His saints.--3T 510, 511.
Our greatest burden should be, not the raising of money, but the salvation of souls; and to this end we should do all in our power to teach students how to lead souls to a knowledge of the third angel's message. When we are successful in the work of soulsaving, those who are added to the faith will, in turn, use their ability in giving the truth to others. When we labour diligently for the salvation of our fellow men, God will prosper our every effort.--9T 85, 86.
When money is raised for religious purposes, to what means do many churches resort? To bazaars, suppers, fancy fairs, even to lotteries and like devices. Often the place set apart for God's worship is desecrated by feasting and drinking, buying, selling, and merrymaking. Respect for the house of God and reverence for His worship are lessened in the minds of the youth. The barriers of self-restraint are weakened. Selfishness, appetite, the love of display, are appealed to, and they strengthen as they are indulged.--9T 91.
Professed Christians reject the Lord's plan of raising means for His work; and to what do they resort to supply the lack? God sees the wickedness of the methods they adopt. Places of worship are defiled by all manner of idolatrous dissipation, that a little money may be won from selfish pleasure lovers to pay church debts or to sustain the work of the church. Many of these persons would not of their own accord pay one shilling for religious purposes. Where, in God's directions for the support of His work, do we find any mention of bazaars, concerts, fancy fairs, and similar entertainments? Must the Lord's cause be dependent upon the very things He has forbidden in His word--upon those things that turn the mind away from God, from sobriety, from piety and holiness?
And what impression is made upon the minds of unbelievers? The holy standard of the word of God is lowered into the dust. Contempt is cast upon God and upon the Christian name. The most corrupt principles are strengthened by this un-Scriptural way of raising means. And this is as Satan would have it. Men are repeating the sin of Nadab and Abihu. They are using common instead of sacred fire in the service of God. The Lord accepts no such offerings. All these methods for bringing money into his treasury are an abomination to him. It is a spurious devotion that prompts all such devising. O what blindness, what infatuation, is upon many who claim to be Christians! Church members are doing as did the inhabitants of the world in the days of Noah, when the imagination of their hearts was only evil continually. All who fear God will abhor such practises as a misrepresentation of the religion of Jesus Christ.-- CS 204, 205.
In professedly Christian gatherings Satan throws a religious garment over delusive pleasures and unholy revelling to give them the appearance of sanctity, and the consciences of many are quieted because means are raised to defray church expenses. Men refuse to give for the love of God, but for the love of pleasure and the indulgence of appetite for selfish considerations they will part with their money.
Is it because there is not power in the lessons of Christ upon benevolence, and in His example, and the grace of God upon the heart to lead men to glorify God with their substance, that such a course must be resorted to in order to sustain the church? The injury sustained to the physical, mental, and moral health in these scenes of amusement and gluttony is not small. And the day of final reckoning will show souls lost through the influence of these scenes of gaiety and folly.
It is a deplorable fact that sacred and eternal considerations do not have that power to open the hearts of the professed followers of Christ to make freewill offerings to sustain the gospel, as the tempting bribes of feasting and general merriment. It is a sad reality that these inducements will prevail when sacred and eternal things will have no force to influence the heart to engage in works of benevolence.
The plan of Moses in the wilderness to raise means was highly successful. There was no compulsion necessary. Moses made no grand feast. He did not invite the people to scenes of gaiety, dancing, and general amusement. Neither did he institute lotteries or anything of this profane order to obtain means to erect the tabernacle of God in the wilderness. God commanded Moses to invite the children of Israel to bring the offerings. Moses was to accept gifts of every man that gave willingly from his heart. These freewill offerings came in so great abundance that Moses proclaimed it was enough. They must cease their presents, for they had given abundantly, more than they could use.
Satan's temptations succeed with the professed followers of Christ on the point of indulgence of pleasure and appetite. Clothed as an angel of light, he will quote Scripture to justify the temptations he places before men to indulge the appetite, and in worldly pleasures which suit the carnal heart. The professed followers of Christ are weak in moral power and are fascinated with the bribe which Satan has presented before them, and he gains the victory.
How does God look upon churches that are sustained by such means? Christ cannot accept these offerings, because they were not given through their love and devotion to Him but through their idolatry of self. But what many would not do for the love of Christ they will do for the love of delicate luxuries to gratify the appetite and for love of worldly amusements to please the carnal heart.--RH Oct. 13, 1874.
We see the churches of our day encouraging feasting, gluttony, and dissipation, by the suppers, fairs, dances, and festivals gotten up for the purpose of gathering means into the church treasury. Here is a method invented by carnal minds to secure means without sacrificing.
Such an example makes an impression upon the minds of youth. They notice that lotteries and fairs and games are sanctioned by the church, and they think there is something fascinating in this way of obtaining means. . . .
Let us stand clear of all these church corruptions, dissipations, and festivals, which have a demoralising influence upon young and old. We have no right to throw over them the cloak of sanctity because the means is to be used for church purposes. Such offerings are lame and diseased and bear the curse of God. They are the price of souls. The pulpit may defend festivals, dancing, lotteries, fairs, and luxurious feasts, to obtain means for church purposes, but let us participate in none of these things; for if we do, God's displeasure will be upon us. We do not propose to appeal to the lust of appetite or resort to carnal amusements as an inducement to Christ's professed followers to give of the means which God has entrusted to them. If they do not give willingly, for the love of Christ, the offering will in no case be acceptable to God.-- RH, Nov. 21, 1878.
My brother, I earnestly appeal to you to study the word of God, and let His light come into your mind. I am intensely anxious that our people shall not be corrupted by your commercial spirit and by your representations regarding the Lord's methods of guidance. God condemns the spirit of chance that is revealed in your work. He forbids that we give such a lesson, by precept or example, to any souls, believers or unbelievers; for it is an evil that will spoil the experience of all who allow its principles to rule.
The Lord has shown me that your religious experience is becoming a matter of chance. It savours of gambling. I beseech you that you let this experience go no farther. You are educating church-members to think it a virtue to obtain money in a way that should not be admitted among us. The methods you are advocating for the raising of means should never come into our ranks at all, much less be carried to the lengths to which you and your associates have taken them. . . .
It is dishonouring to God for men to make such radical movements as you have made without any higher direction than you have had. You rejoice at the outlook as if you knew that the Lord stood by your side to guide your hand as you make your test. But this is not the method by which matters of eternal interest are to be decided. Rather it is one of Satan's schemes for binding about the work of God. Let not the idea be entertained that any form of chance work is the dictation of the Holy Spirit; I know it is not. I can speak decidedly regarding this, for I know whereof I speak. The act of tossing up a piece of silver to gain a knowledge of duty, shows the judgement of a man who needs to come to God in confession, and in simplicity and faith to seek the Lord for true guidance. . . .
There is no chance work with God in the directing of His people. Let us never forget that His providences guide in every circumstance of life, and that in the determination of important questions regarding His work and people there is no uncertainty. Remembering this, God's people will estimate at their true value such movements as this in which Brother Harris is now engaged. Let our people reason from cause to effect, and place their true value upon human devisings for which there is not a "Thus saith the Lord."--SpTB17a 36-38.