Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)


Correspondence with G. I. Butler

Some of her correspondence buoyed her soul. This was the case in the exchange with G. I. Butler. At the time of the General Conference session of 1888 held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Butler, who had long served as president of the General Conference, was ill and could not be present. Relieved of his responsibilities at that meeting, he retired in Florida, planted an orange grove, and for more than a decade faithfully cared for his wife, who, soon after moving to Florida, suffered paralysis. Being for some years on the negative side of the issues that had surfaced at Minneapolis in 1888, he felt that Ellen White had about written him off. When he received word that at her direction one of the first copies of The Desire of Ages to come from the press was to be sent to him, he was elated and took heart. He wrote to her expressing his gratitude for her thoughtfulness of him. 4BIO 405.5

After five years in retirement he had come to see some things more correctly and had changed his attitude. He wrote a letter of confession in 1893, published in the Review and Herald. In this he stated: 4BIO 406.1

I freely admit that for a period I stood in doubt in regard to the agitation of these subjects [“the doctrines of justification by faith, the necessity of appropriating Christ's righteousness by faith in order to (attain) our salvation”] I have here so freely endorsed. I did not attend the General Conference in Minneapolis, where differences were agitated, being at the time sick in Battle Creek.... My sympathies were not with those leading out in bringing what I now regard as light, before the people. 4BIO 406.2

He was glad that he could testify: 4BIO 406.3

I am well satisfied that additional light of great importance has been shining upon these subjects, and fully believe that God has greatly blessed it to the good of those who have accepted it.—June 13, 1893.

Now a letter to Ellen White in late 1898 initiated a fresh correspondence. Ellen White responded to him a few months later, on April 21: 4BIO 406.4

I received your letter a few days since, and read it with interest. Every mail I have designed writing to you, but each time something has come in to crowd me upon other things, and I could not get your letter written. But now I will write you a few lines. 4BIO 406.5

You misapprehend me when you suppose I have lost all hope of you. This has never been the case. I have had a great desire to see you, and to converse and pray with you. I would be pleased to see you take hold of the work again and move forward, drinking in the rich truths which God has given us. I desire to see you stand on vantage ground and realize the blessing of God in your own heart and life. 4BIO 406.6

Then, as if conversing with an old friend—which she was—she continued: 4BIO 407.1

This field is large, and has been represented to me as a new world, a second America, but very different from America in its government. But America is far from being what it once was. I feel sorry when I consider this. 4BIO 407.2

In regard to your situation, be assured that if I had the opportunity, I would grasp your hand with gladness, and call you brother. I think I am unchanged from the simple, humble servant of Jesus Christ you have always known me to be. You and I are getting along in years. But as far as my memory and activity are concerned, I have never in any period of my life done more earnest, hard work in speaking and writing than during the year 1898. 4BIO 407.3

I see so much to do. I cannot see any place where I can let go my hold. Souls are perishing, and I must help them. I speak in the church and out of the church. We drive out into the country places, and speak in the open air, because the prejudice against the truth is so great that the people will not consent to our speaking in the little rough house where they assemble for worship. 4BIO 407.4

Ellen White “chatted” about her experience in Australia for six pages with one she had known for nearly fifty years. She closed with this paragraph: 4BIO 407.5

But I must stop writing. It is now 5:00 A.M., one hour before daylight. I left my bed at one o'clock. I have written this letter to you and two pages to Dr. Kellogg since then. Tell me in your next letter if you can read my writing. I cannot always get my letters copied. If you can read them, I will send some in this way. I would say to you, “Have faith in God. Trust in Him, for He knoweth all things. He is true and patient with all His erring children.” God bless you is my prayer.—Letter 74, 1899. 4BIO 407.6