G. I. Butler’s Letter to Ellen White-Controversy over Uriah Smith’s Book, Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Daniel and the Revelation


G. I. Butler’s Letter to E.G. White, dated July 3, 1910 (Click HERE for the original copy of the letter)

In the letter (from page 8-14), Butler addresses the controversy over Uriah Smith’s book, Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Daniel and the Revelation.

The following is provided by the Ellen G White Estate

Source: https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/943.48#49

Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation

I come now to another phase of this question, and that is Ellen White’s attitude toward the book, Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation. There have been those among us who have endeavored to maintain that the book was inspired. They have based their statement on the words which were penned by one of our early workers. The facts in the case, however, do not sustain the idea that there is inspiration in the work of Elder Smith in the sense in which we think of the inspiration of a prophet. Undoubtedly the angel stood by his side as he penned the important truths for the two books which were later combined into one. Be that as it may, Ellen White ever held the book, Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, in the highest esteem. This is seen from the quotations which follow: SUS 6.2

“The light given was that Thoughts on Daniel and the RevelationThe Great Controversy, and Patriarchs and Prophets would make their way. They contain the very message the people must have, the special light God had given his people. The angels of God would prepare the way for these books in the hearts of the people.”—E. G. White Letter 43, 1899. (Published in The Colporteur Evangelist, 21) SUS 6.3

“I consider that that book (Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation) should go everywhere. It has its place and will do a grand, good work.”—E. G. White Letter 25a, 1889. SUS 6.4

“Instruction has been given me that the important books containing the light that God has given regarding Satan’s apostasy in heaven should be given a wide circulation just now; for through them the truth will reach many minds. Patriarchs and ProphetsDaniel and the Revelation, and The Great Controversy, are now needed as never before. They should be widely circulated because the truths they emphasize will open many blind eyes.”—The Review and Herald, February 16, 1905. (Republished in The Colporteur Evangelist, 21) SUS 6.5

You will observe that these statements were penned from the years 1889 to the year 1905. Ellen White had occasion to write at length in 1899 devoting an entire manuscript to the book, Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation. This was written from Sunnyside in Australia. We are sending these commendable words to you with this. It was her statement, as it appears in this document, that Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation would do its work as long as probationary time should last that led to a revival of the book and to its current use today. Ellen White places, as you have observed, Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, with her books, Patriarchs and Prophets and Great Controversy, as a book which contains the truths for these times. SUS 6.6

Now, we do not understand this to mean that in every minor point presented in Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation Elder Uriah Smith held the only true and correct view. He dealt with the great basic truths in which we all agree and see clearly, and when he took up a verse-by-verse exposition he had to deal with a lot of prophecies on which the denomination had never taken any position, especially as they relate to predicted prophecies. He studied faithfully, he prayed earnestly, he sought counsel of his brethren, and did the best he could in dealing with these points, and the result was a book which has been a great service to this denomination and has led many hundreds of people to the light of the truth. SUS 6.7

I trust that this information will answer the questions which have been raised concerning Elder Smith. SUS 7.1

Ellen G White Estate, Inc.
Washington, D. C.
March, 1962

Few excerpts from the letter:

“Dear Sister “White:- There are some matters of which I have debated in my mind considerably as to the propriety of writing to you about. I do not want to burden your mind, or cause you sorrow. But, knowing as I do something of the Lord’s dealings with you, and how constantly He gives you light from the throne, I feel sure He has given yon light concerning this matter. So I reason that what I say will not add to your burdens, as doubtless all these matters you are divinely acquainted with. I wish to write something about the “daily” movements that have of late been progress.

“In the two meetings in Mass. I heard very little concerning the matter. Brother W. B. White the Union President, takes little stock in it. When he learned of Elders Daniels and Prescott’s determined to introduce their so-called “new light” into every Union Conference meeting from South Lancaster to the last one, Brother White walked out with Elder Daniels and told him plainly, all by himself that he thought he was doing wrong to do it. But it made no difference. Daniels had stated plainly in the presence of several that he was going to introduce in every conference that he attended. I have positive evidence that he did so in five or six of those union conference meetings, and doubtless he did in all of them.

“This new movement was pressed upon all of our union conferences, with all the zeal of our leading officials to support an old doctrine which “Early writings” declares was “correct,” and put in its place a new doctrine unknown among us till recently, stands out conspicuously as something without precedent in all the history of this denomination. The election of a President and other leading officials on the Executive Committee to transact necessary business connected with the Cause, never authorized them to bring in new doctrines in the place of the old doctrines held by our people for years, and press them upon our people, with all their official influence, as they have done. Brother Kress and others were present when it was pressed into the meeting at South Lancaster. They say that the spirituality of the meeting was greatly injured by the introduction of this new doctrine. This new movement serves to open the flood gates for the issuing of new doctrines. Dear Brother -Milton Wilcox, of the SIGNS office, has put forth a new pamphlet on Dan. 2, utterly contrary to Elder U. Smith’s presentation in his book. He takes the view that the the king of the North is the papacy, instead of the Turkish power. He is also advertising to write a commentary on the whole book of Daniel in the SIGNS.”

All these things are evidences to prove that unless some thing is done to check this avalanche of new doctrines coming in, we shall be a people flooded with new doctrines. I feel sure that you must know that for some twenty years past there has been a movement on foot to drive out Thoughts on Daniel and Revelation from being circulated. That nice little volume,- The Marvel of Nations,- which Brother Smith spent much means and time to improve and illustrate, has been driven out of circulation. It was once a fine_ selling book; some 70,000 were sold. But those in this movement never rested till it was squelched. The Review and Herald laid it on the shelf.

“But the old opposition is not dead by any means. A. T. Jones, E. J. Waggoner, and Milton Wilcox, and Brother Prescott, et al, have been foremost in this movement. Will you believe it when I tell you that at the Review Office they are even now considering what to do on this very point, and these new ideas of Elder Wilcox’s are just in line, tearing to pieces that excellent book which has brought more people into the truth than any other book that we published, I believe, is a wicked thing.

. . .

“Poor Brother Smith! When I think of the treatment he received during the Jones editorship, when, as he told me, he did not feel authorized to write a single note for the dear old Review, to which he had given the best efforts of his long and useful life; when he could write only one editorial per week; when he was treated with perfect contempt, almost, for three or four years, it stirs my soul! And then when Brethren Daniels and Prescott and one or two others got together in secret and put in Prescott as editor-in-chief, and set him aside, and he heard of it, it came home with such a shock to him that the next morning he could not utter a single word.”