Special Testimonies, Series B


Special Testimonies, Series B

by Arthur L. White

Inquiry has been made concerning Special Testimonies, Series B as originally published in pamphlet form. There was a Series A and there was a Series B. STSB 1.1

Special Testimonies, Series B consists of nineteen pamphlets published between the years 1903 and 1913. These pamphlets are out of print today. That is, the editions have been exhausted and they have not been republished. But before entering upon a discussion of Special Testimonies, Series B, let us look at the whole question of Special Testimonies. STSB 1.2

Ellen White found several channels open to her in presenting to the people the light, the information, the instruction, the counsel, and the cautions which God revealed to her in vision. Perhaps we should list these: STSB 1.3

(1) The Oral Presentation. Either in personal interviews with individuals or addressing formal groups, such as committees, boards, church gatherings, and General Conference sessions, Ellen White presented her message. At times these interviews and general presentations were stenographically reported and at times they were not. The record of those which were reported constitutes a part of our general E. G. White manuscript file, or, in the case of a number of sermons, have been presented to the church in a more general way through articles in the Review and Herald and other papers.

(2) The Written Message. In the early years, in handwritten letters, Ellen White passed on to others scores upon scores of personal testimonies dealing with the life and experience of the individuals whom she addressed. After typewriters came into use, copies were made in typewritten form and a copy was retained in Mrs. White’s files. Other copies were sent to the persons addressed, and to those who might be particularly interested. The file copies of these materials constitute a part of the E. G. White manuscript file. In some cases these communications later appeared in such books as Testimonies for the Church. The larger part of such communications, however, were not printed, because they dealt with special experiences and were in the form of messages addressed particularly to the individual. Especially if the truths touched on in these documents were well covered in the books, there was not occasion to repeat the counsel in printed form. We must recognize that over a period of 70 years Ellen White touched on the same subjects many, many times.

(3) The Printed Page. Through this means of communication Ellen White was able to reach a very large number of people and a permanent record could be made of her message which would serve the church. She reached the people generally by two modes of publication—her books in which her messages were immortalized in print and made available to all who secured copies of these books, and the periodical articles, 4,500 in all, which appeared from week to week in the Review and Herald, the Signs of the Times, the Youth’s Instructor, the union conference papers, etc. The messages which reached our people in this form were timely. Their weekly appearance had an impact upon the readers which was large. Periodicals, however, are soon discarded, and the articles are lost sight of, but they have served in an initial way, just as a sermon serves a congregation, and the printed record may be drawn upon in the future.

All of these sources, except the oral word, are preserved in our vault at the General Conference office and constitute a reservoir of E. G. White materials available to the church. As we have reviewed the various ways in which Ellen White presented her prophetic message, it is observed that the materials naturally fall into two very general classes—that which was intended for the benefit of an individual or small group, and that which would be of service to the church generally. STSB 2.1

In the specific volumes entitled Testimonies for the Church, Ellen White presented nearly 5,000 pages of counsel and instruction touching almost every phase of church work and points of Christian experience. The other volumes from her pen present a wealth of counsel and instruction. In her personal testimonies to individuals, sometimes opening up sin, sometimes bringing messages of reproof, sometimes speaking words of encouragement and giving personal guidance, Ellen White was writing to the individual, dealing with matters which were between the Lord and that individual. Usually the messages were gratefully received. Changes were observed in the life. The testimony accomplished its purpose; it had done its work. Unless there was some special situation which would make that particular line of counsel of value to the church generally, touching points which had not been touched on in her books, Ellen White kept the personal testimony in confidence. To make it public would only injure the individual’s name, because it is a trait of human nature to remember an individual in the light of our knowledge of mistakes the individual has made or the sins he has committed, regardless of the fact that the wrongs may be rectified, and the sins forgiven, and a change taken place in the life. STSB 2.2

As the years advanced and our churches grew and the workers increased in numbers, there were times when counsel and instruction written specifically to meet the needs of a given group, a church, a publishing house or sanitarium family, were put into print in pamphlets, and these were often called Special Testimonies. I have on my desk a number of such pamphlets. One is entitled, Special Testimonies Concerning the Work and Workers in the Pacific Press. These pamphlets presented matters which were of primary interest to the churches or to the institutions concerned. In some cases names are named, and there are references to specific experiences. STSB 2.3

In this printed form, those who were concerned could have copies to read and reread. I have never observed any record of where the distribution of these was in any way restricted or limited, or copies withheld from those who wished copies. The counsel, by its very nature, limited the general field of circulation of such materials. STSB 2.4