Manuscript Releases, vol. 6 [Nos. 347-418]


MR No. 390—Improper Literature

The enemy has had his way with your daughter until his bands have bound her about like bands of steel, and it will require a strong and persevering effort to save her soul. If you have success in this case, no half way work will do. The habits of years cannot easily be broken up. She should be placed where there is a steady, firm, abiding influence constantly exercised. If I were in your place I would do all I could. I should put her in the college at Healdsburg; let her have the discipline of the boarding house.... You have encouraged the reading of story books, and papers with continued stories lying upon your tables have educated and trained the taste and appetite of your daughter until she is a mental inebriate and needs a stronger power and will than her own to hold her.—Letter 12, 1886, pp. 1, 2. (To Sister Chapman, December 27, 1886.) 6MR 256.1

There has come to us from Battle Creek an address given in Battle Creek, Michigan. I think this will do good, but I was pained to see in this book the statement, “There are undoubtedly novels, such as Uncle Tom's Cabin and a few others which I might mention, which have been active agents in the accomplishment of great and good results. Such novels are not likely to do anybody any harm.” 6MR 256.2

This is the way many regard the matter, but is it really truth? My brother, the Lord has not opened before you the beginning, and carried you down through the end, showing you the influence of these works, that you can give such unqualified statements as these. Have you looked into the inward workings of these books which you pronounce “active agents of great and good results?” The fact is, my brother, you need a deeper insight to see the tendencies and the results of the reading of even Uncle Tom's Cabin. There are many things in the work that would do no harm, and there are many things which have served a purpose in the exposure of slavery, but I would not want to recommend this book to our youth for their perusal. 6MR 256.3

There are statements and pen-pictures which set the imagination upon a train of thought that has been deleterious and positively injurious. These highly-wrought pictures have taken hold of nervous, susceptible youth, and they have lived them over and over again in imagination. It has destroyed appetite for the Bible, and the desire to attend prayer-meetings; for everything was stale and without interest after feasting upon the diet found in this book. The food taken into the mind was of such a character that heavenly and divine things found no place in the thoughts, and the imaginations were evil, and these youth have made confessions that this was caused by the reading of Uncle Tom's Cabin. This laid the foundations for a train of evils, and the imaginations became intensely excited, and the thoughts would recur again and again to immoral subjects which led to sin of licentiousness and impurity, to disobedience, to secret plannings, and to deception. 6MR 257.1

But let this statement be treated as it may, many individual cases have been reproved by testimony for a wrong course of action which was the sure result of reading this book which you have recommended, and which Elder Canright has also recommended. While I esteem your wisdom and skill as a physician, I do not praise your wisdom in making these statements. Your little pamphlet is a good work, but while this statement may increase its value in the minds of novel readers in our churches, yet I shall have to meet its results with pen and voice by saying that God has not prompted the writing of these sentences in regard to novels. I know whereof I speak. 6MR 257.2

At the present time I am writing to a wealthy family of high standing, and who have been long in the truth; and the oldest daughter living is fast becoming a physical and mental wreck because of reading just such a class of books as Elder Canright and you have so decidedly recommended. Such statements are exactly of the same order as telling the poor inebriate, You must not drink a certain class of stimulating liquors which are intoxicating, but you may drink the milder kinds, such as wine, cider, and beer. Just as though you could describe and define and have your word law in the matter. The only safety for the inebriate is total abstinence. 6MR 258.1

At least those who have no understanding of the workings of the appetite, the cravings of the mind, should not have all barriers broken down by those who ought to know better, and who understand the working of the human mind in these things. They will claim that the fictitious books that they read are among the novels that are doing great good, and this may be the popular opinion, and they declare that there is no harm in them. They say they do not read anything of an impure character; it all condemns everything of this kind; and yet the influence is demoralizing to the mind. The sense of right and wrong becomes confused; deceptions and imaginations are practiced as truth. I might go on and write a volume on this matter. 6MR 258.2

Whatever you yourself may think of this class of books, for Christ's sake do not present to others the temptation to read them. You may think they do good, but in the Judgment, when the matter is weighed in the balances of God, it will be found that the evil results predominate a hundred-fold above the good results. 6MR 258.3

This matter has been opened before me. There are many minds that are hopelessly wrecked. The beautiful girl just entering womanhood, of whom I have spoken, is, I fear, hopelessly ruined, both in physical and mental health, so that she has had a partial shock of palsy. She was encouraged in her course of reading by the story books and papers found on their own tables at home. Notwithstanding all the pure, elevating influences of home, her parents fully in the truth, the daughter is, I fear, hopelessly lost to the truth and ruined in health and in mind. This appetite was cultivated by the parents. Now the mother writes me in mournful strains, she knows not what to do for her daughter. She has no desire to attend meetings, although she has professed to be a Christian. She wants to do nothing but read, read story books. And it all comes from these good, fictitious novels. While answering the mother's piteous appeal to me for help, your address was placed in my hands, and when I read that paragraph which I have quoted, I felt a burden, a weight upon me; I felt like weeping aloud. I shall meet this statement, and shall have to answer to it. 6MR 259.1

I am laboring to call the attention of the young to the close searching of the Scriptures. I am laboring to have them bring to the foundation gold, silver, and precious stones, that the last day cannot consume. I am working with pen and voice to awaken the youth to the stern realities just about to open before us, and to lead them to leave the superficial, the fictitious in everything large and small, for living realities, that they shall not live an unreal, imaginary life, but take right hold of the verity and truth of practical life. It is realities with which we are to deal. Everything is tainted and corrupted with falsehood and fiction in this age. We want now solid truth for our foundation. Men and women are asleep. Youth are enchanted, infatuated with the false. They lay upon the foundation hay, wood, and stubble which the fires of the last day will consume. The mind will be of the same character as the food is composed of upon which it has been fed. There is only one remedy; that is, to become conversant with the Scriptures. We cannot study the Bible too much. Christ said, “Search the Scriptures;” but the natural heart would search everything else rather than the Scriptures. 6MR 259.2

Every faculty is injured. The affections become depraved, and the whole heart becomes, through improper reading, even among our people, deceitful in practice, fictitious in life and character, living and acting a lie.—Letter 6, 1886, pp. 1-5. (To Dr. J. H. Kellogg, December 30, 1886.) 6MR 260.1

Give your boy something to do. Teach him to be industrious. He has naturally no love for work; he loves indolence and seeks to shirk responsibility. If you want your children to bless you, teach them to be useful and self-denying. Restrict their reading. They should not be allowed to pore over the pages of novels or story books filled with the tales of lust and knavery, for it will not leave a heavenly influence on their minds. They are young and inexperienced, and will be just what you make them. All such habits of reading will cut up by the roots the principles of virtue which enter into the formation of a good, firm character. Novel reading is like taking poison, and will sooner or later reveal its bitter results. The mark for good or evil made upon the characters of your children is not written in the sand but is traced as on enduring rock.—Letter 10, 1888, pp. 10, 11. (To Brother and Sister E. P. Daniels, April, 1888.) 6MR 260.2

You have not stored your mind with the precious things of God's word, and unless you repent, you will surely be deceived by Satan's manifold devices. You have left the precious word of life for a dish of fables, and you are perverting your God-given powers; you are intoxicated with that which is false and deceptive. You have indulged in a kind of reading that gives you not a knowledge of God or of the truth. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” We want to understand every jot and tittle of God's will as revealed in His word; but you are filling your mind with rubbish, with trifling things. Time is passing, and you are not gaining an experience for the future, immortal life. The class of reading you enjoy destroys your appetite for solid reading that would improve the mind and strengthen the intellect. This much reading of unprofitable literature is a snare to your soul. You are like a man intoxicated with strong drink. Your mind is not clear upon any subject which concerns your eternal interest. You are unready for that which is coming upon the earth, unfitted to act your part in the great whole. You place yourself in the way of temptation; and when you stand upon Satan's ground, you are inviting his assaults.... Your faith is adulterated, and your only safety is to determine that you will not fill your mind with fiction. You have not wisdom to discriminate, and the indulgence of your love for reading spoils you for your business.—Letter 8, 1893, pp. 1, 2, 7. (To Joseph Hare, March, 1893.) 6MR 261.1

God commands you to make the most of your talents. You are to improve every talent. Satan has the control of those who give themselves to novel reading and many do not know it. We talk to you of Christ.—Manuscript 9, 1893, 13. (“True to Principle,” March 5, 1893.) 6MR 262.1

No child is to be allowed to rule in the house, but parents are to teach their children to do justice and judgment, and to keep the way of the Lord. But your children know not how to reverence or even respect the truth, and they never will unless they turn from fictitious reading,—the idol to which they have given soul and body. They keep their minds intoxicated with this reading, it is the god they worship, and while they continue this practice they are virtually intoxicated in mind as any drunkard.—Letter 32, 1896, pp. 4, 5. (To Brother and Sister Hughes, March 7, 1896.) 6MR 262.2

No line of literature or education in book knowledge is to become supreme. But to know God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent is life eternal. Let the students take the love and fear of God with them into their school life, and this is wisdom more precious than words can express. Connected with God it can be said of them as of Daniel, God gave him wisdom and knowledge in all mysteries. Learning is good. The wisdom of Solomon is desirable; but the wisdom of a greater than Solomon is far more desirable and essential. Through the learning in our schools we cannot reach Christ, but we can through Christ reach the highest end of the ladder in science; for the word of Inspiration says, “Ye are complete in him.” Our first business is to see and acknowledge God, and then He will direct our path. 6MR 262.3

We would not, with pen or voice, discourage knowledge in literature, in trades, and in art, but first let the student secure the knowledge of God and His will concerning his own individual self, that he may adorn, exalt, and sanctify by sacred, holy influence, in all his studies. Then there will be requirements in perfection of character that will make every study an acquisition to glorify God.—Letter 141a, 1896, pp. 4, 5. (To J. Edson White, January 30, 1896.) 6MR 263.1

The knowledge of the way of the Lord is increasing, and will continue to increase. Heresy and superstition are clothing the world in the sackcloth garments of rebellion and transgression. Literature and cheap fiction of every order is circulated like the leaves of autumn; and the minds of thousands are so taken up with irreligious, cheap trash that there is no place in the mind for solid reading. The word of God and all that would elevate man from his degradation is passed by with indifference.—Manuscript 46, 1897, 1. (“The Entrance of Thy Words Giveth Light,” May 2, 1897.) 6MR 263.2

Some were strenuously urging the study of infidel authors, the very books that God has condemned, and which, therefore, should not be in any way sanctioned. After much earnest conversation and discussion, One who is, and has long been, our instructor, stepped forward, and taking in his hand the books which had been earnestly advocated as essential to a higher education, he said, Do you find in these authors sentiments and principles which make it altogether safe to place them in the hands of students? Human minds are easily charmed by Satan's lies; and these works produce in the mind a distaste for the contemplation of the word of God, which, if received and appreciated, ensures eternal life to the receiver. You are creatures of habit, and if you had never read one word in these books, you would today be far better able to comprehend that book which, above all other books, is worthy to be studied, and which gives the only correct ideas regarding higher education. 6MR 263.3

Because it has been customary to include these authors among your lesson books, and because this custom is hoary with age, is no argument in its favor. This does not necessarily recommend them as safe or essential books. These books have led thousands where Satan led Adam and Eve, to eat of the tree of knowledge which God has forbidden. They lead students to forsake the study of the Scriptures for a line of education that is not essential. The words of men who give evidence that they know not Christ are not to find a place in our schools.... 6MR 264.1

The world acknowledges as teachers those whom God does not endorse as safe instructors. The Bible is discarded by these. Infidel authors are recommended as if they were in possession of those sentiments which should be interwoven into the course of study. What do you expect from the sowing of this kind of seed? In the study of these objectionable books, the minds of teachers, as well as students, become corrupted, and the enemy sows his tares. It cannot be otherwise. By drinking of the impure fountain, poisonous malaria is introduced into the system of education. Inexperienced youth taken over this line of study receive, because of their inexperience, impressions which lead their thoughts into channels that are fatal to piety. 6MR 264.2

Thus youth have been sent to our school in Battle Creek to learn from books which, because tolerated in our schools, are thought to be safe. But it is impossible to sanction these books by retaining them as lesson books, without reaping the harvest which is sure to come from the sowing of such seed. It is this class of education that has sent students from the schools of the world infidels. 6MR 265.1

The Messenger of God took books from the hands of several teachers, and laid them aside, saying, There never has been a time in your lives when a study of these books was for your present good and advancement, or for your future eternal good.—Manuscript 69, 1897, 1-3. (“The Bible in Our Schools,” June 17, 1897.) 6MR 265.2

Those who would bring forth precious things from the storehouse of the heart will avoid all cheap reading, all cheap ideas and talk. They will seek for the most precious store of information. They will search the Scriptures that they may understand the word of God.—Manuscript 74, 1897, 5. (“Our Words,” July 4, 1897.) 6MR 265.3

A creative imagination cannot supply the lack of a proper, high, pure, all-round symmetrical character. All immorality, all loose, cheap, unchaste ideas, all impurity of any kind, not only impairs the Christian experience, but destroys the inward spiritual adornment. 6MR 265.4

The vices in which young men indulge impart their nature to the soul. Low, cheap food given to the mind means a low, cheap character. Selfish gratifications become woven into the texture of the life. The moral appetite is perverted. Vulgar thoughts, cheap reading, are demoralizing. If this is the fountain from which they choose to drink, the taste soon becomes as coarse and vile as the books and the associates chosen.—Letter 99, 1897, pp. 4, 5. (To Brother and Sister O. A. Olsen, August 19, 1897.) 6MR 266.1

After speaking to the church at North Fitzroy, a great burden came upon me. Again, on Monday night, the agony of my soul seemed to be more than I could bear. I seemed to be in an assembly in which the men in positions of responsibility connected with the various lines of our work were gathered together, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon me. The question in regard to commercial work was being agitated. What should be its character and position in the Echo Office. Should it be allowed to crowd out our own legitimate work, for which the Office was established? I was moved upon by the Spirit of the Lord to say that the work which represented the truth should come first, and the commercial work second. 6MR 266.2

The question was asked, What do you include in commercial work? What is the character of the work of those employed in the Echo Office? Some years ago a message was given me for the Oakland church, in regard to the mingling of the profane and the sacred. Novels and a most objectionable class of literature were being brought into the Pacific Press, and these were sowing tares in the minds of the workers. Some of them eagerly read this poisonous matter, and were obtaining an education in accordance with the food they were giving their minds. Truth was being eclipsed by error. The objectionable matter was demoralizing those who handled it. This matter is degrading, and should be discarded. Only the matter that will leave no evil influence behind it, that will elevate and ennoble, should be handled by the workers in our publishing houses. 6MR 266.3

The same difficulty that existed in the Office in Oakland exists in the Echo Office. A class of matter that is not elevated is taken in. In the Calendar line, many things are exaggerated and made falsehoods are printed. Those who work on this class of matter might much better use their talent and influence upon our own work.... 6MR 267.1

When business men seek the Office with work to be done, tell them that you will do it for them if it can be done without neglecting the work of giving the truth to the world by publishing tracts and pamphlets and small and large books. But nothing should be introduced into the Office that will lower its dignity and place the work done on a level with cheap, fictitious literature. The Lord would have every one connected with the Office an earnest, eager candidate for the treasures that are enduring. The energy now concentrated on cheap, perishable goods should be enlisted in the work that is to enlighten the world. Let every energy God has given be used in the work which bears with it the blessed satisfaction that it is for time and for eternity. 6MR 267.2

I must now present before our people the facts as they have been given me. The Lord is our instructor. Should the Echo Office divorce the commercial business from its work, [It was essential in the earlier years of our publishing in Australia to do commercial work to keep skilled men and equipment we needed for our work fully employed. The type of work taken in was the point at issue.] and give itself wholly to the publication of our own literature, the atmosphere pervading the Office would not be any more spiritual than it is now. Continuing or discounting the publication of proper business matters will not make any difference religiously....
6MR 267.3

Matters have been opened before me that have greatly burdened my soul. A great pressure is being brought into the Office. [Ellen White does not further define this pressure. The paragraph preceding this refers to Daniel's experience in witnessing for God.] The Lord is not pleased with any such pressure. Have you thought whether your solicitations for work in worldly or religious lines are of a character to do service for God? You gain nothing by receiving a class of literature that will unsettle the faith of the workers in the principles of Christianity. My brethren, will you not reason from cause to effect. The time taken to publish matters that do an evil work is worse than wasted. Thus Satan is introduced into the Office. His sophistry is surely being aided by those who help in the promulgation of this literature. If the work solicited is of a character to give a wrong tendency to the minds of the youth, it were better not to accept this work; for it is work that God condemns. 6MR 268.1

After considering this matter carefully, I see reason for great concern. The very same difficulty prevails in our Office that has prevailed in our schools. There books containing the seeds of infidelity were placed in the hands of the youth. What better is it to receive into the Office work that will cause doubt and unbelief to spring up? ... 6MR 268.2

It is not in God's order that the literature published in the Echo office shall dishonor the Redeemer. By accepting and publishing this class of matter, you will send forth to the world an army of educated infidels, and then Satan's object is accomplished. If Christ were upon the earth today, he would cleanse the Office of all the things that defile it, as he cleansed the temple courts of Jerusalem. He would say, as he said then, Take these things hence. It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves. 6MR 269.1

Is not this the case? When you reproduce and send forth with the endorsement of the Office, the argument that Christ was only a man, it is a disgrace, a dishonor, to the Office. Brethren, work on different lines. Better never solicit any matter to publish, if this wretched, religious tare-sowing must be mingled with the wheat coming from the same press. 6MR 269.2

The special testimonies given to our office in Oakland are in every way appropriate to the Echo Office. Where is the spiritual eyesight, the spiritual discernment of the men at the head of the work? Nothing should be handled by the youth in the Office that will sow one seed of questioning or doubt in regard to the authority or purity of the Old Testament Scriptures. It may be thought that the truth which we advocate is an antidote that will counteract all the infidel sentiments placed before the youth, whose minds so eagerly grasp anything new. But how can God prosper the Office unless those at the head of the work shall discern good from evil and righteousness from sins?—Manuscript 47, 1898, 1-4, 6, 7, 11. (“The Echo Office and Commercial Work,” March 31, 1898.) 6MR 269.3

Eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God means studying God's word. But you have cast aside the word of God for a class of reading that has separated you from God, and result of this course of action has been seen in your words and actions, in your attitude toward those with whom you associate in the office. If you leave the cool snow waters of Lebanon for the turbid streams of the valley, your spiritual life will be of a malarious character. Put away all reading of a cheap character. It is exerting a baleful influence upon your soul. It is corroding your thoughts, filling your mind with hay, wood, and stubble. You cannot possibly do the work of God with clear-sighted perception while you give your mind this food. Your choice of reading is dwarfing and crippling your spiritual experience.—Letter 26, 1899, p. 5. (“To the Men in Responsible Positions in the Work,” typed February 10, 1899.) 6MR 270.1

You have knowledge, plenty of it. Have you used it as sacred fire of the Lord's kindling? If you have cultivated your knowledge, you know that it is possible for you to lay hold of wisdom. But God never elevates a man above his fellow men because of his much learning. The question the Lord asks is, Has he wisdom to appropriate that knowledge? The gathering together of so many books for study has interposed between God and man a mass of knowledge which dwarfs the mind and makes it unable to organize that which it has already taken in. The mind becomes dyspeptic. Wisdom is needed, that man may choose aright between these many authors and the word of life, that he may eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God. 6MR 270.2

My brethren, discard the streams of the lowlands, and come to the pure waters of Lebanon. Never can you walk in the light of God while you crowd your brains with a mass of matter which they cannot handle. It is time we resolved to have heaven's help, and allow the mind to be impressed with the word of God. Let us close the door to so much reading. Let us pray more, and eat the words of life. Unless there is a deeper work of grace in mind and heart, unless we reveal true Christian charity, we can never see the face of God.—Letter 101, 1899, p. 4. (“To the Responsible Men in Our Institutions,” July 3, 1899.) 6MR 271.1

In this age the trivial is praised and magnified. There is a call for anything that will create a sensation and make a sale. The country is flooded with utterly worthless publications, which were written for the sake of making money, while really valuable books are unsold and unread. Those who handle this sensational literature, because by so doing they can make higher wages, are missing a precious opportunity of doing good. There are battles to be fought to arrest the attention of men and women, and interest them in really valuable books that have the Bible for their foundation; and it will be a still greater task to find conscientious, God-fearing workers, who will enter the field to canvass for these books of highest value for the purpose of diffusing light and a correct knowledge of God. 6MR 271.2

My heart aches as I see those who profess to be looking for Christ's coming devoting their time and talents to circulating books that contain nothing concerning the special truth for our times,—books of narrative, books of biography, books of men's theories and speculations. The world is full of such books; they can be had anywhere; but can the followers of Christ engage in so common a work, when there is crying need for God's truth on every hand? It is not our mission to circulate such works. There are thousands of others to do this, who have as yet no knowledge of anything better. We have a definite mission, and we ought not to turn from it for side issues, employing men and means to bring to the attention of the people books that have no bearing upon present truth. The angels of God do not accompany those who do cheap service for worldly profit, when there is earnest service to be done, in which they can be laborers together with God. 6MR 271.3

The world is deluged with books that might better be consumed than circulated. Books upon Indian warfare and similar topics, published and circulated as a money-making scheme, might better never be read. There is Satanic fascination in such books. The heart-sickening relation of crimes and atrocities has a bewitching power upon many youth, exciting them to see what they can do to bring themselves into notice, even by the wickedest deeds. The enormities, the cruelties, the licentious practices, portrayed in more strictly historical writings, have acted as leaven in many minds, leading to the commission of similar acts. Books that delineate the Satanic acts of human beings are giving publicity to evil work. These wicked, horrible particulars need not be lived over, and none who believe the truth for this time should act a part in perpetuating the memory of them. 6MR 272.1

There is another class of books, love stories and frivolous and exciting tales, that are a curse to every one who reads them. The author may attach a good moral, and religious sentiments may be woven all through these books, yet in most cases Satan is but clothed in angel robes, to deceive and allure the unsuspicious. The mind is affected in a great degree by that upon which it feeds. The readers of frivolous, exciting tales, become unfitted for the duties lying before them. They live an unreal life, and have no desire to search the Scriptures, to feed upon the heavenly manna. The mind that needs strengthening is enfeebled, and loses its power to contemplate the great problems which relate to the mission and work of Christ, the plan of salvation. 6MR 272.2

I have been instructed that the youth are exposed to the greatest peril of being corrupted by improper reading. Could a large share of the books published be consumed, a plague would be stayed that is doing a fearful work upon human minds, and corrupting human hearts. Satan is constantly leading both the youth and those of mature age to be charmed with feeble stories. None are so confirmed in right principles, so secure from temptation, that they can feel safe, and think that no one need be anxious about them. All this trashy reading should be resolutely discarded. 6MR 273.1

We have no permission from the Lord to engage in either the printing or the sale of such publications; for they are the means of destroying many souls. I know what I am writing; for this matter has been opened before me. Let not those who believe the truth engage in this kind of work, thinking to make money. The Lord will put a blight upon the means thus obtained; he will scatter more than is accumulated.—Manuscript 122, 1899, 19-21. (“The Canvasser and His Work,” undated.) 6MR 273.2

No kind of honorable work is degrading to God, but to engage in work that sows the seeds of infidel sentiments in reference to the incarnation of Christ is a great displeasure to God. The Echo Office has put into the hands of some of its workers a class of work which is of a character to cheapen the experience of every one who handles it, while at the same time there is a great dearth of intelligent workers who should unite in the work to strengthen the faith of all with whom they come in contact. 6MR 274.1

Let not that class of work come into the office which is of a character to sow seeds of doubt in reference to the truth. All who touch this work are working on the side of the enemy of God, making of none effect the commandments of God by their traditions, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Better cut out all this kind of education, and take hold of that kind of literature which will strengthen the faith of those who already know the truth, and carry conviction to the hearts of those who have not as yet a knowledge of the truth. But let it never be said that the press is doing a work which is against the truth which should go everywhere speaking in positive tones. How much will this busy activity do for the office? Our work is to advance the truth. As we do this we should keep in touch with the world, that the truth may be as a light set on a candlestick to give light to all that are in the house.—Manuscript 43, 1900, 7. (“Echo Office and Commercial Work; Sale of Our Literature,” typed August 2, 1900.) 6MR 274.2

Poems and stories have been recommended in the columns of our papers in a way that seemed quite out of harmony with their value. The small story books that are being handled by our people, what are they? Many of them contain nothing of more value than can be obtained in any book store. We have books of great value, which should be recommended to the people; but it pains me to see our papers recommending and our people handling so many story books. These books may be excellent in some ways, but they do not contain the knowledge that we should hunger and thirst to obtain in this period of the earth's history.—Letter 75, 1900, p. 2. (To Elder G. A. Irwin, May 21, 1900.) 6MR 274.3

Let us have more Bible reading and less story reading.... 6MR 275.1

“The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” What a representation. Is there not danger, great danger, of the appetite for story books being cultivated? Is there not danger of many becoming intoxicated by a class of reading that gives no real strength to the mind or solidity to the character? Let there be less recommendation of books which are fables. Do not encourage the publication of books of this character. The word of God, if earnestly pursued and diligently studied, will make man wise unto salvation.—Letter 76, 1900, p. 2. (To Elder G. A. Irwin, May 22, 1900.) 6MR 275.2

There is missionary work to be done in every place, and let those who are preparing to be missionaries begin to deny self and restrict their desire for reading matter that is not food for the mind. The money expended for magazines may not seem to be much, but it is too much to spend for that which gives nothing in return. Those who are in God's service should spend neither time nor money for light reading. What is the chaff to the wheat? There are missionary papers that are of real value. Invest your money in that which will bless and benefit.—Letter 48, 1901, p. 2. (To Elder J. Edson White, June 16, 1901.) 6MR 275.3

Managers whose spiritual perception is perverted will enter into contracts to publish questionable matter merely for commercial gain. The result of taking in this work is that the purpose for which the offices of publication were established is lost sight of, and these institutions are regarded very much as any other commercial enterprise.... 6MR 276.1

In the Pacific Press an objectionable class of work has been taken in,—novels and story books, which absorbed the minds of those who handled them, diverting their attention from the word of God. Some of the workers have become so infatuated by this cheap literature that they are mentally inebriated. The introduction of this class of matter destroys the spirituality of the office. The Lord has instructed me that the practice of reading many story-books means death to spirituality.—Letter 140, 1901, pp. 1, 2. (“To the Managers of our Publishing Houses,” October 16, 1901.) 6MR 276.2

Fathers and mothers, take time to read to your children from the health books, as well as from the books treating more particularly on religious subjects. Teach your children the importance of taking care of the body,—the house they live in. Form a home reading circle, in which every member of the family lays aside the busy cares of the day, and gathers for study. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, take up this work unitedly, and see if the home-church will not be greatly improved. 6MR 276.3

Especially should the young women who have been accustomed to read novels and cheap story-books, join in the evening family study. The Lord has appointed them to be His helping hand. Young women, read the literature that will give true knowledge and that will interest the entire family. Say firmly, “I will not spend my precious moments in reading that which will be of no profit to me. I will devote my time to God's service, I will close my eyes to frivolous and sinful things. My ears are the Lord's property, and I will not take them where I shall hear the subtle reasoning of the enemy. My voice must not in any way be subject to a will that is not under the influence of the Spirit of God.—Manuscript 119, 1901, 4, 5. (“The Church in the Home,” November 24, 1901.) 6MR 277.1

Satan is watching all the outposts, to see where he can steal an entrance. For years he has been working with all his deceivableness of unrighteousness to find standing-room in the Review and Herald publishing house. And he has found it. He has been allowed to come into the very place that should ever have been regarded as a sacred, holy place, the temple of God, from which the Lord would send forth clear, bright rays of light to all parts of the world. Satan has succeeded in placing in the hands of the employees of our publishing houses a class of literature that is prepared to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Matter containing dangerous errors has been brought into our office of publication, and these errors have been perpetuated by being printed on our presses and published in book form. These principles of evil have influenced the minds of those who have handled this matter. As a result souls will be lost to the cause of God. Already some have nearly lost their sense of discernment between truth and error. 6MR 277.2

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. To do this outside work, the managers of the publishing house have neglected to do the very work that they should have been doing. The denominational work has been delayed, while the commercial work, which should ever be regarded as second in importance to our own work, has been made first. The employees have worked on books containing spiritualistic, demoralizing theories. They have spent their time on strange matter, much of which is filled with Satanic science. They have not taken the lesson of Nadab and Abihu who confused their senses by the use of wine and could not discern between the sacred and common fire. 6MR 278.1

God has not appointed us to the work of publishing Satanic theories. This class of literature has been represented to me as counterworking the means that should ever be used to meet the foe on his own ground. Books containing false theories have been permitted to come from an Office controlled by Seventh-day Adventists, while the very books that the managers should have been active and zealous in circulating everywhere, have been left to lie unused on the shelves. When the pure truth is mingled with the slime of Satanic deceptions, how can God work for the advancement of His cause? 6MR 278.2

The very fact that Satanic literature has come from the presses of the Review and Herald Office, is a victory for the forces of Satan; for seemingly it bears the endorsement of the Office, and the enemy will use this fact to influence others to accept this objectionable matter. Satan is now working “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” 6MR 278.3

In the place of treating the commercial work as something of secondary importance, those in positions of trust have treated it as being of primary importance. Books that should have been circulated in these critical times have been put aside until the worldly work had first been finished. The very class of literature that God has especially condemned has been allowed to come in. 6MR 279.1

The introduction of this class of matter has been distinctly pointed out to me as the most effective way of demoralizing the apprentices. It reveals a decided lack in those who have to do with these questions. Some in responsible positions are not controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Lord regards as unfaithful stewards those who have agreed to take into the Office for publication this class of literature. The apprentices working in the Office have been left unguarded by unfaithful shepherds. Seeds of evil have been sown in the hearts of the apprentices and in the hearts of all who have handled this literature,—seeds that will spring up and grow, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Thus error will continue to grow.—Manuscript 124, 1901, 1-4. (“Satanic Literature,” December 9, 1901.) 6MR 279.2

Brethren, let us come to our senses. In more ways than one are we departing from God. Oh how ashamed I was of a recent number of the “Signs of the Times!” On the first page is an article on Shakespeare, a man who died a few days after a drunken carousal, losing his life through indulgence of perverted appetite. In this article it is stated that he did many good works. Man is extolled. The good and the evil are placed on the same level, and published in a paper that our people use to give the third angel's message to many of those who cannot be reached by the preached Word. 6MR 279.3

The publication of this article robbed me of my rest last night. I was thrown into an agony of distress. If our brethren have not discernment enough to see the evil of these things, when will they have? Why can they not understand the tenor of such things? We are to stand on the elevated platform of eternal truth. The edge of the sword of truth is not to be dulled. We must take a straightforward course, using the truth, as a mighty cleaver, to separate from the world men and women who will stand as God's peculiar people. 6MR 280.1

When we give the message in its purity, we shall have no use for pictures illustrating the birthplace of Shakespeare, or for pictures similar to the illustration of heathen goddesses that was used to fill the space on the first page of a recent number of the “Review and Herald.” We are not to educate others along these lines. God pronounces against such articles and illustrations. I have a straightforward testimony to bear in regard to them. We are to extol neither idolatry nor men who did not choose to serve God. Years ago, reproof was given our editors in regard to advocating the reading of even such books as “Uncle Tom's Cabin,” “Aesop's Fables,” and “Robinson Crusoe.” Those who begin to read such works usually desire to continue to read novels. Through the reading of enticing stories they rapidly lose their spirituality. This is one of the principal causes of the weak, uncertain spirituality of many of our youth.—Manuscript 169, 1902, 6, 7. (“The Work of the St. Helena Sanitarium: Our Institutional Work to be Denominational,” July 14, 1902.) 6MR 280.2

You are not to treat your life as a romance, but as a reality.—Letter 72, 1903, p. 4. (To Mrs. Addie S. Watson, April 28, 1903.) 6MR 281.1

Fathers and mothers, teach your children how to exercise their physical and mental capabilities in useful work. How much better for them to be usefully employed than to be reading stories, preparing themselves to become mental inebriates.—Manuscript 138, 1903, 4. (“How We Can Help the Southern Work,” November 17, 1903.) 6MR 281.2

Gain a knowledge of the Scriptures. Do not fill the head with the nonsense of novels. Brain nerve-power is required by those who desire to comprehend the truth so clearly that they can teach it intelligently to others. We have none too much brain-power. Never can we afford to use tobacco, or alcoholic liquors, or any other injurious substances; for we must strive to keep our minds clear for the work of saving souls.—Manuscript 102, 1904, 9, 10. (Sermon, July 2, 1904.) 6MR 281.3

Were all the useless books destroyed, were all the money saved that is expended for reading that does not cause one ray of light to shine upon the pathway, were the word of God studied with the deep interest that its importance demands, there would be a wonderful increase of appetite for the bread of heaven. 6MR 281.4

Read and study the word of God. Do not fill your minds with the reading contained in magazines and novels. Reject this, and spend the money thus saved in sending our papers to those who have them not. Keep searching the Scriptures and eating the bread of life.—Letter 11, 1905, p. 7. (“To Those Assembled in Council at Nashville,” January 10, 1905.) 6MR 282.1

Let not those who are ministering in word and doctrine be dull of understanding now. The world is being flooded with books and magazines which contain that which will lead the mind astray. I would say to God's people, For Christ's sake do not spend your time in reading that which is a hindrance to spiritual growth. Remember that, spiritually, men and women are built up from the food which they give the mind. The Bible contains the bread sent down from heaven.—Letter 43, 1905, p. 2. (To “Dear Brethren and Sisters,” January 29, 1905.) 6MR 282.2

“Because ye are strong.” Do not spend your time reading magazines and novels. Read your Bible. You have many temptations to meet and overcome. You have a great truth to proclaim. Only by a constant study of the word of God can you gain the strength needed for this work. Put novel-reading out of your lives. Let not the novels appear upon your table or in your bookcase. You have none too much time in which to gain an understanding of what saith the Scriptures. The Lord wants the young men in His cause to stand where they are worthy of being trusted with sacred responsibilities.—Manuscript 56, 1905, 7, 8. (“Lessons from the First Epistle of John,” talk given at the General Conference, May 16, 1905.) 6MR 282.3

The word of God contains food for mind and soul. The appetite for reading the novels or the trashy reading to be found in many of the magazines that are flooding the world, will cause a dwarfage of spiritual growth. An unhealthful appetite is created, and very feeble will be the desire for the sincere milk of the word. We desire to encourage all to be sensible, and give up the reading of all that is unprofitable, and to become interested in the Word of God, which teaches young and old how to set an example of righteousness. Eat ye that which is good and instructive, that your souls may have a healthful growth.—Letter 279, 1905, p. 3. (To Elder Clarence Santee, October 4, 1905.) 6MR 283.1

Study the Word. Keep out of your house the miserable magazines; keep out of your house the novels. Take every penny that you would pay for these things to get the truth before the people; and we want it should go broadcast through the world.... 6MR 283.2

Now we want that every soul in this congregation shall make a covenant with our God by sacrifice, right in this room, to make a covenant that they will study the Word. Let your magazines go. Why, here the magical books were burned. As we read away back in the days of persecution of Paul, and the apostles were laboring, they brought out their magical books, and they burned them. I think if you would clear your house, many of you, of all these magazines, with the ridiculous pictures in them, those representations are as it were from Satan, and we do not want them; we do not want those representations; we want the truth in our books, in our houses.—Manuscript 119, 1906, 5, 8. (Sermon, May 5, 1906.) 6MR 283.3

There are those among us who are cultivating a taste for fictitious reading. These are not walking in accordance with the precious instruction given here. I ask such souls to make a decided change in your religious life. Is it not high time that each one examine his life and character, and cut away every perverted appetite and taste?—Manuscript 25, 1907, 5. (“A Practical Faith,” January 18, 1907.) 6MR 284.1

Do not spend your money for unnecessary things, do not waste it on story magazines or cheap literature, but take your surplus means, and say, I will use this in employing men and women to give the last message of warning to the world.—Letter 32, 1908, p. 10. (“To our Brethren in Positions of Responsibility,” January 6, 1908.) 6MR 284.2

Let us educate to discard the reading of fictitious works. Bring into the home that class of literature that will give true knowledge to young and old. Thus all will be benefited. Our time should not be spent in searching for literature that is above the comprehension of the average mind. The word of God is the most profitable book to read; it is elevating to the morals; it clearly defines our duty; and its language is the most simple. Close the door to all frivolous and cheap reading. As a father and mother I exhort you to take up this work. Influence the youth to study and to read that class of reading that will elevate the mind and prepare them for a place in the school above, and qualify them to inherit that life that measures with the life of God. There Christ will lead His people to the fountains of living waters and to the tree of life. He will open to the mind glories which in this life they have not been able to comprehend.—Letter 288, 1908, p. 4. (To Elder G. W. Reaser, September 29, 1908.) 6MR 284.3

The people who are preparing for the future eternal life must learn of God out of His word. All that would divert the mind from His service is to be recognized and put away. The story magazine, the novel, and the cheap, worthless literature is to be given up. The means thus saved can be spent in buying those publications that will bring heaven's light to those who read them. Every family should act a part in endeavoring to keep out of the home the worthless productions that are a power for evil to the youth, robbing them of the sense of the preciousness of the word of God which they should read and understand. 6MR 285.1

I would that all could have made to them the representations that have been given me concerning the great events of the future and our need of preparation for the times before us. The Lord desires to prepare the hearts and minds of His people, that the blessedness of His way shall make its impression upon mind and heart and character, so that Satan's plans for spoiling their interest in the word of God shall not succeed. God's people need to understand that Satan is working with all his ingenuity to keep minds engrossed with those things that close the door of the heart to things of eternal interest, that men and women and youth shall not be touched by the messages of warning and invitation that are coming to the world in these last days. He is working in every conceivable way to hinder the sanctification of God's people through a belief of the truth.—Letter 112, 1909, pp. 8, 9. (“To the Board of Managers of the Melrose Sanitarium,” July 4, 1909.) 6MR 285.2

The enemy is at work in every way to divert from the study of the Scriptures. In the cars, or wherever you go, you will find men trying to sell trashy magazines. You may be tempted to buy some of these magazines and put them on your tables. But do not place on your tables light reading for the perusal of whoever may come to visit you. Keep the Word there.—Manuscript 55, 1909, 4. (“Lessons from the Sermon on the Mount,” Talk, August 16, 1909.) 6MR 286.1

All heaven is looking upon us to see what course we will pursue—whether we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb or be careless and indifferent, going on as we please, filling our days with the pleasures of the world, and our minds with the foolish novel, while God's work is neglected and His word cast aside.—Manuscript 73, 1909, 6. (“Lessons from the First Chapter of Daniel,” Sermon, August 27, 1909.) 6MR 286.2

I greatly desire that every one of us shall seek to understand the word of God. Let us not choose to spend our time in reading the daily newspapers and the frivolous and foolish novel. We can see evil enough without doing this.—Manuscript 87, 1909, 2. (“Words Addressed to the Workers at the Boulder Sanitarium,” September 3, 1909.) 6MR 286.3

If we will study the book of Revelation and seek to understand its full significance, we shall see the necessity of putting away from our lives all the frivolity that so often marks our experience. We will have little desire for the foolish novel, and the amusements of the world.—Manuscript 95, 1909, 6. (“A Message to the Churches,” Sermon, September 5, 1909.) 6MR 287.1

We are standing in a time that is of the greatest consequence to the whole world. We see the necessity of understanding the instruction given in the Scriptures. The religious life is not to be represented from the pulpit or in our papers as a romance. It pains my soul to see in the papers coming from our press, the most important truth placed before the people in the form of a romance. Let the articles in our papers at this time, when the eternal interests of souls are at stake, be of a character to arouse souls to a sense of their peril. At this time Bible truth is to make a solemn impression upon hearts. The genuine facts of truth are to be presented as they came from the lips of the greatest the world has ever known. 6MR 287.2

Novelty and romance do no honor to our publications. I am growing heartsick and weary over productions from the press that lower the truth as it should not be lowered. The fewer of these productions that are brought in, the more influence will the genuine, sacred truth connected with the scenes that are to take place, have upon minds.—Manuscript 17, 1910, 1, 2. (“Regarding Representations in Our Papers,” undated.) 6MR 287.3

In this age there is a fearfully high pressure upon minds. The instruction given me is that great harm is done to the minds of children and youth by cheap, trashy reading. By the reading of magazines and novels, impressions are made on the mind that spoil it for the reception of Bible truth, which alone can supply the necessities of the soul.... 6MR 287.4

What can I say to break the spell that now endangers not only the youth, but men and women of maturity? What can I say to impress upon their minds a realization of this danger: 6MR 288.1

To those who are tempted to indulge in trashy reading I would say, Read your Bible. “Search the Scriptures,” Christ commanded, “for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me.” Obedience to the word of God is our only safety. It is through study and belief of the word that we obtain a knowledge of the means by which holiness is attained. And as the principles of truth are believed, they become obligatory upon the conscience. Wonderful victories may be gained by studying the word of God, and obeying from the heart the requirements of that word. 6MR 288.2

The death of Christ in behalf of the human race should call forth from us grateful thanksgiving. The grace by which we overcome is in the word of promise. It is the act of faith to draw it forth to enrich the soul. Faith takes hold of the word and applies it (eats it); and God delights to satisfy the expectant soul with His blessing. 6MR 288.3

This matter has been most clearly presented to me. I have been instructed that the money expended for worthless literature should be spent for the books and papers containing the light of present truth. Let these be sent to those who have not yet heard the truth for this time. As they read these publications, light from the throne of God will shine into the soul-temple. Jot by jot, here a little and there a little, the truth will appear to the mind, and the soul will be fed with provender thoroughly winnowed from the chaff. Pamphlets and leaflets dealing with the truth for this time should be scattered everywhere like the leaves of autumn.—Manuscript 53, 1911, 1-3. (“What is the Chaff to the Wheat?” November 21, 1911.) 6MR 288.4

Released December 2, 1974.