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


James White Declares His Relation to the Visions and the Testimonies

On January 1, 1873, when the Whites first set up housekeeping in California, at Santa Rosa, James had been led to write out his attitudes toward the visions and his relation to them. This statement was published in a sixteen-page pamphlet titled “A Solemn Appeal to the Ministry and the People.” Having had time for self-appraisal and contemplation, he sensed that he himself had come short in what his relationship should have been to the visions and the testimonies. He wrote: 2BIO 425.3

I find that my wrongs have grown out of not being suitably affected by what God has shown my wife, especially what she has been shown of my dangers and wrongs.—DF 716, “A Solemn Appeal to the Ministry and the People,” p. 4. 2BIO 425.4

After commenting on the seriousness of neglecting messages “directly from heaven in reproof, warning, and instruction,” he stated his situation: 2BIO 425.5

I have never doubted the visions of Mrs. White. If a trial or temptation had for a moment come over my mind, as I did not, and could not, understand all, I at once fell back upon the vast amount of clear evidence in their favor, and there rested until all was made clear. But this statement applies more particularly to the first ten years of my experience relative to the visions, when many things were shown of the future history of the cause which time alone could explain. For the past ten years the visions have especially pointed out present duty, and all has appeared plain. 2BIO 426.1

I have clearly seen the position and importance of the testimonies in the work of the third message, and have prized them highly, and have designed ever to conform to their teachings. But I have not given them that reflection and attention I should. I have not read them over and over in order to keep their teachings fresh in my mind, as I should. 2BIO 426.2

I have seen so much to do, and so many responsibilities have been put upon me by my brethren, that I have hurried along without giving the testimonies proper attention, and have excused myself on the ground of want of time. This I see has been wrong. I repent before God of this neglect.— Ibid., 5, 6. 2BIO 426.3

He continued to expand the point of his relationship to the visions in the setting of several specific points: 2BIO 426.4

But that which has constituted the bitterness of my cup of repentance has been the consciousness that I have not always been suitably affected by reproofs of my wrongs, and warnings given to save me from future efforts, that I might be preserved to accomplish the greatest possible amount of good. As I look back over the past I see that God has been dealing very kindly with me, and would have led me in a way to have saved me from many bitter things in my life, if I had been suitably affected by His reproofs and warnings through the visions. The things which have borne particularly upon my mind are as follows: 2BIO 426.5

1. From the time of my first acquaintance with the one whom God has chosen to speak through to His erring people up to the time of the last vision, I have been cautioned from time to time of my danger of speaking, while under the pressure of a sense of the wrongs of others, in an unguarded manner, and using words that would not have the best effect on those I reproved. 2BIO 426.6

The Lord knowing the trials through which I was to pass, would prepare my mind to guard against the dangers to which I would be exposed. And had I been suitably impressed with His warnings, my usefulness would not have been marred from time to time by Satan's taking advantage of words that were not best selected.— Ibid., 6. 2BIO 427.1

James referred to the unique nature of what he was called upon to do as the husband of the messenger of the Lord: 2BIO 427.2

Mine has been a peculiar work. It was my duty to stand by the side of Mrs. White in her work of delivering the reproofs of the Lord. Neither of us could swerve a hair's breadth from the plain facts in the case. And because I have sustained her in her reproving work and could not be warped from the truth, unsanctified and rebellious ones, made still more persistent by the power of the devil, have seized upon some of my strong, and not the best selected, expressions, and have raised the cry of “harshness,” “unchristian spirit,” and the like.— Ibid., 6, 7. 2BIO 427.3

He protested that he had “ever cherished a tender love and regard” for his brothers and sisters in the faith, but recognized that it would have been very helpful if he had more faithfully heeded the warnings and counsels in governing all his words. 2BIO 427.4

2. I have been warned to trust in God, and let Him fight my battles and vindicate my cause, and not suffer my mind to dwell upon the course of those who had injured me. But in my “peculiar trials” I have lost sight of such blessed admonitions, and have dwelt upon the wrongs of others greatly to my injury. My courage, faith, and health have suffered on the account.— Ibid., 8. 2BIO 427.5

He had observed the baleful effect on others who had failed to heed the counsels given by God through His servant, and he hoped such would not be his fate. At the time he wrote this statement of confession he was temporarily removed from carrying responsibilities because of ill health. He made his third point: 2BIO 427.6

3. During the past eighteen years, the Lord has from time to time given me cautions, through the visions of Mrs. White, to preserve my health and strength as far as possible for future labor; for we had an especial work to do, and it was the will of God that we should have a reserve of strength for important future labor. Had I heeded these warnings as I should, I would have been able to stand against the temptations to overwork pressed upon me by my brethren, and a love to labor while seeing so much to do. And now, as the consequence, just as the field is opening as never before, and there is so much very important work to be done, I have found myself for a few weeks past unable to do anything. And my cry has been, from December 20-26 [1872], and still is, that God will raise me up once more and put His word within me, that I may have a part in the closing triumphs of the last message.— Ibid., 8, 9. 2BIO 427.7