Great Controversy Notes

Chapter 32, Pages 518-530

by Walter Rea

The Chapter entitled, "The Snares of Satan", in "Spiritual Gifts", Volume 4 and later revised in "Great Controversy", both supposedly written by Ellen White perhaps reaches a high point in deception. In a letter to the publication committee in 1911, W. C. White, Ellen's son, wrote the following:

"And notwithstanding the divine instruction regarding the plan of the book, which has made it so useful to the general public, Mother felt that it was addressed chiefly to the Adventist people of the United States. Later, in preparing it for a wider circulation. She omitted a few portions that had appeared in the earlier edition. Examples of these may be found in the chapter entitled, "The Snares of Satan," pages 518-530. Let us trace the history of this chapter.

In the book, "Spiritual Gifts", Volume 1, first published in 1858, and now constituting the latter part of the book, "Early Writings," there are forty-two articles. The thirty-second of these, entitled, "Covetousness," has four paragraphs, covering three pages in the letter book, dealing chiefly with the following people.

  1. Satan instructs his angels to lay snares for the Adventist people.
  2. Sleeping churches they can hold.
  3. The hatred Sabbath-keepers are taking away Satan's subjects.
  4. Go make the possessors of lands and money drunk with cares.
  5. Lead them to love and idolize the world.
  6. Keep all the means possible within our (Satan's) ranks.
  7. Disturb their meetings, and cause confusion.
  8. Destroy love for one another.
  9. Discourage and dishearten their ministers.
  10. Put in them a grudging disposition, and lead them to give sparingly.
  11. Satan leads all to indulge their besetting sins.
  12. He exults over the folly of those who enter his snares.
  13. The experience of Judas an example.
  14. Christ dishonoured by the mean acts of Christians.
  15. God displeased with selfishness.
  16. Every opportunity should be improved to do good to one another.

In this article, ten of the above sixteen subjects are dealt with in the first paragraph of thirty-seven lines. In the 1884 edition of "Great Controversy", Volume IV, this same subject or a portion of it, is treated under the heading, "Snares of Satan," and fills fourteen pages.

The first two topics are dealt with in the first paragraph of ten lines. The third topic, relating to the Sabbath-keepers taking away Satan's subjects and his hatred of them, is enlarged upon to occupy five paragraphs.

Topics 4-6 are expanded to three paragraphs, occupying a page.

Topic 7, regarding Satan's effort to bring distraction into the meeting and God's people, is enlarged upon to fill four paragraphs, making nearly two pages.

Topic 8 occupies nearly a page.

Than new topics are introduced relating mostly to false doctrines, that Satan strives to introduce among God's people. These fill eight pages, to the close of the chapter.

Spirit of Prophecy, Volume 4, Chapter 27

"The treatment of this chapter, in which Mother enlarges upon the subjects that are very briefly stated in her earlier writings, is an illustration of her manner of dealing with many of the subjects revealed to her in vision.

In her first visions the lives of the patriarchs, the mission and teachings of Christ and His apostles, and the controversy as carried forward by the church of Christ from the ascension to our day, were at first presented to her in outline, and were written out in brief, comprehensive articles as we find them in "Early Writings".

In later years, one group of subjects after another was shown her in vision repeatedly, and each time the revelation brought out more clearly the details of the whole, or of some features of the subject.

Consequently Mother has written and published her views on the various phases of The Great Controversy several times, and each time more fully.

That which was published regarding the fall of Satan, the fall of man, and the plan of salvation, in "Early Writings" occupied eight pages. The same subjects as published in "Patriarchs and Prophets" occupied thirty larger pages.

That which was published in 1858 about the life of Christ, as found in "Early Writings", occupied forty pages. The same as published in 1878 fills over six hundred pages of "Spirit of Prophecy", Volumes II and III. And as now published in "Desire of Ages" and in "Christ's Object Lessons", it fills more than a thousand pages.

In "Great Controversy", Volume IV, published in 1884, in the chapter "Snares of Satan", there are three pages or more of matter that was not used in the later editions, which were prepared to bold to the multitudes by our canvassers. It is most excellent and interesting reading for Sabbath keepers, as it points out the work that Satan will do in persuading popular ministers and church members to elevate the Sunday Sabbath, and to persecute Sabbath-keepers. ***

Now we know for sure that the pillars on all those books did not come from additional visions at all, but were filled in by copy work from other authors to make it say what Ellen and her helpers wanted to say. The bad part of the chapter "Snares of Satan", is that she has all her information in quotation marks as if she were actually in the presence of Satan and his councils listening in while in vision. The work in this chapter shows that this is very misleading if not down right deceitful.(1)**


I saw Satan and his angels consulting together. He bade his angels go and lay their snares especially for those who were looking for Christ's second appearing, and who were keeping all God's commandments. Satan told his angels that the churches were all asleep. He would increase his power and lying wonders, and he could hold them. But the sect of Sabbath keepers we hate. They are continually working against us, and taking from us our subjects, to keep that hated law of God.

Go, make the possessors of lands and money drunk with cares. If you can make them place their affections upon these things, we have them yet. They may profess what they please, only make them care more for money than the success of Christ's kingdom, or the spread of the truths we hate. Present the world before them in the most attractive light, that they may love and idolize. We must keep all the means in our ranks we can. The more means they have the more will they injure our kingdom by getting our subjects. And as they appoint meetings in different places, than we are in danger. Be very vigilant then. Cause all the distraction you can. Destroy love for each other. Discourage and dishearten their ministers, for we hate them. Hold up every plausible excuse to those that have means, lest they hand it out. Control the money matters if you can, and drive their ministers to want, and distress. This will weaken their courage and zeal. Battle every inch of ground. Make covetousness and love of earthly treasures the ruling traits of their character. …Satan took advantage of Judas' covetous, selfish disposition, and led him to murmur against the ointment Mary dedicated to Jesus. …If the eyes of such could be opened, they would see Satan in hellish triumph, exulting over them, and laughing at the folly of those who accept his suggestions, and enter his snaresI saw that God was greatly displeased with the least manifestation of selfishness on the part of his professed people, for whom Jesus has not spared his own precious life…every opportunity should be improved in doing good to one another, and increasing and growing more and more into the principles of heaven.

White, Ellen, Spiritual Gifts, Volume I & II, Pages 179-183 - 1858

Became this:

Says the great deceiver: "We must watch those who are calling the attention of the people to the Sabbath of Jehovah; they will lead many to see the claims of the law of God; and the same light which reveals the true Sabbath, reveals also the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and shows that the last work for man's salvation is now going forward. Hold the minds of the people in darkness till that work is ended, and we shall secure the world and the church also.

"The Sabbath is the great question which is to decide the destiny of souls. We must exalt the Sabbath of our creating. We have caused it to be accepted by both worldings and church members; now the church must be led to unite with the world in its support. We must work by signs and wonders to blind their eyes to the truth, and lead them to lay aside reason and the fear of God, and follow custom and tradition.

"I will influence popular ministers to turn the attention of their hearers from the commandments of God. That which the Scriptures declare to be a perfect law of liberty shall be represented as a yoke of bondage. The people accept their ministers' explanations of Scripture, and do not investigate for themselves. Therefore by working through the ministers, I can control the people according to my will.

"But our principal concern is to silence this sect of Sabbath-keepers. We must excite popular indignation against them. We will enlist great men and worldy-wise men upon our side, and induce those in authority to carry out our purposes. Then the Sabbath which I have set up shall be enforced by laws the most severe and exciting. Those who disregard them shall be driven out from the cities and villages and made to suffer hunger and privation. When once we have the power, we will show what we can do with those who will not swerve from their allegiance to God. We led the Romish Church to inflict imprisonment, torture, and death upon those who refused to yield to her decrees, and now that we are bringing the Protestant churches and the world into harmony with this right arm of our strength, we will finally have a law to exterminate all who will not submit to our authority. When death shall be made the penalty of violating our Sabbath, than many who are now ranked with commandmentkeepers will come over to our side.

"But before proceeding to these extreme measures, we must exert all our wisdom and subtlety to deceive and ensnare those who honor the true Sabbath. We can separate many from Christ by worldliness, lust, and pride. They may think themselves safe because they believe the truth, but indulgence of appetite or the lower passions, which will confuse judgment and destroy discrimination, will cause their fall.

"Go, make the possessors of lands and money drunk with the cares of this life. Present the world before them in its most attractive light, that they may lay up their treasure here, and fix their affections upon earthly things. We must do our utmost to prevent those who labor in God's cause from obtaining means to use against us. Keep the money in our ranks. The more means they obtain, the more they will injure our kingdom by taking from us our subjects. Make them care more for money than for the upbuilding of Christ's kingdom and the spread of the truths we hate, and we need not fear their influence; for we know that every selfish, covetous person will fall under our power, and will finally be separated from God's people.

"Through those that have a form of godliness but know not the power, we can gain many who would otherwise do us great harm. Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God will be our most effective helpers. Those of this class who are apt and intelligent will serve as decoys to draw others into our snares. Many will not fear their influence, because they profess the same faith. We will thus lead them to conclude that the requirements of Christ are less strict than they once believed, and that by conformity to the world they would exert a greater influence with worldlings. Thus they will separate from Christ; then they will have no strength to resist our power, and erelong they will be ready to ridicule their former zeal and devotion.

"Until the great decisive blow shall be struck, our efforts against commandment-keepers must be untiring. We must be present at all their gatherings. In their large meetings especially our cause will suffer much, and we must exercise great vigilance, and employ all our seductive arts to prevent souls from hearing the truth and becoming impressed by it.

"I will have upon the grounds, as my agents, men holding false doctrines mingled with just enough truth to deceive souls. I will also have unbelieving ones present, who will express doubts in regard to the Lord's messages of warning to his church. Should the people read and believe these admonitions, we could have little hope of overcoming them. But, if we can divert their attention from these warnings, they will remain ignorant of our power and cunning, and we shall secure them in our ranks at last. God will not permit his words to be slighted with impunity. If we can keep souls deceived for a time, God's mercy will be withdrawn, and he will give them up to our full control.

"We must cause distraction and division. We must destroy their anxiety for their own souls, and lead them to criticism, to judge, and to accuse and condemn one another, and to cherish selfishness and enmity. For these sins, God banished us from his presence, and all who follow our example will meet a similar fate."

White, Ellen, Spirit of Prophecy, Volume 4, Pages 337-340 - 1884


(1)** Copy of a letter written by Elder W. C. White.
Sanitarian, California, July 25, 1911
To the Members of the Publication Committee.

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