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Autobiographical Sketch of Ellen G. White

Beginning to Publish

At a meeting held in Dorchester, Massachusetts, November, 1848, I had been given a view of the proclamation of the sealing message, and of the duty of the brethren to publish the light that was shining upon our pathway.

After coming out of vision, I said to my husband: "I have a message for you. You must begin to print a little paper and send it out to the people. Let it be small at first; but as the people read, they will send you means with which to print, and it will be a success from the first. From this small beginning it was shown to me to be like streams of light that went clear round the world."

from EGW Estate
Middletown, Conn. printing office where Charles H. Pelton (1805-1883) published the first four issues of Present Truth in 1849.—White Estate.

While we were in Connecticut in the summer of 1849, my husband was deeply impressed that the time had come for him to write and publish the present truth. He was greatly encouraged and blessed as he decided to do this. But again he would be in doubt and perplexity, as he was penniless. There were those who had means, but they chose to keep it. He at length gave up in discouragement, and decided to look for a field of grass to mow.

As he left the house, a burden was rolled upon me, and I fainted. Prayer was offered for me, and I was blessed, and taken off in vision. I saw that the Lord had blessed and strengthened my husband to labor in the field one year before; that he had made a right disposition of the means he there earned; and that he would have a hundredfold in this life, and, if faithful, a rich reward in the kingdom of God; but that the Lord would not now give him strength to labor in the field, for he had another work for him to do, and that if he ventured into the field, he would be cut down by sickness; but that he must write, write, write, and walk out by faith. He immediately began to write, and when he came to some difficult passage, we would unite in prayer to God for an understanding of the true meaning of His word.

The Present Truth

One day in July, my husband brought home from Middletown a thousand copies of the first number of his paper. Several times, while the matter was being set, he had walked to Middletown, eight miles, and back, but this day he had borrowed Brother Belden's horse and buggy with which to bring home the papers.

The precious printed sheets were brought into the house and laid upon the floor, and then a little group of interested ones were gathered in, and we knelt around the papers, and with humble hearts and many tears besought the Lord to let His blessing rest upon these printed messengers of truth.

When we had folded the papers, and my husband had wrapped and addressed copies to all those who he thought would read them, he put them into a carpetbag, and carried them on foot to the Middletown post office.

During July, August, and September, four numbers of the paper were printed at Middletown. Each number contained eight pages. [THE SIZE OF THE PAGES WAS ABOUT SIX BY NINE AND ONE-HALF INCHES.] Always before the papers were mailed, they were spread before the Lord, and earnest prayers, mingled with tears, were offered to God that His blessing would attend the silent messengers. Soon after the sending out of the first number, we received letters bringing means with which to continue publishing the paper, and also the good news of many souls embracing the truth.

With the beginning of this work of publishing, we did not cease our labors in preaching the truth, but traveled from place to place, proclaiming the doctrines which had brought so great light and joy to us, encouraging the believers, correcting errors, and setting things in order in the church. In order to carry forward the publishing enterprise, and at the same time continue our labors in different parts of the field, the paper was from time to time moved to different places. . . .

During the months of October and November, while we were traveling, the paper had been suspended; but my husband still felt a burden upon him to write and publish. We rented a house in Oswego, borrowed furniture from our brethren, and began housekeeping. There my husband wrote, published, and preached. . . .

Publishing the Advent Review

From Oswego we went to Centerport, in company with Brother and Sister Edson, and made our home at Brother Harris's, where we published a monthly magazine called the Advent Review.

In November, 1850, the paper was issued at Paris, Maine. Here it was enlarged, and its name changed to that which it now bears, the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. We boarded in Brother A.'s family. We were willing to live cheaply, that the paper might be sustained. The friends of the cause were few in numbers and poor in worldly wealth, and we were still compelled to struggle with poverty and great discouragement. We had much care, and often sat up as late as midnight, and sometimes until two or three in the morning, to read proof sheets.

Excessive labor, care, and anxiety, a lack of proper and nourishing food, and exposure to cold in our long winter journeys, were too much for my husband, and he sank under the burden. He became so weak that he could scarcely walk to the printing office. Our faith was tried to the utmost. We had willingly endured privation, toil, and suffering, yet our motives were misinterpreted, and we were regarded with distrust and jealousy. Few of those for whose good we had suffered, seemed to appreciate our efforts.

We were too much troubled to sleep or rest. The hours in which we should have been refreshed with sleep, were often spent in answering long communications occasioned by envy. Many hours, while others were sleeping, we spent in agonizing tears, and mourning before the Lord. At length my husband said: "Wife, it is of no use to try to struggle on any longer. These things are crushing me, and will soon carry me to the grave. I cannot go any farther. I have written a note for the paper, stating that I shall publish no more." As he stepped out of the door to carry the note to the printing office, I fainted. He came back and prayed for me. His prayer was answered, and I was relieved.

The next morning, while at family prayer, I was taken off in vision and was instructed concerning these matters. I saw that my husband must not give up the paper, for Satan was trying to drive him to take just such a step, and was working through agents to do this. I was shown that we must continue to publish, and the Lord would sustain us.

We soon received urgent invitations to hold conferences in different States, and decided to attend general gatherings at Boston, Massachusetts; Rocky Hill, Connecticut; Camden and West Milton, New York. These were all meetings of labor, but very profitable to our scattered brethren.

(Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, pp. 128-131, 140-141)

First Book Published

In the summer of 1851, there was printed by the Davidson Printing Company of Saratoga Springs, New York, a 64-page pamphlet entitled, A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White. This, her first book, contained not only articles from her pen that had formerly appeared in print, but also a few chapters presenting other matters which had been revealed to her, but which had not been previously published.

In 1854, a 48-page supplement to Experience and Views was issued, which included several later revelations. These two pamphlets, as reprinted in 1882, constitute the first two sections of Early Writings.1

The first book, a small one of sixty-four pages, was issued in 1851 under the title, A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White. The "views" referred to the visions that had been given to her. This book now forms the first part of Early Writings. Four years later, the first of a long series of pamphlets, entitled Testimony for the Church, came from the press. In due time these were gathered, republished, and eventually reached their present form in the nine volumes of the Testimonies for the Church.2

1Arthur White, Messenger to the Remnant: The Ellen G. White Books, p. 1
2T. Housel Jemison, A Prophet Among You, p. 213

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