Purpose and Objectives of Seventh-day Adventist Institutions
1. The First Publishing Institution
The Review and Herald. At a time when the Review and Herald Publishing House had already been in existence for 46 years, and at a time when only a little over one year before a disastrous fire burned the main factory building in Battle Creek (December 1902), Ellen White said to the Review and Herald Board: POSDAI 56.2
“God’s design in the establishment of the publishing house at Battle Creek was that from it light should shine forth as a lamp that burneth. This has been kept before the managers. Again and again they have been told of the sacredness of God’s office of publication and of the importance of maintaining its purity. But they have lost true understanding and have united with the force of the enemy by consenting to print papers and books containing the most dangerous errors that can be brought into existence. They have failed to see the evil influences of such erroneous sentiments on typesetters, proofreaders, and all others engaged in the printing of such matter. They have been spiritually asleep.”—Testimonies for the Church 8:90 (Nov. 1, 1901).
Note her words expressing the original purpose of the Review that “light should shine forth as a lamp that burneth.” POSDAI 56.3
Consider the early November 1848 publishing vision which called the publishing house into existence—in the background of this stated objective. POSDAI 56.4
“At a meeting held in Dorchester, Mass., November, 1848, I had been given a view of the proclamation of the sealing message, and of the duty of the brethren to publish the light that was shining upon our pathway.
“After coming out of vision, I said to my husband: ‘I have a message for you. You must begin to print a little paper and send it out to the people. Let it be small at first; but as the people read, they will send you means with which to print, and it will be a success from the first. From this small beginning it was shown to me to be like streams of light that went clear around the world.’”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 125.
It wasn’t until the next year that Elder White began to print Present Truth in Middletown, Conn. (July 1849), our first periodical. (See Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 126, 127). The papers were reverently placed on the floor in the Belden home at Rocky Creek, Conn., where the pioneers prayed over the precious pages before they were taken to the post office by James White and mailed to interested persons. POSDAI 57.1
“With the beginning of this work of publishing, we did not cease our labors in preaching the truth, but traveled from place to place, proclaiming the doctrines which had brought so great light and joy to us, encouraging the believers, correcting errors, and setting things in order in the church. In order to carry forward the publishing enterprise, and at the same time continue our labors in different parts of the field, the paper was from time to time moved to different places.”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 127.
It was the message of light that the little printed papers carried. The publishing idea with the plan for printing the papers and books was intended to supplement the oral presentation of the message by the evangelists of those times. Later Ellen White wrote: POSDAI 57.2
“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:
“‘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.
“‘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.
“‘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.
“‘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.’”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 216, 217.
The church was to cooperate with the denominational publishing enterprise by distributing the literature widely. This is made clear in a Volume 9 statement: POSDAI 58.1
“In the night of March 2, 1907, many things were revealed to me regarding the value of our publications on present truth and the small effort that is being made by our brethren and sisters in the churches for their wide circulation.
“I have been repeatedly shown that our presses should now be constantly employed in publishing light and truth. This is a time of spiritual darkness in the churches of the world. Ignorance of divine things has hidden God and the truth from view. The forces of evil are gathering in strength. Satan flatters his co-workers that he will do a work that will captivate the world. While partial inactivity has come upon the church, Satan and his hosts are intensely active. The professed Christian churches are not converting the world; for they are themselves corrupted with selfishness and pride, and need to feel the converting power of God in their midst before they can lead others to a purer or higher standard….
“A messenger from heaven stood in our midst, and he spoke words of warning and instruction. He made us clearly understand that the gospel of the kingdom is the message for which the world is perishing and that this message, as contained in our publications already in print and those yet to be issued, should be circulated among the people who are nigh and afar off.”—Testimonies for the Church 9:65, 67.
So wide would be the use made of the missionary products that flowed from our presses that God’s servant wrote: POSDAI 58.2
“Our publishing work was established by the direction of God and under His special supervision.
“In a large degree through our publishing houses is to be accomplished the work of that other angel who comes down from heaven with great power, and who lightens the earth with his glory.
“I am bidden to say to our publishing houses: ‘Lift up the standard; lift it up higher. Proclaim the third angel’s message, that it may be heard by all the world. Let it be seen that “here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”’”—Christian Service, 148.
“Years ago the Lord gave me special directions that buildings should be erected in various places in America, Europe, and other lands, for the publication of literature containing the light of present truth. He gave instruction that every effort should be made to send forth to the world from the press the messages of invitation and warning. Some will be reached by our literature who would not be reached in any other way. From our books and papers bright beams of light are to shine forth to enlighten the world in regard to present truth.
“I have been shown that our publications should be printed in different languages and sent to every civilized country, at any cost. What is the value of money at this time, in comparison with the value of souls? Every dollar of our means should be considered as the Lord’s, not ours; and as a precious trust from God to us; not to be wasted for needless indulgences, but carefully used in the cause of God, in the work of saving men and women from ruin.
“The printed word of truth is to be translated into different languages, and carried to the ends of the earth.
“These publications are to be translated into every language; for to all the world the gospel is to be preached. To every worker Christ promises the divine efficiency that will make his labors a success.”—Christian Service, 148, 149.
But let us go back to another early vision to see how the publishing idea was rooted in divine instruction. Note Mrs. White’s view of the sealing: POSDAI 59.1
This important vision came to her “at the commencement of the holy Sabbath, January 5, 1849.”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 116. This important vision was intended to identify Seventh-day Adventists with the prophecy of the sealing angel of Revelation 7:1-3. The four angels holding the winds of strife were representative of God’s angels holding the affairs of earth in the hands of providence till the Sabbath proclamation had been given to all the world. POSDAI 59.2
The footnote at the bottom of page 116 where the account of the vision is given reads as follows: POSDAI 60.1
“Following the return from western New York in September, 1848, Elder and Mrs. White journeyed to Maine, where they held a meeting with the believers, October 20-22. This was the Topsham conference, where the brethren began praying that a way might be opened for publishing the truths connected with the advent message. A month later they were with ‘a small company of brethren and sisters,’ writes Elder Joseph Bates in his pamphlet on ‘The Sealing Message,’ ‘assembled in meeting in Dorchester, near Boston, Mass.’ ‘Before the meeting commenced,’ he continues, ‘some of us were examining some of the points in the sealing message; some difference of opinion existed about the correctness of the view of the word ‘ascending’ [see Revelation 7:2], etc.’
“Elder James White, in an unpublished letter giving his account of this meeting, writes: ‘We all felt like uniting to ask wisdom from God on the points in dispute; also Brother Bates’s duty in writing. We had an exceedingly powerful meeting. Ellen was again taken off in vision. She then began to describe the Sabbath light, which was the sealing truth. Said she: ‘It arose from the rising of the sun. It arose back there in weakness, but light after light has shone upon it until the Sabbath truth is clear, weighty, and mighty. Like the sun when it first rises, its rays are cold, but as it comes up, its rays are warming and powerful; so the light and power has increased more and more until its rays are powerful, sanctifying the soul; but, unlike the sun, it will never set. The Sabbath light will be at its brightest when the saints are immortal; it will rise higher and higher until immortality comes.’
“She saw many interesting things about this glorious sealing Sabbath, which I have not time or space to record. She told Brother Bates to write the things he had seen and heard, and the blessing of God would attend it.
“It was after this vision that Mrs. White informed her husband of his duty to publish, and that as he should advance by faith, success would attend his efforts.”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 116, Footnote.
It is clear that the Seventh-day Adventist publishing house which was built for missionary purposes was to be an illustration of what Seventh-day Adventist publishing houses around the world should be till the close of time. Theirs was to be a work of proclaiming the third angel’s message or the sealing message. Mrs. White wrote: POSDAI 60.2
“The publications sent forth from our printing houses are to prepare a people to meet God. Throughout the world they are to do the same work that was done by John the Baptist for the Jewish nation. By startling messages of warning, God’s prophet awakened men from worldly dreaming. Through him God called backsliding Israel to repentance. By his presentation of truth he exposed popular delusions. In contrast with the false theories of his time, truth in his teaching stood forth as an eternal certainty. ‘Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,’ was John’s message. Matthew 3:2. This same message, through the publications from our printing houses, is to be given to the world today.”—Colporteur Ministry, 3, 4.
The foregoing statement was made by Ellen White in the year 1902. POSDAI 61.1
“The third angel’s message is to be given through this medium,” she wrote, “and through the living teacher.”—Colporteur Ministry, 4. Quoted from Testimonies for the Church 9:62 (1909). She also wrote in this context of missionary motivation: POSDAI 61.2
“We are fast approaching the end. The printing and circulation of the books and papers that contain the truth for this time are to be our work.
“Publications must be multiplied, and scattered like the leaves of autumn. These silent messengers are enlightening and molding the minds of thousands in every country and in every clime.”—Colporteur Ministry, 5.
“From city to city, from country to country, they [canvasser-evangelists] are to carry the publications containing the promise of the Saviour’s soon coming. These publications are to be translated into every language, for to all the world the gospel is to be preached. To every worker Christ promises the divine efficiency that will make his labors a success.
“The world is to receive the light of truth through an evangelizing ministry of the word in our books and periodicals.
“From our books and papers bright beams of light are to shine forth to enlighten the world in regard to present truth.”—Colporteur Ministry, 5.
When the Review and Herald and Pacific Press became involved in commercial printing 4 to the neglect of message-filled literature and in printing questionable publications that were in content erroneous and evil, the fires that fell upon the institutions to cleanse them were recognized to be divine judgments. POSDAI 61.3
The brethren learned that these institutions were not their own to be operated along worldly lines, but God’s very own establishments in which He was to be recognized as leader. POSDAI 62.1
“God is the great proprietor of the sanitarium, of the Review and Herald office, of the Pacific Press, of our colleges. In all these institutions the managers must receive their directions from above. And wherever the temptations that come through association with the ungodly are strongest, there the greatest care must be exercised to place the workers in close connection with Christ and the influences proceeding from Him. His word must be our guide in all things; and if poverty comes because we abide by a plain, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ we must abide by it, even at the loss of all things else. Better have poverty in temporal things, and abide in Christ, and be nourished by His word, which is spirit and life. ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4. The world may smile as we repeat this to them, but it is the word of the Son of God. He says, ‘Whoso eateth My flesh [the word that Christ speaks to us]….hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.’ John 6:54.”—Counsels on Health, 422, 423.
In November 1901, the year before the Review and Herald fire, Ellen White wrote: POSDAI 62.2
“God’s design in the establishment of the publishing house at Battle Creek was that from it light should shine forth as a lamp that burneth. This has been kept before the managers. Again and again they have been told of the sacredness of God’s office of publication and of the importance of maintaining its purity. But they have lost true understanding and have united with the force of the enemy by consenting to print papers and books containing the most dangerous errors that can be brought into existence. They have failed to see the evil influences of such erroneous sentiments on typesetters, proofreaders, and all others engaged in the printing of such matter. They have been spiritually asleep.
“By some of the outside work brought into this institution the science of Satan has been presented to the minds of the workers. The printing of such matter is a dishonor to God. It has done its part in deteriorating the minds of the workers. The managers have agreed to print it at a low figure. The gain would have been loss if the very highest figure had been asked for the work.
“I have received a letter from Elder Daniells regarding the addition of another building to the Review and Herald office. The answer I make to this is: No, no, no. Instead of making any additions to the buildings already erected, cleanse the office of the trash of satanic origin, and you will gain room in every way….
“You have given matter containing Satan’s sentiments into the hands of the workers, bringing his deceptive, polluting principles before their minds. The Lord looks upon this action on your part as helping Satan to prepare his snare to catch souls. God will not hold guiltless those who have done this thing. He has a controversy with the managers of the publishing house. I have been almost afraid to open the Review, fearing to see that God has cleansed the publishing house by fire.”—Testimonies for the Church 8:90, 91.
The Review and Herald fire which destroyed the main factory building came in December 1902. Wrote Ellen G. White on January 7, 1903: POSDAI 63.1
“We have all been made very sad by the news of the terrible loss that has come to the cause in the burning of the Review and Herald office. In one year two of our largest institutions have been destroyed by fire. The news of this recent calamity has caused us to mourn deeply, but it was permitted by the Lord to come upon us, and we should make no complaint, but learn from it the lesson that the Lord would teach us.
“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?’”—Testimonies for the Church 8:101.
“When the Battle Creek Sanitarium was destroyed, Christ gave Himself to defend the lives of men and women. In this destruction God was appealing to His people to return to Him. And in the destruction of the Review and Herald office, and the saving of life, He makes a second appeal to them. He desires them to see that the miracle-working power of the Infinite has been exercised to save life, that every worker may have opportunity to repent and be converted. God says: ‘If they turn to Me, I will restore to them the joy of My salvation. But if they continue to walk in their own way, I will come still closer; and affliction shall come upon the families who claim to believe the truth, but who do not practice the truth, who do not make the Lord God of Israel their fear and their dread.’
“Let everyone examine himself to see whether he be in the faith. Let the people of God repent and be converted, that their sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. Let them ascertain wherein they have failed to walk in the way that God has marked out, wherein they have failed to purify their souls by taking heed to His counsels.”—Testimonies for the Church 8:102, 103.
It is clear that the safety of our institutions and their continuance and permanency lie in the maintenance of a reverent attitude of humble obedience to the counsels of the Lord. It is clear that God is determined that these institutions shall be operated as His own fortress which He holds in this revolted world and He intends that no authority shall be known in them but His own. POSDAI 64.1