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    By W. A. Spicer

    (Two morning studies given August 19, 20, 1937, at the World Educational Convention, Blue Ridge, North Carolina)

    IN 1891 Mrs. White was called to go to Australia, where our cause had only recently been established. A year and a half later she wrote to the General Conference that she had written two thousand pages of material since going to Australia. Much of that year and a half she was suffering from neuritis in her arm and shoulder. She wrote: “My arm and shoulder have been full of suffering, hard to bear, but the hand has been able to hold the pen and trace words that have come to me from the Spirit of the Lord.”-Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 340.HEVI 86.1

    Out of those times of suffering, there came to us at the General Conference the finest instruction for the ministry, it seems to me, that we have ever had. The older ones among us will remember the booklet after booklet by which O. A. Olsen, then president, sent this matter out to the workers.HEVI 86.2

    And all through the years what a wonderful mass of material came forth, what wonderful instruction was given. Some years ago in Washington, I was preaching about these things. I said, “Sometime I should like to gather out one copy each of the different books that Sister White wrote, and build them up into one monument. That would be a monument to the gift that answers forever all that critics have ever said. There is the fruitage that none can explain save as a gift of God to the movement.”HEVI 86.3

    Next day the manager of the Review office, E. R. Palmer, came to me and said. “Let us do it.” We gathered all we could find in the General Conference and Review offices-one each of her different books. He piled them up in the art room of the Review and Herald, and a photograph was taken, with Brother Palmer standing by. I have an enlarged copy here this morning; let me pin it up. There is the monument to the gift manifested through Mrs. White. The monument of books is higher than the man’s head. There were sixty-five volumes. Besides that there were thousands of pages of writing and personal counsels that never went into book print. A wonderful thing was that lifework. Here was a girl, called in her very youth, with no education to speak of. She had to leave school at nine, I think it was, through an accident. No education for literary work. Yet the angel said, “Write.” At first, she says, her trembling hand could not hold a pen. But the angel said, “Write the vision!” She obeyed, and began to write. For seventy years that pen wrote on. What a wonderful monument of books this is.HEVI 86.4

    People who read them find the divine credentials in the reading of them. For instance, one leading lawyer said of “The Great Controversy:” “That book was not produced by education, but by inspiration.” In the early days, in the 50’s or 60’s, Mrs. White was preaching from the Bible on one of her favorite themes,-God and Nature.” A learned doctor of divinity was listening. After the sermon he said: “Why is it that we preachers have never preached those things from the Bible?” James White said then that if Mrs. White had had a literary training, a college education, people would have said she was a clever women, bright, intelligent, educated; and the woman and her training would have received the credit. James White said that in order that none but God should have the glory, that young woman was chosen in her weakness, that all the glory might be God’s. PICTUREHEVI 86.5

    A New England worker, a nurse, I believe, was invited by a wealthy woman to spend a little time at her home by the seaside. Our sister took along the book “Education.” This highly educated woman read it, and said: “The author of this book must have been a woman of exceptional education.” Our worker told her that quite the contrary was true. She explained how the author was called to Christian work as a young girl with no education except the very primary grades. That cultured, educated woman of the world said, “Then she must have written by inspiration.” And that is the only explanation of these things. These books bear the divine credentials.HEVI 86.6

    Years ago I was marooned in Brazil by a breakdown of a steamer. In the nine days of waiting and some days on the boat-two weeks altogether-I read the Bible through. I read six, eight, ten, and twelve hours a day. I never had such an experience with the Bible before. It seemed that that book just talked. I could see the march of the cause of God all down through the centuries. I found myself patting the Bible and saying, “I’m glad I’ve got you! You are a good book.”HEVI 87.1

    During the World War I was once marooned in Europe, after the United States entered the war. In ten days I read through the five volumes of the “Testimonies” in the same way-reading six or ten hours a day. I saw the same thing,-the development and expansion of the work of God in this advent movement.HEVI 87.2

    They are remarkable pieces of writing, these messages in “Testimonies for the Church.” Some may think the other volumes are the only ones that would appeal to folk in general; but really these are wonderful books, these “Testimonies for the Church.” I come to a chapter, “Parental Responsibility,” and I think, “Now I read about this subject only an hour or two ago. This will be a repetition.” But it is not-it is new and fresh and ever-flowing. If I had written about four times on that subject, you would say, “You had better stop now. You have said all that you can on that thing.” But these writings are like a flowing fountain, sending forth words of life ever fresh. Ever the uplifting, inspiring instruction abounds. Flashes of light appear in these pages, such as we do not find in ordinary good writing. The divine credentials go with the writings.HEVI 87.3

    Elder J. A. Rippey told us at the North Pacific meeting a few weeks ago, that one time recently, as he was traveling by train, he was reading a volume of the “Testimonies for the Church.” He left his book in his seat, and went into the car ahead. When he came back, a gentleman sitting near by was reading the book. The man apologized and started to return the book. But Elder Rippey said, “No, go on and read.” After a time the gentleman returned the book, saying: “I hold a chair on the faculty of a university in New York. I am continually reading books, but this is the finest literature I have ever read. Where can I get some of these books?HEVI 87.4

    Recently a patient at the Washington Sanitarium visited the pastoral training class at our college across the lawn. He is a clergyman, a man of Yale and of London University. While in the classroom he looked through Mrs. White’s “Testimonies to Ministers,” which was being used as a textbook. At the end of his visit he said to Prof. L. A. Semmens:HEVI 87.5

    “I have looked through this book, and I find it is the very best material you could place in the hands of young men studying for the ministry. These young people should count themselves fortunate in having such instruction. I have read some of Mrs. White’s works. With the limited education that she had, no one could write such books as she has written, unless inspired of God.”HEVI 87.6

    How do you explain it? Critics have tried to explain it; they have said, “W. C. White writes it.” I have said this when Brother White was on the platform, so I can say it now. We know that Brother White could not write one of those books, any more than you or I could.HEVI 87.7

    The critics used to say, “The secretaries and stenographers write them.” Well, we have had some of those secretaries and stenographers working for the General Conference, helping us, and they didn’t write anything like that for us. With all the qualifications of our good stenographers,-and I belong to that clan and love it, for shorthand took me to Europe fifty years ago this summer,-they cannot write things like that.HEVI 87.8

    A clergyman of one of the popular churches, connected with educational work, heard of a controversy over Mrs. White’s work, and looked up some of her books. He went to a critic, formerly with us, and said, “Look here, how do you explain these writings of Mrs. White?” And our former brother said, “I will tell you: Mrs. White had a genius for choosing stenographers and secretaries. They did the writing.” The clergyman laughed and said, “Well, I have had stenographers and secretaries,-good ones,-but I have never had any secretaries that wrote books like that for me!HEVI 87.9

    Unbelieving men of the world have tried to explain the coming of the books, but they can never do it. I will tell you the only explanation. It is the explanation that Mrs. White herself gave in The Review and Herald, July 26, 1906: “of myself I could not have brought out the truth in these books, but the Lord has given me the help of His Holy Spirit.”HEVI 87.10

    And that is the truth. No, sir, not one of us could do it. Gather together the best minds anywhere and give them plenty of time, and not a man among them could do it. But the Lord, in 1844, called that young woman to bear messages from Him, and we have these volumes of instruction, like no other devotional and expository books.HEVI 87.11

    “But,” says the critic, “there is plagiarism in ‘The Great Controversy.’ Mrs. White copied some paragraphs from historians without quotation and credit.” First of all, one may note, not all critics together that have ever attacked the gift could make up the book. “The Great controversy” from the books of other writers. Put all the critics in the library of the British Museum, and give them any number of years to work, and they could never produce “The Great Controversy.” The material and the expositions simply are not to be found in other books; and Mrs. White did not spend her life in libraries.HEVI 88.1

    What is the fact? In covering a few points in the Reformation story,-as when Luther stood before the emperor in the city of Worms, and, with his hand on the Bible, said, “Here I stand, I can do no other: May God help me,”-Mrs. White evidently wanted to let the words of the historian tell it. With no training in the technical literary method of punctuating and handling a historical quotation, she wrote into the story a few of the most familiar paragraphs from D’Aubigne’s or Wylie’s history of the Reformation. The open frankness with which these few familiar paragraphs of the historians were produced with no thought of concealment, is evidence that the author had no intent to plagiarize, in the ordinary sense of the word. We could never excuse or condone intentional plagiarism in anybody.HEVI 88.2

    And more than thirty years ago, when critics were calling attention to this use of a few paragraphs from the historians, Mrs. White’s attention was one day drawn to it at her home. She did just what her whole life had shown she would do. She immediately gave instruction to her helpers to go through her book, and mark every sentence or paragraph she had taken from those historians, and insert the proper punctuation for introducing a quotation, and, further, to give not only credit to the author quoted, but the title and page of the book from which the quotation was made. She saw to it herself that this was done for the next edition of the book.HEVI 88.3

    And all these many years “The Great Controversy” has met the requirements of the highest standard of up-to-date literary methods. I say up-to-date because the carefulness among later writers in giving credit did not obtain so essentially a generation or two ago. In London, last year, I bought an old copy of John Wesley’s famous “Notes on the New Testament.” I bought it for a shilling in order merely to tear out the preface, to illustrate the old method that passed in religious literature in former times. In this preface, that I hold in my hand, Wesley, a literary man and an Oxford University scholar, explained how he had gathered matter from various sources, which he had used without credit. He wrote:HEVI 88.4

    It was a doubt with me for some time, whether I should not subjoin to every note I received from them, the name of the author from whom it was taken; especially as I had transcribed some, and abridged many more. But, upon due consideration, I resolved to name none, that nothing might divert the mind of the reader from the point in view, and from receiving what was spoken only according to its intrinsic value.”HEVI 88.5

    That might do in religious writing in that time, and it did do. One may find it in other old-time works. There was a different standard of literary methods. Mrs. White’s father was a Methodist elder, and no doubt Wesley’s “Notes” was a familiar book in that home. But that old-time method would bring criticism today. And but a few minutes after Mrs. White’s attention was called to the criticism being made of her method, her helpers had their instruction to submit to her the proper markings in this matter of punctuation and credit. Mrs. White’s supreme concern was to get the messages of truth to the people and to the world. She even disavowed any idea that credit should be given her. It was no gift of her own that she exercised, but the gift of the Spirit of God.HEVI 88.6

    Toward the close of her life, Mrs. White wrote to Elder O. A. Olsen:HEVI 88.7

    “The question is sometimes raised, ‘What if Mrs. White should die?’ I answer: ‘The books that she has written will not die. They are a living witness. ’ ”HEVI 88.8

    How true that is. I hear in this convention men reading from this book and from that book, living words from the Spirit of prophecy applying to just the work that we have in hand today. The servant of God was laid away to rest in 1915, but her books are speaking to our people in all the wide world. And often this instruction seems to be written, not for her day, but for us today. Inspiration marches along with the movement. It speaks with a living voice today and for our day. The books do not die. But the critic says: “Now, where is your Spirit of prophecy? Your prophet is dead.” Well, let us look at the type just a moment. The Lord chose Moses as His prophet through the wilderness journey. He spoke messages of guidance from God. But just before they reached the land of Canaan, God laid His servant away; and a little later, under the instruction that Moses had written by the Spirit of prophecy, the people marched into the land.HEVI 88.9

    Now, I would not try to apply a type mechanically in every detail, but it is an illustration for us at least. We have marched the long journey, aided by the instruction of the Spirit of prophecy. We are nearly to the border of the heavenly Canaan. And now the Lord has laid his servant away. And under the instruction left for us, in a little while the movement will march into the eternal Land of Promise.HEVI 88.10

    When Mrs. White died, the leading religious journal of America, then the New York Independent, said editorially:HEVI 89.1

    “Of course, these teachings [of Seventh-day Adventists] were based on the strictest doctrine of inspiration of the Scriptures. Seventh-day Adventism could be got in no other way. And the gift of prophecy was to be expected, as promised to the ‘remnant church,’ who had held fast to the truth. This faith gave great purity of life and incessant zeal. No body of Christian excels them in moral character, and religious earnestness. [The growth of the work and institutions was described.] ... And in all this, Ellen G. White has been the inspiration and guide. Here is a noble record, and she deserves great honor.”HEVI 89.2

    That is the way an observing man of the world wrote. Let the critics criticize; men of the world looking on, know that here was a gift that helped to build up a great work and movement in a strong way. They honored the memory of the woman who exercised a gift like that. And the editor said further:HEVI 89.3

    “Did she really receive divine visions? ...Why should we answer? One’s doctrine of the Bible may affect the conclusion. At any rate, she was absolutely honest in her belief in her revelations. Her life was worthy of them. She showed no spiritual pride and she sought no filthy lucre. She lived the life and did the work of a worthy prophetess.”HEVI 89.4

    Why, brethren, there is nothing in the whole experience of the Spirit of prophecy among this people that calls us to apologize. The world smiles and critics scoff at the idea of a prophet in modern times; but men of affairs and of large observation, who watched, knew that some gift resided in this servant of the Lord that wrought powerfully in the upbuilding of a great world work. “Here is a noble record, “this editor said, “and she deserves great honor.”HEVI 89.5

    Mrs E. G. White lived her life before all, and it was a noble Christian life. That was the testimony of even the bitterest critic that this gift ever had-D. M. Canright. His brother, the late Samuel Canright, who lived in Battle Creek, bore witness to this. By the way, Samuel Canright told me that when D. M. Canright left us, in 1886, he went to him.HEVI 89.6

    “I said, ‘Dudley, you are leaving the Adventists; do you advise me also to leave them?’ He turned on me almost fiercely, and said ‘No, you stay with them. You’ll ruin your life if you leave them.’” Samuel Canright said, in telling me the story long after: “I thought that was good advice, and I am glad I followed it.HEVI 89.7

    This brother told us that when Mrs. White died, his brother came to the funeral at Battle Creek. The brothers stood together in the congregation, as the time came for the people to file past and take a last look at the sleeping servant of God. As the brothers filed past the casket with others, D. M. Canright was mightily moved with emotion. They came back to their places, and stood as others were passing. Presently D. M. Canright said. “Let us go down again.” And so again they joined that procession. Standing the last time by the casket, D. M. Canright put his hand on the edge of the coffin and looked down into that sleeping face. With tears rolling down his cheeks, he said: “There is a noble christian woman gone.” And that is the truth. It is a true tribute, by the critic who wrote the bitterest things about this gift of the Spirit of prophecy, things that others repeat to this day. It was a noble Christian life that Mrs. White lived before all. Called of God in consecrated girlhood, given an important, solemn work to do, she was faithful to the call. Brethren and sisters and teachers, we thank God for the gift of the Spirit of prophecy in the advent movement. Through this gift God has wrought powerfully in bringing the movement out and leading us all our days. May God help us to use this gift as the help and guide that He intended it to be. (To be continued) The Review and Herald, January 13, 1938.HEVI 89.8

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