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General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

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    (Read before the Council, Feb.3.)GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.3

    SINCE 1849, when Elder james White published 300 copies of the little sheet called The Present Truth, along down to the present time, the Lord, through the teachings of his spirit, has called the attention of his church to the importance of getting reading matter before the people around us. In 1865, when Seventh-day Adventist literature was simply the REview, Instructor monthly, and a few small pamphlets and tracts, and when the sales from our one small office in Battle Creek did not amount to more than $1500 per year, this testimony was given to encourage getting the reading before the people, “There are many honest souls who would be brought where they would embrace the truth by this means alone.” — Vol. 1, p.551.GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.4

    In 1867 Brother Matteson had just started, here in America, the publication of tracts and pamphlets in the Scandinavian language. Then this encouraging testimony was given:—GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.5

    The proper circulation and distribution of our publications is one of the most important branches of the work. — Vol.1,p.687.GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.6

    Comparing the efforts that our people were then making with what was being done by other denominations in their work, it was said:—GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.7

    Liberality is carried out in the sale and donations of Bibles and tracts. Seventh-day Adventists should be as far ahead of these in the book matter as in other things. God help us. — Vol.1,p.690.GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.8

    In 1871, when the sale from the Review office had increased to about seven thousand dollars a year, it was said to us:—GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.9

    There has never been a more important period in the history of Seventh-day Adventists than at the present time. Instead of the publishing work diminishing, the demand for our publications is greatly increasing. There will be more to do instead of less. — Vol.3,p.92.GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.10

    The publications which go forth from the office, bear the signet of the Eternal. They are being scattered all through the land, and are deciding the destiny of souls. Men are now greatly needed who can translate and prepare our publications in other languages, to reach all tongues, and that the message of warning may go to all nations, and that they may be tested by the light of the truth, that men and women as they see the light, may turn from the transgression to the obedience of the law of God. — Vol.3,p.207.GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.11

    In the year 1879 the sales from the shelves of the two offices, in Oakland and Battle Creek, amounted to the sum of $31,780.60. this, to those who had seen the publishing work start from almost nothing, looked like “a big thing,” but with the opening of the next year the Testimonies began to speak of a new line of work. Then, for the first time, we began to read of securing canvassers for our books. In that instruction we note these words:—GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.12

    Hundreds of men should be engaged in carrying the light all through our cities, villages, and towns. In all parts of the field canvassers should be selected. Not from the floating element in society, not from men and women who are good for nothing else, and who have made a success of nothing, but from among those who have good address, tact, keen foresight, and ability. such are needed to make a success as colporteurs, canvassers, and agents. — Vol.4,p.389.GCB February 8, 1895, page 74.13

    If there is one work that is more important than another, it is that of getting our publications before the public, thus leading them to search the Scriptures. Vol.4,p.390.GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.1

    Two years after this, in Nov. 1881, a brother in Battle Creek was going from one to another of our ministers, and reasoning with us that, if “Thoughts on Daniel,” and “Thoughts on the Revelation” were combined in one book and illustrated, canvassers could be secured, and could sell it as other publishers were selling their books. It looks strange to us now that we were so slow to believe what the Lord had said two years before about the success of the canvassing work.GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.2

    When it was seen that books could be sold by Adventist canvassers, many presented themselves who were in no way qualified for the business, and then came these words:—GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.3

    Canvassers are wanted to labor in the missionary field. Persons of uncouth manners are not fitted for the work..... The work of the colporteur is elevated, and will prove a success, if he is honest, earnest, and patient, steadily pursuing the work he has undertaken. His heart must be in the work, he must rise early, and work industriously, putting to proper use the faculties God has given him. Difficulties must be met. If confronted with unceasing perseverance, they will be overcome. Much is gained by courtesy. The workers may be continually forming a symmetrical character. Great characters are formed by little acts and efforts. — Vol.4,p.603.GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.4

    Testimony 32 was published in the year 1885, a year in which our canvassers soled 63,000 worth of books. In that Testimony I note these words:—GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.5

    The canvassing work is God’s means of reaching many that would not otherwise be impressed with the truth. The work is a good one, the object high and elevating; and there should be a corresponding dignity of deportment...... The canvassing work is more important than many have regarded it, and as much care and wisdom must be used in selecting the workers as in selecting men for the ministry...... Lift up the standard; and let the self-denying, the lovers of God and humanity, join the army of workers. Let them come not expecting ease, but to be brave and of good courage under rebuffs and hardships. Let those come who can give a good report of our publications, because they themselves appreciate their value. — pp.161,162.GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.6

    We notice in the instruction for successful canvassing that one of the essential qualifications mentioned is “honesty.” It has seemed to me that strict honesty would lead them to say, when they had sold books, of the portion of the proceeds belonging to the society, “This is not my money, and I have no more right to use it without permission than to take any other money intrusted to me for safe keeping and use that for my own purposes.GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.7

    Some canvassers have not been able to meet their expenses from their commissions on their sales of books, and in their necessity have taken the liberty to use that portion of the sales money which belonged to the Tract Society and the publishers. the Testimonies have spoken on the point of proper remuneration of faithful canvassers. From a letter from Sister White, dated Aug. 3, 1894, I quote:—GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.8

    If one undertakes the canvassing work, and is not able to sustain himself and family, it is the duty of his brethren, so far as lies in their power, to help him out of his difficulty, and disinterestedly open ways whereby this brother may labor according to his ability and obtain means honestly to sustain his family.GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.9

    Mark, this does not say the canvasser should be kept under pay at unsuccessful canvassing; but it does seem to establish a principle, that the diligent and faithful canvasser should not be left to bear misfortune alone. I trust that the wisdom of this Institute may devise some mode of relief by which these difficulties in the canvassing work may be bridged over, and the faithful canvasser be made to feel that he is not to suffer alone.GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.10

    We will notice another feature in the promise that success will attend canvassers. It says he “should rise early, and work industriously.” Now I have made some careful observations in the cases of some canvassers who have complained of “hard fields,” and “lack of success.” It has seemed to me that, other conditions being equal, in most cases the success of the canvasser has been in proportion to the time employed in actual canvassing. I call to mind a case where a man complained of his territory, which, however, was considered by the tract society officers as good territory. He wanted to go to another field which he named. He was permitted to go. Looking over his reports in the first-named field, he did not average three hours per day in the canvassing work. He took the other field, and it was reported how “much better success” he was having there. On comparing his reports in the two fields, we found that in the new field he was putting in some seven or eight hours per day, and that the increased success was just in proportion to the actual time devoted to canvassing work.GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.11

    Another case was of a man who made complaints of how “discouraging” it was to canvass, and meet with so “little success.” I looked over his reports for a time and found that in this time in which he was complaining of having such “poor success” he did not average over six and eight hours per week in actual canvassing. could he succeed in any other business and devote no more time per week than that? Is eight hours per week of work being industrious? In “Testimony” 31 we had cautions in regard to such canvassers, in these works, “Indolence marks the lives of too many at the present day. They turn their shoulder from the wheel just when they should persevere and bring all their powers into active service.” Page 130. Of those who have the true spirit of the work, we read, “The love of Jesus in the soul will lead the canvasser to feel it a privilege to labor to diffuse light. Those who are doing this work from right motives are doing an important work of ministering. they will manifest no feeble, undecided character. Many who engage in the canvassing work are weak, nerveless, spiritless, easily discouraged. they lack push. They have not the positive traits of character which give men power to do something. “Testimony,” 32, pp.159,160.GCB February 8, 1895, page 75.12

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