How Many Visions did EGW have?
Dear friends I am confused and I hope that you can help me, my question is, how many dreams and visions did Ellen G. White have. I have read that she had over 2000, but in vol 3 of the index it is less than 1000. thank you for helping me with this question
Selected Messages Book 3 Introduction
THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH WAS EVER CLOSE TO THE HEART OF ELLEN G. WHITE. A THOUSAND TIMES AND MORE THROUGH HER LONG LIFE, HEAVEN HAD DRAWN NEAR TO HER WITH MESSAGES OF ENCOURAGEMENT, OF INSTRUCTION, OF INFORMATION, AND OF REPROOF AND CORRECTION. THESE MANY VISIONS WERE GIVEN TO GUIDE AND GUARD THE MEMBERS OF GOD’S SABBATHKEEPING REMNANT, BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY.
“THE LORD LOVES HIS CHURCH,” SHE DECLARED WHEN IT WAS UNDER ATTACK (SELECTED MESSAGES, BOOK 2, P. 68). TENDERLY SHE WROTE, “THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, ENFEEBLED AND DEFECTIVE AS IT MAY BE, IS THE ONLY OBJECT ON EARTH ON WHICH HE BESTOWS HIS SUPREME REGARD.”–TESTIMONIES TO MINISTERS, P. 15.
ELLEN WHITE LOVED THE CHURCH DEEPLY. HER WHOLE LIFE WAS DEDICATED TO ITS WELFARE AND ULTIMATE TRIUMPH.
HOW APPROPRIATE, THEN, THAT THIS VOLUME OF SELECTED MESSAGES SHOULD OPEN WITH A DEFINITION OF WHAT THE CHURCH IS, DRAWN FROM A LETTER OF COUNSEL TO AN ADMINISTRATOR WORKING OUTSIDE NORTH AMERICA. THIS IS FOLLOWED BY ADMONITIONS CALLING FOR UNITY AS A MEANS OF STRENGTH, AND WARNING AGAINST INDEPENDENT ACTION, WHICH COULD ONLY WEAKEN THE CHURCH’S EFFORTS TO REACH AND RESCUE A CONFUSED WORLD.–WHITE TRUSTEES.
Dear Brother ____,
Thank you for contacting the Ellen G. White Estate. You have asked a good question. I had also wondered about the same thing, but until I received your message, I had not tried to find the answer. Now I find that we have the information in our files here, and I am happy to share it with you.
The Index lists only the visions of Ellen G. White which are specifically mentioned in the books which are included in the Index. This limits the listing in at least two ways. First, it does not catalog visions which she never wrote about. There may indeed have been some like this. In come cases she may have given the vision’s message only orally. In other cases she may not have mentioned the vision specifically in her writings, but it contributed to her understanding of a theme or event, and she could then write more fully about it. Second, the Index does not catalog visions which she may have mentioned in places the Index does not cover (for instance, references which appear only in the Review, etc.).
So how many visions did she have? Arthur L. White, her grandson who worked with the Ellen G. White Estate for about 60 years, arrived at the estimate of about 2000 visions and prophetic dreams. He noted that in her early years the visions were less frequent but were longer in duration and more comprehensive in their content. In her later years the situation was reversed: the visions (including prophetic dreams) were more frequent, but they did not last as long, and they did not cover such a broad field of information in one vision as they had in earlier times. Elder White added, “From my contact with the work, I have been led to feel that if we were to strike an average of, say, one vision for every two weeks of her life ministry, and we know that in the later years oftentimes she was given two or three, or four or five visions a week, we would have a total of approximately 2,000 visions.” So the figure is an estimate, but is seems to be a reasonable one.
I hope this is helpful to you. Let me know if I can be of further service. Thank you for writing, and may God bless and guide you as you seek to serve Him.
——– William Fagal, Director Ellen G. White Estate Branch Office Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI 49104-1400 USA Phone: 616 471-3209 FAX: 616 471-6166 Website: www.WhiteEstate.org or www.egwestate.andrews.edu
The Visions of Ellen G. White
W.C. White Statements Regarding Mrs. White and Her Work
(Remarks of W. C. White in Takoma Hall, December 17, 1905)
As I meet our people in different places, the question is often asked me, “Does Sister White have visions just as she used to years ago? Are the matters she presents to the church now brought to her mind just as they were in the early days?”
In answer to this question, I explain that all the way through her experience, since she was called to public work and began to speak and write at sixteen years of age, matters have been presented to her just as they are today. In the night season the angel of the Lord would appear to her, and lead her to assemblies where she would hear the councils of the church, where she would see what was going on in the world. And then He would instruct her with reference to what she had seen. That method of instruction has continued all through the years.
Soon after she began this work, there was great confusion among Adventist believers, and there was great fanaticism and much unbelief. In order that man might know by physical sense that the visions given to her were from God, she was given many visions in which she would fall helpless to the floor, stop breathing, and yet her heart beat, and she would speak. Many times I have been present when she was thus in vision. I will mention only the first and the last that I remember.
The first one I witnessed as a little boy in the meetinghouse at Roosevelt, New York. Father had given a short talk. Mother had given a short talk. Father prayed; Mother prayed; and as she was praying, I heard that shout, Glory. There is nothing like it–that musical, deep shout of Glory. She fell backward. My father put his arm under her. In a little while her strength came to her. She stood up in an attitude of one seeing wonderful things in the distance, her face illuminated, sometimes bright and joyous. She would speak with that musical voice, making short comments upon what she was seeing. Then as she saw the darkness in the world, there were sad expressions as she spoke of what she saw. This continued ten or fifteen minutes. Then she caught her breath, breathed deeply several times, and then, after a little season of rest, probably five or ten minutes, during which time Father spoke to the people, she arose and related to the congregation some of the things that had been presented to her.
The last vision to which I was a witness where these peculiarities were manifested was at Battle Creek, in the house where we lived for many years, on the corner of Washington and Champion Streets. It was during a Biblical Institute, which began December 15, 1874, and continued for several weeks. The Review of December 22, 1874, says that there were about 150 in attendance at the Institute. During December a very severe form of influenza had been passing around. Several in the family had it, and it fastened itself upon Mother. She was prostrated and very sick. Father began to fear it was taking hold of her so that she would not have strength to recover. Therefore, as was his custom in such times of peril, he decided to call the elders of the church to pray for her. In response to his call, on the afternoon of January 3, 1875, Elders J.
Waggoner and Uriah Smith came to the house with Father. Mother was brought down to the parlor and sat well-wrapped-up in a rocking chair. Members of the family, including Mrs. Lucinda Hall, Elder J. O. Corliss, and myself were present.
After a few remarks by my father, very earnest prayers were offered by each of the visiting ministers. Then Father prayed. After Father’s prayer, Mother began to pray. She spoke with great effort in a very hoarse, labored voice. After a few sentences her voice broke clear and musical, and we, looking up, saw that a great change had come over her. Her hands were clasped, her eyes uplifted, as she clearly said, “Glory to God.”
Then with a quick movement she threw aside the blankets with which she was wrapped and stepped forward, her eyes looking upward as if viewing something of greatest interest. Wringing her hands, and with a look of intense sorrow, she exclaimed, “Dark, dark, so dark!” Later, her face brightened and she exclaimed, “Light! A little light! More light! Much light!”
The scene presented to her at this time, as explained to us afterward, was first the darkness with which the world is enshrouded. A similar view led Isaiah to exclaim, “Darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people.” As she viewed this darkness, lights appeared. At first she saw little glimmering lights, which grew brighter and clearer and stronger, until the whole world was full of light.
The disciples of Christ are to hold up their light, wherever they are. By them other torches will be lighted. Each is to burn brighter, and light other lights until the whole earth is illuminated with the love and knowledge of God.
This vision lasted abut ten minutes. During the last half of the time Mother had resumed her seat in the rocking chair. At the close she took three deep breaths and then resumed her natural breathing. She sat silent and appeared to be absorbed in contemplation of the vision. Father then kneeled by her chair and said, “Ellen, you have been in vision.”
“Yes,” she replied.
He then asked if she wished to tell us what had been presented to her. She said, “Not now.” Then Sister Hall led her to her room. We all saw that she had been healed. But she seemed overwhelmed with the thoughts of what had been presented to her.
Father and Brethren Smith and Waggoner returned to their work at the Review and Herald office, in preparation for the general meeting. But a few hours later Father returned, and said to Mother, “Ellen, there is a meeting at the church tonight. Will you attend?”
“Yes,” she said, “I will go.” Soon she walked with Father to the meeting through the snow. The sickness, the weakness, and the hoarseness were gone. She was well again.
At the meeting Father gave a very short address, and then Mother spoke with ease and freedom about twenty minutes. On the following day she spoke again and at greater length about the broadening of our work. She said that the message must be carried to many lands, and that she had seen printing presses running in many foreign countries, printing papers and books containing the third angel’s message.
At this point Father interrupted her, saying, “Ellen, can you name some of those countries?”
She hesitated a moment, and then said, “No, I do not recall the names, but I should recognize the places if I saw them. Only one name I remember the angel said, ‘Australia.'”
Elders Haskell and Corliss heard this and always kept Australia in mind, until in May, 1885, with several others they sailed from San Francisco and opened up the work in Australia and New Zealand.
Regarding the continuance of the visions. The remarkable physical manifestations which accompanied the day visions have not been seen in recent years. But the night visions have continued from 1844 until the present time. Frequently the angel of the Lord appears to her in connection with revelations of varied character.
Besides the night visions there are many ways in which instruction is given to her. Here is an illustration:
At one time there was a group of young people boarding with Mother in her Healdsburg home, some helping her in her work, and some were students and teachers in the school. A peculiar temptation came to one of the teachers. She had taken a nicely woven hair net of Mother’s and put it in her trunk. Mother made diligent inquiry about this net. She searched the house for it, and said, “It must be found. It could not go away by itself.” One day she was passing through a room to reach another and a voice said to her, “Lift the lid of that trunk.” It was a thing so different from her ordinary life, to look into another person’s trunk. But the voice said to her again, “Lift the lid of that trunk.” She did so and there saw the missing net. Instead of telling what she had seen, she made inquiry again about the net, and said, “I am sure you will find it.” She pressed the matter so hard that the one who had taken the net felt that she must get rid of, and so she destroyed it. She felt that she could not return it after what had been said about it.
One day as Mother was sitting at the fireplace, a picture appeared before her eyes of that young lady holding the net over a lamp and burning it. When Mother saw that there was a determined purpose not to confess the transgression, she told the young lady what she had seen, and she confessed it all. She said, “I do not know why I took it. I do not know why I did not bring it back when you first spoke of it.” She was a young woman of beautiful character except one thing. All her life long she had been indulged and trained to selfishness. Evidently the Lord gave her that experience to reveal that trait. After this she made a decided reformation, lived a new life. The Lord meant that to save her from more serious things.
Many a time when Mother is writing, she stops, and as she waits and prays a thought is flashed into her mind, full of additional instruction as to what to write. As I speak of these things, you will recognize in each one of these forms of presentation parallels of the experiences of the prophets as recorded in the Bible. Many times when some matter of special importance requiring wisdom and judgment is about to present itself, sometimes when mighty decisions are soon to be made in a meeting, or important policies to be adopted in institutional work, she will live over the whole experience in advance. In a night vision, perhaps months before, the angel of the Lord is there to tell her what is coming and what to adopt. (The angel is the same one that she speaks of in her first writings as the “young man.” She speaks of him now as “our instructor,” or “our counsellor.” Having passed through these experiences and heard instruction as to what course should be taken when the issue comes, and matters develop just as they were presented to her in the vision, she knows what counsel to give and what course to pursue.
Many things are presented to her in picture and in figure. Some of you will remember that beautiful chapter in the last of The Great Controversy in which is described the experience of God’s people who have been in dungeons and hiding places, and as they come, a voice sounds forth, “They come! they come! holy, harmless, and undefiled.” When Mother was writing the last chapters of The Great Controversy she was heard three times in the night uttering these words as the scene was presented to her over and over. One morning she said, “Now I have got it. I know where to place it. I have found its relation.”
Sometimes important warnings are presented to her in figure, and it is not told her whether the act represented in the figure has occurred, or is to occur in the future, or whether it is a representation of that of which there is danger and which should be carefully avoided.
One time when we were far away from Battle Creek, which had been our home, we received a message that a brother had been disfellowshiped from the church. As I read the letter, I said, “Oh, Mother, Brother A has been disfellowshiped from the church.” She said, “Yes.” She did not seem to be surprised. I said, “Will you tell me what it was for?” “Yes,” she said, “too much affection for a young lady.” “Will you tell me who?” She named the person. I asked, “How did you know all this?” She said, “Some months ago they were represented to me as standing in a public place, he with his arm around her, and she looking lovingly into his face. I did not know at the time whether it was a picture of an actual occurrence or a warning as to something that they should avoid.”
Sometimes the question comes to me, What would you say if you read a testimony of reproof for something that has never been done? I would say, Accept that as a caution and keep so far away from it that it might never occur. Let me tell you an incident along this line:
There was a brother with whom I was associated in Australia, who said to me, “Brother White, I am in trouble. I am in serious trouble, because your mother has written me a letter reproving me for something that I never did. I am in deep distress. I do not know what to do about it.” Then he told me about the reproof.
“My brother,” I said, “I am very glad that you have come to me for counsel, because I believe I can help you.” Then I told him what I have just related, and many other things in which sometimes the chronology or the geography was not clearly presented.
I also told him how one Sabbath, at Basle, as I was reading Wylie’s History of Protestantism, telling about the experience of the Roman armies coming against the Hungarians, and how a large body of persecutors would see a little body of Protestants and become frightened and beat a hasty retreat. As I read it to Mother she interrupted me and told a lot of things in the pages ahead, and told me many things not in the book at all. She said, “I never read about it, but that scene has been presented to me over and over again. I have seen the papal armies, and sometimes before they had come in sight of the Protestants, the angels of God would give them a representation of large armies that would make them flee.” I said, “Why did you not put it into your book?” She said, “I did not know where to put it.”
I said to this brother, “You and I draw very fine distinctions between the past, the present, and the future. We make a great difference between them. With God, all is present. You and I draw a very fine distinction between an act contemplated, thought of, dwelt upon in the mind, and an act performed. The Lord does not make so much difference as we do. He looks at the thought of the heart, and when He sees in your mind and mine a plan, a desire, to Him it is like the seed of a tree. In it He sees the tree bearing fruit.
“My brother, if you have received a reproof for what you have never done, I advise you to take it as a warning, and shape your course of action so far away from it that it will never occur. Do not flatter yourself that the temptation will pass with a few days or a few weeks. Remember the conquest of self is a life-long work.”
He grasped the thought and said, “I see the point. I thank you for your counsel. I have seen enough of your mother’s work to know the power there is in it, the truth there is in it. I accept that as a warning, and I will keep so far away from the evil course referred to that men need never know that I was in need of this caution.”
Some months after this complaints were brought to me that this brother was taking the very course regarding which he had protested innocence. For some time he argued that the charges were false, but finally confessed that he had for a long time been following the very course for which he had been reproved.
Technically, as men see and judge, he may have been innocent at the time when he first received the reproof; yet in spirit and motive he may have been guilty all the time.
Sometimes the question is asked, Was Dr. Kellogg reproved for erecting a building in Chicago that never was built? Was there a representation made of buildings there that never were constructed? Yes. Was there a representation made to Ezekiel of a city and a temple that never were built? Why was that representation made to him? Because it was possible that there should be such a city. If the people had walked in the light it would have been built. But they did not walk in the light and the city and temple shown to the prophet never were built. Ezekiel recorded what was shown to him.
While we were in Australia there was presented to Mother in visions of the night large buildings in Chicago, occupied by many enterprises, absorbing the time and energies of our people. It was shown her what it meant to the conferences and the missions in other lands to permit the gathering of means for these buildings. No one had ever written to Mother or told her that there were any such buildings. But she wrote what was presented to her. She saw the buildings, the many enterprises, and the result, and wrote the protest given here against it. I read that before it went, and thought the one to whom it was addressed understood her work well enough to understand its meaning and receive it as a caution. But instead of that, great indignation was stirred up over it. It has been often discussed and the letter quoted as showing the unreliability of the Testimonies.
For some years this was a burden to Mother, but in the summer of 1902, after the organization of the Pacific Medical Missionary and Benevolent Association, the perplexity was cleared away. One day Judge Jesse Arthur and Mrs. Arthur took dinner at Mother’s house, and after dinner the matter of the Chicago building was discussed. Judge Arthur told us that he knew something about the plans that were prepared and discussed for a large building in Chicago, and that he had seen the plan that was drawn for such a building by Brother W. K. Loughborough. He told us that Dr. Holmes, who had done much to help in the Chicago work of the Medical Missionary College, and who was an active member of the American Medical Association, was deeply interested that we should have large and acceptable buildings in Chicago, because unless we had a suitable place for our work, it would be impossible to secure favorable recognition from the American Medical Association and the Association of Medical Colleges.
Therefore, Dr. Holmes voluntarily looked up a place and made suggestions regarding plans. Various places were examined; various plans were discussed, great and small. Dr. Holmes was continually leading on to plan for a very large building, and it was thought that the Medical College could occupy a part, part could be given to the dispensary, and several other kindred enterprises could be grouped in this large building. As Judge Arthur described in a general way the plans that were being considered for a building, Mother said, “That is what was presented to me,” and then she took up the description of the building and went on with it for a while. “Yes,” Judge Arthur said, and then proceeded with the description. The conversation was like that of two persons who had been seeing the same things, and in which one would tell a part, and the other would tell a part, and all in perfect harmony. It was considered important that the large building under consideration be erected as soon as possible, because the time was drawing near for the graduation of a class of students from the Medical Missionary College, and the friendly influence of the supervising medical associations was desired. Dr. J. H. Kellogg was in Europe, but his most hearty approval was expected. But on his return he at once raised the question, “Where is the money?” The testimony regarding the large buildings in Chicago had caused him to lose hope that he could raise the necessary funds for their construction.
The message had gone to Dr. Kellogg while he was in Europe. He was not only the leader but also the head and front of that work. It was his plans that gave shape to all that was done. When he saw the Testimony was against what he and his associates desired to do, he called a halt.
The question of personal influence is one that has perplexed many. Some have gotten the idea that personal influence can be brought to bear in such a way as to sway the tenor of the Testimonies this way or that way or the other way, according to the feelings and wishes and desires of those close to Mother.
Those who are best acquainted with Mother’s work know that there is a solidity to it that cannot be shaken. There is a part which men have to act in connection with this as well as with every other part of the work of God. Ofttimes there is presented to Mother a view of the field and the work that lies before us. She is shown that if a conference, a church, or a group of men take such and such a course, the result will surely be of such and such a nature, and therefore she must give warning. Ofttimes she must ask our brethren with reference to the progress of the work, that she may know whether the time has come to give her testimony.
While we were in Avondale, struggling to build up the college there, there were great differences of opinion among the members of the board. We had a group of men trained in different schools of experience. They were strong men, and they had many differences of opinion. Some wanted to see rapid progress; others wanted to see great economy and caution exercised; and there were all shades of doctrine regarding finances and school management. I felt that I was well acquainted with Mother’s views regarding school work. I had heard her counsels to the Union Conference Committee during the years we were searching for a place and locating the school. I had heard her statements regarding what the school might be. I felt a burden to hasten the work forward along broad lines. Some of the brethren felt that I was anxious to move too fast, willing to run too great risk, and that I was taking unfair advantage of my close connection with Mother to bring her influence into that work to carry out my wishes.
For the sake of those who were thinking along that line, as well as for my own peace of mind and assurance, I decided to keep far away from anything that could be a cause of perplexity to them or to me, and although I wanted counsel very much, I decided to adopt a perfectly safe plan.
In those days we did our school board work deliberately and thoroughly. Sometimes we would counsel for a week. Usually I went home from the board meeting late at night, and then I would tell the Lord before I slept my greatest perplexities and difficulties. Often I prayed, “Lord, guide by whom Thou wilt. If it is by giving special light to Brother Haskell, Brother Hughes, Brother Daniells, Brother Palmer, or any other member of the board, help us to accept it; or if Thou wilt give us help by sending counsel through Mother, as in the past, Lord give us help.” Then each morning I would see Mother and say, “Have you any word for us?”
Sometimes she would say, “In the night I was in a council, where we were talking over such and such matters, and I was told to say so and so.” Then as she related the experience, I several times received the exact answer to the questions I had laid before the Lord the night before. Sometimes what Mother said was not a direct answer, but it taught me the position I ought to take with reference to important problems that were before us. Not all of the things she gave me those mornings found an application during the work then in hand. But I assure you I was very thankful for the help then received.
One morning I had asked that question as usual. I was a little late, and said, “I must hurry away now, for it is meeting time.” Mother said, “I want you to tell me what you are doing.” I said, “Why should I tell you? Will not the Lord tell you whatever it is necessary for you to know?” “Well,” she said, “I want you to tell me what you are doing.” I said, “I do not want to say much about what we are doing just now.” Then Mother seized hold of my coat, just as she used to do when I was a little boy, and swinging me around in front of her, she said, “Willie White, it is presented to me that you are having a hard time, and when you have reached a certain point I have something say, and I want to know whether you have reached that time or not.” I told her what we were doing, and she said, “Go on, I will not go over today.”
Then a day or two later she came and gave us some counsel. The counsel she gave did not especially uphold me in my plans. I do not know of anyone whose plans are more often crossed and corrected than are mine.
One time I was in Melbourne camp meeting, working early and late to the full extent of my strength, and I received a most sad, reproving letter about my neglecting Mother’s work and about the necessity of giving more attention to it. She had consented to my going to the meeting, and I could not see why it should come to me then. I said, There is no use thinking about it; the business of the meeting needs all my energies, and I put it away. But was that the best way? I found out afterward that there was a man right there that I could have secured for help in the work that needed attention. But the message hurt me. I thought I was doing all I could. I was not reconciled to it, and I put it out of my mind, and there was the very help within my reach that would have helped me to do what I ought to do.
Now with reference to the matter of personal influence: I have seen that messages brought to Mother by word of mouth and by letter prompted her to write, and the question has arisen, Did this message simply prompt her to write things which had been revealed, or did it also influence the matter that is written?
The Lord has given me many experiences that answer that question. I will tell you some of them. One time there was a group of men associated with the president of the General Conference who were strong financiers. Their hearts had not been drawn out to foreign missions, but their hearts did rejoice in large buildings, facilities, and machinery at the center of the work, Battle Creek, and they kept it continually before the president of the General Conference that it was those things that gave stability and strength to the cause, and imperceptibly he was being influenced more and more by this view of the work. Steps were being taken which businessmen would consider wise, but in the eyes of the Lord it was robbery. The mission fields were being robbed.
Letters came to us from America, from the president of the General Conference, stating that these men were having a good experience, that they were getting out to camp meetings, and were helping here and there. It was a most encouraging report, and I assure you I was glad to read it. One of these men I loved; the other I admired for his business ability. For years I had endeavored to present to Mother all the encouraging things I could about their work.
It was a noon mail that brought this report, and in the afternoon Mother and I sat down and rejoiced over the good news. We said how good it was that Mother now could lay off the burden she had been carrying. I went to my home full of joy and thanksgiving and praise because of this turn in affairs, and that Mother could lay off the crushing burden she had been bearing regarding the work at Battle Creek. But next day I found Mother busily writing, and on the second day she called me in to read the most severe condemnatory message she had ever written regarding the work and influence of these leading men.
Why this change of attitude? It was because the angel of the Lord had appeared to her, and she had been given another view of their work. I have seen such experiences not once or twice, but many times.
I have seen people come trying to get some word in favor of their particular schemes. One of the most marked experiences was in connection with the Oakland General Conference of 1903. There was a terrible controversy there. Before that conference, for weeks, yes, months, Mother had been living over in advance the experiences that were to come. Morning after morning as I visited her room she would tell me about the serious questions that were to come up at the meeting. Often she would say, “I do not know whether I have strength to attend the conference or not, but if I do attend, I shall have to bear a very plain testimony thus and so. I often pray, ‘Lord, help me to remember, and if the time ever comes when I need to know this, let it be brought to my mind.'”
Finally we came to the conference and the battle was on. Those representing one side of the controversies would come to Mother for counsel. They would say, “We are in perplexity. We do not want to do wrong. It looks to us as though such and such a danger is coming to the church, and it must be met, and how shall it be met?” Then Mother would tell them how the danger was presented to her and the necessity of vigilance. As I heard the strong presentations by these men, of the difficulties as they saw them, the question would force itself upon me, “Will this influence Mother’s testimony?”
Now, you can imagine the intensity of my interest when she took her stand before the conference to bear her message. I was watching closely to see if she gave the message she had said that she would or if she would bear a testimony somewhat modified. But as you would expect, the testimony that she bore departed not a hair’s breadth to the right or the left from what she had stated to us at home that it should be.
There was, however, one line of thought on which she planned to speak plainly that never was presented. She had told me over and over again before the conference, and during the conference, that she must present to such and such a group of physicians their danger. And at her request we called the physicians together. Some ministers said, “Should we not hear also?” Some of the principal ones she wanted to talk with were absent, and she saw before her persons who were not prepared to receive and use wisely the message she had to bear; therefore she never gave it. She turned aside, and read something instructive on another subject. When she sees the people gathered to listen to her counsel, and it is impressed upon her heart that they will make wrong use of her words, she sometimes decides not to say what she had in mind to say.
One more thought about personal influence. Some said, “Did you see when Sister White was talking there in the conference that she turned around and said to W. C. White, ‘Have I covered all the points, Willie?’ Doesn’t that show that he is coaching her and she is trying to satisfy him?” This may be a natural question to suspicious minds. What are the facts?
Sometimes for weeks before an important meeting Mother has been telling me morning by morning the statements that she intended to bear. Then when the meeting came, she would speak to large audiences. Then when called upon to bear her testimony to our own people she would say to me before going to the meeting, “I am tired; the people have been talking to me; you must help me to remember the things I have told you.” And when in the pulpit she would turn to me for a reminder of what she had told me beforehand she wanted to say. Here is an illustration:
At the close of the General Conference held in Battle Creek in 1901, the brethren urged that Mother should go to Indianapolis and attend the general meeting appointed there to consider the fanatical work carried on by a group of laborers who had been teaching the doctrine of the holy flesh.
Mother was weary and felt that she had not strength for this additional burden. She repeatedly told me and other members of the family that she did not feel able to attend that meeting. She did not feel that she had strength to bear the testimony which she must bear if she attended the meeting. Then she told us many things she would have to say to the brethren who had been teaching the strange doctrine in Indiana. She repeated this several times, so that I remembered very distinctly what it was that she said she must testify if she went to Indiana. Finally she decided to go. The Lord strengthened her for the journey, and she bore her testimony to a large congregation of our people in a clear, decisive way. After this she was requested to speak to a large audience Sunday afternoon. This was a heavy draft on her strength, and at the close she was very weary.
Sunday afternoon I had a long talk with one of the ministers holding the strange doctrine against which Mother had borne her testimony, and he asked for an interview with Mother. I told him that Mother was weary. But when I saw that he would feel grieved and injured if the interview was denied, I told him I would do all I could to arrange for an interview early Monday morning.
I expected to see Mother Sunday evening and tell her of this brother’s desire to see her in the morning, but committee work prevented my seeing her that evening.
Monday morning early I went to her room and found her very busy writing. Then she told me that an important subject had been opened up to her mind in the night and she greatly desired to write it out before anything came in to divert her mind from the subject. I then told her that I had promised one of the ministers that I would do my best to arrange for an interview with her early Monday morning. Mother said, “But my mind is now on this other subject. I have borne my testimony to our people, and my discourse to the large audience exhausted my strength, and now I have this new subject to write out. Why must I have a private interview with this brother?”
Again I told her of his desire to have an interview with her, and she said, “But what can I say to him?” Then I saw that the Sunday afternoon discourse and the new subject opened to her mind had taken her thought completely away from the matter of the holy flesh fanaticism, and so I repeated to her some of the things which she had told me when in Battle Creek that she would have to say to these brethren if she came to Indiana. After calling her attention to a few of the things that she had repeatedly told us she must say to these brethren if she came to Indiana, her mind took up that line of thought, and then I went to look for the brother.
During this conversation a good sister in the next room had heard some of our words. I had spoken quite loudly to Mother, and the sister had heard my words, without, perhaps, hearing what Mother said, and she was greatly surprised and shocked to hear W. C. White telling his mother what she should say to a brother in perplexity. Of course, the matter was told to others and the report was circulated far and wide before it came to my attention.
This is not the only way that the enemy works to trick us who are connected with Mother into positions where it looks as though we were tampering with her work. Those who want to believe that the Testimonies are not pure and genuine will have plenty of opportunity to hear things that can be told in such a way as to show that we are not dealing honestly with that work. But I want to say regarding that which goes out from Mother’s office, signed with her own hand or stamped with her signature, that Mother is intelligently responsible for it. There is no one connected with her who has the desire to tamper with her work or to do otherwise than she tells us to do.
Mother writes very rapidly. She does much of her writing early in the morning. She often writes upon many subjects in one letter or manuscript, just as subject after subject is flashed upon her mind. These manuscripts she passes to one who is expert in reading her writing to copy off on the typewriter, and then it is given back to Mother. She examines it, making such corrections, changes, and additions as she sees fit. Then it is copied again and sent out according to Mother’s direction. Sometimes a long personal letter will contain matter which she wishes to use in a more general letter to be sent to a group of workers. Sometimes it contains material for an article for one of our periodicals, or a chapter in a book.
Some of the most precious chapters of The Desire of Ages are made up of material first written in letters to men laboring under trying circumstances, for the purpose of cheering and instructing them regarding their work. Some of these beautiful lessons about Christian experience as illustrated in the life of our Saviour were first written in letters to my brother Edson, when he was struggling with many difficulties in his work in Mississippi. Some were written first to Elder Corliss when he was holding a discussion with a wily Campbellite in Sydney.
One thing I should feel condemned about if I did not speak of it, and that is the longsuffering and patience of God toward erring men as manifested in the messages that are sent to the church through Mother. Oftentimes a man is chosen for a position of responsibility, and the enemy comes in with all power to unfit him for his work and place. Then when the brethren see his weakness they are ready to dispense with him. But the Lord looks upon him as the Lord Jesus looked upon His disciples–having loved them, He loved them unto the end–when He said, “Of those Thou hast given Me, none is lost save the son of perdition.” It shows how patient, how determined He was that men shall have all the opportunity that heaven can give. That characteristic you will see in the messages God sends to the church in the Testimonies.
If the brethren, when they see a brother doing wrong, will deal with him faithfully, they may win him back, or they would develop the fact that he is hopeless. If this were done, there would not be any need of the testimony so often given, cautioning the church about pushing away men whom the Lord is still anxious to save.
We can only come to a clear understanding of the Testimonies by a diligent study of the messages the Lord has given to His church in past ages, remembering that the same forms of language mean the same today, and by studying them in the light of the love of Jesus.
I pray God that we all may become wise in our study of these things, because we all will have opportunities to help others.
Ellen G. White Estate
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Washington 12, D.C.
May 20, 1954
Edited and reformatted 6-6-91
Silver Spring, Maryland. nc.
Variation and Frequency of the Ellen G. White Visions
by Arthur L. White
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
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
When the facts are all known, it is very clear that no one set of circumstances can be set forth as describing just what took place in connection with the giving of the visions. There are several quite well known eyewitness accounts of what usually took place in connection with the visions accompanied by physical phenomena. James White published a statement on this point in 1868: VFEGWV 2.3
- She is utterly unconscious of everything transpiring around her, as has been proved by the most rigid tests, but views herself as removed from this world, and in the presence of heavenly beings.
- She does not breathe. During the entire period of her continuance in vision, which has at different times ranged from fifteen minutes to three hours, there is no breath, as has been repeatedly proved by pressing upon the chest, and by closing the mouth and nostrils.
- Immediately on entering vision, her muscles become rigid, and joints fixed, so far as any external force can influence them. At the same time, her movements and gestures, which are frequent, are free and graceful, and cannot be hindered nor controlled by the strongest person.
- On coming out of vision, whether in the daytime or a well-lighted room at night, all is total darkness. Her power to distinguish even the most brilliant objects, held within a few inches of the eyes, returns but gradually.—Life Incidents p. 272, (to the Remnant, p. 6)
Statements might be brought forward by a number of witnesses as W. C. White, Martha Byington-Amadon, J. N. Loughborough, et cetera, each covering essentially the same ground. The three just named, each mention’s that as she went into vision there was an animated exclamation of “Glory,” or “Glory to God,”—at times repeated. Of this, Martha Amadon wrote: VFEGWV 3.1
Her first word in vision was “Glory,” sounding at first close by, and then dying away in the distance, seemingly far away.—Messenger to the Remnant p. 6.
But there were exceptions and at times there was no such exclamation as the vision commenced. Several interesting accounts may be found in Messenger to the Remnant pp. 6, 7, 22, 23. VFEGWV 3.2
Elder George I. Butler, long-time President of the General Conference, in 1874 presents another contemporary report of the visions accompanied by physical phenomena, published in the Review and Herald in an article entitled “Visions and Prophecy” VFEGWV 3.3
For nearly thirty years past, these visions have been given with greater or less frequency, and have been witnessed by many, oftentimes by unbelievers as well as those believing them. They generally, but not always, occur in the midst of earnest seasons of religious interest while the Spirit of God is specially present, if those can tell who are in attendance.
The time Mrs. White is in this condition has varied from fifteen minutes to one hundred and eighty. During this time the heart and pulse continue to beat, the eyes are always wide open, and seem to be gazing at some far distant object, and are never fixed on any person or thing in the room. They are always directed upward. They exhibit a pleasant expression. There is no ghastly look or any resemblance of fainting.
While she is in vision, her breathing entirely ceases. No breath ever escapes her nostrils or lips when in this condition. This has been proved by many witnesses, among them physicians of skill, and themselves unbelievers in the visions, on some occasions being appointed by a public congregation for the purpose. It has been proved many times by tightly holding the nostrils and mouth with the hand, and by putting a looking glass before them so close that any escape of moisture of breath would be detected. In this condition she often speaks words and short sentences, yet not the slightest breath escapes.
When she goes into this condition, there is no appearance of swooning or faintness, her face retains its natural color, and the blood circulates as usual. Often she loses her strength temporarily and reclines or sits; but at other times she stands up. She moves her arms gracefully, and often her face is lighted up with radiance as though the glory of heaven rested upon her. She is utterly unconscious of everything going on around her while she is in vision, having no knowledge whatever of what is said and done in her presence. When she comes out of this condition she speaks and writes from time to time what she has seen while in vision; and the supernatural character of these visions is seen even more clearly in what she thus reveals than in her appearance and condition while in vision, for many things have thus been related which it was impossible for her to know in any other way. These things can be proved by any amount of testimony, and we confidently affirm that they are of such a character that they could not be accomplished by deception.—G. I. Butler in The Review and Herald, June 9, 1874.
The physical phenomena which provided tangible and convincing evidence to the early believers at a time when the fruitage of Ellen White’s work was less abundant than what may be observed today, filled a more important place then than now. Ellen White rarely spoke of it, perhaps because she was totally unconscious to what was taking place. One reference made in 1906 is significant: VFEGWV 5.1
Sometimes while I was in vision my friends would approach me and exclaim, “Why, she does not breathe!” Placing a mirror before my lips, they found that no moisture gathered on the glass. It was while there was no sign of any breathing, that I kept talking of the things that were being presented before me. These messages were thus given to substantiate the faith of all, that in these last days we might have confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy.—The Review and Herald, June 14, 1906.
All acquainted with Ellen White’s writings—and with increasing force the matter is brought home through the account of her experience in the Ellen G. White biography—are aware of the large place the visions of the night took in her work. Such expressions as, “In the visions of the night some things were clearly presented to me;” or “In the night seasons the Lord gave me instruction,” indicate that her experiences parallel those of Daniel who “had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed.” (Daniel 7:1) And so Ellen White, down through the years and especially in the last thirty years of her life, received instruction from the Lord in “night visions.” Her work was well established and there was little need of evidence given in connection with the visions themselves. Often she used interchangeably the terms “dreams” and “visions of the night.” Sometimes she seems to distinguish one from the other as she did in 1885 in the words: “A communication comes to me from the Lord, either in a dream or a vision of the night.” Testimonies for the Church 5:685. In either case, she attributed it to the Lord. In 1868, she had written: VFEGWV 5.2
Dreams from the Lord are classed in the Word of God with visions, and are as truly the fruits of the spirit of prophecy as visions. Such dreams, taking into the account the persons who have them, and the circumstances under which they are given, contain their own proofs of their genuineness.—Testimonies for the Church 5:658.
Answering an inquiry from W. C. White, she one time declared that “the same angel stands by her side instructing her in the visions of the night, as stands beside her instructing her in the visions of the day.” VFEGWV 6.1
It was not too uncommon for Ellen White to be given a vision while praying, both in private and in public. Such expressions as the following may be noted: VFEGWV 6.2
While engaged in earnest prayer, I was lost to everything around me; the room was filled with light, and I was bearing a message to an assembly that seemed to be the General Conference.—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 461.
On Friday evening, February 15, 1901, while engaged with the family in prayer at the opening of the Sabbath, and reaching out for light as to whether she should accept Dr. Kellogg’s invitation to stay in his home while attending the General Conference Session of 1901, a vision was given to her. She described it: VFEGWV 6.3
I was asking the Lord where I should go and what I should do. Well, while I was praying and was sending up my petition, there was, as has been a hundred times or more, a soft light circling around in the room, and a fragrance like the fragrance of flowers, of a beautiful scent of flowers.—Ms 43a, 1901.
She heard a voice, “Respect the courtesy of My servant, John Kellogg.”—Letter 33, 1901. VFEGWV 6.4
Did others praying with her that Friday evening see the light and notice the fragrance? As she recounted the experience at the Session, she said, “Though none of the family saw what I saw, or heard what I heard, yet they felt the influence of the Spirit, and were weeping and praising God.”—The General Conference Bulletin, 204, 1901. (EGW Biography, vol. 5, pp. 53-54.) VFEGWV 7.1
- C. White, speaking at the Advanced Bible School in 1936, described a pause in a public prayer at the Minnesota Camp Meeting being offered by Ellen White in which a comprehensive vision was given to her. VFEGWV 7.2
Father and mother were carrying a heavy burden in behalf of the ministry who had been working in that State. On Sunday morning they undertook to conduct a revival service. Father spoke for a few minutes, but with little freedom. Then after mother had spoken briefly, they asked the congregation to kneel in prayer. Father offered a labored, sorrowful prayer, then mother began to implore for light and freedom. After she had prayed for about two minutes she stopped. There was silence long enough to count to forty or fifty, about half a minute. VFEGWV 7.3
I was kneeling with the congregation, and I turned to see what was the occasion for the silence. Just then she burst forth in prayer. Her voice was melodious, and triumphant, and the remainder of her prayer greatly moved the people present. VFEGWV 7.4
During the period of silence, a revelation was given her regarding conditions in the Minnesota Conference, also conditions regarding the work in Battle Creek, also regarding other matters of general interest in the cause. Following the camp meeting, father and mother found retirement at the home of one of our brethren. Mother wrote diligently for about two weeks, in recording what had been shown to her during the half minute of pause in her prayer.—W. C. White in Lecture at Advanced Bible School, 1936 (White Publications Document File No. 696.) VFEGWV 7.5
While in Sydney, Australia for a few days in 1896 a very unique experience came to Ellen White in which a vision was given to her while fully conscious. It involved her dealings with one of her literary assistants, Fannie Bolton. Ellen White wrote of the experience: VFEGWV 7.6
Friday, March 19, I arose early, about half—past three o’clock in the morning. While writing upon the fifteenth chapter of John, suddenly a wonderful peace came upon me. The whole room seemed to be filled with the atmosphere of heaven. A holy, sacred presence seemed to be in my room. I laid down my pen and was in a waiting attitude to see what the Spirit would say unto me. I saw no person. I heard no audible voice, but a heavenly Watcher seemed close beside me; I felt that I was in the presence of Jesus.
The sweet peace and light which seemed to be in my room, it is impossible for me to explain or describe. A sacred, holy atmosphere surrounded me, and there was presented to my mind and understanding matters of intense interest and importance. A line of action was laid out before me as if the unseen Presence was speaking with me. The matter I had been writing upon seemed to be lost to my mind and another matter distinctly opened before me. A great awe seemed to be upon me as matters were imprinted upon my mind.
The question was, “What have you done with the request of Fannie Bolton? You have not erred in disconnecting with her. This was the right thing for you to do, and this would bring to her mind conviction and remorse which she must have. She has been tempted, deceived, and almost destroyed. Notwithstanding her perversity of spirit, I have thoughts of mercy and compassion for her. “Take this poor deluded soul by the hand, surround her with a favorable influence if possible. If she separates now from you, Satan’s net is prepared for her feet. I am her Redeemer. I will restore her if she will not exalt and honor and glorify herself. If she goes from you now, there is a chain of circumstances which will bring her into difficulties which will be for her ruin.” I shall act accordingly. I have taken Fannie to my home here at Sunnyside. I shall do all I can to help her heavenward.—Ms 12c, 1896.
Thus we find that, as recorded in Hebrews 1:1 concerning visions given to His prophets, whether of old or to Ellen White, God “at sundry times and in diverse manners spake.” VFEGWV 8.1
Washington, D. C.
April 5, 1982