Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 (vol. 3)


A Resumption of the Writing

When they returned to the West in late September, 1875, they had brought Mary Clough with them. Mary was the daughter of Ellen White's older sister Caroline. She was a Christian girl, but not a Seventh-day Adventist. She had had literary training and was soon giving the help Ellen White needed to go forward with her book production. As to her need of such help, Ellen White a little later wrote: 3BIO 22.2

It is a great task for me to arrange my matter to be placed in the hands of the printer without any aid in the matter. If I could do as I have done, write and have a competent copyist prepare my writing for the press, I could do considerable.—Letter 4d, 1878. 3BIO 22.3

At first the tent meetings in San Francisco had led to some breaks in the work as she and her husband were pressed into service; there was also some work in the churches. However her messages were often on some phase of the life of Christ. Aside from what may be deducted from this, there is little information on the phases of the Lord's ministry she was dealing with, until James White's departure for Battle Creek on Wednesday, March 22, 1876, to attend the special session of the General Conference. 3BIO 22.4

After Lucinda Hall returned to Battle Creek, “China John,” an Oriental helper, was brought in to assist with the housework. He knew but little English and had much to learn in both household activities and communication. In her note sent off on Friday, two days after James White's departure, she stated: 3BIO 22.5

We are all well as usual. It takes a little time to get settled down from the excitement of your going. You may be assured we miss you. Especially do we feel the loss of your society when we gather about the fireside evenings. We feel your absence when we sit around the social board. But we shall get more used to this after a while. We have been writing today.... 3BIO 23.1

Mary [White, W. C. White's wife] and China John have been cooking today for the Sabbath. It has taken Mary's time almost entirely today. John flies around quick and cheerful.—Letter 1a, 1876. 3BIO 23.2

As already noted, when James and Ellen completed their work in the camp meetings in the fall of 1875, he had declared their intentions to return to the East in the spring to spend the entire warm season in attending camp meetings (The Signs of the Times, November 11, 1875). Now that she was making good progress in writing on the life of Christ, Ellen White began to feel that she should be excused from the camp meetings and continue with her writing, a conviction that grew from day to day. 3BIO 23.3

On Sabbath, March 25, in her letter to James, she wrote: 3BIO 23.4

Mary Clough and I will do all we can to forward the work of my writings. I cannot see any light shining to Michigan for me. This year I feel that my work is writing. I must be secluded, stay right here, and I must not let inclination or persuasion of others shake my resolution to keep closely to my work until it is done. God will help me if I trust in Him.—Letter 63, 1876.

Late the next week she wrote: 3BIO 23.5

I enjoy the presence of God and yet my soul is continually drawn out for more of His salvation. I am writing and having freedom in my writing. Precious subjects I am handling. The last I completed, or about completed, yesterday—Jesus healing the impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda. It is a great subject, the discourse of Christ following the healing as He was accused of the Jews of Sabbathbreaking.

We miss you both very much. Mary seems lost without Lucinda. Our China John is a treasure. He does just everything with a nicety that is surprising. Mary has to superintend the cooking. Lucinda had no such help as this to do the drudgery. He works for two dollars per week while trying to learn to cook and talk.—Letter 1, 1876. 3BIO 23.6

Her letter to James written Tuesday, April 4, was full of significant news. On Monday, the meeting of the stockholders of the Pacific Seventh-day Adventist Association had been held. She did not attend, but she was told that their 21-year-old son, William, had been elected president of the association. What she did not mention was that at the directors’ meeting, held that same day, he had been elected also as business manager of the newly established publishing house (The Signs of the Times, April 13, 1876). She reported in her April 4 letter that they had sixteen at dinner, and “everything passed off pleasantly.”—Letter 3, 1876. Although having a lot of company, she tried to stick to her writing and do as much each day as she dared. She soon found she must limit her writing to about half a day. 3BIO 24.1

She arose early Thursday morning to complete this letter. She wrote of the two leading men at the college in Battle Creek and gave James some counsel on dealing with them and the problems there. She added, “I have not conversed with Mary and Willie as to what I have written, but speak of things that I know myself from high authority.”—Ibid.. About her writing she declared: 3BIO 24.2

My trust is in God. I have confidence that He will help me in my efforts to get out the truth and light He has given me to [give to] His people. Mary is good help. I appreciate her.—Ibid. 3BIO 24.3

In her letter written Friday, April 7, she reported on her writing and the visits she and Mary Clough and the two little girls had made to two families. She found a Sister Bohin, of German descent, to be a most devoted believer, with fine taste and an understanding of sacred things. They came away with arms filled with plants for the garden at the new White home. She tells of planting them: 3BIO 24.4

I set out my things in my garden of the new house by moonlight and by the aid of lamplight. The two Marys tried to have me wait till morning, but I would not listen to them. We had a beautiful shower last night. I was glad then I persevered in setting out my plants.—Letter 4, 1876. 3BIO 24.5

Both J. N. Loughborough and J. H. Waggoner were laboring in the area. Ellen White resolved to let them carry the burdens of the churches; she shunned all responsibilities so she could get on with the writing. In this, she told James, “We are all doing well.” 3BIO 24.6

The precious subjects open to my mind well. I trust in God and He helps me to write. I am some twenty-four pages ahead of Mary [Clough]. She does well with my copy. It will take a clear sense of duty to call me from this work to camp meetings. I mean to finish my writings on one book at any rate, before I go anywhere. I see no light in my attending camp meetings. You and I decided this before you left.... 3BIO 25.1

I have no will of mine own; I want to do God's will. At present His will is to tarry in California and make the most of my time in writing. I shall be doing more for the cause in this than in going across the plains to attend camp meetings.—Ibid. 3BIO 25.2

The next day, April 8, she wrote to Lucinda Hall of her convictions concerning her work: 3BIO 25.3

My husband writes that an appeal is to be sent to me from the conference, but I shall not be moved from that which I believe to be my duty at this time. I have a special work at this time to write out the things which the Lord has shown me. We progress finely, but I cannot write more than half a day.... 3BIO 25.4

I want time to have my mind calm and composed. I want to have time to meditate and pray while engaged in this work. I do not want to be wearied myself or be closely connected with our people who will divert my mind. This is a great work, and I feel like crying to God every day for His Spirit to help me to do this work all right.... I must do this work to the acceptance of God.—Letter 59, 1876. (Italics supplied.) 3BIO 25.5

She also told Lucinda that she was getting matter ready for the third “form” thirty-two pages of the Testimony, then in the process of production at the Pacific Press. In her letter to James, written the same day, she declared: “I never had such an opportunity to write in my life, and I mean to make the most of it.” In discussing her work, she asks James: 3BIO 25.6

How will it do to read my manuscript to Elders Waggoner and Loughborough? If there is any wording of doctrinal points not so clear as it might be, he (W, I mean) might discern it.”—Letter 4a, 1876. 3BIO 25.7