General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1




THE first meeting of the General Conference Council convened at 2:30 P. M. on Friday, Feb. 1, in the chapel of the Review and Herald Office. After singing and prayer, Elder O. A. Olsen, president of the Conference, addressed the meeting, speaking in general terms of some of the most prominent aspects of the cause, of its needs, and of the work that would devolve upon this Conference. the following is an outline of his remarks:— GCB February 4, 1895, page 6.3

The circumstances under which we assemble render this meeting one of peculiar solemnity and importance. The continual expansion of our work brings increased responsibilities, and these in turn call for increased consecration and devotion to God. We need to seek God as never before. Our meetings in the past have been important ones, and God has blest his people, but the nature of our times calls for greater blessings because of our increasing responsibilities. Some idea of the extent that our work is assuming will be gained from the fact that since our last General Conference we have sent out from this country one hundred and twenty-seven adult workers; and these have gone to twenty-five different countries. In the last year sixty-five workers have been sent out from the United States to eighteen countries. GCB February 4, 1895, page 6.4

These figures would have been an astonishment to us a few years ago, and we feel to thank God for what has been done. But as we look at the map of the world we see so much territory that has not been occupied that we realize we have hardly made a beginning. But we have reason to thank God that by his help we have laid a wonderful foundation. The apparent progress of the past is no standard of comparison for what we may expect in the future. As we consider the vastness of the work before us, some will be tempted to say, How long the time must be! Not so. In the erection of a great building, weeks and months will be spent in preparation of stone, timber, and other material, and except that here and there a little stone wall appears, no apparent progress is being made. But at last the time comes when all is ready; the materials are quickly brought together, and in a few days the building is enclosed and the work done. So it is in this work. The foundation has been laid deep and broad, and all over the world the material is being made ready. This work is not tapering off to a point. It will close when it is the largest. Large and extensive plans do not indicate a lengthening of the time; for the largest plans we shall ever have will be those laid for the last year of our work. It is the broad plans that hasten the work. This being true, this Conference will meet issues more important than those which any preceding one has met. GCB February 4, 1895, page 6.5

And as the volume of our work increases, we shall have less time to devote to minor details, and shall need to study with greater care the underlying principles. It will devolve upon this Conference to examine carefully into the workings of our various enterprises and to determine the policy and principles which shall control them, leaving to the various boards and committees the work of assigning individual duties and appointments. The Conference will be invited to examine the workings of the Foreign Mission Board, and to make such recommendations in regard to general action as it will see fit. But it will be better to leave many of the individual appointments and the details of the work to the Board. This is so for various reasons: In the first place, it is embarrassing to the Conference to make appointments that are not filled. And it is often impossible to make the necessary inquiry as to the propriety of recommendations or the probability of their being fulfilled. In its work, the Board frequently spends weeks and months in correspondence before suitable arrangements can be made for appointments to distant fields. Often circumstances of which the Conference can have no knowledge arise to prevent the carrying out of their decisions, and thus the work at last devolves upon the Board. GCB February 4, 1895, page 6.6

The promise is, “Seek and ye shall find,” and it applies to the work of obtaining laborers for distant and important fields. It requires prayerful and careful consideration both on the part of the Board and of the candidate. A good mutual understanding is the best provision we can make for success. GCB February 4, 1895, page 6.7

Another point that forces itself upon our attention is the fact that our work is coming rapidly to the front and attracting attention as never before. In the past we have been told that our work was obscure; that no one heard of it; and that it would never attract attention. But this is rapidly passing away. We are being brought to the front with a rush. Our attitude in regard to Sunday laws, and the persecution which is already being waged upon us, are being used by the press to give publicity to our work. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.1

It is true that this is not always done for the purpose of doing us credit, but at the same time it accomplishes its work and brings us as a people and our cause into great prominence before the world. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.2

As our work becomes prominent it is more and more subjected to criticism, consequently greater efficiency and more careful work will be required. God can and does take men from the plow and the shop for his work and bless their efforts. He can use feeble and ignorant men to his glory. We thank him that this is so. But because he does this it does not signify that he has no use for talent and culture. God requires every one of us to make the best and most of our abilities, to improve our powers and to devote them all to him. I want you to ask yourselves this question: Have I made all the improvement that I ought to have made? Am I all that I might have been? There has been an impression among us to some extent that the world has more use for talent and cultured ability than God’s cause; that it will pay better to engage in some worldly pursuit than to follow Jesus; and the consequence is that many have turned to the world, and the cause of God has been deprived of the help it so greatly needed. This is a wrong idea. God has use for education and ability. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.3

Another point upon which my mind has dwelt of late is the wonderful principles which God has revealed to us as a people. He designs that his people shall be “the head and not the tail.” Deuteronomy 28:13. In Deuteronomy 4:7, 8 we read, “For what nation is there so great that hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law.” It is nearness to God and righteous principles that make a people great. These great favors God has bestowed upon us. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.4

Take for instance the principles of health. Many of you will remember the little book, “How to Live,” and of the principles there set forth. Some will remember how those principles were scouted and sneered at by the world, and we all know how slow we have been to receive and carry them out. But to-day these very truths are freely acknowledged as the grandest thing in the world by men of science and of the world. We have long hesitated over them until we have to learn from the world that which God revealed to us many years ago. The Lord would have had us take our place at the head of this work of reform, but we have not acted up to the light he has given us. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.5

Thus it has been in our educational work. The testimonies have urged that manual training, physical culture, should keep pace with mental development. We have made some slight experiments and have concluded it was impracticable. In the meantime the educators of the world have seen the force of the truth and are making a grand success, and again we have to learn from men what God told us long ago. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.6

In other respects we have been too swift to run before we have received our message. And by rashly forming our own opinions, it has taken us years to learn what the Lord has been trying to teach us. But we can no longer afford to make these mistakes. We must learn to hear God’s voice and believe his word. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.7

We have entered upon the days of peril. Satan is buy with his deceptive work. Men will believe they are led of God in this direction and that direction; and that which exposes us to this danger is that there is so little real knowledge of the Scriptures. We have a reputation for being well versed in the Bible; and in certain lines this may be true, but we need to be fortified on every point. Satan will attack us where we least expect it. We may know certain lines of texts here and there and yet have really little knowledge of the Bible as a book. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.8

As we enter upon the studies of this Institute, may God help us to study the word; to put earnest thought upon the lessons that shall be brought out. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.9

One branch of the work that will demand our attention is that of the book work. It has been thought by some that on account of the very hard times it will be necessary for us to change our tactics and abandon the canvassing for our larger books. Do not let us be too quick to drop that which God has shown us would succeed. We may expect to meet difficulties. But the only way is to surmount them. We cannot fulfill a duty by going around it; the only acceptable way over the hill of difficulty lies up its rugged side, over its summit, and down the other side. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.10

God has great blessings for us at this important meeting. We need to seek him heartily, to be often in prayer; and may he mercifully guide our every decision. GCB February 4, 1895, page 7.11