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Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)

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    Chapter 8—(1847-1848) Laying the Foundations

    The month of April, 1847, marked James White's first major publishing accomplishment—the issuance of a twenty-four-page pamphlet that he titled A Word to the “Little Flock.” The type was small and the margins narrow, yielding a page with twice the normal content of a book page of today.1BIO 127.1

    Just a year earlier, on April 6, 1846, he had arranged for the broadside publication of Ellen's first vision—a single large sheet printed on one side only. Two hundred and fifty copies were struck off in Portland, Maine. H. S. Gurney, blacksmith of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, shared the printing costs. It carried the significant title “To the Little Remnant Scattered Abroad.” A little more than two of the three columns were given to Ellen's first vision. Half of the third column was devoted to the vision of mid-February, 1845, concerning the heavenly sanctuary and the events at the end of the 2300 days (Early Writings, 54-56).1BIO 127.2

    Very clearly, A Word to the “Little Flock” represented the joint ministry of both James and Ellen. James had written several articles for publication in Crosier's short-lived Day-Dawn, but by the time they were ready, that paper had ceased publication. So after talking with the Howlands and some others, he decided to present the materials in pamphlet form. In his opening paragraph he explained:1BIO 127.3

    I wish to call the attention of the “little flock” to those things which will very soon take place on this earth.—A Word to the Little Flock, 1.1BIO 127.4

    He quoted Bible prophecy and then called attention to distressing world conditions, particularly famine and financial distress. He declared, “we cannot doubt ... that the ‘time of trouble, such as never was’ is fast coming upon the nations of the earth.”—Ibid.1BIO 127.5

    The pamphlet is Bible-based, with copious Scripture references and quotations. It seems clear that the visions given to Ellen helped James to sort things out and clarify the order of events. It will be remembered that in 1845 a move toward time setting had been averted when Ellen was shown that before Christ would come, “the saints must pass through the ‘time of Jacob's trouble,’ which was future.”—Ibid., 221BIO 128.1

    The pamphlet opens with an extended article on the seven last plagues. After quoting Revelation 15:1, James White asserts: “By the light of the brightly shining light (the Bible), we can see the events of our past experience distinctly; while future events may not be seen in their order so clearly.” Then he proceeds to suggest the order in which certain future events may be expected to take place, including the “marking or sealing of the saints” (A Word to the Little Flock, 3). Articles that follow carry the titles “The Voice of God,” “The Time of Trouble,” “The Time of Jacob's Trouble,” and “Thoughts on Revelation 14.” Thus, as Ellen White indicated in the early 1880s (Testimonies for the Church, 1:78, 79), the early believers understood clearly the intent of the first and second angels’ messages, but as to the third, which mentions the “commandments of God” and makes references to “the beast” and “his image,” there seemed to be considerable haziness. However, James wrote, “It is plain that we live in the time of the third angel's message.”—A Word to the Little Flock, 11. At this point he introduced Ellen's letter to Eli Curtis, referred to in chapter 7, a communication in which the visions given to her dealt with doctrinal points and clarified the relationship of events to come.1BIO 128.2

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