This page has the Foreword and Appendix added to the A Word to the "Little Flock" which was inserted by the trustees of the Ellen G. White Publications when the pamphlet was reprinted many years later.
Seventh-day Adventist workers will welcome the appearance of this facsimile reproduction of A Word to the "Little Flock." This remarkable document, issued during the critical four-year period between the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844, and the memorable Sabbath conferences of 1848, gives an insight into the experience and thinking of our pioneers in their earnest efforts to discover their position and work and to ascertain what the future held for the believers and the world.
While this pamphlet, issued in May, 1847, contains statements signed by three early workers, James White, Ellen G. White, and Joseph Bates, it is primarily a James White publication devoted to the setting forth of his views of unfulfilled prophecy. At that time there were probably not more than one hundred Sabbath-keeping Adventists in the United States. As a youthful minister of twenty-five, he worked almost alone in setting forth the views he had, up to that time, formulated. This was nearly a year before the first of the five Sabbath conferences convened, at which time those whom we today revere as our spiritual forefathers met together and with open minds and hearts searched the Word of God to better understand its truths.
With a full understanding of the historic setting of A Word to the "Little Flock," the reader will not be disturbed by finding that in a few instances positions set forth by Elder White on some points were modified by him in later years, as more mature and joint study revealed clearer views. This document presents a picture primarily of one worker's attempt to cheer and aid those about him through a dissemination of light which was beginning to unfold. To one familiar with the many contemporary voices that were heard advocating discordant views and extreme positions, the clarity of reasoning and the essential correctness of perspective and purity of teaching of these articles are remarkable.
Also of interest in this early publication are the three communications written by Mrs. E. G. White, depicting the experiences yet before the people of God. Two of these, being presentations of important visions, have been largely reprinted again and again in the E. G. White books. That some words, phrases, and sentences which appeared in these early accounts were left out by Mrs. White in later printings has been a source of concern to some. For a brief account of the first printing of these visions and a discussion of the omissions, together with Mrs. White's explanation, the reader is directed to the appendix.
...(remarks concerning publication in original form - definitely pre-internet) may lead to a better understanding of the experience of the founders of the message, and that it may satisfy the frequently expressed desire to have at hand for careful study, the initial E. G. White visions as first printed, is the sincere wish of the Publishers and the Trustees of the Ellen G. White Publications.
The reader will have observed that three communications from the pen of Mrs. E. G. White were included in A Word to the "Little Flock."
First, there is the letter appearing on pages 11 and 12, addressed to Eli Curtis, in reply to his request for Mrs. White's comments on his prophetic positions as presented in articles in the Day-Dawn. In this letter Mrs. White refers to his views on such points as the two resurrections, the Holy City, the cleansing of the sanctuary, etc. This published letter was never reprinted, as the fuller presentation of her views on these subjects obviated the necessity of its being repeated.
The second communication from Mrs. White, found on pages 14-18, is an account of her first vision under the title, "To the Remnant Scattered Abroad." this was written December 20, 1845, as a personal letter to Enoch Jacobs, and was first published by the recipient in The Day-Star of January 24, 1846. Then on April 6, 1846, it was reprinted in broadside form by James White and H. S. Gurney. The statement as it appears in A Word to the "Little Flock," with the exception of minor editorial changes and added scripture references, is identical with the full account of the vision as first printed.
It may be of interest to note that Mrs. White states in a post-script of her letter to Mr. Jacobs, that this account "was not written for publication," and commenting later she wrote, "Had I for once thought it was to be spread before the many readers of your paper, I should have been more particular." E. G. Harmon, in Day-Star, March 14, 1846.
The third Ellen G. White communication, occupying pages 18-20, is a reprint of a letter addressed to Joseph Bates, presenting an account of a vision which was given April 7, 1847, in which Mrs. White was shown the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary, and was then carried into the future and viewed scenes connected with the conflicts and victory of the church. This was first published in broadside form by Elder Bates accompanied by his remarks found on page 21 of A Word to the "Little Flock." Scripture references were also added by James White to this third E. G. White communication as it went into print in this pamphlet.
In August, 1851, her 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 the last two just referred to, which appeared in A Word to the "Little Flock" - the first E. G. white vision and the letter to Elder Bates. See Early Writings, pages 13-20, 32-35.
Introducing her first vision as presented in this book, Mrs. White stated, "Here I will give the view which 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, p. 9.
Thus, in the first edition of the first E. G. White book, purporting to be only a "sketch," Mrs. White informed her readers that she was not including all of that which had appeared in earlier published accounts of these visions. A fuller presentation of scenes regarding which but very brief reference has been made in her first visions was given in later chapters of the book, and was set forth by her as the reason for these omissions. We offer two illustrations of this.
Near the center of page 16 of A Word to the "Little Flock" is found a statement describing the temple in heaven and that which was viewed by Mrs. White in this temple. This statement is one which was omitted when she prepared the matter for her first book, for it is a close repetition in many respects of the description given on page 18, now found on pages 32 and 33 of Early Writings.
On page 19 of A Word to the "Little Flock" appears a short paragraph dealing with the "mark of the beast." This paragraph also was omitted by Mrs. White, but we find an entire chaper devoted to this subject in Early Writings, pages 64-67.
The scripture references which appear in the E. G. White communications in A Word to the "Little Flock" were inserted by James White. With these are six references to Second Esdras of the Apocrypha. James White assumed the full responsibility for the insertion of all these references, as has been noted by his statement appearing at the bottom of page 13, and they constitute no part of Mrs. White's account.
It will also be observed that in the center of page 19, in connection with the statement regarding the beast and the image beast, the number "666" is found inserted in marks of parenthesis as are the letters referring to the scripture references. The fact that this number appears in parentheses indicates clearly that is was not a part of the vision, but was inserted by Joseph Bates, the first publisher, as were the scripture references by James White, and reflects the view held by him at that time.
In addition to Mrs. White's brief 1851 statement, referred to above, as to why omissions were made when her first book was published, she, in 1883, wrote at length dealing with most of these omitted portions. Her explanation follows.Mrs. White's Explanation (remarks regarding apparent 'discrepancies' by Ellen White in 1883).