Ellen G. White — Messenger to the Remnant


When God Reversed the Counsel

In the year 1902 the newly established publishing house in Nashville, Tennessee, was sustaining steady heavy losses. A. G. Daniells, president of the General Conference, was deeply concerned, and in an interview with Mrs. White sought her assent to plans to discontinue the publishing work there because of these losses, which the brethren did not know how to check. Elder Daniells tells the story: EGWMR 117.15

“She agreed that it must be put upon a basis where there would be no such losses, and said, ‘If it cannot be, it had better be closed.’ Not being able to give us a sure remedy, she assented to our proposal to discontinue the printing, to turn the building into a depository, and to purchase the literature from other publishing houses. This seeming agreement with our plans brought great relief and satisfaction to many who had been struggling with the baffling problem. EGWMR 117.16

“Brother Crisler wrote out a part of the interview, and, with this in my pocket, I departed with a light heart. On arrival at Battle Creek, I lost no time in telling the other members of the Committee of our interview, with the assurance that Mrs. White was with us in our plans to close up the Nashville office in a very short time. EGWMR 117.17

“A few days later, a letter was received from Mrs. White, stating that she had spoken according to her own judgment in agreement with the presentation we had made to her. But she was now instructed by the Lord to tell us that she had been wrong in giving this counsel, and that the printing house in the South should not be closed. Plans must be laid to prevent further indebtedness, but we were to move forward in faith.”—Abiding Gift of Prophecy, p. 326. EGWMR 118.1

Now let us give Mrs. White’s account of the reversal of counsel as she writes to Elder Daniells: “During the night following our interview in my house and out on the lawn under the trees, Oct. 19, 1902, in regard to the work in the Southern field, the Lord instructed me that I had taken a wrong position.”Letter 208, 1902. (Italics mine.) EGWMR 118.2

Such an experience, rather than lessening our confidence in Ellen G. White as a counselor, should strengthen our faith, for we see so clearly the hand of God overruling in His work so that a mistake should not be made. EGWMR 118.3

Recognizing, however, that Ellen G. White did have her own personal opinions, some might fear that these were intermingled with the counsel she sent out in personal testimonies or set forth in her writings. Perhaps we should let her speak of this also. First we present a statement written in 1909: “I receive letters asking for advice on many strange subjects, and I advise according to the light that has been given me.”—Manuscript 107, 1909. EGWMR 118.4

She was very careful in interviews, and especially in her articles and books, to refrain from setting forth as counsel and instruction that which did not have its basis in revelation. Thus she testified of her articles and letters: EGWMR 118.5

“I do not write one article in the paper expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision—the precious rays of light shining from the throne. EGWMR 118.6

“You might say that this communication was only a letter. Yes, it was a letter, but prompted by the Spirit of God, to bring before your minds things that had been shown me. In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me.”—Testimonies for the Church 5:67. EGWMR 118.7

The same care was exercised in giving advice in personal interviews. In 1869 she wrote to a sister who had sought counsel on a certain point: EGWMR 118.8

“Yesterday ... I could not readily answer your question.... I cannot give counsel in the dark. I must know that my counsel is correct in the light. Great advantage is taken of my words; therefore I must move very cautiously. After careful reflection, seeking to call up things which have been shown me in your case, I am prepared to write to you.”—Testimonies for the Church 2:565 . EGWMR 118.9

Her distress is not to be wondered at when her counsel was laid aside unheeded. To a certain one she wrote: EGWMR 118.10

“I have much to say to you; for I love your soul. But will it do you any real good? Will it simply be received as Sister White’s opinion? The position that has been taken by some of the erring brethren makes my words simply the expression of an opinion, and this view has been advocated and has had a leavening influence in our ranks.”—Letter 22, 1889. EGWMR 118.11

At other times she could write of the hearty reception of the counsel given. Note this cheering word: “At times matters come up for decision, when all are not of the same mind. Then I read to them the writings given, and they accept them, and become one in their decisions.”—Letter 118, 1898. EGWMR 118.12