Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14

413/488

Ms 131, 1899

The Danger of Extravagance in Illustrating Our Books

NP

September 12, 1899 [typed]

This manuscript is published in entirety in 15MR 105-113. +Note

In order to reach unbelievers, a manifestation of outward display is seen among our people; but this display will not accomplish the good that is represented. Our books are being filled with expensive pictures, and this makes them too costly to give away, and too costly for those persons to buy who need them most. The matter of illustrating is being carried to extremes. The extra money put into the cover of a book, or into pictures, will not convert the soul to the truths that are contained in the book. That so much space should be occupied with pictures is not in the order of God. There have been long delays in the publication of our works, waiting for illustrations—delays that could be ill-afforded, and which have kept from the people the truths which they should have had. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 1

The canvassers are not obtaining that healthful experience in their work which they should have. In their handling of the books they are being educated to present before the public the beautiful cover and many illustrations rather than the points of truth contained in the books. In doing this they are patterning after the world, and they fail to make God their dependence and trust. “What is the chaff to the wheat?” God asks. [Jeremiah 23:28.] 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 2

The artist may do his best to represent the things his eyes have never seen, but his representations are so far beneath the reality that I am pained as I behold them. Neither God nor heaven nor Christ, who is the image of the Father, can be truly represented by the art of man. If the Lord had thought it advisable to represent Christ in this way, His person would have been described in the writings of the apostle. In the words of the disciple John, Christ is presented before us: 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 3

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. ... That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on his name: which were born, not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us ... full of grace and truth ... And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” [John 1:1-5, 9-14, 16.] 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 4

There were times when Christ spoke with the authority of true greatness. “He that hath ears to hear,” He said, “let him hear.” [Matthew 11:15.] He called for submissive attention to His words, for although He was in human form, He bore His commission from the Excellent Glory. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ... full of grace and truth.” [John 1:14.] God summons the world to listen while He speaks, and to receive every word He utters as law and life. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 5

Satan is working with masterly power to corrupt the experience of human beings, so that the influence of the truth will not appear in their lives and become a savor of life unto life to all who believe. Those who are purified and sanctified will have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The principles of Christ’s life are to be received into the soul by wearing His yoke, and learning of Him the lesson of obedience. “Learn of me,” says the great Teacher, “for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” [Matthew 11:29.] In following My example of meekness and lowliness, you will find rest. There will be no strife for the supremacy, no envy, no evil surmising. The soul will rest in the pure, holy love of God. The speech is pure, for it comes from lips that have been touched with the live coal from off the altar, thus [are we] prepared to deliver the message God shall give. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 6

Christ is to be all and in all to the believer. There must be none of self, and all of Christ, whose we are by creation and by redemption. The Holy Spirit takes the most attractive excellencies of the One who is altogether lovely, and presents them in such a way as to engage the attention and receive the best attention of the renewed heart. God designs that the Holy Spirit shall keep before the mind’s eye scenes that will attract and absorb all there is of the new-born soul. We need not any external representations of the person of Christ. The imagination must take in the only begotten of the Father, “full of grace and truth” [John 1:14], the One altogether lovely, and the chiefest among ten thousand. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 7

I have been commissioned to say to you that the Holy Spirit will work your minds if you will let Him. You are in danger, my brethren and sisters. You are spending large sums of money for our books and papers, and in doing this you are on the wrong track. It is mere supposition that this abundance of illustrations will accomplish great good in the sale of the book. Your large investment of money for illustrations do not bear the credentials of heaven. God does not approve of them. Much has been said in favor of this elaborate work, but nevertheless, God is not pleased with it. The impression left upon human minds is not good. Even worldlings cannot understand why so much time and money and talent should be given to this class of work. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 8

Our books can be tastefully prepared, as all books should be; but our publishing houses are making a mistake in departing from the simplicity of the gospel. We are using the Lord’s talent of means, and we must handle it wisely. The returns from this work of illustrating do not warrant such a large outlay of means. The income is not proportionate to the time and means spent in securing the cuts. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 9

Every item in connection with this extravagant outlay was not presented before me. We must no longer consume the Lord’s capital in expensive book making. Whatever is presented in favor of this work, one objection remains which cannot be overcome—its influence upon the author, the publishing house, and the canvasser. The Lord has measured it all, and He is displeased with the showing. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 10

I have not presented before you all that has been opened before my mind, but I would warn our publishing houses to be careful in every move they make. God has greatly humbled the publishing institution at Battle Creek. It was not His pleasure to do this, but He has declared, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me.” [Leviticus 10:3.] While the Lord is laying His stroke on our institutions by removing from them the favor of the people, a close investigation should be made of the cause of the chastisement. Let us study the light which the Lord has given for every line of work that has any relation to His service. Let us put away the principles that are not after the mind of God, but which have existed for many years. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 11

The Lord has not given up His people to their own way. In mercy He holds them back, although they have pursued a course contrary to His Word. They have partially seen the evil of this course, but they have closed their eyes, refusing to make thorough reform, to change their wrong ways and practices. Let them humble their hearts before God. Let them set things in order. Let them move every stumbling block out of the way, that sinners may not fall over them and their lack of Christlike love and tenderness. Let them remember that this is the only way in which they can recover their lost prosperity. It can never come in any other way. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 12

When God’s people are born again, when they live the new life in Christ, with His love abiding in their hearts, their candlestick will stand securely in its place. But the principles they have followed in their connection with one another need revising. In their unity with one another and with God through Christ is their strength. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 13

Christ has specified the measure of love we are to show for one another. “A new commandment I give unto you,” He declared, “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” By this practical love, seen by the world, “shall all men know that ye are my disciples.” [John 13:34, 35.] When the softening, subduing influence of the Spirit of God rules the hearts of those who are connected with His service, they will honor Him by keeping the new commandment, new because Christ said, “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 14

The disciples never realized Christ’s love for fallen man until they saw it expressed on the cross of Calvary, until He rose from the dead and proclaimed over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, “I am the resurrection and the life.” [John 11:25.] Lessons have been given in regard to this love which are just as new to us, as far as practice is concerned, as they were to the disciples before the death and resurrection of our Lord. When these lessons are brought into the practical life, when God’s people love one another as He requires them to do, there will be an entire change in the experience of the churches. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 15

I am entrusted with a message for every church: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 3:2.] In every line of service all rivalry must be quenched. Heart must be bound to heart. Christian love must be manifested. Then allegiance will be given, as God requires, to Christ and to the brethren for Christ’s sake. No mean, cheap actions will grieve the Spirit of God. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 16

The light God has given me is that we are treading in the very footsteps of the world. In book making there is a striving for the supremacy. The blessing of the Lord cannot accompany the spirit which for years has been coming in. God says to every soul, “Take heed.” The leaven of influence is a powerful thing. Whether good or evil, it gathers all to itself. If the leaven of selfishness, covetousness, and hardheartedness is allowed to enter, it will subdue all the properties of the body to corrupting force. There will be no bowels of mercy, no tender consideration, no fighting against objectionable traits of character, which so quickly develop into giants of evil. Unless this root of bitterness is cast out of the soul, it will continually spring up, and by it many will be defiled. I ask, What are our churches going to do about this matter? 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 17

A large sum of money was spent in illustrating The Desire of Ages, but this work will not be repeated. If I had known before what I now know, I would never have consented to the Pacific Press expending so much money on illustrations for The Desire of Ages, or to the Echo Office expending so much on the little book, Christ Our Saviour. Our book making business must be simplified. Trust in God, rather than go down to Egypt to consult idolaters. God is not pleased with the way in which matters have been swayed. Expensive books are not to be brought out so freely as they have been. There are books which are not worthy of the consideration given them. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 18

It is not the gilded leaves of a book, not the expensive covers, which testify to its value. It is the truth contained in it. This will make an impression on mind and heart. If the expensive covers, gilt edged leaves, and multitudinous illustrations are dispensed with, the canvassers may not enjoy it. But if they had never had such works to handle at first, the temptation to drop books of high value and take up books which have a better outside appearance, but which are not of so much importance, would not be so great. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 19

There is a large amount of literature to go to the world, and men reason that the more abundant the illustrations, the better and easier the sale of the book. But this reasoning is not always sound. Take The Desire of Ages, for example. If there had not been more than one third of the illustrations in it that there now are, the canvassers would have found in nine cases out of ten that it would have had just as ready a sale as it will have now. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 20

And suppose that there were but a quarter the number of illustrations. The canvassers would have to do more earnest service. They would have to make more painstaking effort to become acquainted with the subjects upon which the book treats. And the saving of the money invested in illustrations would enable the publishers to give better terms to canvassers, who would not then be tempted, in order to make a financial success, to handle books under a confederacy of bribes. But this evil will come in, as it has done already, more or less. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 21

Canvassers should be secured to handle the books, Great Controversy, Patriarchs and Prophets, Desire of Ages, Daniel and the Revelation, and other books of like character, who have a sense of the value of the matter these books contain and a realization of the work to be done to interest people in the truth. Special help, which is above all the supposed advantages of illustrations, will be given to such canvassers. The canvassers who are born again by the work of the Holy Spirit will be accompanied by angels, who will go before them to the dwellings of the people, preparing the way for them. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 22

Those selected as canvassers should be men and women who feel the burden of service, who do not work merely for wages, who seek to do the very work that needs to be done to enlighten the world. All our service is to be done to the glory of God, to give the light of truth to those who are in darkness. Canvassers need daily to be converted to God, that their words and deeds may be a savor of life unto life, that they may exert a saving influence upon those with whom they come in contact. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 23

Let all study the character which God accepts, as represented in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew. If this representation does not educate men and women, what can do the work which must be done for the soul? Mark the division made between those represented by the sheep and the goats, and mark the words which decide forever the destiny of the two classes. Listen, you who have ears to hear and intellect to comprehend. Listen to the words of the Master: 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 24

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. The shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink, I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 25

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? or when so we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 26

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” [Verses 31-46.] 14LtMs, Ms 131, 1899, par. 27