Variation and Frequency of the Ellen G. White Visions

Variation and Frequency of the Ellen G. White Visions

by Arthur L. White

1. Variation in the Visions3
2. The Visions of the Night6
3. Visions During Public Prayer7
4. Vision While Totally Conscious8

Certain documents issued by the White Estate have declared that Ellen White was favored through the seventy years of her ministry with approximately two thousand visions. Perhaps it would be illuminating to disclose the basis for arriving at this figure. First of all, we should define the term “vision” as used in this connection: VFEGWV 1.1

Vision—That experience, without reference to circumstances, but mysterious in its nature, through which God communicates to the prophet revealing His will, presenting the events of history, forecasting future events, disclosing the experiences of individuals, even disclosing their inner thoughts, revealing the welfare of individuals, groups and the church of God, et cetera.

No precise procedure can be enumerated for such experiences. In Bible times, and ours, the circumstances of the visions varied greatly in duration, timing or the means by which the prophet was usually, but not necessarily always, removed from his conscious state (Daniel 8:18) as in the visions accompanied by physical phenomena (Daniel 10:5-10; 16-19; Numbers 24:3, 4, 16) and prophetic dreams which might be termed “night visions” or “visions of the night.” (Daniel 7:1, 2, 7, 13)

In such circumstances, the mind of the prophet, as illustrated in the experience of Daniel and John, was illuminated as he, often seeming to be present, witnessed the transpiring of events and conversing, in which case his description might be accompanied by such words or phrases as “I saw,” or “I saw and behold,” (Revelation 7:2, 7, 13) or “I turned to see,” (Revelation 1:12) “I looked and behold,” (Revelation 4:1) and simply, “I saw,” (Revelation 5:1; 6:2; 9:1; 21:1, et cetera); “I beheld and heard,” (Revelation 5:1); “I heard a voice.” (Revelation 10:4) At times he overheard illuminating conversation, “I heard one saint speaking and another saint said.” (Daniel 8:13)

Included also would be those occasions when special illumination was given under various and sundry circumstances, but in which in each case the prophet sensed that God was communicating with him in other than the usual way of obtaining knowledge.

Now back to the estimate of the number of visions given to Ellen White. This estimate was made by Arthur White, who through his lifetime connection with the work of the White Estate led him to assume that visions of one kind or another were given to her on an average of one in two weeks. James White, in 1868, after describing what took place in visions given to Ellen White, thus referring to the visions accompanied by physical phenomena, declared: VFEGWV 2.1

She has probably had, during the past twenty-three years, between one and two hundred visions. These have been given under almost every variety of circumstances, yet maintaining a wonderful similarity.—Life Incidents p. 272.

This would mean an average of a vision once in six weeks. In these years the visions accompanied by physical phenomena which could last from a few minutes to two hours or more were very comprehensive in nature. In the later years when visions were usually given to her in the hours of the night, they were much less comprehensive in their nature and quite frequent. There were times when two or three visions or more were given to her in one week. Taking all the circumstances into account, it seems reasonable that an estimate reached on the basis of an average of a vision given once in two weeks throughout her lifetime is conservative. None-the-less, it must be kept in mind that this is but an estimate, and set forth as such. VFEGWV 2.2