The Publishing Ministry

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Chapter 32—Sales Promotion of Books

Divine Purpose for Books—The work of bookmaking is a grand and good work; but it has not always stood in the high and holy position that God designed it should occupy, because self has been interwoven with the work of some who have engaged in it. The book work should be the means of quickly giving the sacred light of present truth to the world. The publications that come forth from our presses today are to be of such a character as to strengthen every pin and pillar of the faith that was established by the word of God and by the revelations of His Spirit. PM 336.1

The truth that God has given for His people in these last days should keep them firm when there come into the church those who present false theories. The truth that has stood firm against the attacks of the enemy for more than half a century must still be the confidence and comfort of God's people. PM 336.2

Our evidence to nonprofessors that we have the truth of the word of God will be given in a life of strict self-denial. We must not make a mockery of our faith, but ever keep before us the example of Him who, though He was the Prince of heaven, stooped to a life of self-denial and sacrifice to vindicate the righteousness of His Father's word. Let us each resolve to do our best, that the light of our good works may shine forth to the world.—Testimonies for the Church 9:69, 70. PM 336.3

Ministers to Instruct Members in Literature Work— Our ministers should not give all their powers to preaching discourses, and let the work end there. They should instruct the members of the church how to take hold of and successfully carry forward this branch of the work [missionary correspondence], [Eleven years before this statement was made, i.e., in 1869, a group of Spirit-filled SDA women in South Lancaster, Massachusetts, organized themselves as the Vigilant Missionary Society. One of their principal activities was to gather names and conduct missionary correspondence “with people over the whole United States and many foreign countries.” Their society was the nucleus of the Conference Tract and Missionary Society, which Stephen Haskell organized in the local conference in New England and which extended to the General Conference. Without “missionary correspondence,” et cetera, there would be no need for a supply and distribution center (ABC).] which is to our tract and missionary society like a wheel within a wheel. The movement of this inner wheel keeps in healthful, powerful action the outer wheel. Let this inner wheel cease its action, and the result will be seen in diminished life and activity in the tract and missionary society.—Christian Service, 131. PM 336.4

Ministers to Help With Book Sales—The proper circulation and distribution of our publications is one of the most important branches of the present work. But little can be done without this. And our ministers can do more in this work than any other class of persons. It is true that a few years ago many of our preachers were carrying the matter of the sale of books too far. Some of them added to the stock which they held for sale, not only publications of little real value, but also articles of merchandise equally valueless. PM 337.1

But some of our ministers now take an extreme view of what I said in Testimony No. 2 upon the sale of our publications. One in the State of New York, upon whom the burdens of labor do not rest heavily, who had acted as agent, holding a good assortment of publications, decided to sell no more, and wrote to the office, stating that the publications were subject to their order. This is wrong. Here I will give an extract from Testimony No. 2: PM 337.2

“The burden of selling our publications should not rest upon ministers who labor in word and doctrine. Their time and strength should be held in reserve, that their efforts may be thorough in a series of meetings. Their time and strength should not be drawn upon to sell our books when they can be properly brought before the public by those who have not the burden of preaching the word. In entering new fields it may be necessary for the minister to take publications with him to offer for sale to the people, and it may be necessary in some other circumstances also to sell books and transact business for the office of publication. But such work should be avoided whenever it can be done by others.” PM 337.3

The first portion of this extract is qualified by the last part. To be a little more definite, my views of this matter are, that such ministers as Elders Andrews, Waggoner, White, and Loughborough, who have the oversight of the work, and consequently have an extra amount of care, burden, and labor, should not add to their burdens by the sale of our publications, especially at tent meetings and at General Conferences. The view was given to correct those who at such meetings so far came down from the dignity of their work as to spread out before the crowd merchandise which had no connection with the work. PM 338.1

Our ministers who enjoy a comfortable state of health may, with the greatest propriety, engage at proper times in the sale of our important publications. Especially do the sale and circulation of such works as have recently been urged upon the attention of our people, claim vigorous efforts for them at this time. In four weeks, on our tour in the counties of Gratiot, Saginaw, and Tuscola, my husband sold, and gave to the poor, four hundred dollars’ worth. He first set the importance of the books before the people; then they were ready to take them as fast as he, with several to help him, could wait upon them.—Testimonies for the Church 1:687-689. PM 338.2

Emphasize Message Books—In the night of March 2, 1907, many things were revealed to me regarding the value of our publications on present truth and the small effort that is being made by our brethren and sisters in the churches for their wide circulation. PM 338.3

I have been repeatedly shown that our presses should now be constantly employed in publishing light and truth. This is a time of spiritual darkness in the churches of the world. Ignorance of divine things has hidden God and the truth from view. The forces of evil are gathering in strength. Satan flatters his co-workers that he will do a work that will captivate the world. While partial inactivity has come upon the church, Satan and his hosts are intensely active. The professed Christian churches are not converting the world; for they are themselves corrupted with selfishness and pride, and need to feel the converting power of God in their midst before they can lead others to a purer or higher standard. PM 338.4

The afternoon of March 2 I spent in counsel with Brother and Sister S. N. Haskell, discussing the work in Oakland and their plans to go East to spend some time in South Lancaster. After our visit I was weary and retired early. I was suffering with rheumatism in my left side and could get no rest because of the pain. I turned from side to side, trying to find ease from the suffering. There was a pain in my heart that portended no good for me. At last I fell asleep. PM 339.1

About half past nine I attempted to turn myself, and as I did so, I became aware that my body was entirely free from pain. As I turned from side to side, and moved my hands, I experienced an extraordinary freedom and lightness that I cannot describe. The room was filled with light, a most beautiful, soft, azure light, and I seemed to be in the arms of heavenly beings. PM 339.2

This peculiar light I have experienced in the past in times of special blessing, but this time it was more distinct, more impressive, and I felt such peace, peace so full and abundant no words can express it. I raised myself into a sitting posture, and I saw that I was surrounded by a bright cloud, white as snow, the edges of which were tinged with a deep pink. The softest, sweetest music was filling the air, and I recognized the music as the singing of the angels. Then a Voice spoke to me, saying: “Fear not; I am your Saviour. Holy angels are all about you.” PM 339.3

“Then this is heaven,” I said, “and now I can be at rest. I shall have no more messages to bear, no more misrepresentations to endure. Everything will be easy now, and I shall enjoy peace and rest. Oh, what inexpressible peace fills my soul! Is this indeed heaven? Am I one of God's little children? and shall I always have this peace?” PM 339.4

The Voice replied: “Your work is not yet done.” PM 340.1

Again I fell asleep, and when I awoke I heard music, and I wanted to sing. Then someone passed my door, and I wondered if that person saw the light. After a time the light passed away, but the peace remained. PM 340.2

After a while I fell asleep again. This time I seemed to be in a council meeting where our book work was being discussed. There were a number of our brethren present, leaders in our work, and Elder Haskell and his wife were there consulting together and with the brethren about the circulation of our books, tracts, and periodicals. PM 340.3

Elder Haskell was presenting strong reasons why the books which contain the knowledge that has been communicated to Sister White—the books containing the special message to come to the world at this present time—should be more freely circulated. “Why,” he inquired, “do not our people appreciate and circulate more widely the books bearing the divine credentials? Why is not a specialty made of the books containing the warnings regarding Satan's work? Why do we not give greater effort to circulating the books that point out Satan's plans to counterwork the work of God, that uncover his plans and point out his deceptions? The moral evils of his deceptions are to be removed by opening the eyes of the people so that they shall discern the situation and the dangers of our times; so that they shall make diligent effort to lay hold by faith upon Christ and His righteousness.” PM 340.4

A messenger from heaven stood in our midst, and he spoke words of warning and instruction. He made us clearly understand that the gospel of the kingdom is the message for which the world is perishing and that this message, as contained in our publications already in print and those yet to be issued, should be circulated among the people who are nigh and afar off.—Testimonies for the Church 9:65-67. PM 340.5

Circulation of Health Publications Important—The circulation of our health publications is a most important work. It is a work in which all who believe the special truths for this time should have a living interest. God desires that now, as never before, the minds of the people shall be deeply stirred to investigate the great temperance question and the principles underlying true health reform.... PM 340.6

Religion and Health—True religion and the laws of health go hand in hand. It is impossible to work for the salvation of men and women without presenting to them the need of breaking away from sinful gratifications, which destroy the health, debase the soul, and prevent divine truth from impressing the mind.—Colporteur Ministry, 131. PM 341.1

Perfect unity should exist among the workers who handle the books that are to flood the world with light. Wherever the canvassing work is presented among our people, let both the health books and the religious books be presented together as parts of a united work. The relation of the religious and the health books is presented to me as illustrated by the union of the warp and the woof to form a beautiful pattern and a perfect piece of work. PM 341.2

In the past the health books have not been handled with the interest which their importance demands. Though by a large class they have been highly appreciated, yet many have not thought it essential that they should go to the world. But what can be a better preparation for the coming of the Lord and for the reception of other truths essential to prepare a people for His coming than to arouse the people to see the evils of this age and to stir them to reformation from self-indulgent and unhealthful habits? Is not the world in need of being aroused on the subject of health reform? Are not the people in need of the truths presented in the health books? A different sentiment from that which has heretofore prevailed regarding the health works should be entertained by many of our canvassers in the field.—Colporteur Ministry, 135. PM 341.3

Establish Branches in Cities—Why is it, brethren, that you continue to keep so many interests bound up in Battle Creek? Why do you not listen to the counsels and the warnings that have been given you regarding this matter? Why do you not take decisive steps to establish centers of influence in many of the large cities? Why do you not encourage the Michigan Tract Society and the International Tract Society to establish their offices in cities where there is much missionary work to do, and where their secretaries and other workers may engage personally in missionary work, acting as leaders in important enterprises? Move out, brethren, move out, and educate your workers to labor for those outside the camp. Why do you hide your light by continuing to remain in Battle Creek? Go out, brethren, go out into the regions beyond. PM 341.4

There is much work to be done, and our experienced workers should strive to place themselves where they will come in direct contact with those needing help. They can do comparatively little in Battle Creek. Is it right, brethren, for you to keep your light hid under a bushel or under a bed? Is it not better that you do that which the Lord has plainly indicated you should do? Resolve now that you will give up your preference, your way, and that you will obey His voice. Seek the Lord most earnestly, with humble, fervent prayer for wisdom and for success in this endeavor.—Testimonies for the Church 8:76. PM 342.1

All Members to Support Publishing Work—The Lord has shown the error of many in looking to those only who have property to support the publication of the paper and tracts. All should act their part. Those who have strength to labor with their hands, and earn means to help sustain the cause, are as accountable for it as others are for their property. Every child of God who professes to believe the present truth, should be zealous to act his part in this cause.—Early Writings, 95. PM 342.2

Camp Meeting Book Sales—Afterward we were in camp meetings and in large meetings in our churches, where the ministers presented clearly the perils of the times in which we live and the great importance of making haste in the circulation of our literature. In response to these appeals the brethren and sisters came forward and purchased many books. Some took a few, and some purchased large quantities. Most of the purchasers paid for the books they took. A few arranged to pay afterward. PM 342.3

Because books were being sold at low prices, some being especially reduced for the occasion, many were purchased, and some by persons not of our faith. They said: “It must be that these books contain a message for us. These people are willing to make sacrifices in order that we may have them, and we will secure them for ourselves and our friends.” PM 343.1

But dissatisfaction was expressed by some of our own people. One said: “A stop must be put to this work, or our business will be spoiled.” As one brother was carrying away an armful of books, a canvasser laid his hand upon his arm and said: “My brother, what are you doing with so many books?” Then I heard the voice of our Counselor saying: “Forbid them not. This is a work that should be done. The end is near. Already much time has been lost, when these books should have been in circulation. Sell them far and near. Scatter them like the leaves of autumn. This work is to continue without the forbiddings of anyone. Souls are perishing out of Christ. Let them be warned of His soon appearing in the clouds of heaven.” PM 343.2

Some of the workers continued to appear much cast down. One was weeping and said: “These are doing the publishing work an injustice by purchasing these books at so low a price; besides, this work is depriving us of some of the revenue by which our work is sustained.” The Voice replied: “You are meeting with no loss. These workers who take the books at reduced prices could not obtain so ready sale for them except it be at this so-called sacrifice. Many are now purchasing for their friends and for themselves who otherwise would not think of buying.”—Testimonies for the Church 9:71-73. PM 343.3

Better Ways Than Public Appeals for Means—I was shown that there have been unhappy results from making urgent calls for means at our camp meetings. This matter has been pressed too hard. Many men of means would not have done anything had not their hearts been softened and melted under the influence of the testimonies borne to them. But the poor have been deeply affected and, in the sincerity of their souls, have pledged means which they had a heart to give, but which they were unable to pay. In most instances urgent calls for means have left a wrong impression upon some minds. Some have thought that money was the burden of our message. Many have gone to their homes blessed because they had donated to the cause of God. But there are better methods of raising means, by freewill offerings, than by urgent calls at our large gatherings. If all come up to the plan of systematic benevolence, and if our tract and missionary workers are faithful in their department of the work, the treasury will be well supplied without these urgent calls at our large gatherings.—Testimonies for the Church 3:510. PM 343.4

Sowing Beside All Waters—Our literature is to be distributed everywhere. The truth is to be sown beside all waters; for we know not which shall prosper, this or that. In our erring judgment we may think it unwise to give literature to the very ones who would accept the truth most readily. We know not what may be the good results of giving away a leaflet containing present truth.—Christian Service, 153. PM 344.1

Books Given to Community Leaders—I gave the mayor the best bound volume of Desire of Ages; and the Kerr brothers, three in number, each have one of my books and can interchange one with another; and I have placed my books into the hands of several others. This, I think, is the very best way I can leave with them the light God has given me. This has been all along under the direction of God. A gift in this line is letting the light shine forth in many families, and the message is appealing to the whole family.—Letter 218, 1899. PM 344.2

Books Donated to Institutions Encouraged—We can use the small volumes of Sabbath Readings and other works to good advantage in orphans’ homes and in many other places where these little books will be highly valued. We could use some of them in the Soldiers’ Home at Yountville [California], where many hundreds of old soldiers are provided for in large government buildings.... PM 344.3

We are sending papers to these soldiers, and have placed in their library copies of my works, Christ's Object Lessons and some larger books of mine.... PM 344.4

We desire to keep books and papers circulating among these soldiers. Please help us all you can along this line by gathering together something for them to read—books and papers full of Bible truth.—Letter 96, 1903. PM 345.1

Books for Hospitals, Nursing Homes, and Orphanages—Please find out what is needed in the patients’ library, and purchase the necessary volumes at my expense, as I desire to make a gift of them to the Sanitarium. I would wish these books for the patients’ library to be in the best binding. Also, find out whether there is a set of my books in the helpers’ library. If not, please buy a set for it, too. The binding of this set need not be the most expensive. Use your judgment in regard to this matter. PM 345.2

I should also like you to find out whether the Old People's Home and the Orphans’ Home are supplied with sets of my books. If not, please buy for them what may be needed, including both the large and the small books. I desire to make these gifts to these needy places.—Letter 96, 1903. PM 345.3

Books as Christmas Gifts—While urging upon all the duty of first bringing their offerings to God, I would not wholly condemn the practice of making Christmas and New Year's gifts to our friends. It is right to bestow upon one another tokens of love and remembrance if we do not in this forget God, our best Friend. We should make our gifts such as will prove a real benefit to the receiver. I would recommend such books as will be an aid in understanding the Word of God, or that will increase our love for its precepts. Provide something to be read during these long winter evenings. For those who can procure it, D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation will be both interesting and profitable. From this work we may gain some knowledge of what has been accomplished in the past in the great work of reform. We can see how God poured light into the minds of those who searched His Word, how much the men ordained and sent forth by Him were willing to suffer for the truth's sake, and how hard it is for the great mass of mankind to renounce their errors and to receive and obey the teachings of the Scriptures. During the winter evenings, when our children were young, we read from this history with the deepest interest. We made it a practice to read instructive and interesting books with the Bible, in the family circle, and our children were always happy as we thus entertained them. Thus we prevented a restless desire to be out in the street with young companions, and at the same time cultivated in them a taste for solid reading.—The Review and Herald, December 26, 1882. PM 345.4