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J. H. Waggoner was a self-taught man, a printer with a Baptist background who first heard and accepted the Sabbatarian Adventist message in 1851. He became associated with the other leaders in the young church in the 1850s, doing evangelistic work and authoring books while still working at his trade. His book The Law of God: An Examination of the Testimony of Both Testaments in 1854 became the forerunner of the controversy over the law and the gospel that would erupt some 30 years later (Manuscripts and Memories of Minneapolis, pp. 152.5; 304.2; 305.3). He moved to California in 1878 to manage Signs of the Times which he later edited.
Ellen White’s counsel to Waggoner frequently addressed the dynamics of his marriage and his temperament. His wife’s influence was unsanctified and he often was harsh and critical. Ellen White’s greatest challenge as a messenger of the Lord to him was addressing in 1886 the affinity he developed in California to a married woman. He left California for Battle Creek, but geographical change did not equate with heart change. Ellen White continued to work for his deep and full repentance in counsel with the GC president (21MR 380). Apparently the church leaders felt confident of his standing, and sent him that year to Europe to be editor of our German and French publication. He served in this capacity until his death three years later.
Adventist Pioneer Library, Ellen G. White Writings, Comprehensive Research Edition 2008,
“When men come in who would move one pin or pillar from the foundation which God has established by His Holy Spirit, let the aged men who were pioneers in our work speak plainly, and let those who are dead speak also, by the reprinting of their articles in our periodicals. Gather up the rays of divine light that God has given as He has led His people on step by step in the way of truth. This truth will stand the test of time and trial.” – Ellen G. White, Ms 62, 1905, The Retirement Years, 21.