Messenger of the Lord



At times, a comparison is made between both the life history and visions of William Foy and Ellen Harmon. Both experienced unsettling spiritual conflicts prior to their visions, both experienced great aversion to relating their visions publicly. Occasionally, both used common phrases of the day, such as “comfort the saints.” MOL 40.3

Although a few verbal parallels exist between Foy’s visions and those of Ellen Harmon, there are important dissimilarities in content. In describing the journey of one who had just died as going to heaven in a chariot, Foy makes no mention of the resurrection at the Second Advent, due to his belief in the immortality of the soul. Foy sees a mountain on which were printed in gold letters, “The Father and the Son,” providing a backdrop for the judgment scene. Nothing similar is found in the records of Ellen Harmon’s visions. MOL 40.4

Foy and Harmon (White) both describe the tree of life, using common words such as “the fruit looked like clusters of grapes in pictures of pure gold” (Foy), and “the fruit was glorious; it looked like gold mixed with silver” (White). Speaking of eating the fruit, Foy recalled, “the guide then spoke to me and said, ‘Those who eat of the fruit of this tree, return to earth no more.’” White wrote: “I asked Jesus to let me eat of the fruit. He said, ‘Not now. Those who eat of the fruit of this land go back to earth no more.’” In the context, dissimilarities are apparent. MOL 40.5

Both refer to a large group of the redeemed, standing in a “perfect square.” Foy wrote that they were “the size of children 10 years of age” and that they sang a “song which the saints and angels could not sing.” For Ellen White, “Here on the sea of glass the 144,000 stood in a perfect square.” MOL 40.6

However, if Foy’s visions were authentic and faithfully disclosed, should we not expect similarities and parallels, at least to some extent? But the general conceptual content of Foy’s published visions do not parallel those of Ellen White. 34 MOL 40.7

Some questions exist regarding the Pearsons (John Pearson, Jr., and C. H. Pearson) who published Foy’s pamphlet, The Christian Experience, and “Father” Pearson, who is referred to in Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 70, 71, and in Testimonies for the Church 1:64. MOL 40.8

“Father Pearson,” an older leader of the small group of believers in Portland, Maine, opposed those who claimed they were “prostrated” by the Spirit of God—until he and his family had the “experience.” 35 James White had worked with “Father” Pearson’s son, John Pearson, Jr., in 1843 and after. John, the son, with Joseph Turner, edited Hope of Israel, an Advent paper, and published William Foy’s pamphlet early in 1845. MOL 40.9

It seems clear that if Ellen Harmon’s visions were mere duplications of Foy’s earlier visions, the Pearsons would have been the first to perceive the fraud, especially when Father Pearson had been so sensitive and suspicious regarding visions and other so-called manifestations of the Spirit. Father Pearson believed in the genuineness of William Foy and went on to solidly endorse Ellen Harmon. MOL 40.10

1. What Biblical examples illustrate the principle of conditional prophecy? MOL 42.1

2. Why don't all believers possess the gift of prophecy? MOL 42.2

3. What are some of the common characteristics shared by prophets in their vision experiences? MOL 42.3

4. What are the best tests of a genuine prophet or prophetess? MOL 42.4

5. What were some of the contemporary circumstances that made it difficult for Ellen Harmon to gain a hearing in 1845? MOL 42.5

6. Why is our attitude toward prophets an indication of our attitude toward God? MOL 42.6

7. Why do you think physical phenomena are more associated with visions at certain times than at other times? MOL 42.7