The Parting Counsels of Volume IX

Our continued look at the background of the writings of Ellen White.



Volume IX of the "Testimonies" was pub­lished in the latter part of 1909, nearly six years after Volume VIII came out. During this six-year period, Seventh-day Adventists received many striking reminders of the hastening of the kingdom. There was a succession of earth­quakes (in Formosa, Italy, San Francisco, Val­paraiso, Southern Europe, and Jamaica). In some instances, the earthquakes were accom­panied by uncontrollable fires, extensive dam­age, and great loss of life. Then came the war between Russia and Japan in 1907, with the near annihilation of the Russian fleet. Business slumps, bank failures, and a nation-wide money panic in America were followed by acute unem­ployment and labor strikes.

Calamities and disasters by land and sea of­fered evident fulfillment of the prophetic signs of the times. Such were the conditions when messages coming through the Spirit of prophecy pointed with impressive emphasis to the sig­nificance of these Biblical portents of the ap­proaching end. And today, more than at the time they were written, can be understood such statements as the following:

"The agencies of evil are combining their forces, and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones."—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 11.

These statements were accompanied by most earnest appeals for personal preparation of heart and diligent activity in soulsaving work. God's people were told:

"Time is short, and our forces must be organized to do a larger work. Laborers are needed who com­prehend the greatness of the work, and who will engage in it, not for the wages they receive, but from a realization of the nearness of the end."—R1., p. 27.

From these vivid portrayals of world condi­tions, together with clear instruction to God's people regarding their duty, especially in their work of warning the great cities, were gathered one hundred thirty pages, which formed the first three sections of Volume IX.

Vital Advances and Needed Cautions

This period marked the beginning of great advancement in foreign mission work, and the extension of the gospel into many new fields. Of the progress of reorganization, as called for in messages delivered at the General Conference in 1901, Elder A. G. Daniells reported at the session of 1909:

"Since then the membership of the General Con­ference Committee has been increased from thirteen to forty. At that time there were but two union con­ferences; now there are twenty-one, located in nearly all parts of the world. Within their territories are included many important mission fields. To the com­mittees in charge of these union conferences have been transferred countless details of administration which previously came to the General Conference Committee-During the same period fifty-seven local conferences have been added to the forty-five that had been or­ganized up to 1901."—General Conference Vol. VI, No. .1, p. 8.

Mention was also made of the various depart­ments of the General Conference that had been organized, each with its secretary and, well-trained assistants. The results are summarized as follows:

"Thus the reorganization that has been effected since the Conference of 1901 has drawn into the ad­ministrative circle more than five hundred persons who were not there before, and the results show that this change has greatly increased the efficiency of the management of the work."—Ibid.

With so great an increase in the number of executive offices, it was inevitable that they could not all be filled with men of long experi­ence. Among those who were chosen to occupy positions of responsibility were some who needed and who received cautions regarding the danger of acting as arbitrary rulers, or dic­tators, and assuming in their Sphere of labor responsibilities that should be distributed and thus shared with other counselors. Faithful testimonies were borne by the servant of the Lord to such. Some of these, which were con­sidered of permanent value to future workers in the cause, may be found on pages 262 to 284 of Volume IX. These necessary warnings to leaders were accompanied by equal condemna­tion of those who manifested a spirit of in­dependence and apposition to leadership, thus tending to weaken the organization that had been effected.

In a manuscript read by Mrs. White before the delegation assembled at the General Con­ference of 1909, she said:

"This transfer of responsibilities to laborers whose experience is more or less limited, is attended with some dangers against which we need to guard. The world is filled with strife for the supremacy. The spirit of pulling away from fellow laborers, the spirit of disorganization, is in the very air we breathe. . . .

"O how Satan would rejoice if he could succeed in his efforts to get in among this people, and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential, and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings, and to refute claims not endorsed by the word of God !"—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, pp. 257, 258.

Important Beginnings at Loma Linda

While Mrs. White was attending the General Conference in Washington in the spring of 1905, she received a letter from California regarding a property for sale at Loma Linda, which was admirably adapted for a sanitarium, and was being offered at a price far below its original cost and real value. She was instructed that it was the Lord's will for this place to be secured. Fearing that hesitation or delay in reaching a decision on this matter might result in the loss of the opportunity to purchase, or that diffi­culties might lead to its rejection, Mrs. White took a step that for her was very unusual. She telegraphed Elder J. A. Burden, advising him to secure the property without delay.

We know today that there was more involved in this unusual procedure than the securing of another sanitarium for Southern California. Through this move, the Lord was working out the solution of a real problem that had arisen regarding the education of medical workers. With the separation from the denomination of the Battle Creek Sanitarium and its allied in­stitution, the American Medical Missionary College, it seemed impossible to answer the calls for great advance moves in medical missionary work. The question pressed for immediate answer: Where should Seventh-day Adventist youth who desired a medical education receive a training for their profession without being exposed to either the infidelity of popular medi­cal colleges, or the equally dangerous subtle in­fluences at Battle Creek that would tend to undermine their faith in certain great funda­mental truths of the message?

Though the Lord could not lead His people faster than their faith might follow in a plan that seemed staggering in its magnitude, He sent them messages pointing steadily in the di­rection of establishing a fully equipped medical college at Loma Linda. As early as October, 1905, in a solemn appeal for our youth not to go to Battle Creek for their education, Mrs. White wrote:

"The time has come when I most say that the effort to draw our young people to Battle Creek is one of the schemes of Satan to confuse the minds of the youth and those who are older. There are ministers of the gospel who have lost their bearings, and as they lead others to walk in strange paths, they are doing a work similar to that which Satan thought to carry on when the children of Israel were about to enter Canaan. . . .

"I warn our people to come out from among them and be separate. The Lord will open, yes, He is open­ing ways whereby your children can be given an educa­tion in medical missionary lines without endangering their souls. If the preparations in these places are not as complete as they are at Battle Creek, they can do as much as was done when the work was first started at Battle Creek. We did not then have pro­vision for sending out fully equipped physicians. In a short time we shall have facilities for giving the necessary requirements."—E. G. White MS. 151, 1905 (italics ours).

In the development of Loma Linda, at first as a place for giving special advanced training in medical missionary lines, and finally as a fully equipped medical college, each step was taken hesitatingly, and principally because of the repeated and specific messages that came through the "Testimonies" from time to time. At the General Conference of 1909, a manuscript regarding the "Loma Linda College of Evangel­ists," as it was then called, was read by Mrs. White to the delegates, thereby indicating its place not merely as a local institution, but as worthy of denominational support and en­deavor. We understand better today than was realized at that time what was really infolded in this counsel incorporated as part of Vol­ume IX.

"We are to have clear discernment, else we shall fail of discerning the opening providences of God that are preparing the way for us to enlighten the world. With the possession of this place comes the weighty responsibility of making the work of the institution educational in character. Loma Linda is to be not only a sanitarium, but an educational center. A school is to be established here for the training of gospel medical missionary evangelists. Much is involved in this work, and it is very essential that a right begin­ning be made."—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, pp. 173, 174 (italics ours).

In October, 1909, a few months after this statement was read to the delegates at the Gen­eral Conference, our denominational leaders, assembled in College View, Nebraska, recom­mended that the board of the Loma Linda Col­lege "secure a charter for the school, that it may develop as the opening providences and the instruction of the Spirit of God may indi­cate."

Faithfulness in Health Reform Stressed

The establishment of the medical college was but one part of a greatly augmented program of medical missionary evangelism for which the "Testimonies" had been calling for many years. Among other messages borne by Mrs. White at the 1909 General Conference, where her voice was heard for the last time at such a general gathering, she made an earnest appeal for faith­fulness in the practice of health reform. This subject, as well as every other section of this concluding volume, finds its place in a list of timely topics for those who are to finish the work and to be ready to meet our Lord when He returns. This trenchant statement is made:

"God demands that the appetites be cleansed, and that self-denial be practiced in regard to those things which are not good. This is a work that will have to be done before His people can stand before Him a perfected people."--Id., pp. 153, 154.

Religious-Liberty Issues Clarified

Volume IX also contains a section on the religious-liberty work. In this portion of the book are found principles to guide the people of God as they enter the time of crisis when those who keep God's commandments must suffer persecution from opposing powers. In the middle of the nineties, there were many cases of prosecution of our brethren for Sunday labor, especially in the Southern States. In Europe, three of our publishing houses were forced to suffer confiscation of property or the imprisonment of their managers when they re­fused to pay fines levied on them for operating on Sunday. Our brethren felt that if they yielded to the civil law to the extent of ceasing their work on the first day of the week, they would thereby receive the mark of the beast. And so they endured imprisonment and confiscation of property rather than disobey what they believed to be right principles.

In 1898, a similar crisis faced the Echo Pub­lishing Company in Melbourne, Australia. After repeated friendly warnings from an officer of the law that complaints had been made con­cerning Sunday labor in the office, the manager was notified that prosecution would follow im­mediately unless the work ceased. A meeting of the board was held, and, in harmony with the attitude taken by our brethren in Europe and with the principles advocated by religious-liberty leaders, the majority felt that they must continue their practice, regardless of conse­quences.

Mrs. White was in Melbourne at the time, and on hearing of the situation, told the work­ers that she had recently received light from heaven that should govern them in the crisis. She presented instruction to the effect that yielding to the powers of government by cessa­tion of labor on Sunday was not a violation of the law of God. She pointed out that the issue would come when attempts would be made to force the people of God to break the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and that then they must stand firm in observance of the seventh day of the week.

The board of the Echo Publishing Company accepted this counsel, and in harmony with positive instruction given at the same time, stopped the presses on Sunday and gave oppor­tunity for the employees to spend the day in the distribution of literature and in other lines of missionary work.

In 1902, when it seemed that stringent Sun­day laws might be passed by the Federal Gov­ernment of Australia, Elder G. A. Irwin wrote to Mrs. White for counsel regarding the attitude our people should take if their fears were real­ized. In reply to this query, Mrs. White set forth in clear language sound reasons why the counsel given to the employees of the Echo Company in 1898 should govern all our people in their relation to Sunday laws, so long as the principles of Sabbathkeeping were not involved. This letter, containing timely instruction which differs from the earlier teaching and practice of many Seventh-day Adventists, was included in Volume IX.

International Unity Fostered

During this period, successful efforts had been put forth in behalf of foreign nationals in the United States. Foreign departments were or­ganized at Union College, where German and Scandinavian students might receive instruc­tion in their own language, from teachers of their own nationality. And at College View, Nebraska, there was established an Interna­tional Publishing Association to produce litera­ture in the various languages for circulation in the United States. This factory, which was later destroyed by fire, was the forerunner of the International Branch of the Pacific Press, now located at Brookfield, Illinois.

It is only human that differences should arise between groups and individuals of diverse nationalities. But in God's plan, human nature is to be transformed. Messages were sent reminding our brethren that in their work for God they should forget that they were "Ameri­cans or Europeans, Germans or Frenchmen, Swedes, Danes, or Norwegians," and unite in faithful, loyal service for the King of kings.

Constitutes a Fitting Climax

"We are living in the time of the end. The fast-fulfilling signs of the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand."—Id., p. 11.

"Look up, look up, and let your faith continually increase. Let this faith guide you along the narrow path that leads through the gates of the city of God into the great beyond, the wide, unbounded future of glory that is for the redeemed. 'Be patient, there­fore, brethren, . . . for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.' James 5 :7, 8."—Id., pp. 587, 288.

With this blessed advent hope, as expressed in the opening and closing sentences of "Testi­monies for the Church," Volume IX, every true advent believer is in hearty accord. In a very special sense, it may be said of Mrs. White's messages in book form, especially addressed to the remnant church, that their entire content is related to that hope and expectation.

Soon after the publication of Volume VIII, with its portrayal of subtle, deceptive theories that were threatening the church, Mrs. White wrote:

"The last 'Testimony' published opens to our people the danger of these theories, and the 'Testimonies' published in the future will urge still more strongly the necessity of lifting up and carrying high the banner on which are inscribed the words, 'The com­mandments of God and the faith of Jesus.' "—E. G. White MS. 61, 1901.

To this purpose, the servant of God was true. Though the messenger was declining in years and in physical strength, these vigorous mes­sages formed a fitting climax to the "Testi­monies for the Church," containing counsel and admonition written for her fellow believers in the hope of redemption.

Such is the story of the writing and publica­tion of the nine-volume set of "Testimonies" (now incorporated in the four-volume set, Vol­umes I, II, III, and IV). Seventh-day Advent­ists may well rejoice in the signal way in which God has instructed and guided His people through this, His chosen means.

[This article concludes the excellent series on the background and larger meanings of these inspired counsels for the church—especially Volume IX as here treated. It will be remembered, of course, that Volume IX constitutes one of the required books in the 1937 Ministerial Reading Course. A supplemental article, to appear shortly, will discuss the later, three-book set of "Selections From the Testimonies," which are likewise filling a definite need.—Enrron.]

One of our imperative needs, in this time of pressure and propaganda, is balanced think­ing. Altogether too many approach truth from a one-sided point of view. They seek support­ing evidence for their own opinions, rather than the full testimony of the facts. Conclu­sions reached under such circumstances are inevitably biased and unsound.

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December 1937

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