The Publishing Ministry

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Chapter 20—Periodicals and their Circulation

Presenting the Truth Through Our Periodicals—Blessed, soul-saving Bible truths are published in our papers. There are many who can help in the work of selling our periodicals.... PM 221.1

We have been asleep, as it were, regarding the work that may be accomplished by the circulation of well-prepared literature. Let us now, by the wise use of periodicals and books, preach the word with determined energy, that the world may understand the message that Christ gave to John on the Isle of Patmos. Let every human intelligence who professes the name of Christ testify, The end of all things is at hand; prepare to meet thy God.—Colporteur Ministry, 145. PM 221.2

Truths We Hold Essential Needed for Review—Special efforts are being made in the trial volume of the Review [a series of missionary issues of the Review in which appeared articles providing instruction in the faith of SDAs.] to present our faith in a condensed form before its readers. Every number of the paper going to so many people should correctly represent our faith. Articles are needed that will place before the readers a comprehensive view of our position. The different points of faith are to be clearly defined. PM 221.3

The publication of this trial volume is an important enterprise. The most should be made of the opportunity to awaken in the minds of the readers of the Review an interest in the truths we hold essential and sacred. Many numbers of the trial volume have been published. There are not many more to be issued. Soon the golden opportunity to present important truths at the right time will have passed. The most should be made of this opportunity. Articles right to the point should be published, clearly and correctly defining our position. Impressions, either favorable or unfavorable, are being made upon the readers. How anxious all should be who contribute to the Review to have every article interesting and right to the point.... PM 221.4

We see with pain some of the columns of the Review filled with common matter that may be found in almost any religious paper.... PM 222.1

We need just now articles from the pens of our most experienced brethren, the best articles that they can produce. If enough of these articles are sent in for publication, there will be less room for common articles, which do not give any instruction regarding our faith.... Deep, studied articles, which require considerable time for preparation, will be too late for the present need.—Manuscript 24, 1903. PM 222.2

Literature to Oppose Sunday Laws—I do hope that the trumpet will give a certain sound in regard to this Sunday-law movement. I think that it would be best if in our papers the subject of the perpetuity of the law of God were made a specialty.... PM 222.3

The truth should be presented in short articles, in clear, distinct lines, giving special points in regard to the Lord's Sabbath, and showing that those who frame laws to compel the observance of the first day of the week are disloyal to the Lord of heaven, who placed His sanctity upon the seventh day. Are we doing all we can to exalt the law of Jehovah?—Letter 58, 1906. PM 222.4

Spiritual Food Not Daily News—The Lord has not laid the burden upon any to elevate, praise, and exalt men and women, even though their work may have been to turn the attention of the people to things of highest importance, to the things that concern the salvation of the soul; and shall our time and space be given to glorifying those who have been at work to raise false issues? The Lord has given to every man his work, and to those whom He has placed in positions of responsibility, either in writing or in speaking, He says, “Your work is to preach the Word.” PM 222.5

The work of keeping before the people the common things transpiring around us, the news of the day, is not the work of present truth. Our work is to fill every page of printed matter with spiritual food. What is the chaff to the wheat? All these common things are very cheap, and often are but stale food to those who are starving for the heavenly manna.—Manuscript 95, 1898. PM 223.1

Avoid Exaltation of Human Beings—In the night season I was earnestly addressing those who are bearing the responsibilities of editors and contributors of our periodicals. The Lord gave me a message for them.... PM 223.2

If those in charge of our periodicals have no more judgment than to fill the publications with the exaltations of human beings, then let them seek wisdom from God. Your spiritual eyesight needs the heavenly anointing.... In pouring forth an overflow of praise of one whom you do not know, who has not accepted a “Thus saith the Lord” in keeping His commandments, they place themselves where, in the crisis coming upon us, they will have defective discernment as they shall see the good things done by those who will seek to deceive, who will claim to be Christ and prophets sent of God.... PM 223.3

Those who use their pen and voice to give such praise to human beings need to have clearer discernment.... PM 223.4

This is a time when every sentence written should mean something definite, should be true, sincere. Not a scratch of the pen should be made in order to become popular or to vindicate that which God condemns.—Letter 60, 1898. PM 223.5

It is not the business of any of God's stewards to extol any human being, be he living or dead. God has given us no such message to bear. Let all who by pen or voice are brought before the public be sifted of all inclination to laud any human being, for in doing this work they are entirely out of their boundary.—Manuscript 95, 1898. PM 223.6

Danger in Changing Sacred Principles—There are men in positions of trust who have not had an experience in the leading out of this work, and these men should walk with humility and caution. In the night season I was present in several councils, and there I heard words repeated by influential men to the effect that if the American Sentinel [religious liberty publication that was suspended in 1904 and then superseded by Liberty in 1906. See Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 309-330.] would drop the words “Seventh-day Adventist” from its columns and would say nothing about the Sabbath, the great men of the world would patronize it; it would become popular and do a larger work. This looked very pleasing. These men could not see why we could not affiliate with unbelievers and nonprofessors to make the American Sentinel a great success. I saw their countenances brighten, and they began to work on a policy to make the Sentinel a popular success. PM 224.1

This policy is the first step in a succession of wrong steps. The principles which have been advocated in the American Sentinel are the very sum and substance of the advocacy of the Sabbath, and when men begin to talk of changing these principles, they are doing a work which it does not belong to them to do. Like Uzzah, they are attempting to steady the ark which belongs to God, and is under His special supervision.—Manuscript 29, 1890. PM 224.2

Waste of Time to Combat Sophistries—I am instructed that we are not to enter into any controversy over the spiritualistic representations that are fast coming in from every quarter. Further than this, I am to give those in charge of our papers instruction not to publish in the columns of the Review and Herald, the Signs of the Times, or any other papers published by Seventh-day Adventists, articles attempting to explain these sophistries. We are in danger whenever we discuss the sophistries of the enemy. The publication of articles dealing with these sophistries is a snare for souls. Let these theories alone, and warn all not to read them. Your explanations will amount to nothing. Let the theories alone. Do not try to show the inconsistency or fallacy of them. Let them alone. PM 224.3

Do not perpetuate evil by talking of these theories in sermons, or by publishing in our papers articles regarding them. The Lord says, Let them be unexplained. Present the affirmative of truth plainly, clearly, and decidedly. You cannot afford to study or combat these false theories. Present the truth, It is written. The time spent in dealing with these fallacies is so much time lost.—Manuscript 20, 1906. PM 225.1

Preparing Articles a Solemn Work [See Counsels to Writers and Editors for expanded treatment of this and related subjects.]—I would appeal to those who are responsible for the articles that are to be inserted in the columns of the Review and Herald. I would urge them to be men of caution, to be men whose spiritual eyes are anointed with holy eyesalve, that they may discern clearly what will be for the advancement, not the detriment, of the cause. If they do not walk and commune with God, let them give place to others who will walk firmly and fearfully before God in the solemn work of preparing matter for publication, which should be as meat in due season to the household of God. PM 225.2

Let them remember that the sentiments which appear in the Review are as if they were proclaimed upon the housetop. The matter contained in the paper is to strengthen the hands of the workers, and to teach them how to fight the good fight courageously.... PM 225.3

Our enemies will make the very most of every unguarded suggestion, and will turn these statements against those who are doing all in their power to remove the prejudice that exists against us as a people.—Manuscript 27, 1894. PM 225.4

Long Articles Hurt the Papers—Let those who contribute to the Southern Watchman do their best. And let the editors of the Review, the Signs, and the Watchman remember that long articles hurt their papers. Let the articles be short, and let them be full of moisture and nourishment.—Letter 351, 1904. PM 225.5

Short, Spiritual Articles—I wish to ask you [Elder S. N. Haskell] to be sure and keep your articles in the Watchman constantly. Elder R'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 cannot give my consent to have one man's signature to so many long articles.... 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. PM 225.6

Great Need for Health Journals—The people are in sad need of the light shining from the pages of our health and temperance journals. God desires to use these journals as mediums through which flashes of light shall arrest the attention of the people, and cause them to heed the warning of the message of the third angel.... PM 226.1

Ministers can and should do much to urge the circulation of the health journals. Every member of the church should work as earnestly for these journals as for our other periodicals. There should be no friction between the two.... PM 226.2

The circulation of the health journals will be a powerful agency in preparing the people to accept those special truths that are to fit them for the soon coming of the Son of man.... PM 226.3

Health reform will reach a class and has reached a class that otherwise would never have been reached by the truth. There is a great necessity for labor being put forth to help the people, believers and unbelievers, at the present time by health talks, and health publications. I cannot see why the health books should not have a permanent place as well as the other publications notwithstanding human prejudices to the contrary.—Colporteur Ministry, 134. PM 226.4

Simple Articles in Health Journals—The minds of our California people are not advanced far enough in health reform to receive the most good from Good Health. [Good Health and Health Reformer were two early denominational health journals. See SDAEN 573. Today Your Life and Health has taken the field.] The crib is placed too high. You can, with the counsel of S and Dr. W, prepare articles that are already in print that are simple, yet full of knowledge, by perusing the back numbers of Health Reformer. I would today that the Good Health were more after the same order, for I think there is more simplicity and good religion in the Reformer, and matter that will benefit all classes and minds, than that contained in Good Health as a whole. PM 226.5

We want that Good Health shall be circulated, and we want to shape our work and our efforts to reach the people where they are, much in the same way Christ worked in simplicity, that the uninformed may be reached and the highest minds may be benefited also. There is danger of burying the truth so deep in science that the common minds for whom we labor and who will compose the members of our churches will fail to see it and appreciate it. We want the truth as it is in Jesus. We want to meet the wants of our people.—Letter 34, 1887. PM 227.1

Light to Shine in Leaflets and Tracts—Let all be fully prepared to disseminate the light by word and by pamphlet. There should be hundreds of little tracts scattered as the leaves of autumn.... PM 227.2

There is a great need of leaflets and tracts, some containing short articles, others presenting the messages of warning, the second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Sabbath, treated in brief, and its relation to the truth of the doctrines substantiated by the Scriptures should be circulated.... There is a world to be warned. Health subjects in clear, forcible, spirited articles, health and temperance principles, and experiences of faith and hope—all should be presented to the world. The branch office in the city may do a good work in this line. These silent words will make impressions on minds and will awaken an interest in the truth of God. PM 227.3

Light! Light! Let it shine forth everywhere. It is to be diffused in jots and tittles, here a little and there a little. It is to be diffused in contrast with error. There is a dense darkness upon human minds, and everything possible should be done to rend it away and let the true Light shine forth. PM 227.4

There is too much limiting, too much setting of boundaries, altogether too much withdrawing ourselves from our own flesh.—Letter 31, 1897. PM 227.5

Periodicals to Be Kept Separate [Addressed to the General Conference Committee and the publishing boards of the Review and Herald and the Pacific Press.]—I have received a letter from Brother T in reference to changes which it is proposed to make in the publication of our periodicals. Questions are asked in reference to these matters. One is, “Shall our periodicals be combined in one paper or magazine?” Brother T further says: “Some suggest that the Review, Home Missionary, and Sabbath School Worker be combined in one paper, to be used as our regular church paper; have the Review enlarged to 32 pages and divide it up into different departments, covering the different lines of work. All three of the papers are designed especially for our own people, and I am not sure but that this combination could be effected. Some have thought that the Instructor and Little Friend could also be combined in our church paper. Another suggestion is that the Signs of the Times and the American Sentinel be combined in one pioneer missionary paper.” PM 228.1

I cannot see wisdom in the policy of having all our periodicals combined in one paper or magazine. Each of our periodicals has its own place, and is to do a specific work. Let our brethren inquire, Has the necessity of this work, and its object, changed? If you think so, then wherein?—Letter 71, 1894. (Selections from the Testimonies Setting forth Important Principles Relating to Our Work in General, 18, 19.) PM 228.2

Small and Large Journals—God would have His work move firmly and solidly, but no one branch is to interfere with or absorb other branches of the same great work. From time to time for years in the past, God has been pleased to give me special light on these points. I was shown that the small periodicals, as well as the larger ones, are to come forth from the publishing houses and be scattered like the leaves of autumn to answer the wants of the cause in its growth and extension.—Letter 71, 1894. (Selections from the Testimonies Setting forth Important Principles Relating to Our Work in General, 19, 20.) PM 228.3

Each Paper Has a Distinctive Work—I wish it to be distinctly understood ... that I have no faith in consolidating the work of publication, blending in one that which should remain separate. The blending of the Signs and the American Sentinel [Religious liberty paper published by the Review and Herald.] will not be in the order of God. Each has its distinctive work to do. The Signs is a pioneer paper to do a special work.... PM 228.4

In God's wise arrangement there is diversity, and yet He has so related each part to others that all work in harmony to carry out His great plan in extending the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. However there may appear to be dissimilarity, the work is one great whole, and bears the stamp of infinite wisdom. God and Christ are one, Christ and His disciples are one, we in Christ, and Christ in God. The Lord designs that His work shall move forward in perfect harmony without friction.—Letter 71, 1894. (Selections from the Testimonies Setting forth Important Principles Relating to Our Work in General, 20, 21.) PM 229.1

Keep Work on a Paying Basis—Our periodicals have been offered for a limited time on trial at a very low figure; but this has failed of accomplishing the object designed—to secure many permanent subscribers. These efforts are made at considerable expense, often at a loss, and with the best of motives; but if no reduction in price had been made, a greater number of permanent subscribers would have been obtained. PM 229.2

Plans have been made for lowering the prices of our books, without making a corresponding change in the cost of production. This is an error. The work should be kept on a paying basis. Let not the prices of books be lowered by special offers which may be termed inducements or bribes. God does not approve of these methods. PM 229.3

There is a demand for low-priced books, and this demand must be met. But the right plan is to lessen the cost of production. PM 229.4

In new fields, among ignorant or partially civilized peoples, there is a great need of small books presenting the truth in simple language and abundantly illustrated. These books must be sold at a low price, and the illustrations must, of course, be inexpensive.—Testimonies for the Church 7:159, 160. PM 229.5