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    Part I—June 18, 1935


    I hold in my left hand one little book containing 219 pages. In this little volume we find a brief sketch of “The Great Controversy Between Christ and His Angels and Satan and His Angels.” This was the first attempt of Ellen G. White to portray this conflict as worked out in the lives of the patriarchs, the life of Christ and His apostles, and the heroes of the Christian Church, as well as its development in the final acts of the conflict. This book was issued in 1858, just seventy-seven years ago.HEWBW 1.1

    I hold in my right hand four larger volumes, covering the same subject, and with most of the history greatly enlarged upon. The cover title of this series is “Spirit of Prophecy.” The inside title is, “The Great Controversy Between Christ and His Angels and Satan and His Angels.” Volume One was printed in 1870, Volume Two in 1877, Volume Three in 1878, and Volume Four in 1884. There were 1750 pages in these four volumes.HEWBW 1.2

    There lies before me on the desk the third and final series containing Mrs. White’s last and more full portrayal of the revelations given her regarding this wonderful conflict. The five volumes of the “Conflict of the Ages Series,” with Steps to Christ, Christ’s Object Lessons, and Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing comprise nearly 4500 pages.HEWBW 1.3

    Many who have read these books and found in them timely instruction and help in their Christian Experience desire to know what we can tell them about the way in which they were written. We shall first describe the mechanical features of the work, and later speak of its spiritual character.HEWBW 1.4

    Volume Two of Spiritual Gifts was published in 1860. This was a biographical sketch of her Christian Experience, Views and Labors in Connection With the Rise and Progress of the Third Angel’s Message.HEWBW 2.1

    After the publication of Volume Two, she wrote twenty-one chapters on Old Testament history from creation to Exodus and the giving of the Law of God at Sinai. This was published in Volume Three. She also wrote sixteen chapters in 120 pages on the experiences of the Israelites from Sinai to David and Solomon. This, with an article on health and a reprint on Testimonies Nos. 1-10, constituted Volume Four of Spiritual Gifts. Much of the writing was done in 1865 before making the Eastern trip which occupied the last five months of the year. The two volumes were printed in 1864.HEWBW 2.2

    Regarding the story of the writing and publication of the very first Ellen G. White books issued, it is our intention to relate the incidents connected with their production quite fully in our series of articles appearing in the Review. Therefore in what we present to you today we shall begin at about the time where my memory touches the work.HEWBW 2.3

    Most of the writing of these four books [Spiritual Gifts, Vols. I-IV] was done in Battle Creek in the little cottage on Wood Street, facing the west end of Champion Street. This cottage the White family occupied from 1857 till 1863. At first Mother wrote in the “parlor-bedroom,” which was the northwest corner of the ground floor, a room about 10 by 12, with one window to the north. Later when additions were made to the house, she did her writing upstairs in the east chamber, which had two windows to the east.HEWBW 2.4

    The larger room with its two windows admitting the morning sunlight was a joy to her, a benefit to her health, and a blessing to her work. Here she could be alone, and out of reach of sounds from the dining room and kitchen. She seldom used an ordinary table or desk, but wrote sitting in a low, heavy rocking chair, with a swinging board bolted to the right arm, which served as a writing table.HEWBW 2.5

    On coming home from the Review and Herald offices, James White was frequently greeted by his wife with the statement, “James, I want you to hear what I have been writing.” Then he would lie down on the sofa in the sitting room, and Mother would read to him what she had written during the forenoon. I can never forget the joy which they shared together as she brought out from time to time precious instruction for the church, and interesting historical articles regarding leading characters in the patriarchal and Christian age.HEWBW 3.1

    Sometimes, she would say, “James, here is an article that ought to be printed. It is a testimony on Christian experience, and I want you to listen to it and help me prepare it for the printer.” She was an unusually good reader, speaking slowly and distinctly. If her husband discovered weaknesses in the composition, such as faulty tenses of verbs, or disagreement between subject, noun, and verb, he would suggest grammatical corrections. These she would write into her manuscript and then read on.HEWBW 3.2

    I remember a year or two later when she was writing on the lines of the early patriarchs, Elder J. N. Andrews was visiting at our home. After dinner was over, Mother would propose to read to him and Father what she had been writing. Both Elder White and Elder Andrews were attentive listeners and one day after two or three chapters had been read to them, Elder Andrews said, “Sister White, have you ever read Milton’s Paradise Lost?”HEWBW 3.3

    “No,” she replied.HEWBW 4.1

    “Have you ever read any of his writings?”HEWBW 4.2

    Again she replied, “No.”HEWBW 4.3

    A few weeks later he brought a copy of Paradise Lost, and read to Father and Mother some of Milton’s descriptions of the experiences of Lucifer in his great rebellion. Later on he brought a new copy which he had purchased and gave it to Mother.HEWBW 4.4

    She thanked him for it, and looked at it a few minutes without opening it, put it on a high shelf in a cupboard built in back of the stove and under the chimney support. There the book lay many days and several years.HEWBW 4.5

    In view of the fact that a careless statement has been made by one of our much loved teachers that Milton’s Paradise Lost was a favorite book of Sister White’s, and that she read it often, I think it is worthwhile to make this clear and full statement, and to add to the above, that I never saw Milton’s poem in her hand, and never saw her reading it. I never heard her refer to the book, except on one or two occasions, when she stated to visitors what I have related above, and said that she felt that she ought not to study what anyone else had written regarding the rebellion in heaven until she had written out very fully what had been revealed to her.HEWBW 4.6

    She preferred to be alone when she wrote, but in the winter and spring of 1862 and 1863, while she was writing Spiritual Gifts, Volume Three, and at the same time caring for me, I was allowed to play quietly in her room. I remember very well its scanty furnishings. Her big writing chair was the most prominent piece of furniture in the room. There was a little old bureau in which she kept her writings, some ordinary straight-back chairs, and a small set of book shelves in which were kept her Bible, Concordance, Bible Dictionary and a few other books.HEWBW 4.7

    Mother did most of her writing in the forenoon. Sometimes she wrote before breakfast, and usually she spent most of the afternoon sewing, knitting, or working in her flower garden. Sometimes she went shopping.HEWBW 5.1

    Sometimes after Mother had read to her husband an important personal testimony, the question would arise, “What shall we do with it? First of all, it must be sent to the person to whom the testimony is borne, and then because the instruction it contains which will be of service to many others, it must go to them. How shall we get it before them?” Often Mother would say, “I have done my part in writing out what God has revealed to me. You and your associates who are bearing the burden of labor for our people at large, must decide what use shall be made of it.”HEWBW 5.2

    In later years she spoke of these counsels with her brethren as follows:HEWBW 5.3

    “In the early days of this cause, if some of the leading brethren were present when messages from the Lord were given, we would consult with them as to the best manner of bringing the instruction before the people. Sometimes it was decided that certain portions would better not be read before a congregation. Sometimes those whose course was reproved would request that the matters pointing out their wrongs and dangers should be read before others, that they too, might be benefited.”—Writing and Sending Out of the Testimonies, p. 5.

    In the Autumn of 1863, Elder James White sold his home on Wood Street and bought an unfinished house and about an acre and a quarter of land on the northeast corner of Washington and Champion Streets. This house he occupied for many years. It had large rooms with good high ceilings, and Mother, who always felt the need of much fresh air and sunlight, was exceedingly thankful that she could live and work in a room 15 by 15 feet with a 10-foot ceiling.HEWBW 5.4

    As the years passed, and the number of believers increased, there was need of more books. The brethren called for the republication of the little books Spiritual Gifts that they had learned to love. But Sister White could not consent to this. Since their publication she had received subsequent visions in which the views were repeatedly given, with more details. Some of the additional revelations had been written out and published in articles in the Review, and in the Testimonies for the Church, Nos. 11-16, also some of the chapters used later in Spirit of Prophecy, Volumes One, Two, and Three.HEWBW 6.1

    The manner of the writing of the Ellen G. White books will be best understood if we relate somewhat in detail the manner in which the work on The Great Controversy and The Desire of Ages was accomplished.HEWBW 6.2

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