Ellen G. White — Messenger to the Remnant


The Writing of The Desire of Ages

All through the years it was Mrs. White’s desire to deal very fully with the life of Christ, His ministry, His teachings, and His sacrifice for us. That which she had written on this phase of the conflict during the 70’s, and which was published in Volumes II and III of the Spirit of Prophecy and in a number of pamphlets, later seemed to her to be inadequate. Therefore when her work on Patriarchs and Prophets was finished, her thoughts turned to the preparation of a more comprehensive treatise on the life of Christ. For this work she carried a great burden, and in her letters we find many references to her hope of being able soon to get the book under way. EGWMR 58.10

When she went to Australia in the autumn of 1891, it was her expectation that the long-hoped-for life of Christ could soon be prepared. During the years 1892 to 1898, she spent much time in writing chapters for this book. EGWMR 58.11

A glimpse of the intensity under which she worked while preparing copy for The Desire of Ages is seen in a letter written in 1892 to Elder O. A. Olsen, then president of the General Conference: EGWMR 59.1

“I walk with trembling before God, I know not how to speak or trace with pen the large subjects of the atoning sacrifice. I know not how to present subjects in the living power in which they stand before me. I tremble for fear lest I shall belittle the great plan of salvation by cheap words. I bow my soul in awe and reverence before God, and say, ‘who is sufficient for these things?’”—Letter 40, 1892. EGWMR 59.2

A letter written two years later gives us a picture of Mrs. White’s busy life, and explains the delay in preparing copy for the forthcoming book. She says: EGWMR 59.3

“Now after I have been in this country nearly three years, there is still much to be done before the book will be ready for publication. Many branches of work have demanded my attention. I am pressed beyond measure with the work of writing out testimonies, caring for the poor, and traveling with my own conveyance, eight, eleven, and thirteen miles to meet with the churches.”—Letter 69, 1894. EGWMR 59.4

Pressed with these burdens and cares, she did much of her writing when others were asleep. “My time for writing usually commences at three o’clock in the morning,” she says, “when all in the house are asleep. Often I am awakened at half past twelve, one, or two o’clock.”—Letter 114, 1896. EGWMR 59.5