A Prophet Among You

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“Experience and Views”

Ellen White introduced her first book with this comment: “By the request of dear friends I have consented to give a brief sketch of my experience and views, with the hope that it will cheer and strengthen the humble, trusting children of the Lord.” (See the full-page photographic reproduction of the original title page and of James White’s preface to the work.) APAY 295.2

It seems clear from the preface that it was hoped this book would do more than fulfill the request of friends for a printed record of some of the early incidents in the life and work of Mrs. White. There was prejudice against visions in general. Some were permitting the presence of visions among the advent believers to hold them back from accepting other adventist views. Even among those loyal to the advent cause there were some who could not see the need for a manifestation of the prophetic gift. James White admitted that these persons had considerable justification for their skepticism. False visions and fanaticism were prevalent; mesmerism and spiritism were creating disbelief in anything that savored of the supernatural. In view of the unfavorable way the people associated the true APAY 295.3

visions with false manifestations, James White set forth a brief, but strong, defense of the gift in the last days. He hoped that the appearance of the book would serve as an encouragement to those whose minds were settled on the validity of Mrs. White’s claims, and a persuasion to some who were uncertain or actively opposed. APAY 297.1

Less than seven years before the publication of Experience and Views, in December, 1844, Ellen Harmon had received her first vision. While a few of the letters she had written to individuals describing her visions were published by those who had received them, not many were brought to general attention. James White’s Present Truthcarried seven articles by her during 1849 and 1850. Of the seven, four told directly of things she had seen in vision, two others contained expressions like “I saw,” and “the Lord has shown me,” along with some admonition and instruction. One spoke of visions that had been published without her consent. Each article contained something about the visions, but the whole story had not been told. It was natural that some of these things, including her first vision, should be brought together with others not previously published. They were placed with a brief biographical sketch in a form that would be readily available for reference by those who wished to use them. Out went the sixty-four-page booklet, concluding with this sentence: “To those who may circulate this little work, I would say, that it is designed for the sincere only, and not for those who would ridicule the things of the Spirit of God.” Significantly, the paragraph just preceding that last sentence gives an insight into Ellen White’s attitude toward the Bible and what she understood to be the relation of her writings to the Book. APAY 297.2

“I recommend to you, dear reader, the word of God as the rule of your faith and practice. By that word we are to be judged. God has, in that word, promised to give visions in the ‘LAST DAYS;’ not for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people, and to correct those who err from Bible truth. Thus God dealt with Peter when He was about to send him to preach to the Gentiles. Acts 10.” Experience and Views, page 64. APAY 297.3

Three years later, in 1854, a forty-eight-page supplement was added to Experience and Views,and this described several later revelations. The two booklets, as reprinted in 1882, make up the first two sections of Early Writings. APAY 297.4