Messenger of the Lord


Manner of Delivering Messages Varied

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? MOL 138.9

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 MOL 138.10

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. MOL 138.11

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. MOL 138.12

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 MOL 138.13

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 fiancée, 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 MOL 139.1

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 snow bank. MOL 139.2

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 MOL 139.3

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.” MOL 139.4

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.” MOL 139.5

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.” MOL 139.6

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 MOL 139.7

Sometimes delivering a testimony was unusually dramatic. In May 1853, at Vergennes, Michigan, an incident happened that greatly increased confidence in Ellen White’s visions. The matter 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 MOL 139.8

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.) MOL 140.1

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.” MOL 140.2

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.” MOL 140.3

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.” MOL 140.4

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 MOL 140.5

Another experience, 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.” MOL 140.6

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.” MOL 140.7

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 MOL 140.8

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 MOL 140.9