“There is no subject which should be approached with more solemn reverence and awe, than that of the being and operations of the Spirit of God. On this subject we are instructed to speak with great circumspection. Said the Saviour:–Life Sketches of James and Ellen White, 1888 ed., pp. 408-409 (Appendix)
‘All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.’
It will not do to be careless in speaking on this subject, for, as will be seen by the connection of the above text, carelessness amounts to presumption.
When the heavens and the earth were created, “and all was yet dark and void, it is written that “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The record implies much more than is indicated by our word “moved.” It means brooding or hovering, as a bird over her eggs to quicken them into life. It indicates the formative process by which order and beauty were brought out from confusion and chaos. And thus, from the very beginning of God’s revelation of himself to man, to his Holy Spirit is ascribed the office of quickening and vivifying all things.
We have no sympathy with the speculations in which many indulge in regard to the nature or order of the Holy Spirit. Whether a person, or an emanation from the Father and Son, as some teach, or a manifestation of the power of God, as others argue, we have no opinion to offer. They who affirm that the Spirit is a person, differ materially among themselves as to the exact definition of the term person, and therefore the mere affirmation settles nothing even in their own minds. The being of God is incomprehensible. We accept the fact, and there we stand; reverence forbids that we should advance any further.”
The above quote has recently been shared on social media in various forms, yet its authenticity has been questioned due to its absence from all online editions of the book or other verifiable resources.
While currently awaiting definitive answers from various libraries and archives, this page will be updated with any developing information. Multiple scans have been presented from private copies, which seem to verify the content as genuine (please right click / view to expand):
One possible explanation was provided in the following scan, indicating that certain editions of the book around this era were scarce:
While the page containing author,
edition, and publisher information from the front of the book is currently unconfirmed, this page will be updated as more information is received. In the meantime, while rare, the quote itself seems to be legitimate; whether written by James White or another pioneer will hopefully be revealed soon.
UPDATE: A scan of the publisher’s page has been received; while it does not display the author’s name, it does show it to be the 1888 edition of “Life Sketches: Ancestry, Early Life, Christian Experience, and Extensive Labors, of Elder James White and his wife, Mrs. Ellen G. White.”
Since authorship of this work is attributed commonly to both James and Ellen White, it seems reasonable to conclude the statement is both authentic, and authored by
James White rather than Mrs. White. Any further scans or confirmations from research centers will be updated as received.
UPDATE: An email has been received from the White Estate on the quotation, confirming its authenticity yet lending surprising details about its author; it appears this section was published anonymously by the SDA Publishing Association after the death of James White, being primarily written by J.H. Waggoner.
That it was an addition of the denominational publishing house, not the words of the original author, may be significant and is certainly surprising. The implication is that the “We” encapsulated in the statement represented not only James and Ellen White, but accurately reflected the denominational position in 1888.
“Thank you for your email. The pages you sent are from the Appendix to the 1888 edition of Life Sketches of James and Ellen White (not to be confused with Ellen White’s Life Sketches ). Approximately the first half of the book was taken from James White’s autobiography, and the second half was drawn from Ellen White’s autobiography–mostly Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2. The six Appendix chapters, of which the one in question is the 5th, were prepared by the publisher (SDA Publishing Association) after James White’s death in 1881. The principal author was J. H. Waggoner, although the Appendix is published anonymously. We trust this information is helpful to you.
E. G. White Estate”