The Publishing Ministry


Chapter 3—The January 3, 1875, Vision and World Expansion

[The first and last sections in this chapter were written by C. C. Crisler, Ellen White's Secretary.]

The Basel Publishing House—Mrs. White and her secretary, Miss Sara McEnterfer, and W.C. White and his family, left America August 8, 1885, [Ellen White labored in Europe for two years, from August, 1885, to August, 1887. See D. A. Delafield's book Ellen G. White in Europe for further details.] sailing from Boston on the steamer Cephalonia, and arriving in Liverpool August 19. Two weeks were spent in England, visiting companies of Sabbath keepers at Grimsby, Ulceby, Riseley, and Southampton. Several addresses were given in public halls. PM 33.1

Leaving London September 2, the party arrived in Basel, Switzerland, the following morning.... PM 33.2

The Basel publishing house, afterward named the “Imprimerie Polyglotte” (the printing house of many languages), was just completed. The land had been secured and the building planned during the visit of Elder Butler early in 1884. The structure had been erected under the watchful supervision of Elder B. L. Whitney, the superintendent of the European Mission; and its equipment had been purchased and installed by Brother H. W. Kellogg, for many years the manager of the Review and Herald Publishing Association at Battle Creek, Mich. PM 33.3

The new publishing house was a large, substantial building, 46 x 76 feet, with four stories above the basement. The upper stories were so constructed that, until required by the growth of the business, they could be used as residence suites for families. It was in one of these suites that Mrs. White made her home during a greater part of the two years she spent in Europe. PM 34.1

The Vision of January 3, 1875—When Mrs. White and her party reached the publishing house, Elder Whitney said, “Look at our meeting-hall before going upstairs.” It was a fine room on the first floor, well lighted and well furnished. Mrs. White looked searchingly at all features of the place, and then said: “It is a good meeting-hall. I feel that I have seen this place before.” PM 34.2

Not long after this, those parts of the building occupied by the printing business were visited. When the pressroom was reached, the press was running, and Mrs. White said, “I have seen this press before. This room looks very familiar to me.” Soon the two young men who were working in the pressroom came forward, and were introduced to the visitors. Mrs. White shook hands with them, and then inquired, “Where is the other one?” PM 34.3

“What other one?” Elder Whitney asked. PM 34.4

“There is an older man here,” Mrs. White replied, “and I have a message for him.” PM 34.5

Elder Whitney explained that the foreman of the pressroom was in the city on business. PM 34.6

It had been a little more than ten years since Mrs. White, in relating before a large audience in the Battle Creek church what had been shown her in vision regarding the work to be done in many foreign lands, had said that she had seen printing presses running in many foreign countries, printing periodicals and tracts and books on present truth for the people of these countries. At this point in her narrative, Elder James White had interrupted her, asking if she could name some of these countries. She said she could not, because they had not been named to her, “except one; I remember the angel said Australia.” But she stated that although she could not name the countries, she would recognize the places should she ever see them, because the picture was very distinct in her mind. PM 34.7

In the pressroom of the new publishing house at Basel she recognized one of these places. A few months after this, during her visit to Norway, she recognized in the pressroom of the Christiania publishing house another of these places; and six years later, during her visit to Australia, she saw, in the Bible Echo Office in Melbourne, still another pressroom where she recognized the place and the presses as among those she had seen in the vision at Battle Creek, January 3, 1875. [A few months after Ellen White had this vision, her husband wrote, “It is a pleasure here to state relative to the gracious manifestation of the Holy Spirit to Mrs. White on the eve of January 3, 1875, that she had been sick with severe influenza, and confined to her room and bed for one week, till the physicians at the health institute had become anxious in her case. In this condition she followed the directions given in the fifth chapter of the epistle of James, and after a great stretch of faith, like the man in the gospel who stretched forth his withered hand, she reached the point of deliverance from pain and sickness, and was soon in vision, which lasted ten minutes. She then dressed for meeting, walked to the church, and spoke to the crowded assembly twenty minutes, and walked home. Since that time she has written very much, and has spoken to the people with freedom.”—James White, Testimonies for the Church 3:570, footnote.] PM 35.1

Encouraging Words for European Workers—The Swiss Conference was held September 10-14, 1885. There were about two hundred in attendance. This meeting was immediately followed by the European Missionary Council, which continued for two weeks. At these meetings very interesting reports were received from Scandinavia, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland, where the cause of present truth was beginning to gain a foothold. The reports elicited some animated discussions of such subjects as these: The most effective plans for the circulation of our literature; the illustrating of our periodicals and books; the use of tents; and the bearing of arms. PM 35.2

The Scandinavian brethren reported that the sales of literature in their conferences during the preceding fiscal year had amounted to $1,033. The delegates from Great Britain reported sales amounting to $550. The Basel office had received on its German and French periodicals $1,010. PM 35.3

Much time was occupied by the colporteurs who had been laboring in Catholic Europe, in relating their experiences and in telling the Council why our literature could not be sold in Europe on the plans that were very successfully followed in America; and it was urged by them that the colporteur must be given a salary, as was done by the leading evangelical societies that were operating in Catholic countries. PM 36.1

During the nineteen days covered by the Conference and the Council, Mrs. White was an attentive listener to the reports, which were given mostly in English. She spoke words of encouragement and cheer in the business meetings, and in the early morning meetings gave a series of instructive addresses, dealing with such subjects as love and forbearance among brethren; manner of presenting the truth; unity among laborers; courage and perseverance in the ministry; how to work in new fields. Addressing the missionary workers, she said: PM 36.2

“Remember, brethren, in every perplexity, that God has angels still. You may meet opposition; yea, even persecution. But if steadfast to principle, you will find, as did Daniel, a present helper and deliverer in the God whom you serve. Now is the time to cultivate integrity of character. The Bible is full of rich gems of promise to those who love and fear God. PM 36.3

“To all who are engaged in the missionary work I would say, Hide in Jesus. Let not self but Christ appear in all your labors. When the work goes hard, and you become discouraged and are tempted to abandon it, take your Bible, bow upon your knees before God, and say, `Here, Lord, Thy word is pledged.’ Throw your weight upon His promises, and every one of them will be fulfilled.” PM 36.4

When the discouraging reports of the colporteurs had reached a climax, she would urge that notwithstanding all these difficulties, the workers must have faith that success would attend their labors. Repeatedly she assured the disheartened colporteurs that it had been shown her that books could be sold in Europe in such a way as to give support to the workers, and bring to the publishing house sufficient returns to enable it to produce more books.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 281-285. PM 36.5

Spreading the Light in Europe—Let the publications, the papers, the pamphlets, be working among the people, and preparing the minds of the reading class for the preaching of the truth. Let no stinted efforts be made in this line, and the work, if begun wisely and prosecuted wisely, will result in success. But do be humble and teachable, if you would teach others and lead them in the way of truth and righteousness.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 304. PM 37.1

A great work is committed to those who present the truth in Europe.... There are France and Germany, with their great cities and teeming population. There are Italy, Spain, and Portugal, after so many centuries of darkness, ... opened to the word of God—opened to receive the last message of warning to the world. [Written at the close of the year 1887.] There are Holland, Austria, Roumania, Turkey, Greece, and Russia, the home of millions upon millions, whose souls are as precious in the sight of God as our own, who know nothing of the special truths for this time.... PM 37.2

A good work has already been done in these countries. There are those who have received the truth, scattered as light bearers in almost every land.... But how little has been done in comparison with the great work before us! Angels of God are moving upon the minds of the people, and preparing them to receive the warning. Missionaries are needed in fields that have yet been scarcely entered. New fields are constantly opening. The truth must be translated into different languages, that all nations may enjoy its pure, life-giving influences.... PM 37.3

Colporteurs are meeting with encouraging success in the sale of our books. The light is thus brought to the people, while the colporteur—who in many cases has been thrown out of employment by accepting the truth—is enabled to support himself, and the sales are a financial help to the office. In the days of the Reformation, monks who had left their convents, and who had no other means of support, traversed the country, selling Luther's works, which were thus rapidly circulated throughout Europe. Colportage work was one of the most efficient means of spreading the light then, and so it will prove now.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 304, 305. PM 37.4

Books to Be Published in Different Languages—A far greater effort should be made to extend the circulation of our literature in all parts of the world. The warning must be given in all lands and to all peoples. Our books are to be translated and published in many different languages. We should multiply publications on our faith in English, German, French, Danish-Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and many other tongues; and people of all nationalities should be enlightened and educated, that they, too, may join in the work. PM 38.1

Let our publishing houses do all in their power to diffuse to the world the light of heaven. In every way possible call the attention of the people of every nation and tongue to those things that will direct their minds to the Book of books.—Testimonies for the Church 7:160. PM 38.2

Doubled and Trebled—The publishing branch of our cause has much to do with our power. I do desire that it shall accomplish all that the Lord designs it should. If our bookmen do their part faithfully, I know, from the light God has given me, that the knowledge of present truth will be doubled and trebled.... But let us remember, in all our endeavors we must seek daily power and individual Christian experience. Only as we keep in close touch with the Source of our strength shall we be enabled to advance rapidly and along even lines.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 446, 447. PM 38.3

A Prophetic Look into the Future [Report of remarks made at a council in Great Grimsby, England, attended by Ellen White in 1886.]—During the early days of the Council, one of the speakers, after referring to some of the barriers to the progress of the message, appealed to Mrs. White to state her views as to what more could be done, and if there might be expected changes in the conditions under which the laborers were struggling. PM 38.4

In answer to this question, Mrs. White said that there would come changes that would open doors that were closed and barred, changes in many things that would alter conditions and arouse the minds of the people to understand and appreciate present truth. Political upheavals would come, and changes in the industrial world, and great religious awakenings, that would prepare minds to listen to the third angel's message. “Yes, there will be changes,” she assured them, “but nothing for you to wait for. Your work is to go forward, presenting the truth in its simplicity, holding up the light of truth before the people.” PM 39.1

Then she told them how the matter had been presented to her in vision. Sometimes the multitudes in our world, to whom is sent the warning message from the word of God that Christ is soon coming, were presented to her as enveloped in mists and clouds and dense darkness, even as described by Isaiah, who wrote, “Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” Isaiah 60:2. PM 39.2

As in the vision she looked upon this scene with intense sorrow, her accompanying angel said, “Look ye,” and as she looked again, there were to be seen little jets of light, like stars shining dimly through the darkness. As she watched them, their light grew brighter, and the number of lights increased, because each light kindled other lights. These lights would sometimes come together as if for the encouragement of one another; and again they would scatter out, each time going farther and lighting more lights. Thus the work went on until the whole world was illuminated with their brightness. PM 39.3

In conclusion, she said: “This is a picture of the work you are to do. ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ Matthew 5:14. Your work is to hold up the light to those around you. Hold it firmly. Hold it a little higher. Light other lights. Do not be discouraged if yours is not a great light. If it is only a penny taper, hold it up. Let it shine. Do your very best, and God will bless your efforts.”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 294, 295. PM 39.4