Ellen White: Woman of Vision


Dedication Of Battle Creek College

James and Ellen White watched with interest as the walls for a denominational college building rose to a height of three stories in the summer and fall of 1874. Dedication was to be Monday, January 4, 1875. WV 157.1

Between the closing of classes for the fall term and the dedication of the new buildings, there would be a three-week period. This would provide a unique opportunity for the ministers of the denomination to gather for a training period, reasoned James White. As early as September 29, 1874, he made the proposal through the pages of the Review. He headed it “Biblical Institute.” The response was enthusiastic. The biblical institute opened on Tuesday evening, December 15, according to plan, with about 150 in attendance and the promise of “abundant success.” WV 157.2

James and Ellen White had delayed their return to California for the winter months until after the biblical institute and the dedication of Battle Creek College. The institute would close on Sunday night, January 3, the night before the college dedication. But as they approached the time a cloud hung over their cherished plans. Ellen White was very ill with influenza. W. C. White tells the story: WV 157.3

After three or four days of the usual run of the disease, we expected her to recover, but she did not improve. Rather she grew worse, and the sanitarium physicians feared that she was in danger of pneumonia. They urged that she be brought without delay to the sanitarium for treatment.... Father was distressed at the thought of her not being able to bear her testimony before the members of the Bible institute, the Battle Creek church, and the many visiting brethren who had gathered to witness the dedication of the college.... WV 157.4

I shall never forget the solemnity of the occasion. Mother had been brought down from her sickroom into the parlor. She was seated in a large armchair, warmly wrapped in blankets. Uriah Smith and J. H. Waggoner had come up from the Review office with Father, to unite with him in prayer, and four members of our family were also permitted to be present. WV 157.5

Elder Waggoner prayed. Elder Smith followed in prayer, and then Father prayed. It seemed that heaven was very near to us. Then Mother undertook to pray, and in a hoarse, labored voice, she uttered two or three sentences of petition. WV 157.6

Suddenly her voice broke clear and musical, and we heard the ringing shout, “Glory to God!” We all looked up, and saw that she was in vision. Her hands were folded across her breast. Her eyes were directed intently upward, and her lips were closed. There was no breathing, although the heart continued its action. WV 158.1

As she looked intently upward, an expression of anxiety came into her face. She threw aside her blankets, and, stepping forward, walked back and forth in the room. Wringing her hands, she moaned, “Dark! Dark! All dark! So dark!” Then after a few moments’ silence she exclaimed with emphasis, and a brightening of her countenance, “A light! A little light! More light! Much light!” (Ibid., February 10, 1938). WV 158.2

In his narration W. C. White explained concerning this exclamation: WV 158.3

This we understood afterward, when she told us that the world was presented to her as enshrouded in the mists and fog of error, of superstition, of false tradition, and of worldliness. Then as she looked intently and with distress upon this scene, she saw little lights glimmering through the darkness. These lights increased in power. They burned brighter, and they were lifted higher and higher. Each one lighted other lights, which also burned brightly, until the whole world was lighted. WV 158.4

Following her exclamatory remarks regarding the lights, she sat down in her chair. After a few minutes, she drew three long, deep breaths, and then resumed her natural breathing. Her eyes rested upon the company that had been assembled for prayer. Father, knowing that after a vision everything looked strange to her, knelt by her side, and spoke in her ear, saying, “Ellen, you have been in vision.” WV 158.5

“Yes,” she said, her voice sounding far away, as though she were speaking to someone in another room. WV 158.6

“Were you shown many things?” Father asked. WV 158.7

“Yes,” she replied. WV 158.8

“Would you like to tell us about them now?” he asked. WV 158.9

“Not now,” was her response. So the company was dismissed, and she went back to her room (Ibid.). WV 158.10

W. C. White continued his account of the vision: WV 158.11

Father then hastened down to the Review office to meet the brethren who were coming in from the East and the West to attend the dedication. About sundown he came up from the office, walking through the snow, for it had been snowing quite heavily during the afternoon. Entering the house, he threw off his overcoat in the kitchen, and hastened up to Mother's room. There, after a few words of inquiry about the experience of the afternoon, he said, “Ellen, there is to be an important meeting in the church this evening. Do you wish to attend?” WV 158.12

“Certainly,” she answered. So she dressed for the meeting, and with Father, walked down through the snow to the church (Ibid.). WV 159.1

In the next few evenings she rehearsed the many subjects revealed to her in the vision. She made an appeal to her hearers to take a broader view of the work. WV 159.2

She said: WV 159.3

The time was not far distant when we should send ministers to many foreign lands, that God would bless their labors, and that there would be in many places a work of publishing the present truth. WV 159.4

She said that in the vision she had seen printing presses running in many foreign lands, printing periodicals, tracts, and books containing truths regarding the sacredness of the Sabbath and the soon coming of Jesus. WV 159.5

At this point Father interrupted and said, “Ellen, can you tell us the names of those countries?” She hesitated a moment and then said, “No, I do not know the names. The picture of the places and of the printing presses is very clear, and if I should ever see them, I would recognize them. But I did not hear the names of the places. Oh, yes, I remember one; the angel said, ‘Australia’” (Ibid., February 17, 1938 [see all The General Conference Bulletin, 1909, 92, 93]). WV 159.6

A decade later, while visiting Europe, she recognized the presses in the publishing house in Switzerland as shown to her in this 1875 vision; the same can be said of the presses she saw in Australia still later. WV 159.7

This was the last vision given to Ellen White accompanied by physical phenomena concerning which we have detailed information and published reports attesting to it. WV 159.8

It is significant that this vision, with its far-reaching view of the worldwide work of the Advent movement, was given in connection with the dedication of Battle Creek College on Monday, January 4, 1875. Battle Creek College was to be different from the secular colleges. Its purpose was to train workers to preach the gospel and the soon coming of Christ. Instruction was to be Christ-centered. The teachers were to be dedicated men and women. It was intended to be a model on which the whole system of Adventist education was to be patterned. WV 159.9