The Publishing Ministry


Chapter 15—Divine Rebuke for Ignoring Counsel


One reason the fires were permitted was the proliferation and the overdevelopment of institutions in Battle Creek; and the failure of the church to reach out and establish new and viable centers of influence in many places. The payment of excessive wages to a select few was also displeasing to God. PM 167.1

Because of the weaknesses and shortcomings of institutional administration in Battle Creek and Mountain View, divine providence allowed these tragedies to occur. PM 167.2

The fires also revealed the fact that the institutions of the church belonged to God Himself, and He intended that divine authority should not be abrogated. The institutions must be operated according to the divine pattern of instruction if success was to be achieved. PM 167.3

Message after message of warning and counsel was sent to the leading workers pointing out the evils and the dangers. To Uriah Smith, editor of the Review, Ellen White wrote in January, 1898: PM 167.4

“Christ sorrows and weeps over our churches, over our institutions of learning, that have failed to meet the demand of God. He comes to investigate in Battle Creek, which has been moving in the same track as Jerusalem. The publishing house has been turned into desecrated shrines, into places of unholy merchandise and traffic. It has become a place where injustice and fraud have been carried on, where selfishness, malice, envy, and passion have been borne sway. Yet the men who have led into this working upon wrong principles are seemingly unconscious of their wrong course of action. When warnings and entreaties come to them, they say, Doth He not speak in parables? Words of warning and reproof have been treated as idle tales.”—Letter 31, 1898. PM 167.5

“We have no permission from the Lord,” wrote Ellen White, “to engage either in the printing or in the sale of such publications; for they are the means of destroying many souls. I know of what I am writing, for this matter has been opened before me. Let not those who believe the message for this time engage in such work, thinking to make money.”—Testimonies for the Church 7:166. PM 168.1

One reason the fires were permitted was the proliferation and the overdevelopment of institutions in Battle Creek; and the failure of the church to reach out and establish new and viable centers of influence in many places. The payment of excessive wages to a select few was also displeasing to God. PM 168.2

The two large publishing house fires were judgments sent because of the secularization of the Review and the Pacific Press by the overproduction of commercial printing, to say nothing of the large amount of objectionable literature published. Thus, the printing denominational literature was made secondary and spiritual influences and power waned. God and His great work in the earth had to wait while worldly business interests were put first. PM 168.3

About this time Ellen White made a most interesting observation, an observation showing an insight that God gave to her: PM 168.4

“Even the men who are endeavoring to exalt their own sentiments as wonderful science are astonished that men in positions of responsibility in our office of publication—a printing office set for the defense of the truth of God—have consented to print their books.”—Manuscript 124, 1901. PM 168.5

In October of 1901 she wrote: PM 168.6

“In the Pacific Press an objectionable class of work has been taken in—novels and storybooks which absorb the minds of those who handled them, diverting their attention from the Word of God.... The introduction of this class of matter destroys the spirituality of the office.”—Letter 140, 1901. PM 168.7

Also, the managers of the publishing houses failed to a large degree to train apprentices and workers for service in home and overseas plants, thus effectually depriving the Review and the Pacific Press of that missionary spirit that could have been engendered in these institutions. PM 168.8

Selfish schemes depriving authors of certain royalties and labeled as a “confederacy” were denounced by the Lord's messenger. PM 168.9

In this important section, the testimonies of Ellen White relating to the fires, their causes and the crises represented and brought on by these remarkable events are brought together for careful and prayerful study. Fortunately the lessons taught by these experiences were not lost upon church leaders. PM 168.10

Trustees, Ellen G. White Estate.


A View of Threatening Dangers in 1890—I am alarmed at the outlook both for the sanitarium and the publishing house at Battle Creek and our institutions generally. A spirit has been manifesting itself, and strengthening year by year in the institutions, that is of an entirely different character from that which the Lord has revealed in His Word should characterize the physicians and workers connected with our health institutions, and the work of publishing. The idea is entertained that the physicians at the sanitarium and men in responsible positions in the publishing house are not under obligations to be controlled by self-denying, self-sacrificing principles of Christianity. But this idea has its origin in the councils of Satan. When physicians make manifest the fact that they think more of the wages they are to receive than of the work of the institution, they show that they are not men to be depended upon as unselfish, God-fearing servants of Christ, faithful in doing the work of the Master.—Selected Messages 2:194. PM 169.1

Worldly Policies Steal Away Identity—It is conformity to the world that is causing our people to lose their bearings. The perversion of right principles has not been brought about suddenly. The angel of the Lord presented this matter to me in symbols. It seemed as if a thief were stealthily moving closer and still closer and gradually but surely stealing away the identity of God's work by leading our brethren to conform to worldly policies. PM 169.2

The mind of man has taken the place that rightfully belongs to God. Whatever position a man may hold, however exalted he may be, he should act as Christ would were He in his place. In every stroke of work that he performs, in his words, and in his character he should be Christlike. PM 169.3

Man is not to permit God's work to be carried on contrary to a plain “Thus saith the Lord.” But it is becoming more and more customary for men to separate from God, thinking that it is their privilege to go forward in their own way and according to their own ideas.—Manuscript 96, 1902. PM 170.1

Prediction Regarding a Purging of Institutions—The Lord will work to purify His church. I tell you in truth, the Lord is about to turn and overturn in the institutions called by His name. Just how soon this refining process will begin I cannot say, but it will not be long deferred. He whose fan is in His hand will cleanse His temple of its moral defilement. He will thoroughly purge His floor.—Letter 4, 1895. PM 170.2

A Sword of Fire Over Battle Creek—Before the fire came which sweep away the Review and Herald factory I was in distress for many days.... I saw the representation of danger—a sword of fire turning this way and that way. I was in an agony of distress. The next news was that the Review and Herald building had been burned by fire, but that not one life had been lost. In this the Lord spoke mercy with judgment. The mercy of God was mingled with judgment to spare the lives of the workers, that they might do the work which they had neglected to do, and which it seemed impossible to make them see and understand.—The General Conference Bulletin, April 6, 1903, p. 85. PM 170.3

Cleansing From Commercial Work—Three nights before the Review office burned, I was in an agony that words cannot describe. I could not sleep. I walked the room, praying to God to have mercy upon His people. Then I seemed to be in the Review office with the men who have the management of the institution. I was trying to speak to them and thus to help them. One of authority arose and said, “You say, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we; therefore, we have authority to do this thing and that thing and the other thing. But the word of God forbids many of the things that you propose to do.” At His first advent, Christ cleansed the Temple. Prior to His second advent He will again cleanse the temple. He was there cleansing the temple. Why? Because commercial work had been brought in, and God had been forgotten. With hurry here and hurry there and hurry somewhere else, there was no time to think of heaven. The principles of God's law were presented, and I heard the question asked, “How much of the law have you obeyed?” Then the word was spoken, “God will cleanse and purify His temple in His displeasure.” PM 170.4

In the visions of the night I saw a sword of fire hung out over Battle Creek. PM 171.1

Brethren, God is in earnest with us. I want to tell you that if after the warnings given in these burnings the leaders of our people go right on, just as they have done in the past, exalting themselves, God will take the bodies next. Just as surely as He lives, He will speak to them in language that they cannot fail to understand. PM 171.2

God is watching us to see if we will humble ourselves before Him as little children. I speak these words now that we may come to Him in humility and contrition and find out what He requires of us.—Manuscript 11, 1903. PM 171.3

A Fulfillment of Warnings—Today I received a letter from Elder Daniells [General Conference president] regarding the destruction of the Review office by fire. I feel very sad as I consider the great loss to the cause. I know that this must be a very trying time for the brethren in charge of the work and for the employees of the office. I am afflicted with all who are afflicted. But I was not surprised by the sad news, for in the visions of the night I have seen an angel standing with a sword as of fire stretched over Battle Creek. Once, in the daytime while my pen was in my hand, I lost consciousness, and it seemed as if this sword of flame were turning first in one direction and then in another. Disaster seemed to follow disaster [Seventh-day Adventist fires in Battle Creek destroyed not only the sanitarium building and the Review and Herald factory but also the Haskell orphan home. And there were other fires of less consequence. No more convincing disapproval of the status quo could have been provided by the Master Overseer of the work than these calamities.] because God was dishonored by the devising of men to exalt and glorify themselves.... PM 171.4

Some time ago the brethren at the Review office asked my counsel about the erection of another building. I then said that if those who were in favor of adding another building to the Review and Herald office had the future mapped out before them, if they could see what would be in Battle Creek, they would have no question about putting up another building there. God said: “My Word has been despised; and I will turn and overturn.” PM 172.1

At the General Conference, held in Battle Creek in 1901, the Lord gave His people evidence that He was calling for reformation. Minds were convicted, and hearts were touched; but thorough work was not done. If stubborn hearts had then broken in penitence before God, there would have been seen one of the greatest manifestations of the power of God that has ever been seen. But God was not honored. The testimonies of His Spirit were not heeded. Men did not separate from the practices that were in decided opposition to the principles of truth and righteousness, which should ever be maintained in the Lord's work. PM 172.2

The messages to the church of Ephesus and to the church in Sardis have been often repeated to me by the One who gives me instruction for His people.... PM 172.3

We are seeing the fulfillment of these warnings. Never have scriptures been more strictly fulfilled than these have been.—Testimonies for the Church 8:97-99. (See also Testimonies for the Church 8:91-93.) PM 172.4

Neglect a Cause for Review and Herald Fire—Since the last General Conference held in Battle Creek [in 1901], I have carried a very heavy burden, because I have keenly realized the great lack in the publishing plant there. For weeks I did not sleep past twelve o'clock. This was before the plant was burned. Light was given me that the spiritual blindness manifested by those connected with this institution was caused by their neglect to do a thorough work of confession and repentance, with contrition of soul seeking the Lord most earnestly. I was instructed that there was so manifest a disregard of the Word of God, given in the testimonies of His Holy Spirit, that the Lord would turn and overturn, visiting Battle Creek with His judgments.— Letter 37, 1903. (See also Testimonies for the Church 8:91-93.) PM 172.5

Failure to Prepare Missionary Workers—Again and again testimonies were given in regard to the principles that were coming in to leaven the publishing house. And yet, though the messages kept coming that men were working on principles which God could not accept, no decided change was made. The apprentices in the office were not given the advantages that they should have had. They were not being prepared to go as missionaries into various places, as they might be called. They were not being prepared to stand as God's representatives. The influence of the office was not what it should have been. God declared that this institution should be a sacred place, that angels of God were walking up and down through it. The words of contradiction spoken in the office, and the general irritation shown, were condemned. He designed that it should be a school where workers should be trained to uphold the principles that God had ordained should ever be maintained by His people.—Manuscript 20, 1903. PM 173.1

Further Revelations of God's Displeasure?—I am well aware of the conditions existing in both the Review and Herald Publishing Company and the Sanitarium. I have received instruction as to why these large buildings were destroyed by fire. I am sure that unless the management of these institutions is conducted more after God's order, there will be further revelations of God's displeasure.—Letter 182, 1903. PM 173.2

Heart-searching and Self-examination—The destruction of the Review and Herald building should not be passed over as something in which there is no meaning. Everyone connected with the office should ask himself: “Wherein do I deserve this lesson? Wherein have I walked contrary to a ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ that He should send this lesson to me? Have I heeded the warnings and reproofs that He has sent, or have I followed my own way?” PM 173.3

Let the heart-searching God reprove the erring, and let each one bow before Him in humility and contrition, casting aside all self-righteousness and self-importance, confessing and forsaking every sin, and asking God, in the name of the Redeemer, for pardon. God declares, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37); and those who in sincerity present themselves before Him will be pardoned and justified, and will receive power to become the sons of God. PM 173.4

I pray that those who have resisted light and evidence, refusing to listen to God's warnings, will see in the destruction of the Review and Herald office an appeal to them to turn to God with full purpose of heart. Will they not realize that God is in earnest with them? He is not seeking to destroy life, but to save life. In the recent destruction the lives of the workers were graciously preserved, that all might have an opportunity to see that God was correcting them by a message coming not from a human source, but from above. God's people have departed from Him; they have not followed His instruction, and He has come near them in correction; but He has not brought extinction of life. Not one soul has been taken by death. All have been left alive to recognize the Power that no man can gainsay. PM 174.1

Let us praise the Lord that the lives of His children have been so precious in His sight. He might have cut off the workers in their heedlessness and self-sufficiency. But, no! He says: “They shall have another chance. I will let the fire speak to them and will see if they will counterwork the action of My providence. I will try them as by fire to see if they will learn the lesson that I desire to teach them.”—Testimonies for the Church 8:101-103. PM 174.2

Perils of Leaders Who Exalt Their Own Will—I am instructed that those who follow on in a wrong course, regardless of the lessons taught by the burning of the Sanitarium and the Review and Herald office, are revealing the stubbornness of Pharaoh. They are refusing to be admonished by the judgments of Heaven, and are pressing on without realizing that these things call them to search their hearts closely and humble themselves before God. Unless they repent, the Lord will surely repeat His judgments, as He repeated them to the king of Egypt. God bears long with the perversity of men. He sends them decided reproofs and clear light, but if they will not receive the warnings of God, if they persist in following their own will, their own impulses, the Lord will send His judgments and will not pardon their persistent determination to be like the people of the world.... PM 174.3

I am sorry, so sorry that men will be willfully obstinate, as was Pharaoh the king of Egypt and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon; but so it is. Let all be warned by the messages sent from heaven that when any man shall exalt his own ways and his own judgment as supreme, he will come under Satan's jurisdiction and will be led blindfold by him until his spirit and his methods will conform to the archdeceiver, little by little, until his whole mind is under the influence of the spell. The serpent keeps its eye fixed upon a man, to charm him, until he has no power to go from the snare.—Manuscript 122, 1905. PM 175.1

What Lesson Is God Teaching Us?—We must learn the meaning of the destruction of two of our largest institutions. We cannot afford to look with indifference on these things. What lesson is God teaching us? Is He not trying to show us the need of closely examining ourselves, that we may see whether we be in the faith or not? Is He not trying to lead us to give more thought to the subject of the time in which we are living? The signs of the times fulfilling all around us show us that the end of all things is at hand. Intense earnestness should take possession of us. Our slumbering energies should be aroused by persevering effort. Consecrated workers should go forth into the field and move understandingly forward, clearing the King's highway, obtaining victories in new places.—Letter 43, 1903. PM 175.2

Past Experiences Prepare for Future—Again and again I have been shown that the past experiences of God's people are not to be counted as dead facts. We are not to treat the record of these experiences as we would treat a last year's almanac. The record is to be kept in mind, for history will repeat itself. The darkness of the mysteries of the night is to be illuminated with the light of heaven.... PM 175.3

In the future, Satan's superstitions will assume new forms. False theories, clothed with garments of light, will be presented to God's people. Thus Satan will try to deceive if possible the very elect. Our watchword is to be, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).—Letter 238, 1903. PM 175.4

Warning Not to Rebuild in Battle Creek—Yesterday morning we heard that the Review and Herald publishing building has been burned to the ground. How sad this is! The financial loss that the fire will be to the cause, we do not yet know. I hear that nothing was saved. PM 176.1

This disaster may make a decided change in affairs. I hope that our brethren will heed the lesson that God is trying to teach them, and that they will not rebuild the publishing house in Battle Creek. God means that we shall not locate in the cities, for there are very stormy times before us.—Letter 2, 1903. PM 176.2

Scattering From Battle Creek Spreads the Light—In the calamities that have befallen our institutions in Battle Creek, we have had an admonition from God. Let us not pass this admonition carelessly by without trying to understand its meaning. There are those who will say, “Of course the Review office must be rebuilt in Battle Creek.” Why did the Lord permit Jerusalem to be destroyed by fire the first time? Why did He permit His people to be overcome by their enemies and carried into heathen lands? It was because they had failed to be His missionaries, and had built walls of division between themselves and the people around them. The Lord scattered them, that the knowledge of His truth might be carried to the world. If they were loyal and true and submissive, God would bring them again into their own land.—Manuscript 22, 1903. PM 176.3

The Lord instructed me that unless the people did respond to the words of admonition sent them, He would surely scatter them from Battle Creek. Again and again I have been shown that the Lord would turn and overturn in Battle Creek.... The Lord told me that I must present these warnings to His people in other parts of the world who had not heard them and who, as they met in conferences and councils at Battle Creek, were ignorant of the light that has been sent regarding the need of getting out of Battle Creek.—Letter 126, 1903. PM 176.4

Problem of Centralization Solved by Fire—Elder Daniells and Elder Prescott have made some mistakes in their religious experience, as other men have; but they never defied the Spirit of God and refused to be corrected. At one time it was supposed that the publishing interests should be centralized under the organization in Battle Creek. I was in great distress in regard to this sentiment. I was weighed down as a cart beneath sheaves. But this difficulty was adjusted by the Lord's permitting the principal buildings of the Review and Herald Publishing House to be destroyed by fire.... PM 177.1

Brethren Daniells and Prescott placed themselves in line to do the very work the Lord assigned them in moving the publishing work from the Battle Creek to Washington, D.C. The Lord has greatly blessed them in every step they have taken in accordance with the light He has given them. His signature has been upon their work, and He will be with them still if they will continue to look steadfastly to Him as their teacher and their example. If they turn aside, as did Solomon, to work contrary to God's designs, then the Lord cannot cooperate with them.—Manuscript 58, 1904. PM 177.2

Eyes Off Ruins and Lack of Means—Judge H makes a very discouraging representation of the financial standing of the Review and Herald Publishing Company. If the case is indeed as he represents it, we have enough to feel sad about. But I am not going to be sad. I am determined to be cheerful. I was shown some things before the Review and Herald fire, and I am not going to take the burden now. Let us not keep our eyes fixed on the ruins of a condemned office. We shall get no inspiration from such a sight. PM 177.3

My brother, I do not want you to worry about finances. The Lord knows what we need.—Letter 134, 1903. PM 177.4

Calamities in San Francisco and Mountain View—I am instructed to say to laborers in San Francisco and Oakland, and also in Mountain View: Let every worker remember that he is under most solemn obligation to labor in accordance with the Lord's plan. Let our brethren and sisters engaged in the Lord's work realize their great accountability to God at this time, in view of the special calamities that have come to San Francisco [earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906] and to the office in Mountain View. Let them consider and take heed. Let everyone engaged in the work examine his individual standing before God.... PM 177.5

To the [Pacific Press] workers in Mountain View I am bidden to say: Let everyone stand clear from the impenitence that brought destruction upon San Francisco. Be faithful in ridding your individual self of all the sins that marked the inhabitants of that doomed city. You need not try to forget that the judgments of God will soon fall upon all that are ungodly. None will then have the opportunity that you now have of gaining a preparation for the future, immortal life.—Manuscript 85, 1906. PM 178.1

Calamity Not Always Retribution—When calamity comes, unless the Lord indicates plainly that this calamity is sent as a punishment of those who are departing from the word of His counsel; unless He reveals that it has come as a retribution for the sins of the workers, let every man refrain from criticism. Let us be careful not to reproach anyone.—The Review and Herald, August 16, 1906. PM 178.2