Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/641

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EVOLUTION OF THE CAMP-MEETING.

camp-meeting feature of the denomination, they seek fields already populated and locate themselves in more profitable places. Where are these places? The answer to this question discloses a phenomenal fact, that, could it be announced to them, would bring the scarlet to the cheek of Wesley, and bow the heads of Asbury and Whitefield with confusion of face.

The camp-meeting of to-day is a very different affair. It is not an extemporaneous festival in which the membership of one or more churches take the lead, select a place of meeting, and invite neighboring churches to participate in a common service, each bearing its share of the burden, and then scatter to their homes, to disband and be as if they had not been. No, it is a very different thing. It is the fruit of a chartered association, with corporate rights and franchises, of the same nature as those which belong to banking and railroad associations. Of course, the corporators are religious men, and the controlling influence is secured to the ministry. A copy of such a charter is now before me. It gives the institution its corporate name, and states its object to be "the establishment and maintenance of a sea-side resort, founded upon Christian principles, and affording religious privileges as well as healthful recreation."

Provision is made for the transfer and redemption of stock, for voting by shares and by proxy, as is usual in other money-making companies. It defines the number of directors, one third of whom shall be ministers, and one other third shall be ministers and members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Its president "shall be a regularly ordained minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, having control of the conventions, assemblies, and other meetings that may, from time to time, be held on the premises; and the secretary and treasurer must give bonds for the faithful performance of their duty—in one instance, as high as thirty thousand dollars. Is not this an anomaly? The camp-meeting feature, if indeed it is prominent enough to be a feature, is merely incidental to the main object, viz., the establishment of a sea-side resort. To do this, land must be purchased, stock must be sold to pay for it, and the pastor-president is to be the executive officer through whom these conveyances are to be made, and by whom all the real-estate transactions are to be ratified. The entire time, out of the three hundred working days of the year, that is to be set aside for camp-meeting services, is ten days or a fortnight, and the remainder is occupied with the secular business of the concern. We are largely indebted to these associations for the grand development they have made, on the New Jersey coast especially. Witness Ocean Grove, Ocean City, and Atlantic Highlands. They have taken up coast-lands, some of which were comparatively worthless, and made them into fruitful towns, with prosperous and happy peoples. They are to be credited also with the testimony they have borne to sobriety and good morals, by preventing the sale of intoxicating liquors within their