Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)


Failure to Promote Health Reform Devastating

Because of his illness, James White, the leader of the church, was not able to continue to give effective support to health reform, and Ellen, in caring for him for eighteen months, was cut off from active ministry. Also, in the light of his illness, they were reticent to press health teachings. The cause of health reform was left to flounder as those who had led out in teaching it looked on almost helplessly. While making a comeback in March, 1868, James White observed: 2BIO 301.3

People generally are slow to move, and hardly move at all. A few move cautiously and well, while others go too fast. The work of reform is not brought about in a single day. The people must be helped where they are. They can be helped better by one standing on the line of truth nearest them, than on the side the greatest distance from them. 2BIO 301.4

It is best for them to be taught on all points of truth and duty by persons of judgment and caution, and as fast as God in His providence unfolds them to His people. He who is but partly reformed himself, and teaches the people, will do some good. He who sees the duty of reform, and is full strict enough in any case, and allows of no exceptions, and drives matters, is sure to drive the reform into the ground, hurt his own soul, and injure others. Such do not help Mrs. White, but greatly burden her in her arduous work.... 2BIO 301.5

She works to this disadvantage, namely: she makes strong appeals to the people, which a few feel deeply, and take strong positions, and go to extremes. Then to save the cause from ruin in consequence of these extremes, she is obliged to come out with reproofs for extremists in a public manner. 2BIO 302.1

This is better than to have things go to pieces; but the influence of both the extremes and the reproofs are terrible on the cause, and brings upon Mrs. White a threefold burden. Here is the difficulty: What she may say to urge the tardy is taken by the prompt to urge them over the mark. And what she may say to caution the prompt, zealous, incautious ones is taken by the tardy as an excuse to remain too far behind.—Ibid., March 17, 1868 2BIO 302.2

He suggested that those who wish to help Ellen White in her difficult task will find her, not with a few extremists, but “back with the people, tugging away at the wheel of reform.” He pointed out that some persons are quickly converted; others take much longer, even as much as two years, to make a thorough reform. He warned against getting health reform out of its place, for it is not the third angel's message, but “a work designed to follow in its wake,” and urged that the work go on, “not a piece at a time, lest it go all to pieces; but let it move on as a complete whole.” 2BIO 302.3

While James White's illness retarded aggressive work on his and Ellen's part for two years or more, they lived in harmony with health reform principles. They were ever ready to answer questions and take an affirmative stance, as they did in dealing with the issues of dress reform and of a healthful dietary program. Note Ellen's answer to one sister, in a letter written April 3, 1870: 2BIO 302.4