The proper circulation and distribution of our publications is one of the most important branches of the present work. But little can be done without this. And our ministers can do more in this work than any other class of persons. It is true that a few years ago many of our preachers were carrying the matter of the sale of books too far. Some of them added to the stock which they held for sale, not only publications of little real value, but also articles of merchandise equally valueless.
But some of our ministers now take an extreme view of
what I said in Testimony No. 11 upon the sale of our publications. One in the State of New York, upon whom the burdens of labor do not rest heavily, who had acted as agent, holding a good assortment of publications, decided to sell no more, and wrote to the office, stating that the publications were subject to their order. This is wrong. Here I will give an extract fromTestimony No. 11:
"The burden of selling our publications should not rest upon ministers who labor in word and doctrine. Their time and strength should be held in reserve, that their efforts may be thorough in a series of meetings. Their time and strength should not be drawn upon to sell our books when they can be properly brought before the public by those who have not the burden of preaching the word. In entering new fields it may be necessary for the minister to take publications with him to offer for sale to the people, and it may be necessary in some other circumstances also to sell books and transact business for the office of publication. But such work should be avoided whenever it can be done by others."
The first portion of this extract is qualified by the last part. To be a little more definite, my views of this matter are, that such ministers as Elders Andrews, Waggoner, White, and Loughborough, who have the oversight of the work, and consequently have an extra amount of care, burden, and labor, should not add to their burdens by the sale of our publications, especially at tent meetings and at General Conferences. The view was given to correct those who at such meetings so far came down from the dignity of their work as to spread out before the crowd merchandise which had no connection with the work.
Our ministers who enjoy a comfortable state of health may, with the greatest propriety, engage at proper times in the sale of our important publications. Especially do the sale and circulation of such works as have recently been urged upon
the attention of our people, claim vigorous efforts for them at this time. In four weeks, on our tour in the counties of Gratiot, Saginaw, and Tuscola, my husband sold, and gave to the poor, four hundred dollars' worth. He first set the importance of the books before the people; then they were ready to take them as fast as he, with several to help him, could wait upon them.
Why do not our brethren send in their pledges on the book and tract fund more liberally? And why do not our ministers take hold of this work in earnest? Our people should see that these works are just what is needed to help those who need help. Here is a chance to invest means according to the blessed plan of liberality. We can sometimes read men nearly as plainly as we read books. There are those among us who put from one hundred to one thousand dollars or more into the Health Institute, who have pledged only from five to twenty-five dollars in the great enterprise of publishing books, pamphlets, and tracts, setting forth truths which have to do with eternal life. One was supposed to be a paying investment. The other, as we might judge from the littleness of the pledges, is supposed to be a dead loss.
We shall not hold our peace upon this subject. Our people will come up to the work. The means will come. And we would say to those who are poor and want books: Send in your orders, with a statement of your condition as to this world's goods. We will send you a package of books containing four volumes of Spiritual Gifts, How to Live, Appeal to Youth, Appeal to Mothers, Sabbath Readings, and the two large charts, with Key of Explanation. If you have a part of these, state what you have, and we will send other books in their places, or send only such of these as you have not. Send fifty cents to pay the postage, and we will send you the five-dollar package and charge the fund four dollars.[* SEE APPENDIX.]
In this charitable book matter, all must act upon the great plan of liberality, such as is carried out in the publication and
sale of the American Bibles and tracts. In many respects the course of these mammoth societies is worthy of imitation. Liberality is seen in wills and donations, and it is carried out in sales and donations of Bibles and tracts. Seventh-day Adventists should be as far ahead of these in the book matter as in other things. May God help us. Our tracts should be offered by the hundred at what they cost, leaving a little margin to pay for packing, or wrapping for the mail, and directing. And ministers and people should engage in the circulation of books, pamphlets, and tracts, as never before. Sell where people are able and willing to purchase, and where they are not, give them the books.