A Prophet Among You


The Story of the Salamanca Vision

(This is the incident referred to under point 4, on page 383.) APAY 471.9

In the year 1890 general meetings were planned in the Atlantic Coast district of our work. It was before the days of union conferences. Elder A. T. Robinson had the work in charge, and he invited Ellen White to be present at these general meetings, which were to be conducted over a period of about three months’ time. The first of these was held late in October at South Lancaster, Massachusetts. From day to day Ellen White bore her testimony, and when the series of meetings was over she was weary, but she took the cars for Salamanca, New York, where the next meetings were to be held. APAY 471.10

While on the cars she caught a severe cold. As she reached Salamanca and was taken to the Hicks home, where she was to stay as a guest, Ellen White recorded in her journal that never again must she attempt to attend meetings at this time of the year—it was not wise for one of her age to do so. APAY 472.1

Miss Sara McEnterfer, her traveling companion and private secretary, was insisting that Mrs. White abandon her plans for the next two and a half months and go back to Battle Creek, where she could have proper treatment. But already announcement had been made of the meetings that would be held. A large Protestant church had been rented for the occasion, and our believers were coming in from southwestern New York State and northern Pennsylvania. Mrs. White determined to go forward with her appointments. APAY 472.2

The first of these appointments was on Sabbath afternoon, and, although she was not well, she spoke to the people. The Sunday meeting was to be held in the opera house, for of course the church would be used by the congregation which owned it. It had been widely advertised that Mrs. White would speak. Although ill, she said she would go forward with the plans. But when Sunday morning came, she was not as well as she had been the day before. She could only speak in a whisper. From a human standpoint it seemed futile to attempt to hold such a meeting, especially with the general public. Nevertheless, Mrs. White assured the brethren that she would go forward with the appointment. APAY 472.3

At an earlier time, on a similar occasion, she turned to her husband and said, “James, if I could only know that God would sustain me.” APAY 472.4

He asked, “Ellen, has the Lord ever failed you?” APAY 473.1

She answered, “No.” APAY 473.2

And he assuringly answered, “The Lord will not fail you.” APAY 473.3

So on this day, stepping forward by faith, she went to the opera house that Sunday forenoon. The building was crowded. Ellen White was a good public speaker, and she stood before that audience and began to speak. At first she spoke in a whisper, but then her voice broke clear, and she addressed them for an hour on her favorite subject, “Christian Temperance.” She presented the broad aspects of the theme, carrying it right back to the tables in the homes of the people. APAY 473.4

Monday, Ellen White was not as well as she had been the day before. But the announcement had been made that she would speak on Monday afternoon at the church. The meetings were to close on Monday night, so this would be the last time our people would hear her speak in this series. At the appointed time she was taken to the place of meeting and assisted to the pulpit. Then, supporting herself on the pulpit, she spoke to the congregation for about forty-five minutes. When she closed, the people crowded to the front to bid her farewell. They said, “Sister White, the Lord has given you a message for us this day.” But in her journal (and we have it in her own handwriting, written the next day) she said, “I do not know upon what I spoke. I do not know one word I uttered. I was too ill.” APAY 473.5

In her weariness and her illness she made her way to the Hicks home and to her room, thinking to pour out her soul before God and to plead for mercy, strength, and health. She reached her room and dropped on her knees by her chair. She tells us: “I had not uttered a word when the whole room seemed filled with a soft silvery light and my pain of disappointment and discouragement was removed. I was filled with comfort and hope—the peace of Christ.” Diary, Nov. 3, 1890. APAY 473.6

She was given a vision. After the vision she cared not to sleep or rest. She was healed, she was rested, and as she lay on her cot that night, she thought of the words of Jacob of old, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” APAY 474.1

The next morning a decision must be given. Could she go on to Stanley, Virginia, where the next meetings were to be held, or must she go back to Battle Creek, as her nurse insisted? Elder A. T. Robinson, who had the work in charge, and Elder W. C. White, her son, called in the morning at her room to get her answer. They found her dressed and well. Of course she would go on. Then she told of the healing and of the vision. She said, in substance, “I want to tell you about what was revealed to me last night. For in the vision I seemed to be in Battle Creek, and the angel messenger bade me, ‘Follow me.’” Then she hesitated, for the scene had gone from her. She could not call it to mind. APAY 474.2

The two men visited with her for a time, and then they left to arrange the transportation. As they were leaving, she said, in effect, “Just a minute. I want to tell you about the vision that was given to me last night. It had to do with important matters. In the vision I seemed to be in Battle Creek, and I was taken to the Review and Herald building, and the angel messenger bade me, ‘Follow me—.’” It was gone again, as verily as Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was gone from him as he tried to call it to mind. She could not remember. APAY 474.3

The men hurried on to arrange for the transportation. Ellen White, in good health, attended the meetings for the next two and a half months. She spent one day visiting the Luray Caverns. As she went through the caverns, she carried a tin can with three candles in it for light, and she did enjoy the day of sightseeing. I mention this, that you may know she was in good health, healed completely from her illness. APAY 474.4

In the days that followed she recorded in her journal that which she was not allowed to tell the men that day in Salamanca. (We have the handwritten record in our vault.) Many things were revealed to her. Here are a few sentences from her journal record concerning the American Sentinel. Now, the American Sentinel was to our work in the nineties what the Liberty magazine is today. It was a weekly journal, published by the Pacific Press in New York City, devoted largely to religious liberty interests. The journal records: APAY 474.5

“In the night season I was present in several counsels, and there I heard words repeated by influential men to the effect that if the American Sentinel would drop the words ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ from its columns, and would say nothing about the Sabbath, the great men of the world would patronize it; it would become popular, and do a larger work. This looked very pleasing. But what is the nature of the work that would be done to meet the world’s ideas? These men could not see why we could not affiliate with unbelievers and nonprofessors to make the American Sentinel a great success.” APAY 475.1

“I saw their countenances brighten, and they began to work on a policy to make the Sentinel a popular success. The whole matter was introduced by men who needed the truth in the chambers of the mind and soul. APAY 475.2

“This policy is the first step in a succession of wrong steps. The principles which have been advocated in the American Sentinel are the very sum and substance of the advocacy of the Sabbath, and when men begin to talk of changing their principles, they are doing a work which does not belong to them. Like Uzzah, they are attempting to steady the ark which belongs to God and is under His special supervision.” APAY 475.3

You get the picture as she draws it. A group of men are discussing the editorial policy of one of our journals. APAY 475.4

After finishing these general meetings, Ellen White returned to her home in Battle Creek and prepared for the General Conference, March 5-25, 1891. When the conference opened, she was asked to speak to the workers each morning in the week at half-past five. On Sabbath afternoon she addressed the conference. In the Battle Creek Tabernacle, before four thousand of our workers and believers, she stood and read as her text, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The discourse was a powerful appeal for Seventh-day Adventists to hold forth the distinctive features of their faith. APAY 475.5

Then she said in substance, “While at Salamanca, New York, matters of importance were revealed to me. In a vision of the night I seemed to be here in Battle Creek, and the angel messenger bade me, ‘Follow me—.’” She hesitated; the scene was gone. She could not call it to mind. She continued to speak of how we must hold forth the distinctive features of our faith. Then she said, “I must tell you of the vision which was given to me at Salamanca; for in that vision important matters were revealed to me. In the vision I seemed to be in Battle Creek. I was taken to the Review and Herald office, and the angel messenger bade me, ‘Follow me—.’” Again she faltered; it had gone from her. She went on with her sermon, and a third time that afternoon she attempted to recount that vision, but she was not allowed to tell it. Finally she said, “Of this, I shall have more to say later.” She rounded out her sermon in about an hour’s time, and the meeting was dismissed. Everyone had noticed that she was unable to call the vision to mind. APAY 476.1

The president of the General Conference, Elder O. A. Olsen, came to her. “Sister White,” he said, “will you be with us in the morning?” APAY 476.2

“No,” she replied, “I’m weary. I’ve borne my testimony. You must make other plans for the morning meeting.” APAY 476.3

As Mrs. White returned to her home, she told the members of her family that she would not be attending the morning meeting. She was tired, and she was going to have a good night’s rest. APAY 476.4

That night, after the close of the conference session, a small group of men met in one of the offices in the Review and Herald building. At that meeting were representatives of the Pacific Press, who published the American Sentinel. There were present also the representatives of the Religious Liberty Association. They met to discuss and settle a vexing question—the editorial policy of the American Sentinel. Someone locked the door, proposing that it should not be unlocked until the question was settled. Ten o’clock passed; eleven o’clock; twelve o’clock struck, and the men were still there;—one o’clock, and they had reached no decision; two o’clock, and the doors were still locked, and the men were not able to settle the matter. APAY 476.5

A little before three o’clock on Sunday morning the meeting ended in a deadlock, with the assertion on the part of the Religious Liberty men, that unless the Pacific Press would accede to their demands and drop the term “Seventh-day Adventist” and “the Sabbath” from the columns of that paper, they would no longer use it as the organ of the Religious Liberty Association. That meant killing the paper. They unlocked the door, and the men went to their rooms to sleep. APAY 477.1

But God, who never slumbers or sleeps, sent His angel messenger to Ellen White’s room at three o’clock that morning. She was aroused from her sleep and instructed that she must go into the workers’ meeting at half past five to present what was shown to her at Salamanca. She dressed, went to her bureau, took out the journal in which she had made the record of what had been shown to her. As the scene came clearly to her mind, she wrote more to go with it. APAY 477.2

As the workers passed her home early Sunday morning, Elder W. C. White among others noticed there was a light in her room. “Strange,” he said to the man with whom he was walking, “mother was not planning to attend the meeting today. She seems to have changed her mind.” He stepped into the house to see what she was doing. He found her dressed and putting on her bonnet to go to meeting. She told her son that at three o’clock that morning she had been aroused from her sleep and instructed to go into the workers’ meeting and present what was shown to her at Salamanca. APAY 477.3

Elder White was keenly interested. Five times he had heard her begin to tell it, and five times she had been prevented. APAY 478.1

The audience were arising from prayer as Mrs. White entered the rear door of the tabernacle, a bundle of manuscript under her arm. The president of the General Conference was the speaker, and he addressed her: “Sister White,” he said, “we are happy to see you. Do you have a message for us?” APAY 478.2

“Indeed I do,” she said, and she stepped to the front. She began where she had left off the day before. She told the listeners that at three o’clock that morning she had been aroused from her sleep and instructed to go to the workers’ meeting at half past five to present what had been shown to her at Salamanca, New York. APAY 478.3

“In the vision,” she said, “I seemed to be in Battle Creek. I was taken to the Review and Herald office, and the angel messenger bade me, ‘Follow me.’ I was taken to a room where a group of men were earnestly discussing a matter. There was a zeal manifest, but not according to knowledge.” She told of how they were discussing the editorial policy of the American Sentinel, and she said, “I saw one of the men take a copy of the Sentinel, hold it high over his head, and say, ‘Unless these articles on the Sabbath and the second advent come out of this paper, we can no longer use it as the organ of the Religious Liberty Association.’” Ellen White spoke for an hour, describing that meeting which had been shown to her in vision months before, and giving counsel based upon that revelation. Then she sat down. APAY 478.4

The president of the General Conference did not know what to say. He had not heard of any such meeting. However, he did not wait long for an explanation, for a man stood up in the back of the room and began to speak: APAY 478.5

“I was in that meeting last night.” APAY 478.6

“Last night!” Sister White remarked, “last night? I thought that meeting took place months ago when it was shown to me in vision.” APAY 478.7

“I was in that meeting last night, and I am the man who made the remarks about the articles in the paper, holding it high over my head. I am sorry to say that I was on the wrong side; but I take this opportunity to place myself on the right side.” He sat down. APAY 479.1

Another man stood to speak. He was the president of the Religious Liberty Association. Note his words: “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 until three o’clock this morning. If I should begin to give a description of what took place and the personal attitude of those in the room, I could not give it as exactly and as correctly as it has been given by Sister White. I now see that I was in error and that the position that I took was not correct. From the light that has been given this morning, I acknowledge that I was wrong.” APAY 479.2

Other persons spoke that day. Every man who was in the meeting the night before stood and bore his testimony, saying that Ellen White had accurately described the meeting and the attitude of those in the room. Before the meeting closed, the Religious Liberty group were called together, and they quickly took action in harmony with the inspired counsel. APAY 479.3

Now you may ask, Why was it that Ellen White was not allowed to give the vision when five times she tried to tell it? If she had told it, it would have been said that it was not true, for no such meeting had taken place. If the counsel which was sent out by her in her manuscripts, based upon this revelation, but not making mention of this particular view, had been followed, the meeting never would have been held. If, following that Sabbath afternoon when Ellen White tried to tell the vision and was three times prevented, the men had accepted her counsel to hold the light high, the meeting never would have been held. APAY 479.4

But somehow the men thought they knew better. You know how it is—some say, “Well, perhaps Sister White did not understand,” or “We are living in a different day now,” or “That counsel applied years ago, but it doesn’t fit now.” You know how we do at times, and so did they in 1891. Then God, in His own time and in His own way, made it clear that it was His work; He was guiding; He was guarding; He had His hand upon the wheel. Ellen White tells us God “has often permitted matters to come to a crisis, that His interference might become marked. Then He has made it manifest that there is a God in Israel.” Testimonies for the Church 9:91, 92. APAY 480.1

—Arthur L. White, Secretary, Ellen G. White Publications. APAY 480.2