We have now tested the writings and teachings of Mrs. E. G. White by comparing them with the great fundamental truths of revelation as set forth by the Scriptures, and have found them to be in perfect harmony therewith. We have noted her recognition of the church as Christ's organized body on earth. We have observed how her messages have urged the church on to its present degree of success. We are confident that the thoughtful, reverent reader will recognize in these features that have been presented a masterful dignity and a wise generalship that are consonant with the claim that she was guided by a higher Intelligence in thus directing the church.
There remains in the field of evidence that should be presented in weighing the claims of Mrs. White to the prophetic gift, the narration of certain incidents illustrative of the practical working of the gift in guiding the church in her divine mission.
In other books or in periodical articles may be found many early incidents of Mrs. White's work,incidents largely personal, and pertaining chiefly to the early days of her work when the cause was comparatively small. In relating a few of the many striking illustrations of the operation of the gift as manifested through Mrs. White, I shall confine myself to certain larger issues that have come within the range of my own experience, and which exerted a profound influence upon the major plans and policies of the administration and the welfare of the church.
As I approach this great and sacred endeavor, I feel constrained to make a statement regarding my personal acquaintance with Mrs. Ellen G. White during a period of twenty-three years of close association in the work in which we had mutual relationships.
This personal acquaintance and association began in the year 1878, when I was just beginning my work in the gospel ministry in the State of Texas. In the autumn of that year, Mrs. White, with her husband, came to our field to attend a general meeting of the new believers who had recently joined our ranks.
At the close of the meeting, they decided to remain for the winter. As they were alone and in rather poor health, it was arranged that my wife and I should join them in their rented home, to give them such service as we could. In this way we became members of their family, for the time. My wife superintended the household affairs, and I assisted Elder White in his writing and other activities. This was a valuable experience for us, and one never to be forgotten. We remained with them until they left Texas in the following summer.
In 1886, I was called to ministerial work in Australasia. In the autumn of 1891,thirteen years after my first association with Mrs. White,it was my privilege to meet her and her attendants at the port of Sydney, and to extend to them a truly heartfelt welcome to that mission field.
A few weeks later, I was elected to the presidency of the newly organized Australian Conference, and continued in that office during the nine years of Mrs. White's residence in that field. This official responsibility kept me in unbroken association with her. Our mission field was vast. Our problems were heavy, and some of them very perplexing. It fell to my lot to promote evangelistic activities, to give counsel in the organization of churches and conferences, to superintend the erection of church buildings, and to foster many other phases of the gospel work.
Our membership increased encouragingly, and it became necessary to establish a training school for Christian workers, also church schools for the children of our believers. Then followed the erection of a sanitarium for the treatment of the sick, and the establishment of a factory for the manufacture of health foods.
I was young, and utterly inexperienced in most of these undertakings. As president, I was held more or less responsible for
progress in all these endeavors. I needed counsel. This I sought at every important step from Mrs. White, and I was not disappointed I was also closely associated in committee and administrative work with her son, W. C. White. His counsel was very helpful to me; it was based on a longer experience than my own, and also upon his intimate knowledge of the many messages of counsel that had been given through his mother during past years, in meeting conditions similar to those we were facing.
It is hardly necessary to state that nearly nine years of such intimate association enabled me to gain a clear insight into the life of Mrs. White, and to reach a well-considered conclusion regarding her high claims to inspiration.
In 1900 we all returned to the United States, and in the spring attended the session of the General Conference held in Battle Creek, Michigan. At this Conference Mrs. White delivered many solemn messages regarding our work. Some were warnings of dangers we were facing. Others urged a great advance into the unentered parts of our world field. Important changes and improvements in administrative methods were called for. In fact, nothing less than a complete reorganization was demanded.
With those revolutionary changes outlined, I was overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility when I was unexpectedly called to the presidency of the General Conference. I could not have given the consent of my mind to accept the office, were it not for the invaluable experience I had gained under the counsels of Mrs. White during the years in Australia. I was also encouraged by the expectation that she would remain in this country, and that I might still have her counsel as it had been so freely given in the mission field.
In attempting to effect the sweeping changes, especially in organization, called for by the messages given at the General Conference, it was inevitable that conservative elements should be alarmed and disconcerted. It was only to be expected that in the distribution of responsibilities, some who had for years
occupied positions of great prominence should find it difficult to relinquish a portion of the administrative power that had long been held by them. Added to these divisive factors, there was a still more serious cause for anxiety in certain new and subversive teachings that were being advocated by some men prominent in the ministry and in some official positions.
After two years of great perplexity and of increasing controversy with some of my brethren whose judgment differed from mine, we came to the time of the General Conference of 1903, with every prospect of facing debate and opposition over features both of organization and of doctrine. I had sought earnestly, as far as I knew, to act in harmony with the counsel of the Lord's messenger. But we were separated by two thousand miles, or more, and there had been so many weighty problems that called for immediate action that there had frequently been neither time nor opportunity to seek guidance through her counsel as often as I desired.
At this time I was weary and heartsick at the prospect. I was sorely tempted to lay down the responsibilities of leadership, and go to a country across the broad Atlantic where I might give the rest of my life to simple gospel ministry. But I did not want to run away from duty or to act rashly. I set aside the Sabbath day before the Conference in Oakland, California, for fasting and prayer, that I might know my duty. I trusted that thus I might receive light from the Lord.
This experience of prayer, and its sequel, is so personal and sacred to me that it is with great reluctance that I make it public. It seems fitting, however, to relate it here because of its profound influence upon my later relations to the controversial and administrative problems with which I had to deal. It also marked the beginning of an important era of wholehearted acceptance of the spirit of prophecy and of my deep interest in the subject.
After hours of agonizing prayer for some sign or evidence of my own personal acceptance with the Lord and of His support in the great conflict before me, the answer was given. The Lord
came graciously near me, and gave me a most profound impression. Every doubt was removed from my mind. I knew that I must not run away from the work to which I had been called by my brethren, and that I must stand with them at my post of duty. I was deeply impressed that I must be as true as the needle to the pole to the counsels of the spirit of prophecy, that I must stand loyally by the Lord's servant, upholding her hands, and leading this denomination to recognize and appreciate her heaven-sent gift.
As distinctly as if audibly spoken, the words burned into my mind as a message from heaven, If you will stand by My servant until her sun sets in a bright sky, I will stand by you to the last hour of the conflict.
I then made my solemn promise to the Lord that I would be true to His cause, that I would do all in my power to prevent anything from arising in this denomination to dim the glory of the priceless gift and of the Lord's servant who had exercised this gift for so many years.
In reviewing the experiences of the years that followed, I am not unmindful of the help that came from the Lord in this direct answer to personal prayer for wisdom, courage, and victory. Nor am I forgetful of the great service rendered by the members of the various committees and boards with which I was associated. But beyond this we were often in sore need of the help God foreordained to give His church through His messenger to whom He imparted the prophetic gift. During fifteen out of the twenty-one years of my presidency of the General Conference, Mrs. White was my chief earthly counselor. My responsibilities were heavy all of the time. My dangers were great. Often my perplexities were bewildering and almost crushing.
Until nearly the close of her life, in 1915, Mrs. White continued to take an active part in all the major interests of the cause to which she had given unreserved devotion for seventy-one years. The great problems in both home and foreign lands
which her messages urged upon me led to scores of personal interviews, and brought many messages of instruction and warning, and sometimes of needed reproof.
In this present year of our Lord 1935, Mrs. White has been at rest twenty years, while I have been toiling on. I had had twenty-three years of direct observation of her lifework. Since her death I have now had twenty additional years for thoughtful reflection and study of that life and its fruits. Now, at an advanced age, with the constraint of expressing only sober, honest truth, I can say that it is my deep conviction that Mrs. White's life far transcends the life of anyone I have ever known or with whom I have been associated. She was uniformly pleasant, cheerful, and courageous. She was never careless, flippant, or in any way cheap in conversation or manner of life. She was the personification of serious earnestness regarding the things of the kingdom. I never once heard her boast of the gracious gift God had bestowed upon her, or of the marvelous results of her endeavors. She did rejoice in the fruitage, but gave all the glory to Him who wrought through her.
I realize that these are grave statements, but they come from the deepest conviction and soundest judgment that I am capable of rendering. They are uttered in the sobering atmosphere of my last illness, as I face the Judge of all the earth, before whose presence I realize that I soon shall stand.
Previous chapters have recorded some of the marvelousyes, miraculousprovidences that attended certain of the divine messages that came from her pen. But the experiences related in those chapters in nowise exhaust the issues of first magnitude wherein the prophetic voice has guided the denomination and its leaders, or saved them from losing their bearings. But other major episodes, not recorded here, have been largely outside the range of my own personal contact and observation.
I will allude, by way of illustration, to but one such. This will not be developed in these pages, for it occurred while I was
serving in Australia, and I was not, therefore, a personal
observer or a participant. In a great crisis that came over the principle of
righteousness by faith in the latter part of the 80's and in the early 90's,
the Lord's messenger took her stand almost alone by the side of those who
brought this basic principle of Christian life and service to the forefront,
amid either hesitancy or active opposition on the part of many. On the platform
before large gatherings and in article after article in the Review and
Herald, Mrs. White set forth clearly the issues involved. No other group of
her written messages has so profoundly moved me, or so influenced my life in
later years, as have those inspired messages from God. They tally fully with
the teaching of the word, and they support the witness of evangelical truth
through the ages. This experience is but one example out of a constant series
of vital issues met during the full span of her witnessing.