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Home Missionary Activities -- Death
THE present chapter will cover two main topics: first, the early beginnings and full development of the organization known as the International Tract Society; and, second, the closing years and the final passing away of the man whom God had especially used in laying the foundations of the advent movement. The junction of these two topics in the one chapter is the more appropriate inasmuch as James White was from the beginning exceedingly active in the circulation of Adventist literature, and it was under his fostering care that the new organization grew in strength and exerted its widespread influence for good.
The early Adventists may be said to have been, all of them, purveyors of tracts and papers. Firmly convinced of the truth of the doctrines they held, they coveted the opportunity to place the evidence before their fellow men.
Tract societies of various kinds suited to the local needs followed close after the general organization of churches in 1862. They were first brought to a high degree of efficiency in
the New England Conference, under the leadership of S. N. Haskell. He visited Battle Creek in the late sixties, and was deeply impressed with the views of Elder and Mrs. White concerning the systematic distribution of literature. Shortly after his return to New England, in the early part of 1868, he organized in South Lancaster, Mass., what became known as the Vigilant Missionary Society.
The membership consisted originally of nine women who met every Wednesday afternoon at three o'clock to pray and
talk over plans for Christian work. During the week they visited their neighbors as they had opportunity, and passed out tracts and papers. They also sent papers through the post to names obtained in various ways, and this phase of the work came in time to occupy a large share of the attention of the members.
The activities of the original Vigilant Missionary Society of South Lancaster took on quite a range. One of the members, Maria L. Huntley, began the study of French in order that she might conduct missionary correspondence with interested persons who spoke only that language. Another, Mary Martin, undertook to learn German in order to work for persons of that nationality.
The society did more than distribute literature. It sought in other ways to advance the interests of the kingdom. There were a number of cases of healing by prayer. Correspondence was carried on regularly with lonely Sabbath keepers, who were supplied with literature and encouraged to distribute it among their neighbors. As a result of this correspondence, some backslidden members were led to make a new start, while many faithful ones had their hearts cheered and encouraged, and their purpose to press forward greatly strengthened.
To carry out the work successfully, agents were appointed who were to report semimonthly on all cases that came under their observation, and the society would then appoint some person to correspond with the persons thus named. These agents in time extended throughout the Eastern, Middle, and Western States. At the close of the second year the society had twenty-eight members, with fourteen corresponding agents working in nearly as many different States. In that year the members sent out 554 letters and received 325 communications in reply. In 1874 it had a membership of forty-six, thirty-two corresponding agents in three different languages, and was carrying on correspondence with 450 persons in eighteen different States and in such foreign countries as England, Switzerland, New Zealand, and China.
About the year 1871 S. N. Haskell organized the New England Tract Society in connection with the conference of that name. The original Vigilant Missionary Society then became an auxiliary of the larger organization, which served to bring all local societies together. Directors were also appointed, each of whom had charge of a certain section of territory known as a district. It was the duty of these directors to see to the appointment of a librarian in each church, to whom he would intrust a supply of literature for church use, the librarian to collect the money for the same and hand it to the director. The latter was to hold a district quarterly meeting in the interests of the tract society work at least two weeks before each general quarterly meeting. He was to collect funds of all kinds in his district, and send in the money once a quarter to the conference treasurer.
James White, always keenly alive to any new efficiency developed in the field, learned of the work of the New England Tract Society, and with Mrs. White paid a week's visit to South Lancaster to study the organization. He then on the spot wrote an account of it, issued in pamphlet form, urging other conferences to follow the example of New England.
The work of these societies was also referred to at the General Conferences of 1871 and 1872, and at the session held in the spring of 1873 resolutions were passed expressing satisfaction with the progress made, and suggesting the advisability of consolidating the various societies into a general organization which could be properly represented at the regular meetings of the General Conference. At this meeting, moreover, action was taken recommending "that S. N. Haskell visit the various conferences in the interests of the tract and missionary work." This he did, with the result that during the summer and autumn of 1873 local and State tract societies were organized very generally throughout the country, and a systematic literature campaign was inaugurated.
The strength of the organization was shown early in the year 1874. A call had been made in the Review of Dec. 18, 1873, for 10,000 new trial subscriptions to the Review and Herald and the Health Reformer. The tract societies took it up, and within a very few weeks they had sent in more than 13,000 names with the accompanying cash. Moreover, they also raised $5,000 to meet delinquencies in the way of unpaid back subscriptions to the Review, Instructor, and Reformer.
In the same summer the General Conference in session at Battle Creek organized a general tract society, to hold the State and local societies together and promote the work of circulating books, tracts, and papers throughout the country. The officers of this larger organization, known as the General Conference Tract and Missionary Society of Seventh-day Adventists, were as follows: President, James White; Vice-President, George I. Butler; Treasurer, Benn Auten; Business Agent, S. N. Haskell. The appointment of a secretary was left to the General Conference Committee. Miss Maria L. Huntley, one of the leading spirits in the original society in South Lancaster, was appointed to this office, and for many years devoted her whole energies to the task.
One great factor in the promotion of this work during the year 1874 was the publication of a monthly paper, The True Missionary, which contained, besides much helpful instruction, full statistical reports from the various societies, as well as interesting letters from individual workers describing various methods tried and the results achieved. It was thought well to publish such matter in a separate paper in order that the Review might devote its space largely to doctrinal articles dealing with the message, and thus be used as a pioneer missionary paper. At the close of the year it seemed best, however, to discontinue
the Missionary, and use the columns of the Review for instruction in all branches of denominational work. Following this for a time a new periodical was issued for general distribution, The Voice of Truth, which was largely made up of doctrinal
The True Missionary.
BATTLE CREEK, MICH., JANUARY, 1874.
"Go ye into all the World, and Preach the Gospel to every Creature." MARK 16:15.
The sun gives ever; so the earth-
Who gives not is not living.
The more you live.
God's love bath in us wealth upheaped;
Only by giving it is reaped.
The body withers, and the mind,
If peat in by a selfish rind.
them to him, but there are so very few who the work for the time. The night soon com“,
eth, in which no man can work. Satan is car-
Give strength, give though, give deeds, give pelfer in the vineyard is worth more than a mill
Give love, give tears, and give thyself
Give, gire, be always giving
Who gives not is not diving.
The more we give
The more we live.
THE SPIRIT OF SACRIFICE:
the Truth to Other Nations.
BY ELLEN G. WHITE,
DEAR BRETHLEN AND SISTERS: I deeply feel the necessity of our amking more thorough and earnest efforts to bring the truth before the world. In the last vision given me, I was shown that we were not doing one-twentieth part of the work we should for the salvation of souls. We later for them indifferently, as though it was not a questim of very great im portance whether they received or rejected the
ion of money without men to do the work,
Who, we ask, will follow the example of case, and were willing to bear burdens, God calls for men and women, who are followers of his Lord in self sacrifice and disinterested be evidence, to save his fellow men! There Christ, to volunteer to work under his dictation General efforts are male, but we fail to are young men and women and those of mid to rescue souls from ruin. All who engage in work to the point by personal effort, We do dle age who have had experience in the truth, the work of presenting the truth to others must not approach men and women in a manner but do not advance in the divine life and in have true courtesy, and Christian politeness, that impresses them that we have a personal crease in the knowledge of our Lord and Sav-and sincere love for souls, so as to make, not interest for them, and that we feel deeply in our Jesus Christ, and they do not know the general efforts unerely, but personal efforts, earnest for their salvation, and do not mean to cauan One cause of their lack of spiritual give them up. We hold too much at a dis-strength, and of their not being full-grown men tanor those who do not believe the truth. We and women in Christ is, they are not workers all them and wait for them to come to us to inquire for the truth. Many will not be in clined to do this for ther are in darkness and
I have been shown that, as a people, we have been asleep us to our duty in regard to getting the light before those of other nations, with Christ. If they would work for Jesus, Is it because God has excused us, as a people, their sympathies would be brought in close from having any burden or special work to do union with Christ, and they would grow in ❘ for thea of other tommas that them awana wala
articles taken from the Review. It was intended as a pioneer missionary paper for use east of the Rocky Mountains, but it soon gave way to The Signs of the Times, published on the Pacific Coast.
The sense of personal responsibility rested heavily on the hearts of the members of the society, and urged them on to ever-increasing labors. Many times," writes one of the isolated Sabbath keepers, my companion and myself would sit