Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)


Chapter 7—The Last Ten Days

The three-week-long General Conference session of 1901 was marked as a meeting of plain testimonies given and of immediate and hearty responses. True advance in God's work is seen not only by Heaven's messages of guidance, counsel, and reproof but by the miracle of men and women accepting such messages without hesitation. Only the strongest evidences that the words spoken by Ellen White were indeed the messages that God was addressing to His people could bring about such responses. 5BIO 97.1

Two important factors contributed to this attitude. One was the feeling of frustration and misgiving that pervaded a large part of the delegation as they anticipated the meeting. They sensed that only if God were to step in and help could they come through triumphantly. The situation was desperate. Some solution must be found. But none knew of, or was ready to suggest, a solution. 5BIO 97.2

Second was the evidence of the total dependence that Ellen White had upon God as she undertook her work. This brought the conclusion that she was but conveying God's message to His people. When as a teen-age maiden she was called to be God's messenger, it was recognized that God had chosen the weakest of the weak. There was nothing about her background, the vitality of her physique, or her education that could ever lead anyone to point to the individual and say, “See what she has performed.” Now, as she ministered at the General Conference of 1901 at the age of 73, it was clear to all that God was working through her, sustaining her, speaking to her; only as He strengthened her could she do her work. 5BIO 97.3

Returning to her home after the General Conference session, she opened her heart to Elder Haskell, recounting her attitudes and experiences in Battle Creek and immediately after: 5BIO 98.1

Lately many perils have arisen; questions have come up which required a great amount of wisdom and grace and the love of Jesus to answer. The fear that the cause of God would be wounded and bruised kept me in a state of constant burden and taxation. At times my head has been so weary that it seemed as though I could not think at all. I have suffered severe pain in my left eye and cheekbone. Nevertheless, I must do the things I am expected to do.—Letter 125, 1901. 5BIO 98.2

On the opening day of the session, she had called for a reorganization of the whole work of the General Conference. There was an immediate response, and the next three weeks were spent in bringing this reorganization about. On the second Friday of the session, Ellen White had called for the moving of Battle Creek College to a rural location. Before the meeting closed, the constituency had voted to move the college, and this had been affirmed by the delegates and by all the visitors present. Immediately steps were set in motion to establish Battle Creek College elsewhere. 5BIO 98.3

During each of the last ten days of the session (April 14-23) except one, Ellen White carried speaking appointments. 5BIO 98.4

At midsession there were many burdens still heavy on her heart. Perhaps one of the greatest was that of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the broad influence of the course of action that he might take. Along with this was the attitude of the ministry toward the medical work of the church, and, further, the personal experience of the ministers toward the health-reform principles to which God had called His people. Also, she was deeply concerned regarding the development of the work in the Southern States, both among the whites and the blacks. Up to midsession little had been done along this line. 5BIO 98.5

On Sabbath afternoon, April 13, she listened to a mission symposium. Elder Daniells as chairman had arranged for six fifteen-minute presentations giving a cross section of the world work. First, L. R. Conradi reported on the work in Europe. Then J. E. White gave his report on the work in the South. W. A. Spicer was called on to report from India. J. O. Corliss reported on work in the large cities. Dr. A. J. Read told of God's providences in the island fields of the South Pacific, and H. Champness reported on the work in London. In meetings yet to come, Ellen White was to speak of the work in the South, the work in the cities, the work in London. All of these enterprises weighed heavily upon her heart. 5BIO 98.6

During the session she was to deal with two disruptive elements. One was the case of Helge Nelson, who claimed the prophetic gift and insisted that he be given a hearing by the Conference. This being denied, he was granted an interview with Ellen White and the General Conference leaders. His burden was that she stood where Moses stood in the typical history of God's people, and he, Helge Nelson, was to stand where Joshua stood, for he claimed special guidance from God. Ellen White met the false claims squarely and in the interview declared, “I know that God never gave mortal man such a message as that which Brother Nelson has borne concerning his brethren. It is not like our God.”—The Review and Herald, July 30, 1901. 5BIO 99.1

She was to meet Nelson again at the General Conference session of 1903 in a rather dramatic way. 5BIO 99.2

The other disruptive element that Ellen White was to meet, and this time before all the ministers of the cause, was the “holy flesh” fanaticism, which centered in Indiana. This would come on Wednesday evening. 5BIO 99.3

On Sunday morning, April 14, taking the sermon hour at nine o'clock, she spoke in the Tabernacle on the Christian Life (Manuscript 62, 1901). Likely she joined the delegates as they were entertained at the Sanitarium that Sunday noon. “Three hundred persons sat down to a dinner” of what was said to be “the most toothsome delicacies, consisting of grains and vegetables exquisitely served, followed by delicious fruits and assorted nuts.”—The General Conference Bulletin, 1901, 225. 5BIO 99.4

One of the guests remarked that he did not see why anyone, with such food in abundance, should desire to gorge himself with the flesh of a dead animal. Those who overheard him agreed that such a food program as was presented “was far preferable to the old system of a meat diet” (The General Conference Bulletin, 1901, 225). In the matter of vegetarianism it had been a battle and a march through the years, but the new and better program was winning out. The Sanitarium itself, with Ellen White's encouragement, would soon discard meat in its dietary. 5BIO 99.5

Monday morning at five-thirty, Ellen White spoke to the ministers, presenting “An Appeal to the Ministry.” It was a solemn meeting at which she laid before the ministry of the church their large responsibilities. The leading ministers responded, declaring that they could see that the church had come to a turning point in experience. 5BIO 100.1

Then on Tuesday morning, April 16, she spoke in the college chapel on the relations that should be sustained between the workers in the various branches of the cause and especially between the older and the younger workers. The report is that “the meeting was a deeply solemn one, and the impressions then received seemed to rest on the brethren all the day, to temper their words and conduct.”—Ibid., 305. 5BIO 100.2