Ministry in the New Church1863-85
James White's Illness
Last Years of James White
Years in Europe1885-87
A Steadying Hand1887-91
Years in Australia1891-1900
Closing Years of Active Ministry1900-09
FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION
Ministry in the New Church1863-1885.
Years in Europe1885-1887.
A Steadying Hand1887-1891.
Years in Australia1891-1900.
With the formation of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the advent believers had not reached the top of the ladder of progressthey had taken only the first steps. Nineteen years had passed since the disappointment, years filled with trial and hardship. The years to follow would be difficult, but the problems would be faced unitedly. The need for counsel from the Lord would, if anything, be increased; but the counsel would now be coming to the members of a body, and to the church as a whole. The fears that the work of the movement might be hindered for lack of general leadership were calmed, and energies could be devoted more fully to the task at hand. In this new phase of the growth of the church, the life and work of Ellen White is intertwined.
About two weeks after the organization of the General Conference, a revelation came to Ellen White that was to have farreaching influence in the lives and activities of all Seventh-day Adventists. It is the one frequently called the health-reform vision. It appears that the Lord waited until the task of organization had been completed before introducing the broader light on health. It was at the house of Brother A. Hilliard, at Otsego, Michigan, June 6, 1863, that the great subject of Health Reform was opened before me in vision.Review and Herald, Oct. 8, 1867.
Two workers, Elders R. J. Lawrence and M. E. Cornell, were
conducting a series of evangelistic meetings in a tent at Otsego, about thirty miles from Battle Creek. On this occasion, a group of believers from Battle Creek drove to Otsego to spend the weekend and attend the meetings. In the group were James and Ellen White. At the time, James White was in poor health, for overwork and strain were taking their toll. No doubt the release from pressure after the formation of the General Conference organization less than two weeks before contributed to his feeling of weariness and depression.
On Friday evening, the visitors joined the Hilliards in family worship service. What happened can perhaps be pictured best in the words of Mrs. Martha Amadon, who was present.
Sister White was asked to lead in prayer at family worship. She did so in a most wonderful manner. Elder White was kneeling a short distance from her. While praying, she moved over to him, and laying her hand on his shoulder continued praying for him until she was taken off in vision. She was in vision about forty-five minutes. It was at this time she was given instruction upon the health question which soon after became such a matter of interest to our people. Those present at the time this vision was given will never forget the heavenly influence that filled the room. The cloud passed from the mind of Elder White, and he was full of praise to God.Mrs. Martha D. Amadon, Ellen G. White Publications Document File, No. 105.
The first comprehensive presentation of what had been revealed in this vision regarding health was published the next year in a section of Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4, entitled Health. For some years preceding the time of the health-reform vision there had been those among the Sabbathkeeping Adventists who recommended reforms in diet and the giving up of various harmful stimulants, such as tea, coffee, and tobacco, as well as alcoholic drinks. In 1848 Ellen White was given a vision in which tea, coffee, and tobacco were condemned. The response to the instruction was slow at first, but it steadily increased.
The believers in general did not yet realize the connection there was between the care of health and the development of character. The 1863 health-reform vision re-emphasized some of these earlier reform attempts, introduced additional areas where change was needed, and made a definite tie between the physical condition and the spiritual experience. The relationship is stated by Mrs. White in this paragraph:
All are required to do what they can to preserve healthy bodies, and sound minds. If they will gratify a gross appetite, and by so doing blunt their sensibilities, and becloud their perceptive faculties so that they cannot appreciate the exalted character of God, or delight in the study of His word, they may be assured that God will not accept their unworthy offering any sooner than that of Cain. God requires them to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. After man has done all in his power to ensure health, by the denying of appetite and gross passions, that he may possess a healthy mind, and a sanctified imagination, that he may render to God an offering in righteousness, then he is saved alone by a miracle of God's mercy, as was the ark upon the stormy billows. Noah had done all that God required of him in making the ark secure, then God performed that which man could not do, and preserved the ark by His miraculous power.Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4, PP. 148, 149. The section on Health includes pages 120-151.
In passing, we should call attention to the last two sentences of the above quotation. It was made plain in this first general presentation of the health message, that although there was a definite relationship between healthful living and the preparation for the advent of Christ, salvation would not come through health reform any more than through conformity to any other of God's instruction. Salvation is the result of a miracle performed by God in the human life. This was the position taken by Ellen White. Men are to be obedient to God, not for the
purpose of obtaining salvation; but in order to honor the One who has saved them and outlined for them the best way to live while waiting for His return.
The instruction given in this first health vision was amplified in later revelations, and the record found in Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4, was expanded until we have such volumes as The Ministry of Healing, Counsels on Diet and Foods, Counsels on Health, Medical Ministry, and Temperance. The instruction also resulted in the founding of a world-wide system of health institutions for the purpose of giving physical and spiritual help to the sick, and instructing them in the principles of healthful living.
The immediate inspiration for the opening of a health institution came as a result of another vision on health reform, given at Rochester, New York, December 25, 1865. In her record of what had been shown her, Mrs. White said, I was shown 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.
On September 5, 1866, the Western Health Reform Institute opened at Battle Creek, with two doctors, two bath attendants, one nurse (untrained), three or four helpers, one patient, any amount of inconveniences, and a great deal of faith in the future of the Institution and the principles on which it was founded.Medical Missionary, January, 1894. Not only had this parent institution come into existence as a result of the visions, but warning was given by the same means, that there were dangers involved in wandering from the revealed pattern. I saw that in an institution established among us the greatest danger would be of its managers' departing from the spirit of the present truth and from that simplicity which should ever characterize the disciples of Christ.Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 560. Such warnings came frequently to leaders in all phases of church work. They were and are important parts of the whole picture of God's leading in the remnant church.
The instruction concerning the establishment of a health institution by Seventh-day Adventists came at a time of crisis in the White home. It was becoming obvious that there was no health institution where care was given the patients in harmony with the plan of healthful living the Lord had outlined. In May, 1865, James White had been elected president of the General Conference, over his vigorous protests. The physical and mental trials of the preceding years had taken a severe toll on his physical strength. He felt that he should not under any circumstances accept the responsibility, but his brethren persisted in their conviction that he was the one best qualified to lead the church. To lighten his load, he gave up the editorship of the Review and Herald, and Uriah Smith was appointed in his place. He continued working beyond his strength until the break came on August 16, 1865. On that morning, while he and his wife were visiting a neighbor, James White was stricken with paralysis. The power of God, in response to immediate prayers, brought about a partial recovery; but the physicians gave no hope for his full restoration.
During the next five weeks he was cared for at home, but there was little sign of improvement. He was then taken to a health institution, called Our Home on the Hillside, at Dansville, New York. Mrs. White and others were aware that some of the principles of healing and healthful living that were shown her in vision were being practiced at this institution, and they felt that James White might be benefited by Dr. Jackson. For about three months the Whites and J. N. Loughborough remained at Dansville. At the end of that period, it was clear to Ellen White that her husband was unlikely to make further progress there. More and more points of variance between what had been revealed to her and what was practiced at Dansville were appearing. Later she commented: We did not feel that the three months passed at this institution were in vain. We
did not receive all the ideas and sentiments and suggestions advanced, but we did gather many things of value from those who had obtained an experience in health reform. We did not feel that there was any necessity of gathering the chaff with the wheat.Ellen G. White Manuscript 1, 1867. After this experience and the reception of additional light through Ellen White's vision of December 25, 1865, the Whites could not feel free to recommend that other Seventh-day Adventists should visit such institutions for medical care. They have to carry along with them at all times the gospel sieve and sift everything they hear, that they may choose the good and refuse the bad.Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 490.
The insistence of the Dansville physicians that James White should have complete physical and mental rest led him to shrink from putting forth the slightest effort. The more inactive he became, the deeper his despondency grew. His wife had the conviction that the only thing that could restore him physically and mentally was some exercise of his physical and mental powers, no matter how small that might be at first. In December she took him from Dansville to Rochester, New York, where they remained for three weeks, while special seasons of prayer for his recovery were held. It was during one of these times of prayer that the vision of December 25 was given. Soon afterward James and Ellen White returned to Battle Creek. Within a short time they began to lay plans to dispose of their home in Battle Creek and move north to Greenville, Michigan. A small house was built on a plot of land in the country, and about the first of May, 1867, they moved there. This was home to James and Ellen White until the late summer of 1869.
During the years at Greenville, Ellen White planned and worked toward the goal of bringing her husband back to full health. It was not an easy task, and it required resourcefulness and a bit of scheming to get the sick preacher to engage in some of the activities his wife was sure would help bring renewed health. Their son William C. White told this incident:
Soon it was haying time. The grass was cut by Brother Maynard's mowing machine. When ready to haul in, Father thought to ask that it be hauled in by Brother Maynard's hired man who had done the mowing. To prevent this, Mother had urgently requested Brother Maynard to say that his own work was pressing and that it would not be convenient to send his man to haul in the hay. I was sent to Neighbor Whitefield's with a similar message. These kind neighbors very reluctantly consented to this request, when told what Mother's reasons were for making it. When Father sent out requests for help with the hay, he was shocked at the answers. Then Mother said: Let us show the neighbors that we can attend to the work ourselves. Willie and I will rake the hay and pitch it on the wagon, if you will load and drive the team. To this Father was forced to consent. As we had no barn, the hay must be stacked near the cow shed. At Mother's suggestion, Father pitched it off the wagon, while she built up the stack. Meanwhile I was raking up another load.
While we were thus hard at work, some of the townspeople passed in their carriages, and gazed with much curiosity and surprise to see the woman who each week preached to a houseful of people, heroically engaged in treading down hay and building a stack. But she was not in the least embarrassed; she was intent upon the one object of securing her husband's restoration to health, and was overjoyed to see that her efforts were succeeding.William C. White, Sketches and Memories of James and Ellen White, MS., in White Publications Document File, No. 626.
During the years at the Greenville home, James and Ellen White made a tour through northern Michigan, New York, and some of the New England states. They also made trips to Battle Creek. It was during one of their visits to Wright, Michigan, that plans were laid for annual camp meetings, now a regular part of the church program. The first one was held in 1868 at Wright.
James White's health improved steadily until he was once more able to bear a load in publishing, preaching, and administration. Again we must note a word of warning, typical of the numerous cautions given to individuals and the church. God had cautioned and warned my husband in regard to the preservation of his strength. I was shown that he had been raised up by the Lord, and that he was living as a miracle of mercynot for the purpose of again gathering upon him the burdens under which he once fell, but that the people of God might be benefited by his experience in advancing the general interests of the cause, and in connection with the work the Lord has given me, and the burden He has laid upon me to bear.Life Sketches, page 195.
In the Review and Herald of September 22, 1868, Joseph Clark wrote: Brother White has regained his mental and physical powers, though he appears much older than before his sickness; and we were surprised at the amount of labor he performs; not with tottering steps, but with the firmness and elasticity of early life. His preaching and general labors bear the impress of one who has improved his talents, and is still improving.
From 1872 to 1881, home and headquarters for the Whites was largely in California. However, there was no settling down to a peaceful existence. Mrs. White described those years in these words: During the years that followed the recovery of my husband, the Lord opened before us a vast field of labor. Though I took the stand as a speaker timidly at first, yet as the providence of God opened the way before me, I had confidence to stand before large audiences. Together we attended our camp meetings and other large gatherings, from Maine to Dakota, from Michigan to Texas and California.Life Sketches, page 195.
In July, 1872, the Whites went to California, and in March of the next year they were back in Battle Creek. They remained there until December, when they returned to California. On numerous occasions they visited in Battle Creek, and they were there at the time of the dedication of Battle Creek College, January 4, 1875. On the day before the dedication, a vision was given Ellen White in which she was shown Seventh-day Adventist publishing houses in various countries, where at that time the church had no publishing houses or even churches. As a result of the presentation of the vision, a new concept was gained regarding the task of the Adventists in giving God's message to all the world. At this time they had only one overseas worker, J. N. Andrews, who had been sent to Switzerland in the fall of 1874.
Impetus was lent to the colporteur circulation of Seventh-day Adventist literature by a message given Ellen White in a vision in September, 1875. She was told: Tracts, papers, and books, as the case demands, should be circulated in all the cities and villages in the land. Here is missionary work for all.
There should be men trained for this branch of the work who will be missionaries, and will circulate publications. They should be men of good address, who will not repulse others or be repulsed. This is a work which would warrant men to give their whole time and energies as the occasion demands.Ibid., p. 217.
Usually James and Ellen White traveled and labored together, but there were times when they worked separately for short periods. One of these occasions was in the spring of 1876. James White was in Battle Creek and his wife in California. One day in April he received a letter from Mrs. White, with this dryly humorous introduction:
We received your few words last night on a postal card:
Battle Creek, April 11. No letters from you for two days. James White.
This lengthy letter was written by yourself. Thank you for we know you are living.
No letter from James White previous to this since April 6 . I have been anxiously waiting for something to answer.
The letter of several pages closed with this proposition: I will write every morning; will you do the same?Ellen G. White Uncopied Letter 5, 1876.
The joint labors of James and Ellen White continued for thirty-five years, until James reached the age of sixty. Side by side we had labored in the cause of Christ for thirty-five years; and we hoped that we might stand together to witness the triumphant close. But such was not the will of God. The chosen protector of my youth, the companion of my life, the sharer of my labors and afflictions, was taken from my side, and I was left to finish my work and to fight the battle alone.Life Sketches, page 247. Ellen White was ill in the sanitarium at Battle Creek at the time of her husband's death. She was taken to his room to visit him and was aware of the seriousness of his illness. She remained with him until the end came on Sabbath, August 6, 1881. Mrs. White's feeble strength then gave way and it was with difficulty that her life was preserved.
Though I had not risen from my sickbed after my husband's death, I was borne to the Tabernacle on the following Sabbath to attend his funeral. At the close of the sermon I felt it a duty to testify to the value of the Christian's hope in the hour of sorrow and bereavement. As I arose, strength was given me, and I spoke about ten minutes, exalting the mercy and love of God in the presence of that crowded assembly. At the close of the services I followed my husband to Oak Hill Cemetery, where he was laid to rest until the morning of the resurrection.
My physical strength had been prostrated by the blow, yet the power of divine grace sustained me in my great bereavement. When I saw my husband breathe his last, I felt that Jesus was more precious to me than He ever had been in any previous hour of my life. When I stood by my first-born, and
closed his eyes in death, I could say, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. And I felt then that I had a comforter in Jesus. And when my latest born was torn from my arms, and I could no longer see its little head upon the pillow by my side, then I could say, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.* And when he upon whose large affections I had leaned, with whom I had labored for thirty-five years, was taken away, I could lay my hands upon his eyes, and say, I commit my treasure to Thee until the morning of the resurrection.
At times I felt that I could not have my husband die. But these words seemed to be impressed on my mind: Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10. I keenly feel my loss, but dare not give myself up to useless grief. This would not bring back the dead. And I am not so selfish as to wish, if I could, to bring him from his peaceful slumber to engage again in the battles of life. Like a tired warrior, he has lain down to sleep. I will look with pleasure upon his resting place. The best way in which I and my children can honor the memory of him who has fallen, is to take the work where he left it, and in the strength of Jesus carry it forward to completion.Ibid., pp. 252, 253.
Few things give such insight into the nature of a person's Christian experience as his relationship to deathnot only his own death, but the death of those dear to him. Ellen White's description of her own feelings and attitudes at the time of her husband's death is deeply significant and is worthy of careful study because of what it reveals concerning her relationship to her Saviour.
A year after James White's death, Mrs. White was settled at Healdsburg, California, for Healdsburg College had been opened in April, 1882. This was her home until her departure for Europe in the summer of 1885. At Healdsburg she wrote
* Note: Henry White died at Topsham, Maine, on December 8, 1863, at the age of sixteen. Herbert was born September 20, 1860, and died December 14 of that same year. This left the two middle boys, Edson and William.
in detail of closing events of earth's history, as found in the last chapters of The Great Controversy. She also directed the republication of Testimonies for the Church, as we have them in volumes 1-4.
Brief attention should be given to the educational work which was fostered by Mrs. White's testimonies during this period. Reference has been made to the dedication of Battle Creek College, and the founding of Healdsburg College. Although Ellen White's major works on education were the product of a later period in her experience, her first extensive message on this subject was written in January, 1872. An article, Proper Education, appeared as Testimony for the Church, No. 22. See Testimonies, vol. 3, PP. 131-160, and Fundamentals of Christian Education, pages 15-46. It contains many of the fundamental principles later amplified in more detailed writings: the distinction between training children and educating youth; the provision for individual differences; the need for instruction suited to the maturity of the student; the need to teach youth to think; the relation of education and health; the practical training essential for both boys and girls. Though feeble beginnings had already been made, this article, and the many that followed it, motivated the denomination to establish educational institutions to give the youth a proper education superior to any to be found elsewhere.
A request from the European Missionary Council to the General Conference to arrange for Mrs. White to spend some time visiting the European mission, resulted in her sailing from Boston in August, 1885. Her first stop was in London; however, she soon went to Basel, Switzerland, the headquarters of our European work. This served as her headquarters during the next two years, while she visited various European countries and preached and counseled with Adventist leaders.
The European Missionary Council, meeting for two weeks soon after Mrs. White's arrival in Europe, gave her an opportunity to become acquainted with the progress of the work as it was reported by representatives from Scandinavia, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland. Methods of distributing Seventh-day Adventist literature came in for a large share of discussion. Some of the leaders had come to the conclusion that literature sales by colporteurs were destined to failure; but Mrs. White repeatedly assured the discouraged colporteurs that it had been shown her that books could be sold in Europe in such a way as to give support to the workers, and bring to the publishing house sufficient returns to enable it to produce more books.Life Sketches, page 285. Her words encouraged the book salesmen to try again. Training schools for colporteurs were held in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, and the sales for 1886 in that territory rose to nearly $9,000, compared to a little more than $1,000 in 1885.
Three times during her European stay Ellen G. White visited the Waldensian valleys of northern Italy, for Seventh-day Adventist work in Italy had its beginnings in these valleys. On her first visit, in 1885, she spent most of her time with the members at Torre Pellice, and spoke to them ten times. She recounted many incidents in the lives of the Waldensians and their missionaries that had been revealed to her in vision. After visiting these spots she was able to write more vividly of the incidents that had taken place there centuries before.
At the urgent request of the Adventist leaders, she made three visits to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The task was difficult, but she encouraged the workers to increase their consecration, and she made suggestions as to how the work might be built up more effectively.
On this trip to Europe, Mrs. White was accompanied by her son William and his wife. W. C. White's experience in the publishing work was helpful to those making a beginning in new lands. Their united labors did much to give permanence
and stability to the cause of God during its difficult beginnings in Europe. Mrs. White's travels and talks are recounted in Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of Seventh-day Adventists and in reports to the Review and Herald. Like her other sermons and her instruction given in writing, these messages contain counsel, encouragement, and reproof. They were readily accepted by leaders and believers to whom she spoke. Her visit helped to bring greater unity among the workers of various nationalities. A strengthened work, an encouraged leadership, and a closer fellowship resulted from Ellen White's two years of association with the Seventh-day Adventists in Europe.
The four years following her return from Europe were for Ellen White years involving much travel and labor in the conferences and individual churches. After her absence from the United States she received many requests for her services at meetings. In addition to her field work, a good deal of writing was done during this period. The enlarged edition of The Great Controversy appeared in 1888, and Testimonies, volume 5, in 1889, followed by Patriarchs and Prophets in 1890. Although Steps to Christ did not come from the press until 1892, work on the manuscript was completed in the summer of the previous year.
Among the outstanding events of this period was the General Conference session at Minneapolis, beginning October 17, 1888. At this session a crisis was reached in the spiritual development of the denomination. The problem centered in the right understanding and proper emphasis of the doctrine of righteousness by faith. Although it appeared that the controversy circled about a few men and their theological views, actually it was a matter of basic understanding of the Bible. Attention needed to be focused on Jesus, His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family.Testimonies to Ministers,
page 92. In many of the logical, closely reasoned Biblical presentations, much of the love and warmth and appeal of the righteousness of Christ had been lacking. For nearly two years before the Minneapolis meeting Mrs. White had called for a revival and a change of emphasis in preaching. Her messages before, during, and after the session, form a sound basis for understanding, living, and teaching the message of righteousness by faith. Despite the changing opinions and faulty positions of men, the denomination has not been left without a clear-cut picture of what its beliefs and practices should be.
Two chapters in Steps to Christ express the heart of Ellen White's views on righteousness by faith. They are the chapters entitled Faith and Acceptance and The Test of Discipleship. The contrast between an outward rightness and an inward righteousness is simply depicted in the latter chapter.
It is true that there may be an outward correctness of deportment without the renewing power of Christ. The love of influence and the desire for the esteem of others may produce a well-ordered life. Self-respect may lead us to avoid the appearance of evil. A selfish heart may perform generous actions. By what means, then, shall we determine whose side we are on?
Who has the heart? With whom are our thoughts? Of whom do we love to converse? Who has our warmest affections and our best energies? If we are Christ's, our thoughts are with Him, and our sweetest thoughts are of Him. All that we have and are is consecrated to Him. We long to bear His image, breathe His spirit, do His will, and please Him in all things.Steps to Christ, page 62.
In the months following the Minneapolis session, Ellen White held meetings with the churches in the vicinity of Battle Creek, in New England, and in California. Everywhere she appealed to her listeners to accept Christ as a personal Saviour, and not to present one's own righteousness to God. Almost weekly, sermons of this character, preached in the churches by Ellen White, were published in the Review and Herald. The
confusion that had existed at Minneapolis called for firm, straightforward preaching on the part of the one whose views on righteousness by faith had, as had Paul's, received the confirmation of revelation as well as of diligent Bible study. Mrs. White's visits, sermons, and articles helped to stabilize the believers during a time of unrest.
In July, 1890, Ellen White went to Petoskey, Michigan, near the northern tip of the Michigan peninsula to rest from her public labors and do some writing. In a letter to her son she recounted: I have been feeling much better in health since coming here. I receive treatment every day. I have not ventured on any excursion or to attend any meetings lest I should get a backset. I let all the rest go while I remain alone half a day. Yesterday was alone all day from eight o'clock a.m. until six p.m. I am not at all lonely. I love to be quiet and write and think and pray. I want so much to obtain strength that I can labor.Ellen G. White Uncopied Letter 32, 1890.
In August she wrote, I feel sometimes as though it was a terrible neglect of duty to be here while camp meetings are being held. But I again consider it is the first rest I have had in my life. I speak, however, twice each week, write from twelve to twenty-five pages nearly every day. Then, when my head gets tired, I go out in the berry patch. Marian and I scour round and get berries enough for table use.Ellen G. White Uncopied Letter 37, 1890. Few preachers would consider two sermons a week and twelve to twenty-five pages of writing a day much of a vacation and rest, but this was a real change from Ellen White's regular program of traveling, speaking, and writing. September found her back in Battle Creek, and most of the remaining months of the year were spent on a speaking tour through New England and the Eastern states. For the most part, this had been a period of intensive field work and voluminous writing for the messenger of God. She helped the churches become firmly grounded, guided them through a time of crisis, and helped them prepare for the future.
At the General Conference of 1891, Elder S. N. Haskell made repeated appeals for workers to be sent to the distant lands he had recently visited. He particularly urged the establishment of a training school in Australia, and he believed that teachers should be appointed to launch such a project. He also asked that Ellen White and her son William C. White spend time in the Australian field, giving help and guidance to the developing work. The Mission Board accepted Elder Haskell's suggestion and asked Mrs. White and her son to leave for Australia that autumn. The mother and son were willing to go, and they arrived there in December. Nine years were spent pioneering and developing the work, especially the educational and medical phases of it.
During her first year in Australia, Ellen White spent most of her time in bed, suffering from inflammatory rheumatism and neuritis. Despite her illness and pain, she had a special armrest prepared so that she could be propped up in bed to continue her writing. During these months she wrote letters, testimonies, and many chapters of The Desire of Ages. In responding to the call of the General Conference to go to Australia she had received no indication from the Lord as to what her course should be. She followed her usual practice of accepting the suggestions and requests of the conference leaders as to where she should labor, when she had no divine instruction to the contrary. In the midst of illness she wrote concerning the struggle in her own mind.
When I first found myself in a state of helplessness I deeply regretted having crossed the broad waters. Why was I not in America? Why at such expense was I in this country? Time and again I could have buried my face in the bed quilts and had a good cry. But I did not long indulge in the luxury of tears.
I said to myself, Ellen G. White, what do you mean? Have you not come to Australia because you felt that it was your duty
to go where the conference judged it best for you to go? Has this not been your practice?
I said, Yes.
Then why do you feel almost forsaken and discouraged? Is not this the enemy's work?'
I said, I believe it is.
I dried my tears as quickly as possible and said, It is enough. I will not look on the dark side any more. Live or die, I commit the keeping of my soul to Him who died for me.
I then believed that the Lord would do all things well, and during this eight months of helplessness, I have not had any despondency or doubt. I now look at this matter as a part of the Lord's great plan, for the good of His people here in this country, and for those in America, and for my good. I cannot explain why or how, but I believe it. And I am happy in my affliction. I can trust my heavenly Father. I will not doubt His love. I have an ever watchful guardian day and night, and I will praise the Lord; for His praise is upon my lips because it comes from a heart full of gratitude.Ellen G. White Letter 18a, 1892. Also found in A. L. White, Ellen G. White, Messenger to the Remnant, page 102.
Mrs. White's years in Australia are probably best remembered for three major contributions: (1) the completion of The Desire of Ages; (2) the establishment of the Avondale school, and the extensive writings on all phases of the subject of education; and (3) the giving of instruction for the development of a more efficient conference organization.
The work on The Desire of Ages was not completed quickly. When she was able to leave her bed, Mrs. White gave much of her time to speaking appointments and to council sessions in Australia and New Zealand. It was not until 1898 that the book finally came from the publishers.
Hundreds of pages of counsel were written in connection with the establishment of the Avondale school. Principles stated earlier were expanded so that they applied in detail to
the new institution and others that would follow. It was here that the pattern for the Seventh-day Adventist educational system was formulated and illustrated. The basic plan and principles are adaptable to any situation in the world. The school at Avondale prospered as the plan was followed. More will be said in a later chapter regarding the relation of this plan to other systems of education which have in the past incorporated many of its principles.
The counsel on the organization of the church which Mrs. White gave during this period became the basis for the reorganization program mentioned by F. M. Wilcox, at the election of A. G. Daniells to the presidency of the General Conference.
Although Brother Daniells was comparatively little known to the church in America because of his long absence in Australia, his brethren intuitively turned to him for leadership. And they were not disappointed. In the Australasian field he had perfected, under the counsel of the spirit of prophecy, a form of reorganization which was to prove in large measure the model of the church organization in all countries. God had been preparing and training him for leadership of the world movement.F. M. Wilcox, in Review and Herald, April 18, 1935.
The revelations given Ellen White not only kept pace with the needs of the growing denomination, but they stayed ahead and helped prepare the way to meet problems as they arose. God has repeatedly pointed to His foreknowledge of the future as one of the clearest indications that He is the only true God. I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done. Isaiah 46:9, 10.
When she returned to the United States from Australia in late September, 1900, Ellen White was seventy-two years of
age. She had been receiving messages from God for His people for about fifty-six years. Her ministry had been of great assistance in the development of a religious movement that would soon spread to all the world. She had spent eleven years in Europe and Australia, and now she was back in her homeland to continue her ministry.
Though Mrs. White had no personal desire to leave Australia, she was repeatedly instructed that there was a work for her to do in America. Soon after her return to the United States, she purchased a home not far from the Saint Helena Sanitarium in Northern California. A little later she wrote: I see as I never expected to see that the good hand of the Lord is with me. O it has been so wonderfully apparent in providing this beautiful home in this retired place. I was visited by the angel of the Lord on the boat, and instruction was given me, which I do not yet dare to speak. I will sometime give the whole history of my experience on the boat. It is so solemn, so sacred a matter that I do not feel like talking about it; but one thing I do know, of which I may speak, and that is that it was in the order of God that I came to America just at this time. It was against my wishes, for I wanted to remain in Australia. I loved the people and I loved my work. I have not lost my love for Australia, nor my interest in the workers there.Ellen G. White Letter 158, 1900. She ever recognized that God's hand had been in the purchase of Elmshaven, which formed a base from which she labored the last fifteen years of her life.
As far as the plans for expansion and efficient operation of the work of Seventh-day Adventists are concerned, the General Conferences of 1863 and 1901 are the most far-reaching that have been held. The former was the beginning of general organization, and the latter marked a reorganization to cope with the problems of rapidly expanding missionary activities in many lands, the distribution of workers, and the methods to enlarge the financial resources. In each of these notable advance steps, Ellen White exerted a strong influence.
The 1901 conference opened on April 2, with the usual preliminary activities: the president's opening remarks, the seating of delegates, the acceptance of new conferences. Elder G. A. Irwin gave his presidential address, and then the chairman declared the conference formally opened. Immediately following his question: What is your pleasure? Mrs. White, who had not been present at a General Conference session for ten years, came forward and addressed the group. It was the Lord's plan, she said, that there should be a radical reorganization of the church and its administration. No longer should full authority be left in the hands of a few men at headquarters. Responsibility and authority must be delegated to leaders in each field. Financial policies must be altered so that funds would not be hoarded in one field while there was insufficient
money to carry on the work elsewhere. All phases of the work of the denominationthe Foreign Mission Board, the Sabbath School Association, the Religious Liberty Associationmust work unitedly rather than operate as separate organizations. Particular stress was placed on the need for spiritual regeneration in the lives of leaders, and the weeding out of workers who had lost their spirit of consecration.
The address was an expansion of the message given the previous day by Mrs. White to a smaller group of workers. When she finished, it was proposed that a large committee give study to the principles set forth and bring recommendations to the conference. Many of the regular items on the General Conference agenda were set aside in order that full attention could be given to the major issue. Out of the session came a plan by which organizational problems could be solved. The basic program is still in operation in the church organization. Again, a rebuke, a remedy, and a call for leadership to plan wisely for the future had been given by the Lord through His appointed messenger.
Two years later, at the next General Conference, counsel and leadership were given concerning the transfer of the General Conference headquarters and the publishing house from Battle Creek. Recent fires had raised the question of rebuilding in the same place. Ellen White bore her testimony. In reply to the question that has been asked in regard to settling somewhere else, I answer, Yes. Let the General Conference offices and the publishing work be moved from Battle Creek. I know not where the place will be, whether on the Atlantic Coast or elsewhere. But this I will say, Never lay a stone or a brick in Battle Creek to rebuild the Review Office there. God has a better place for it.General Conference Bulletin, 1903, page 85. Continued guidance from God's messenger resulted in the selection of Washington, D.C., as the denominational headquarters.
This period was also one of growth in medical missionary
lines. Sanitariums and then a medical school came into being in Southern California as the result of testimonies and counsel from Ellen White. The story of the beginnings of the Loma Linda College of Evangelists (ultimately to be known as the College of Medical Evangelists) is a thrilling recital of the providences of God, too lengthy to be told here, but which should be read in connection with this chapter. (See references at end of chapter.)
In addition to the hundreds of letters written during these years, these seven books came from the press: Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7 (1902), Manual for Canvassers (1902), Education (1903), Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8 (1904), The Ministry of Healing (1905), and Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9 (1909).
When the General Conference of 1909 convened, Ellen White had reached the age of eighty-one and was in feeble health. Nevertheless, from the time she left her home in California for the conference in Washington, D.C., until she returned home, she spoke seventy-two times in twenty-seven places from California to Maine, and from Alabama to Wisconsin. In her letters she wrote increasingly of eye trouble, weakness, heart trouble, and the need of special strength to carry on her duties. She recognized that her years were numbered, and she wanted to do the final work on the material she had written for publication. Around her were gathered an unusually large group of helpers to assist in readying articles and books for publication. At an age when most men and women have long since given up productive activities, Ellen White was hurrying to complete the task that had been entrusted to her.
In a manuscript prepared to be read at the General Conference of 1913, which Ellen White was unable to attend because of her frail health, she reviewed her activities of the preceding
four years. Following the General Conference of 1909, I spent several weeks attending camp meetings and other general gatherings, and visiting various institutions, in New England, the Central States, and the Middle West.
Upon returning to my home in California, I took up anew the work of preparing matter for the press. During the past four years I have written comparatively few letters. What strength I have had has been given mostly to the completion of important bookwork.
Occasionally I have attended meetings, and have visited institutions in California, but the greater portion of the time since the last General Conference has been spent in manuscript work at my country home, Elmshaven, near Saint Helena.
I am thankful that the Lord is sparing my life to work a little longer on my books. O, that I had strength to do all that I see ought to be done! I pray that He may impart to me wisdom, that the truths our people so much need may be presented clearly and acceptably. I am encouraged to believe that God will enable me to do this.General Conference Bulletin, 1913, page 164. Found also in Life Sketches, pages 426, 427.
Strength was given Ellen White to finish her writings on the life of Paul and the early church, The Acts of the Apostles (1911). Also completed were Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students Regarding Christian Education (1913), and Gospel Workers (1915). The last of the products of this period was Prophets and Kings (1916), published soon after the author's death.
Mrs. White remained active until the time of the accident that hastened her death. She was entering her study on Sabbath, February 13, 1915, when she fell and fractured her hip. She was eighty-seven years old, and there was little that could be done except to make her days as comfortable as possible. Her attitude of quiet confidence in God was the same during the last weeks of illness as that which had characterized her
courageous life. Only a few weeks before her death, she said:
I am very weak. I am sure that this is my last sickness. I am not worried at the thought of dying. I feel comforted all the time, that the Lord is near me. I am not anxious. The preciousness of the Saviour has been so plain to me. He has been a friend. He has kept me in sickness and in health.
I do not worry about the work I have done. I have done the best I could. I do not think that I shall be lingering long. I do not expect much suffering. I am thankful that we have the comforts of life in time of sickness. Do not worry. I go only a little before the others.Life Sketches, pages 444, 445.
For several days prior to her death, she had been unconscious much of the time, and toward the end she seemed to have lost the faculty of speech and that of hearing. The last words she spoke to her son were, I know in whom I have believed.Ibid., p. 449. Death came on July 16, 1915.
A funeral service was held at Elmshaven on Sunday, July 18. On July 19, a service was held at Richmond, California, in connection with the Northern California camp meeting, where a thousand friends paid their respects to the messenger of God. On July 24 a service was held at the Battle Creek Tabernacle, after which Mrs. White was buried beside her husband in the Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek. A ministry of seventy years had ended, and Seventh-day Adventists everywhere, as well as a host of non-Adventist friends, mourned the passing of one whose whole life had been devoted to the advent cause, and whose ministry had been so fruitful in its upbuilding.
1. With the organization of the new church, impetus was given to the spread of the advent message.
2. Soon after the church organization was effected, special instruction came to Ellen White regarding healthful living.
3. James White's serious illness materially affected the work
of the Whites during part of this period of ministry in the new church.
4. Ellen White spent two years (1885-87) counseling with workers and strengthening the Adventist churches in the European countries.
5. From 1887 to 1891 was a period of stabilization. Much time was spent by Mrs. White in field work and important writing.
6. A nine-year period was spent in Australia (1891-1900), where Mrs. White helped to plan and build up the work of the church. She also developed plans for an educational system, and she gave counsel on improving the denominational organization.
7. Ellen White's later years were active and productive. These were years of much letter writing, wide counseling with leaders, and considerable book production.
8. An accident in her home hastened Ellen White's death, which came on July 16, 1915.
1. Review the major areas in which Ellen White contributed to the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its work.
2. Can you think of any phase of the church's growth and activity to which she has not made some contribution? Are there teachings and methods which are completely independent of her influence, as far as you can discover?
3. Recall the study of the gift of prophecy in Bible times, as presented in the earlier chapters of this book. Find as many parallels as you can between the experience of Bible prophets and that of Ellen White. Can you discover major differences?
4. As you have read about the life experience of Ellen White, which of her characteristics stand out in your mind? Does she
appeal to you as having been genuinely alive, warm, and understanding?
5. What appear to you to be the most revealing incidents you have read in the life of Ellen White?
Chiristian, L. H., The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, pp. 39-111. (Experiences of James and Ellen White.)
Froom, L. E., The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, PP. 941-988. (Coming of spirit of prophecy.)
Loughborough, J. N., The Great Second Advent Movement, pp. 281-441. (Growth of several phases of Seventh-day Adventist work.)
Robinson, D. E., The Story of Our Health Message. Nashville, Southern Pubishing Assn., 1943.
Spalding, A. W., Captains of the Host, pp. 304-341 (Health message); 421-453 (Christian education).
Spicer, W. A., The Spirit of Prophecy in the Advent Movement, pp. 7-36 (Advent movement and coming of gift of prophecy).
White, Ellen G., Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 105-112 (Death of James White).
Christian, L. H., The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, pp. 41-43, 48, 49, 83, 84, 100, 111, 177, 178, 300-316.
Daniells, A. G., The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, pp. 305-307, 363, 364.
Spalding, A. W., Captains of the Host, pp. 315-338, 348, 349, 353, 356, 375, 376, 397, 398, 414, 445, 446, 474-478, 528, 529, 534, 535, 603.
, Footprints of the Pioneers, pp. 173, 179-181, 195, 197.
, There Shines a Light, pp. 48-80.
Spicer, W. A., Pioneer Days of the Advent Movement, pp. 181, 182.
, The Spirit of Prophecy in the Advent Movement, p. 85.
White, Ellen G., Christian Experience and Teachings, pp. 179-184, 210, 216, 225.
, Life Sketches, pp. 167-280.
Wilcox, F. M., The Testimony of Jesus, pp. 82, 83, 87, 92-105, 149-151, 157, 158.
Christian, L. H., The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, pp. 161-174, 180, 181, 193-196, 223.
Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, pp. 51, 87, 88, 119-249. Basel, Switzerland, Imprimerie Polyglotte, 1886.
Spalding, A. W., Footprints of the Pioneers, p. 190.
, There Shines a Light, pp. 80, 81.
Spicer, W. A., Pioneer Days of the Advent Movement, pp. 170-172, 180.
White, Ellen G., Life Sketches, pp. 281-308, 252-255, 262-265.
Christian, L. H., The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, pp. 43-45, 152-159, 219-245 (Minneapolis conference of 1888).
Daniells, A. G., The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, p. 369.
, Christ Our Righteousness. Washington, D.C., Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1926.
Our Firm Foundation, vol. 1, pp. 221-224.
Spalding, A. W., Captains of the Host, pp. 137, 138, 583-602 (Minneapolis conference of 1888).
, Footprints of the Pioneers, p. 193.
Spicer, W. A., The Spirit of Prophecy in the Advent Movement, pp. 33, 51, 52, 95, 99, 110, 111.
White, Ellen G., Life Sketches, pp. 309-330.
Wilcox, F. M., The Testimony of Jesus. p. 109.
Christian, L. H., The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, pp. 198, 433-436.
Daniells, A. G., The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, pp. 308-321, 364, 365.
Our Firm Foundation, vol. 1, pp. 220, 222, 231-233.
Spalding, A. W., Captains of the Host, pp. 645-652.
, Christ's Last Legion, p. 145.
, There Shines a Light, pp. 81-84, 139-141.
Spicer, W. A., Pioneer Days of the Advent Movement, p. 187.
, The Spirit of Prophecy in the Advent Movement, pp. 65, 66, 94, 101, 115-119, 121-123.
White, Ellen G., Christian Experience and Teachings, p. 206.
, Life Sketches, pp. 331-379.
Wilcox, F. M., The Testimony of Jesus, p. 77.
Christian, L. H., The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, pp. 45-47, 55, 97-99, 129, 197, 374-377, 384-388.
Daniells, A. G., The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, pp. 322-356.
Spalding, A. W., Christ's Last Legion, pp. 28-177 (pp. 29-54, General Conference of 1901; pp. 73-85, removal of headquarters), 182, 183, 213, 216, 217, 253-259, 261.
, There Shines a Light, pp. 85-87.
Spicer, W. A., Pioneer Days of the Advent Movement, pp. 188, 189.
, The Spirit of Prophecy in the Advent Movement, pp. 53-55, 106, 107.
White, Ellen G., Christian Experience and Teachings, p. 192.
, Life Sketches, pp. 379-424.
Wilcox, F. M., The Testimony of Jesus, pp. 50-54, 87-89, 124, 125.
Christian, L. H., The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, pp. 51-53.
Daniells, A. G., The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, pp. 357-359, 367, 368.
Spalding, A. W., Captains of the Host, pp. 75, 76, 580, 581.
, Christ's Last Legion, pp. 191-193, 253-268.
, There Shines a Light, pp. 87-91.
Spicer, W. A., Pioneer Days of the Advent Movement, p. 201.
, The Spirit of Prophecy in the Advent Movement, pp. 110, 125-128.
White, Ellen G., Christian Experience and Teachings, p. 255.
, Lite Sketches, pp. 416-480.
Wilcox, F. M., The Testimony of Jesus, pp. 42-49, 115-117, 159, 160.
Daniells, A. G., The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, pp. 354-362.
Robinson, D. E., The Story of Our Health Message, pp. 293-347.
Spalding, A. W., Christ's Last Legion, pp. 151-161.