Word to the "Little Flock"—No. II

Our continued look at this writing of Ellen White.

By ARTHUR L. WHITE, Secretary of the Ellen G. White Publications

In August, 1851, Mrs. E. G. White's first book, A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, was published at Saratoga Springs, New York. Among the articles which comprise this work of sixty-four pages are two which had appeared in A Word to the "Little Flock." One was the first E. G. White vision, now found in Early Writings, pages 13-17, under the title "My First Vision," the other, a testimony-letter to Joseph Bates, now available in Early Writings, pages 32-35, under the title of "Subse­quent Visions."

Introducing her first vision, as presented in this book, Mrs. White stated : "Here I will give the view that was first published in 1846. In this view I saw only. a very few of the events of the future. More recent views have been more full. I shall therefore leave out a portion and prevent repeti­tion."—A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White (1851), p. 9.

Thus, in the first edition of her first book, pre­sented as only a "sketch," Mrs. White informed her readers that she was including only a part of what had appeared in earlier published accounts of these visions. She candidly set forth as the rea­son for these omissions the fact that in later chap­ters of the book there were fuller presentations of scenes regarding which but very brief reference had been made in her first vision. That there was great pressure for space in printing this little book is clearly indicated in the following incident re­counted by Mrs. White in later years :

"At one time in the early days of the message, Father Butler and Elder Hart became confused in regard to the testimonies. In great distress they groaned and wept, but for some time they would not give the reasons for their perplexity. However, being pressed to give a rea­son for their faithless speech and manner, Elder Hart referred to a small pamphlet that had been published as the visions of Sister White, and said that to his certain knowledge, some visions were not included. Before a large audience, these brethren both talked strongly about their losing confidence in the work.

"My husband handed the little pamphlet to Elder Hart, and requested him to read what was printed on the title page. 'A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Vieivs of Mrs. E. G. White,' he read.

"For a moment there was silence, and then my husband explained that we had been very short of means, and were able to print at first only a small pamphlet, and he promised the brethren that when sufficient means was raised, the visions should be published more fully in book form.

"Elder Butler was deeply moved, and after the ex­planation had been made, he said, 'Let us bow before God.' Prayers, weeping, and confessions followed, such as we have seldom heard. Father Butler said : 'Brother White, forgive me ; I was afraid you were concealing from us some of the light we ought to have. Forgive me, Sister White.' Then the power of God came into the meeting in a wonderful manner."—The Writing and Sending Out of the Testimonies to the Church (1913), pp. 8, 9.

With this necessity for limitation of space, it is but logical that any statements of seeming repeti­tion should be deleted as the visions were printed in this first little book. We offer two illustrations of this:

(I) Early in the account of the first E. G. White vision, as printed in A Word to the "Little Flock," is a statement describing the temple in heaven and that which was viewed by Mrs. White in this tem­ple. This was omitted when she prepared the mat­ter for her first book, for it is a close repetition i many respects of the description of what she was later shown of the temple in heaven in the view on the Sabbath, now found on pages 32 and 35 of Early Writings, under the chapter title "Subse­quent Visions."

(2) In the record of the foregoing vision, given at Topsham, Maine, April 7, 1847, there is a short paragraph dealing with the "mark of the beast." This was omitted by Mrs. White, as the account was republished in her first book, for we find an entire chapter in that work devoted to this subject —now found in Early Writings, pages 64-67, and bearing the title "Mark of the Beast."

Printing of "Early Writings," 1882

A second edition of the little book A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Mrs. E. G. White, with slight editorial changes acknowledged in the preface, was printed in 1882 and was made available either as a single volume, or bound with the reprinted Spiritual Gifts, Volume One (185 as Early Writings. Quite naturally the two visions taken from A Word to the "Little Flock" appeared in this 1882 reprint in identical form as they had ' appeared in Experience and Views.

Visions Reprinted in Full in 1883

In response to an expressed desire to have in their original entirety the two visions published in A Word to the "Little Flock" just as they had then been printed, including footnote references, the Re­view and Herald issued them in pamphlet form in 1883 and made them generally available. G. I. Butler, speaking of this, wrote:

"Within the last few years there has been a strong desire among our people to procure the earlier writings of Sister White. Early Writings was published last year to meet this want, and a large number of copies have been sold. These visions, with the exception of a few sentences, are contained in that volume. A few of our people have desired to obtain them exactly as they were originally published in A Word to the 'Little Flock.' To gratify this desire, the Publishing Association has printed them entire in a little tract, and all who wish them can obtain them."—Review and Herald Supple­ment, Aug. 14, 1883, p.5.

Two weeks later they were prominently adver­tised in the Review at three cents a copy postpaid. Only the two visions were reprinted at that time. In setting forth as the proper prerogative a prophet's right to reproduce "at any given time such portions of a vision as may best serve his pur­pose at the time being, while leaving out certain other portions which, to his mind are not impor­tant to the object which he has in view," W. H. Littlejohn, a prominent worker of early years, di­rected the readers of the Review and Herald to the several accounts of the first vision given to the apostle Paul. Elder Littlejohn stated:

"It will be observed that the phraseology of the above [the account as given by Luke in Acts 9:3-8 differs considerably from that employed by Paul when speaking of the same occurrence in the twenty-second and twenty-sixth chapter,s of Acts. It will be noticed, also, that the record of Luke is much more brief than the narrative of Paul. . . .

"If the reader will turn to the twenty-second and enty-sixth chapters of the book of Acts, and peruse the addresses which Paul made to the Jews at Jerusa­lem, and to Agrippa at Caesarea, respectively, he will find that Paul on these two occasions, varied his account of the visions at Damascus very materially, leaving out, in one, important facts and statements which are given in the other, and vice versa. . . . They both embody words of Christ, containing important directions or explanations. The vision was, not complete without them. By omitting them, therefore, Paul committed a very grave offense, provided they are correct who insist that prophets have no right to select from their visions such portions as they deem it expedient to narrate at any given time, leaving out such other portions as they may think ad­visable."—September 18, 1883.

Mrs. White's Attitude on Record

Mrs. White herself, commenting also on the fact that in later printings of her early visions some phrases and sentences were omitted, wrote: "So far from desiring to withhold anything that I have ever published, I would feel great satisfaction in giving to the public every line of my writings that ever been printed."—Ellen G. White MS 4, 1883. (Published in Appendix to A Word to the "Little Flock," p. 27.) It is with satisfaction there­fore, that, as a service to our workers, the entire tract is reissued in facsimile form, that all who wish copies may have them.

 

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By ARTHUR L. WHITE, Secretary of the Ellen G. White Publications

October 1944

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