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


Early Writings of Ellen G. White

Just before the turn of the year, a little volume bearing the title of Early Writings of Ellen G. White came from the press. It was a book eagerly sought by Adventist families, for it provided Ellen White's three earliest books, long out of print: 3BIO 207.2

1. Christian Experience and Views of Mrs. E. G. White, a sixty-four-page pamphlet published in 1851 that presented many of her early visions. This included her first vision, at this time found in no other work. 3BIO 207.3

2. Supplement to Experience and Views, a forty-eight-page pamphlet published in 1854. It explained some points in the preceding work that were not clear to all readers, and added some testimony-type articles on church order, et cetera. 3BIO 207.4

3. Spiritual Gifts,, Volume I, the 219-page presentation of the great controversy story published in 1858. 3BIO 207.5

As noted in an earlier chapter, at the General Conference session of 1879 action was taken recommending “the publication of a small edition of her [Ellen White's] earliest writings, now out of print, to bring all her writings within the reach of those anxious to obtain them” (Ibid., December 4, 1879). 3BIO 207.6

Butler was delighted when finally in late 1882 this was brought about. He wrote an announcement for the Review entitled “A Book Long Desired.” After naming the little books comprising Early Writings, he explained: 3BIO 207.7

The first two, published some thirty years ago, have long been out of print, and only a very few of the older Sabbathkeepers have ever seen them. The latter has been read by more, as a larger edition was published.... But we wish to speak more especially of the two first-mentioned portions of the volume. There has long been a strong desire for the publication of a new edition of these. These were the very first of the published writings of Sister White. Since they went out of print, many thousands have become interested in her writings. Many of these have greatly desired to have in their possession all she has written for publication.... It meets a want long felt.—Ibid., December 26, 1882 3BIO 208.1

Butler then discussed the criticisms brought by certain persons who had leveled accusations against the church of suppressing the early E. G. White writings. He declared, “They have claimed to be very anxious to obtain these writings to show up their supposed errors. They now have the opportunity.” 3BIO 208.2

When Butler explained the publication of Early Writings, he was doing so in terms of the republication of Ellen White's early books, notably the first, Experience and Views. He made no reference to the fact that her first vision had been published in several forms in 1846 and 1847—an article, a broadside, a pamphlet by James White. When the account of her first vision appeared in her first book, there were some deletions of which he was either unaware or had overlooked. Copies of these very early items were extremely scarce. The critics made the most of it, claiming suppression. As will be noted in another chapter, Ellen White herself entered the discussion and made some explanations. The publication of Early Writings was actually and truly the reprinting of the earlier books. As soon as copies were available in Oakland, Ellen White autographed and sent one each to Haskell, Smith, Andrews, Loughborough, and J. E. White (MKW to WCW, January 7, 1882). 3BIO 208.3