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As we look at the times of volume 9 we view a five-year span extending to the late summer of 1909. In Mrs. White’s experience this period is opened and closed with trips from her home in St. Helena, California, to the East to attend important meetings. For the denomination it is a time of full recovery from the crisis of 1902-03 and of extending the work, of launching new enterprises, and of establishing new institutions.
Following important meetings in Michigan in the spring of 1904, Mrs. White visited the South and then made her way to Washington, D. C., where steps were being taken to provide buildings for the work which was being established at the nation’s capital. There was a new headquarters building to be erected, the Review and Herald must be provided with a home, a sanitarium was to be built, and a college established. The fact that Mrs. White made her home in Washington for some months, where she could give counsel regarding the work, as these four enterprises were gotten under way, was a great encouragement to the workers. It also exerted a far-reaching influence throughout the denomination in establishing the confidence of the church members that God had led in the transfer of the administration and publishing interests to the nation’s capital.
This was a period of rapid advancement in the development of our medical work on the Pacific Coast. Sanitariums were opened in National City, Glendale, and Loma Linda, California. From the first, Loma Linda seemed destined to become a training center for medical workers at some future time to do the work for the denomination begun at Battle Creek. During the critical years of the establishment of the medical college, Mrs. White made frequent visits to Southern California, where she could give personal counsel and encouragement, and could assist in the laying of plans for the advancing work. It was utterances, based upon the revelations given her of God, that led us step by step eventually to the establishment of a fully recognized medical college. So insurmountable were the obstacles that, had it not been for the faith and confidence inspired by the frequent counsels which came through the spirit of prophecy, the enterprise would never have survived.
These important interests that took Mrs. White much from her home and her writing, resulted in a great delay in the issuance of books she hoped could soon be in the field doing their work. The Ministry of Healing was the only Ellen G. White book newly issued during this five-year period.
The work of the denomination had by this time grown too large for us to mention in detail the various advance steps. The message was now belting the globe, missionaries were being sent out in increasing numbers, more institutions devoted to educational, publishing, and medical interests were being established. The message was truly reaching the ends of the earth.
It brought great rejoicing to the heart of Ellen White to meet with the representatives of the world-wide work as they gathered in Washington, D. C., in the spring of 1909 for the General Conference session. This was her last trip East—this the last General Conference session she attended. She was now eighty-one years of age and had given a long life of service to the cause of God. She had seen the work grow from the struggling beginning days when there were only a handful who kept the Sabbath and who looked for the soon coming of the Lord. Now they numbered 85,000, and there were 1,200 ordained and licensed ministers. As Ellen White stood before the General Conference, she was led to speak on certain subjects of great importance which must be reviewed. Among these was health reform. For forty-five years she had led out in teaching the great principles of healthful living which had been presented to her in vision. She had seen the fruitage of this teaching. However, there were some who still held back, there were some who were inclined to extremes, and so she reviewed our position and teachings point by point. This statement made before the General Conference forms an important chapter of volume 9.
Another topic upon which she chose to speak was that of the medical college of Loma Linda. She set forth the objectives of that institution and appealed for the co-operation of all workers and laity in making this work a success. This important statement is also a part of volume 9.
Mrs. White had seen the work of the administration of the church develop from a committee of three which was appointed in 1863 to take charge of the General Conference, to its present status of organization with General Conference departments and with Division and Union Conference organizations dividing the responsibilities among hundreds who carried the burden of the work in various parts of the world field. In her closing words she pleaded for unity and consecration. In her written statements she dealt with the authority of the General Conference and the importance of the actions taken by the General Conference in full session. She wrote of the distribution of responsibility and the need of humility and of faith. These counsels form an important part of the closing section of volume 9.
At the turn of the century Mrs. White had begun to appeal for a renewed interest in the evangelizing of the millions in the great metropolitan centers of the world. These needs had been emphasized again and again in the counsels which had been sent to the leading workers. In response to these messages, interests in city work was revived. Large centers were entered. Many evangelistic efforts were held, old churches were strengthened, and new churches were established. To preserve the appeals for this work and the counsels as to its conduct in permanent form, an entire section of volume 9 is devoted to this important subject.
We were in days, too, when the various enterprises which were entered into called for the talents and energies of our lay members. It began to be clear that this work could never be finished unless the laity vigorously united with the ministry in carrying the message to the world. The work of laymen took on new importance. In the last two volumes of the Testimonies increasing emphasis had been placed upon the work of the laymen, and this is brought to a climax in volume 9. Following a picture of the last crisis and events to take place in the closing scenes of earth’s history, several chapters are devoted to the call for every Seventh-day Adventist to take an active part in evangelism, in home missionary work, and in the circulation of literature.
There were two other lines of detailed counsel which are represented in this volume for the first time in the Testimonies, though considerable instruction had been given through the years relating to them. The first has to do with the work among the colored people. The second has to do with the religious liberty work. It was largely in response to the appeals made by Ellen White in the articles in the Review in the middle nineties that workers and laymen pushed into the great Southland and began their ministry, some in educational lines, some in medical lines, some in preaching the message, and others in quietly living the message as homes were established in regions which had not yet received the light. Still others had joined in this work in response to the appeals in volume 7. The workers faced many problems. Plans must be laid for advancement. New issues must be met, especially those relating to the work where there was race antagonism. Through the critical years counsel had been given which served as safe guidance for the work, and to make this counsel a permanent record to serve the church, it was included in volume 9.
The religious liberty work was a line of endeavor in which we had been engaged for many years. Some were inclined to take extreme positions urging that true Sabbathkeeping meant that one must make it prominent to those about him that we labored on Sunday. In some regions this led to persecution. The Lord in his goodness sent messages to this people to give us a balanced conception of questions of this kind. These, too, appear in this volume in the section entitled, “The Religious Liberty Work,” opening with the chapter, “A Time of Trial Before Us,” and closing with the chapter, “Words of Caution.” So volume 9, drawing together counsels new and old, reiterating certain lines of instruction, giving details of counsel in other lines, encouraging to service, pointing out the dangers of extremes, leading to confidence in organization and pointing to the reward of earnest effort, became the cap-sheaf of the Testimonies for the Church.
The work of Ellen White did not close with the issuance of Testimonies for the Church, Volume 9. Addressing herself more closely to her work of book preparation during the succeeding five years, she brought out Acts of the Apostles in 1911 and Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students in 1913. She also did her final work on manuscripts for the new edition of Gospel Workers and Life Sketches, published in 1915, and Prophets and Kings, which came from the press in 1916.
Especially did she take delight in the special efforts which were made to warn the cities, and from time to time there came from her pen messages of counsel and instruction regarding this important phase of our work. The steady progress of the cause around the world was marked by this now aging messenger of the Lord residing among the quiet hills of northern California. Although she knew her labors were nearly finished, she had no fears for the future of the work of God, for as she stated: “whether or not my life is spared, my writings will constantly speak, and their work will go forward as long as time shall last.”—Writing and Sending out of the “Testimonies for the Church,” Pages 13, 14.
As plans were laid for the General Conference session of 1913, Mrs. White would have been pleased to have attended, but in her advancing age this seemed inadvisable. Not being able to present an oral message, she wrote two communications to be read to the delegates and church members assembled. In the second message, which was read by the president of the General Conference to the conference in session on the morning of May 27, she reviewed the experience of past years, and rejoiced in the marked evidences that God had led his people. Then, looking ahead, she called for renewed efforts in soul-saving work and appealed again for the unwarned cities. Looking into the future she saw the triumph of the church and expressed words of courage:
“I have words of encouragement for you, my brethren. We are to move forward in faith and hope, expecting large things from God. The enemy will seek in every way to hinder the efforts that are being made to advance the truth, but in the strength of the Lord you may gain success. Let no discouraging words be spoken, but only such words as will tend to strengthen and sustain your fellow workers….
“My interest in the general work is still as deep as ever and I greatly desire that the cause of present truth shall steadily advance in all parts of the world….
“I pray earnestly that the work we do at this time shall impress itself deeply on heart and mind and soul. Perplexities will increase; but let us, as believers in God, encourage one another. Let us not lower the standard, but keep it lifted high, looking to him who is the author and finisher of our faith. When in the night season I am unable to sleep, I lift my heart in prayer to God, and he strengthens me, and gives me the assurance that he is with his ministering servants in the home field and in distant lands. I am encouraged and blessed as I realize that the God of Israel is still guiding his people, and that he will continue to be with them, even to the end….
“The Lord desires to see the work of proclaiming the third angel’s message carried forward with increasing efficiency. As he has worked in all ages to give victories to his people, so in this age he longs to carry to a triumphant fulfillment his purposes for his church. He bids his believing saints to advance unitedly, going from strength to greater strength, from faith to increased assurance and confidence in the truth and righteousness of his cause.
“We are to stand firm as a rock to the principles of the word of God, remembering that God is with us to give us strength to meet each new experience. Let us ever maintain in our lives the principles of righteousness, that we may go forward from strength to strength in the name of the Lord. We are to hold as very sacred the faith that has been substantiated by the instruction and approval of the Spirit of God from our earliest experience until the present time. We are to cherish as very precious the work that the Lord has been carrying forward through His commandment-keeping people, and which, through the power of His grace, will grow stronger and more efficient as time advances. The enemy is seeking to becloud the discernment of God’s people, and to weaken their efficiency, but if they will labor as the Spirit of God shall direct, He will open doors of opportunity before them for the work of building up the old waste places. Their experience will be one of constant growth, until the Lord shall descend from heaven with power and great glory to set His seal of final triumph upon His faithful ones.
“The work that lies before us is one that will put to the stretch every power of the human being. It will call for the exercise of strong faith and constant vigilance. At times the difficulties that we shall meet will be most disheartening. The very greatness of the task will appall us. And yet, with God’s help, his servants will finally triumph.”-Reported in the General Conference Bulletin, May 28, 1913, 164, 165.
In the times of the nine volumes of Testimonies for the Church written over a period of fifty-five years the church continually grew and developed and prospered. The counsel given afforded safe guidance, the reproof and correction led many straying feet back to the paths of righteousness, the words of cheer and encouragement revived many a faint heart, and the picture of the reward of the faithful spurred thousands to the determination to reach the goal set before us.
Looking ahead, we must ever remember the words recorded in Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 196:
“We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and his teaching in our past history.”
The Trustees of the
Ellen G. White Publications.