Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)

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Chapter 22—(1856) Soul-shaking Experiences for the Ministers and Laity

As those in Battle Creek assembled for the conference Friday afternoon, May 23, 1856, Joseph Bates was chosen moderator. Preaching through the meeting was done by Bates, Hart, Waggoner, White, and John Byington. White reported that: 1BIO 338.1

There were more Sabbathkeepers present Sabbath morning than could be seated in the “House of Prayer” and it became necessary to adjourn to the tent before the hour of preaching.—The Review and Herald, June 12, 1856. 1BIO 338.2

Bates spoke that morning. As White continued the report he called attention to the last meeting of the conference held Tuesday morning in the “House of Prayer“: 1BIO 338.3

On Second-day, the twenty-sixth, meetings were held to transact business, which were spirited and harmonious. The meeting has left a cheering and most blessed influence on the minds of those who attended it, especially those who remained over Third-day and witnessed the manifest power of God in correcting and comforting His people.”—Ibid. 1BIO 338.4

Here again James White made reference in a veiled way to a vision given to Ellen White. More openly she wrote of it in Testimony No. 2, which was shortly to be sent out: 1BIO 338.5

At the conference at Battle Creek, May 27, 1856, I was shown in vision some things that concern the church generally.—Testimonies for the Church, 1:127. 1BIO 338.6

As published in the sixteen-page Testimony pamphlet, the subjects given are: 1BIO 339.1

“The Two Ways,” in which she wrote of the glory and majesty of God, and was shown a road “narrow and rugged” leading to eternal life; and another “broad and smooth” leading to eternal death. 1BIO 339.2

“Conformity to the World,” in which believers were shown to her much like the world in “dress, conversation, and actions,” failing to “enter through the strait gate and narrow way.” 1BIO 339.3

In the heart of this article she declared: 1BIO 339.4

I was shown the company present at the conference. Said the angel: “Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.” Solemn words were these, spoken by the angel.—Ibid., 1:131, 132. 1BIO 339.5

“Wives of Ministers” dealt with the ways in which the wife of a minister might be a help to her husband, careful in the influence she exerted; an example in conversation, deportment, and dress; or how the husband's influence could be injured by complaining and murmuring when brought into strait places and the husband deterred in his work. 1BIO 339.6

This vision is best remembered for the record Ellen White made of the solemn words of the angel indicating the shortness of time, as the angel declared that there were those at the conference who would live to see Jesus come. At this distance this portion of the vision must be understood in the conditional nature of God's promises, and the forbearance of God that man shall be saved. There are examples of such in the Word of God, one of which was the message God sent Jonah to give to Nineveh. 1BIO 339.7

Of the delay in Christ's coming, Ellen White declared in 1868: 1BIO 339.8

The long night of gloom is trying; but the morning is deferred in mercy, because if the Master should come, so many would be found unready.—Testimonies for the Church, 2:194.

Addressing the General Conference in session in 1903, she wearily declared: 1BIO 339.9

I know that if the people of God had preserved a living connection with Him, if they had obeyed His Word, they would today be in the heavenly Canaan. [See F. D. Nichol's Ellen White and her critics, or a document, “the question of the 1856 vision,” available from the White Estate or the Sda E.G. White research centers, for a more detailed presentation on this point.]—The General Conference Bulletin, 1903, 9.

Testimony No. 2 was soon in the field and being thoughtfully read with appreciation, as wrote Asenith Southworth, of Vermont: 1BIO 340.1

I feel grateful for the Testimony for the Church No. 2. I found it meat in due season. God will have a pure church, a peculiar people, zealous of good works. He has placed the precious gifts in the church for the benefit of His people. Praise His holy name.—The Review and Herald, November 27, 1856. 1BIO 340.2

There was a receptive mood for the counsel and instruction God gave through the visions. The church in Round Grove, Illinois, closed its letter to the general conference held in Battle Creek with these words: 1BIO 340.3

We would humbly say that we are thankful that Israel's Keeper slumbereth not, but has manifested His care in these last days in all His ways of mercy that He has ever done to guide, instruct, and correct His people. O may we be not the people who shall be left without a vision, nor be unwilling or negligent to acknowledge them. 1BIO 340.4

While we say we thank the Lord for His gifts to the church, we would pray for the continuation of them until we all come to a full stature of men and women in Christ, and be made perfect.—Ibid., May 29, 1856. 1BIO 340.5