The Home Missionary


August 1, 1893

The Canvasser's Work


Letters have been received by me making inquiry in regard to the particular duties that devolve upon the canvasser. Some have said that in their experience in visiting the people, they have found favorable opportunities for presenting the truth for this time, and have even been forced into holding Bible readings. They have said they could not conscientiously pass by those who were interested, or neglect these favorable opportunities for presenting to earnest inquirers the great truths that mean so much to us. On the other hand, letters come, saying that our canvassers are not doing the work that is given them to do, but are occupying their time in giving Bible readings upon doctrinal points of faith, and that thereby prejudice is aroused, and canvassers have difficulty in delivering their books; and this class ask in what way they shall deal with this difficulty. HM August 1, 1893, par. 1

We think that there is truth in both these statements,—that canvassers find favorable opportunity for leading the people to a better understanding of the Bible, and that because of the way they meet these opportunities, prejudice is aroused and the work hindered. When the canvasser enters upon his line of work, he is not to allow himself to be diverted from his work, but should intelligently keep to the point with all diligence. And yet while he is doing his canvassing, he will not be heedless of opportunities to help souls who are seeking for light and who need the consolation of the Scriptures. There are many who have met with trials and disappointments, whose hearts have been made tender by sorrow or affliction, whom the Holy Spirit is drawing unto Christ. If the canvasser walks with God, if he prays for heavenly wisdom that he may do good, and only good in his labor, he will be quick to discern his opportunity, and the need of souls with whom he comes in contact. He will make the most of his opportunity to draw souls to Christ, not dwelling on doctrinal subjects, but upon the love of God, upon his mercy and goodness in devising the plan of salvation. He will not hold a controversy with the people, but in the Spirit of Christ he will be ready to speak a word in season to him who is weary. If, as faithful, true workers, canvassers have learned the trade to which they are called, from the nature of their work, they will be equipped with right words and actions, adapted to the circumstances of those with whom they come in contact. It would not be proper, nor would good results ensue, to present doctrines to souls who are entirely ignorant of our faith. HM August 1, 1893, par. 2

The great need of the soul is to know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. The Bible abounds in practical lessons which the canvasser may safely present to the people. If he can by this means enlighten their darkened minds and bring into the sanctuary of the soul a knowledge of what practical religion means, he will be feeding the people. The inexhaustible theme of the love of God in giving his Son to die for the sins of the world can safely be presented. The canvasser can say to the inquiring soul, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Let the canvasser go forth with this prayer upon his lips, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Let them labor as in the sight of God, and in the presence of heavenly angels; let them desire to be approved of God in all things, having an eye single to his glory, and they will not be fruitless in the work which they have undertaken. The claims of God are to be ever before our eyes, and we are never to forget that we are to give an account for the deeds done in the body. Weighted with this thought, canvassers will watch for souls, and their prayers will go forth from unfeigned lips, asking for wisdom to speak a word in season to those who need help. Workers of this kind will continually be elevating and purifying the soul through the sanctifying influence of the truth. They will feel the value of souls, and will make the most of the priceless opportunities granted them to make known the riches of the grace of Christ to those who are in poverty and darkness. HM August 1, 1893, par. 3

In order to enlighten souls it is not necessary to bring up controverted points of doctrine, and thus create opposition. Christ is the center of all our faith and hope. Those who can preach the matchless love of God, those who with softened heart can lift up Jesus, and inspire hearts to give him their best and holiest affections, are doing a high and holy work. By diligence in canvassing, by faithfully presenting to the people the cross of Calvary, the canvasser doubles his power of usefulness. But while we present these methods of work, we cannot lay out an undeviating line, in which every one shall move; for circumstances alter cases. God will impress those whose hearts are open to truth, who are longing for guidance, and he will say to his human agent, Speak to this one or that one of the love of Jesus. No sooner is the name of Jesus mentioned in love and tenderness than angels of God draw near, and soften and subdue the heart. HM August 1, 1893, par. 4

Doctrines of all kinds are proclaimed with no special effect; for men expect that men will seek to press upon them their doctrines; but when the matchless love of Jesus is dwelt upon, the grace of Christ is there to make its impression upon the heart. There are many who are sincerely seeking for light, who know not what they must do to be saved. O tell them of the love of God, of the sacrifice Christ made on Calvary's cross to save souls from perishing! Tell them to place their will on the side of God's will, and the Lord will open the way before them. Tell them, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” HM August 1, 1893, par. 5

We are individually to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. To each one of us, he must become wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. As we have living faith in Christ that appropriates him as our personal Saviour, we shall have power to place him before others in a new light. When the people see Christ as he is, they will not begin to wrangle over doctrines, but flee to Jesus for pardon, purity, and eternal life. No one can be a successful soul-winner till he himself has settled the question of surrender to God. In laboring for others we shall find that many are slow to comprehend the simplicity of godliness, but when once they look and live, the condition is met upon which the approval of God is bestowed. HM August 1, 1893, par. 6

The difficulty most to be dreaded is that the canvasser who meets with these inquiring souls has not himself been converted, has not himself experienced the love of Jesus which passeth knowledge. If he has not himself experienced the love of Christ, how can he tell souls the precious old, old story? The people are in need of having presented before them the very essence of true faith, of having brought to their minds the very way to accept Christ, and confide in him as their personal Saviour. They need to know how they may follow his steps whithersoever he goeth. Let the feet of the worker follow step by step the footprints of Jesus, and mark out no other way in which to proceed onward and heavenward. When a soul has been brought to Jesus through this kind of personal labor, leave the surrendered, humble heart for God to work with, and let God impose upon him just such burdens, and urge him into just such service as he sees fit. God has given his pledge that his grace shall be sufficient for every one who will listen to his invitation, and come unto him. Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me; so shall he be my disciple.” HM August 1, 1893, par. 7

This is the kind of enlightenment that people need. They have heard doctrines until they are disgusted. Let the Lord Jesus Christ be the sum and substance of everything. If the people surrender to Jesus, if they open the door of their hearts and invite Him in, they will be in safe keeping. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Possessing Jesus they will possess truth; for if they follow on to know the Lord, they will know that his goings forth are prepared as the morning. They will be complete in him. In our work we need far less controversy, and far more presentation of Christ. HM August 1, 1893, par. 8

Many professed Christians make themselves a center. They have broken away from the great center, Jesus Christ; but if they would attract souls to him, they must flee back to Christ, and realize their utter dependence upon him. Satan has tried his uttermost to lay hold of and sever the chain that unites and binds man to God, that he may bind souls for whom Christ died to his own car, and make slaves of them in his service; but we are to work against him, and draw men to the Redeemer of the world. By exemplifying the love of Jesus in the life, by telling men what they must do in order to be saved, canvassers will themselves be blessed, and will receive light as they impart light to others. HM August 1, 1893, par. 9

Let canvassers be faithful students, learning how to be most successful, and while they are thus employed let them keep their eyes and ears and understanding open to receive wisdom from God, that they may know how to help those who are perishing for the lack of the knowledge of Christ. Let every worker concentrate his energies, and use his powers for the highest of all service,—to recover men from the snare of Satan and bind them to God, making the chain of dependence through Jesus Christ, fast to the throne encircled with the rainbow of promise. HM August 1, 1893, par. 10

Mrs. E. G. White