Life Sketches of Ellen G. White


Chapter 36—Circulating the Printed Page

[These words of counsel regarding the circulation of literature were among the first calling for trained colporteur-evangelists.]

Several speakers had addressed large and attentive congregations at the camp meeting at Rome, N. Y., on first day, Sept. 12, 1875. The following night I dreamed that a young man of noble appearance came into the room where I was, immediately after I had been speaking. He said: LS 216.1

“You have called the attention of the people to important subjects, which, to a large number, are strange and new. To some they are intensely interesting. The laborers in word and doctrine have done what they could in presenting the truth. But unless there is a more thorough effort made to fasten these impressions upon minds, your efforts will prove nearly fruitless. Satan has many attractions ready to divert the mind; and the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches all combine to choke the seed of truth sown in the heart. LS 216.2

“In every effort such as you are now making, much more good would result from your labors if you had appropriate reading matter ready for circulation. Tracts upon the important points of truth for the present time should be handed out freely to all who will accept them. You are to sow beside all waters. LS 216.3

“The press is a powerful means to move the minds and hearts of the people. The men of this world seize the press, and make the most of every opportunity to get poisonous literature before the people. If men, under the influence of the spirit of the world and of Satan, are earnest to circulate books, tracts, and papers of a corrupting nature, you should be more earnest to get reading matter of an elevating and saving character before the people. LS 216.4

“God has placed at the command of His people advantages in the press, which, combined with other agencies, will be successful in extending the knowledge of the truth. Tracts, papers, and books, as the case demands, should be circulated in all the cities and villages in the land. Here is missionary work for all. LS 217.1

“There should be men trained for this branch of the work who will be missionaries, and will circulate publications. They should be men of good address, who will not repulse others or be repulsed. This is a work which would warrant men to give their whole time and energies as the occasion demands. God has committed to His people great light. This is not for them to selfishly enjoy alone, but to let its rays shine forth to others who are in the darkness of error. LS 217.2

“You are not as a people doing one twentieth part of what might be done in spreading the knowledge of the truth. Very much more can be accomplished by the living preacher with the circulation of papers and tracts than by the preaching of the word alone without the publications. The press is a powerful instrumentality which God has ordained to be combined with the energies of the living preacher to bring the truth before all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples. Many minds can be reached in no other way. LS 217.3

“Here is true missionary work in which labor and means can be invested with the best results. There has been too great fear of running risks, and moving out by faith, and sowing beside all waters. Opportunities have been presented which have not been grasped and made the most of. There has been too great fear of venturing. True faith is not presumption, but it ventures much. Precious light and powerful truth need to be brought out in publications without delay.” LS 217.4

Said he: “Your husband must not be discouraged in his efforts to encourage men to become workers, and responsible for important work. Every man whom God will accept, Satan will attack. If they disconnect from heaven, and imperil the cause, their failures will not be set to his account or to yours, but to the perversity of the nature of the murmuring ones, which they would not understand and overcome. These men whom God has tried to use to do His work, and who have failed, and brought great burdens upon those who were unselfish and true, have hindered and discouraged more than all the good they have done. And yet this should not hinder the purpose of God in having this growing work, with its burden of cares, divided into different branches, and laid upon men who should do their part, and lift the burdens when they ought to be lifted. These men must be willing to be instructed, and then God can fit them and sanctify them, and impart to them sanctified judgment, that what they undertake they may carry forward in His name.” LS 218.1