Was Mrs. White “Influenced to Write Testimonies”?

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Section Titles
What Mrs. White Actually Said-Quotation Number 1
Quotation Number 2
Quotation Number 3
Three Conclusions That Follow
Critic's Exhibit Number One of “Influenced” Testimonies
“Elder E. P. Daniels' Reply.
The Notable Case of Nathan
A Postscript to the Exhibit
Critic's Exhibit Number Two of “Influenced” Testimonies
Two Facts That Explain Much
Large Building Plans Develop
Counsel Given in Testimony No. 12
The Key Passage Examined
The Nature of Mrs. White's Confession
Are Prophets Infallible?
James White's Relation to the Matter
Resolution Exonerates Elder and Mrs. White
The Critic's “Proof” From Deleted Names
The Critic's “Proof” Regarding “Hidden Sins”
God Is Sparing of Miracles
Certain Facts to Consider in Rejoinder
Did She Conduct a Gossip Department?
How Gossipmongers Work
Effects Produced by Mrs. White's Letters
Adventists Far From Being Bewitched
Dr. J. H. Kellogg Testifies for Mrs. White
Canright Testifies for Her
The Most Remarkable of All the Facts
The Nature of Our Claim for Mrs. White

Was Mrs. White “Influenced to Write Testimonies”?

Charge: Mrs. White's allegedly inspired testimonies to different persons presented only what she had learned from gossip, or what some interested party had influenced her to write. She really had no more enlightenment than anyone else. She included the names of people in her early printed testimonies. Later she left them out. That proves false her claim that God directed her writing. That she had no special inspiration is further revealed in her claim to reveal hidden sins, which claim she could not support.

As might be expected, certain “proofs” in support of this charge are wholly in the realm of rumor and hearsay, with no documentary evidence submitted for examination. No reasonable person will expect us to take time considering seriously, for example, an alleged conversation of the long ago that is said to have disclosed damaging evidence against Mrs. White, but which conversation, if it really took place, was recorded only in the memory of an avowed enemy of Mrs. White. When such worthless “proofs” are eliminated there remain two specific exhibits in the writings of Mrs. White's most voluminous critic that can be examined.

What Mrs. White Actually Said-Quotation Number 1

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But first, let us ask: Just what did Mrs. White say regarding the factors that prompted her to write her testimonies to individuals and church organizations? Here is what she says in Testimonies, volume 3:

“God has been pleased to open to me the secrets of the inner life, and the hidden sins of his people. The unpleasant duty has been laid upon me to reprove wrongs and to reveal hidden sins. When I have been compelled by the Spirit of God to reprove sins that others did not know existed, it has stirred up the natural feelings in the hearts of the unsanctified. While some have humbled their hearts before God, and with repentance and confession have forsaken


their sins, others have felt a spirit of hatred arise in their hearts. Their pride has been hurt when their course has been reproved….

“Some are ready to inquire, Who told Sister White these things? They have even put the question to me, Did any one tell you these things? I could answer them, Yes; yes, the angel of God has spoken to me. But what they mean is, Have the brethren and sisters been exposing their faults? For the future, I shall not belittle the testimonies that God has given me, to make explanations to try to satisfy such narrow minds, but shall treat all such questions as an insult to the Spirit of God. God has seen fit to thrust me into positions in which he has not placed any other one in our ranks. He has laid upon me burdens of reproof that he has not given to any other one.”—Pages 314, 315.

Quotation Number 2

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And here are her words in volume 5, addressed to the church at Battle Creek in regard to a testimony she had earlier sent to them:

“Suppose—as some would make it appear, incorrectly however—that I was influenced to write as I did by letters received from members of the church. How was it with the apostle Paul? The news he received through the household of Chloe concerning the condition of the church at Corinth was what caused him to write his first epistle to that church. Private letters had come to him stating the facts as they existed, and in his answer he laid down general principles which if heeded would correct the existing evils. With great tenderness and wisdom he exhorts them to all speak the same things, that there be no divisions among them.

“Paul was an inspired apostle, yet the Lord did not reveal to him at all times just the condition of his people. Those who were interested in the prosperity of the church, and saw evils creeping in, presented the matter before him, and from the light which he had previously received he was prepared to judge of the true character of these developments. Because the Lord had not given him a new revelation for that special time, those who were really seeking light, did not cast his message aside as only a common letter. No, indeed. The Lord had shown him the difficulties and dangers which would arise in the churches, that when they should develop, he might know just how to treat them.”—Page 65.

Quotation Number 3

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Then note her words in another testimony in the same volume, in which she discusses certain basic principles that governed her course in the matter of giving testimonies to individuals and to church institutions;


“In some cases it has been represented that in giving a testimony for churches or individuals, I have been influenced to write as I did by letters received from members of the church. There have been those who claimed that testimonies purporting to be given by the Spirit of God were merely the expression of my own judgment, based upon information gathered from human sources. This statement is utterly false. If, however, in response to some question, statement, or appeal from churches or individuals, a testimony is written presenting the light which God has given concerning them, the fact that it has been called forth in this manner in no wise detracts from its validity or importance….

“The Lord does not give a vision to meet each emergency which may arise in the different attitudes of his people in the development of his work. But he has shown me that it has been his way of dealing with his church in past ages, to impress the minds of his chosen servants with the needs and dangers of his cause and of individuals, and to lay upon them the burden of counsel and warning.

“So in many cases God has given me light in regard to peculiar defects of character in members of the church, and the dangers to the individual and the cause if these defects are not removed. Under certain circumstances, wrong tendencies are liable to become strongly developed and confirmed, and to work injury to the cause of God, and ruin to the individual. Sometimes, when special dangers threaten the cause of God or particular individuals, a communication comes to me from the Lord, either in a dream or a vision of the night, and these cases are brought vividly to my mind. I hear a voice saying to me, ‘Arise and write; these souls are in peril.’ I obey the movings of the Spirit of God, and my pen traces their true condition. As I travel, and stand before the people in different places, the Spirit of the Lord brings before me clearly the cases I have been shown, reviving the matter previously given me.

“For the last forty-five years the Lord has been revealing to me the needs of his cause, and the cases of individuals in every phase of experience, showing where and how they have failed to perfect Christian character. The history of hundreds of cases has been presented to me, and that which God approves, and that which he condemns, has been plainly set before me. God has shown me that a certain course, if followed, or certain traits of character, if indulged, would produce certain results. He has thus been training and disciplining me in order that I might see the dangers which threaten souls, and instruct and warn his people….

“When I see men and women taking the very course, or cherishing the very traits, which have imperiled other souls and wounded the cause of God, and which the Lord has reproved again and again, how can I but be alarmed? When I see timid souls, burdened with a sense of their imperfections, yet conscientiously striving to do what God has said is right, and know that the


Lord looks down and smiles on their faithful efforts, shall I not speak a word of encouragement to these poor trembling hearts? Shall I hold my peace because each individual case has not been pointed out to me in direct vision?”—Pages 683-687.

Three Conclusions That Follow

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Let us summarize these three quotations:

1. In the first statement Mrs. White declares that she is not dependent in any way on “brethren and sisters” for information when she writes a testimony to “reveal hidden sins.” Obviously, it would be deceitful for her to pose as a revealer of “hidden sins” if she had received her information from “brethren and sisters.”

2. In the second she declares, regarding a particular testimony that she sent to the Battle Creek church, that she was not “influenced” to write as she did “by letters received from members of the church.” Then she makes clear that even if she had been informed of the conditions by letters from church members, that would not invalidate the testimony she wrote. And she cites the case of Paul, who wrote First Corinthians at least partly as a result of information sent to him by brethren. (1 Cor. 1: 11.) Paul did not claim to have received a special revelation that disclosed the Corinthian church's sins, or a special revelation at the time that guided his pen in correcting those sins. But it never occurs to those who believe in the Bible that his letter should be discounted, considered a fraud, because he was “influenced” to write as a result of information brought to him by “the house of Chloe.”

3. In the third she deals with the broad principles that govern her writing of testimonies to individuals and church organizations. In this she frankly declares that such testimonies may be written “in response to some question, statement, or appeal from churches or individuals.” And she explains the relation of such testimonies to special revelations from the Lord.

It is evident that critics use the word “influenced” in describing the contact of anyone with Mrs. White, because of the evil import that attaches to that word. They would make it appear that if someone said something to Mrs. White about another person and Mrs. White then wrote a testimony to that person, she was therefore


“influenced” to write as she did. That kind of reasoning would indict the apostle Paul as well. The critic apparently would have us conclude that Mrs. White should have lived in a vacuum, with no earthly contacts. We do not know how he could draw that conclusion from reading the Bible, certainly not from reading Paul.

Critic's Exhibit Number One of “Influenced” Testimonies

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“About the year 1882, two Adventist ministers, E. P. Daniels and E. R. Jones, were laboring together in Michigan. In giving a health talk one of them had made some remarks quite offensive to esthetic tastes.

“Not long afterward Elder Daniels received a testimony from Mrs. White, rebuking him for the offense, which she said took place at Parma, Mich. But, as the event turned out, she rebuked the wrong man, and the incident did not occur at Parma, but at another place.

“Instead of Mrs. White acknowledging her mistake, Elder Daniels, the man wrongly accused, was induced to make the following explanation:

“‘Through a misunderstanding, I happened to be the person rebuked, in the place of the one for whom the rebuke was intended, and who justly merited it. Were all the facts known, it would leave no room for even the slightest disrespect for the motives that influenced her, as she had, as she supposed, the best of reasons for believing that her informant had told her the truth. And, indeed, he had, but he made a mistake in the name of the person. All that he had said was true of another, though the incident did not occur at Parma’ (Review and Herald Supplement, Aug. 14, 1883, p. 10).

“At best this is ‘a lame apology for an inspired blunder.’ It demonstrates beyond question that in this instance at least Mrs. White was influenced to write the testimony in question by some one reporting to her.”

But why did not the critic quote all that Daniels said, and why did he not quote the introduction to Daniels' statement? We shall now give the context and the reader will probably be able to answer the question himself:

“Elder E. P. Daniels' Reply.

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“In the Advocate Extra, Prof. McLearn * tells a little story which he claims to have heard from a ‘prominent minister in the cars,’ to the effect that Mrs.

* This Review and Herald Supplement was published primarily to meet certain charges against Seventh-day Adventists in general, and Mrs. White in particular, that had been published in an Extra of a paper called the Advocate. One of the contributors to the Advocate was a Prof. McLearn.


White met Eld. E. P. Daniels, and said, ‘Bro. Daniels, I have a Testimony for you. The Lord has shown me that you said things, and acted in a manner, unbecoming a Christian minister, when you preached in Parma, Mich.;’ and that Bro. Daniels replied, ‘You must be mistaken; for I never preached in Parma in my life.’ This, of course, is a very nice little story for our opposers to use; and they have a great fondness for such, and take no end of pains to circulate them. This is just about as true as many others they circulate. It is but justice to Bro. Daniels that he should have a chance to reply to it. The following from his pen is to the point.



“The story is in circulation that at an audience granted me by Mrs. White, I was informed by her that in a temperance lecture given by me in the village of Parma, I had used language unbecoming a Christian minister, and deported myself in a manner disgraceful to the pulpit, and that God had shown this to her in vision, all of which I then and there denied. This story I deny publicly, as I have several times already done in private. Mrs. White never told me that she had ever seen anything of this kind in vision, either about me or any one else. Through a misunderstanding, I happened to be the person rebuked, in the place of the one for whom the rebuke was intended, and who justly merited it. Were all the facts known, it would leave no room for even the slightest disrespect for the motives that influenced her, as she had, as she supposed, the best of reasons for believing that her informant had told her the truth. And indeed he had, but had made a mistake in the name of the person; all that she had said was true of another, though the incident did not occur at Parma. More than this, Mrs. White told me plainly that this report came from a gentleman whose acquaintance they had formed when traveling in the West.

“Those who fight against Mrs. White and spiritual gifts would do well to forge their weapons of something more substantial than flying reports.

“July 25, 1883.


Rankin Post Office,

Genesee Co., Mich.”

Review and Herald Supplement, Aug. 14, 1883, p. 10.)

In this larger context, how different the matter looks. Mrs. White sent no testimony to Daniels. Just what she said to him, in person, we do not know, for there is no record. But the record does reveal that she made no pretense of having received any kind of revelation that he had done thus and so, that instead she said that the “report came from a gentleman” she had met. It is difficult


to see how she could have been more frank. In view of the fact that the available record gives no support to the charge that she professed to speak to him by revelation, or as a result of special insight at the moment, or that the Lord had sent her to him with rebuke; and in view of the fact that we have no text of her conversation with Daniels, how can the critic cite this as an exhibit of Mrs. White's being “influenced to write testimonies”?

For good measure he seeks to show how unheavenly is Mrs. White's status by adding immediately: “When God rebukes a man he does not rebuke the wrong man. When he sent the prophet Nathan to David with the message, ‘Thou art the man,’ he hit the right man.” But Mrs. White did not here claim that God “sent” her with a testimony to E. P. Daniels!

The Notable Case of Nathan

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Strange, indeed, that Nathan should be cited in this connection. It is true that he was a prophet of God. The record makes clear that “the Lord sent Nathan unto David” to rebuke him for his sin in taking Bathsheba to wife. (See 2 Sam. 12:1.) But only a few pages earlier in the divinely recorded story of the ancient Israelites is the account of David's expressing to Nathan his desire and evident plan to build a house for the Lord in Jerusalem. “And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee.” 2 Sam. 7:3. Now listen to what follows immediately:

“And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?” Verses 4, 5.

Nathan presents, perhaps, the most interesting exhibit in the Bible of the fact that a prophet may make a personal observation, offer a personal comment, which is not correct, which comment may be reversed by divine illumination later, but which reversal does not invalidate the prophet's credentials.

If no more were required of Mrs. White than is required of Bible prophets, there would be no charges to bring against her.


A Postscript to the Exhibit

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As a kind Of postscript to the so-called false Daniels “testimony,” the critic charges:

“The mistake Mrs. White made in this case shook his faith in her testimonies, so much so that he came nearly leaving the work then. The writer had a long conference with him, trying to relieve his doubts; but they always stuck to him, and opened his eyes to other mistakes of Mrs. White. Finally, after years of struggle, he withdrew from the denomination, and opposes it now.”

Note the following in comment on this sweeping declaration:

1. We have only the critic's word for this. He cites no document of any kind.

2. In the only documentary data known regarding this so-called false “testimony” there is nothing to suggest that Daniels' faith in Mrs. White was shaken in any way. On the contrary, he relates the facts in defense of her work against a critic's misrepresentation.

3. The file of correspondence between Mrs. White and Daniels in the years between the so-called false “testimony” and the critic's departure from the denomination, in 1887,* reveals that Daniels was a devout believer in the divine source of Mrs. White's testimonies. In his letters to her he addresses her by such names as these: “Dear Mother in Christ,” and “My dear Mother in Christ.”

4. The documentary evidence available for the 1880's also discloses that Daniels had repeated difficulties with his finances. He stated that his heavy debts were due to illness in his home. More than once he dropped out of preaching for a time to recoup his finances. In 1885 his credentials were not renewed. Mrs. White counseled the brethren to deal gently with him. He was given credentials again in 1886. His financial condition failed to right itself, and on December 13, 1889, he turned in his credentials and left the ministry permanently. His letter of that date to J. N. Loughborough, who was then president of the California Conference, gives as his reason for withdrawing, his heavy debts, and the fact that the conference committee were not agreeable to his supplementing his salary with any nonministerial labors.

* Canright withdrew from the denomination in February, 1887.

See letter of E. P. Daniels to J. N. Loughborough, dated, “Napa, Cal., Dec. 13, 1889.”


It is true that almost immediately after this he became bitter against Mrs. White. But was this because of her so-called false testimony “about the year 1882”? No. We have discovered no reference to it in the correspondence between them. But we do find that on November 5, 1889—only a few weeks before he relinquished his credentials—Mrs. White had written to him regarding one of his endeavors to improve his financial situation. He had been selling mining stock, and calling upon the members of the church to invest in it monies that might have been solicited for the work of God. We disclose no secret when we mention this fact. His dealings were known to all men. Nor do we relate this with any desire to throw a shadow over the dead. Far from it. We wish only to give an honest record of facts, so far as the record must be given, to refute false accusations made against Mrs. White. She, also, is among the dead! Human nature being what it is, how natural it would be for Daniels to set his heart against Mrs. White as a result of her reproof—but reproof of a different nature from that alleged in the charge.

Again we are led to remark: How different the picture looks when the facts are set down.

Critic's Exhibit Number Two of “Influenced” Testimonies

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“Mrs. White herself has given an illustration of how her testimonies were given to order as requested by officials needing them. In 1867 the first building for the Health Reform Institute (Sanitarium) was being planned and built at Battle Creek, Mich. Elder White was sick and away from home. So Elder Loughborough and others went ahead with the work. Money was needed. As usual, they went to Mrs. White and asked for a testimony to the brethren to donate the means. This was delivered as ordered…. (‘Testimonies for the Church,’ Vol. I., pp. 492, 494)….

“The building was begun, and the first story up, when Elder White returned. He was angry because he had not planned and bossed it. It had all to come down—every stone. Then he put it all up again another way at a loss of $11,000 of the Lord's money!

“This put Mrs. White in a bad fix. He demanded another testimony repudiating the first one. She had to humbly obey, and did. Here is her confession:

“‘What appeared in Testimony No. 11 concerning the Health Institute should not have been given until I was able to write out all


I had seen in regard to it…. They [the officials at Battle Creek] therefore wrote to me that the influence of my testimony to the institute was needed immediately to move the brethren upon the subject. Under these circumstances I yielded my judgment to that of others, and wrote what appeared in No. 11 in regard to the Health Institute…. In this I did wrong’ (Id., p. 563). [Deletions in the quotation from Mrs. White are by the critic.]

“This proves that Mrs. White was influenced by the officials to write a testimony, just as they wanted it, to use to get money. Then, at Elder White's demand, she writes another testimony, confessing that the first one was wrong!”

Before accepting the conclusions of the critic, who so confidently discusses events that occurred half a century before he wrote, let us recite some history from the published records.

In a vision given to her on December 25, 1865, at Rochester, New York, Mrs. White stated that she was shown, among other things, “that we should provide a home for the afflicted, and those who wish to learn how to take care of their bodies that they may prevent sickness.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 489 (Testimony No. 11, article entitled “The Health Reform”).

This vision was not written out until January, 1867, a fact important to an understanding of the matter before us. However, it seems evident that in the light of this vision she made an oral appeal for a health institution at the General Conference in May, 1866.

Land was purchased in Battle Creek. The cottage on it, plus “the new Bath building,” constituted the physical facilities of the Western Health Reform Institute, which opened its doors in September, 1866, to provide the called-for “home for the afflicted.”*

The institution, though small, met with immediate success, and the problem became one of housing the patients. Wrote Dr. J. F. Byington, less than four months after the institution opened its doors:

“The present prospect is that our great difficulty will be to accommodate all who wish to avail themselves of the benefit of the Health Institute. But we

* See The Health Reformer, September, 1866. Also Review and Herald for June 19, August 7, August 14, September 11, 1866, for items concerning the inception, financing, and opening of the institution.


hope the time is not distant when our accommodations will be sufficient to receive all who may wish to come.”—Review and Herald, Jan. 1, 1867, p. 43.*

The same issue of the church paper contains this editorial item:

“We call attention to the article in another column in reference to the Health Institute. For the length of time it has been in operation, the Institution has been successful beyond all our expectations. Yet but a little over half of the $25,000.00, originally called for by the committee, have been pledged, and but little is now doing in the way of pledges; and more means are needed at once to make the Institution what it may and should speedily become.”—Ibid., p. 48.

Two Facts That Explain Much

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The combination of these two facts, (1) the immediate and potential patronage, that seemed to call for immediate, large expansion; and (2) the limited financing that the Institute had thus far received, explain certain events that followed quickly.

Some of the leaders at Battle Creek urged Mrs. White to place in writing the revelation given to her on December 25, 1865, regarding health reform and a health reform institute. It was naturally felt that the publication of this vision without delay would greatly aid in raising money needed for the Institute. She responded by writing out part of that revelation, and this was included as a chapter for Testimony No. 11, bearing the title “The Health Reform.” This was published in January, 1867.

On page 84 of the Review and Herald of January 22, 1867, is this item entitled “Testimony to the Church, No. 11”:

“This work will be ready in a few days. Address Eld. James White, Battle Creek, Mich….

“Testimony No. 12, may be expected soon; but the matter for No. 11, is regarded of such importance at this time that it is thought not best to wait till the matter now designed for No. 12 can be prepared.

“Every brother and sister interested in the interests of the cause should have a copy at once.

“James White.”

Note the fact that James White's name is signed to this announcement.

* The issue of January 8 contains an article by Dr. H. S. Lay stating that a new building, which, with furnishing, would cost some $25,000, was needed, and asking, “What s a be done?”—Page 54.


Large Building Plans Develop

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As nearly as we can reconstruct the picture from the news items in the Review and Herald, the building plans and the urge to build immediately seemed to grow as the months passed by. In August, 1867, less than twelve months after the opening of the institution, E. S. Walker, the secretary of the Health Reform Institute, announced through the church paper that certain building materials for the new structure had been delivered and paid for, but that the funds were exhausted, and $15,000 was “wanted immediately.” Here is how he calls on Mrs. White's words to support his appeal for more funds:

“We have no doubt that you all know your duty, but we are all so liable to forget that we think a few short quotations from Testimony No. 11, would not be amiss to stir up our minds by way of remembrance.”—Ibid., Aug. 27, 1867, p. 169.*

Two thirds of Walker's article consists of quotations from this particular testimony (No. 11). The only conclusion that any reader could draw from his article, which was typical of the promotion employed for the new, “large building,” was that Mrs. White gave to all this expansive building program her unqualified endorsement. But her Testimony No. 11, published in January, 1867, gave no such endorsement. It was based on a vision given December 25, 1865, and called for the support of the brethren in founding a medical institution. James White, who had been a leading spirit, and who has been described, even by the critics of Adventism, as an astute businessman, had seen in that testimony no license to engage in unsound building expansion, because, as

* Walker states: “We have purchased and had delivered on the ground about all the timber and finishing lumber necessary for the building, to the amount of about $6,000.00, and have completed the lower story of stone, all of which is paid for. We are now ready for the brick, and have expended all our ready means.”—Page 169. If we conservatively estimate $4,000 for the work already done (the critic says $11,000) plus $6,000 for lumber purchased and ready to use, plus the $15,000 “wanted immediately,” we have a total of $25,000. This is the figure given by Dr. Lay (Review and Herald, Jan. 8, 1867, p. 54) for the “erection and furnishing” of the new, large building then being discussed. But Walker's appeal for funds up to a total of at least $25,000 was only for completion and furnishing of such part of the building as seemed to be immediately required. Thus do building programs sometimes grow. He assured his readers that “the remainder of the building could be finished as means came in and the wants of the cause demanded.” How many thousands more would be required to complete the building is not here revealed. We are left to surmise the amount, and also to speculate on how the fact of the unfinished “remainder” would be the occasion for an endeavor on the part of those interested in the Institute to draw from a limited church constituency monies for finishing the building that should go into other branches of missionary endeavor.


already noted, he heartily endorsed what she had written.* But as things had developed, there was grave danger that the Health Institute, so well begun, in modest dimensions, would, under enthusiastic but inexperienced leadership, become top heavy and collapse under debt. In view of the imminent financial danger from overexpansion, that confronted the Institute, Mrs. White included in Testimony No. 12, published in September, 1867, a chapter entitled “The Health Institute.” As might be expected the chapter is filled with counsel against overexpansion and other dangers For example:

Counsel Given in Testimony No. 12

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“I saw that a very extensive work could not be accomplished in a short time, as it would not bean easy matter to find physicians whom God could approve, and who would work together harmoniously, disinterestedly, and zealously, for the good of suffering humanity.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 554.

“As to the extent of the accommodations of the Health Institute at Battle Creek, I was shown, as I have before stated, that we should have such an institution, small at its commencement, and cautiously increased, as good physicians and helpers could be procured and means raised, and as the wants of invalids should demand; and all should be conducted in strict accordance with the principles and humble spirit of the third angel's message…. Should the physicians fail, … or should means fail to come in when extensive buildings were in process of erection, and the work stop, capital would be sunk, and a general discouragement would come over all interested….

“I have publicly appealed to our brethren in behalf of an institution to be established among us…. This I have said upon the authority of what God has shown me. If necessary, I would unhesitatingly repeat all that I have said. I have no desire to withdraw one sentence that I have written or spoken. [That would include Testimony No. 11, which the critic says she repudiated by writing No. 12.] The work is of God, and must be prosecuted with a firm, yet cautious hand….

“With every stirring appeal to our people for means to put into the Institute, there should have been a caution not to rob other branches of the work…. Move no faster, brethren, than the unmistakable providence of God opens the way before you.”—Ibid., pp. 558-560.

* However, his ill-health, following his “stroke” in 1865, had largely kept him out of active leadership. In fact, he was away from Battle Creek most of the year 1867.

For the date of publication of No. 12, see Review and Herald, Sept. 17, 1867, p. 224, where notices signed by J. N. Loughborough and James White, state that No. 12 is ready. The chapter, “The Health Institute,” appears in current form in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 553-564.


The Key Passage Examined

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Then follows her statement from which the critic abstracts a few lines in support of his charge that she had been “influenced by the officials to write a testimony, just as they wanted it, to use to get money” for the Health Institute. And remember: When the critic says “influenced,” he means that the source, or inspiration, for her testimonies, was people who came to her with gossip either against someone or in behalf of some special project they wished to promote, and that for all practical purposes they determined the text of the testimonies written. With this fact in mind, note Mrs. White's words:

“The relation which I sustain to this work demands of me an unfettered expression of my views. I speak freely, and choose this medium to speak to all interested. What appeared in Testimony No. 11 concerning the Health Institute, should not have been given until I was able to write out all I had seen in regard to it. I intended to say nothing upon the subject in No. 11, and sent all the manuscript that I designed for that Testimony, from Ottawa Co., where I was then laboring, to the office at Battle Creek, stating that I wished them to hasten out that little work, as it was much needed, and as soon as possible I would write No. 12, in which i designed to speak freely and fully concerning the [Health] Institute. The brethren at Battle Creek who were especially interested in the Institute, knew I had seen that our people should contribute of their means to establish such an institution. They therefore wrote to me that the influence of my testimony in regard to the Institute was needed immediately to move the brethren upon the subject, and that the publication of No. 11 would be delayed till I could write.

“This was a great trial to me, as I knew I could not write out all I had seen, for I was then speaking to the people six or eight times a week, visiting from house to house, and writing hundreds of pages of personal testimonies and private letters. This amount of labor, with unnecessary burdens and trials thrown upon me, unfitted me for labor of any kind. My health was poor, and my mental sufferings were beyond description. Under these circumstances I yielded my judgment to that of others, and wrote what appeared in No. 11 in regard to the Health Institute, being unable then to give all I had seen. In this I did wrong. I must be allowed to know my own duty better than others can know it for me, especially concerning matters which God has revealed to me. I shall be blamed by some for speaking as I now speak. Others will blame me for not speaking before. The disposition manifested to crowd the matter of the Institute so fast has been one of the heaviest trials I have ever borne. If all who have used my testimony to move the brethren, had been equally


moved by it themselves, I should be better satisfied. Should I delay longer to speak my views and feelings, I should be blamed the more both by those who think I should have spoken sooner, and by those also who may think I should not give any cautions. For the good of those at the head of the work, for the good of the cause and the brethren, and to save myself great trials, I have freely spoken.”—Ibid., pp. 562-564.

The Nature of Mrs. White's Confession

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Mrs. White plainly declares: “I did wrong.” We do not have to read the critic's writings to discover that. In fact he turns to her currently published works to discover his choicest charge of “influenced” testimony writing. But did Mrs. White say that her doing “wrong” consisted in letting someone invent a testimony that she signed, or in having an alleged vision to further someone's interests, as is implied in the charge? The answer is evident from her statement. But note how the critic hides this fact. We give in parallel columns his quotation of the key sentence, and the full text, printing in boldface the key clause he omitted.

Critic's Quotation Full Text of Original
   “Under these circumstances I yielded my judgment to that of others, and wrote what appeared in No. 11 in regard to the Health Institute…. In this I did wrong.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 563. “Under these circumstances I yielded my judgment to that of others, and wrote what appeared in No. 11 in regard to the Health Institute, being unable then to give all I had seen. In this I did wrong.”

The clause: “Being unable then to give all I had seen,” is the key to the whole passage. But the critic suppressed it.* It is easy to understand why he did so—this clause exposes the falsity of his charge. But what is not easy to understand is this: How he, and others who have taken him as their source and guide, can, with sober faces, set out to charge Mrs. White with suppression!

Are Prophets Infallible?

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Let the critic make what he can of her admission. This much is certain, he cannot make anything out of it in support of the

* Reference to pages 495-496 reveals that the critic quotes a variant of this clause earlier in his quotation from Mrs. White, but that does not protect the whole passage from the false deduction that is naturally drawn when the clause in question is deleted as it is, immediately preceding the key sentence, “In this I did wrong.”


charge he has raised. No one thought up a vision for Mrs. White. No influence from outside framed the words she employed. Perhaps he may wish, now, to change his charge and contend that if she had been a prophet she would not have made any mistake, never would have done “wrong,” never would have been guilty of an error of judgment. But nothing in the Bible supports the idea that prophets are infallible when they are exercising their private judgment.

Do we not all feel sad that Elijah, after his glorious triumph of faith on Mount Carmel, should have made so great an error of judgment as to decide to flee when someone informed him that Jezebel threatened to take his life? And do we not all think that he made a sorry blunder in contending, “I, even I only, am left”? A Bible critic may argue that if Elijah had been a true prophet, the Lord would have revealed to him that Jezebel could not succeed in her evil plan, and that there were seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. But no lover of the Bible and its prophets is impressed by such an argument, we are not concerned with the mysterious question of just how much God should have revealed to Elijah. We hold that the credentials of the prophet are to be judged only by what he claims to know by revelation from God.

Might it not be that the Lord purposely refrains from giving prophets all knowledge of events and developments, lest they become filled with unholy pride over their ability to steer their way with magical skill through all the mazes of changing events? Prophets are as much in danger of pride as are all others. A limitation to their knowledge, with resulting errors of judgment on their part, and confessions that they are “wrong” and can of themselves do nothing wisely or correctly may be ordained of God for their salvation.

James White's Relation to the Matter

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But let us look a moment at James White. He is said to have been “sick and away from home,” that is, from Battle Creek, when number 11 was published. We have given chapter and verse to


show that though he was sick, he was so definitely responsible for the publication of number 11 that he announced when it was ready for distribution, urged everyone to read it, and instructed them to send their orders to him at Battle Creek. The announcement of number 12 was not only by James White, but also by J. N. Loughborough, who is specifically named by the critic as the one who led out in securing Mrs. White's support for a health statement in number 11!

The critic pictures James White as suddenly appearing on the scene in high dudgeon, tearing down the partially constructed building, and turning around to erect it on another plan, with great loss to the cause.

Strictly speaking, we would not be considering James White's acts, or attempting to defend them, in this book, were it not for the fact that his acts are merged with Mrs. White's acts and words in this particular instance, as in some others. What are the facts on this particular point?

Resolution Exonerates Elder and Mrs. White

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It is true that a beginning had been made on the “large building,” though only a beginning. All work was stopped. But not because James White wanted to build it another way, but because he, and others with him, believed that it should not be built at all. It was the overextended financial situation of the Health Institute and the inexperience of the management * that led to the stopping of the construction, and not James White's overextended sense of pride and importance. The echo of all this is found in a resolution passed at the second annual meeting of the Health Reform Institute:

“Resolved, that we consider it due to Bro. and Sr. White, and to our brethren abroad, that we make a statement of the following points: 1. That they have acted a noble and generous part toward the Health Institute; and that the errors committed in its management are not to be in any wise laid to their charge, Bro. White being unable at that time from sickness to have

* See Review and Herald, Jan. 18, 1870, p. 32, for editorial statement that “by bad management” the institution “was nearly brought to ruin.” J. N. Andrews was then editor.


any part in the business. Those, therefore, who attribute blame to them concerning it, act unjustly and without any ground for such censure. On the contrary, they are entitled to the thanks of all our people for their efforts in sustaining the Institute, and for counseling a course of sound wisdom in its management. Nothing therefore can well be more unjust and cruel than to hold them responsible for the errors of others.”—Review and Herald, May 25, 1869, p. 174.

Here are the facts as they stand out on the yellowed pages of the old volumes of the church paper, and out of the writings of Mrs. White, when the full text of those writings is given. The most charitable way to explain the erroneous charges of the critic is to say that when he sat down to write almost half a century after the events, he consulted a dim and hostile memory rather than the documented record.

The Critic's “Proof” From Deleted Names

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Earlier published testimonies gave the names of the persons addressed, but since 1883, “when her testimonies were revised,”* the names were omitted. “But if it was proper for her to publish these names thus at first, why did she not continue to do so? The omission of these names in this way is an open confession on the face of it that she was not inspired by God to put them in the first place.” “One of her testimonies incriminating a certain individual provoked a $50,000 suit for damages. The suit was settled out of court.”

The critic offers no data by which we may identify names or places in connection with the alleged suit. There are none to submit. No suit was ever brought against Mrs. White for anything she ever wrote in any testimony to anyone. Hence there was no suit to be “settled out of court.” Nor did Mrs. White ever pay a

* At the General Conference of 1883 a resolution was passed to republish the volumes of the Testimonies. Part of the resolution reads thus:

“Whereas, Many of these testimonies were written under the most unfavorable circumstances, the writer being too heavily pressed with anxiety and labor to devote critical thought to the grammatical perfection of the writings, and they were printed in such haste as to allow these imperfections to pass uncorrected; and—

“Whereas, We believe the light given by God to his servants is by the enlightenment of the mind, thus imparting the thoughts, and not (except in rare cases) the very words in which the ideas should be expressed; therefore—

“Resolved, That in the re-publication of these volumes such verbal changes be made as to remove the above-named imperfections, as far as possible, without in any measure changing the thought.”—Review and Herald, Nov. 27, 1883, p. 741.

In harmony with this resolution “her testimonies were revised.” In the absence of a knowledge of this resolution the reader might naturally conclude that the revision of her testimonies involved tampering with the essential texture of them. The critic makes no reference to this resolution!

If a critic replies that he can name a person who threatened to sue her, we answer: A threat of suit is not a suit. It is a common practice of a certain type of person to make bold threats to sue. Most times such suits never materialize, and if they do not materialize, there is no suit to settle out of court.


dollar on threat of suit to anyone, anytime, anywhere, because of any testimony she ever wrote. This statement can be made without fear of refutation.

With the obscuring dust of a “revision” and a “suit” removed, we come directly to the alleged evidence of the noninspired character of Mrs. White's writings, her failure to continue using the names of individuals in the printings of the Testimonies. “If it was proper for her to publish these names thus at first,” the critic inquires, “why did she not continue to do so?” Has he not read the inspired dictum: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient”? 1 Cor. 6:12. And does he not know that Paul, who voiced those words, actually declared himself ready to refrain from doing certain things he had formerly done, even though lawful? We read: “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth.” 1 Cor. 8:13.

When the Testimonies were first written the Adventist group was small. The testimonies frequently consisted of special messages to individuals or local church groups. There was ample reason for giving names and places, in order to deal most specifically with problems and crises. The very definiteness of the testimonies contributed to their authentication. But in later years the particular conditions that called forth the testimonies were simply memories, though the principles set forth were timeless. Why continue to focus on the individual? And, also, why bring needless embarrassment to such individuals in later years, when probably long ago they had rectified the mistakes discussed in the testimonies? Or why bring needless embarrassment to close relatives?

The Critic's “Proof” Regarding “Hidden Sins”

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Mrs. White says, “The unpleasant duty has been laid upon me to reprove wrongs and reveal hidden sins.” (Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 314.) Numbers of instances could be cited when she failed to reveal such sins. Thus is “exposed the falsity” of her claim that God revealed to her “hidden sins.”

The critic calls attention to the fact that sometimes flagrant sin in the life of a prominent individual was exposed by confession or in some similar way, and that following such exposure Mrs.


White wrote a testimony regarding the sin and the sinner. He reasons, therefore, that she had no revelations, she knew nothing more than could be known by others.

To show the weakness of his charge we need only to set forth his reasoning in this formal style: Mrs. White claimed that God had called on her to “reveal hidden sins.” That means that she sweepingly claimed to reveal always and without exception, all hidden sins. Therefore, her failure to reveal certain sins proves her whole claim false.

But that reasoning is patently false, for Mrs. White made no such sweeping claim. When she spoke as she did about the duty that had been laid upon her to reveal hidden sins, she was speaking of actual experiences through which she had been called to pass, particularly in the early years of the movement. Her own words show clearly that she made no sweeping claim:

The unpleasant duty has been laid upon me to reprove wrongs and to reveal hidden sins. When I have been compelled by the Spirit of God to reprove sins that others did not know existed, it has stirred up the natural feelings in the hearts of the unsanctified.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 314.

The natural meaning of her words is that at times, not necessarily always, the Spirit revealed hidden sins to her.

We are really dealing here with a variant of the argument that unless Mrs. White knew all truth about everything, she knew nothing about anything, and that indeed her confession that she did not know some certain things self-condemns her claims to the prophetic gift. We believe that the fallacy of that argument has been too clearly revealed to need further elaboration here.

God Is Sparing of Miracles

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If Mrs. White had been given a knowledge of all hidden sins, and revealed that knowledge by routinely exposing all such sins whenever she met people, in private or in public, what a singular state of affairs would soon have developed. That she should know of any hidden sins is an evidence of the miraculous. And do not most students of the Scriptures believe that the Lord is sparing of miracles? He allows a display of the supernatural only occasionally,


and then because it best suits His divine plans. For example, occasionally it may please God to work a miracle and suddenly raise up a sick man. Most times the Lord sees fit to allow him to recover by means of what we call the “natural processes.” But this does not cause us to doubt God, or to doubt the spiritual relationship to God of those who have prayed for the sick who were not miraculously healed. Then why not think of the matter of revealing “hidden sins” in the same way?

Occasionally, and very particularly at the outset of the movement, when hypocritical pretenders sought to wreck churches, God saw fit to work a miracle by revealing to Mrs. White certain hidden sins. Other times He permitted those sins to come to light by the “natural processes.” And may we not see the great wisdom of God in this? Many sins come to light by confession on the part of a conscience-smitten chief offender or by confession on the part of someone drawn into evil by him. And is there not a great spiritual value in the act of confession?

Now, Mrs. White wrote continuously from 1845 to 1915, a period of seventy years. Her books, her articles in journals, and her personal testimonies to individuals that were never published, represent many thousands of pages. She discussed persons and principles, gave counsel on numerous matters. Yet when her chief critic, who posed as having intimate knowledge of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for long years, set out, in 1919, to prove that her testimonies merely reflected what others had told her, and were not revelations, he presented nothing more impressive than we have here been considering! Singular, is it not!

Certain Facts to Consider in Rejoinder

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We now ask the reader to consider a few facts. In the vaults of the E. G. White Publications office are found approximately fifty thousand pages of manuscript material. This consists largely of copies of (1) letters that Mrs. White wrote to individuals, (2) letters to church leaders regarding church problems, and (3) manuscripts on general themes. The manuscripts of her large books are not included in this total, except as material from one of the three


types of writings just described, was drawn upon. For example, the nine volumes of Testimonies for the Church reproduce hundreds upon hundreds of pages of these personal letters of warning, counsel, reproof, and encouragement. The fifty thousand total of manuscript pages represents largely her writings—minus most of her books and periodical articles—since 1885, when a methodical practice of filing copies of all material began to be followed.*

Let the reader go down through all these pages of reproduced letters in the Testimonies for the Church, for they are typical of the letters she wrote. He will find there pen pictures of individuals so sharply focused, so specifically detailed, as to enable him to form a clear mental picture of the people discussed. We read character delineations that call for an understanding of the working of the innermost heart. We find definite rebukes given, definite warnings, definite guidance. Hundreds of pages of letters are anything but vague and general. We cannot read at length without exclaiming, How did Mrs. White ever know all this about all these people? She writes as though she had watched their downsittings and their uprisings and as though she understood their thoughts afar off!

Did She Conduct a Gossip Department?

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We found that the critics answer in the only way they can answer, consistent with their contention that she was a fraud: She learned all this by reports brought to her in person or by mail! In other words, she conducted a great gossip department, gathering from endless sources, and from those sources, plus a few personal observations she herself might make, wrote out an amazing array of letters. And to cap it all, she placed hundreds of pages of that matter in print and persuaded the Adventist membership to pay good money for it.

We are really asked to believe something that stretches our faith more than does Mrs. White's claim that God gave to her visions regarding people. She learned all this chiefly by gossip? The person who has read the thousands of pages of her letters and other messages can only exclaim: Then she had a network of informants

*Approximately 5,000 pages bear dates before 1885, and 45,000 bear dates from 1885 onward.


formants over the land that quite puts in the shade the secret police of certain modern lands.* And her “secret police” must have been thought police, mind readers! She traveled constantly. Her letters are dated from a wide array of States and cities. In the days when she was writing the greatest number of letters to individuals, the mails were poor and uncertain. Yet in some way unexplained the endless stream of information from which she allegedly drew, is supposed to have kept pouring in to her.

How Gossipmongers Work

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But there is a further and more incredible feature to this whole matter. We have all seen gossipmongers. Even a small community has at least one. And, with wheat and tares growing together, even churches have them. Now what happens when an individual gathers gossip from every side and then begins to dispense it, especially in the form of letters to different persons, pointing out what the gossiper thinks is very specifically the matter with these individuals? Is the church edified, more closely bound together, revived in spirit, and advanced on the Christian way? Those questions answer themselves.

And why is such havoc wrought by a gossiper in the church who translates his gossip news into letters? There are several parts to the answer. In the first place the letters invariably are such a strange mixture of truth and error, with the latter generally predominating, that the recipients of the letters are uniformly outraged that such lying reports should be circulated concerning them. Second, the person who peddles gossip reveals no constructive pattern in his work. His gossipy speech or letters simply reveal an avid interest

* J. N. Andrews tells of spending “four months” traveling with Elder and Mrs. James White. He writes in part concerning this trip: “The Review bears evidence to the industry of Brother W. in writing for its columns. But very few of its readers have any adequate idea of the labor of sister W. in writing for the benefit of the people of God. Her messages of reproof and of instruction that she is sending to those to whom they pertain, amount, I think, in the period that I have been with them to more than 1000 pages. The task imposed on sister W., to write out all with her own hand while actively engaged in holding meetings, is very great. Every hour has to be filled up, and many are taken from needful sleep, in order to meet this ever-present and unending labor.”—Review and Herald, March 3, 1868, p. 184. Then he adds immediately, these words:

“The nature of this writing is such that the manual labor required to pen the words is really the smallest part of the task. It is no pleasant thing to sister W. to utter words of sharp reproof, or stern rebuke, yet these things often enter largely into what she is called to write. I have too often witnessed the deep distress and tears of anguish which this work imposes on sister White, to entertain one thought that she engages in it to please herself.”

Thus wrote an eyewitness to the labors of Mrs. White!


in relating things that cast shadows over men's characters. Third, the gossiper who writes letters of judgment and rebuke to individuals quite invariably does so in cold, calculating, and even vindictive terms.

Effects Produced by Mrs. White's Letters

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But look, now, at Mrs. White's letters. What was their effect upon the church, and by “church” we may think both of the members of a local church company and of the whole body of believers known as Seventh-day Adventists. Here comes to light the amazing quality of those letters. Quite generally the most heartening results followed the receipt of a letter, either by an individual or by a church company—conviction of sin, confession of wrong, revival, and reconsecration.

Let anyone read the letters that appear in the nine volumes of Testimonies for the Church—and the letters there are typical—and then ask himself: Do these carry any of the telltale marks of the gossip? We have no doubt what the answer will be. The strength of the critic's attack lies in the fact that his readers, with rare exceptions, have never read any of those letters.

Now, Seventh-day Adventists are the same flesh and blood as other men. It is no easier for them to accept rebuke than it is for others. How do we explain their readiness, in the majority of instances, to accept contritely the rebukes and counsels that came in the letters to them? The critic may seek to make a last stand here and answer: The poor people were so bewitched by her bold claims that they blindly accepted her words, though those words were often counter to the facts.

Adventists Far From Being Bewitched

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There is nothing in the records or in the reminiscences of pioneers that supports the attempt to explain the amazing phenomenon under consideration by the claim that Adventists were bewitched by Mrs. White and accepted her testimonies against the witness of their own senses. In fact, we can find right in her current works a statement she wrote in 1867 that reveals the very opposite of this. At that time James White was recuperating from


a “stroke.” Financial embarrassment confronted the White home. They had sold certain of their furniture to secure ready cash. Then they appealed to the brethren in Battle Greek for aid. Of their appeal, she wrote, “No notice was taken of the matter only to use it to wound us in our want and deep affliction.”—Ibid., vol. 1, p. 583.

In 1883, George I. Butler, then president of the General Conference, wrote this in an article entitled “The Visions”:

“We have found in a long, varied, and in some instances, sad experience, the value of their counsel. When we have heeded them, we have prospered: when we have slighted them, we have suffered a great loss. Many instances of this kind could be given from our past history. As a people, we have no reason to boast of our faithfulness to them. On the contrary, we have shown much unbelief and indifference to their teachings. But when we have regarded them most highly, we have enjoyed the greatest prosperity. It is clear to every one who has closely noticed the workings of this cause that in those Conferences where these Testimonies are most highly regarded, there the greatest degree of prosperity is seen; and in those where they are least respected, there the work drags heavily.”—Review and Herald Supplement, Aug. 14, 1883, pp. 11, 12.

These statements by Mrs. White and George I. Butler do not flatter the denomination. But we are glad they wrote frankly—they wrote for our learning—for they thereby exploded any semblance of plausibility to the argument that attempts to explain away the phenomenon of the very general acceptance of Mrs. White's testimony-letters by church members. The troubles that Mrs. White, with her husband, experienced in 1867 were somewhat like the troubles that ancient prophets experienced with the Israelites. It is not strange that prophets of God should suffer rebuffs and meet with incredulity at times right among those who presumably should be their ardent supporters.

But, we repeat, for this most remarkable fact bears repeating, despite the conditions described, that reveal so forcefully that the Adventists of earlier days were far from bewitchment, Mrs. White continued to write letters of counsel, warning, and rebuke—often to members at headquarters in Battle Creek—and those letters were


generally accepted, and reform and revival frequently followed in their wake.

How shall we explain this? We think there is only one rational explanation. The recipients of Mrs. White's letters found in them such amazing revelations of themselves, written with such convicting power, that they could do no other than acknowledge the divine source of these testimonies, and act accordingly. As we before remarked, one needs only to read her published letters to discover that they often deal with the secret thoughts of the heart, thoughts that only He who reads the heart could disclose.

Dr. J. H. Kellogg Testifies for Mrs. White

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In the latter part of the nineteenth century no Adventist leader was more prominent than Dr. J. H. Kellogg, medical superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. He therefore had frequent occasion to correspond with Mrs. White and to note the character of her work and her writings. In a letter bearing the date line “Battle Creek, Mich., Sep. 9, 1892,” he wrote to her in part as follows:

“There are so many who are ready to say that Sr. White has been influenced to do or to say this or that, I often hesitate about writing you concerning things which I would like to write to you about, so that in case remarks of that sort are made I can say with the utmost confidence that there had been no possible opportunity for you to be influenced, by me at any rate. It has been to me a source of more confidence and satisfaction than I can express to you, that I have often seen in my acquaintance with you and your work, wrongs set to right through the special leading of your mind by the Lord.

“I used often to make a test in my mind, saying nothing to anybody. I would say to myself, Now here is an evident wrong. Sister White knows nothing about it, or if she knows anything about it, the circumstances are such as would produce a personal prejudice in favor of the wrong rather than against it. If the Lord leads her to denounce and correct this evil, I shall know that she is being specially led. In not a single instance did the test fail, and so my confidence grew. I mention these facts very often to those whom I find doubting.”

Canright Testifies for Her

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We will now let her chief critic, D. M. Canright, who left the Seventh-day Adventist ministry in 1887, testify concerning the amazing quality of her testimonies. We quote from an article he


published in 1868, when he could speak from immediate experience, and without the handicap of long memory, or darkening hostilities:

“I am acquainted with many individuals for whom she has had testimonies. Many of them have been very striking indeed. I have been in this section [New Vineyard, Maine] some time, and have become pretty well acquainted with individuals and things. When sister White came she had testimonies for different individuals. She bore these testimonies without asking questions of any one, whether the things she was about to say were correct or not. She has invariably told facts in the case plainer than any one else who was familiar with the person and circumstances could have told them. This has not been once or twice. She has repeatedly had testimonies and delivered them to persons in public meetings the first time she ever saw them, and even before she knew their names….

“Think of it a moment. She has had visions for twenty years, or more, and has borne her testimonies in public and in private, by word and by writing to hundreds and even to thousands of individuals, all through the Northern States. She has reproved public sins and secret sins. She has had these testimonies for friends and foes; yet in all these times and numberless testimonies no one has ever convicted her of making a wrong statement. We must suppose her to be a wonderful person indeed, to do all this without the help of the Lord.”—Review and Herald, Feb. 25, 1868, p. 167.

The Most Remarkable of All the Facts

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That is Canright speaking in 1868! Strange that he would “play up” this feature of Mrs. White's spiritual labors, her writing of amazingly revealing letters, if there were numerous instances where she had sent testimonies to the wrong people, had disclosed “facts” that were not facts, or had otherwise given evidence that she had only gossip sources for her letters to individuals. Yet in the years when Mrs. White was most actively writing testimonies to church members and church groups, often giving names and describing events and acts and thoughts, Canright and others who wrote in behalf of her inspiration used this very letter writing as perhaps their best proof. We repeat, it passes credulity to believe that such spokesmen for Mrs. White would have placed these revelatory testimonies so confidently in the forefront of their arguments for her if such testimonies had been shot through with errors of fact and judgment concerning individuals.


We read in vain the endless columns of the old issues of the Review and Herald for anything that suggests that these proponents of Mrs. White ever felt hesitancy in presenting the letters in proof. Nor do we find any lengthy defenses in the Review and Herald against charges that these letters were full of errors. That is even more amazing, for the columns of the church paper often contain defenses of the denomination, including Mrs. White, on various matters. Even in Extras and Supplements of the Review and Herald which were published with a particular view to meeting charges against her we find scarcely anything of defense on this point. Nor does the chief critic of Mrs. White cite other references in the church paper.

Surely through the years, with thousands upon thousands of pages from Mrs. White's pen going out to Adventist homes throughout the land, and sometimes to homes overseas, there would have been enough instances of glaring errors—if she were only a gossip dispenser—to cause many incensed and outraged people to proceed to provide a critic here or there with a generous number of affidavits or other well-documented proofs of the falsity of her testimonies.

But where is all this material? We have found little of it, though we have searched diligently through a motley array of books, pamphlets, and leaflets against Mrs. White. And we have here examined the most impressive exhibits that Mrs. White's most voluminous critic gathered together in his 1919 book, the principal source work of other and later critics. This paucity of exhibits is unquestionably the most remarkable of all the facts that we can offer to the reader in closing our examination of the gossip charge against Mrs. White.

The Nature of Our Claim for Mrs. White

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We do not say that every letter that Mrs. White ever wrote to anyone displays inspired insights—some of them were patently only friendly epistles, and not intended to give special counsel. Nor do we dogmatically assert that nowhere in the great array of letters she wrote through the years can be found no instances of


apparent failure to disclose the actual facts or no apparent contradictions. We cannot make such a claim for the writers of the Bible. The critics of the Holy Book keep us reminded on that point of apparent errors and contradictions in the Bible. But we answer them that the evidence of divine direction in the writings of the ancient prophets is so overwhelming that a reasonable person will not permit the few apparent exceptions to decide the case, but rather, will conclude that those seeming exceptions could be explained if only we had the full details or could reconstruct the historical framework of the incidents.

We should not be asked to prove more for the writings of Mrs. White, including her testimonies to various individuals. Faith may sometimes be required in dealing with certain details that appear to contradict the claim to a divine origin for her writings—faith is needed in relation to some Bible passages. But rank credulity is required if we are to believe that those writings had no higher source than Mrs. White's mind—aided by a steady stream of gossip!

Note.—See Appendixes L and N.

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