Believe His Prophets


The Test of Divine Guidance in Times of Crisis in the Advent Movement

There are three texts to keep in mind when studying God’s guidance of His people: BHP 92.5

1. “The Lord shall guide thee continually” (Isaiah 58:11). BHP 92.6

2. He instructs us in the way we should go (Psalm 32:8). BHP 93.1

3. By a prophet the Lord led and guided Israel of old (Hosea 12:13). BHP 93.2

Here the prophet becomes a “forth-teller”—one who speaks forth the “word of the Lord” when that word is needed most urgently; one who steps in when God’s people do not know which way to turn or what to do; or one who warns of impending dangers when they are going in the wrong direction, or of the dire results if the course is pursued. BHP 93.3

This phase of the prophet’s work calls for remarkable courage, close timing, and specific instruction to meet very specific circumstances. To make a mistake here would be fatal both to the prophet himself and to the situation he could remedy or safeguard. Herein is a test of a prophet. BHP 93.4

Time and again Ellen G. White, directed only by God, stepped into critical situations and saved the church by the message she bore. If space permitted, we might recount some of these thrilling experiences—how the denomination was saved at the turn of the century in the crisis over pantheistic teachings, and again at the time of the “holy flesh” movement. We might give the details of the work of false prophets and of the way the situation was met. On many occasions messages received at just the critical moment protected the church or prevented some serious blunder. One outstanding experience must suffice. BHP 93.5

The Salamanca Vision.—In the night of November 3, 1890, God looked ahead some four months and saw a meeting of a very small group of men that would be held late on the night of March 7, 1891. Things would be said and done at that meeting that would not be for the best interest of our work. To avert the danger threatening the cause if a certain course should be followed, and to duly impress those who would be participants in that meeting, and to convince them beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was still in control of His work, He gave a vision to His servant Ellen G. White on the night of November 3, 1890, and showed her a scene of that very meeting. She saw a man stand up and lift a copy of the American Sentinel high in the air and point to several articles, declaring that such topics as the Sabbath and the second coming of Christ should not find a place in the paper that spoke for the Religious Liberty Association. BHP 94.1

Several times Mrs. White began to tell what she had seen in that vision at the meeting in Salamanca, New York. Each time she faltered and could not recall a single detail. Finally after four months she came to Battle Creek to attend the conference, which was held from March 5 to 25 in the year 1891. She spoke to the ministers at their 5:30 A.M. meetings. On March 7 the president asked her if she would be back on Sunday morning, March 8, and she declined, thinking that she had given enough instruction already. BHP 94.2

The Sabbath closed, the evening meeting was concluded, and Sister White, with all others, retired. Did I say “all others”? Not exactly, for a small group of men went to an office in the Review and Herald building for a strictly secret meeting of their own. They locked the door and resolved not to leave that room until their highly controversial problem was settled. Hour after hour passed. Midnight found them deep in their debate. One o’clock came, two, and then nearly three, when they finally adjourned and went to their respective rooms to sleep and rest. BHP 95.1

Shortly after that meeting closed, Ellen G. White, in the privacy of her own room, was awakened. The angel of the Lord bade her attend the five-thirty meeting and present what she had seen at Salamanca four months before. The whole scene came back, and she wrote page after page until time came for the five-thirty ministers’ meeting. She picked up her manuscripts and made her way to the Tabernacle. The ministers were on the platform. W. W. Prescott and O. A. Olsen were prepared to speak, but on seeing Mrs. White enter the room with her papers, Elder Olsen asked whether she had a message. “Indeed I do,” responded Ellen G. White. BHP 95.2

The Testimony Delivered on Time.—She stated that she had not planned to be present at that meeting, but she had been awakened at three o’clock and bidden to present some things she had seen in vision at Salamanca, New York, on November 3, 1890. BHP 95.3

O. A. Olsen, who was to speak that morning, records what was said and done: BHP 96.1

“She then began to read, describing a meeting that was shown her that was held in one of the rooms in the Review Office, where a number of brethren were together. She described their attitude and their earnestness, and the position which they had taken; for there was a heated discussion, as they could not agree on certain questions at issue. BHP 96.2

“Personally I sat there in blank bewilderment. I did not know what she referred to. I had neither heard nor had any knowledge of the things that she presented, nor of such a meeting as she described. Indeed, I was so surprised, and the things she presented as having taken place in that meeting seemed so unreasonable, that I was quite nonplused in my mind as to what this meant.”—White Publications Document File, No. 107f. BHP 96.3

When Sister White had finished her testimony, the men present looked about in bewilderment, but not for long. BHP 96.4

A. F. Ballenger, then secretary of the Religious Liberty Association, arose and said that the meeting described by the servant of the Lord had been held the night before. He declared that he was the one who had held up the copy of the American Sentinel and pointed to the article on the Sabbath and the Second Advent. He also confessed that he had been on the wrong side of the controversy. BHP 96.5

Captain Eldridge, president of the International Religious Liberty Association, arose and said: BHP 96.6

“I was in that meeting…. Last night, after the close of the Conference, some of us met in my room in the Review Office, where we locked ourselves in, and there took up and discussed the questions and the matter that has been presented to us this morning. We remained in that room till three o’clock this morning.’”—Ibid. BHP 97.1

He stated further: BHP 97.2

“If I should have begun to give a description of what took place, and the personal attitude of those in the room, I could not have given it as exactly and correctly as it has been given by Sister White. I now see that I was in error; that the position that I took was not correct; and from the light that has been given this morning, I acknowledge that I was wrong.’”—Ibid. BHP 97.3

Only a messenger in close communion with God could bear such an unusual but absolutely accurate testimony about a meeting to be held four months in the future. BHP 97.4

Time and space forbid consideration of many other intensely interesting stories of crises met through divine guidance. We turn now to the third great test. BHP 97.5