The White Lie!

Chapter 5: That High shelf

by Walter Rea

Patriarchs and Prophets

The years of 1860 through the 1880 s were busy years for Ellen and her staff. Perhaps remembering the book given to her by J.N. Andrews, she got Paradise Lost down from that "high shelf" and went to work on her vision of the great controversy-which was to become the theme of not only one book but the entire four volumes of The Spirit of Prophecy ( predecessor of the Conflict of the Ages Series). 1

John Milton's Paradise Lost was a great help to her. His ideas of the fight for justice in the courts above, as well as some of his very words, were woven into a fabric so vivid that even today some people have nightmares reading it. Ellen's story expands the Milton poem and takes m not only the war in heaven but the war on earth, from beginning to end. Satan is mostly in charge, dashing here and there in human events, wherever God might allow, and causing a general mess, until he gets his come­uppance in the seven last plagues, the destruction of the earth, and the final curtain call, the lake of fire.

Now this may all sound familiar to some-and it was. Others, including the Canon, had used this theme to a greater or lesser degree But Ellen's readers were to come to think that her portrayals were brighter and clearer and more authentic than all that went before. The Review and other Adventist advertising journals were to herald her writings and "visions" as the greatest thing going 2 Thus, lo and behold people began to buy. The early first volume of The Spirit of Prophecy (1870) was to follow the general outline of her previous printing of the small Spiritual Gifts-but with much "expansion."

It was not only in theology that Ellen saw things others may or may not have seen before. She began to get into health matters at this time. In this subject, again as with Milton's Paradise Lost, that "high shelf" was a help. Some of her contemporaries at this time were writers on the subject of health, like Jackson, Trall, Coles, Shew, Graham, Alcott, and others 3 She had more than a casual acquaintance with some, and there was talk of not returning what she had taken-which according to a dictionary would be stealing. To this criticism she replied:

It was at the house of Brother A. Hillard, at Otsego, Michigan, June 6, 1863, that the great subject of Health Reform was opened before me in a vision. I did not visit Dansville till August, 1864, fourteen months after I had the view. I did not read any works upon health until I had written "Spiritual Gifts," vol. iii and iv, "Appeal to Mothers," and had sketched out most of my six articles in the six numbers of "How to Live," and I did not know that such a paper existed as the Laws of Life, published at Dansville, New York. I had not heard of the several works upon health written by Dr. J. C. Jackson, and other publications at Dansville, at the time I had the view named above.

As I introduced the subject of health to friends where I labored in Michigan, New England, and in the State of New York, and spoke against drugs and flesh meats, and in favor of water, pure air, and a proper diet, the reply was often made, "You speak very nearly the opinions taught in the Laws of Life, and other publications, by Doctors Trall, Jackson, and others. Have you read that paper and those works?" My reply was that I had not, neither should I read them till I had fully written out my view, lest it should be said that I had received my light upon the subject of health from physicians and not from the Lord 4

Others, as before in the case of Paradise Lost, were to suggest:

The information that came to Mrs. White from the Author of Truth, was bound to be in agreement with such truths as had been discovered by others. 5

Ellen was to say, as Grandson Arthur would imply nearly a hundred years later, that she got the "truths" first-even though subsequent studies might show that the ideas were the same and that the language expressing them was much the same as others had used first. It might have been the old argument of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Ellen said:

And after I had written my six articles for "How to Live," I then searched the various works on hygiene and was surprised to find them so nearly in harmony with what the Lord had revealed to me. And to show this harmony, and to set before my brethren and sisters the subject as brought out by able writers, I determined to publish "How to Live," in which I largely extracted from the works referred to [italics added] 6

Ronald L. Numbers, in Prophetess of Health, does a commendable job of showing that Ellen's "extracted" parts made up much of the whole, and that in some cases the whole was more than the sum of the parts- an equation that is just as hard to believe in religion as it is in mathematics?

It was not just in health matters that conflict arose. Those "testimonies" were coming in for a lot of criticism. In the early days there were those who felt that James White might be influencing his wife in her writings or might express an idea or two himself under her name. There is nothing as magic as a seal to give things weight and authority, and she was the seal. James, on the other hand, felt that others were doing the same with Ellen and might be gaining an edge over him:

She is humble, and must be treated tenderly, or she can do nothing. Elders Butler and Haskell have had an influence over her that I hope to see broken. It has nearly ruined her. These men must not be suffered by our people to do as they have done until all our ministers are fully discouraged. Young men are kept out of the ministry by their narrow blind counsel 8

John Harvey Kellogg, a protégée of the Whites, had some of these same complaints for years. Too many, he thought, were doing too much under the name of inspiration through Ellen and her writings. Years later when he was interviewed by some of the men of the church he would say:

I want to tell you another thing you do not know about, a testimony I have from Sister White which she has not published and that none of them have published, that these men have frequently cut out large chunks of things that Sister White had written that put things in a light that was not the most favorable...or did not suit their campaigns that way, that they felt at liberty to cut them out and so change the effect and tenor of the whole thing, sending it out over Sister White's name. 9

What in essence he seems to be saying is that some of the boys had obtained a stamp with Ellen's name on it and were stamping some of anything and everything with it. Later in the interview Kellogg was to point to William C. White, son of Ellen, as the culprit in some cases:

Will White got those letters and took a paragraph here, and a paragraph there and a paragraph from the other one and put them together and made up a thing and sent them out with his own name signed to it. It is a "testimony" from Willie. If you look that document over, you will see her name IS not signed to that at all, but Willie has made it up from letters that Sister White had written to those personal friends...

Now Willie's name is signed to it and not hers; yet that thing is being carried all over Europe and all over the world and read in public as a testimony from the Lord. And that is what I told you is the gigantic fraud that IS being perpetrated, and the ministry of the denomination and the whole machinery of the denomination have set themselves to work to perpetrate impositions and frauds upon people. If the truth were known it would bring the whole denomination into ignominy and contempt. 10

Years afterward it would be argued that the good doctor's statements were made after he had broken with the Whites and the church, and that therefore these were not reliable comments. It would be suggested that he had ulterior motives and should not be considered a qualified witness, although it is acknowledged that he had held honors along with those still in power, that he had been privileged to sit in high councils, and that he had personally been very close to Ellen. Criticism of Kellogg might be valid if he alone had seen and said what he did. But he was not alone.

William S. Sadler, another well­known physician and personal friend of the White family, had also been having second thoughts about the methods used and the excuses offered in the name of Ellen and inspiration. In April 1906 he was to recall to her some of the problems that he had seen over the years in her writings and conduct. This letter was written while he was still very much a true believer and supporter of Ellen and in response to her own invitation to ask questions. He, too, as others, had heard the voice of Ellen. But like Isaac before him, he had found that the hands were the hands of another-Will White's. Sadler's statements make it clear that a good deal of license had been taken for twenty years or more:

Another matter: that is, Willie's influence over the Testimonies. I came into the truth about 20 years ago, and just before I was baptized by Elder Wm. Covert, (about 18 years ago) I thoroughly made up my mind concerning the Testimonies. In short, I accepted them; but from that day to this, especially the last ten years, and more especially since your return to this country from Australia, 1, have been hearing it constantly, from leaders, ministers, from those sometimes high in Conference authority, that Willie influenced you in the production of your Testimonies; or, as they would often designate it, the "letters" you send out.

This talk made little or no impression on me. I resolutely refused to believe it, year after year. I have been given a copy of the communication written by you under date of July 19th, 1905, addressed to Brethren I. H. Evans and J. S. Washburn, and I have since then not known what to do or say concerning this matter. I refer to the following quotation:

"After seeing the representation, I awoke, and I fully expected that the matter would take place as it had been presented to me. When Elder Haskell was telling me of the perplexity that they were in to carry forward the Southern work, I said, "Have faith in Cod; you will carry from this meeting the five thousand dollars needed for the purchase of the church!""

"I wrote a few lines to Elder Daniel's suggesting this be done, but Willie did not see that the matter could be carried through thus, because Elder Daniel's and others were at that time very much discouraged in regard to the condition of things in Battle Creek. So I told him that he need not deliver the note. But I could not rest. I was disturbed, and could not find peace of mind."

Please won't you help me to understand this? It is the most serious of all the difficulties I have encountered in my experience concerning the testimonies.

Had Sadler known what others have come to know--that in addition to Willie's hand being in the pie, Ellen and her helpers were involved also in some highly creative book writing from the materials of others--he surely would have been more disturbed. Others were to raise similar issues in later years; but their questions, as Sadler's, were never answered to anyone's knowledge or satisfaction.

By the 1870s and 1880s, some were making distinctions in their thinking between a "testimony" (that is, as a private letter from the prophet) and that material which was being copied and adapted from other writers and placed in books as her own. Ellen did not accept this separation. She wrote to the Battle Creek church in 1882:

You are rebelling against God as certainly as were Korah, Dathan, and Abiram You have their history. You know how stubborn they were in their own opinions. They decided that their judgment was better than that of Moses...

When I went to Colorado I was so burdened for you that, in my weakness ...I arose at three o'clock in the morning to write to you. God was speaking through clay. You might say that this communication was only a letter. Yes, it was a letter, but prompted by the Spirit of God, to bring before your minds things that had been shown me. In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper, expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision-the precious rays of light shining from the throne. 12

The transition was now complete. Ellen had arrived. She had reached her position of authority, and it was not to be questioned. Her letters, be they private or soon to be public, her copying from others, her talks on whatever subject, in fact, just about anything that might come off that "high shelf" would now be considered from God and blessed by his Spirit.

No claimant in religion has ever asked the people for such a blank check with an uncertified signature. But this claimant did. And to this day most Adventists have never questioned her endorsement nor her ability to fulfill her claim. Not only are the "testimonies" considered inspired (including that which was copied, even portions up to a hundred percent) but any writings that she was known to have approved, or touched, or been even near while she was alive are considered to have some special significance or "inspiration." Even that which she didn't include when she copied is deemed significant. It has been suggested that-like Gutzon Borglum (the sculptor of the Mount Rushmore faces) who from the valley below supervised all the rock throwing-Ellen was considered to be directing by some heavenly radar all the material that came out under her name, whether she ever saw it or would recognize it as hers. 13

With such an endorsement as had never been given to any mortal before, Ellen was now ready to reshape the events of the past and, by her visionary interpretations of the Bible, likewise the events of the future. Already she had started on this idea of the great controversy in her first pocket­size edition in 1858 of Spiritual gifts. But that small work was crudely composed. And it had some competition-for the same year Hastings had published a volume with the identical title. 14 Ellen's 219­page volume did not show much promise and, unlike the later book The Great Controversy, was never heralded as widely in the way of truth and light, form and content, prose and style. But it was a beginning and therefore was to be used.

It is not hard even for the blind to see that if continuing revelations, and inspirations, and instructions were to take an obtuse angle and conflict with what had gone before, such a course would raise much more serious questions than those already being raised. If the material copied, if the authors used, if the new visions or instructions were to clash in any major way with the old, this would be hard to explain. Some inconsistency would take place, but the method used was (like the shell game) to keep the eyes occupied while the hands shifted the objects around so fast that the beginnings were forgotten. And that's what happened. Few readers today know that Spiritual Gifts is the forerunner of the four­volume set of The Spirit of Prophecy, and even fewer know that the five­volume set of the Conflict of the Ages Series traces its origin back to its four­volume predecessors.

The importance of this progression can't be overlooked, for what God said in 1858 he had to repeat in 1870, and even later in 1890, and so on. Now with God being God, that would be no problem for him; but with Ellen and her team, it wasn't that easy. Each new author copied had to mesh with the others who had gone before. Each new enlightenment or vision had to dovetail with all that had been put on record previously. Inconsistency had to be caught and either eliminated or clarified if anything slipped through-often again and again over a period of sixty years or more. There would be those, however, who would notice the change in style and the evolution of structure:

The first printed visions were characterized by a naive style, and the subject matter reflected what one would expect in a young mystic among the disappointed Millerites. Gradually the prophet developed into a different type of messenger, however, and the Conflict Series mark the production of the mature EGW. In fact the evolution is so great that It IS somewhat surprising to know that the same person wrote the two kinds of books. Even the different stages in the same series show striking improvements in style and contents. In the final editions the reader may peruse whole chapters without observing anything reminding him of visions. How this remarkable development came about in an intriguing assignment for the serious historian? 15

What was remarkable in the development was the cosmetic skill with which Ellen's team rearranged events so that criticism (as it would come) did not undermine the total project in its beginnings. By the time the number of dissents built up to a crescendo in the 1890s and beyond, the power of the legend of Ellen's invincibility (while she said she carried God's shield) helped her to win every battle, destroy all opposition, dismiss any dissenter from her employment (or for that matter the employment of the church), and banish, in the name of God and religion, some of the strongest characters in the medical and theological history of the church. No wonder that in 1980, at the Glacier View (Colorado) meeting about Desmond Ford's views, one of the princes of the church would write:

The time has come to be critical of our own method. We as Seventh­day Adventists have felt secure in that we have got the revealed truth; and no matter what others may say against us, we have God on our side and the prophet, Ellen G. White. Now we are discovering that much of what she wrote in Desire of Ages and Great Controversy was copied from others. How do we really know what we claim to know? We are thus forced to ask questions on matters of interpretation....

It is a historical fact that most of the bright lights that have left our church have left because of the authority assigned to the writings of Ellen White. 16

What that prince may not have known when he wrote that article is that not only The Desire of Ages and The Great Controversy were drawn largely from other writers, but the beginning of beginnings, Spiritual Gifts, and then volume one of The Spirit of Prophecy, the forerunner of Patriarchs and prophets (of the Conflict Series too) were also drawn from other writers. In that middle version of the series, Milton's Paradise Lost was given a greater part. From the two or three pages in Spiritual Gifts, Milton's theme was expanded to over thirty­seven pages and was to crop up, sometimes identically, in other of her writings. Now, however, new authors were found to fill in the gaps to make it all readable! 17 The brethren were not shy about heralding the virtues of the first volume of The Spirit of Prophecy.' 18 Even the name of the series suggests that it had the special approval of God and should be in the homes of all believers. Although the new volume was an improvement over the old Spiritual Gifts (another book with a title suggesting divine sanction), it did not turn the trick that was expected of it. Not until the later edition came out under the special title of Patriarchs and Prophets did the amplified material begin to hit its stride. It was to be the cornerstone of the five­volume Conflict of the Ages set that Adventists would use to establish most interpretation and translation and evaluation of the Scriptures. Used in all Seventh­day Adventist schools and colleges as authoritative on Old Testament matters, Patriarchs and Prophets has been accepted by Adventists as the final word. No deviation from this norm is accepted in matters of ideas concerning Creation, geology, theology, or Christology.

There were a few bad moments with the book, however. In the early writing, Ellen had Jacob and his night of wrestling in one version. In the later portrayal, however, the picture is almost the opposite in its details. Note her differing views in the italicized portions in the examples which follow:

The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. I, pp. 118­19

Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 196­97

E. G. WhiteE. G. White 1890
Jacob's wrong, in receiving his brother's blessing by fraud, is again brought forcibly before him, and he is afraid that God will permit Esau to take his life. In his distress he prays to God all night. An angel was represented to me as standing before Jacob, presenting his wrong before him in its true character. As the angel turns to leave him, Jacob lays hold of him, and will not let him go. He makes supplications with tears. He pleads that he has deeply repented of his sins, and the wrongs against his brother, which have been the means of separating him from his father's house for twenty years. He ventures to plead the promises of God, and the tokens of his favor to him from time to time, in his absence from his father's house. All night .Jacob wrestled with the angel, making supplication for a blessing. The angel seemed to be resisting his prayer, by continually calling his sins to his remembrance, at the same time endeavoring to break away from him. Jacob was determined to hold the angel, not only by physical strength, but by the power of living faith. In his distress Jacob referred to the repentance of his soul, the deep humility he had felt for his wrongs. The angel regarded his grayer with seeming indifference [italics added].19 It was a lonely, mountainous region, the haunt of wild beasts and the lurking place of robbers and murderers. Solitary and unprotected, Jacob bowed in deep distress upon the earth. It was midnight. All that made life dear to him were at a distance, exposed to danger and death. Bitterest of all was the thought that it was his own sin which had brought this peril upon the innocent. With earnest cries and tears he made his prayer before God. Suddenly a strong hand was laid upon him. He thought that an enemy was seeking his life, and he endeavored to wrest himself from the grasp of his assailant. In the darkness the two struggled for the mastery. Not a word was spoken, but Jacob put forth all his strength, and did not relax his efforts for a moment.... The struggle continued until near the break of day, when the stranger placed his finger upon Jacob's thigh, and he was crippled instantly. The patriarch now discerned the character of his antagonist [italics added] 20

Such discrepancies have caused concern among Adventist clergy from time to time, but not many helpful answers have come forth. In reply to a letter of 1943, Arthur White wrote for the White Estate:

Your second question relates to what you feel is a discrepancy in the account of Jacob's wrestling with the angel as recorded in "Patriarchs and Prophets," and the earlier books "Spiritual Gifts" and "Spirit of Prophecy." You ask for the official explanation of our denomination on this matter. I am in no position to speak for the denomination. The General Conference has not given study to this question which you raise, and there is no official pronouncement available. I have in my mind what seems to me to be a satisfactory explanation. After I have talked it over with some others here, I shall write to you again, but when I do so I shall be writing for Arthur White and not for the denomination.

In brief, I might ask for an explanation of the type of inspiration which permits some conflict in the accounts in connection with the ministry of Christ as recorded by the different gospel writers.21

Always careful to connect whatever problems that occurred in the writings of Ellen with problems that might occur with Scripture writers, the early apologists for Ellen began to sound as if God does not have to be truthful or accurate. To that tendency they have added a new twist. He just had to be God, and they would tell all who he was when it was necessary to do so. That argument was to carry over into the 1980s.

Still, one can't fault that final edition too much. With the help of John Milton, David March, Alfred Edersheim, Frederic W. Farrar, Friedrich W. Krummacher, and an ever­growing staff of researchers, finalist Ellen (and God) did produce a body of work that was to stand as the Adventist cornerstone for over a hundred years. That "high shelf" that was meant to be the protection of the prophet from temptation had also produced a profit of ideas.

Examples of how E.G. White copied Patriarchs and Prophets from Edersheim's Bible History: Old Testament, vols. 1­4

Chapter 5 Selected Exhibits

Books Written by: Ellen White

Sources from Which She Drew: Edersheim, Alfred

Patriarchs and Prophets; Mountain View, California, Pacific Press (1890,1913). Bible History: Old Testament, vols. 1­4. (1876:1880) Reprint Grand Rapids by Eerdmans 1949. March, Daniel

Night Scenes in the Bible

Philadelphia, Zeigler, McCurdy

Page in 1958 edition (White)

Page in volume 1 (Edersheim)

33 Why Was Sin Permitted?xi Introduction
44 The Creation17 Creation
52 The Temptation and Fall

63 The Plan of Redemption

17 The Fall
71 Cain and Abel Tested23 Cain and Abel-The Two Ways
80 Seth and Enoch23 Seth and His Descendants
90 The Flood44 The Flood
105 After the Flood

111 The Literal Week

51 After the Flood
117 The Tower of Babel57 Babel-Confusion of Tongues
125 The Call of Abraham72 The Calling of Abram
132 Abraham in Canaan72 His Arrival in Canaan
145 The Test of Faith97 Trial of Abraham's Faith
156 Destruction of Sodom88 The Destruction of Sodom
171 The Marriage of Isaac106 The Marriage of Isaac
177 Jacob and Esau106 Birth of Esau and Jacob
183 Jacob's Flight and Exile115 Jacob Is Sent to Laban
195 The Night of Wrestling132 The Night of Wrestling
204 The Return to Canaan132 Jacob Settles at Hebron
213 Joseph in Egypt142 Joseph's Early Life
224 Joseph and His Brothers161 Joseph Recognizes His brothers

Page in 1958 edition (White)

Page in volume 2 (Edersheim)

241 Moses35 The Birth and the Training of Moses
257 The Plagues of Egypt63 The Ten "Strokes," or Plagues
273 The Passover78 The Passover and Its Ordinances
281 The Exodus78 The Children of Israel Leave Egypt
291 From the Red Sea to Sinai89 The Wilderness of Shur
303 The Law Given to Israel

315 Idolatry at Sinai

105 The "Ten Words," and Their Meaning
331 Satan's Enmity against the Law121 The Sin of the Golden Calf
343 The Tabernacle and133 The Rearing of the Tabernacle Its Services
359 The Sin of Nadab and Abihu137 The Sin of Nadab and Abihu
395 The Rebellion of Korah171 The Gainsaying of Korah
363 The law and the Covenants114 Civil and Social Ordinances- The "Covenant Made by Sacrifice"
374 From Sinai to Kadesh156 [March into the Wilderness]
387 The Twelve Spies163 The Spies Sent to Canaan
406 In the Wilderness171 The Years in the Wilderness
411 The Smitten Rock184 The Sin of Moses and Aaron
422 The Journey around Edom 433 The Conquest of Bashan 193 Journey of the Children of Israel in the Land of Edom

Page in 1958 edition (White)

Page in volume 3 (Edersheim)

438 Balaam11 Character and History of Balaam
453 Apostasy at the Jordan23 The End of Balaam
462 The Law Repeated33 The Second Census of Israel
469 The Death of Moses42 Death and Burial of Moses
481 Crossing the Jordan53 The Miraculous Parting of Jordan
487 The Fall of Jericho58 The Miraculous Fall of Jericho
499 The Blessings and the Curses73 The Blessing and the Curse on Gerizim and Ebal
505 League with the Gibeonites72 The Deceit of the Gibeonites
510 The Division of Canaan87 Final Division of the Land
521 The Last Words of Joshua

525 Tithes and Offerings

530 God's Care for the Poor

96 Joshua's Farewell Addresses
537 The Annual Feasts33 Sacrificial Ordinances
543 The Earlier Judges105 Summary of the Book of Judges
560 Samson163 The History of Samson

Page in 1958 edition (White)

Page in volume 4 (Edersheim)

569 The Child Samuel1 Birth of Samuel
575 Eli and His Sons10 The Sin of Eli's Sons
581 The Ark Taken by the Philistines16 Taking of the Ark
592 The Schools of the Prophets26 Samuel's Administration
603 The First King of Israel26 The Demand for a King
616 The Presumption of Saul56 Saul's Disobedience
627 Saul Rejected56 The Rejection of His Kingdom
637 The Anointing of David79 The Anointing of David
643 David and Goliath79 Combat between David and Goliath
649 David a Fugitive94 David's Flight to Samuel
660 The Magnanimity of David109 David end Jonathan
675 The Death of Saul147 Death of Saul
683 Ancient and Modern Sorcery136 Saul... the Witch of Endor
690 David at Ziklag136 Capture of Ziklag by the Amalekites
697 David Called to the Throne147 David King at Hebron
703 The Reign of David163 David... King over All Israel
717 David's Sin and Repentance190 David's Great Sin... Repentance

Appendix Chapter 5 Exhibit

Patriarchs and Prophets
E. G. White 1890
Night Scenes in the Bible
Daniel March 1868-1870
[147] In a vision of the night he was directed to repair to the land of Moriah, and there offer up his son as a burnt offering upon a mountain that should be shown him.

At the time of receiving this command, Abraham had reached the age of a hundred and twenty years. He was regarded as an old man, even in his generation. In his earlier years he had been strong to endure hardship and to brave danger, but now the ardor of his youth had passed away. One in the vigor of manhood may with courage meet difficulties and afflictions that would cause his heart to fail later in life, when his feet are faltering toward the grave. But God had reserved His last, most trying test for Abraham until the burden of years was heavy upon him, and he longed for rest from anxiety and toil. The Patriarch was dwelling at Beersheba, surrounded by prosperity and honor. He was very rich, and was honored as a mighty prince by the rulers of the land. Thousands of sheep and cattle covered the plains that spread beyond his encampment. On every side were the tents of his retainers, the home of hundreds of faithful servants. The son of promise had grown up to manhood by his side. Heaven seemed to have crowned with its blessing a life of sacrifice. ...

[45] Abraham was an hundred and twenty years old when he received the strange and startling command to offer his only and beloved son Isaac for a burnt offering, upon an unknown mountain in the land of Moriah. The message came to him in a vision of the night. ...

He already passed for an aged man, even upon the longer average of human life in his time. His heart had lost much of the fervid and hopeful feeling of youth. It was no longer easy for him to bend before the storm of affliction, and rise. ...

It is easy to face the storm while the heart is fresh and full of hope. ... But it is very hard for an old man to find that the sorest trial is reserved for the last, when the burden of age is heavy upon his shoulders and the fire of youth is dim. ...

[46] But how he needed repose. His quiet home in Beersheba had been sought as a place of rest. ... There he had gathered...a great household, even hundreds or servants and herdsmen, and thousands of camels, and sheep, and goats, cattle. ... There Abraham...was already greatest among all the men of the East. And there was fulfilled unto him the Divine promise in the gift of Isaac. ...

[148] In the obedience of faith, Abraham had forsaken his native country...and the home of his kindred He had waited long for the birth of the promised heir. At the command of God he had sent away his son Ishmael. And now ... a trial greater than all others was before him.

The command was expressed in words that must have wrung with anguish that father’s heart: “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest...and offer him there for a burnt offering.” ... The loss of such a son by accident or disease would have been heart rending to the fond father; it would have bowed down his whitened head with grief; but he was commanded to shed the blood of that son with his own hand. ...

Satan was at hand to suggest that he must be deceived. ... Going outside his tent, Abraham looked up to the calm brightness of the unclouded heavens, and recalled the promise made nearly fifty years before, that his seed should be innumerable as the stars. If this promise was to be fulfilled through Isaac, how could he be put to death? Abraham was tempted to believe that he might be under a delusion. In his doubt and anguish he bowed upon the earth and prayed, as he had never prayed before, for some confirmation of the command if he must perform this terrible duty. He remembered the angels sent to reveal to him God’s purpose... and he went to the place where he had several times met heavenly messengers, hoping to meet them again, and receive some further direction; but none came to his relief. ...

[148] Returning to his tent, he went to the place where Isaac lay sleeping the deep, untroubled sleep of youth and innocence. For a moment the father looked upon the dear face of his son. ... He went to the side of Sarah. ... Should he awaken her, that she might once more embrace her child? Should he tell her of God’s requirement? He longed to unburden his heart to her, and share with her this terrible responsibility; but he was restrained by the fear that...the mother’s love might refuse the sacrifice.

[47] He had left father and mother, kindred and country, at the Divine command. He had lived a pilgrim and a stranger in a land not his own. He had clung to the Divine promise, when, to all human judgment its fulfillment seemed a contradiction and an impossibility. He had born all the bitterness of a father’s grief in sending forth Ishmael to wander in the wilderness. And after all these trials ... could there be in store yet another and greater to wring his aged heart when he was least able to bear it? ...

And the terms in which the terrible command is expressed seem as if they were intentionally chosen to harrow up his soul. Every word is a dagger to pierce the father’s heart— Take now, thy son, thine only son, Isaac whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt-offering. It would have been enough to break an old man’s heart to lose such a son by the ordinary course of sickness and death. ... But how could a father shed the life-blood of that son? ...

[48] How much more must the loss... bring down the gray hairs of age with sorrow to the grave. ...

[49] Then, again, the seeming contradiction between this new command, and all the instructions and promises which had already been given... must have added perplexity to his mind and agony to his heart. The voice... must have seemed... as if some tempting and tormenting demon has assumed to speak in the name of the Lord. ...Ashe passes... to the outer apartment of the tent, and looks upon the calm face of his sleeping son...he if the blood...were already upon his hands.

[50] He steps ... into the open air and looks up. ... Above him the clear blue dome of Arabian skies is all ablaze with...stars— He remembers that the Divine voice...fifty years before, had once said to him, “Look now toward heaven and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them; so shall thy seed be.”...

[51] He walks beneath ... the oaks, where he had many times met angels face to face. He listens and strains his eye... if peradventure he may descry some celestial messenger coming. ... He bows at the foot of the altar... in an agony of prayer for more light. ...

[151] Abraham at last summoned his son. ... The preparations for the journey were quickly completed. The wood was made ready and put upon the ass, and with two menservants they set forth.

Side by side the father and the son journeyed in silence. The patriarch, pondering his heavy secret, had no heart for words. His thoughts were of the proud, fond mother, and the day when he should return to her alone. ...

[52] So Abraham goes... where his servants sleep. Of the hundreds... he selects two. They prepare the wood for the sacrifice and lay it upon the beast of burden, and the aged father ... calls his so n. ... But shall not the son be permitted to take leave of his mother? ...

[53] And yet, shall not the fond old mother be told...? Must that son... die a bloody death, and by the father’s own hand, and she not be consulted...? Shall she be parting word? If the sacrifice must be made, may she not share with the father...?

[151] That day — the longest that Abraham had ever experienced — dragged slowly to its close. While his son and the young men were sleeping, he spent the night in prayer, still hoping that some heavenly messenger might come to say that the trial was enough. ... But no relief came to his tortured soul. Another long day, another night of humiliation and prayer. ... As they were about to begin the journey of the third day, the patriarch...saw the promised sign...over Mount Moriah, and he knew the voice which had spoken to him was from heaven. [54] The very solitude of the first day’s journey must have been oppressive. ...

[55] Abraham must have felt relieved when night came... and Isaac and the young men slept. Then the agonizing father... could withdraw... and pour out the sorrows—All night long he waits, if peradventure that voice... will speak again and tell him that his faith has been sufficiently tried. ... But no such message comes.

[57] But the morning... brings him the summons to renew his journey. ... But no angels appear to hear his petition. ... Another day passes;...and when night comes on, Abraham lies down...longing to hear the Divine voice... say, “It is enough.” ... But...the morning of the third day begins to break, and no such message comes...

[58] Soon the mysterious sign...appears... Now it is settled beyond all question...the command was Divine. ...

[152] He bade his servants remain behind. ... The wood was laid upon Isaac, the one to be offered, the father took the knife and the fire, and together they ascended toward the mountain summit. ...

At the appointed place they built the altar and laid the wood upon it. ... Isaac...could have escaped his doom, had he chosen to do so; the grief-stricken old man, exhausted with the struggle of these three terrible days, could not have opposed the will of the vigorous youth. But Isaac... yielded a willing submission. ... He tenderly seeks to lighten the father’s grief, and encourages his nerveless hands to bind the cords that confine him to the altar.

The father lifts the knife to slay his son, when suddenly his arm is stayed. An angel of God calls ... “Lay not thine hand upon the lad,... for now I know thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me.”...

[153] Abraham’s great act of faith stands like a pillar of light, illuminating the pathway of Goa’s servants in all succeeding ages.

[58] He lays the wood for the offering upon the one that must be burned...he takes the fire and the knife, and goes silently up the steep alone with his son. ... The altar is built by the hands of both; the wood is placed in order. ... Isaac himself must be slain. ... It must be with his own consent. ... For he is a full-grown man, twenty-five years of age, and he can easily resist or escape the hand of his father, who has a hundred or more years. ...

[59] But we do know...that Isaac... submitted to the sacrifice. He consented to be bound...

Isaac, with fortitude equal to his father’s faith, bids him strike. But now... the voice from heaven comes. ... The delivering angel...cries aloud, “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.”

[60] And this great act of faith, which made Abraham the father of the faithful, shines forth like the sun amid the darkness of far-distant times. ...

[154] The agony which he endured during the dark days of that fearful trial was permitted that he might understand from his own experience something of the greatness of the sacrifice made by the infinite God for man’s redemption. No other test could have caused Abraham such torture of soul as did the offering of his son. God gave His Son to a death of agony and shame. The angels who witnessed the humiliation and soul anguish of the Son of God were not permitted to interpose, as in the case of Isaac. There was no voice to cry, “It is enough.” ... What stronger proof can be given of the infinite compassion and love of God? [61] All the sorrows that wrung the heart of Abraham during the three days of his dark and dreadful trial were imposed on him to help us understand how real, how deep, how unutterable was the self-denial of the infinite God in giving His own Son to death for our salvation. No trial, no mental torture could possibly have been greater to Abraham than that which he bore in obeying the command to sacrifice his son. God actually surrendered His well-beloved Son to the slow and dreadful agony of crucifixion. No voice from heaven commanded to stay the sacrifice. ... Legions of angels were in waiting, but they were not permitted to interpose. ... Surely the Infinite One Himself can give us no greater proof that He sincerely desires our salvation. ... And...His love to us is infinite.
[156] Fairest among the cities of the Jordan Valley was Sodom, set in a plain which was “as the garden of the Lord” in its fertility and beauty. Here the luxuriant vegetation of the tropics flourished. Here was the home of the palm tree, the olive, and the vine; and flowers shed their fragrance throughout the year. Rich harvests clothed the fields, and flocks and herds covered the encircling hills. Art and commerce contributed to enrich the proud city of the plain. The treasures of the East adorned her palaces, and the caravans of the desert brought their stores of precious things to supply her marts of trade. With little thought of labor, every want of life could be supplied, and the whole year seemed one round of festivity.

The profusion reigning everywhere gave birth to luxury and pride. Idleness and riches make the heart hard that has never been oppressed by want or burdened by sorrow. The love of pleasure was fostered by wealth and leisure, and the people gave themselves up to sensual indulgence. ...

[28] A fair city lies upon the border of a plain that looks like a garden in beauty and fertility. ...

[29] Theirs is the land of the olive and the vine. The flowers blossom through all the year. ...

The plains surrounding the city are like the garden of the Lord in fertility. The most indolent culture secures an abundance for the supply of every want. The distant hills are covered with flocks. The merchants of the East bring their treasures from afar. The camels and dromedaries of the desert lay down their burdens at her gates. And the fair city in the vale of Siddim revels in the profusion of everything that nature and art can produce. The chief men display the luxury and the pride of princes. The common people make a holiday of the whole year. ... Idleness and riches stimulate the appetite for pleasure, and they go to every excess in indulgence. They have everything that the sensual can desire, and their only study is to find new ways of gratifying the coarsest and basest passion. ...

[157] And now the last night of Sodom was approaching. Already the clouds of vengeance cast their shadows over the devoted city. ...

[158] In the twilight two strangers drew near to the city gate. ... Had he [Lot] not cultivated a spirit of courtesy, he might have been left to perish with the rest of Sodom. Many a household, in closing its doors against a stranger, has shut out God’s messenger, who would have brought blessing and hope and peace.

Every act of life, however small, has its bearing for good or for evil. Faithfulness or neglect in what are apparently the smallest duties may open the door for life’s richest blessings or its greatest calamities. It is little things that test the character. ...

[28] And yet the last night is casting its shadows upon the walls and battlements of the doomed city. ...

[31] Two strangers are seen approaching the city. ... We must give earnest need and keep ourselves upon the watch, or the angels of blessing and of deliverance will come and pass by us unawares, and we shall not receive their help.

There was but one man at the gate of Sodom sufficiently attentive to notice the strangers and invite them to his own house. ... Fidelity in the most common and homely duties of life opens the door of the house for the greatest of heaven’s blessings. ... The discharge of duties that are fully known and easily understood is the first qualification for the comprehension of the deepest and most awful mysteries of our being and destiny. ...

[158] That last night was marked by no greater sins than many others before it; but mercy, so long slighted, had at last ceased its pleading. The inhabitants of Sodom had passed the limits of divine forbearance — “the hidden boundary between God’s patience and his wrath.”... [33] The men of Sodom... were no more riotous or dissolute on the last night than they had been many nights before. But there is a point beyond which the Divine forbearance cannot go. ... “The hidden boundary between God’s patience and his wrath.” ...
[162] “The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.” The bright rays of the morning seemed to speak only prosperity and peace to the cities of the plain. The stir of active life began in the streets; men were going their various ways, intent on the business or the pleasures of the day. The sons-in-law of Lot were making merry at the fears and warnings of the weak-minded old man. ... The Lord rained brimstone and fire out of heaven upon the cities and the fruitful plain; its palaces and temples, costly dwellings, gardens and vineyards, and the gay, pleasure-seeking throngs that only the night before had insulted the messengers of heaven — all were consumed. The smoke of the conflagration went up like the smoke of a great furnace. And the fair vale of Siddim became a desolation, a place never to be built up or inhabited—a witness to all generations of the certainty of God’s judgments upon transgression. [37] The sun is already risen upon the earth, and the bright morning promises a beautiful day. The early risers in Sodom are making themselves merry with the frightened old man who had fled with his family to the mountains. The sons-in-law are on the way to his house, to laugh at him for walking in his sleep the night before. The idle and voluptuous are devising new pleasures for the day. ...

And the Lord rains fire and brimstone out of heaven upon the city and upon the beautiful plain, that seemed like Paradise the day before; and the smoke of the burning goes up as the smoke of a great furnace; and the glare of the mighty conflagration is seen far off by shepherds on the hills of Hebron and the mountains of Moab. And in one moment the fair vale, which had been as the garden of the Lord in beauty and fertility, becomes a desolation — a place never to be inhabited from generation to generation — a valley of desolation and of death. ...

[156] “Behold,” says the prophet, “this was the iniquity of the sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before Me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.” Ezekiel 16:49,50. [38] The Prophet Ezekiel says that the sin of that city was “pride and fullness of bread and abundance of idleness.”
[165] The Redeemer of the world declares that there are greater sins than that for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Those who hear the gospel invitation calling sinners to repentance, and heed it not, are more guilty before God than were the dwellers in the vale of Siddim. [41] And the loving and compassionate Jesus himself declares that there is a greater sin than that for which Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown. It is the sin of those who hear the gospel call to repentance and heed it not.
[177] Esau grew up loving self-gratification and centering all his interest in the present. Impatient of restraint, he delighted in the wild freedom of the chase. ... The quiet, peace-loving shepherd [Isaac] was attracted by the daring and vigor of this elder son, who fearlessly ranged over mountain and desert. ... Jacob, thoughtful, diligent, and care-taking, ever thinking more of the future than the present, was ... occupied in the care of the flocks and the tillage of the soil. ... His affections were deep and strong, and his gentle, unremitting attentions added far more to her [Rebekah’s] happiness than did the boisterous and occasional kindnesses of Esau.

[181] Esau is called in Scripture “a profane person.” ... He represents those who lightly value the redemption purchased for them by Christ, and are ready to sacrifice their heirship to heaven for the perishable things of earth... the gratification of a depraved appetite... As Esau awoke ... when it was too late... so it will be in the day of God with those who have bartered their heirship to heaven for selfish gratifications.

[66] He [Jacob] had been nourished from his earliest youth with all the tenderness and solicitude of an indulgent and doting mother’s love. As he grew up ... he became a man of plain and peaceful life— He preferred the quiet occupation of a herdsman to the hazards and uncertainties [of Esau]...his boisterous and daring brother. ...

The quiet and meditative ... Isaac was greatly taken with the reckless and self-reliant hardihood of his wild and vagrant son Esau. And Jacob always appeared to a disadvantage in comparison with the...wild man of the desert and the wilderness. ... Esau’s [services] were received with gratitude and praise, because they were seldom bestowed and never could be relied upon.

[70] And it is always a bad bargain for one to barter away a good conscience ... for any amount of sensual gratification.

Esau is elsewhere, in the Scriptures, called a “profane person,” a man who made light of sacred things... And of all persons in the world the profane man throws away the greatest good for the least gratification. He dooms himself and others to everlasting exclusion from the Divine favor.

[195] Though Jacob had left Padan-aram in obedience to the divine direction, it was not without many misgivings that he retraced the road which he had trodden as a fugitive twenty years before. ... He knew that his long exile was the direct result of that sin, and he pondered ... the reproaches of an accusing conscience.

As he traveled southward from Mount Gilead, two hosts of heavenly angels seemed to encompass him behind and before. ... Jacob remembered the vision at Bethel so long before, and his burdened heart grew lighter at this evidence that the divine messengers who had brought him hope and courage at his flight...were to be the guardians of his return.

[86] To this wild river Jabbok ... Jacob had come... on his return from Padan-aram. Twenty years before, in his flight from his father’s home, he had crossed the same stream a lonely fugitive. ... The long and lonely exile...trial had made him strong and misfortune had made him rich. ...

[87] Jacob... saw in open day, as if encamped in the air, two hosts of angels encompassing him behind and before and moving with him for his protection. He remembered the vision of Bethel, and he rejoiced that the heavenly guardians who cheered him on his departure twenty years before were ready to welcome him on his return.

Patriarchs & Prophets (cont'd) Bible History/Old Testament, Vol. 1, Alfred Edersheim 1876-80 (1949 ed.)
[235] At the last all the sons of Jacob were gathered about his dying bed... Now...before him in prophetic vision the future of his descendants was unfolded. ... The character of each was described, and the future history of the tribe was briefly foretold. ...

Thus the father pictured what should have been the position of Reuben as the first-born son...

Next in age to Reuben were Simeon and Levi. They had been united in their cruelty.

[180] The last scene had now come, and Jacob gathered around his dying couch his twelve sons. ... Before him in prophetic vision, unrolled ... sketches of the tribes in their grand characteristics... the history of Israel.

[181] Such should have been the position of Reuben, as the firstborn. ... Next in age to Reuben were Simeon and Levi. Their wanton cruelty...had made them...companions...united for evil... Simeon had sunk to be the smallest tribe. ... Such of the families as...became powerful, afterwards left the Holy Land, and settled outside its boundaries. ... The tribe of Levi...their scattering was changed from a curse into a blessing. ...

[182] As the lion is king of the forest, so was Judah to have royal sway, through David onwards to the Son of David, the Shiloh, unto Whom, as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” all nations should render homage and obedience. ...

[236] At last the name of Joseph was reached, and the father’s heart overflowed as he invoked blessings. ...

[240] Joseph outlived his father fifty-four years. He lived to see “Ephraim’s children of the third generation: the children also of Machir ... were brought up upon Joseph’s knees. ...

Honored as he had been in the land of the Pharaohs... his last act was to signify that his lot was cast with Israel.

[185] At last Jacob comes to the name of his loved son Joseph. ...

[188] Other fifty-four years did Joseph live in Egypt. ... Ephraim’s children of the third generation, and Manasseh’s grandchildren “were brought up upon his knees.” ...

Joseph was full of honours in Egypt. ... Yet his last act was to disown Egypt, and to choose the lot of Israel.

Patriarchs & Prophets (cont'd) Bible History/Old Testament, (cont’d.), Vol. 2
[277] The hyssop used in sprinkling the blood was the symbol of purification, being thus employed in the cleansing of the leper and or those defiled by contact with the dead. In the psalmist’s prayer also its significance is seen: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean—” Psalm 51:7. [79] The sacrifice was means of “a branch of hyssop.”... In ancient times this plant was regarded as possessing cleansing properties. ...

[80] The sacrificial lamb, whose sprinkled blood protected Israel, pointed to Him whose precious blood is the only safety of God’s people; the hyssop (as in the cleansing of the leper, and of those polluted by death, and in Psalm li. 7) was the symbol, of purification.

Patriarchs & Prophets (cont'd) Bible History/Old Testament, (cont’d.), Vol. 3
[439] Balaam “loved the wages of unrighteousness.” 2 Peter 2:15. The sin of covetousness, which God declares to be idolatry, had made him a timeserver. ...

[440] Thus far the Lord would permit Balaam to follow his own will, because he was determined upon it.

[441] Balaam was blinded to the heavenly interposition. ...

[442] God now opened its mouth, and by “the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice,” he “forbade the madness of the prophet.” 2 Peter 2:16.

[21] With no spiritual, only a heathen acknowledgment of Jehovah, covetousness and ambition were the main actuating motives of Balaam. In the pithy language of the New Testament [2 Pet. ii. 15], he “loved the wages of unrighteousness.” ... And thus God gave him leave to do that on which he had set his heart. ...

[22] And so even “the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice, forbad the madness of the prophet.” [2 Pet. ii. 16]... Even so, Balaam still continued blinded, perverse, and misunderstanding, till God opened the mouth of the dumb animal.

Patriarchs & Prophets (cont'd) Bible History/Old Testament, (cont’d.), Vol. 4
[630] God’s repentance is not like man’s repentance. “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for He is not a man that He should repent.” Man’s repentance implies a change of mind. God’s repentance implies a change of circumstances and relations. Man may change his relation to God by complying with the conditions upon which he may be brought into the divine favor...but the Lora is the same “yesterday, and today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8. [76] God’s repentance is not like ours, for “the strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent; for He is not a man that He should repent.” Man’s repentance implies a change of mind, God’s a change of circumstances and relations. He has not changed, but is ever the same; it is man who has changed in his position relatively to God. ... God’s repentance is the unmovedness of Himself, while others move and change.

References and Notes

1. J. N. Andrews had taken a copy of Paradise Lost to Ellen White when he recognized that her account of the 'Great controversy" was similar to that of John Milton in his epic poem of 1667. According to Arthur L. White, she had put it up on a "high shelf" and not read it.... EGW's The Spirit of Prophecy was published by the Pacific Press first in four volumes (1870­77­78­84). A facsimile reproduction was issued in 1969 by the Review and Herald Publishing Association....The Conflict of the Ages Series, last, was to include five books The Great Controversy (1888), Patriarchs and Prophets (1890), The Desire of Ages (1898), The Acts of the Apostles ( 1911), and Prophets and Kings ( 1916).

2. An editorial notice about the forthcoming volume two of The Spirit of Prophecy appearing in the Review of 30 November 1876 said: "We are prepared to speak of this volume, now just issued, as the most remarkable volume that has ever issued from this Office." The paragraph was initialed by editor Uriah Smith.

3. Ronald L. Numbers deals with the endeavors of these "health reformers" in his Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1976). Their views were published in periodicals of the 1800s and these books, among others: (1) William A. Alcott, Lectures on Life and Health (Boston: Phillips, Sampson, and Co., 1853); (2) Larkin B. Coles, Philosophy of Health: Natural Principles of Health and Cure (Boston: William D. Ticknor & Co., 1849), (3) Sylvester Graham, Lectures on the Science of Human Life (New York: Fowler and Wells, 1858); (4) James Caleb Jackson, The Sexual Organism (Boston: B. Leverett Emerson, 1862); (5) Russell T. Trall, Pathology of Reproductive Organs (Boston: B. Leverett Emerson, 1862); (6)Joel Shew and Trall, editors of the Water­Cure Journal (1845­62).

4. Ellen G. White, Forward, Health or How to Live (Photographic reproduction, Mokelumne Hill, Calif., 1957); Review 30 (8 October 1867), p. 260.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ronald L. Numbers, Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1976).

8. Ingemar Linden, The Last Trump, p. 202. James White to Dudley M. Canright, 24 May 1881.

9. [John Harvey Kellogg], "An authentic Interview between Elder G. W. Amadon, Elder A. C. Bourdeau, and Dr.John Harvey Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan, on October 7th, 1907." A notarized stenographic report.

10. Ibid.

11. William S. Sadler to EGW, 26 April 1906, pp. 3­4.

12. EGW, Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 66­67. EGW to Battle Creek Church, 20 June 1882.

13. Jack W. Provonsha, Sabbath School Study Tape, 2 February 19.80. Glendale Committee Review, 28­29 January 1980.

14. H[orace] L[orenzo] Hastings, The Great Controversy between God and Man (Boston: Private printing by the author, [1858]).

15. Linden, The Last Trump, p. 211.

16. Earl W. Amundson, "Authority and Conflict-Consensus and Unity," photocopied (Paper presented at Theological Consultation, Glacier View Ranch, Ward, CO, 15­20 August 1980), pp. 12, 16.

17. See Appendix, Chapter 5 Comparison Exhibits.

18. Guy Herbert Winslow, "Ellen Gould White and Seventh­day Adventism" (Dissertation, Clark University, Worcester, MA 1932) p. 290. See also Robert W.Olsen "The Desire of Ages," photocopied (Washington: EGW)

19. EGW, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. l, pp. 118­19.

20. Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View: PPPA, 1890), pp.

21. Arthur L. White to Henry F. Brown, 23 September 1943.