Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers


General Conference President Publishers Testimonies

The influence of selfish, grasping methods and the exercise of “kingly power,” as Ellen G. White termed it, were contagious. Elder Olsen, president of the General Conference, in his hope that he could stay the evil work of such influences, made available to the ministers of the church many of the messages of counsel which came to him and other leaders in Battle Creek during this critical period. These messages, published in pamphlet form, were sent out as special instruction to ministers and workers. They were often prefaced by an earnest statement signed by the president of the General Conference or by the Committee. In Elder Olsen's introduction to the second of these numbered pamphlets, written about 1892, he states: TM xxix.2

“We feel it our duty again to send you some selections from recent writings from Sister E. G. White that have not as yet been in print, and also to call attention to some very important extracts from writings which have already been published. We do this to bring the truths contained therein fresh to your minds. They are worthy of most careful consideration.... TM xxx.1

“For three years the Spirit of God has been especially appealing to our ministry and people to cast aside their cloak of self-righteousness and to seek the righteousness which is of God by faith in Christ Jesus. But, oh, how slow and hesitating we have been.... The testimony and earnest entreaties of the Spirit of God have not found a response in our hearts that God designed they should. In some instances, we have felt free even to criticize the testimony and warnings sent by God for our good. This is a serious matter. What is the result?—It is a coldness of heart, a barrenness of soul, that is truly alarming. TM xxx.2

“Is it not time to raise a voice of warning? Is it not time for each individual to take these things home to himself and ask, ‘Is it I?’... TM xxx.3

“In the following testimony, our dangers are again pointed out to us in a way that we cannot misunderstand them. The question is, will we take heed to the counsel of God and seek Him with all the heart, or will we treat these warnings with the neglect and indifference that we have many times in the past? God is in earnest with us and we must not be slow to respond.” TM xxx.4

To the sixth of these pamphlets, Elder Olsen wrote on November 22, 1896, these introductory words: TM xxxi.1

“During the past few months, I have received a number of communications from Sister E. G. White, which contain most valuable instruction to myself and to all our laborers; and knowing that all the workers connected with the cause of present truth would be benefited personally and helped in their work by having this instruction, I have collected this matter, and had it printed in this little tract for their benefit. It is not necessary that I ask for it a careful and prayerful study, for I know it will receive this.” TM xxxi.2

It was not an easy task for Ellen White to pen such stirring messages of rebuke and reproof, nor was it easy for the recipients to accept these messages as applying in the personal experience and then set about to make the corrections which were called for. They were published in the 1890's by the president of the General Conference and by the General Conference Committee as pamphlets, that all ministers might be warned. Then materials were republished in the body of Testimonies to Ministers In 1923, to keep before every Seventh-day Adventist minister and administrator perils which could seriously militate against the interests of the work of God. TM xxxi.3

Ellen White did not implicate each minister and administrator by the message of rebuke. “How my heart goes out in rejoicing,” she wrote, “for those who walk in humility of mind, who love and fear God. They possess a power far more valuable than learning or eloquence.”—Page 161. Here and there through the articles in this volume she speaks of “some” Who have taken the wrong course, “some” who have been unresponsive to the messages which God has sent. TM xxxi.4

The counsels warning against the exercise of “kingly power” and authority, the counsels that man should not look to his fellowmen for guidance in every detail of the work, are carefully balanced with counsels concerning independence of spirit and action, as recorded on pages 314-316. It is urged that conference presidents should be trusted and sustained, as recorded on pages 327, 328. TM xxxi.5

These are the backgrounds of the 1890's and of the messages in Testimonies to Ministers. This is the picture of the conditions which were worsening from month to month, from year to year, as the Seventh-day Adventist church, pushing forward in an ever-widening evangelistic, institutional, and missions program, approached the turn of the century. TM xxxii.1