The Signs of the Times


January 6, 1876

Mrs. Ellen G. White—Her Life, Christian Experience, and Labors


[Note: This article introduces a series of fifteen, published from January 6 to May 11, 1876, provided by James White, the editor. It represents his method of bringing to the attention of the general public the call and work of his wife, Ellen G. White. Each article is comprised mainly of the story of her life as she told it in 1860 in Spiritual Gifts, Volume II, an autobiographical account she wrote for the reading of the household of faith. As it was prepared for the columns of the missionary journal of the church, it was slightly edited to better fit the needs of the general reading public. Being a variant of the Spiritual Gifts account, the articles are included in this facsimile reprint.] ST January 6, 1876, par. 1

White Estate.

The name of Mrs. Ellen G. White is widely known in consequence of her writings and her public labors as a speaker in nineteen of the States and in the Canadas. Her books in print amount to about four thousand pages which have had an extensive circulation. And her labors as a speaker cover a period of more than thirty years. But in the last ten years the providence of God, in harmony with the wishes of the people with whom she has been connected, has moved her out to speak to the crowds at our annual conferences and camp-meetings in the several states where they have been held. Newspaper reporters have given sketches of her addresses, and have made statements of their effects upon audiences which have given her prominence in the minds of thousands who have neither read her books nor heard her speak. And the fact which is made prominent in her books that Mrs. White has received the sentiments she has taught by direct revelation from God, has made her a person of peculiar interest to all those who have received her as one thus favored of the Lord. And, on the other hand, persons have not been wanting among those who reject her testimony and her work, to mention her name unfavorably through the press, and in the spirit of persecution seek to excite prejudice against her. This, however, has served as an advertisement, and has greatly increased the desire of the people to hear her speak, and to read her books. ST January 6, 1876, par. 2

In view of the situation, we have for several years felt that it was due the public that the life, Christian experience, and labors of Mrs. White, be brought out in a humble volume for circulation as extensively as her name is known. Almost every opponent, in preaching and writing against the Sabbath and other doctrines held by the Seventh-day Adventists, refers to Mrs. White and her work in a scoffing manner, in order to please the rabble, and prejudice honest people. And many, in consequence of misrepresentations of her work, and from want of knowledge of the facts in the case, take unfavorable views of the cause with which she has held close connection from its earliest existence. It is therefore necessary in order to disabuse honest minds, and for the general good of the cause of Bible truth, that her work be correctly represented, and properly defended before the people. The reader will doubtless be interested in brief sketches of Mrs. White's parentage and early life. ST January 6, 1876, par. 3

Her parents, Robert and Eunice Harmon, were residents of Maine. In early life they were earnest and devoted members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In that church they held prominent connection, and labored for the conversion of sinners, and to build up the cause of God for a period of forty years. During this time they had the joy of seeing their children, eight in number, all converted and gathered to the fold of Christ. Their decided Second Advent views, however, severed the connection of the family from the Methodist Church in the year 1843, after which meetings were held in their house in the city of Portland much of the time for several years. Of her early life and Christian experience we will here let Mrs. White speak for herself, as taken from her second volume of Spiritual Gifts. ST January 6, 1876, par. 4

“At the age of nine years an accident happened to me which was to affect my whole life. In company with my twin sister and one of our schoolmates, I was crossing a common in the city of Portland, Maine, when a girl about thirteen years of age, also a member of our school, becoming angry at some trifle, followed us, threatening to strike us. Our parents had taught us never to contend with any one, but if we were in danger of being abused or injured, to hasten home at once. We were doing this with all speed, but the girl followed us as rapidly, with a stone in her hand. I turned my head to see how far she was behind me, and as I did so, she threw the stone and it hit me on the nose. A blinding, stunning sensation overpowered me, I fell senseless. ST January 6, 1876, par. 5

“When I revived and became conscious, I found myself in a merchant's store, my garments were covered with blood which was pouring from my nose and streaming over the floor. A kind stranger offered to take me home in his carriage, but I, not knowing how weak I was, told him that I preferred to walk home rather than soil his carriage with blood. Those present were not aware that I was so seriously injured, and allowed me to have my own way; but I had only walked a few rods when I grew faint and dizzy. My twin sister and my schoolmate carried me home. ST January 6, 1876, par. 6

“I have no recollection of any thing further for some time after the accident. My mother said that I noticed nothing but lay in a stupor for three weeks; no one but herself thought it possible for me to recover. For some reason she felt that I would live. A kind neighbor, who had been very much interested in my behalf, at one time thought me to be dying. She wished to purchase a burial robe for me, but my mother said ‘Not yet,’ for something told her that I would not die. ST January 6, 1876, par. 7

“When I again aroused to consciousness, it seemed to me that I had been asleep. I did not remember the accident and was ignorant of the cause of my illness. As I began to gain a little strength, my curiosity was aroused by overhearing those who came to visit me say ‘What a pity!’ ‘I should not have known her,’ etc. I asked for a looking-glass, and as I gazed into it, I was shocked at the change in my appearance. Every feature of my face seemed changed. The bones of my nose had been broken and caused this disfigurement. ST January 6, 1876, par. 8

“The idea of carrying my misfortune through life was insupportable. I could see no pleasure in my existence. I did not wish to live and I dared not die for I was unprepared. Friends often visited my parents and looked with pity upon me and advised them to prosecute the father of the girl who had, as they said, ruined me. But my mother was for peace; she said that if such a course could bring me back my health and natural looks there would be something gained, but as this was impossible, it was best not to make enemies by following such advice. ST January 6, 1876, par. 9

“Physicians thought that a silver wire might be put in my nose to hold it in shape. This would have been very painful, and they feared it would be of little use, as I had lost so much blood and sustained such a nervous shock that my recovery was very doubtful. Even if I revived it was their opinion I could live but a short time. I was reduced almost to a skeleton. ST January 6, 1876, par. 10

“At this time I began to pray the Lord to prepare me for death. When Christian friends visited the family, they would ask my mother if she had talked to me about dying. I overheard this and it roused me. I desired to become a Christian and prayed as well as I could for the forgiveness of my sins. I felt a peace of mind resulting. I loved every one and felt desirous that all should have their sins forgiven and love Jesus as I did. ST January 6, 1876, par. 11

“I well remember one night in winter when the snow was on the ground, the heavens were lighted up, the sky looked red and angry, and seemed to open and shut, while the snow looked like blood. The neighbors were very much frightened. Mother took me out of bed in her arms and carried me to the window. I was happy, I thought Jesus was coming, and I longed to see him. My heart was full, I clapped my hands for joy, and thought my sufferings were ended. But I was disappointed; the singular appearance faded away from the heavens, and the next morning the sun arose the same as usual.” ST January 6, 1876, par. 12

J. W.