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Manual for Canvassers

Wages.--The efficient colporteur as well as the minister should have a sufficient remuneration for his services. But none should labor with the expectation of receiving their reward in this life; their eyes should be fixed steadfastly upon the prize at the end of the race. {MC 56.1}
The worker who has the cause of God at heart will not insist on receiving the largest remuneration. He will not plead as some of our youth have done, that unless he can make a stylish and elegant appearance, and board at the best hotels, he will not be patronized. Let all such be excused from entering the work. What the canvasser needs is not the faultless apparel or the address of the dandy or the fop, but that honesty and integrity of character which is reflected in the countenance. Kindness and gentleness leave their impress upon the face, and the practised eye sees no deception, detects no pomposity.

Unless our brethren are willing for the truth to be misrepresented and misapprehended, they must exercise discretion in selecting canvassers and colporteurs. All real workers should receive good pay; but the sum should not in anywise be increased to buy canvassers; for this course hurts them. It makes them selfish and spendthrifts. Seek to impress them with the spirit of true missionary work, and with the qualifications essential to success.

Some of the workers in the canvassing field are making no sacrifices. When the way is all


prepared for them, and they can secure the highest commission, they are willing to enter the field. Many inducements are presented to canvassers to handle popular books; large commissions are offered them; and many refuse to work for less in circulating books that treat on present truth. Therefore the inducements have been increased to correspond to those offered by other publishers; and as a consequence the expense of getting our publications before the people is large; many of the canvassers obtain their money easily, and spend it freely.

Young men can be trained to do much better work than has been done, and on much less pay than many have received. Lift up the standard, and let the self-denying and self-sacrificing, the lovers of God and of humanity, join the army of workers. Let them come, not expecting ease, but to be brave and of good courage under rebuffs and hardships. Let those come who can give a good report of our publications, because they themselves appreciate their value.

Economy.--Economy is needed in every department of the Lord's work. The natural turn of youth in this age is to neglect and despise economy, and to confound it with narrowness and stinginess. But economy is consistent with the most broad and liberal views and feelings. Where it is not practised, there can be no true liberality. No one should think it beneath him to study the best means of saving the fragments. After Christ had performed a notable miracle,


He said, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." John 6:12.

Quite a sum may be expended in hotel bills that are not all necessary. The cause of God lay so near the hearts of the pioneers in this message that they seldom took a meal at a hotel, even though the cost was but twenty-five cents each. But young men and young women generally are not educated to economize; and everywhere waste follows waste. In some families there is a wicked waste of material which, if reasonable economy were exercised, would be sufficient to support another family. If, while traveling, our youth will keep an exact account of the money they spend, item by item, as it is their duty to do, their eyes will be opened to see the leak. While they may not be called upon to deprive themselves of warm meals, as the early workers did in their itinerant life, they may learn to supply their real wants with much less expense than they now think necessary. There are persons who practise self-denial in order to give means to the cause of God; then let the workers in the service of God in any line also practise self-denial by limiting their expense as far as possible. It would be well for all our workers to study the history of the Waldensian missionaries, and to approach the imitation of their example of sacrifice and self-denial.

The Need of Integrity.--If the canvasser pursues a wrong course, if he utters falsehood or practises deception, he loses his own self-respect.


He may not be conscious that God sees him, and is acquainted with every business transaction, that holy angels are weighing his motives and listening to his words, and that his reward will be according to his works; but even if it were possible to conceal his wrong-doing from both human and divine inspection, his own knowledge of the sin is degrading to mind and character. One act does not determine the character, but it breaks down the barrier, and the next temptation is more readily entertained, until finally a habit of prevarication and dishonesty in business is formed, and the man can not be trusted.

In the family and in the church there are too many who make little account of glaring inconsistencies. There are young men who appear what they are not. They seem honest and true; but they are like whited sepulchers, fair without, but full of corruption within. The heart is spotted, stained with sin; thus the record stands in the heavenly courts. A process has been going on in the mind that has made them callous, past feeling. But if their characters, weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, are pronounced wanting in the great day of God, it will be a calamity that they do not now comprehend. Truth, precious, untarnished truth, is to be a part of the character.

Whatever way is chosen, the path of life is beset with perils. If the workers in any branch of the cause become careless and inattentive to their eternal interests, they are meeting with great loss. The tempter will find access to them.


He will spread nets for their feet, and will lead them in uncertain paths. Those only are safe whose hearts are garrisoned with pure principles. Like David they will pray, "Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not." Ps. 17:5. A constant battle must be kept up with the selfishness and corruption of the human heart. Often the wicked seem to be prospered in their way; but those who forget God, even for an hour or a moment, are in a dangerous path. They may not realize its perils, but ere they are aware, habit, like an iron band, holds them in subjection to the evil with which they have tampered. God despises their course, and unless they turn from their evil ways, His blessing can not attend them. Life and death are set before every worker, and the strongest motives are presented to induce them to choose life by obedience to God's law.

I have seen that some young men undertake this work without having a sense of its importance, and without connecting themselves with Heaven. They place themselves in the way of temptation to show their bravery. They laugh at the folly of others. They boast that they know the right way; they know how to conduct themselves. How easily they can resist temptation! how vain to think of their falling! But they make not God their defense. Satan has an insidious snare prepared for them, and they become the sport of fools.

One safeguard removed from the conscience, the indulgence of one evil habit, a single neglect


of the high claims of duty, may be the beginning of a course of deception that will pass you into the ranks of those who are serving Satan, while you are all the time professing to love God and to be sacrificing for His cause. A moment of thoughtlessness, a single misstep, may turn the whole current of your life in the wrong direction.

No one whose hands are defiled with sin, or whose heart is not right with God, should have any part in the work of the canvasser or the colporteur; for such persons will surely dishonor the cause of truth. Those who are workers in the missionary field need God to guide them. They should be careful to start right, and then press quietly and firmly on in the path of rectitude. They should be decided; for Satan is determined and persevering in his efforts for their overthrow.

In this work there will be many temptations that will test whatever integrity and strength of religious principles and habits young men have acquired.

The whole period of life is a brief season of trial. Those who engage in a work so important as the canvassing work must constantly guard self, lest Satan obtain the advantage. A multitude of petty temptations will assail the one whom the Lord is testing, and if he stands firm as a rock to principle it is because he makes the Lord God his trust every moment. "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." Rom. 13:14. Let the sincere cry of the soul be, "Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth."


The work is halting because gospel principles are disregarded by so many who claim to be following Christ. Some have brought themselves and their families into most distressing circumstances through poor management in book-canvassing. They have run in debt, and have borrowed money of men not of our faith.

With the work of scattering our publications and advocating the truth, some have mingled scheming, buying and selling. This makes a bad combination. As they labor to obtain advantage for themselves, they are allured by the prospect of buying things for less and selling them for more than their value. Therefore the world regards them as sharpers, men who will gain advantage for themselves without considering the case of others. They do not keep the commandments of God; for they do not love their neighbor as themselves.

Some have engaged in canvassing for other books than those bearing on present truth. Because they professed to be Christians, they were trusted. Their claim to be Seventh-day Adventists led their employers to put confidence in them, and it was not thought necessary to place them under restrictions. Some had a very low standard of righteousness and honesty, and they took advantage of this confidence. They squandered the money taken for books, money that belonged to their employers. They made false statements; and some even committed theft, forgery, and robbery.


Several of those who did this thought it a good opportunity, and laughed with one another over the matter. But every one of these dishonest transactions is registered in the books of heaven, and there it will remain until the Judgment, unless by confession, repentance, and restitution, the guilty one shall ask God to write pardon against his name.

In the day of Judgment many will be found wanting; they have been tested and proved by God and have been found unworthy of eternal life. God could not trust them in heaven. The decision will be made for eternity; he who is not faithful in that which is least can not be trusted with greater responsibilities. All will be judged by their works; for these have determined their character. Is it a paying business to be dishonest? --Never; for even should there be no detection in probationary time, everything will be laid open in the day of final reckoning.

Laziness and indolence are not the fruit borne upon the Christian tree. No soul can practise prevarication or dishonesty in handling the Lord's goods, and stand guiltless before God. All who do this are in action denying Christ. While they profess to keep the commandments of God, and claim to teach them, they fail to maintain the principles of God's law.

The Lord's goods should be handled with faithfulness. The Lord has entrusted men with life and health and reasoning powers; He has given them physical and mental strength to be


exercised; and should not these gifts be faithfully and diligently employed to His name's glory? Have our brethren considered that they must give an account for all the talents placed in their possession? Have they traded wisely with their Lord's goods, or have they spent His substance recklessly, and are they written in heaven as unfaithful servants? Many are spending their Lord's money in riotous enjoyment, so-called; they are not gaining an experience in self-denial, but are spending money on vanities, and are failing to bear the cross after Jesus. Many who were privileged with precious, God-given opportunities, have wasted their lives, and are now found in suffering and want.

God calls for decided improvement to be made in the various branches of the work. The business done in connection with the cause of God must be marked with greater precision and exactness. There has not been firm, decided effort to bring about essential reform.

Debts to the Publishing-Houses.--The loose way in which canvassers, both old and young, have performed their work, shows that they have important lessons to learn. Much haphazard work has been presented before me. Some have established themselves in deficient habits, and this deficiency has been brought into the work of God.

The tract and missionary societies have been deeply involved in debt through the failure of canvassers to meet their indebtedness. Canvassers have felt that they were ill-treated if required


to pay promptly for the books received from the publishing-house. Yet to require prompt remittal is the only way in which to carry on business.

Matters should be so arranged that canvassers shall have enough to live on without overdrawing. This door of temptation must be closed and barred. However honest a canvasser may be, circumstances will arise in his work which will be a sore temptation to him.

When they get into difficulty, some canvassers expect that money is to be drawn from the treasury to help them out, only to get into strait places again, and again to require help. Those who are stewards of the means in the treasury must keep a sharp lookout to see that the supply is not exhausted by these draughts. When men can not by canvassing bring into the treasury every dollar that belongs to it rightly, let them stop just where they are. They should not engage in canvassing unless they can bring means into the treasury, instead of robbing it.

All must practise economy. No worker should manage his affairs in a way to incur debt. The practise of drawing money from the treasury before it is earned is a snare. In this way the resources are limited, so that laborers can not be supported in missionary work. When one voluntarily becomes involved in debt, he is entangling himself in one of Satan's nets which he sets for souls.

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