Great Controversy Notes

Chapters 39, 40, The Time of Trouble, God's People Delivered, Pages 613-652 (Spirit of Prophecy, Volume 4, Chapters 34, 35, Pages 431-469)

by Walter Rea

These two chapters in the story of Ellen White's "Great Controversy" add nothing new that has not come before by others. Chapter 39 uses 74 Bible texts in its 22 pages, while chapter 40 uses 53 texts in its 17 pages. In addition there is liberal use of J. N. Andrews articles in the 1851-1852 articles of the "Review and Herald". Uriah Smith another editor of the same journal, also added much from his book, "Thoughts Critical and Practical on the Book of Revelation", printed in 1865, many years before Ellen had taken up her pen in any serious effort to paint her picture. (See pages 295 and on). One of the interesting features of the two chapters is that Ellen's husband, James White had written on "The Seven Last Plagues", "The Voice of God", "The Time of Trouble", "The Time of Jacob's Trouble" and "Thoughts on Revelation 14", all subjects dwelt upon in the two chapters of "Great Controversy" under consideration. He had done this in 1847 in his "Word to the Little Flock".

However, the interesting part of these two chapters have to do with another writer, not an editor of the "Review", not an S.D.A., but a preacher of another persuasion. Daniel March, in his "Night, Scenes in the Bible", a book listed in Ellen's library readings and acknowledged by her as having special attraction, was the "inspiration" for some of the 'goodies' of chapter 39 and 40. This study is for the purpose of showing how it was all done.

There are more listeners in the public assembly than can be seen by the speaker's eye… We have only to turn to the sacred record to learn that these high and mighty ones, whose home is in some far distant world, have borne an active part both in the common and in the great events of this world… They have taken the form of men, and shown themselves to human eyes, and spoken aloud in the languages of earth… talking with men under the shadow of trees and tents and temple roofs.

…And these celestial visitants have come from their far distant homes to take part in the affairs of men. They have shown themselves better acquainted with human history and better able to do our work than we ourselves. They have defeated great armies, they have overthrown populous cities, they have sent forth and arrested the pestilence. They rested under the shadow of oaks at noon as if weary; they have eaten bread as if hungry; they have received hospitality in human homes at evening as if coming in from a journey; they have guided and protected travellers on their way; they have rolled away the stone from the tomb; they have kindled the fire of the altar and stood unhurt in the midst of the flame, they have clothed themselves in garments that shone like the lightning, and they have appeared in so common a garb as to be taken for wayfaring men needing lodgings for the night.

Daniel March, Night Scenes in the Bible, Pages 452-454 - 1870

…In the form of men, angels are often in the assemblies of the righteous… Though the rulers of this world know it not, yet often in their councils angels have been spokesmen…human ears have listened to their appeals… Human eyes have looked upon them… In the council hall and the court of justice these heavenly messengers have shown an intimate acquaintance with human history; they have proved themselves better able to plead the cause of the oppressed than were their ablest and most eloquent defenders. They have defeated purposes and arrested evils. …Celestial beings have taken an active part in the affairs of men. They have appeared clothed in garments that shone as the lightning; they have come as men in the garb of wayfarers. Angels have appeared in human form to men of God.

They have rested, as if weary, under the oaks at noon. They have accepted the hospitalities of human homes. They have acted as guides to benighted travellers. They have, with their own hands, kindled the fires at the altar. They have opened prison doors and set free the servants of the Lord. Clothed with the panoply of heaven, they came to roll away the stone from the Saviour's tomb.

Ellen White, Great Controversy, Pages 631-632 - 1911

The rest of March's chapter, "Angel Visits in the Night", was taken by Ellen to be used in another of her productions, "Acts of the Apostles".

We must hear the angel voice and feel the touch of the angel hand… Sixteen armed soldiers, all answerable with their lives for his safe-keeping, and a cell made of massive rock, and two chains and three guarded and bolted gates to secure …we have much reason to be obliged to the king for making the guard so strong… just as the sealing of the stone and the setting of the watch over the sepulchre of Jesus only helped and confirmed the demonstration of his resurrection… And so every link in the two chains which bound Peter that night, every stone in the wall of his prison, every bolt in the triple gates, and every one of his sixteen guards prove to us that the power enlisted for the defence of the religion of Jesus is mightier than the armies of kings.

…which had never seen a sunbeam, is all ablaze with light. There stands before him a being radiant with celestial beauty, gentleness and might…"Arise," He lifts his hands and they are no longer chained. He stands upon his feet and he is free. Again the voice is quick, commanding tones, "Gird thyself-bind on thy sandals,"…never once ceasing to gaze with dazzled eyes at the stranger… and the angel moves toward the closed and bolted door. And all the while this impulsive man, Peter, who was always talking, even when he had nothing to say, has not said a word. He steps over the prostrate guards.

…They approach the door--it is shut; …He has not seen it open or close. It was before them; it is now behind them, and they move on. There are soldiers within and soldiers without. But they give no heed when the apostle and his guide pass between them. They approach the second gate on the other side of the court of the prison. That, too, is shut and guarded within… They have already passed it, and everything is behind them as it was before them. There is no creek of hinges, no clank of bolts, no sign of alarm or of attention from the fourfold guard. It is all light as day about the man and the angel, and yet it seems to the man as if he were dreaming.

…The streets are silent. No light shines from the blank walls of the houses. The splendor that flowed from his mysterious guide is gone… He recognizes the place. It was along this very street that the rude soldiers led him a week ago, with the ruder rabble hooting after him… It was just here that he expected to meet the faces of the mob in the morning when the order come to lead him forth to torture and death.

Daniel March, Night Scenes in the Bible, Pages 460-463 - 1870

Peter had been put under the charge of sixteen soldiers, who, in different watches, guarded him day and night. In his cell he was placed between two soldiers and was bound by two chains, each chain being fastened to the wrist of one of the soldiers. He was unable to move without their knowledge… Peter was confined in a rock-hewn cell, the doors of which were strongly bolted and barred; and the soldiers on guard were made answerable for the safekeeping of the prisoner…but to make more complete the triumph of God in the deliverance of Peter.

…The light that surrounds the angel fills the cell, but does not rouse the apostle. Not until he feels the touch of the angel's hand and hears a voice saying "arise up quickly," does he awaken sufficiently to see his cell illuminated by the light of heaven and an angel of glory standing before him… Again the voice of the heavenly messenger bids him, "Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals." …keeping his wondering gaze riveted upon his visitor and believing himself to be dreaming or in a vision… "Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me." He moves toward the door, followed by the usually talkative Peter, now dumb from amazement. They step over the guard and reach the heavily bolted door, which of its own accord swings open and closes again immediately, while the guards within and without are motionless at their post.

…The second door, also guarded within and without, is reached. It opens as did the first, with no creaking of hinges or rattling of iron bolts. They pass through, and it closes again as noiselessly. In the same way they pass through the third gateway and find themselves in the open street… Peter, bewildered, and still believing himself to be in a dream, follows his deliverer…he found himself alone in the silent street, with the cool night air blowing upon his brow. He now realized that he was free in a familiar part of the city; he recognized the place as one that he had often frequented and had expected to pass on the morrow for the last time.

(Read the events as given first in 1877 in Spirit of Prophecy Vol.3, pp. 338-340, at least five years before Sketches From the Life of Paul was published. There the paraphase is much closer to the original of March.)

Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, Pages 146-148 - 1911

Some shall come out of great tribulation, from dungeons and tortures and martyrdom. Some who shine in glory like the stars of the firmament shall come out of great obscurity… Some will be there whose earthly life was a pilgrimage of pain… (Night Scenes in the Bible pg 498)

…We must consider more earnestly the shame and the glory, the life and the death, the justice and the mercy that so meet and harmonize in the cross… (319)

… This is he whose throne is from everlasting, and whose kingdom shall have no end. (319)

… The cross of Christ displays the character of God in the most attractive light. (322)

… But when we see the glory of the eternal Father shining in the face of the divine and co-eternal Son. (322)

… This is the great revelation of the cross, the holy and the mighty God, the Maker of all worlds and the absolute Arbiter of all destinies. (323)

… when we study the divine character in the light of the cross, we see mercy, tenderness and forgiveness blending harmoniously with the awful attributes of holiness, justice and power, and then we find a Father in him. …The throne that was high and terrible to us in our unbelief, becomes beautiful and wondrously attractive… I have found a ransom. …Everything great and awful in the character of God puts on an aspect of beauty and attraction… we were most afraid. …To see God in such a character, we must gather around the cross… This great mystery of the cross explains all other mysteries… (327)

… If, then, we would see the character of God in its most complete and gracious manifestation; if we would find out the meaning of that great and precious name, OUR FATHER: (327)

… look in faith upon the cross and so begin the study which shall be "the science and the song of all eternity." (327)

… We must look to the cross to learn the worth of the human soul, the true value and greatness of man… redemption of a soul… This great ransom…were attended with a compensation that would fill the universe with praise and endure throughout all ages. The Redeemer himself could not be satisfied with the travail of his soul… the fruits of his conflict… should be glory and joy forever and ever. (329)

…such is the value of one human soul, that the almighty Father is satisfied with the infinite price which he pays for our salvation in the death of his own Son… And our own greatness, the infinite price at which God estimates the value of the human soul, is best seen in the greatness of the ransom paid for our redemption. (330)

… In the mystery and glory of the cross, we can best learn the price at which God estimates the value of man.

Daniel March, Walks and Homes of Jesus, Pages 319-331 - 1866

The heirs of God have come from garrets, from hovels, from dungeons, from scaffolds, from mountains, from deserts, from the caves of the earth… The days of pain and weeping are forever ended…

…With our finite comprehension we may consider most earnestly the shame and the glory, the life and the death, the justice and the mercy, that meet in the cross… The plan of redemption will not be fully understood, even when the [not legible in notes]

…The cross of Christ will be the science and the song of the redeemed through all eternity. In Christ glorified they will behold Christ crucified…

… That the Maker of all worlds, the Arbiter of all destinies, should lay aside His glory and humiliate Himself from love to man will ever excite the wonder and adoration of the universe. As the nations of the saved look upon their Redeemer and behold the eternal glory of the Father shining in His countenance; as they behold His throne, which is from everlasting to everlasting, and know that His kingdom is to have no end, they break forth in rapturous song;…

…The mystery of the cross explains all other mysteries. In the light that streams from Calvary the attributes of God which had filled us with fear and awe appear beautiful and attractive. Mercy, tenderness, and parental love are seen to blend with holiness, justice, and power. While we behold the majesty of His throne, high and lifted up, we see His character in its gracious manifestations, and comprehend, as never before, the significance of that endearing title, "Our Father."

…The compensation for this sacrifice is the joy of peopling the earth with ransomed beings, holy, happy, and immortal. The result of the Saviour's conflict with the powers of darkness is joy to the redeemed, redounding to the glory of God throughout eternity. And such is the value of the soul that the Father is satisfied with the price paid; and Christ Himself, beholding the fruits of His great sacrifice, is satisfied.

Ellen White, Great Controversy, Pages 650-652 - 1911

…The philosopher will not receive it because it puts all his proud theories to shame. The worldling will not receive it because it draws and persuades and commands with such awful authority to a spiritual and a holy life. (Walks and Homes p 327)

…The philosopher turns aside from the light of salvation, because it puts his proud theories to shame. The worldling refuses to receive it, because it would separate him from his earthly idols, and draw him to a holier life, for which he has no inclination.

Ellen White, Sketches from the Life of Paul, Page 135 - 1883

…Christ and Him crucified should become the theme of our thoughts and stir the deepest emotions of our souls. The true followers of Christ will appreciate the great salvation which He has wrought for them; and wherever He leads the way, they will follow. They will consider it a privilege to bear whatever burdens Christ may lay upon them. It is (327) through the cross alone that we can estimate the worth of the human soul. Such is the value of men for whom Christ died that the Father is satisfied with the infinite price which He pays for the salvation of man in yielding up His (330) own Son to die for their redemption. What wisdom, mercy, and love in its fullness are here manifested! The worth of man is known only by going to Calvary. In the mystery of the cross of Christ we can place an estimate upon man. (321(328)

Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Volume 2, Pages 634-635 (331) - 1871

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