Manuscript Releases, vol. 2 [Nos. 97-161]


Special Edition of Early Writings

[In 1908 Elder S. N. Haskell, President of the California Conference, observing what seemed to him to be a minimum of interest of the publishers in endeavoring to supply Early Writings at a low, popular price, proposed that a privately-printed, pocket-size edition could be printed for 20 cents. This could be sold widely and given a good distribution, and at the same time bring Ellen G. White some financial relief. Her first reaction was favorable, but changed after receiving instruction in vision. We quote from two letters written to Elder Haskell.] 2MR 312.2

I have received your letter, in which you speak of a plan for you to print and sell a large number of my book, Early Writings, brought out in a new style of binding. 2MR 312.3

In the past I have given my consent to your suggestions regarding this matter, but recently I have received such positive instruction regarding the necessity of unity that I dare not give my consent to your proposition. 2MR 312.4

The Lord would have every movement made by you or by me such that it will inspire confidence in us as being led by the Lord. I should be sorry to see you do anything that would tend to lessen your influence as a wise counselor. As missionary workers, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We must seek to follow the example set by our Saviour in His ministry of love. We must manifest the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. May God help us that we may be a blessing to His people. 2MR 312.5

I would not wish to handle my books, nor to see you handle your books, in a manner that would seem to throw discredit upon the publishing houses. We must manifest wisdom in this matter. To carry out the plans you suggest would, to many, seem that we were taking advantage of circumstances to benefit ourselves. 2MR 313.1

In your office as president of this conference, the Lord would have you do everything possible to bring about a spirit of unity. Let the idea of unity be the keynote of all your actions. This instruction has been given me for you, that not one move must be made that will create feelings of discord.... 2MR 313.2

Let your whole influence be cast to create a spirit of unity with the men who are carrying responsibilities in the publishing work. Then your words will have more influence. 2MR 313.3

You and I are being watched very critically. If we were to carry out plans that would create dissension, this might result in the loss of souls.... 2MR 313.4

The Lord would be pleased for you to modify your plans regarding the selling of books at low prices, lest you lead some to feel that our publishing houses were charging exorbitantly for their labor. 2MR 313.5

In your position of trust as president of the California Conference, you should take especial heed lest you give occasion for your self-sacrificing efforts to be regarded as a reflection upon the men connected with our offices of publication. You are to come as close as possible to our leading brethren. It would be a great mistake to follow methods in the publication and sale of your books that would injure your influence. Therefore, I say that it would not be wise, my brother, to carry out plans that seem to some to be contrary to fair dealing in the sale of our books. 2MR 313.6

Therefore, I cannot give my consent to have any of my books handled at the present time in the way you suggest. It would make upon the minds of some of our brethren an impression that would not be desirable. Even though the whole $30,000 of my indebtedness might be settled in the manner you propose, yet I could not give my consent.—Letter 94, 1908, pp. 1-3. (To S. N. Haskell, March 29, 1908.) 2MR 314.1

On making inquiries regarding the publication of Early Writings, I learn that our offices at Mountain View and at Washington have just brought out, and have in stock, a large edition of this book, and that they are selling a paper covered edition for thirty-five cents. Under such circumstances, therefore, it would seem unjust to them were we to endeavor to place on the market a smaller-sized book, to be sold at a low price. 2MR 314.2

Notwithstanding a lifetime of hard labor, I find that I am embarrassed with a heavy indebtedness. I do not at present receive from the sale of my books as much money as I need to carry on my work, and to meet the many calls for help that come to me.... 2MR 314.3

Notwithstanding my great necessities, I would be unwilling to make any move that might appear to be unfair to our publishing houses. 2MR 314.4

I have, as you well know, invested means largely in the building of meeting-houses, and in starting various enterprises in Australia. I have also given thousands of dollars of my royalty on books to help the work in Europe, and have then, at times, borrowed money with which to pay my own helpers.... 2MR 314.5

Now, Elder Haskell, I want you to understand that I appreciate your interest in the scattering of the truth through a wide sale of Early Writings. I thank the Lord that I know you will not misunderstand me. I thank you for your kindly interest in my behalf. But I will closely watch and pray earnestly that the Lord will remove from me this pressure of debt, without my taking a course that might seem unfair to the publishing houses. I know that your offer comes from the sincerity of your soul, and may the Lord bless you for your desire to help me, but I dare not venture to risk the consequences of the step you propose.... 2MR 314.6

Representations that have been given me lead me to fear the plan of selling our books at too low a price. Many who would take advantage of these low prices, might just as easily pay the full price. And some who buy the books for little, would sell them to others who would have to pay the regular prices. Such a plan is bringing in an order of things that will not bring the best results. If you find worthy people who are not able to pay for a book, it is your privilege to present it to them. But you should hold your books at a price that will insure against a loss to the publishers.... 2MR 315.1

The enemy is ever seeking to scatter briers and thorns among the precious wheat. Earnest labor is required to make a success of our efforts. While certain plans may seem to be wise, and while men may have the best of motives in following them, yet if these plans result in friction, it will be found that the good results that were sought will not appear. 2MR 315.2

I dare not, under present conditions, do otherwise than as I have stated. While for a time there might be an enthusiasm in presenting books at a great reduction, yet there are only a few who could do this kind of work. And I cannot consent for you to do this in my behalf. We are both becoming old, and every move must bear the impress of the character of Christ. Not for a day must we venture to move unadvisedly. Looking unto Jesus constitutes real excellence of character. If we copy the pattern we shall always be safe, for Christ will be revealed in personal ministry. Let us make no mistakes, for we are sowing for eternity. 2MR 315.3

We should blend with our publishing institutions in laying and carrying out plans that will be productive of healthful unity. All should seek to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and all speak the same things. Let each serve with an eye single to the glory of God.—Letter 106, 1908, pp. 1-4. (To Elder and Mrs. S. N. Haskell, April 2, 1908.) 2MR 316.1