Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Chapter 15—Mrs. White Taught That Probation Still Lingers
Mrs. White and the Shut Door—Part III

Not only do the passages cited in the preceding chapter fail to support the shut-door charge against Mrs. White, but a close study of her writings reveals certain statements quite inconsistent with the idea that the day of mercy had ended for all the world in 1844. EGWC 239.1

In Mrs. White’s first vision she saw the Advent people traveling on a path toward the city of God: “They had a bright light set up behind them at the first end of the path, which an angel told me was the Midnight Cry.” In other words, she is describing the heavenward journey of the Advent people subsequent to the midnight cry, that is, in the days following October 22, 1844. She describes the spiritual tragedy of some who rejected the light and fell off the path: “They fell all the way along the path one after another, until we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus’ coming. The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake.” EGWC 239.2

How large was the company of “the Advent people” on October 22, 1844? Miller’s estimate, we have seen, was “some fifty thousand believers.” James White’s estimate was the same. Now Mrs. White has a vision of this company of fifty thousand starting on that pathway, with apostates and backsliders falling off along the way, until some date, still future at the time of her vision, God announced the day and hour of Jesus’ coming. But at that time, despite all the falling away, all the backsliding, there was a total of 144,000. EGWC 239.3

In an earlier chapter Joseph Bates was quoted as declaring, in 1849, which was more than four years after this vision of Mrs. White’s, that he even then did not know where all the 144,000 were to come from. He thought that some would come from beyond the great river Euphrates. It is really a simple matter of arithmetic that this first vision of Mrs. White’s reveals that salvation was still open for some outside the company of “the Advent people” after the ending of the midnight cry, or else there would never be 144,000 at the great last moment when God announces the day and hour of Christ’s coming. EGWC 240.1

To offset these evident implications, it is claimed that Mrs. White in vision was not really looking into the future when she saw 144,000 believers, but that she was speaking of the present. Does she not speak of the “living saints, 144,000 in number”? Even if that interpretation of her words were true, the question would still remain: Does not her vision logically require us to conclude that in addition to Adventists many thousands are to be gathered into the company of the saved, seeing that Adventists, in 1844, totaled only about 50,000? EGWC 240.2

A reading of the vision reveals clearly that the word “living” is not used as a synonym for the phrase “persons now living” but in contrast to the word “dead.” In this vision she speaks of both “living saints” and saints resurrected. We read in the next paragraph: “The graves opened, and the dead came up clothed with immortality. The 144,000 shouted, Hallelujah! as they recognized their friends who had been torn from them by death, and in the same moment we were changed and caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.” EGWC 240.3

How simple the explanation of Mrs. White’s words when we see them in their context. She tells of the journey of the Advent people to the kingdom. Many fall by the wayside. Finally comes the great moment when God announces the day and hour of Jesus’ coming. “The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice.” Mrs. White is not speaking of 144,000 living at the moment of her vision, but of 144,000 living upon the earth at the moment of Christ’s coming, and that these living saints had their ranks suddenly augmented by a great company of resurrected saints. The company of the finally saved that was shown her was much larger than the known total of Adventists in 1844, even by the most generous estimate. EGWC 240.4