Life Sketches of Ellen G. White


Book Manuscript Work

Mrs. White's personal correspondence is filled with many references to book manuscripts on which she was laboring lovingly and untiringly. While in Europe, she was amplifying “Great Controversy” and “The Life of Christ.” Following the issuance of the subscription edition of “Controversy” in 1888, she completed the companion volume, “Patriarchs and Prophets,” in 1890. “Steps to Christ” appeared in 1892, “Gospel Workers” in 1893, and “Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing” in 1896. Her largest literary work, “The Desire of Ages,” occupied much of her time during the sojourn in Australasia, and appeared in 1898. LS 431.2

When “Christ's Object Lessons” and “Testimonies for the Church,” Volume 6, appeared in 1900, some of her friends thought that her laborious efforts to prepare manuscripts for publication in book form, had about ended. But not so. The burden to write was still pressing heavily upon her heart. An impelling sense of the needs of a perishing world, and of many also who claimed to be subjects of King Emmanuel, led her to labor on and on, in an earnest endeavor to give to others that which was filling her own soul with joy and peace. Hear her declaring, when in 1902 she was writing to a friend on the high standard to which Christian believers should attain: LS 432.1

“O, what is there that will give them a consciousness of the responsibility resting on them to be Christ-like in word and act! I shall try to arouse their slumbering senses by writing, if not by speaking. The awful sense of my responsibility takes such possession of me that I am weighted as a cart beneath sheaves. I do not desire to feel less keenly my obligation to the Higher Power. That Presence is ever with me, asserting supreme authority and taking account of the service that I render or withhold.” Unpublished Letter, December 9, 1902. LS 432.2

“The Lord commands me to speak, and this I shall do,” Mrs. White declared further when feeling thus burdened over her responsibility as a chosen messenger. ‘I have been instructed to bear my testimony with the decision of authority.” Unpublished Letter, December 7, 1902. And in another communication, penned the same month, she wrote: LS 432.3

“I have every reason to praise my heavenly Father for the clearness of thought that He has given me in regard to Bible subjects. I long to bring out these precious things, so that the minds of ministers and people may, if possible, be drawn away from contention and strife to something that is nourishing to the soul,—food that will give health, hopefulness, and courage.... LS 432.4

“In the night season many things are passing before me. The Scriptures, full of grace and richness, are presented before me. The word of the Lord to me is: ‘Look on these things, and meditate on them. You may claim the rich grace of truth, which nourishes the soul. Have naught to do with controversy and dissension and strife, which bring darkness and discouragement to your soul. Truth is clear, pure, savory.... Speak the truth in faith and love, leaving the result with God. The work is not yours, but the Lord's. In all your communications, speak as one to whom the Lord has spoken. He is your authority, and He will give you His sustaining grace.’” Unpublished Letter, December 2, 1902. LS 433.1

These words were written about the time “Testimonies for the Church,” Volume 7, was in the hands of the printers. Shortly after its appearance, she wrote regarding volumes six and seven: LS 433.2

“I have been impressed to call upon the members of our churches to study the last two volumes of ‘Testimonies for the Church.’ When I was writing these books, I felt the deep moving of the Spirit of God.... They are full of precious matter. In the visions of the night the Lord told me that the truth contained in these books must be brought before the members of our churches, because there are many who are indifferent in regard to the salvation of their souls.” Unpublished Letter, April 15, 1903. LS 433.3

But these volumes were not to be the last. There was much yet to be accomplished. “I must prepare books,” she wrote in May, 1903, “and thus give to others the light that the Lord gives me. I do not want to leave an unfinished work.” And during the same month she wrote further: “I am trying to prepare for publication matter that will guard the work on every side, so that it may not become disproportionate. We have many things in preparation for publication.... The truth must appear just as it is.” LS 433.4

In August, 1903, Mrs. White wrote to an old-time friend: “My health is good, and I am able to do much writing. I thank the Lord for this. I have decided not to attend so many camp meetings, but to give my time to my writing.... I greatly desire to write on the life of Solomon and on the history following his reign, and I desire, too, to write on the life of Paul and his work in connection with the other apostles. At times the thought of this neglected work keeps me awake at night.” LS 434.1

Mrs. White lived to see her desires fulfilled with regard to much that she had planned on doing. Her work on “Education” was completed in 1903; “Testimonies for the Church,” Volume 8, in 1904; and “Ministry of Healing” in 1905. Many “Special Testimonies” were prepared for circulation in pamphlet and leaflet form; and in 1909 “Testimonies for the Church,” Volume 9, the last of the series, was published. By the close of 1910 Mrs. White had given full consideration to all the problems connected with the reset edition of “Great Controversy.” That task having been completed, she found time to supervise the revision of “Sketches from the Life of Paul,” and to add several chapters on the life work and the writings of the apostles of the early Christian church. This matter was published in 1911, under the title, “The Acts of the Apostles.” The next volume to appear was “Counsels to Teachers, Parents, and Students Regarding Christian Education,” in 1913; and immediately afterward Mrs. White began the reading of manuscripts that were forwarded to the printers in 1914 for the new edition of “Gospel Workers.” LS 434.2

When publishing “Facts of Faith,” in 1864, Mrs. White included in that little volume matter that carried the story of Israel beyond the days of David. In the seventies she wrote quite fully on the restoration of the Israelites from Babylon, dwelling in detail on the experiences of Nehemiah. In articles, and in the bound volumes of “Testimonies for the Church,” she often told and retold the story of Solomon, of Elijah and Elisha, of Isaiah and Jeremiah, of Daniel and the Hebrew worthies, and of the return of the exiles under Zerubbabel and Joshua and Ezra. LS 435.1

“Facts of Faith” has long been out of print, the matter contained therein having been largely incorporated, with many additions, in the later volume, “Spirit of Prophecy,” Volume 1 (1870), and finally in “Patriarchs and Prophets” (1890). When “Patriarchs” was completed, Mrs. White hoped soon to go on with the story from the close of David's reign, and publish in connected form that which she had been enabled to write through the years concerning the experiences of Solomon and divided Israel, and their final restoration to divine favor as one united people,—a type of spiritual Israel, the church of God on earth today, to whom will finally be fulfilled all the covenant promises. LS 435.2

It was the hope of preparing, in some form suitable for publication, this story of the prophets and kings of Old Testament history, that led to the grouping of such material into several series of articles, which have been published in the columns of the Review, the Signs, and the Watchman. LS 435.3

Not long after Mrs. White's return from Australia, work was undertaken anew on the Old Testament story, and continued intermittently for more than ten years. Thus consideration was given to the many manuscripts dealing with this period of Bible history not included in the other volumes of the “Controversy” series. LS 436.1

To the completion of this work, Mrs. White gave much thought during 1913 and 1914. At the time of her accident, in February, 1915, all but the last two chapters had been completed for a volume bearing the title, “The Captivity and Restoration of Israel,” covering the broken periods; and these final chapters had been sufficiently blocked out to admit of completion by the inclusion of additional matter from her manuscript file. LS 436.2

During the last year spent by Mrs. White in quiet rest and in closing up her manuscript work, one of her copyists wrote to her son, W. C. White, under date of Dec 23, 1914: LS 436.3

“Even when exceedingly brain-weary, your mother seems to find great comfort in the promises of the Word, and often catches up a quotation and completes it when we begin quoting some familiar scripture.... I do not find her discouraged ... over the general outlook throughout the harvest field when her brethren are laboring. She seems to have strong faith in God's power to overrule, and to bring to pass His eternal purpose through the efforts of those whom He has called to act a part in His great work. She rises above petty criticism, above even the past failures of those who have been reproved, and expresses the conviction, born, apparently, of an innate faith in the church of the living God, that her brethren will remain faithful to the cause they have espoused, and that the Lord will continue with them to the end, and grant them complete victory over every device of the enemy. LS 436.4

“Faith in God's power to sustain her through the many weaknesses attendant on old age; faith in the precious promises of God's word; faith in her brethren who bear the burden of the work; faith in the final triumph of the third angel's message,—this is the full faith your mother seems to enjoy every day and every hour. This is the faith that fills her heart with joy and peace, even when suffering great physical weakness, and unable to make progress in literary lines. A faith such as this would inspire any one who could witness it.” LS 437.1