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    Chapter 1—The Great Controversy

    When the third volume of the Spirit of Prophecy was published in 1878, it was the hope and expectation of James and Ellen White that Volume Four would be printed the following year. But the calls to attend meetings and Elder White’s feeble health frustrated this plan.HEWBW 6.3

    Not until the autumn of 1882, one year after the death of my father, was the work of arranging the chapters already written, and filling in the gaps, begun in real earnest. It was my privilege to be much at Mother’s home in Healdsburg, and witness her earnest endeavor. At first it had been her plan to resume the story of the Acts of the Apostles where Volume Three ceased. But she was instructed in night visions to adopt the plan now seen in the book The Great Controversy.HEWBW 6.4

    It was revealed to her that she should present an outline of the controversy between Christ and Satan as it developed in the first centuries of the Christian era, and in the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, in such a way as to prepare the mind of the reader to understand clearly the controversy as it is going on in our day.HEWBW 6.5

    While Mother was writing this book, many of the scenes were presented to her over and over again in visions of the night. The vision of the deliverance of God’s people, as given in Chapter 40, was repeated three times; and on two occasions, once at her home in Healdsburg, and once at the St. Helena Sanitarium, members of her family, sleeping in nearby rooms, were awakened from sleep by her clear, musical cry, “They come! They come!” (See The Great Controversy, 636.)HEWBW 7.1

    We can now see that the divine instruction regarding the plan of the book has made it useful to the general public. However, Mother regarded it like all her former writings, as a message chiefly to the church and she used some matter that was especially useful to Seventh-day Adventists.HEWBW 7.2

    A detailed consideration of just how the work was carried on from day to day revives in my memory the various steps that were taken:HEWBW 7.3

    1. The laying aside of the articles relating to the Acts of the Apostles that she had intended to use.

    2. The gathering together of those manuscripts describing the destruction of Jerusalem and the apostasy of the Christian church.

    3. These she would read from her manuscripts day-by-day for two or three hours at a time, to me and Sister Davis.

    4. The reading was interspersed with discussion regarding strength of description, the length of the chapter, the presence of repetition, and the absence of some features of the story.

    5. To Sister Davis was committed the work of selecting the best presentation, where there were two or three manuscripts on the subject, also the work of eliminating needless repetition, and the arrangement of paragraphs so as to make the presentation of the subject connected and forceful.

    6. Mother took the burden of writing in those essential parts of the history that had not yet been presented. Prayerful meditation would often bring to her mind clearly the views given years before.

    Then as she strove to perfect the chapters by filling in the gaps, the Lord gave her in night visions new views, or renewal of former views.HEWBW 8.1

    During this time I was many weeks in Healdsburg, living in her home while working part time for the Healdsburg College, and part time for Mother. Therefore, I know how the work was done.HEWBW 8.2

    Having spent the early morning and the forenoon in writing, Mother usually relaxed in the afternoon. With her span of little lazy black ponies, she would find recreation in a country drive.HEWBW 8.3

    After Sister Davis had arranged the matter for a chapter, she would read it to Sister White, who often then discerned that she had something to add. And, also, when Sister White had written a new section she would usually read it to Sister Davis, and to others of the family if they could take time to listen.HEWBW 8.4

    Twice a day the whole family gathered in the sitting room for worship. These were very precious seasons. Sometimes during the first year of this work, when Brother and Sister Ransom Lockwood were her steward and housekeeper; together with Sister J. L. Ings, her faithful copyist; Marian Davis, her secretary; Addie and May Walling, her nieces; and Edith Donaldson, a schoolgirl boarder, Mother would relate to us some story of her early experiences, that was much appreciated. Later on, as she became more fully absorbed in her writing, the story telling ceased.HEWBW 8.5

    Sister White was not a mere mechanical writer. The deep impressions made upon the reader by portions of her published works are due largely to her own intensity of feeling while she wrote. Occasionally she referred to her emotional depth of feeling, as she penned the solemn messages from heaven to a perishing world. This she wrote in a letter to Elder Smith, February 19, 1884:HEWBW 9.1

    “I write from fifteen to twenty pages each day. It is now 11:00 o’clock and I have written fourteen pages of manuscript for Vol. IV....

    “As I write upon my book I feel intensely moved. I want to get it out as soon as possible, for our people need it so much. I shall complete it next month if the Lord gives me health as He has done. I have been unable to sleep nights, for thinking of the important things to take place. Three hours and sometimes five is the most of sleep I get. My mind is stirred so deeply I cannot rest. Write, write, write, I feel I must and not delay.

    “Great things are before us, and we want to call the people from their indifference to get ready. Things that are eternal crowd upon my vision day and night. The things that are temporal fade from my sight.”—Letter 11a, 1884.

    She usually wrote upon the subject she was handling very fully. And there was sometimes a difference of opinion between her and the publishers regarding the quantity of matter that should be used. Sister White was best pleased when a subject was presented very fully, and the publishers often brought pressure to bear to have the matter condensed or abbreviated so that the books would not be too large. Consequently there were times when after important chapters were prepared and sent to the printer, a new presentation of the subject would be given and she would then write additional matter and insist upon its being incorporated. This experience applied chiefly to The Great Controversy, Volume IV.HEWBW 9.2

    In the fall of 1884, the book was ready for distribution. The price was made uniform for the entire series, $1 per volume. In just a short time it was found that the book could be sold to all people, so the publishers took the plates and printed an edition on larger paper. Illustrations were inserted and an experiment made in selling it as a subscription book at $1.50. During the first four years after its publication ten editions were printed and sold.HEWBW 10.1

    In 1885 Mother and I were sent to Europe, and there the question came up regarding the translation of this wonderful book into German, French, Danish and Swedish. As Mother considered this proposition, she decided to make additions to the matter.HEWBW 10.2

    Mother’s contact with European people had brought to her mind scores of things that had been presented to her in vision during past years, some of them two or three times, and other scenes many times. Her seeing of historic places and her contact with the people refreshed her memory and enabled her to write more graphically regarding many things, and so she desired to add much material to the book. This was done, and the manuscripts were prepared for translation.HEWBW 10.3

    Much of the research for historical statements used in the new European and American editions of The Great Controversy was done in Basel, where we had access to Elder Andrews’ large library, and where the translators had access to the university libraries.HEWBW 10.4

    Twenty-five years later in 1911, when we came to go over this matter for the purpose of inserting references to historical quotations, there were some quotations which we could not locate. In some cases we found statements making the same point from other historians. These were in books accessible in many public libraries. When we brought this to Mother’s attention, she said, “Use the one you can give reference to, so that the reader of the book, if he wishes to go to the source and find it, can do so.”HEWBW 11.1

    Her interest in what she saw in Europe, and its relation to her writings, especially regarding the Reformation, is expressed in a diary entry written from Basel on May 15, 1887:HEWBW 11.2

    “We have just returned from visiting Zurich. It is a much prettier city than Basel. The old part of the city contains many historical places of interest. We visited a Cathedral.... This building was put up by Charlemagne. We gathered many items of interest which we will use. Zwingle preached in this church in 1518....

    “We visited an old building which had been a church where Zwingle had preached. Here was a life-size statue of Zwingle clad as he was chaplain of the army when he was killed. He had his Bible in his hand, and his hand leaning on his sword. He has on the dress or coat reaching to his feet, which was worn by the clergy in those days. This monument is above his tomb. We entered the building and there we found it was used for a library of ancient books in Latin and in Greek and dead languages. We saw here the veritable Bible Zwingle used and letters written by his own hand.

    “We had just been writing upon the reformers—Wycliffe, Jerome, John Huss, Zwingle, and other reformers, so I was much interested in all that I saw.”—Ms 29, 1887.

    In her public ministry, Mother had always shown an ability to select from the storehouse of truth, matter well adapted to the needs of the congregation before her; and she always thought that, in the choice of matter for publication in her books, sound judgment should be shown in selecting that which is best suited to the needs of those who will read the book.HEWBW 12.1

    Therefore, when the new edition of The Great Controversy was brought out in 1888, intended for world-wide circulation, there were left out about twenty pages of matter—four or five pages in one place—which was very instructive to the Adventists of America, but which was not appropriate for readers in other parts of the world. Examples of this may be found in the chapter entitled, “The Snares of Satan,” pages 518-530, in the 1911 edition.HEWBW 12.2

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