Chapter 13

Delivering God’s Message

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Purpose of the Visions
Vision Phenomena
Messages Received in Different Ways
Messages Were Diverse and Broad
Manner of Delivering Messages Varied
Endnotes
Study Questions


“Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me” (Ezekiel 2:2).

The Millerites, in the early 1840s, with their millennial expectations, were “predisposed . . . to the powerful outpouring of charismatic prophesyings, tongues, healings, and other ‘signs and wonders,’ which fulfilled the Biblical promise for the ‘last days.’. . . Their gatherings convulsed with shouts, praises, weeping, and ‘melting seasons of prayer.’”

Though Millerite leaders, such as Miller himself, Charles Fitch, and Joshua V. Himes, opposed “charismatic phenomena,” the movement was “commonly criticized”. . . for such “fanaticism” as healings, speaking in tongues, visions, and prophesyings . . . . Several Millerite women received press coverage for their “visions.”1

After October 22, 1844, for most Millerites and the scoffing religious world generally, charismatic phenomena such as visions were highly suspect. Millerites, stung by being labeled as fanatics, were especially wary of anyone claiming to have visions.2

Two other “Millerites” (William Foy and Hazen Foss) had felt the opposition to visions. Foy had four visions but received none after 1844. He shared them with people whenever he found interested hearers.

Foss never revealed his visions to others but recognized the authenticity of Ellen Harmon when he heard her visions explained.3

Disappointed Millerites fell into several major groups in the late 1840s over their beliefs in what happened in 1844: (1) Those who continued to believe that Christ’s return was imminent, that their mistake was in fixing on the wrong date. This group included the main Millerite leaders (Miller, Bliss, Hale, and Himes); (2) those who believed that Christ had indeed come, but not as a physical event; the spiritual experience of the believers became the “second coming” to them, thus they were labeled “spiritualizers”; and (3) those who believed that the date was correct but that the event occurred in heaven with the commencement of Christ’s High Priestly ministration in the “most holy place”—the emerging Seventh-day Adventist Church.4

Ellen White became the one clear voice that rallied the third group who believed that the October 22, 1844, date had important cosmic significance.5 She helped to steer the emerging group of Bible students between the fanaticisms of the “spiritualizers” on the left and the “First-day Adventists” on the right, who repudiated both the significance of October 22 and “spiritual gifts.” Confusion and rejection reigned on both sides of the early Sabbatarian Adventists. The visions of Ellen Harmon (before her marriage, 1844-1846; Ellen White after 1846) became the confirming, correcting, comforting center for the emergence of the third group’s integrated Biblical platform.6


Purpose of the Visions

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No one can read very far into the writings of Mrs. White without becoming aware of her profound veneration for the Bible. She was a champion of Bible study, and in the strongest words urged consistent and thorough Bible study.7

In fact, one of the signs of false prophets is their attempt to make of none effect the work of former prophets (Isaiah 8:20). One of the prime signs of genuine prophets is their constant reference to former prophets. The coherency and unity of the Bible rest on this simple fact borne out through the years. One of the common observations made regarding Ellen White is that she made extensive use of Scripture in her sermons and in her voluminous writings.

But if the Bible is “the only true guide in all matters of faith and practice,”8 why were the messages of Ellen White necessary? What is the purpose of her prophetic role?

She explained why her messages were needed: “I took the precious Bible and surrounded it with the several Testimonies for the Church, given for the people of God. Here, said I, the cases of nearly all are met. The sins they are to shun are pointed out. The counsel that they desire can be found here, given for other cases situated similarly to themselves. God has been pleased to give you line upon line and precept upon precept. But there are not many of you that really know what is contained in the Testimonies. You are not familiar with the Scriptures. If you had made God’s Word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies. It is because you have neglected to acquaint yourselves with God’s inspired Book that He has sought to reach you by simple, direct testimonies.”9

Only when their purpose is clearly understood will Ellen White’s writings be properly appreciated. She explained why God saw the need to speak through her: “To bring the minds of His people to His Word”10; to simplify “the great truths already given”11; to call attention to “Biblical principles for the formation of correct habits of living”12; to specify “man’s duty to God and to his fellow man”13; and “to encourage the desponding.”14

In essence, the messages of Ellen White were given not “for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people, and to correct those who err from Bible truth.”15


Vision Phenomena

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Ellen Harmon/White shared with the Biblical prophets similar physical characteristics while in open, or public, vision.16 In 1868 James White gave the following comprehensive description of his wife in vision:

“1. She is utterly unconscious of everything transpiring around her, as has been proved by the most rigid tests, but views herself as removed from this world, and in the presence of heavenly beings.

“2. She does not breathe. During the entire period of her continuance in vision, which has at different times ranged from fifteen minutes to three hours, there is no breath, as has been repeatedly proved by pressing upon the chest, and by closing the mouth and nostrils.

“3. Immediately on entering vision, her muscles become rigid, and joints fixed, so far as any external force can influence them. At the same time her movements and gestures, which are frequent, are free and graceful, and cannot be hindered nor controlled by the strongest person.

“4. On coming out of vision, whether in the day-time or a well-lighted room at night, all is total darkness. Her power to distinguish even the most brilliant objects, held within a few inches of the eyes, returns but gradually, sometimes not being fully established for three hours. This has continued for the past twenty years; yet her eyesight is not in the least impaired, few persons having better than she now possesses.

“She has probably had, during the past twenty-three years, between one and two hundred visions. These have been given under almost every variety of circumstances, yet maintaining a wonderful similarity; the most apparent change being, that of late years they have grown less frequent, but more comprehensive. She has been taken off in vision most frequently when bowed in prayer.

“Several times, while earnestly addressing the congregation, unexpectedly to herself and to all around her, she has been instantly prostrated in vision. This was the case June 12, 1868, in the presence of not less than two hundred Sabbathkeepers, in the house of worship, in Battle Creek, Mich. On receiving baptism at my hands, at an early period of her experience, as I raised her up out of the water, immediately she was in vision. Several times, when prostrated by sickness, she has been relieved in answer to the prayer of faith and taken off in vision. At such times her restoration to usual health has been wonderful.

“At another time, when walking with friends, in conversation upon the glories of the kingdom of God, as she was passing through the gate before her father’s house, the Spirit of God came upon her, and she was instantly taken off in vision. And what may be important to those who think the visions the result of mesmerism, she has a number of times been taken off in vision when in prayer alone in the grove or in the closet.

“It may be well to speak as to the effect of the visions upon her constitution and strength. When she had her first vision, she was an emaciated invalid, given up by her friends and physicians to die of consumption. She then weighed but eighty pounds. Her nervous condition was such that she could not write, and was dependent on one sitting near her at the table to even pour her drink from the cup to the saucer. And notwithstanding her anxieties and mental agonies, in consequence of her duty to bring her views before the public, her labors in public speaking, and in church matters generally, her wearisome travels, and home labors and cares, her health and physical and mental strength have improved from the day she had her first vision.”17

But visions cannot be explained or authenticated by physical characteristics only. Many times, especially during night visions/dreams, Ellen White did not exhibit the typical physical characteristics. Physical phenomena were not the proof of her divine credentials.18

Further, as Arthur G. Daniells wrote: “Those who would accept such physical phenomena as the determining evidence may be deceived, for the enemy of righteousness may produce similar conditions in persons subject to his control.”19 Ellen White warned: “There will be those who will claim to have visions. When God gives you clear evidence that the vision is from Him, you may accept it, but do not accept it on any other evidence; for people are going to be led more and more astray in foreign countries and in America. The Lord wants His people to act like men and women of sense.”20

Why, then, did physical phenomena accompany the visions given to Biblical prophets? Why were physical manifestations so extraordinary and so widely documented during the public visions of Ellen White? Apparently, as in Biblical times, God used the miraculous to capture attention and hold it long enough for people to hear the message of the prophet. The message itself bore the divine credentials; the physical phenomena demonstrated the presence of the supernatural.21

Ellen White received messages from God in different ways. Messages received during waking hours are called open visions, those during sleep, dreams. The duration of visions extended from less than a minute to more than an hour, and on one occasion, about four hours. At times visions occurred as “an almost instantaneous flashlight view given of certain situations or conditions. At such times the vision usually related to only one subject or one phase of a subject, while the longer views might take in many, many subjects, or deal with events occurring over a long period of time.”22

Open visions could be expected on almost any occasion. At times, while writing out the day’s events in her diary, pertinent thoughts would come “like a flash of lightning . . . so sharply [that] I wrote on and on.”23

While a group of believers were united in family prayer on a Sabbath morning, Ellen White gave that ringing shout of “Glory! Glory! Glory!” (to which audiences through the years had become accustomed), and her husband James arose, informing the audience that his wife was in vision.24

Frequently she had a vision in a church service. The Parkville, Michigan, vision, on January 12, 1861, which depicted some of the facts and terrors of the coming Civil War, was received in church after she finished her powerful exhortation and had sat down. The vision lasted for approximately twenty minutes. After she began breathing again, she spoke briefly about what had been revealed to her, especially certain items that related directly to that intensely interested audience.

Ellen White’s last public vision, for which we have detailed information, occurred in Battle Creek on January 3, 1875. J. N. Loughborough, however, (who personally witnessed “about fifty” visions) attested that her last public vision was at the 1884 Oregon camp meeting.25

Night visions, or dreams, occurred in various ways, such as “at the beginning of the Sabbath I fell asleep, and some things were clearly presented before me.”26 Hundreds of letters contained the phrase, “in the night season,” wherein she heard or saw a message that had to be communicated to some particular person or group, such as a church, camp meeting, or official meeting. At times that phrase may have been absent but the occasion was obvious: “I cannot sleep. I was awakened at one o’clock. I was hearing a message borne to you.”27

Night visions or dreams became more customary even as open visions became less frequent.

Recognizing that questions would arise concerning the private nature of “dreams” and their authenticity as revelations, Ellen White wrote: “The multitude of dreams [ordinary dreams] arise from the common things of life, with which the Spirit of God has nothing to do. There are also false dreams, as well as false visions, which are inspired by the spirit of Satan. But dreams from the Lord are classed in the Word of God with visions, and are as truly the fruits of the Spirit of prophecy as visions. Such dreams, taking into the account the persons who have them, and the circumstances under which they are given, contain their own proofs of their genuineness.”28


Messages Received in Different Ways

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Variety best describes the manner in which Mrs. White received visions and dreams, and the way she conveyed the messages to others was as varied as the manner in which she received the visions.

Ellen White was involved in her visions and dreams in at least nine ways.29 The visions referred to in this book can be classified under these nine categories:

1. At times, she was seemingly present and participating in the events of the vision.30

2. Some visions were panoramic, with sweeping views of the past, present, and future.31

3. An angel (or some other heavenly person, such as “my Guide,” etc.) would observe the event with her and provide an interpretation.32

4. Occasionally she saw buildings yet to be constructed and was given instruction as to her role in instructing those who were to work in that future building.33

5. Her Guide either explained symbolic representations or their meaning was self-evident.34

6. Often she “visited” various institutions, committee meetings, families in their homes, and persons who thought they were observed by “no one.”35

7. Sometimes, she was given contrasting developments: one would be the consequences of not following inspired instruction, the other, the results of following her counsel.36

8. Frequently, she had specific information for the benefit of her husband, for themselves as parents, and for fellow leaders of the church and its institutions.37

9. Often, she was shown sweeping principles that would integrate some advanced opinions of her day with additional insights on such subjects as health, education, and temperance.38


Messages Were Diverse and Broad

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Ellen White received messages for individuals and groups that covered a broad array of subjects. Men and women received admonition, encouragement, and reproof regarding their personal lives and their Christian influence. Individuals and groups received insights, caution, and direction in general ideas, including education, health, administrative policy, evangelistic and publishing principles, and church finance.39


Manner of Delivering Messages Varied

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The manner of giving the information received in vision was varied and never predictable. At times, Ellen White was instructed to “go public” with private testimonies. How could this be?

She saw people and events in vision that others could not see in their true light. When these people resisted counsel, ignoring the privately sent reproof, she saw her duty to the whole church. She was told by her heavenly Guide that the church must not continue to languish because of those who refused correction: “I was taken off in vision [December 23, 1860], and was shown the wrongs of individuals which have affected the cause. I dare not withhold the testimony from the church to spare the feelings of individuals.”40

What happened after she went public in print, often identifying her co-workers with their initials? In the Review and Herald for the next few months, most of those who were identified in her testimonies acknowledged the truth of these testimonies and confessed their errors. Ten years later, when these testimonies were reprinted, she substituted blanks for the initials. References to personalities were removed, but the principles remained.

On other occasions, she reproved men and women openly, in public meetings. For example, in her diary describing a Sabbath meeting in 1868 at Tuscola, Michigan, she noted that she had spoken one hour, reproving individual wrongs: “Some felt exceedingly bad because I brought out these cases before others. I was sorry to see this spirit.”41 In a letter to Edson, her son, she explained that these public testimonies focused on “the sin of hasty speaking, jesting, joking, and laughing”—all very public manifestations.

But one couple was seriously offended. The wife, with her husband, came crying: “You have killed me, you have killed me clean off.” In her letter to Edson, Ellen White continued: “I found their greatest difficulty was that the testimony was given before others and that if I had sent it to them alone, it would have been received all right. Pride was hurt, pride was wounded terribly. We talked awhile, and they both cooled down wonderfully and said they felt differently.”42

Visions were often directed to specific events that would convince non-Adventists that Ellen White was a genuine messenger of the Lord. In 1850 the Whites were in Oswego, New York, doing their usual work of writing and preaching. The county treasurer, who was also the local Methodist lay preacher, had developed a lively interest among the town people. Two young people, Hiram Patch and his fiancee, had attended both the Methodist meetings and the Adventist meetings and were undecided as to which group they should join. The couple witnessed Ellen White in vision, after which they asked, “What do you think of Brother M [county treasurer]?” Mrs. White answered (as Mr. Patch recalled), after noting Hosea 5:6, 7: “I was told [in vision] to say to you that in this case the statement of the text will be literally fulfilled. Wait a month, and you will know for yourself the character of the persons who are engaged in this revival, and who profess to have such a great burden for sinners.”43

Shortly after this conversation, the county treasurer broke a blood vessel and remained at home in a “feeble condition.” The sheriff and a deputy, after taking over the county finances, found a deficit of $1,000. When confronted at his home, the treasurer pleaded ignorance. But the deputy brought into the house the missing $1,000 in a bag that the treasurer’s wife had tried to hide in a snowbank.

The treasurer’s evangelistic meetings terminated, and the two young people made their choice to join the Adventists—they had witnessed clear evidence of the genuineness and helpfulness of Ellen White’s visions.44

A vision (or a dream) often turned a group from hasty decisions to the right course of action to be seen better as time went by. In the summer of 1881 James and Ellen White were tired. She was ill. However, she had a “deep impression” that they should leave the Michigan camp meeting and go to the Iowa camp meeting, which was to open in two days. When they arrived in Des Moines, she said to a minister, “Well, we are here at the Lord’s bidding, for what special purpose we do not know, but we shall doubtless know as the meeting progresses.”

The Whites did much of the preaching. On Sunday evening, after Mrs. White had retired, the constituency was conducting a business meeting on the subject of voting, especially in regard to temperance and prohibition. After a short time the message came that the group wanted her counsel. G. B. Starr recalled later that Ellen White related a dream that described the Iowa circumstance and that the heavenly spokesman had said: “God designs to help the people in a great movement on this subject. He also designed that you, as a people, should be the head and not the tail in the movement; but now the position you have taken will place you at the tail.”

In the meeting, Mrs. White was asked whether the Iowa Adventists should vote for prohibition. Her answer was swift: “Yes, to a man everywhere and perhaps I shall shock some of you if I say, If necessary, vote on the Sabbath day for prohibition if you cannot at any other time.”

Writing later, Starr emphasized: “I can testify that the effect of the relation of that dream was electrical upon the whole conference. A convincing power attended it, and I saw for the first time the unifying power of the gift of prophecy in the church.”45

Sometimes delivering a testimony was unusually dramatic. In June 1876, at Vergennes, Michigan, two incidents happened that greatly increased confidence in Ellen White’s visions. The first concerned Mrs. Alcott, a woman who had professed great holiness and now was ingratiating herself among the new believers. Mrs. White had a vision earlier in Tyrone, Michigan, regarding this woman’s real spiritual state and wrote out some of the details. Two ministers, M. E. Cornell and J. N. Loughborough, knew of the written details and said, “Now we will watch, and see how the case comes out.”46

Finally arriving at Vergennes, with Loughborough and Cornell present, Mrs. White said to her husband in front of the house where they were to stay, that they must find the church where “that woman lives whom I saw in the Tyrone vision.” She also noted that the couple who were entertaining them knew this woman. The wife had no confidence in Mrs. Alcott but her husband “thinks she is all right.” (No conversation had yet taken place between this couple and the Whites.)

Soon a carriage drove up and Ellen White said that none in that load had any confidence in “that woman’s pretensions.” When the next carriage drove up, she said that load was divided. The third load were “all under the woman’s influence.” Then she said: “This must be the church where that woman lives; for I have seen all these persons in connection with that affair.”

On Sabbath, while James White was preaching, an old man, a young man, and a woman came in, the woman remaining near the door. When James finished his sermon, Ellen White rose to say a few words about the care ministers must take in their work. She said that God did not call a woman to travel with any man other than her husband. To make her point, she referred to “that woman who just sat down near the door. . . . God has showed me that she and this young man have violated the seventh commandment.” Loughborough commented: “All in that barn knew that Sister White had never personally seen these individuals until they came into that barn. Her picking out of the persons and her delineation of the case had weight in favor of her vision.”

What was Mrs. Alcott’s response? Loughborough wrote: “She slowly arose to her feet, put on a sanctimonious look, and said, ‘God—knows—my—heart.’ That was all she said, and sat down. Here was just what the Lord showed (May 28) that the woman would say. On June 11 she did just as it was said she would do, and said the identical words predicted she would say when reproved, and no more.”

What about the young man? A few weeks later, before he returned to Canada, he was asked regarding Ellen White’s vision, and he replied, “That vision was too true.”47

Perhaps even more dramatic, and even more of a misfortune if Ellen White’s visions were not accurate, happened at the Wisconsin camp meeting in the early 1870s. The speaker had already begun when the Whites arrived. Ellen and James paused as she said something to James, not heard by those who watched. But those closest heard James say, “All right!” Down the center aisle they went but Ellen White did not sit down. She looked up at the preacher, pointed her finger at him and said, “Brother, I have heard your voice in vision, and when I entered this tent this morning, I recognized that voice, and the Lord told me when I heard that voice, to look straight up and deliver the message that He gave me for you and I will have to do it.”

The preacher stopped. Ellen White continued: “Brother, I know a woman in Pennsylvania with two little children. That woman calls you husband and those children call you father and they are hunting everywhere for you and they can’t find you. They don’t know where you are. Right over there is another woman with six children hanging to her skirts and she calls you husband and they call you father. Brother, you have no business in that desk.”

The preacher made one lunge for the tent flap and vanished. His brother, who was sitting in the audience, sprang to his feet, telling the stunned audience, “Brethren, the worst of it is, it is all true.”48

Many were the life experiences of most every kind that Ellen White addressed, always counseling, reproving, encouraging, whatever the need. In every instance, recipients and observers alike noted that no one could possibly have known the facts of the situation unless the Spirit of God had prompted His human messenger.49


Endnotes

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1. Jonathan Butler, “The Making of a New Order,” in Ronald L. Numbers and Jonathan M. Butler, editors, The Disappointed (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1987), p. 196.

2. See pp. 36, 37. Winthrop S. Hudson, “A Time of Religious Ferment,” in the Rise of Adventism, pp. 8-10; Knight, Millennial Fever, pp. 267- 293, 303.

3. See pp. 38-40; Baker, The Unknown Prophet, p. 130.

4. See Knight, Millennial Fever, pp. 245-300; Schwarz, Light Bearers, pp. 56-58.

5. See pp. 40, 41.

6. See pp. 182-238 for the contribution of Ellen White to the development of Seventh-day Adventist doctrine and thus to the stability of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

7. See Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 109-114; Counsels to Parents, pp. 138, 139; Education, pp. 185-192; Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 187; Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 15-18, 242-245; Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 694; Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 105-111, etc.

8. Review and Herald, Jan. 4, 1881, p. 3.

9. Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 664, 665.

10. Ibid., p. 663.

11. Ibid., p. 665.

12. Ibid., pp. 663, 664.

13. Ibid., p. 665.

14. Review and Herald, Jan. 10, 1856, p. 118. Read Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 654-696, for full context.

15. Early Writings, p. 78; see pp. 170-172.

16. See pp. 26-40

17. James White, Life Incidents, in Connection With the Great Advent Movement, pp. 272, 273, cited in F. D. Nichol, Ellen G. White and Her Critics (Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1951), pp. 52, 53. Present at the Parkville, Mich., vision on January 12, 1861, was a spiritualist physician who had boasted earlier that he could bring Ellen White out of her “hypnotic” trances in a minute. Being reminded of his boast, he went forward to begin his examination. Suddenly “he turned deathly pale, and shook like an aspen leaf. Elder White said, ‘Will the doctor report her condition?’ He replied, ‘She does not breathe,’ and rapidly made his way to the door. Those at the door who knew of his boasting spirit said, ‘Go back, and do as you said you would do; bring that woman out of the vision.’ In great agitation he grasped the knob of the door, but was not permitted to open it until inquiry was made by those near the door, ‘Doctor, what is it?’ He replied, ‘God only knows; let me out of this house.’—J. N. Loughborough, GSAM, pp. 210-211. On June 26, 1854, three people recalled how two physicians examined Ellen White while in vision. One brought a mirror close to her mouth and reported, “She doesn’t breathe.” After examining her sides as she spoke, he still could not find evidence for breathing. Later, after placing a lighted candle close to her lips without the slightest flicker, the physician reported, “That settles it forever, there is no breath in her body.”—Bio., vol. 1, pp. 302, 303; see also p. 351 for an incident at Hillsdale, Michigan, on Feb. 12-15, 1857.

18. See pp. 28, 32.

19. The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, p. 273. “Let none cherish the idea that special providences or miraculous manifestations are to be the proof of the genuineness of their work or of the ideas they advocate. If we keep these things before the people, they will produce an evil effect, an unhealthful emotion. . . . We shall encounter false claims; false prophets will arise; there will be false dreams and false visions; but preach the Word, be not drawn away from the voice of God in His Word. Let nothing divert the mind. The wonderful, the marvelous, will be represented and presented. Through satanic delusions, wonderful miracles, the claims of human agents will be urged. Beware of all this.”—Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 48, 49.

20. Evangelism, p. 610.

21. See “Physical Phenomena Often Provide Coercive Evidence,” p. 36.

22. Arthur White, Ellen G. White, Messenger to the Remnant, p. 8.

23. Bio., vol. 4, p. 359.

24. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 275.

25. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 462.

26. Ibid., vol. 4, p. 424.

27. Letter 21a, 1895, cited in Bio., vol. 4, p. 251.

28. Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 569, 570 (1867); repeated in Ibid., vol. 5, p. 658.

29. Arthur White, Ellen G. White, Messenger to the Remnant, pp. 9-11.

30. Early Writings, p. 14.

31. The Great Controversy, pp. x, xi. Two Civil War visions are reviewed in Roger Coon, The Great Visions of Ellen G. White (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1992), pp. 76-89.

32. Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 92, 93.

33. Letter 135, 1903, cited in Bio., vol. 6, pp. 96, 97.

34. “Push a long car up a steep ascent”—MR, vol. 1, p. 26; “Satan . . . conductor of the train”—Early Writings, pp. 88, 89; “gigantic iceberg . . . . ‘meet it!’”—Selected Messages, book 1, p. 205.

35. Letter 1, 1893, in MR, vol. 20, pp. 51, 52.

36. Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 28, 29.

37. See pp. 114, 115.

38. See pp. 278-369.

39. For a sample of some of these diverse testimonies, note: “November 5, 1862, I was shown the condition of Brother Hull. He was in an alarming state.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 426. “June 5, 1863, I was shown that Satan is ever at work to dishearten and lead astray ministers. . . . The most effectual way in which he [Satan] can work is through home influences, through unconsecrated companions.”—Ibid., p. 449. I was shown that Sabbathkeepers as a people labor too hard without allowing themselves change or periods of rest.”—Ibid., p. 514. “In the vision given me in Rochester, New York, December 25, 1865, I was shown that our Sabbathkeeping people have been negligent . . . in regard to health reform.”—Ibid., p. 485.

40. Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 210. “Individuals were presented before me who had shunned the pointed testimony. I saw the influence of their teachings upon God’s people.”—Ibid., p. 248. See Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 210-252, for an overview of how Ellen White made public the previously given private communications. In an earlier message she wrote: “My course is now clear to wrong the church no longer. If reproofs are given, I dare not commit them alone to the individuals to be buried up by them, but shall read what the Lord has seen fit to give me, to those of experience in the church, and if the case demands, bring it before the whole church.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, pp. 293, 294. In 1868 she continued to instruct others regarding making private testimonies public: “In rebuking the wrongs of one, He designs to correct many. But if they fail to take the reproof to themselves, and flatter themselves that God passes over their errors because He does not especially single them out, they deceive their own souls and will be shut up in darkness and be left to their own ways to follow the imagination of their own hearts.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 112, 113.

41. Manuscript 13, 1868, cited in Bio., vol. 2, p. 228.

42. Letter 6, 1868, cited in Bio., vol. 2, pp. 228, 229. Later in her diary of that date, she concluded, “We did not lighten the burden, for all this development only showed how much she needed the reproof.”—Ibid., p. 229.

43. Loughborough, GSAM, p. 231, cited in Bio., vol. 1, p. 175.

44. Ibid., pp. 175, 176.

45. Bio., vol. 3, pp. 158-160. Ellen White endorsed G. B. Starr’s report.

46. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 277. Loughborough wrote: “In Sister White’s written description of the woman she not only told her mode of procedure, but that when she should reprove her, she would ‘put on a sanctimonious look, and say, God—knows—my—heart.’ She said this woman was traveling about the country with a young man, while her own husband, an older man, was at home working to support them in their course. Sister White said the Lord had shown her that ‘with all this woman’s pretensions to holiness, she was guilty of violating the seventh commandment.’”—Loughborough, Review and Herald, May 6, 1884, p. 299.

47. Ibid., pp. 279-281

48. Elder Armitage told this story in the Redlands, California, church in early 1931, where G. B. Starr was pastor. Later that year, at the Oakland, California, camp meeting on June 30, Starr retold the story. The interesting fact accompanying this story is that when Elder Armitage told it in Redlands he also said that when his mother died, his father married the sister of that Wisconsin woman with the six children. All of the six were church members, one of them “occupying a very important place in the Loma Linda Sanitarium.” Then, to make the story even more dramatic, he pointed to the mother who had been deceived by her bigamist husband—she was in the church that day visiting her daughter, one of the six children.—DF 496-d.

49. For a partial list of additional events in which the prophetic eye and finger of Ellen White led people heavenward, note the following: (1) The business manager at the St. Helena Sanitarium (1887) whose moral infidelity was revealed to Ellen White while she was in Europe and brought to his attention by her letters, finally was thankful for Ellen White’s persistent confrontation and her manner of dealing with him.—Roger Coon, A Gift of Light (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association), 1983, pp. 34, 35. (2) Elbe (Sam) Hamilton, a dying young man who was diagnosed by Ellen White as suffering from trichinosis, learned how to cook and eat properly in her own kitchen. A few years later, she brought Sam to Paradise Valley Sanitarium where he witnessed the famous well-dig and her amazing predictions.—Ibid., pp. 35-38. (3) Nathaniel Davis, editor of the Signs of the Times in Australia who had severe problems with money, spiritualism, and morals, was exposed in a public meeting but later was exceedingly grateful for Ellen White’s persistence.—Ibid., pp. 38-41. (4) Late 1851, in Johnson, Vermont, Brother Baker and others were having doctrinal disagreements that led to highly spirited discussions. Ellen White’s visions during a period of several days brought clarity and calmness. Baker came full circle, confessing that “every word of the vision related in the forenoon concerning him was, every word of it, truth, just exactly as it was.”—Bio., vol. 1, pp. 220, 221. (5) In Vergennes, Vermont, shortly after Baker’s experience in 1851, Ellen White, through a vision, helped a church member who was confused with the “age to come” error. “After I had the vision and told it, Brother Everts began to confess and break down before God. He gave up his ‘age to come’ and felt the necessity of keeping the minds of all on the third angel’s message.”—Ibid., pp. 222-223. (6) Ellen White related a vision that included a preacher (whom she did not know) who was away from home on a preaching itinerary—yet violating the seventh commandment. Six weeks later, she met the man in the presence of others, and said, “Thou art the man.” He fully confessed immediately, verifying a vision given more than five hundred miles away—Loughborough, Review and Herald, Mar. 4, 1884. See also Loughborough, GSAM, pp. 319, 320. (7) In June 1853, an Ellen White vision helped end a raucous dispute over “who said what” that was dividing the Jackson, Michigan, church. But the incident also gave background to the first dissident movement among Sabbath keeping Adventists, known as the Messenger Party.—Bio., vol. 1, pp. 276, 277. (8) Victor Jones, a young man in Monterey, Michigan, had a struggle with appetite. Ellen White wrote him a testimony based on a vision—an eloquent appeal.—Letter 1, 1861, cited in Bio., vol. 1, p. 465.


Study Questions

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1. What was Ellen White’s understanding of her job description as the Lord’s messenger?

2. How would you describe the characteristics of an open vision?

3. What were the various ways that Ellen White delivered vision-messages to others?

4. What were the different ways that Ellen White received visions and dreams?

5. What did Ellen White mean when she said that her testimonies would not have been needed if church members had been diligent Bible students?

6. Can Satan cause confusion by duplicating the physical characteristics of a prophet’s open visions? What is the danger of building confidence in a person merely because of the remarkable characteristics of a public vision?

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