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Is Mrs. E.G. White a Plagiarist?

Healdsburg Enterprise

March 20, 1889


Editor's Note: This article appeared in the Healdsburg California newspaper in 1889. It is remarkable not so much for proving Ellen White to be a plagiarist, but for the fact that even back in the 1880s, when some would lead us to believe plagiarism was more accepted, we find Mrs. White condemned in a public forum for plagiarism. Also remarkable is Adventist leader Healey's comments about Mrs. White not reading widely and receiving her quotes from her visions. Enjoy...

Webster defines Plagiarist as follows:

"One that purloins the writings of another and puts them off as his own."
Plagiarism, according to the same authority, is:
"The act of purloining another man's literary works, or introducing passages from another man's writings and putting them off as one's own; literary theft. (Swift)" Italics our own.
We desire in this article to compare a few extracts from the following books: "History of the Sabbath," (Andrews); "Life of Wm. Miller," (White); "History of the Waldenses," (Wylie); "The Sanctuary" (Smith) and "History of the Reformation" (D'Aubigne), with corresponding extracts from Mrs. White's "Great Controversy," [Spirit of Prophecy] Vol. IV, in order to see if Mrs. White has "introduced passages from another man's writings and put them off as her own." If she has done this, then, according to Webster, Mrs. White is a plagiarist, a literary thief.

We do not claim that the following comparison is by any means complete, time and space have only permitted a partial examination; we doubt not that further search would reveal much more of the same character:

Great Controversy The Sanctuary
On the day of atonement the high priest, having taken an offering from the congregation, went into the most holy place with the blood of this general offering, and sprinkled it upon the mercy-seat, directly over the law, to make satisfaction for its claims. Then, in his character of mediator, he took the sins upon himself, and bore them from the sanctuary. Placing his hands upon the head of the scape-goat, he confessed over him all these sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and they were regarded as forever separated from the people. Such was the service performed "unto the example and shadow of heavenly things." And what was done in type in the ministration of the earthly sanctuary, is done in reality in the ministration of the heavenly sanctuary. {GC88 420.1} On the day of atonement the priest, taking an offering from the people, appeared with the blood of this general offering for the people, and sprinkled it upon the mercy-seat directly over the law, to make full satisfaction for its claims. Placing his hands upon the head of the scape-goat, he confessed over him all these sins, thus transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and they perished. . . . This was performed, says Paul unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. From this service, we are therefore, to reason concerning the ministration and cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven... (pp. 212-213)

Compare also pages 258-47, 263-202, 263-203, 263-204, 264-209, 264-210, 265-211.

Spirit of Prophecy IV History Waldenses
It was a law among them that all who entered the ministry should, before taking charge of a church at home, serve three years in the missionary field. As the hands of the men of God were laid upon their heads, the youth saw before them, not the prospect of earthly wealth or glory, but possibly a martyr's fate. The missionaries began their labors in the plains and valleys at the foot of their own mountains, going forth two and two, as Jesus sent out his disciples. ...they concealed their real character under the guise of some secular profession, most commonly that of merchants or peddlers. They offered for sale silks, jewelry, and other valuable articles, and were received as merchants where they would have been repulsed as missionaries. All the while their hearts were uplifted to God for wisdom to present a treasure more precious than gold or gems. They carried about with them portions of the Holy Scriptures concealed in their clothing or merchandise, and whenever they could do so with safety, they called the attention of the inmates of the dwelling to these manuscripts. When they saw that an interest was awakened, they left some portion with them as a gift. p. 76 It was an old law among them that all who took orders in their church should, before being eligible for a home charge, serve three years in a mission field. The youth on whose head the assembled barbes laid their hands saw the prospect not of rich beneficence, but a possible martyrdom. The ocean they did not cross. Their mission field was the realms that lay outspread at the foot of their own mountains. They went forth two and two, concealing their real character under the guise of a secular profession, most commonly that of merchants or peddlers. They carried silks, jewelry, and other articles, at that time not easily purchasable save at distant markets, and they were welcomed as merchants where they would have been spurned as missionaries. ... They took care to carry with them, concealed among their wares or about their persons, portions of the Word of God, their own transcription commonly, and to this they would draw the attention of the inmates. When they saw a desire to possess it, they would freely make a gift of it where the means of purchase were absent. (pp. 15-16)

Compare also the following pages, 70-3, 75-15, 77-16, 83-27, 83-28.

Spirit of Prophecy IV Life of Miller
He found in his former belief no assurance of happiness beyond the grave. The future was dark and gloomy. pp. 202-4.

He was not then prepared to answer them; but he reasoned, that if the Bible is a revelation from God, it must be consistent with itself; and that as it was given for man's instruction, it must be adapted to his understanding. p. 204.

Endeavoring to lay aside all preconceived opinions, and dispensing with commentaries, he compared scripture with scripture by the aid of the marginal references and the concordance.

Beginning with Genesis, and reading verse by verse, he proceeded no faster than the meaning of the several passages so unfolded as to leave him free from all embarrassment. When he found anything obscure, it was his custom to compare it with every other text which seemed to have any reference to the matter under consideration. Every word was permitted to have its proper bearing upon the subject of the text, and if his view of it harmonized with every collateral passage, it ceased to be a difficulty. p. 205.

He found that his former views gave him no assurance of happiness beyond the present life. Beyond the grave, all was dark and gloomy. (p. 12)

He was not then prepared to answer them; but he reasoned that if the Bible is a revelation from God, it must be consistent with itself; and that as it was given for man's instruction, it must be adapted to his understanding. (p. 46)

He laid aside all commentaries and used the marginal references and his concordance as his only helps. (pp. 46-47)
"I commenced with Genesis, and read verse by verse, proceeding no faster than the meaning of the several passages should be so unfolded as to leave me free from embarrassment respecting any mysticisms or contradictions. Whenever I found anything obscure, my practice was to compare it with all collateral passages; and, by the help of Cruden, I examined all the texts of Scripture in which were found any of the prominent words contained in any obscure portion. Then, by letting every word have its proper bearing on the subject of the text, if my view of it harmonized with every collateral passage in the Bible, it ceased to be a difficulty." pp. 47-48.

Parts of the following pages are also strikingly similar: 206-65, 206-66-7, 207-68, 207-72, 207-73.

As the passages in the "Great Controversy," Vol. IV and Andrews' "History of the Sabbath" have already been published it is not necessary to quote them again, so we simply give the pages: Compare pages: 57-369, 186-459, 181-480, 181-481-2, 183-494, 183-4-493-4, 184-494, 184-497, 183-497, 185-498 [Several lines unreadable]

Spirit of Prophecy IV D'Aubigne's History
Many called to mind the scene of our Saviour's trial, when Annas and Caiaphas, before the judgment-seat of Pilate, demanded the death of him "that perverted the people." p. 121.

The majority of the assembly were ready to sacrifice Luther... p. 123.

Many were reminded of Annas and Caiaphas going to Pilate's judgment-seat, and calling for the death of "this fellow who perverted the nation." (p. 225)

The majority of the princes were ready to sacrifice Luther... (p. 227)

Compare also the following pages: 91-30, 95-51, 96-54 (two passages), 99-67 (three passages), 121-220, 127-236, 127-239, 128-239, 128-240, 129-240, 129-241, 130-241, 131-243 (two passages), 132-244, 133-244-5 (two passages), 134-245, 135-245, 135-6-246, 188-247 (three passages), 130-249, 141-255, 141-256, 142-256, 144-310-11, 144-312, 142-312, 142-313, 142-314.

Elder Healey stated to the Committee that Mrs. White is not a reading woman--reads her bible to some extent, but little else. We would ask the observant reader to notice that, with unimportant exceptions, these passages quoted by Mrs. White are given in the same general, if not the exact order, in which they occur in the writings of the original authors. Her thoughts follow consecutively the thoughts of the authors. Witness: "Great Controversy" pages 202-3, 204, 205, 206, 207 with "Life of Miller" pages 42, 46, 47, 48, 65, 66, 68, 72 and 74. Frequently her words are exactly the same. Witness the following:

Spirit of Prophecy IV D'Aubigne's History
This bull invited all Catholics to take up the cross against the heretics. In order to stimulate them in this cruel work, it absolved them from all ecclesiastical pains and penalties, it released all who joined the crusade from any oaths they might have taken; it legalized their title to any property which they might have illegally acquired, and promised remission of all their sins to such as should kill any heretic. It annulled all contracts made in favor of the Vaudois, ordered their domestics to abandon them, forbade all persons to give them any aid whatever, and empowered all persons to take possession of their property. p. 83. The bull invited all Catholics to take up the cross against the heretics: and to stimulate them in this pious work, it absolved from all ecclesiastical pains and penalties, general and particulars; it released all who joined the crusade from any oaths they might have taken; it legitimized their title to any property they might have illegally acquired; and promised remission of all their sins to such as should kill any heretic. It annulled all contracts made in favor of the Vaudois, ordered their domestics to abandon them, forbade all persons to give them any aid whatever, and empowered all persons to take possession of their property. (p. 38)

Eld. Healy would have the Committee believe that she is not a reading woman! And also asked them to believe that the historic facts and even the quotations are given her in vision without depending on the ordinary sources of information!!

Observe that Wylie gives due credit when he quotes the papal bull and that Mrs. White does not. It certainly is noteworthy, to say the least, that Wylie, an uninspired writer, should be more honest in this particular than Mrs. White, who claims that all historic facts and even the quotations are given her in vision. Probably an instance of defective vision!

Now we ask, Would not any literary critic judging from the quotations adduced and a comparison of the passages indicated from the quotations indicated, conclude that Mrs. White in writing her "Great Controversy," Vol. IV had before her the open books and from them took both ideas and words? We ask the candid reader if we have sustained our position. Does she not stand convicted of "introducing passages from another man's writings and putting them as her own"? If so, we have proved the point at issue, and, according to Webster, Mrs. White is a plagiarist, a literary thief.


ELDER CANRIGHT'S PLAGIARISM.

To palliate Mrs. White's plagiarisms, the Adventists now accuse me of the same thing. Answer: 1. Suppose this charge is true, how does that justify Mrs. White? 2. She claims to be inspired. I don't. 3. She claims to get her matter and ideas directly from God. I don't. Her plagiarisms prove her deception and upset the whole Advent church. 4. Twenty-five years ago Eld. Hull, Adventist, compiled a pamphlet entitled, "Bible from Heaven." Afterwards he left the Adventists and became a Spiritualist, as many of them do. That killed his book, which was published and owned by the Adventists. Eld. White requested me to revise the book for them, which I did. Hull's name was left out of the book, as his present position would injure its sale. I claimed no originality in the book. All knew it was only a revision of an old book. It is largely a quotation from other authors, any way, and the authors are given in the book. So was Hull's edition. If I stole the matter in the book, Elder White, Loughborough and all knew all about it, and are as guilty as myself, for they hired me to do it, they published it, own it and sell it now. "Let facts be submitted to a candid public." Gentlemen try again.

D. M. CANRIGHT.
ST. HELENA, Cal., March 14, 1889.


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