St. Helena, Calif., May 14, 1890 Dear Brethren,--
I have been deeply burdened in regard to the manner
in which Vol. IV, "The Great Controversy," has been treated by our canvassers,
because it has so long been kept from the field. It is nearly two years
since the new edition was completed, and but little has been done to bring
it before the people.
I was moved by the Spirit of the Lord to write that book, and while working upon it, I felt a great burden upon my soul. I knew that time was short, that the scenes which are soon to crowd upon us would at the last come very suddenly and swiftly, as represented in the words of Scripture; "The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."
The Lord has set before me matters which are of urgent
importance for the present time, and which reach into the future. The words
have been spoken in a charge to me, "Write in a book the things which thou
hast seen and heard, and let it go to all people; for the time is at hand
when past history will be repeated." I have been aroused at one, two, or
three o'clock in the morning, with some point forcibly impressed upon my
mind, as if spoken by the voice of God. I was shown that many of our own
people were asleep in their sins, and although they claimed to be Christians,
they would perish unless they were converted.
The solemn impressions made upon my mind as the truth
was laid out in clear lines before me, I tried to bring before others,
that each might feel the necessity of having a religious experience for
himself, of having a knowledge of the Saviour for himself of
seeking repentance, faith, love, hope, and holiness for himself. I was
assured that there was no time to lose. The appeals and warnings must be
given, our churches must be aroused, must be instructed, that they may
give the warning to all whom they can possibly reach, declaring that the
sword is coming, that the Lord's anger upon a profligate world will not
long be deferred. I was shown that many would listen to the warning. Their
minds would be prepared to discern the very things that it pointed out
I was shown that much of my time had been occupied
in speaking to the people, when it was more essential that I should devote
myself to writing out the important matters for Vol. IV; that the warning
must go where the living messenger could not go, and that it would call
the attention of many to the important events to occur in the closing scenes
of this world's history.
As the condition of the church and the world was open
before me, and I beheld the fearful scenes that lie just before us, I was
alarmed at the outlook; and night after night, while all in the house were
sleeping, I wrote out the things given me of God. I was shown the heresies
which are to arise, the delusions that will prevail, the miracle-working
power of Satan--the false Christs that will appear--that will deceive the
greater part even of the religious world, and that would, if it were possible,
draw away even the elect.
Is this work of the Lord? I know that it is, and our
people also profess to believe it. The warning and instruction of this
book are needed by all who profess to believe the present truth,
the book is adapted to go also to the world, calling their attention to
the solemn scenes just before us.
You, my brethren, took the responsibility of seeing
that it was put in circulation, but about the time when the new edition
of Vol. IV came from the press, the new work "Bible Readings" was introduced.
This book has had a great sale, and has been permitted to swallow up every
other interest. Canvassers found it an easy book to handle, and Vol. IV
was kept out of the field. I felt that this was not right; I know that
it was not right, because it was not in harmony with the light which God
had given me. I talked with Capt. Eldridge, and with Frank Belden while
he was engaged in training canvassers, but the only response I could get
was, "We cannot do anything in this matter until Bible Readings has had
its run. Then we will take hold of Vol. IV, and give it the field." Last
fall I was promised that in the spring a special effort should be made
to push Vol. IV. My answer was. "Brethren, I dare not wait so long." I
could not understand why such delay was necessary. The reasons given were
of no weight to me. I felt that if my brethren understood and appreciated
the subject matter which the Lord had presented before me and bidden me
to write, their excuses would have appeared very small to their own minds.
They said that the canvassers were unwilling to take
Vol. IV, because they could sell Bible Readings so much more readily and
hence could do better financially. I answered, "Brethren, I cannot understand
why, if this matter is set before our canvassers in the right light, they
would not work for the book which ought to
come before the world.
I groaned in spirit, for I knew, from the conversation
I had had, that my brethren in positions of trust at the office of publication
had no sense of the real perils which are soon to break upon us. While
many are, in spirit and action, saying, "Peace and safety," sudden destruction
will come upon them.
For nearly two years the book containing warnings and
instruction from the Lord, given especially for this time, has been lying
in our publishing houses, and no one feels the necessity or importance
of bringing it before the people. Brethren, how long am I to wait for you
to get the burden? Now Vol. I, or "Patriarchs and Prophets," is ready for
circulation; but even for this book I will not allow Vol. IV to remain
longer as a light under a bushel. I am in sore distress of mind, but who
of my brethren cares for this?
Has the Lord moved upon my mind to prepare this work
to be sent everywhere, and is he moving upon my brethren to devise plans
which shall bar the way, so that the light which he has given me shall
be hid in our publishing houses instead of shining forth to enlighten all
who will receive it?
It is now urged that only one book at a time should
have a place in the canvassing field, - that all the canvassers should
work for the same book. I do not see the force or propriety of this. If
the Lord has light for his people, who shall venture to put up barriers
so that the light shall not reach them? One book is published at little
expense, and is therefore sold cheaply; other
works that present truths essential at this time, have involved greater
expense; shall they therefore be kept from the people? Bible Readings is
a good book to occupy its own place, but should not be permitted to crowd
out other important works, which the people need. The presidents of our
conferences have a duty to do, our board of directors should have something
to say in this matter, that the different branches of the work of God may
receive equal attention.
If our canvassers are controlled by the prospect of
financial gain; if they circulate the book on which they can make the most
money, to the neglect of others that the people need, I ask, in what sense
is theirs a missionary work? Where is the missionary spirit, - the spirit
of self sacrifice?
The work of the intelligent, God-fearing canvasser has been represented as equal to that of the gospel minister. Then should the canvasser any more than the minister, feel at liberty to act from selfish motives? Should he turn his back on all the principles of missionary work, and handle the book -- placed before him, shall I say, as a temptation? -- on which he can make the most money? Shall he have no interest to circulate any book but that which brings him the greatest financial gain? How is the missionary spirit revealed here? Has not the canvassing work ceased to be what it ought to be? How is it that no voice is raised to correct this state of things?
If there are reasons back of all this, if the publishing
houses exert an influence to favor this state of things because they receive
greater financial benefit thereby, this should be searched out.
I have carried the burden as long as I can; it is wearing away my life.
Many have asked me if I was not getting rich by the
sale of my books. Far from it. I invested about 3000 dollars in the new
edition of Vol. IV. I own the plates, and it was agreed that I should receive
fifteen cents a copy on the books. Then the publishers represented to me
how little the publishing houses made in handling the books, and I finally
consented to accept twelve and a half cents, being assured that they would
throw their interest and energy into circulating the book, and that the
large editions sold would bring me back all that I had invested, and much
more, to help pay the expense of publishing other works, which were in
preparation. But soon after I consented to take twelve and a half cents,
Bible Readings came from the press, and it was decided to carry that book
almost exclusively, until the market was supplied. Thus instead of giving
Vol. IV an equal chance with Bible Readings, the managers allowed it no
place at all.
During my stay in Europe I spent freely my own means
to advance the various interests of the cause. Since my return to America
I have invested $1600 in various branches of the work, expecting that the
sale of my books would supply the necessary means, but instead of this
I have been obliged to borrow the money and to pay interest upon it. If
I publish new books, I must have money to pay my helpers, who assist in
preparing the matter for the press. Then there is the cost of type-setting,
making plates, illustrations, etc., etc. All these things require money.
Now what am I to do? Shall I dismiss my helpers?
The managers of the Review and Herald could not be
ignorant of my financial situation, but what interest have they shown to
change this order of things? I thank them for permitting me to draw money
to carry on the work. But their course in regard to the circulation of
my books has made it a necessity for me to speak. I cannot be clear and
keep silent. I cannot have confidence to leave these matters, which to
me involves so much, to their discretionary power, when I am brought into
constant embarrassment. I have less confidence in their management than
I have had, for I cannot believe that the Lord leads them to pursue the
course they have taken.
Letters have come to me with such questions and statements
as the following:-
Sr. White; why is every canvasser working for Bible
Readings? I was canvassing for Vol. IV. but the president of our conference
advised me to take Bible Readings. I received a rich blessing in canvassing
for Vol. IV. I had success, and thought I would throw my whole energy into
the work of bringing that book before the people. Every one who bought
it was pleased with it, and some purchased a second copy to give to their
friends. But I was told that all the canvassers were working for Bible
Readings, and as this seemed to be the order of things, I took that book.
Would it not be pleasing to the Lord for me again to take up Vol. IV?
I certainly mistake our canvassers, if with proper
instruction--having the matter set before them in its true bearings--
would choose to give the field entirely to Bible Readings, to the neglect
of Vol. IV. If it should prove that they will not receive counsel, if they
are unwilling to do the work so essential at this time,-- to bring before
the people the very books that the world should have,-- then there is only
[one] course left for me; that is, to raise and train a company of canvassers
for this special work,-- men and women who shall work not merely to please
themselves, not merely for gain, but to do the work of God, to bring before
the people the warnings of God to them. This I proposed to do some time
since, but was urged to wait a little. Some of the leaders in the canvassing
work felt that it would not be the right thing for me to have a separate
canvassing company organized, that it would throw things into confusion.
Then the promise was given that last spring the canvass for Vol. IV should
be pushed as that for Bible Readings had been. I believe that our brethren
meant to do just as they said; but why did they not do it? I waited, but
nothing has been done. Now if the leading brethren give it as a hopeless
task, I will wait no longer for them to turn the tide. I still believe
that those who are working in the canvassing field will see their duty
when the situation is fairly placed before them.
I speak to you who are engaged in the canvassing work.
Have you read Vol. IV? Do you know what it contains? Have you any appreciation
of the subject matter? Do you not see that the people need the light therein
given? If you have not already done so, I entreat you to read carefully
these solemn warnings and appeals. I am sure
that the Lord would have this work carried into all the high-ways and by-ways,
where are souls to be warned of the danger so soon to come.
I spoke before our Gen. Conf. in regard to this matter.
I spoke before the canvassing class, but as there was no one to take up
the matter and carry it forward, nothing has been done. How long my brethren
at head quarters at Battle Creek will deem it best to wait before doing
anything I cannot tell. But I appeal to our brethren everywhere to spread
abroad the light which God has given to his people.
When I think of the end so near, and think that the
light given me of God is not permitted to come before the people, I am
in great distress of mind. When I awake at any hour of the night my heart
is filled with such grief that I cannot close my eyes to sleep. A feeling
of anxiety, of remorse, has pressed upon me, as though this delay in the
circulation of Vol. IV. was due to some neglect on my part. And my burden
does not decrease in the least as time passes and nothing is done.
I seem to be bound about by rules or customs or something
which I cannot define, so that I am powerless to do anything; and those
who are in responsible positions are themselves taking no burden of the
Brethren, you are urging me to come to your campmeetings.
I must tell you plainly that the course pursued toward me and my work since
the Gen. Conf. at Minneapolis--your resistance of the light and warnings
that God has given through me--has made my labor fifty times harder than
it would otherwise have been. I find that my
words have far less influence upon the minds of our people than upon unbelievers
whose hearts have not been hardened by rejecting the light. I have no word
from the Lord to labor for you in the camp meetings, to repeat to you,
little by little, that which, at great cost and labor I have published
for your benefit. As you feel no burden to obtain and circulate the books,
I feel that my oral testimony would make no lasting impression. I have
no courage to meet you in campmeeting. It seems to me that you have cast
aside the word of the Lord as unworthy of your notice.
The course pursued toward Vol. IV. has confirmed the
word of the Lord which has been given me, that men were occupying responsible
positions who were not working where God was working; that the testimony
of the spirit of God had no special sacredness to them unless it sanctioned
their ideas and actions. Anything not in harmony with their ideas, they
did not receive. Had they realized the importance of the light given me
of God, would they have let the message of appeal and warning lie buried
in the office of publication while they only expressed regret, and did
nothing to change the order of things? Brethren, you may think that your
course in this matter does not justify me in speaking plainly as I do,
but the time has come for me to speak, and I refuse to keep silent longer.
I cannot but feel that the enemy has warped your conscience and beclouded
your minds. My oral testimony will do you no good while you stand where
you now are.
I have been shown that men in responsible positions
should be men who are not controlled by impulse, men whose conscience is
by habitual communion with Christ, men who bow in reverence to the divine
standard of righteousness. Pure and undefiled religion should preside over
their practice; they should honor God by honoring the light he sends them,
by practicing the principles laid before them, and shunning everything
unfair and unjust. Such men will not neglect important interests which
are under their guardianship, and whose success or failure depends on their
management. They will not, for the sake of immediate financial advantage,
let the light given of heaven be excluded from the people. They will be
braced for duty by the truth of God, and no influence from any source,
no entreaties or favor, can induce them to turn from the work which they
know to be just and consistent.
I tell you in the fear of God, I have held my peace
as long as I dare to do so. I shall no longer trust in your hands important
interests which means so much to me, if you continue to treat them with
such indifference as you have manifested.
If you did not intend to work to get Vol. IV. before
the people, why did you not say at the outset, "Sr, White, we do not regard
the books you have written as of any great importance. We will handle books
that bring more money to the publishing house, and will allow you to bring
your books before the people the best way you can. We do not see any special
need of hurry in getting them before the world." If you had done this,
you would have dealt more honorably with me. You know I needed the money
which the sale of my books would bring. You undertook to manage the sale
for me, and if I have been justly dealt with I have yet to do this.
I have now several works which will soon be ready for
sale, but what reason have I to hope that you will feel any more burden
to circulate them than you have manifested for Vol. IV.
I know that God has moved upon me to write, and now
if it is left for me to take up the burden of bringing these books to the
attention of the people, I can do this, though I know that the work ought
to rest upon others. Now I ask my brethren, are matters to continue as
they have been for the last two years? I wish to know now, because I shall
feel it my duty at once to take up the book you manifest no interest in.
If I had only understood, at the outset, the turn that was to be given
to Bible Readings, I could have taken my work into my own hands, and thus
have saved this long delay. My children have counseled me to wait a while
longer before speaking out, but I dare not do so. I have looked and waited
for some one to place Vol. IV in the position it should be, until hope
has died out of my heart.
After carrying the burden of writing the book, and
getting it through the press, I trusted that I could then lay it in the
hands of my brethren,--that they would understand and appreciate its importance,
and would take up their part of the work without any urging from me. But
if I alone have been made to feel the sacred, solemn importance of scattering
the rays of light for this time of peril, may the Lord strengthen me for
the work. I will delay no longer, but will look to the Captain of my salvation
and promptly obey.
I ask the presidents of the several conferences if
they will have some interest to correct the
wrong tendencies manifest in our canvassing work. Show the canvassers that
they should not carry things to extremes; that they should not drop the
very books that the people are in suffering need of, and push a new work,
which can fill only a limited sphere, thus shutting away from the people
the special warnings which God has sent to them for this time.
I have evidence that the Lord impresses the hearts
of those who read what is written in Vol. IV concerning those scenes of
thrilling interest, --the things that are, and that shall be. And if those
who claim to believe the third angel's message would carefully and prayerfully
read the important, solemn truths that relate to this time, as presented
in Vol. IV and would give heed to them, they would be led to search the
Scriptures more earnestly and prayerfully, and would better comprehend
the word of God, and the trying scenes just before us.
(Signed) Ellen G. White.
As I have seen the course that has been taken for the
last two years, I have waited and prayed, and said to my soul. The Lord
will set this matter right. But I know that our brethren are not doing
their duty. What courage have I to attend camp meetings? What reason have
I to hope that my testimony will now be received and respected any more
than Vol. IV has been? My experience since the conference at Minneapolis
has not been very assuring. I have asked the Lord for wisdom daily, and
that I may not be utterly disheartened, and go down to the grave broken-hearted,
as did my husband.
(Signed) Ellen G. White.