Counsels to Writers and Editors


Chapter 11—Counsels to Writers

Present Truth in an Easy Style—In this age, when pleasing fables are drifting upon the surface and attracting the mind, truth presented in an easy style, backed up with a few strong proofs, is better than to search and bring forth an overwhelming array of evidence; for the point then does not stand so distinct in many minds as before the objections and evidences were brought before them. With many, assertions will go farther than long arguments. They take many things for granted. Proof does not help the case in the minds of such.—Testimonies for the Church 3:36 (1872). CW 83.1

In their writings, some need to be constantly guarded, that they do not make points blind that are plain, by covering them up with many arguments which will not be of lively interest to the reader. If they linger tediously upon points, giving every particular which suggests itself to the mind, their labor is nearly lost. The interest of the reader will not be deep enough to pursue the subject to its close. The most essential points of truth may be made indistinct by giving attention to every minute point. Much ground is covered; but the work upon which so much labor is expended is not calculated to do the greatest amount of good, by awakening a general interest.—Testimonies for the Church 3:35, 36 (1872). CW 83.2

More Than One Mind—It would be greatly for the interest of Brother D to cultivate simplicity and ease in his writings. He needs to avoid dwelling at length upon any point that is not of vital importance; and even the most essential, manifest truths, those which are of themselves clear and plain, may be so covered up with words as to be made cloudy and indistinct. CW 84.1

Brother D may be sound upon all points of present truth, and yet not be qualified in every respect to give the reasons of our hope to the French people in writing. He can aid in this work. But the matter should be prepared by more than one or two minds, that it may not bear the stamp of any one's peculiarities. The truth which was reached and prepared by several minds, and which in God's time was brought out link after link in a connected chain by the earnest searchers after truth, should be given to the people, and it will be adapted to meet the wants of many. Brevity should be studied, in order to interest the reader. Long, wordy articles are an injury to the truth which the writer aims to present.—Testimonies for the Church 2:671 (1871). CW 84.2

Long Articles—One Writer—I wish to ask you to be sure and keep your articles in the Watchman [The Watchman, known formerly as The Southern Watchman, is now issued under the name These Times.] constantly. Elder -----'s articles are long, and unless he changes, he will kill the circulation of the Watchman. There should be short, spiritual articles in the Watchman. I shall write again to Elder -----. I cannot give my consent to have one man's signature to so many long articles. Brother -----, this order of things must change. But how shall we bring about a change? What can we do? I will write to Elder ----- and see if it will do any good. I will do my best. May the Lord give wisdom and sound judgment. There is need of deeper spirituality in the articles published in the Watchman, if the interest in the paper is to be kept up.—Letter 78, 1906. CW 84.3

Our Ministers to Write—Ministers who are engaged in active labor in the cause of God, and who have earned a reputation among our people, should use their influence to the very best advantage. CW 85.1

Their responsibilities do not cease with their pulpit labors. It is the duty of all who can write, especially those who minister in holy things, to exercise their talents in this direction. They should feel that it is one branch of their work to give tangible proofs of their interest in the Review and Herald, by the pointed, spiritual articles from their pens for its columns. This paper, which is the only preaching that hundreds have, is not what it might be, or what it should be. Here is an opportunity to speak to thousands, and all who do speak through the Review should have a burden of something to say. CW 85.2

Mediocre Articles—Men of but small experience who have but little influence, can get up commonplace sermons. Some of the people read them, while others feel no interest to read them. There is nothing in the words, or arrangement of ideas, that melts and burns its way into the heart. Some have interest enough to read every sermon, however deficient in new ideas and interest. When individuals in process of time become acquainted with the men whose names appear at the head of their sermons, they see that these men are not all what they profess to be—that they are deficient in experience. They lose confidence in the paper, and when they read sermons from the pens of men whose names they are not acquainted with, they feel a distrust, because they have been deceived before, and although good matter may be contained in the sermons, they do not acknowledge it as food; therefore they lose much good instruction.... CW 85.3

Christians will not make light of the smallest gift in the church. But some of the writers of the sermons which have appeared in the Review have not been at work upon their one or two talents, but have been handling the five not committed to them at all. They make bad work. The Master knew their ability, and gave them no more than they could make the very best use of that at the reckoning time, He need not require more of them than they had ability to perform. None should needlessly mourn that they cannot glorify God by talents He has never committed to them. Those who are restricted to only one talent, if they use it well, God will accept according to their ability.... CW 86.1

Leading Workers to Contribute Articles—Especial efforts should be made by ministers who have the cause of God at heart, to contribute to the columns of the Review the most interesting, spiritual articles. All can find time to do this if they have a will and heart to engage in the work. Some are too indolent and ease loving. They will spend hours in chatting upon subjects not especially connected with the advancement of the cause and work of God. The time thus spent is lost, and they are unprofitable servants. If the time had been occupied in the study of the word of God, thoroughly furnishing themselves from its precious pages, fitting themselves to be able ministers, their employment would be more profitable. They would have something to write. They could furnish articles which would instruct and encourage the people of God. Such would be only doing their duty, and would be giving to the flock of God their portion of meat in due season.... CW 86.2

A Heartfelt Message—When feasting upon God's word, because of the precious light you gather therefrom, present it to others that they may feast with you. But let your communications be free and heartfelt. You can best meet the people where they are, rather than in seeking for lofty words which reach to the third heavens. The people are not there, but right here in this sorrowing, sinful, corrupt world, battling with the stern realities of life. CW 87.1

Christ came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. He was our example, and God has apportioned to us our work, to minister to the necessities of others, according to the ability He has given us. As we use this ability to the best account, it will increase. Those who do all they can on their part with what God has entrusted to them, and bear their whole weight upon Him, He will strengthen them just when strength is required. In thus doing, we give God room to work for us; to teach and lead and impress us, and make us channels through which His light can be communicated to many who are in darkness.—The Review and Herald, January 5, 1869. CW 87.2