Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 (vol. 3)


Dealing Carefully and Firmly with the Church Situation

But there was earnest soul-searching work ahead. On Wednesday she conferred with Olsen and Matteson concerning the condition of the church. It was clear that Matteson, who pastored it, had been somewhat lax in disciplinary lines. Among the members was a woman whom Ellen White described as having a tongue seemingly “set on fire of hell,” yet her antics had been tolerated and she was even a member of the church board. Ellen White, in her diary, recounted her conversation with Matteson and Olsen: 3BIO 348.6

They wanted me to bear my testimony. I told them it would do no good. My testimony was not received by those who wanted to do as they pleased, and they must do this work themselves, for God would say to them as to Joshua, “Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you” (Joshua 7:12). This work has been neglected and the reputation of the truth greatly demerited by the very ones who claim to believe it.—Manuscript 57, 1886. 3BIO 349.1

Ellen White again addressed the church on Sabbath, July 10, reading from John 5, a chapter she held as enlightening to those “who need to be reconverted before they can become righteous” (Manuscript 66, 1886). Sunday morning, after taking the six o'clock devotional meeting, she went into a meeting of the committee. She described it in a letter to her son Edson: 3BIO 349.2

At nine o'clock, by appointment, I met with the committee to talk with them in regard to the way of observing the Sabbath, and the elements in the church that had been tolerated and had disfigured the work and brought the truth into disrepute. This influence, unless firmly dealt with, would be the means of turning many souls from the truth. I spoke very decidedly, in the fear of God, and I left no chance for misunderstanding, I assure you. 3BIO 349.3

I pointed to the blacksmith's shop, silent on the first day of the week, and the noise of hammering and of the anvil and clatter of iron on the Sabbath; and then close by was the marble shop, and the sound of the hammer and chisel mingled with the prayers of a people who are professedly honoring God by observing His Sabbath. Entering into the ears of God is all this din and all this confusion, I said, dishonoring God on your very premises, under your control. 3BIO 349.4

The Lord has sent you a message to which you are to take heed. You may regard it as idle tales, but I tell you in the day of God you will know the things which I tell you are verity and truth. 3BIO 350.1

I related to them that when in America I was shown the work in Norway, the church in Christiania in particular, and the slow advancement they were making. The standard of piety and of truth was very low. The truth was made a matter of convenience. Rather than bringing themselves up to the Bible standard, they were making their business and their own selfish interest the standard. God will accept no such service. 3BIO 350.2

An angel of God said, “Look and observe carefully what this people are doing, mingling their own dross with pure truth.”—Letter 113, 1886. 3BIO 350.3

Sara was present to take down Ellen White's words, and in her letter to Edson she promised to send a transcription so that he might have more exactly what she said. She continued her account to Edson: 3BIO 350.4

Now, said I, I expect you may, some of you, consider my words as idle tales, but you must meet them in the judgment, and I must meet them. I cannot abate one iota from their severity. 3BIO 350.5

The meeting for preaching was to commence in fifteen minutes, and I told them I wanted another meeting to express more fully upon some points the mind of the Spirit of God concerning them. Next Monday—tomorrow evening—I meet the church and address them all. 3BIO 350.6

As soon as I ceased speaking, Brother Hansen arose and said, “I do not consider these as idle tales. I receive them, and believe the truth has been spoken to us this morning and I thank Sister White for saying them!” Then I think all in the room responded eagerly, heartily: “We receive these words and mean to act upon them.”—Ibid. 3BIO 350.7

These were tense moments, but Ellen White could do no other than present the word of the Lord to them. Her account to Edson reveals insights as to what it meant to be the messenger of the Lord: 3BIO 350.8

Now Brother Hansen is the most influential man in the church and the only one who has much of any property. He is a large builder and has had men under him. He is a large contractor and I have talked with him plainly before in regard to his position and example, then I have seen him drawing off and feared he would give up the truth; but I felt so strongly for him I have written to him, close, earnest, and yet in love, pleading in Christ's stead for him to save his soul. He has had to have others read his letters for him, as he could not read English, but he has received these letters gladly and has ever treated me with the greatest respect, and I felt that I could fall down upon my knees and thank God for this token for good. 3BIO 350.9

I had reined myself up; every nerve strained to the utmost, and calmly and in the spirit of Jesus, but firmly and decidedly, as plucking a brand from the burning, I delivered this testimony. I am so thankful the Lord did open hearts to receive the reproof and warning. When I came to my room I was weak as a child. I knew not how they would take my message.—Ibid. 3BIO 351.1

Sensing her state of mind and her weakness, W. C. White secured a carriage and took her for a drive into a nearby park. It rested and relaxed her. This was a critical time for the church in Norway. That evening, Sunday, Ellen White addressed the conference. “I had much freedom,” she wrote. “The power of the Lord was upon me as I presented to the people the blessed heavenly home that awaits the faithful.”—Manuscript 66, 1886. The next evening three backslidden and critical members were dropped from the church rolls. Always an unpleasant experience, it nevertheless had to be done if the church was to prosper. It took diligent labor on the part of both W. C. White and Ellen White to persuade Matteson, who had proposed resigning, to continue to carry the responsibility of leadership. 3BIO 351.2

Ellen White continued her work to the close of the session on Tuesday evening, but spoke again to the church on Thursday evening before leaving the next day for Denmark: 3BIO 351.3

I presented before the church the necessity of a thorough change in their characters before God could acknowledge them as His children. I urged upon them the necessity of order in the church. They must have the mind which dwelt in Jesus in order to conduct themselves aright in the church of God. I urged upon them the importance of a correct observing of the Sabbath.... If it continues to go forward, then there will be a hearty repentance.... With this meeting my labors closed in Christiania.—Ibid. 3BIO 351.4

She commented, “The work was but just begun in the church.” 3BIO 352.1