Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers


Historical Foreword

As noted in the preface to this third edition, Testimonies to Ministers consists of materials drawn from several sources, primarily Ellen G. White articles which have appeared in the Review and Herald and pamphlets bearing testimonies to the Battle Creek church and to the leading workers of the cause. The larger part of the content of this volume was written in the years 1890-1898, with some earlier and later materials drawn in to augment certain areas of counsel. Section I, “The Church of Christ,” gives assurance of the tender regard in which God holds his church, and contains clear-cut promises of the church's triumph. This is followed by Warnings and Counsels to Ministers and Administrators. TM xv.1

The decade of the 1890's was an interesting, yet in some ways distressing, period in the experience of Seventh-day Adventists. The church was growing, more than doubling its membership in the ten-year period. With rapidity its workers were entering new countries. Institutions at home and abroad were brought into being. The original provisions for organization devised at the first General Conference session in 1863 were being rapidly outgrown. Older established institutions were expanding and entering upon a period of popularity with both Seventh-day Adventists and the world. This growth was fraught with many perils, from liberalism on one hand to consolidation and centralization on the other hand. Then, in and through the experience of this period, there were elements reflecting the aftermath of the 1888 General Conference session held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where certain doctrinal issues were discussed heatedly and at length. A number of men identified themselves with one camp or the other, with their decisions influenced not alone by the doctrinal arguments presented, but also molded by attitudes toward the spirit of prophecy counsels. In some cases these attitudes were not wholesome. Through most of this period, Ellen White was in Australia, laboring to build up the work in that newly entered land and leading out in the establishment of a college and a sanitarium in that continent. TM xv.2

This volume bears the title of Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers. It is not devoted essentially to instruction as to how the work of the minister should be conducted, as is Gospel Workers. This volume contains messages given to admonish, warn, reprove, and counsel the ministers of the church, with special attention given to perils peculiar to men who stand in positions of responsibility. Some of the reproofs are severe, but the assurance is given that God in his chastening, “wounds only that he may heal, not cause to perish.”—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 23. TM xvi.1

The reproofs and counsels directed to ministers and especially administrators were not published initially by Ellen G. White, but rather by the President of the General Conference, and later the General Conference Committee. For the most part they were messages directed originally to the President of the General Conference, O. A. Olsen, and his associates in administrative work, particularly in Battle Creek. He and his committee placed them in print that their fellow ministers and fellow administrators might have the benefit of the reproofs which pointed out wrongs, and the counsels and encouragement associated with the reproof. TM xvi.2