Ellen G. White in Europe 1885-1887


The Largest Audience in the Military Gymnasium

On Sunday she addressed the largest crowd she was to encounter in any of her public efforts in Europe. The president of the local temperance society had invited her to make a temperance address at the soldiers’ military gymnasium, the largest hall in the city. The hall was packed with 1,600 people for the occasion. Obviously the interest in temperance reform was high. EGWE 122.1

When she arrived, Mrs. White found an American flag placed as a canopy above the pulpit, “an attention,” she remarked, “which I highly appreciated.” EGWE 122.2

In the audience to hear her were many prominent citizens, including the Bishop of the State Church and a number of other clergymen. EGWE 122.3

Her approach to the subject was a surprise to her hearers, who had expected a rousing campaign address, full of garish stories and startling statistics. Instead, Mrs. White chose to present temperance from a religious point of view. “When they saw that the subject was to be argued from a Bible standpoint, they were at first astonished, then interested, and finally deeply moved.”—Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 211. EGWE 122.4

Her analysis of the audience reaction at various stages of her address is indicative of how closely she observed them, even as she was speaking. Just a few weeks before, as she was addressing the European Council in Basel, she had recommended this approach to all the ministers: EGWE 122.5

“When Christ was teaching on earth, He watched the countenances of His hearers, and the kindling eye, the animated expression, told Him in a moment when one assented to the truth. Even so should the teachers of the people now study the countenances of their hearers.”—Ibid., 147. EGWE 123.1

As she found her words falling on attentive ears, Mrs. White proceeded to show the importance to temperate habits by citing warnings and examples from Bible history. EGWE 123.2

“Nadab and Abihu were men in holy office; but by the use of wine their minds became so beclouded that they could not distinguish between sacred and common things. By the offering of ‘strange fire,’ they disregarded God's commands, and they were slain by His judgments.”—Ibid., 208. EGWE 123.3

After drawing lesson after lesson from one Bible character after another, she concluded with a challenge: EGWE 123.4

“There is need now of men like Daniel,—men who have the self-denial and the courage to be radical temperance reformers. Let every Christian see that his example and influence are on the side of reform. Let ministers of the gospel be faithful in sounding the warnings to the people. And let all remember that our happiness in two worlds depends upon the right improvement of one.”—Ibid., 211. EGWE 123.5

At the close of her lecture Dr. Nisson, the president of the temperance society, stepped forward and addressed the audience. He called attention to the fact that the prosperity of the American temperance movement was based on its support by religious zeal and appeals to Bible truth. Then, as the crowd was dismissed, other local temperance leaders pressed forward to greet the gifted lecturer. Dr. Nisson introduced her to each one. Some of them urged Mrs. White to come and address them again, but she politely declined. She felt her help was needed more by the Christiania church. EGWE 123.6

The weather remained foggy and damp, and to be more comfortable, Ellen White arranged to have a Norwegian shoemaker measure her foot and make her a new pair of shoes. She also purchased a cloak to protect her from colds. EGWE 123.7

“I am very grateful that I can have so comfortable a garment,” she wrote (Manuscript 27, 1885). EGWE 124.1