Section Two

How the Writings Were Prepared


"If God reproves His people through an individual He does not leave the one corrected to guess at matters and the message to become corrupted in reaching the person it is designed to correct. God gives the message and then takes especial care that it is not corrupted."Letter 8, 1860.

The charge is being made that Ellen White did not write most of her own books, and those she did write were radically changed by others.

What are the facts in the case?

In this chapter we shall learn that Ellen White fiercely defended her writings from encroachment by would-be rewriters, that God warned her in one instance in which it was attempted, that she was guided to set up and oversee a very careful proofing arrangement, which she continually checked on.

A theory which weakens peoples faith in even part of the Spirit of Prophecy deserves to be examined very carefully. Were we not warned that such attacks would be made? Ellen White warned that Satan would work, through different means, to undermine faith in those books.

"Satan is . . constantly pressing in the spuriousto lead away from the truth. The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of Gods remnant people in the true testimony."Letter 12, 1890.

A letter recently received from a friend says it well:

"My first question was, Did Ellen White say that it is true that others changed her writings? I have been told that she supposedly said this to someone who supposedly said it to someone else. But in spite of requesting the statement again and again, no one has been able to produce anything from her pen saying that any unauthorized changes were being made, other than a few by Fannie Bolton, which we will discuss in more detail later in this study.

"To my mind, this is very significant. Ellen White certainly had no problem with speaking out, even in most forceful manner to the top men of the organization. She reproved General Conference presidents again and again. Was she too shy or frightened to protest her own writings being adulterated? Or did she not know? Did she never read what they printed? Did the God who revealed so many secrets to her, fail to reveal to her that others were undermining her writings?

"Why do we think that we have an accurate Bible today? We have no original documents, only copies of copies. But we believe that the God who inspired the Bible has been able to preserve it for us for the last two thousand years without any change of serious significance. If that is the case, and the Spirit of Prophecy is the inspired Word of God also, has He been unable to preserve it for us for even one hundred fifty years?

"One thing that is causing confusion is a lack of understanding about how inspiration works. If God gives the prophet the exact words that he is to write or speak, then not even the prophet has the right to change a word.

"But if God gives the prophet the idea to be expressed, and the prophet states that idea in his own words, then the prophet would have the right to change the words (or have someone else correct the grammar of the sentence, with the prophets final approval), in order to express the idea more perfectly."

That provides a fitting introduction for this section. Let us turn our attention to this question of the type of inspiration which the prophet received.



Ellen White received complete Inspiration, equal in every way to that received by the Bible Writers. There is no such thing as halfway Inspiration. But how does this Inspiration operate?

In the life and writings of Ellen White, we have before us a laboratory in which to study how divine Inspiration worked in all the prophets which God inspired.

It is clear from reading the Spirit of Prophecy writings, and the Bible as well, that thought Inspiration was the method used. The message is given to the prophet, and he then writes it in his own words.

This is clearly shown in the differences to be found in the four Gospels. It is also evident in the fact that different prophets wrote in different ways and emphasized different things. The concept of thought Inspiration is clearly stated in both the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy.

"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."2 Peter 1:21.

"Although I am as dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord in writing my views as I am in receiving them, yet the words I employ in describing what I have seen are my own, unless they be those spoken to me by an angel, which I always enclose in marks of quotation."Review, October 8, 1867.

"One writer is more strongly impressed with one phase of the subject; he grasps those points that harmonize with his experience or with his power of perception and appreciation; another seizes upon a different phase; and each, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, presents what is most forcibly impressed upon his own minda different aspect of the truth in each, but a perfect harmony through all."Great Controversy, Introduction, vi.

"After I come out of vision I do not at once remember all that I have seen, and the matter is not so clear before me until I write, then the scene rises before me as was presented in vision, and I can write with freedom. Sometimes the things which I have seen are hid from me after I come out of vision, and I cannot call them to mind until I am brought before a company where the vision applies, then the things which I have seen come to my mind with force.

"I am just as dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord in relating or writing the vision as in having the vision. It is impossible for me to call up things which have been shown me unless the Lord brings them before me at the time that He is pleased to have me relate or write them."2 Spiritual Gifts, 292-293.

"I am exceedingly anxious to use words that will not give anyone a chance to sustain erroneous sentiments. I must use words that will not be misconstrued and made to mean the opposite of that which they were designed to mean."Manuscript 126, 1905.

"Human minds vary. The minds of different education and thought receive different impressions of the same words, and it is difficult for one mind to give to one of a different temperament, education, and habits of thought by language exactly the same idea as that which is clear and distinct in his own mind. Yet to honest men, right-minded men, he can be so simple and plain as to convey his meaning for all practical purposes. If the man he communicates with is not honest and will not want to see and understand the truth, he will turn his words and language in everything to suit his own purposes. He will misconstrue his words, play upon his imagination, wrest them from their true meaning, and then entrench himself in unbelief, claiming that the sentiments are all wrong.

"This is the way my writings are treated by those who wish to misunderstand and pervert them. They turn the truth of God into a lie. In the very same way that they treat the writings in my published articles and in my books, so do skeptics and infidels treat the Bible. They read it according to their desire to pervert, to misapply, to willfully wrest the utterances from their true meaning. They declare that the Bible can prove anything and everything, that every sect proves their doctrines right, and that the most diverse doctrines are proved from the Bible.

"The writers of the Bible had to express their ideas in human language. It was written by human men. These men were inspired of the Holy Spirit. Because of the imperfections of human understanding of language, or the perversity of the human mind, ingenious in evading truth, many read and understand the Bible to please themselves. It is not that the difficulty is in the Bible. Opposing politicians argue points of law in the statute book, and take opposite views in their application and in these laws.

"The Scriptures were given to men, not in a continuous chain of unbroken utterances, but piece by piece through successive generations, as God in His providence saw a fitting opportunity to impress man at sundry times and divers places. Men wrote as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost. There is first the bud, then the blossom, and next the fruit, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. This is exactly what the Bible utterances are to us.

"There is not always perfect order or apparent unity in the Scriptures. The miracles of Christ are not given in exact order, but are given just as the circumstances occurred, which called for this divine revealing of the power of Christ. The truths of the Bible are as pearls hidden. They must be searched, dug out by painstaking effort. Those who take only a surface view of the Scriptures will, with their superficial knowledge, which they think is very deep, talk of the contradictions of the Bible and question the authority of the Scriptures. But those whose hearts are in harmony with truth and duty will search the Scriptures with a heart prepared to receive divine impressions. The illuminated soul sees a spiritual unity, one grand golden thread running through the whole, but it requires patience, thought, and prayer to trace out the precious golden thread. Sharp contentions over the Bible have led to investigation and revealed the precious jewels of truth. Many tears have been shed, many prayers offered, that the Lord would open the understanding to His Word.

"The Bible is not given to us in grand superhuman language. Jesus, in order to reach man where he is, took humanity. The Bible must be given in the language of men. Everything that is human is imperfect. Different meanings are expressed by the same word; there is not one word for each distinct idea. The Bible was given for practical purposes.

"The stamps of minds are different. All do not understand expressions and statements alike. Some understand the statements of the Scriptures to suit their own particular minds and cases. Prepossessions, prejudices, and passions have a strong influence to darken the understanding and confuse the mind even in reading the words of Holy Writ.

"The disciples traveling to Emmaus needed to be disentangled in their interpretation of the Scriptures. Jesus walked with them disguised, and as a man He talked with them. Beginning at Moses and the prophets He taught them in all things concerning Himself, that His life, His mission, His sufferings, His death were just as the Word of God had foretold. He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures. How quickly He straightened out the tangled ends and showed the unity and divine verity of the Scriptures. How much men in these times need their understanding opened.

"The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not Gods mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the Bible. The writers of the Bible were Gods penmen, not His pen. Look at the different writers.

"It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the mans words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the Word of God."Manuscript 24, 1886 (1 Selected Messages, 19-21).

"There is variety in a tree, there are scarcely two leaves just alike. Yet this variety adds to the perfection of the tree as a whole.

"In our Bible, we might ask, Why need Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Gospels? Why need the Acts of the Apostles, and the variety of writers in the Epistles, go over the same thing?

"The Lord gave His Word in just the way He wanted it to come. He gave it through different writers, each having his own individuality, though going over the same history. Their testimonies are brought together in one Book, and are like the testimonies in a social meeting. They do not represent things in just the same style. Each has an experience of his own, and this diversity broadens and deepens the knowledge that is brought out to meet the necessities of varied minds. The thoughts expressed have not a set uniformity, as if cast in an iron mold, making the very hearing monotonous. In such uniformity there would be a loss of grace and distinctive beauty . .

"The Creator of all ideas may impress different minds with the same thought, but each may express it in a different way, yet without contradiction. The fact that this difference exists should not perplex or confuse us. It is seldom that two persons will view and express truth in the very same way. Each dwells on particular points which his constitution and education have fitted him to appreciate. The sunlight falling upon the different objects gives those objects a different hue.

"Through the inspiration of His Spirit the Lord gave His apostles truth, to be expressed according to the development of their minds by the Holy Spirit. But the mind is not cramped, as if forced into a certain mold."Letter 53, 1900 (1 Selected Messages, 21-22).

"The Lord speaks to human beings in imperfect speech, in order that the degenerate senses, the dull, earthly perception, of earthly beings may comprehend His words. Thus is shown Gods condescension. He meets fallen human beings where they are. The Bible, perfect as it is in its simplicity, does not answer to the great ideas of God; for infinite ideas cannot be perfectly embodied in finite vehicles of thought. Instead of the expressions of the Bible being exaggerated, as many people suppose, the strong expressions break down before the magnificence of the thought, though the penman selected the most expressive language through which to convey the truths of higher education. Sinful beings can only bear to look upon a shadow of the brightness of heavens glory."Letter 121, 1901 (1 Selected Messages, 22).

"I saw" and "I was shone" are key phrases in the Spirit of Prophecy. Rarely does Ellen White say that the words she is to write are actually dictated to her. The pattern was general thought inspiration, but not word inspiration.

For a number of "I saw" statements, read Early Writings again. Here are several examples of "I was shone."

"In the view given me in Rochester, New York, December 25, 1865, I was shown that the subject of taking usury should be considered by Sabbathkeepers."1 testimonies, 534.

"November 5, 1862, I was shown the condition of Brother Hull. He was in an alarming state."1 Testimonies, 426.

"June 5, 1863, I was shown that Satan is ever at work to dishearten and lead astray ministers whom God has chosen to preach the truth."1 Testimonies, 449.

"I was shown that Sabbathkeepers as a people labor too hard without allowing themselves change or periods of rest."1 Testimonies, 514.

"In the vision given me in Rochester, New York, December 25, 1865, I was shown that our Sabbathkeeping people have been negligent in acting upon the light which God has given in regard to health reform."1 Testimonies, 485.

Thought inspiration was clearly the method used. We will conclude our discussion of this here. But, in the quotations given throughout the remainder of this chapter, you will note that thought inspiration is frequently implied.

Arthur L. White comments on how Ellen White wrote the concepts provided her in vision.

"The matters revealed to Mrs. White in vision were not usually a word-for-word narration of events with their lessons. They were generally in the nature of rapidly appearing scenes or great panoramic views of various experiences of men, sometimes in the past, sometimes in the future. These views were in many instances accompanied by spoken instruction. At times, the actions and conversations of men in groups, or of churches, of conferences, and of multitudes were revealed to her, with a clear perception of their purposes, aims, and motives. Often divine instruction was given to her regarding the meaning and the use to be made of what was thus revealed.

"When the time came to write out these revelations, Mrs. White would endeavor to trace in human language that which had been opened before her in these heavenly views. No supernatural force took mechanical control of her hand, and guided in the words which she wrote, and very rarely were the exact words which she should use dictated by the heavenly messenger at her side."A. L. White, Messenger to the Remnant, 59-60.



"Her first book, Experience and Views, published in 1851, was largely a collection of visions which had been previously published in broadsides and periodical articles. The books that followed during the next three decades were written chapter by chapter in their natural development of subject matter.

"Those published during the last half of Ellen Whites ministry were comprised of matter currently written and materials drawn from the reservoir of her writingsperiodical articles, early books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and letters. To all these Mrs. White added pertinent passages enriching and rounding out the presentation for the forthcoming book. Thus in her later life she made much use of her earlier writings."T. H. Jemison, A Prophet Among You, 335.

There were five different ways in which Ellen White was given a basis for what she wrote in her letters, articles, and books.

1 - Sometimes the written material was a direct account of a single vision. This is especially noticeable in her "I saw" passages.

"August 24, 1850, I saw . ."Early Writings, 59.

2 - At times a composite account of several visions is given.

"From time to time I have been permitted to behold . ."Great Controversy, Introduction, x.

3 - There were times when she told some of the information given in a vision, without relating the vision itself.

"In the night of March 2, 1907, many things were revealed to me regarding the value of our publications . ."9 Testimonies, 65.

4 - Then there were those instances in which she gave information gleaned from a number of visions.

"In other cases, where individuals have claimed to have messages for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, of a similar character, the word has been given me, Believe them not. "Letter 16, 1893.

5 - On occasion, light was given which could be given to various individuals as the need arose.

"God has given me a testimony of reproof for parents who treat their children as you do your little ones."Letter 1, 1877.

From his study into this, T. H. Jemison makes this comment:

"At times Ellen White did record specifically revealed words, but generally she described events as they passed rapidly before her, showing scenes of the past and present, and sometimes the future. Frequently words of instruction were spoken in connection with these views. At times she was taken in vision into homes, committee meetings, churches, councils, and conferences. In some of these instances, not only were the actions and words of individuals and groups revealed to her, but also the motives behind their words and actions.

"When she wrote out what had been shown her, Ellen White endeavored to describe in the best manner of which she was capable the things she had seen and heard. Though at times she quoted exactly what she had heard, the writing was not mechanical, nor were the specific words of the complete record dictated. For the most part, the words used were her own, as was true in the case of the Bible writers. God made use of the messengers background, education, and experience in bringing to His people the revelation He wanted them to have."T. H. Jemison, A Prophet Among You, 333.

In the Introduction to Great Controversy, Ellen White described how she prepared that book. She here relates the detailed process by which she was given overarching information in visions, found confirmatory historical data, and then put it all together.

"As the Spirit of God has opened to my mind the great truths of His Word, and the scenes of the past and the future, I have been bidden to make known to others what has thus been revealed,to trace the history of the controversy in past ages, and especially to so present it as to shed a light on the fast-approaching struggle of the future. In pursuance of this purpose, I have endeavored to select and group together events in the history of the church in such a manner as to trace the unfolding of the great testing truths that at different periods have been given to the world, that have excited the wrath of Satan and the enmity of a world-loving church, and that have been maintained by the witness of those who loved not their lives unto the death . .

"The great events which have marked the progress of reform in past ages, are matters of history, well known and universally acknowledged by the Protestant world; they are facts which none can gainsay. This history I have presented briefly, in accordance with the scope of the book, and the brevity which must necessarily be observed, the facts having been condensed into as little space as seemed consistent with a proper understanding of their application. In some cases where a historian has so grouped together events as to afford, in brief, a comprehensive view of the subject or has summarized details in a convenient manner, his words have been quoted; but except in a few instances no specific credit has been given, since they are not quoted for the purpose of citing that writer as authority, but because his statement affords a ready and forcible presentation of the subject. In narrating the experience and views of those carrying forward the work of reform in our own time, similar use has been made of their published works.

"It is not so much the object of this book to present new truths concerning the struggles of former times, as to bring out facts and principles which have a bearing upon coming events. Yet viewed as a part of the controversy between the forces of light and darkness, all these records of the past are seen to have a new significance; and through them a light is cast upon the future, illumining the pathway of those who, like the reformers of past ages, will be called, even at the peril of all earthly good, to witness for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. "Great Controversy, Authors Introduction, vi-vii.

When Ellen White wrote Spiritual Gifts, Volume 2, it was an account of her own experiences. She wrote about how she had done this.

"In preparing the following pages, I have labored under great disadvantages, as I have had to depend in many instances on memory, having kept no journal till within a few years. In several instances I have sent the manuscripts to friends who were present when the circumstances related occurred, for their examination before they were put in print. I have taken great care, and have spent much time, in endeavoring to state the simple facts as correctly as possible. I have, however, been much assisted in arriving at dates by the many letters which I wrote."Preface, 2 Spiritual Gifts.

In the appendix to the first 400 copies of that book which were printed, she wrote these words:

"A special request is made that if any find incorrect statements in this book they will immediately inform me. The edition will be completed about the first of October; therefore send before that time. Ellen White."

It is an intriguing fact that, throughout her entire life, Ellen White was very open and candid about her writings. She never made false, exaggerated claims, nor did she attempt to hide her deficiencies. Her life reflected the truthfulness found in her writings.



Ellen White did not have much formal education. Especially at first, her English was not very polished and she needed others to correct the grammar in her writings. This work was first done by James White, and later by others. With the passing of years she improved in writing ability. Yet there were always some corrections to be made. These she authorized; and, when they were completed, she read over and approved.

On one occasion, she wrote this:

"This morning I take into candid consideration my writings. My husband is too feeble to help me prepare them for the printer, therefore I shall do no more with them at present. I am not a scholar. I cannot prepare my own writings for the press. Until I can do this I shall write no more. It is not my duty to tax others with my manuscript."Manuscript 3, 1873 (Diary January 10, 1873).

Later she explained:

"While my husband lived, he acted as a helper and counselor in the sending out of the messages that were given to me. We traveled extensively. Sometimes light would be given to me in the night season, sometimes in the daytime before large congregations. The instruction I received in vision was faithfully written out by me, as I had time and strength for the work. Afterward we examined the matter together, my husband correcting grammatical errors and eliminating needless repetition. Then it was carefully copied for the persons addressed, or for the printer.

"As the work grew, others assisted me in the preparation of matter for publication. After my husbands death, faithful helpers joined me, who labored untiringly in the work of copying the testimonies and preparing articles for publication.

"But the reports that are circulated, that any of my helpers are permitted to add matter or change the meaning of the messages I write out, are not true."Letter 225, 1906 (3 Selected Messages, 89).

Arthur L. White, Ellen Whites grandson, recalls what his father, William C. White, told him:

"It was ever a source of regret to Mrs. White that her schooling had been very brief, and her knowledge of the technical rules of writing were therefore limited. W. C. White says he clearly remembers the earlier years of her work in Battle Creek, when James White, on coming home from the Review and Herald office, would be asked to listen to what Mrs. White had written, and to help her in preparing it technically for publication. Then, as she read to him, he would comment on the matter . . and would point out weaknesses in composition and faulty grammar."A. L. White, Messenger to the Remnant, 60.

When she was preparing the Testimonies, she wrote:

"During the last nine years, from 1855 to 1864, I have written ten small pamphlets, entitled, Testimony for the Church, which have been published and circulated among Seventh-day Adventists. The first edition of most of these pamphlets being exhausted, and there being an increasing demand for them, it has been thought best to re-print them, as given in the following pages, omitting local and personal matters and giving those portions only which are of practical and general interest and importance. Most of Testimony No. 4 may be found in the second volume of Spiritual Gifts, hence, it is omitted in this volume."3 Selected Messages, 95.

She said that God had instructed her to publish papers and books in the original, rough form, and then polish them later:

"I wish to state some matters, which you can do what you please with. These statements you have heard me make beforethat I was shown years ago that we should not delay publishing the important light given me because I could not prepare the matter perfectly. My husband was at times very sick, unable to give me the help that I should have had and that he could have given me had he been in health. On this account I delayed putting before the people that which has been given me in vision.

"But I was shown that I should present before the people in the best manner possible the light received; then as I received greater light, and as I used the talent God had given me, I should have increased ability to use in writing and in speaking. I was to improve everything, as far as possible bringing it to perfection, that it might be accepted by intelligent minds."3 Selected Messages, 96-97.

When she was not pressed by many duties, Ellen White wrote more slowly and carefully. But at other times, she wrote more hurriedly.

"Regarding the handwritten manuscripts that came from her pen, her literary secretaries say that they varied markedly in literary perfection. Usually the original manuscripts written when she was not burdened with travel and preaching, or full of anxieties connected with the conditions of the church, were found to be beautiful, forceful, eloquent in expression, and with very few grammatical imperfections. But not a few of the original manuscripts were written hurriedly when she was perplexed by cares and burdens, laboring under the feeling that the manuscript must be completed quickly. At such times she paid little attention to the rules of punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. There was much repetition and faulty grammatical construction. She expected that these matters would be corrected by the copyist."A. L. White, Messenger to the Remnant, 60.

After the manuscripts were prepared, she read them over:

"I read over all that is copied, to see that everything is as it should be. I read all the book manuscript before it is sent to the printer. So you can see that my time must be fully occupied. Besides writing, I am called upon to speak to the different churches and to attend important meetings. I could not do this work unless the Lord helped me."Letter 133, 1902.

Prior to the early 1880s, Ellen White did not always have someone living with her who could care for the grammatical proofing of her writings. At such times, the publishing house had to do it. But, each time, they sent the galley proofs back to her for her careful reading prior to final printing.

Here is an example of one time in which she said not to send the proofs back. The book she was referring to was the 1880 edition of Life Sketches. At the time, she was traveling in the Far West.

"We have decided to have the printers [at the Review and Herald office in Battle Creek] go on my book and not transport these books across the plains again. Part of the book is here already printed. We shall not have them stereotyped [which would make changes impossible], because we shall not wait to have matters of my book so very, very exact, but get out this first edition and get it in market. Then we can take time to get out a more perfect edition on Pacific Coast and have [it] stereotyped. Then your fathers and my life will be written and printed in the Pacific Printing Office. But we have all used our best judgment and think we had better remain here [in Battle Creek] till December and complete this edition."Letter 45, 1876.



It was due to Ellen Whites ongoing concern, that her writings be corrected for grammar and punctuation prior to publication, that she urged the leaders to take action to eliminate the grammatical flaws in her earlier written testimonies, prior to being reprinted in larger volumes.

In accordance with her wishes, a decision to do this was made by church leaders in November 1883. At the time, most of her earlier publications primarily consisted of 30 booklets, called Testimonies. So, at her request, those earlier publications were carefully proofed for grammatical errors. They were then printed in the format in which we are acquainted with them: Testimonies for the Church, Volumes 1 through 4. These came off the press in 1885.

At the urging of Ellen, a committee action was taken to carry out this proofing of those earlier testimonies, prior to reprinting them in four larger volumes.

This committee action has not at all been hidden by the E. G. White Estate, for there is nothing to hide.

"In 1883, when considering the reprinting of the early published testimonies, the General Conference set forth these principles, and went on record as favoring the republication of the Testimonies with such grammatical and verbal corrections as seemed necessary. We quote its actions as published in the Review and Herald for November 27, 1883."A. L. White, Messenger to the Remnant, 80.

Here is that committee action:

"32. WHEREAS, Some of the bound volumes of the Testimonies to the Church are out of print, so that full sets cannot be obtained at the office; and,

"WHEREAS, There is a constant and urgent call for the reprinting of these volumes; therefore,

"Resolved, That we recommend their republication in such a form as to make four volumes of seven or eight hundred pages each.

"33. WHEREAS, Many of these testimonies were written under the most unfavorable circumstances, the writer being too heavily pressed with anxiety and labor to devote critical thought to the grammatical perfection of the writings, and they were printed in such haste as to allow these imperfections to pass uncorrected; and,

"WHEREAS, We believe the light given by God to His servants is by the enlightenment of the mind, thus imparting the thoughts, and not (except in rare cases) the very words in which the ideas should be expressed; therefore,

"Resolved, That in the republication of these volumes, such verbal changes be made as to remove the above-named imperfections, as far as possible, without in any measure changing the thought."General Conference action, 1883, published in Review, November 27, 1883.

After that reprint publication project, of Testimonies, Volumes 1-4, was completed, Ellen White henceforth had her own helpers proof her writings prior to publication. However, the galleys (press proofs) which the Review ever corrected in the future were always sent to Ellen White for her careful inspection prior to publication.

Notice that the above 1883 decision applied only to the first four volumes of the Testimonies. One of the charges made by a leading "secret writers" critic of the Spirit of Prophecy books, is that the above 1883 action by the General Conference proves that church leaders changed the meaning of the first four volumes of the Testimonies.

Well, if that is so, where are the changes? We are talking about our present first four volumes of the Testimonies. Examine those books for yourself. Everything in there is solid. Within those pages, leadership is very, very often reprovedand in the strongest terms. We find nothing in those books excusing or flattering church leadership. Yet that is where we would find the concept changes, if any had been made.

Just as in the later volumes of the Testimonies, extremely strong criticisms of members and church leaders are to be found in Volumes 1 through 4.

That November 1883 General Conference decision was made by the General Conference at the urging of Ellen White. After the vote was taken to do it, on February 19, 1884, Ellen White wrote to Uriah Smith and once again urged that a most careful search for grammatical errors be made, prior to the republication of those old books.

"As far as possible every defect should be removed from all our publications. As the truth should unfold and become widespread, every care should be exercised to perfect the works published."Letter 11, 1884 (February 19, 1884; 3 Selected Messages, 97).

Here is more of this lengthy letter. Notice that she was quite aware that critics would make untrue charges, because grammatical corrections were made. But she said to do it anyway. Ellen White never compromised her principles, in order to please anyone.

"Now, Brother Smith, I have been making a careful, critical examination of the work that has been done on the Testimonies, and I see a few things that I think should be corrected in the matter brought before you and others at the General Conference [November, 1883]. But as I examine the matter more carefully I see less and less that is objectionable. Where the language used is not the best, I want it made correct and grammatical, as I believe it should be in every case where it can be without destroying the sense. This work is delayed, which does not please me . .

"My mind has been exercised upon the question of the Testimonies that have been revised. We have looked them over more critically. I cannot see the matter as my brethren see it. I think the changes will improve the book. If our enemies handle it, let them do so . . [This remark is because she was aware that others would criticize the fact that changes had been made.]

"I think that anything that shall go forth will be criticized, twisted, turned, and boggled, but we are to go forward with a clear conscience, doing what we can and leaving the result with God. We must not be long in delaying the work. Now, my brethren, what do you propose to do? I do not want this work dragging along any longer. I want something done, and done now. "Letter 11, 1884 (February 19, 1884).

Here is a comment by Ellen White about the preparation of one of the volumes of the Testimonies (Volume 6). She said that, prior to its publication, she carefully read the copy after it was proofed. But, she adds, she did omit details which would identify individuals who were still living. God instructed her that much of what she had written to certain individuals applied to many others in the church, and would be a benefit to all. But these things were not to be made public in a way to injure the individuals who had been addressed.

"I must select the most important matters for the Testimony (Volume 6) and then look over everything prepared for it, and be my own critic; for I would not be willing to have some things which are all truth to be published; because I fear that some would take advantage of them to hurt others.

"After the matter for the Testimony is prepared, every article must be read by me. I have to read them myself; for the sound of the voice in reading or singing is almost unendurable to me. I try to bring out general principles, and if I see a sentence which I fear would give someone excuse to injure someone else, I feel at perfect liberty to keep back the sentence, even though it is all perfectly true."Letter 32, 1901.


Ellen White always had someone to help improve the grammar and punctuation of her writings.

"In describing the preparation of an Ellen White book, no one procedure can be presented as a uniform plan that she followed through the seventy years of her ministry. Her first book, Experience and Views, published in 1851, was largely a collection of visions which had been previously published in broadsides and periodical articles. The books that followed during the next three decades were written chapter by chapter in their natural development of subject matter. Those published during the last half of Ellen Whites ministry were comprised of matter currently written and materials drawn from the reservoir of her writingsperiodical articles, early books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and letters. To all these Mrs. White added pertinent passages enriching and rounding out the presentation for the forthcoming book. Thus in her later life she made much use of her earlier writings.

"Ellen White said little about the preparation of her writings for publication before the death of her husband. She mentioned, as we have already noted, that he frequently assisted her, and that, in later years, because of the press of duties, others also were called upon for help. After the death of James White, however, helpers were regularly employed to aid in gathering from all her writings pertinent material to form articles for the papers and chapters for books."T. H. Jemison, A Prophet Among You, 335-336.

Ellen White described it this way:

"While my husband lived, he acted as a helper and counselor in the sending out of the messages that were given to me. We traveled extensively. Sometimes light would be given to me in the night season, sometimes in the daytime before large congregations. The instruction I received in vision was faithfully written out by me, as I had time and strength for the work. Afterward we examined the matter together, my husband correcting grammatical errors and eliminating needless repetition. Then it was carefully copied for the persons addressed, or for the printer.

"As the work grew, others assisted me in the preparation of matter for publication. After my husbands death, faithful helpers joined me, who labored untiringly in the work of copying the testimonies and preparing articles for publication.

"But the reports that are circulated, that any of my helpers are permitted to add matter or change the meaning of the messages I write out, are not true."Letter 225, 1906, published in 1913 in Writing and Sending Out of the Testimonies for the Church, 4 (Selected Messages, book 1, 50).

Ellen White was aware of her need for helpers to check over her writings for grammar and punctuation.

"This morning I take into candid consideration my writings. My husband is too feeble to help me prepare them for the printer, therefore I shall do no more with them at present. I am not a scholar. I cannot prepare my own writings for the press. Until I can do this I shall write no more. It is not my duty to tax others with my manuscript."Manuscript 3, 1873 (Diary January 10, 1873).

"We rested well last night. This Sabbath morning opens cloudy. My mind is coming to strange conclusions. I am thinking I must lay aside my writing I have taken so much pleasure in, and see if I cannot become a scholar. I am not a grammarian. I will try, if the Lord will help me, at forty-five years old to become a scholar in the science. God will help me. I believe He will."Manuscript 3, 1873 (Diary January 11, 1873).

"Now I must leave this subject so imperfectly presented that I fear you will misinterpret that which I feel so anxious to make plain. Oh, that God would quicken the understanding, for I am but a poor writer, and cannot with pen or voice express the great and deep mysteries of God. Oh, pray for yourselves, pray for me."Letter 67, 1894.

In a letter to Elder G. A. Irwin, Ellen White mentioned her ongoing need for helpers:

"I ought to have someone to whom I can read every article before sending it to the mail. This always helps the writer: for the writer, after reading the matter before one who is interested, often discerns more clearly what is wanted, and the slight changes that should be made."Ellen White Letter 76, 1897 (to Elder G. A. Irwin).

She was very firm in her position that she alone was to write the materials and check over that which her helpers corrected.

"My copyists you have seen. They do not change my language. It stands as I write it.

"My work has been in the field since 1845. Ever since then I have labored with pen and voice. Increased light has come to me as I have imparted the light given me. I have very much more light on the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which I shall present to our people."Letter 61a, 1900.

"I am still as active as ever. I am not in the least decrepit. I am able to do much work, writing and speaking as I did years ago.

"I read over all that is copied, to see that everything is as it should be. I read all the book manuscript before it is sent to the printer. So you can see that my time must be fully occupied. Besides writing, I am called upon to speak to the different churches and to attend important meetings. I could not do this work unless the Lord helped me."Letter 133, 1902.

D. E. Robinson, for many years a literary assistant, said this in 1933:

"In all good conscience I can testify that never was I presumptuous enough to venture to add any ideas of my own or to do other than follow with most scrupulous care the thoughts of the author."D. E. Robinson, statement, 1933, quoted in A. L. White, Messenger to the Remnant, 60.

In the following letter, Ellen White lists a number of her helpers:

"The Lord has given me other faithful helpers in my work. Many of my discourses have been reported, and have been put before the people in printed form. Through nearly the whole of my long experience I have endeavored, day by day, to write out that which was revealed to me in visions of the night. Many messages of counsel and reproof and encouragement have been sent out to individuals, and much of the instruction that I have received for the church has been published in periodicals and books, and circulated in many lands.

"As the work has grown, the number of my helpers has increased.

"Sister Marian Davis was a great help in copying my testimonies, and in preparing for publication the manuscripts which I placed in her hand. I appreciated her help very much. She now sleeps in Jesus.

"For eleven years Miss Maggie Hare was among my workers. She was a faithful and true helper. She returned to New Zealand. [She again connected with the work in 1911.]

"Recently Miss Minnie Hawkins, of Hobart, Tasmania, who was one of my copyists in Australia, has joined my staff of workers.

"During the General Conference of 1901, Brother C. C. Crisler was impressed by the Spirit of God that I needed him in my work, and he offered his services. I gladly accepted his help. He is a faithful, efficient, and conscientious worker.

"Dores Robinson has assisted in copying my testimonies, and he has been diligently preparing Life Incidents for publication.

"Helen Graham is a good stenographer, and helps Sister Sara McEnterfer and W. C. White in their work of correspondence.

"Sister Sarah Peck was my bookkeeper and helper for a number of years. She has left us to engage in schoolwork at College View. We now have as bookkeeper, Brother Paul C. Mason.

"Sister McEnterfer is my traveling companion, nurse, and helper in many ways.

"Sister Mary Steward and her mother are with us now; and Mary, who for many years has served as proofreader in the offices at Battle Creek and Nashville, has united with my workers.

"The work is constantly moving forward. We are making earnest efforts to place my writings before the people. We hope that several new books will go to press shortly. If I am incapacitated for labor, my faithful workers are prepared to carry forward the work.

"Abundant light has been given to our people in these last days. Whether or not my life is spared, my writings will constantly speak, and their work will go forward as long as time shall last. My writings are kept on file in the office, and even though I should not live, these words that have been given to me by the Lord will still have life and will speak to the people.""The Writing and Sending Out of the Testimonies to the Church."

Here are two statements by W. C. White on Ellen Whites use of helpers:

"Her copyists have been conscientious people and were faithful in following her instructions, that no change of thought and no additional thought should be brought into the work by them. And that there might not be any error through their misunderstanding of the manuscript or any change of thought through their grammatical corrections, she has faithfully examined the manuscripts again, and when the presentation was satisfactory to her, she gave it her approval, and not until then was it sent out as copy for the printer, or as a letter or manuscript to men, or groups of men for their instruction."W. C. White Letter, Ellen White Office Document File 52a.

"Mother writes very rapidly. She does much of her writing early in the morning. She often writes upon many subjects in one letter or manuscript, just as subject after subject is flashed upon her mind. These manuscripts she passes to one who is expert in reading her writing, to copy off on the typewriter, and then it is given back to Mother, and she examines it, making such corrections, changes, and additions as she sees fit. Then it is copied again, and sent out according to Mothers direction. Sometimes a long personal letter will contain matter which she wishes to use in a more general letter to be sent to a group of workers. Sometimes it contains material for an article for one of our periodicals, or a chapter in a book."W. C. White, "The Integrity of the Testimonies to the Church," November 25, 1905. Ellen White Publications Office Document File 107d.

Here is an additional clarifying statement on how Ellen White wrote:

"The manuscripts that came from the pen of Ellen White varied considerably in editorial perfection. When she wrote at a moderate speed, and not under undue pressure because of traveling, preaching, or other responsibilities, her work revealed good grammar, careful sentence structure, and comparative freedom from errors in spelling and punctuation. Haste in writing multiplied the minor errors, but it did not materially affect the flow of the language or the development of ideas. Repetitions crept in and at times thoughts were introduced which contained gems of truth, but which were not entirely relevant to the subject at hand. Again, there were instances when the transposition of a passage would add strength or lead to a more logical presentation. Under instruction from Mrs. White, her literary assistants were to make such changes as would, within the framework of her thoughts and words, render the passages grammatically and rhetorically correct. Nothing was added, and no thoughts were changed.

"After the suggested changes and copying were completed, the manuscript was returned to Ellen White for her additions, corrections, and approval. She reread carefully the whole of the matter, made her insertions, deletions, and revisions, and then turned it back to the copyist for the final draft to be made. The finished copy was then returned to her for reading, approval, and signature."T. H. Jemison, A Prophet Among You, 336-337.

"The larger part of the work of Ellen Whites assistants was not that of correcting errors in grammar and spelling. It lay rather in the field of gathering from her writings passages that would make suitable articles for the periodicals and chapters for books. Had Ellen White undertaken to perform this task herself, it would have meant that her time available for new writing would have been reduced so materially that it would not have been possible for her to discharge her responsibility in that line."Op. cit., 338.

The following statement was part of an address, given to the 1913 General Conference Session, by W. C. White. It provides a description of some of the ongoing work of Ellen Whites helpers.

"Our workers are now gathering together material for a new edition of Gospel Workers. We are also gathering into chapters what Mother has written on Old Testament history. Probably nine tenths of this work is already done, and we hope that the book may be published before Christmas. Some of this matter was about ready, we thought, to place in the printers hands, when Mother, upon going over some of the chapters, expressed herself as not fully satisfied. She thought there were other things she had written that we had not yet found, and she desired that these be searched out, if possible, and included. So we have laid the manuscript away in our fireproof vault, and after this Conference probably four different persons will spend six or eight weeks in reading through the thousands of pages of manuscript in the file to see if we can find the additional matter that she thinks is in existence.

"It would be comparatively easy to hasten along the preparation of these manuscripts for publication in book form, if we were to write in a little here and there where she has written only a portion of the story on certain topics and has left a portion incomplete. I say, if her secretaries were authorized by God to do that work, and could write in the connections, the book could be prepared for the printer much faster. But this cannot be done; we can deal only with the matter which we have in hand.

"For this reason, when you get the book on Old Testament history, you will find that there are some stories partly told, and not fully completed. You will find that there are many things you hoped to read about, that are not mentioned. Mother has written quite fully on Solomon, something on the divided monarchy, a little about Elijah and Elisha, quite fully about Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah; and we are gathering this and other matter and grouping it into chapters.

"You may say, What do you mean by this gathering? Did not Sister White sit down and write out quite fully and connectedly that which she had to say about the controversy, about Jeroboam and Rehoboam, about Jeremiah and Isaiah and other Old Testament characters?No; not on all the principal characters. Her life has been a busy one. She has been kept constantly at the front, speaking to the people, meeting emergencies. Some of the most precious things she has written about Old Testament and New Testament characters were written first in letters to individuals. Some of the most precious paragraphs in Desire of Ages, passages describing Christs controversies with the Pharisees and the Herodians, were written under circumstances like these:

"At Ashfield, New South Wales, Elder Corliss and some faithful helpers had been presenting the truth until there was a group of about thirty people keeping the Sabbath, ready to be baptized and organized into a church. The Campbellites could not bear to see that done. A bitter opponent came and challenged our brethren personally and through the papers. This was ignored as long as it could be. Finally, our friends, those in the truth, demanded that there be a discussion. So a discussion was arranged for.

"In the night season this matter was laid before Mother. She had never seen the Campbellite champion; but the man was shown to herhis spirit, his methods, his tactics. He had nothing to lose in that community; and it was presented to Mother that his plan would be to endeavor to irritate Elder Corliss, and get him to say things that would discredit him before the people who were embracing the truth.

"During the progress of that discussion, Mother wrote to Elder Corliss, stating that it had been presented to her that his opponent in the discussion would work on certain lines, and that he must take such a course as to disappoint the enemy. As she wrote these cautions, her memory would be revived as to what had been presented to her about the work of Christ, and how the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the Herodians had followed Him with accusations and question, endeavoring to discredit Him before the people.

"When we came to make up the chapters for Desire of Ages, we found in those letters the most vivid description of those experiences, that she had written anywhere. And we found other most precious passages that had been written first in letters to members of the General Conference Committee, and to conference presidents, regarding situations which were illustrated by the experiences of these Old and New Testament characters.

"Being written in this way, it takes much time to search through the writings and find these passages, and bring them together into manuscripts. After these are gathered, and grouped into chapter form, the manuscript is always submitted to Mother. She reads it over carefully. Up to the present time every chapter of every book, and all the articles for our periodicalsunless they happen to be reprintshave passed through her hands, and have been read over by her. Sometimes she interlines; sometimes she adds much matter; sometimes she says, Cannot you find more on this subject? And then, when more has been found, and added, the manuscript is recopied, and handed back to her again for examination. And when she finally signs it and returns it to us we are permitted to send it out."W. C. White, General Conference Bulletin, June 1, 1913.

Here is an interesting comment by one who did careful research into the Ellen White books:

"Despite the change of helpers through the years, the books consistently display the individuality of the author. Always there appears the firm grasp of Bible thought and language, the facility of expression, the colorful phrase, the persistent but winsome appeal. The early letters which had no benefit of the reading and suggestions of others are of the same character as those of later years."T. H. Jemison, A Prophet Among You, 348.

At times, Ellen White was traveling in Australia while her helpers, back at the office (also in Australia), were gathering material from her writings which could be used by her, on her return, in writing Desire of Ages. Here are some of the letters Marian Davis sent at that time:

"Now about the book. I am so glad you are writing on the two journeys to Galilee. I was so afraid you would not bring that out. Shall hope to receive something from you before long."Marian Davis to Ellen White, August 2, 1895.

"Oh, when I see how we seem to be in the circles of a whirlpool, that is sweeping us faster and faster toward the great consummation, I do long to see this book go out, to reveal Christ to the people as He is, in His beauty . . I shall be so glad when we can talk over the work. So many points come up, that I want to ask about . . I will send you a few more chapters soon . . I am real anxious to get some chapters finished and some gaps filled."Marian Davis to Ellen White, October 18, 1895.

"We sent the letter for Sydney workers to Brother __. It was so good. I must keep all the general for my scrapbooks. Of late I have been using the matter gleaned from late letters, testimonies, etc. Have found some of the most precious things, some in those letters to Elder Corliss. They have been to me like a storehouse of treasures. Theres something in these personal testimonies that are written under deep feeling, that comes close to the heart. It seems to me the things gathered in this way give a power and significance to the book that nothing else does."Marian Davis to Ellen White, November 25, 1895.

In the following letter, Marian describes how she found a gem in one of Ellen Whites earlier letters; this fit so well into one of Marians "scrapbooks," which were collections of earlier Spirit of Prophecy writings. Ellen White would then work this over and transform it into a completed book.

"The article I send, No Reward but of Grace, the parable of the laborers, is the last of the matter that was prepared for the book . . The last paragraphs seem to me very precious . . A few sentences you will recognize as from a letter lately written, The golden gate is not opened to the proud in spirit, but the everlasting portals will open wide to the trembling touch of a little child. "Marian Davis to Ellen White, March 10, 1898.

The above sentence is in Christs Object Lessons, page 404. It was originally written by Ellen White in a letter to Mrs. Wessels of Africa, dated February 21, 1898.

Here is the remainder of the above letter:

"You left me a manuscript on the Unjust Steward, and I have been collecting material to complete this, and have found some precious things to add to the closing chapters of the life of Christ. Of course I cannot complete the chapters (the last two) until I receive what you write on the ministry of healing.

"When the Unjust Steward is done, I shall have finished all I can do on the parable book, until I hear from you."Marian Davis to Ellen White, March 10, 1898.

After the completed copy for Desire of Ages had been finished and sent to Pacific Press for publication, Marian found more excellent material, culled from earlier Spirit of Prophecy letters.

This was included in the published book (on pages 86-87).

"I have been gathering out the precious things from those new manuscripts on the early life of Jesus. Sent a number of new pages to California by the Vancouver mail, and shall send more for later chapters by the next mail. Two of these articles on Christs missionary work I let Brother James have to read in church. Last Sabbath he read the one which speaks of the Saviours denying Himself of food to give to the poor. These things are unspeakably precious. I hope it is not too late to get them into the book. It has been a feast to work on this matter."Marian Davis to Ellen White, March 1, 1898.

Continue part 2