Manuscript Releases, vol. 9 [Nos. 664-770]


Mr No. 731—The Law in Galatians

The “Added Law”—I have something to say to you that I should withhold no longer. I have been looking in vain as yet to get an article that was written nearly twenty years ago [cir. 1867] in reference to the “added law.” I read this to Elder [J. H.] Waggoner. I stated then to him that I had been shown his position in regard to the law was incorrect, and from the statements I made to him he has been silent upon the subject for many years.... 9MR 215.1

I have not read Elder [G.I.] Butler's pamphlet or any articles written by any of our writers and do not mean to. But I did see years ago that Elder [J.H.] Waggoner's views were not correct, and read to him matter which I had written. The matter does not lie clear and distinct in my mind yet. I cannot grasp the matter, and for this reason I am fully convinced that presenting it has been not only untimely, but deleterious.—Letter 37, 1887, pp. 1, 2. (To E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones, February 18, 1887.) 9MR 215.2

Cautions Regarding Differences of Opinion on the Law in Galatians—I have sent copies of letters written to Brethren Waggoner and Jones to Elder Butler in reference to introducing and keeping in the front and making prominent subjects on which there are differences of opinion. I sent these not that you should make them weapons to use against the brethren mentioned, but that the very same cautions and carefulness be exercised by you to preserve harmony as you would have these brethren exercise. 9MR 215.3

I am troubled; for the life of me I cannot remember that which I have been shown in reference to the two laws. I cannot remember what the caution and warning referred to were that were given to Elder Waggoner. It may be it was a caution not to make his ideas prominent at that time, for there was great danger of disunion.... 9MR 216.1

I have had some impressive dreams that have led me to feel that you are not altogether in the light. Elder Canright was presenting his ideas upon the law, and such a mixed up concern I never heard. Neither of you seemed to see or understand where his arguments would lead.... 9MR 216.2

I advised that his [D.M. Canright's] books be suppressed, especially the one on the law, the very subject he was conversing with you in regard to. If that work is what I believe it to be, I would burn every copy in the fire before one should be given out to our people.—Letter 13, 1887, pp. 1-3. (To G. I. Butler and Uriah Smith, April 5, 1887.) 9MR 216.3

Ellen White's Position on the Law in Galatians Unchanged—I have not changed my views in reference to the law in Galatians, but I hope that I shall never be left to entertain the spirit that was brought into the General Conference. I have not the least hesitancy in saying it was not the Spirit of God. If every idea we have entertained in doctrines is truth, will not the truth bear to be investigated? Will it totter and fall if criticized? If so, let it fall, the sooner the better. The spirit that would close the door to investigation of points of truth in a Christlike manner is not the Spirit from above.... 9MR 216.4

A. T. Jones and Dr. Waggoner hold views upon some doctrinal points, which all admit are not vital questions, different from those which some of the leading ones of our people have held. But it is a vital question whether we are Christians, whether we have a Christian spirit, and are true, open, and frank with one another.... 9MR 217.1

My cry has been, Investigate the Scriptures for yourselves, and know for yourselves what saith the Lord. No man is to be authority for us. If he has received his light from the Bible, so may we also go to the same source for light and proof to substantiate the doctrines which we believe. The Scriptures teach that we should give a reason of the hope that is within us with meekness and fear.... 9MR 217.2

I have not [now?] told you that my views are not changed in regard to the law in Galatians. [The first “not” in this sentence makes the statement contradict the first sentence in this release. It would appear therefore that the “not” in the sentence in question is a mistype for “now,” or it is possible that the word slipped into the text inadvertently through a typists’ error.] But if we have had the truth upon this subject, our brethren have failed to be sanctified through it; the fruits are not after Christ's order, but bitter as gall.—Letter 7, 1888, pp. 1-4. (To W. M. Healey, December 9, 1888.) 9MR 217.3

Neither Side Has All the Light on the Law in Galatians—You speak of the affliction that came upon you because of the “way this matter [the question of the law in Galatians] has been pushed and urged by responsible men in the cause, and by your seeming attitude which has brought me to my present condition more than any other one thing.” I have no knowledge of taking any position in this matter. I had not with me the light God had given me on this subject, and which had been written, and I dared not make any rash statement in relation to it till I could see what I had written upon it. My attitude therefore could not be helped. I had not read Dr. Waggoner's articles in the Signs, and I did not know what his views were.... 9MR 217.4

He [Ellen White's angelic guide] stretched out his arms toward Dr. Waggoner and to you, Elder Butler, and said in substance as follows: “Neither have all the light upon the law, neither position is perfect. ‘Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart’ (Psalm 97:11). There are hundreds that know not why they believe the doctrines they do.”—Letter 21, 1888, pp. 6, 7. (To G. I. Butler, October 14, 1888.) 9MR 218.1

The Galatians Question Not Vital—Questions were asked at that time: “Sister White, do you think that the Lord has any new and increased light for us as a people?” I answered, “Most assuredly. I do not only think so, but can speak understandingly. I know that there is precious truth to be unfolded to us, if we are the people that are to stand in the day of God's preparation.” 9MR 218.2

Then the question was asked whether I thought the matter better drop where it was, after Brother Waggoner had stated his views of the law in Galatians. I said, “By no means. We want all on both sides of the question.” But I stated that the spirit I had seen manifested at the meeting was unreasonable. I should insist that there be a right spirit, a Christlike spirit, manifested, such as Elder E. J. Waggoner had shown all through the presentation of his views; and that this matter should not be handled in a debating style. The reason I should urge that this matter should be handled in a Christlike spirit was that there should be no thrust made against their brethren differing with them. As Elder E. J. Waggoner had conducted himself like a Christian gentleman, they should do the same, giving the arguments on their side of the question in a straightforward manner. 9MR 218.3

I told them I had been shown that some of our brethren had educated themselves as debaters. The process of this education and the mold received by such an education were not after God's order, neither did they meet the approval of God. In many respects men trained in this kind of school unfitted themselves to become pastors of the sheep and lambs, and in combating an opponent, as in the way of discussions, usually harm is done with but few good results. The combative spirit is raised in both parties, and a defiant, hard spirit becomes habitual when their track is crossed. They become criticizers and do not always handle the Scriptures fairly, but wrest the Scriptures to make their point. 9MR 219.1

The remark was made, “If our views of Galatians are not correct, then we have not the third angel's message, and our position goes by the board; there is nothing to our faith.” I said, “Brethren, here is the very thing I have been telling you. This statement is not true. It is an extravagant, exaggerated statement. If it is made in the discussion of this question I shall feel it my duty to set this matter before all that are assembled, and whether they hear or forbear, tell them the statement is incorrect. The question at issue is not a vital question and should not be treated as such. The wonderful importance and magnitude of this subject has been exaggerated, and for this reason—through misconception and perverted ideas—we see the spirit that prevails at this meeting, which is un-Christlike, and which we should never see exhibited among brethren. There has been a spirit of Pharisaism coming in among us which I shall lift my voice against wherever it may be revealed.” 9MR 219.2

Again a brother said, “Perhaps you think nothing should be said on the other side of the question.” My son Willie and myself spoke decidedly that we would not have the matter end here by any means, but we desired that they should bring out all the evidence on both sides of the question, for all we wanted was the truth, Bible truth, to be brought before the people. 9MR 220.1

What was my astonishment to learn the next morning that a meeting was called where the statement was made that they felt bad, for Sister White was opposed to the other side of the question being discussed. One in the meeting went for my son, W. C. White, who was entirely ignorant of the meeting, and advised him to come in. Apparently there was a very mournful presentation of the case, which created great sympathy for the brethren who were crippled and not allowed a chance to set forth their ideas. My son said he would speak in behalf of his mother, who was just as desirous—and more so now that Elder Waggoner had spoken—to hear all that was to be said on the other side of the question; and she had spoken thus decidedly in the council of the ministers the night before. Thus the matter was set before them in the correct light. 9MR 220.2

When they came into the meeting in the morning I was surprised to hear Elder_____make the kind of a speech he did before a large audience of believers and unbelievers—a speech which I knew could not be dictated by the Spirit of the Lord. He was followed by Elder_____, who made remarks of the same order, before Brother Morrison began his talk, which was all calculated to create sympathy which I knew was not after God's order. It was human but not divine. And for the first time I began to think it might be we did not hold correct views, after all, upon the law in Galatians, for the truth required no such spirit to sustain it. 9MR 220.3

Brother_____, who first spoke in decided, unqualified language, deplored the introduction of the subject of the law in Galatians. He stated, over and over again, that he greatly deplored the introduction of this question and that he was so sorry it should be introduced at a time when Elder Butler was sick and could not be present to manage this matter. With emphasis he stated that it was a cowardly thing to broach this matter when Elder Butler could not be present, as he was best prepared to handle this question. There were many things said which astonished me, both by Elder Kilgore and Elder Smith. These men were speaking these things before a mixed congregation. The house was full. And these were the ones who felt that it was not the thing to do to bring this subject for investigation before any but the ministering brethren! 9MR 221.1

Elder Waggoner had taken a straightforward course, not involving personalities, to thrust anyone or to ridicule anyone. He conducted the subject as a Christian gentleman should in a kind and courteous manner. This was acknowledged to be the case by those who were holding opposite views. If only Elder Morrison had done the same, and had entered upon the work without these preliminaries before a large congregation, many of whom were not of our faith! Their course of action and their expressed ideas and objections against presenting these subjects before even our own people did not harmonize. 9MR 221.2

I could see a great want of wise discrimination and of good judgment. The evil of such things has often been presented before me. The difference of opinion was made apparent to both believers and unbelievers. These things made such an impression upon my mind that I felt that my brethren had met with a great change. This matter had been set before me while I was in Europe, in figures and symbols, but the explanation was given me afterwards so that I was not left in the dark in regard to the state of our churches and of our ministering brethren. 9MR 221.3

Language cannot express the burden and distress of my soul. I had been passing through deep and painful exercise of soul in Switzerland as the conference held in Battle Creek three years before was presented before me. The same distress and anguish of mind were upon me. I had not one doubt or question in regard to the matter. I knew the light which had been presented to us in clear and distinct lines. 9MR 222.1

The brethren had all the evidence they would ever have that words of truth were spoken in regard to the righteousness of Christ. I knew that if they had distinguished the voice of the true Shepherd, if they had opened their hearts to receive the light, such speeches would never be made to create sympathy and leave the impression upon the congregation that we were at variance and at enmity one with the other. 9MR 222.2

Had my efforts that I made before some of the prominent men in responsible positions done any good? Certainly my labors seemed to be in vain. There was a spirit upon our brethren that I never met in them before. 9MR 222.3

I returned to my room questioning what was the best course for me to pursue. Many hours that night were spent in prayer in regard to the law in Galatians. This was a mere mote. Whichever way was in accordance with a “Thus saith the Lord,” my soul would say, Amen, and Amen. But the spirit that was controlling our brethren was so unlike the spirit of Jesus, so contrary to the spirit that should be exercised toward each other, it filled my soul with anguish. 9MR 222.4

In the next morning's meeting for the ministers I had some plain things to say to my brethren, which I dared not withhold. The salt had lost its savor, the fine gold become dim. Spiritual darkness was upon the people and many evidenced that they were moved with a power from beneath, for the result was just such as would be the case when they were not under the illumination of the Spirit of God. What pages of history were being made by the recording angel! The leaven had indeed done its sharp work, and nearly leavened the lump. I had a message of reproof and warning for my brethren, I knew. My soul was pressed with anguish. To say these things to my brethren causes me far greater anguish than they caused those to whom they were addressed. Through the grace of Christ I experienced a divine compelling power to stand before my ministering brethren, in the name of the Lord, hoping and praying that the Lord would open the blind eyes. I was strengthened to say the words which my secretary took in shorthand. (Here comes in “Morning Talk,” October 24, see Manuscript 9, 1888.).... 9MR 223.1

Why were not these men, who knew of these things, afraid to lift their hand against me and my work for no reason, except their imagination, that I was not in harmony with their spirit and their course of action toward men whom they and I had reason to respect. These men were just as sincere as those who criticized, men of correct principles—but who did not harmonize with their views concerning the law in Galatians. I knew how the Lord regarded their spirit and action, and if they did thus in ignorance, through perverted ideas, they have had all the opportunity God will ever give them to know He has given these men a work to do, and a message to bear which is present truth for this time. They knew that wherever this message comes its fruits are good. A vigor and a vital energy are brought into the church, and where the message is accepted, there hope and courage and faith beam in the countenances of all those who open their eyes to see, their understanding to perceive, and their hearts to receive the great treasure of truth.—Manuscript 24, 1888, pp. 16-21, 24, 25. (“Looking Back at Minneapolis,” cir. November or December, 1888.) 9MR 223.2

Zealous Over Variant Positions—You [One of the leaders at the time of the 1888 General Conference session held in Minneapolis, Minn.] have been wonderfully zealous in regard to any difference of opinion being presented upon the law in Galatians. You speak of the position I have taken upon it and the letter I wrote you being the cause of your sickness. This may be your own interpretation of the matter, but I have reason to lay your sickness to causes that you do not see.—Manuscript 16, 1889, pp. 1-2. (“The Discernment of Truth,” cir. January, 1889.) 9MR 224.1

Great Relief of Many Minds—Since I made the statement last Sabbath that the view of the covenants as it had been taught by Brother Waggoner was truth, it seems that great relief has come to many minds.—Letter 30, 1890, p. 2. (To Willie and Mary White, March 10, 1890.) 9MR 224.2

Galatians Matter Is of Minor Consequence—Sunday morning, although weary and almost discouraged, I ventured into the meeting. I said nothing until the meeting was about to close, and then I made some very close remarks. I kept before them what they had done to make of none effect that which the Lord was trying to do and why. The law in Galatians was their only plea. 9MR 224.3

“Why,” I asked, “is your interpretation of the law in Galatians more dear to you, and you more zealous to maintain your ideas on this point, than to acknowledge the workings of the Spirit of God? You have been weighing every precious heaven-sent testimony by your own scales as you interpreted the law in Galatians. Nothing could come to you in regard to the truth and the power of God unless it should bear your imprint, the precious ideas you had idolized on the law of Galatians. 9MR 225.1

“These testimonies of the Spirit of God, the fruits of the Spirit of God, have no weight unless they are stamped with your ideas of the law in Galatians. I am afraid of you and I am afraid of your interpretation of any Scripture which has revealed itself in such an unChristlike spirit as you have manifested and has cost me so much unnecessary labor. If you are such very cautious men and so very critical lest you shall receive something not in accordance with the Scriptures, I want your minds to look on these things in the true light. Let your caution be exercised in the line of fear lest you are committing the sin against the Holy Ghost. [See Matthew 12:32.] Have your critical minds taken this view of the subject? I say if your views on the law in Galatians, and the fruits, are of the character I have seen in Minneapolis and ever since up to this time, my prayer is that I may be as far from your understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures as it is possible for me to be. I am afraid of any application of Scripture that needs such a spirit and bears such fruit as you have manifested. One thing is certain, I shall never come into harmony with such a spirit as long as God gives me my reason. 9MR 225.2

“You have not commended your doctrine, in some things, to my mind and to other minds. You could not have given a better refutation of your own theories than you have done. 9MR 226.1

“Now brethren, I have nothing to say, no burden in regard to the law in Galatians. This matter looks to me of minor consequence in comparison with the spirit you have brought into your faith. It is exactly of the same piece that was manifested by the Jews in reference to the work and mission of Jesus Christ. The most convincing testimony that we can bear to others that we have the truth is the spirit which attends the advocacy of that truth. If it sanctifies the heart of the receiver, if it makes him gentle, kind, forbearing, true and Christlike, then he will give some evidence of the fact that he has the genuine truth. But if he acts as did the Jews when their opinions and ideas were crossed, then we certainly cannot receive such testimony, for it does not produce the fruits of righteousness.” [See Philippians 1:11]—Letter 83, 1890, pp. 5-6. (To Willie and Mary White, March 13, 1890.) 9MR 226.2

White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

May 31, 1979.