Ellen G. White — Messenger to the Remnant


Chapter 4—The Writer

“Write, write, write, I feel that I must, and not delay,” penned Ellen White in 1884. “Great things are before us, and we want to call the people from their indifference to get ready.”—Letter 11, 1884. In these words are summed up the objective of her most important work, and that by which she is best known today. EGWMR 109.1

Her childhood experience and her education were not such as we would ordinarily think of as naturally fitting one to spend a lifetime in writing. Her schooling was limited. But when called of God in her girlhood, she was fitted by Him for the tasks entrusted to her. She graphically pictures to us her call to write: EGWMR 109.2

“Early in my public labors I was bidden by the Lord, ‘Write, write the things that are revealed to you.’ At the time this message came to me, I could not hold my hand steady. My physical condition made it impossible for me to write. EGWMR 109.3

“But again came the word, ‘Write the things that are revealed to you.’ I obeyed; and as the result it was not long before I could write page after page with comparative ease. Who told me what to write? Who steadied my right hand and made it possible for me to use a pen?—It was the Lord.”—The Review and Herald, June 14, 1906. EGWMR 109.4

Had the Lord chosen as His messenger a brilliant student, or one of mature years with education, some might have said that the messages were not the product of the Spirit of God, but had their origin in the mind of the writer and were based on preconceived ideas and prejudices. The Lord chose a humble instrument for His work, that the messages might flow from Him to the church and to the world without danger of contamination, and in such a way that all could see that it was His work. EGWMR 109.5

From the time that her hand was steadied, back in 1845, to the close of her lifework, Ellen G. White did all her writing by hand. Even when secretarial help was available, she chose to work undisturbed, penning the sentences thoughtfully and carefully. Sometimes the writing would be done on note paper, sometimes on large sheets, and at other times in bound, ruled copybooks. EGWMR 109.6

The circumstances under which Mrs. White wrote varied greatly. When she could do her work at home she was pleased. For a time in early Battle Creek days she worked largely at home, but at times went to the Review office, where she shared a room with her husband. But much of the time the writing had to be sandwiched in as best she could while traveling, speaking, and visiting. The diary of 1859 gives us a glimpse of this: EGWMR 109.7

“Awoke a little past two A.M. Take cars [train] at four. Feel very miserable. Write all day.... Our journey on the cars ended at six P.M.”—Diary, August 18, 1859. EGWMR 109.8

A little later on this same journey, early one morning Elder and Mrs. White were taken to the home of one of our believers. So pressed was she with her work that although “the house is full of company” she recorded, she “had no time to visit. Shut myself in the chamber to write.”—Diary, October 10, 1859. In 1891 she notes in connection with a tour of three months in the Eastern States that she had “spoken fifty-five times, and have written three hundred pages.... The Lord it is who has strengthened and blessed me and upheld me by His Spirit.”—Manuscript 4, 1891. EGWMR 109.9

It is related that at one conference Ellen White was so pressed with her writing that she found she must write in meeting through the week. One morning, seated at the table just in front of the pulpit, she wrote steadily while J. N. Andrews preached. At the noon intermission she was asked as to her opinion on Elder Andrews’ qualifications as a preacher. She replied that it had been so long since she had heard Elder Andrews preach that she could not express an opinion. This indicates intensive concentration in her work. EGWMR 109.10