Believe His Prophets


The Timeliness of the Messages

Time and again the counsel given by the Lord for some particular person arrived at the exact moment when it was needed most. Too early, it would not have been appreciated; too late, it would not have served its purpose. This placed a great responsibility upon the messenger of the Lord, for procrastination would have meant the defeat of God’s plans and purposes. This often necessitated her rising very early, writing diligently hour after hour, hurrying to the post office to make connections with a particular train or boat. But the Lord saw to all these details, and the Lord’s servant responded to the call of her Master at any hour of the day or night. BHP 109.11

In June, 1871, two of our ministers, J. N. Loughborough and a fellow evangelist, began a tent effort in the city of San Francisco. In due time the meetings were transferred from the tent to a hall, and by December 1, 1871, about fifty people had been baptized and brought into the church. BHP 110.1

Much to the chagrin of the workers and believers and to the shame of the cause of God, Elder Loughborough’s fellow evangelist had fallen into some questionable associations and actions. His conduct became such as to raise serious questions as to his relationship to the church and certainly gave rise to criticism by those opposing our work in that city. He took the attitude that he had a right to do as he pleased, and to walk the streets as he pleased and with whom he pleased. BHP 110.2

When counseled and admonished by the brethren, his only response was, “It is none of your business,” which was of course not true, for it is the business of the church how you and I conduct ourselves and live our lives. On Sabbath, January 27, 1872, it was decided that the church should investigate the situation on Sunday, January 28, at 9 A.M. BHP 110.3

As Elder Loughborough started for that Sunday morning meeting, he met the brother on the sidewalk near the boardinghouse. He was weeping and gave evidence of a broken spirit. Looking up, he said, “Brother Loughborough, I am not going to the meeting today.” “Not going to the meeting?” said Elder Loughborough. “The meeting relates to your case.” BHP 111.1

“I know that,” said he, “but I am all wrong. You are right in the position you have taken in reference to me. Here is a letter of confession I have written to the church; you take it and read it to them.” BHP 111.2

“What has occasioned this great change in you since yesterday?” inquired the elder. BHP 111.3

“I went to the post office last night, after the Sabbath, and received a letter from Sister White, from Battle Creek, Michigan. It is a testimony she has written out for me,” he replied. “Read that, and you will see how the Lord sees my case.” BHP 111.4

Now what would you do with such a testimony if you were in a similar situation? I have held in my hand the handwritten original of that testimony. It was mailed January 18, 1872. Very early that morning Sister White was awakened in her room in Battle Creek. She was bidden to rise and send the testimony of what she had seen in vision on December 10, 1871, while in Bordoville, Vermont. As long before as December 27 she had written out what she had seen about this worker in San Francisco, but she had not mailed it for the Lord had told her not to send it yet. BHP 111.5

Without a moment’s delay she rose, for she had been impressed to send out that testimony to California immediately; in fact, to get it into the very next mail, for it was needed. Just before breakfast she called her son William and charged him, “Take this letter to the post office, but don’t put it into the drop. Hand it to the postmaster, and have him be sure to put it into the mailbag that goes out this morning.” BHP 112.1

Thus this letter dated December 27 and mailed January 18 reached San Francisco on January 27, when the worker in trouble needed it most urgently. No, my brother, my sister, such things do not just happen. The very timeliness of the messages is an evidence of their divine origin (J. N. Loughborough, The Great Second Advent Movement, pp. 386, 390). BHP 112.2

As he read the message it brought him, of course, to a realization that there is a God in heaven who knew all about him and his doings. Yes, God could see what he was doing, knew exactly where he was going, and with whom he was associating, and the loving Father in heaven instructed His messenger to write a message particularly for that young man. It made a profound impression upon the young man’s mind. It caused him to see his error and to repent of his ways. He sat down immediately and wrote his letter of confession, admitting that there was no need for a church trial, for he recognized that all he was doing was known to God, and had been revealed to the servant of the Lord, though he was separated from her by more than two thousand miles. BHP 112.3

I submit, dear brethren and sisters, that that kind of message could not come from the mind, or the imagination, of just anybody, near or far. And I also submit that for that message to arrive, not on January 29, or December 1, but on the very day, at the very moment, the message was needed, is but another evidence that God was working through His servant, Ellen G. White. BHP 113.1

May I add still another experience of a similar nature, and this one, I am sure, may be known by some of our older workers, perhaps personally, even intimately. In 1891, Ellen G. White was sent over to Australia to help in the establishment of the institutions and our work in general. The increasing demands of the work held her there for a considerable length of time. While she was in Australia, the people in America were carrying on the movement and doing the best they could under the circumstances. Of course, everybody was interested in and concerned over the long absence of Mrs. White. BHP 113.2

In Battle Creek at that time, in the early 1890’s, a young woman by the name of Anna Philips claimed that she had had a vision, a revelation from the Lord. At that time she was living in the home of one of our ministers. She began to write out her messages, and naturally some of our people were very much concerned. Some thought it only reasonable that while Sister White was absent in Australia the Lord should choose someone else to carry on her work in the United States. So they read her messages with great interest, and some began to compare Sister White’s messages with the messages of Anna Philips. BHP 113.3

About the middle of April A. T. Jones felt very much impressed that he should preach a sermon about this in the Tabernacle on a Sabbath morning. He came to that meeting with the message that God had chosen another messenger. He made it clear that he did not think it necessarily true that the Lord would speak through only one agent. He thought it possible that the Lord would see fit to use many. Here was just another. He took a whole hour to compare the work of Ellen G. White and the work of Anna Philips. BHP 114.1

He read the messages, placed them side by side, and declared that they were just the same, having the same ring, the same content, and that they were written in almost the same language. This he proposed as evidence that God had chosen another messenger. And so he urged the people of Battle Creek to accept her as another of God’s servants. BHP 114.2

When the church service closed that morning you may be sure that quite a few folks did not go home as readily as usual. They stood about in little clusters outside the Tabernacle and talked about it, and wondered if it were possible that God had sent them another messenger. Some were very sure she was not called to speak for God. Others questioned whether all the messages would be in harmony, or if there might be some conflict between them. What would Sister White do about this? And what would she say about it when she heard of the development there in Battle Creek? These were some of the questions that disturbed them. They were all excited and stirred up by the sermon. BHP 114.3

The next morning, Sunday, A. T. Jones went over to the branch post office in the Review and Herald. He stepped up to the window and asked if he had any mail. A long envelope, rather big, postmarked Australia, was handed to him. He opened it and read it right there in the post office. The date, of course, was some weeks before the day on which the letter was received. BHP 115.1

It came from Ellen G. White. We can give you just the substance of the contents. She asked Elder Jones who appointed him to preach such a sermon as he had preached in the Tabernacle, who gave him the authority to be judge in such a matter as whether God had chosen another messenger, and why he had stood before the people and compared the message of this one with the messages that God had sent through her. She went on and outlined in detail exactly what had happened on that particular Sabbath morning in the Battle Creek Tabernacle. She made it plain that God had not called Anna Philips to the prophetic office. She pleaded with him not to do anything that would hinder or thwart or confuse the people of God. It was a very powerful message, very direct, and very timely. BHP 115.2

As the preacher sat there on the bench in the post office looking at this message and reading it, there was a young man standing nearby who had come to write a postcard home. When he saw Elder Jones sitting on the bench, he took a little extra time to write, but of course he was observing what was going on. BHP 116.1

Just then Elder O. A. Tait came in and Elder Jones called him to come over and sit down. BHP 116.2

“Oscar,” he said, “you heard me preach that sermon yesterday?” BHP 116.3

When he got an affirmative reply, he said, “Read this,” and handed over Mrs. White’s letter, dated March 15. After a few moments of silence, he asked, “Who told Mrs. White a month ago that I was going to preach that sermon about Anna Philips as a prophetess?” BHP 116.4

“Ah, you know, Alonzo,” replied Elder Tait. BHP 116.5

“Yes, I do know. God knew what I would do.” BHP 116.6

Only the God in heaven knows our thoughts afar off, before they pass through our minds. Only the God of heaven knows where we are and what we are doing and all about us. He knows. Can you deny that the God in heaven sent that message to Ellen G. White in Australia so long before and so far away, and that He had anything to do with the fact that the message arrived there on that particular day? BHP 116.7

The next Sabbath morning A. T. Jones was back in the pulpit at the Battle Creek Tabernacle, and he gave his message. It was a powerful sermon. In it he acknowledged that only the God in heaven knows a man’s thoughts a month or two before he thinks them, and only the God in heaven has the power to put those thoughts into the mind of another person thousands of miles away before the man himself thinks them. BHP 116.8

Think now of the timeliness of that message. Here again we bring from the life and works of Ellen G. White an experience that certainly proves to us that such messages were not due to any stretch of her imagination. A mere religious reverie could not bring to pass such an experience as that. No, brethren and sisters, when we come to think of these marvelous things that have taken place in the life of Ellen G. White, we stand very humbly and say, “God, if you know us as well and as intimately as you knew A. T. Jones and the young man who was working with Elder Loughborough in San Francisco, then we are convinced that we ought to be the kind of men you want us to be.” BHP 117.1