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This volume presents testimonies penned by Ellen G. White during her sojourn in Australia. Except for an occasional reference to the local field, the reader would not detect that the writer was in another continent, for the instruction is world wide in its scope. It is a fact, nevertheless, that the revelations given to Mrs. White had a direct bearing on current issues and the development of the work at the time of writing. It is understandable, therefore, that there are represented in this volume topics which were related to the lines of work being developed in the Australasian field during this period. Publication of the book took place in the year 1901, after Mrs. White had returned to the United States.
In its topical arrangement, volume 6 is quite different from the preceding five volumes. Up to this time the testimonies had first appeared in pamphlets and small books as counsel was progressively given for the Church. The articles were printed largely in chronological order, and dealt with almost every phase of Christian experience and every line of denominational work. As the content of these thirty-three publications was reprinted in volumes 1 to 5, the original order was left unchanged. A number of the articles were communications addressed first to individuals and later published for the church because the cases presented illustrated the experience of many others. Some of the articles dealt with local situations and special issues. There was some repetition of thought, as important lines of truth were stressed again and again as the Church was in danger of neglecting some line of work or of letting slip some church standard. These testimonies bore rich fruit in the lives of Seventh-day Adventists and in the work of the denomination.
With the publication of volume 6, eleven years after volume 5 was issued, the Testimonies for the Church took on a new form. The work of the denomination, now becoming world wide in its scope, presented needs and problems which called forth considerable counsel and instruction in certain particular lines. This represented largely an amplification of lines of instruction presented in earlier years and a re-emphasis of counsel. Consequently it was not difficult, when the articles for volume 6 were gathered for publication, to arrange them in topical order.
That Mrs. White might assist in the starting of a training school in Australia, she was asked to go to that field in 1891. She led out in the appeals for the school and assisted in laying plans for the work. Being in a new field, there was little by way of past experience or precedent to influence the plans. Under these favorable circumstances, and with the spirit of prophecy counsels to guide and guard, the Australasian Missionary College was established in a backward country region. From this training center, Australian youth, with the practical education gained at Avondale, were to serve in the home fields and to penetrate the far-flung islands of the South Pacific. In its rural environment, in its broad industrial program, and in some other features the Avondale school was to become a pattern school. As the instruction concerning the conduct of our educational work was presented anew to guide and mold this institution, entering into the many details of location, finance, curriculum, discipline, and administration, it was included in this volume for the benefit of the church around the world.
When Mrs. White reached Australian Shores, she found a work well begun, but still in its infancy. In the aggressive evangelistic program which was developed and fostered, not only the evangelists themselves were engaged in service, but in not a few cases they were joined by their wives in giving Bible studies and sometimes in preaching. Several well-planned evangelistic camp meetings were held, which were carefully followed up so as to conserve the harvest. There were many conversions, followed by baptisms and the organizing of new churches and the building of meetinghouses.
Not only in the planning for the work was the influence of the spirit of prophecy felt, but Mrs. White herself took an active part in preaching, in personal work, and in assisting in the raising of money for the new church buildings. Counsel regarding these phases of our work is found in this volume.
It was in the times of volume 6 that Seventh-day Adventists became more fully mission conscious and accepted the whole world as a field of labor. The building and launching of the mission boat, “Pitcairn,” in California in 1890 fired the imagination of young and old alike and focused attention on an around-the-world mission program. The reports of the voyages of the “Pitcairn,” as it pioneered mission work in the South Sea Islands, were eagerly watched by all.
It was not long until colporteur evangelists entered India with our literature, and in 1894 our missionaries in Africa pushed up into distinctively native territories and established the Solusi Mission, our first foreign mission among heathen peoples. Ministers were also soon sent into South America. Then, too, Mrs. White’s presence in Australia for nine years as a pioneer worker helped to keep the eyes of Seventh-day Adventists on the ends of the earth and to place emphasis on the admonition given on page 31 of this volume: “It is our work to give to the whole world,—to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people,—the saving truths of the third angel’s message.” Throughout the volume various mission fields are mentioned by name, and appeals for men and means are presented, together with counsel and encouragement concerning the work in different lands.
A number of colleges and worker training schools were started during the times of volume 6. Early in the period Union College at Lincoln, Nebraska, was opened in 1891 and Walla Walla College in the state of Washington in 1892. The others were in Australia, South Africa, and Denmark. Sanitariums were also opened at Boulder, Colorado, in 1896, in Denmark and South Africa in 1897, and at South Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1899. Two new publishing houses were added to the list of institutions, one in Hamburg, Germany, in 1895, and the other in Buenos Aires, South America, in 1897. Church schools presenting elementary work were also begun in several places.
Though many warnings were given against large denominational centers and centralizing tendencies, the steadily growing work seemed to require more people and larger facilities at our denominational headquarters at Battle Creek, Michigan, and plans were even initiated to bring certain lines of denominational work under central control at Battle Creek. Thus instead of the plans for the work of various sections of the field being laid by those on the ground, they were directed largely from the home offices in Battle Creek. This had the appearance of business efficiency, yet it actually was a serious menace to efficiency and vital leadership in the work of God. Through the nineties these tendencies developed rapidly, but in God’s own time and in his own way they were checked.
It was in these times and under the influence of the spirit of prophecy counsels that the ground structure was laid for organizational changes in the administration of the denomination’s world work. As the cause was pioneered and developed rapidly under the favorable conditions of Australia, steps were taken to bind the local conference organizations into a “union conference,” thus establishing an organizational unit between the local conference and the General Conference. This made possible, on-the-ground planning by the group of workers close to the problems, and thus relieved the General Conference of many minor details. The result was encouraging and formed the pattern which was soon to be followed throughout the denomination.
In the lines of medical evangelism a beginning was made in Australia during this period, but in the United States it was a time of great expansion. A medical college was set in operation which attracted an increasing number of Seventh-day Adventist youth desiring preparation as medical missionaries. New branch institutions were opened, receiving their guidance, finance, and personnel from the great parent institution at Battle Creek. A large work was also launched for the fallen and unfortunate. But good enterprises are often threatened with the danger of overemphasis, thereby bringing an unbalance into the work of God as a whole. So now it seemed that the medical missionary work, which had been designated as the right arm of the message, threatened to become the body.
Too, while there was great advance in the development of medical missionaries and medical missionary work in connection with the Battle Creek Sanitarium, there was growing indifference on the part of some Seventh-day Adventists to the basic principles of healthful living. These conditions help us to understand the significance of the repeated appeals in volume 6 calling the people to higher standards of living, urging a united medical and evangelistic ministry, delineating our duty to orphans and the aged of the household of faith, and cautioning against an unbalanced work.
As the denominational work developed in many fields, literature found an ever increasingly important place. Colporteur evangelists constituted an army, with the individual colporteur a part of the recognized staff of gospel heralds in each section of the world field. In not a few instances these literature evangelists had formed the spearhead of attack in carrying the message to new and distant lands. Volume 6 sets forth the dignity and importance of the colporteur ministry.
This eleven-year period between the publication of volumes 5 and 6 of the Testimonies marked the issuance of several important E. G. White books. In 1890 Patriarchs and Prophets came from the press. Steps to Christ was published in 1892, and what is today known as “the old edition” of Gospel Workers Was also printed that year. Christian Education, the forerunner of Education, was issued in 1894, and two years later Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing and Christ Our Saviour were printed. Work on the manuscript for The Desire of Ages was completed and the book printed in 1898, and in 1900 Christ’s Object Lessons was published.
In an effort to relieve our institutions of the heavy indebtedness which they were carrying, Mrs. White donated the manuscript for Christ’s Object Lessons and urged our church members and workers to join in its wide sale to their neighbors and friends. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were thus brought into the cause through this relief book campaign, and thousands of copies of this truth-filled book were distributed.
A type of work was in this way initiated which led large numbers of lay members to call from house to house in behalf of the work of the church. Thus the way was paved for the “ingathering” campaigns which were to develop a few years later into a source of revenue to the work of God, yielding millions of dollars.
Of course, all through this eleven-year period, scores and hundreds of communications bearing warnings, counsels, and encouragement were penned by the messenger of the Lord and were sent into the field in letters and in articles in the journals of the denomination. While many of these dealt with subjects already presented less comprehensively in the earlier Testimonies, some new phases of counsel were set forth and former counsels emphasized. These are found in such general sections as “Cautions and Counsels” and “Calls to Service.” among the important articles comprising these sections are such as deal with “The Observance of the Sabbath,” “A Revival in Health Reform,” “Our Attitude toward the Civil Authorities,” “Preparation for the Final Crisis,” and “The Relief of Our Schools.” The adding of this new volume to the growing series of Testimonies for the Church deeply impressed Seventh-day Adventists with the direct way in which God was continuing to guide and lead his people.
The Trustees of the Ellen G. White Publications.