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Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)

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    James White on the Prophetic Gift

    Having introduced the visions given to Ellen, James devoted a page to the subject of a prophetic voice in earth's last days, opening with words from Acts 2:1BIO 128.3

    “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants, and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy” [verses 17, 18].—A Word to the Little Flock, 13.1BIO 128.4

    White pointed out:1BIO 129.1

    As the signs of that day have been, and still are fulfilling, it must be clear to every unprejudiced mind that the time has fully come when the children of God may expect dreams and visions from the Lord.—Ibid.

    He acknowledged that “even among Adventists,” “this is a very unpopular position to hold on this subject ...; but I choose to believe the word of the Lord on this point, rather than the teachings of men.” He continued:1BIO 129.2

    I know that it is a very popular opinion among Adventists that there was nothing more to be revealed by visions, after John closed up the revelation in A.D. 96. But if this opinion is correct, then the last days ended while John was on the isle of Patmos.—Ibid.1BIO 129.3

    James White's next statement sets forth a position he stood by throughout his ministry:1BIO 129.4

    The Bible is a perfect and complete revelation. It is our only rule of faith and practice. But this is no reason why God may not show the past, present, and future fulfillment of His Word, in these last days, by dreams and visions, according to Peter's testimony. True visions are given to lead us to God, and His Written Word; but those that are given for a new rule of faith and practice, separate from the Bible, cannot be from God, and should be rejected.—Ibid.1BIO 129.5

    In this forthright declaration may be seen an allusion to Joseph Smith, leader of the Mormons, who, because of some of his teachings and actions, had been murdered in 1844. As for James White, the Bible was the guide and rule of practice. He republished the first vision, followed by two others, stating:1BIO 129.6

    The following vision was published in the Day-Star, more than a year ago. By the request of friends, it is republished in this little work, with Scripture references, for the benefit of the little flock.—Ibid.1BIO 129.7

    He then added a word of admonition: “I hope that all who may read it will take the wise and safe course pointed out to us by the following passages of Scripture. ‘Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good’ [1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21]. ‘To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them’ [Isaiah 8:20].”—A Word to the Little Flock, 13, 14.1BIO 130.1

    Throughout the republished visions he included more than eighty references to Bible passages and seven references to 2 Esdras and the Wisdom of Solomon, of the Old Testament Apocrypha. All these were used to compare his wife's visions with similar matters in the Bible. Only in this printing did such keyed footnote references appear, linked to the E. G. White visions. The visions thus published included the first to which Ellen White in her first writing added the vision of the new earth; and the vision of the heavenly sanctuary in which she was shown the law of God, as first published in the broadside by Joseph Bates.1BIO 130.2

    There followed two pages of arguments in support of the visions, first Joseph Bates's remarks giving his experience in accepting the visions, as described in Bates's 1847 broadside, and then a very brief review by James White on “the experience and calling of the author of these visions” (Ibid., 22). The pamphlet closed with two James White articles, “The Temple of God” and “The Judgment.” In the latter he dealt with the “executive judgment,” giving a description of God finally cleansing the universe as “the devil and his angels, and all the wicked, will be burnt up, ‘root and branch.’”—Ibid., 241BIO 130.3

    This pamphlet, A Word to the “Little Flock,” was republished in 1945 and is available at Adventist Book Centers.1BIO 130.4

    The Whites were in Topsham through much of April and May while James was getting his pamphlet published in nearby Brunswick. They then returned to Gorham, where, through the summer, awaiting the birth of their first child, James engaged in such labor as he could find, determined not to be dependent on others for their livelihood.1BIO 130.5

    From Gorham, Ellen, on July 13, wrote a letter to Joseph Bates. Its opening paragraphs provide some glimpses into her heart and life:1BIO 130.6

    Dear Brother Bates,

    As James is at work and sisters are from home, thought I would employ myself in writing a line to you. My health is quite good for me. My faith is still strong that that very same Jesus that ascended up into heaven will so come in like manner as He went up, and that very, very soon.1BIO 131.1

    I have had many trials of late, discouragement at times has laid so fast hold upon me it seemed impossible to shake it off. But thank God, Satan has not got the victory over me yet, and by the grace of God he never shall. I know and feel my weakness, but I have laid hold upon the strong arm of Jehovah, and I can say today I know that my Redeemer liveth, and if He lives I shall live also.1BIO 131.2

    O how good it would be to meet with a few of like precious faith to exhort and comfort one another with words of holy cheer from the Word of God. The sheep are now scattered, but thank God they are about to be gathered to a good pasture. O how sweet it will be to meet all the blood-washed throng in the city of our God—Letter 3, 1847.1BIO 131.3

    Bates had written asking about some of the early visions. Ellen took up his questions and wrote a number of pages in the earliest handwritten letter we have today from her pen. It provides helpful documentation of her and her husband's work and travels:1BIO 131.4

    Brother Bates, you write in a letter to James something about the Bridegroom's coming, as stated in the first published visions. By the letter you would like to know whether I had light on the Bridegroom's coming before I saw it in vision. I can readily answer, No. The Lord showed me the travel of the Advent band and the midnight cry in December, but He did not show me the Bridegroom's coming until February following. Perhaps you would like to have me give a statement in relation to both visions.—Ibid.1BIO 131.5

    As it is a review of earlier history, this letter has been drawn upon in other chapters. Five weeks later, just a few days before their first son was born, James White wrote from Gorham to Elvira Hastings, of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, telling of his family's situation:1BIO 131.6

    When I first wrote to you and sent the visions [in broadside form] I was lame, in debt, and burdened with the duty of publishing for the “little flock.” Since that [time] I have been able to publish my humble pamphlet, and am now free from debt, and have enough for our present wants. God has abundantly blessed me with health to labor with my hands. My lameness has not troubled me but little this summer. I have been able to earn about $25 the past six weeks; and my health is very much improved....1BIO 132.1

    When we have no special work to do in visiting the scattered saints, I feel it my duty to labor with my hands, so as not to be chargeable to others. This is a privilege to me.—JW to Elvira Hastings, August 22, 1847.1BIO 132.2

    Looking into the immediate future, he commented:1BIO 132.3

    We can lay no certain plans for the future; but we expect to go west [this would be in the confines of the New England States and New York] this fall. When it is our duty to go, God will make it very plain, and provide friends and means. At present we must remain at Gorham. Ellen has seen in vision that we should go west before the Lord comes; therefore I believe we shall go, but whether it will be in September or at a later period we cannot now decide. We leave all this in the hands of God, and by His grace will try to attend to present duty.— Ibid.

    He picked the letter up again on Wednesday, August 25, and added:1BIO 132.4

    The above was written Sunday eve. I had to go to work Monday and Tuesday, and therefore could not finish. I haste to write a few lines more so as to mail this tomorrow morning.1BIO 132.5

    I have felt like offering an apology for inviting you (a stranger in the flesh) to assist me in paying for the publication of the last vision, as I did in my other letter. At that time I was lame, some in debt, and knew not how to clear myself from the small debt of about $10 and obtain a living. But the Lord has been better to me than my fears, praise His dear name.— Ibid. 1BIO 132.6

    Several postscripts were added. He made reference to Ellen, just on the verge of giving birth to her first child, whom they named Henry. He stated:1BIO 133.1

    I should choose that Ellen fill this sheet, but she is not able. She has been out of health for years, and suffers much at this time; still her faith in God is firm. Your letter was of much comfort to her. She joins with me in much love to all the precious, scattered “little flock” with you or with whom you may meet; also to yourself. Pray for us. And we may keep the commandments of God that we may “enter into life.”1BIO 133.2

    O! I want to see Jesus and the angels, I want to see that golden city. I want to see all the saints clothed with immortality, dwelling in the light.— Ibid. 1BIO 133.3

    In another postscript he noted:1BIO 133.4

    In your letter you say, “Sister W. mentions God spoke the day and hour of Jesus’ coming,” and you inquired, “I should like to know if it is to be spoken before we all hear it.”

    To this question, I answer by writing Ellen's words that she has just spoken while lying on the bed beside my writing stand. “Tell her that none hear the voice until all hear it. Then every living child of God will hear and know the voice of God as He gives us the day and hour. Then joy and glory will fill every heart.”— Ibid. 1BIO 133.5

    Still the letter was not mailed. On September 1 James White added, writing in Topsham:1BIO 133.6

    This letter was laid in the drawer and I intended to mail it last Thursday.... But while packing up to come to this place [the Howland home], I found this letter.1BIO 133.7

    Here I shall take the liberty to state to you that my wife has a young son, a week old tomorrow. Why I state this is that I learn from Brother Bates that you are a full believer in Ellen's visions, therefore interested for her. She is very well, also the babe. God has been with her in power. For years Ellen has been subject to fainting spells. She has had many the year (last Monday) that we have been married. It was the opinion of our unbelieving neighbors that she would die in one of her faint spells, but to the astonishment of all she has not had a faint spell for two weeks. For myself, I had not a fear. I as little expected her death as I expected the sun to fall to the earth. I knew she would live, for God had shown her in vision that her work was not done up for the little flock....1BIO 133.8

    Here is a strong band of thirteen bold soldiers in this place, in union and in the spirit and power of the truth and love of Christ.— Ibid. 1BIO 134.1

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