Home > Prophecy > Spirit of Prophecy Section > 1BIO - The Early Years by Arthur White >
1BIO - Chapter 6 - Sustained in Ministry (page 90 - 109 )
Chapter 6:    Sustained in a Continued Ministry
( 1845 - 1856 )
As Ellen Harmon continued her work at the bidding of the Lord, she was ever confronted with new perplexities. There were some who attributed her visions to mesmerism:  {1BIO 90.1}
About this time I was subjected to a severe trial. If the Spirit of God rested upon a brother or sister in meeting, and they glorified God by praising Him, some raised the cry of mesmerism. And if it pleased the Lord to give me a vision in meeting, some would say that it was excitement and mesmerism.  {1BIO 90.2}
Grieved and desponding, I often went alone to some retired place to pour out my soul before Him who invites the weary and heavy laden to come and find rest. As my faith claimed the promises, Jesus seemed very near. The sweet light of heaven shone around me, I seemed to be encircled by the arms of Jesus, and there have I been taken off in vision. Then I would relate what God had revealed to me alone, where no earthly influence could affect me, but was grieved and astonished to hear some intimate that those who lived nearest to God were most liable to be deceived by Satan.-- 1LS, p. 219.  {1BIO 90.3}
It is little wonder that in the face of all the suggestions and accusations that were made that she was at times led to question her own experience. She wrote:  {1BIO 90.4}
All these things weighed heavily upon my spirits, and in the confusion I was sometimes tempted to doubt my own experience. While at family prayers one morning, the power of God began to rest upon me, and the thought rushed into my mind that it was mesmerism, and I resisted it. Immediately I was struck dumb, and for a few moments was lost to everything around me. I then saw my sin in doubting the power of God, and that for so doing I was struck dumb, and that my tongue would be loosed in less than twenty-four hours.  {1BIO 90.5}
A card was held up before me, on which were written in letters of gold the chapter and verse of fifty texts of Scripture.  [References are listed.] After I came out of vision, I beckoned for the slate, and wrote upon it that I was dumb, also what I had seen, and that I wished the large Bible.  {1BIO 91.1}
I took the Bible and readily turned to all the texts that I had seen upon the card. I was unable to speak all day. Early the next morning my soul was filled with joy, and my tongue was loosed to shout the high praises of God. After that I dared not doubt or for a moment resist the power of God, however others might think of me.-- EW, pp. 22, 23.  {1BIO 91.2}
Enabled to Write
This experience, apparently in her own home in Portland, Maine, in the late spring or early summer in 1845, marks a significant turn in Ellen's experience, for she observed as she related it:  {1BIO 91.3}
Up to this time I could not write. My trembling hand was unable to hold my pen steadily. While in vision I was commanded by an angel to write the vision. I attempted it, and wrote readily. My nerves were strengthened, and my hand became steady.-- 2SG, p. 60.  {1BIO 91.4}
Many years later she referred to her experience in beginning to write:  {1BIO 91.5} 
The Lord has said, "Write out the things which I shall give you." And I commenced when very young to do this work. My hand that was feeble and trembling because of infirmities became steady as soon as I took the pen in my hand, and since those first writings I have been able to write. God has given me the ability to write. . . . That right hand scarcely ever has a disagreeable sensation. It never wearies. It seldom ever trembles.-- MS 88a, 1900.  {1BIO 91.6}
As to her feelings and response when instructed, she wrote:
   I wept, and said, "Impossible, impossible." The words came, "Nothing is impossible with God." The effort was made and my hand commenced to write the things that had been given me.-- Ibid.  {1BIO 92.1}
The  Large  Family  Bible
The "large" Bible Ellen called for after this vision in her home in Portland was, presumably, the "big Bible" now in the White Estate vault with the names of Robert and Eunice Harmon stamped in gold on the spine, or back -- a Bible eighteen inches long, eleven inches wide, four inches thick, and weighing 18.5 pounds. It was printed in Boston by Joseph Teal in the year 1822 and is illustrated with twenty-six beautiful steel engravings. Between the Old and the New Testaments a sheet bears the family record, filled in by James White. It also contains, between the Testaments, the books of the Old Testament apocrypha.  {1BIO 92.2}
The Bible Held in Vision
It is also the large Bible held in vision in the Harmon home early in 1845. On that occasion, during family prayers, she stepped over to a bureau upon which this large volume rested, and picked it up. Placing it on her left hand, she easily held it at arm's length for an estimated half hour. During the vision she referred, in short exclamations, to the value of the Word of God. Although in frail health, she was in no way fatigued by the experience.  {1BIO 92.3}
The account of the experience has come down through the family from Robert and Eunice Harmon to James White, then William C. White. [IN A LETTER WRITTEN APRIL 2, 1919, TO AN EDUCATOR, SARAH PECK, W. C. WHITE DECLARED, "MY FOLKS TOLD THE STORY TO ME."-- DF 732a.
LOUGHBOROUGH RECOUNTED THE INCIDENT AT THE GENERAL CONFERENCE OF 1891 (GCB 1891, P. 145) AND AT THE 1893 SESSION (GCB 1893, P. 20)]. It was referred to by J. N. Loughborough, who reported that he got the story from Ellen's parents, her older sister Sarah, and others (GSAM, p. 236). Ellen White made no reference to the experience, for as she was in vision she had no direct knowledge of what took place. At the time of the event she weighed about eighty pounds.  {1BIO 92.4}
The Unenviable Position of the Prophet
It was not easy to be the messenger of the Lord, for often the witness that must be borne cut across the path of others or pointed out a course of action that was not right. This was particularly so in meeting the inroads of fanaticism in 1845. Ellen White later wrote:  {1BIO 93.1}
It was a great cross for me to relate to individuals what had been shown me concerning their wrongs. It caused me great distress to see others troubled or grieved. And when obliged to declare the messages, I often softened them down, and related them as favorably for the individual as I could, and then would go by myself and weep in agony of spirit. I looked upon those who had only their own souls to care for, and thought if I were in their condition I would not murmur.  {1BIO 93.2}
It was hard to relate the plain, cutting testimonies given me of God. I anxiously watched the result, and if the individual reproved rose up against the reproof, and afterwards opposed the truth, these queries would arise in my mind: Did I deliver the message just as I should? Oh, God! could there not have been some way to save them? And then such distress hung upon my soul, that I often felt death would be a welcome messenger, and the grave a sweet resting place.-- 1LS, p. 222.  {1BIO 93.3}
A Symbolic Warning
 Then in vision she was taken into the presence of Jesus. He looked upon her with a frown and turned His face from her. It was a terrifying experience; speechless, she fell helpless on her face. She wrote:  {1BIO 93.4}
Then could I realize, in some degree, what the feelings of the lost will be when they cry, "Mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne." -- Ibid., p. 223. {1BIO 93.5}
An angel spoke to her, bidding her to arise. What she then saw made an unforgettable impression on her mind:  {1BIO 94.1}
The sight that met my eyes can hardly be described. A company was presented before me whose hair and garments were torn, and whose countenances were the very picture of despair and horror. They came  lose to me, and took their garments, and rubbed them on mine. I looked at my garments, and saw that they were stained with blood.  {1BIO 94.2}
Again I fell like one dead, at the feet of my accompanying angel. I could not plead one excuse, and longed to be away from such a holy place. Again the angel raised me up on my feet, and said, "This is not your case now, but this scene has passed before you to let you know what your situation must be if you neglect to declare to others what the Lord has revealed to you. But if you are faithful to the end, you shall eat of the tree of life, and shall drink of the river of the water of life. You will have to suffer much, but the grace of God is sufficient."  {1BIO 94.3}
I then felt willing to do all that the Lord might require me to do, that I might have His approbation, and not feel His dreadful frown.-- Ibid.  {1BIO 94.4}
"Another Angel, Father!"
Shortly after this she attended a meeting also attended by Joseph Turner. He was now boasting that he could mesmerize her and could prevent her from having or relating a vision. She described what took place:  {1BIO 94.5}
I arose in the congregation. My visions came up fresh before me, and I commenced relating them, when I felt a human influence being exerted against me. . . . I then turned to this man [Turner], and related what the Lord had shown me in Portland; and, raising my hands to heaven, earnestly cried, "Another angel, Father! Another angel!"  {1BIO 94.6}
I knew that my request was granted. I felt shielded by the strong Spirit of the Lord, and was borne above every earthly influence, and with freedom finished my testimony. The friends were comforted, and rejoiced in the Lord.  {1BIO 94.7}
Joseph Turner was asked why he had not stopped my relating the vision. He answered, "Oh, some of you would have her talk."--Ibid., p. 224.  {1BIO 94.8}
Ellen was shown that she should go to Paris, Maine, "for there was a meeting appointed" that she should attend. An Elder Stevens had appointed a meeting, where an important matter was to be brought out; he had urged all to attend. Ellen White wrote:  {1BIO 95.1}
The next morning we went to the place appointed for meeting. When Elder Stevens came in and saw us present he seemed troubled. The meeting commenced with prayer. Then as I tried to pray, the blessing of the Lord rested upon me, and I was taken off in vision.  {1BIO 95.2}
Elder Stevens had declared that he would listen to nothing but Bible. I was shown the teachings of the Bible in contrast with his errors. I then saw that the frown of God was upon Elder Stevens; that he was leading honest, conscientious souls astray. -- Ibid., pp. 225, 226.  {1BIO 95.3}
Elder Stevens was one who had taken the position that it was a sin to work. Being a leader among the believers, he exerted a strong influence. Wrote Ellen White:  {1BIO 95.4}
The Lord gave me a reproof for him, that he was going contrary to the Word of God in abstaining from labor, and urging his errors upon others, denouncing all who did not receive them. He rejected every evidence which the Lord gave to convince him of his error, and was firm to take nothing back in his course. He followed impressions and went weary journeys, walking great distances, where he would only receive abuse, and considered that he was suffering for Christ's sake. His reason and judgment were laid aside. . . . He denounced the visions as being of the devil, and continued to follow his impressions, until Satan seemed to take full control of his mind. His friends at length were obliged to confine him, where he made a rope of some of his bed clothing with which he hung himself.--Ibid., p. 225, 226.  {1BIO 95.5}

Who Could be Saved?

Inseparably linked with the position held by the pioneers that something of significance had transpired on October 22, 1844, was the understanding that a "door" was shut in connection with the fulfilling of prophecy. The expression is found in the message to the church in Philadelphia as set forth in Revelation 3:7, 8. There is described One who held the "key of David," "he that openeth, and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth," the One who declared, "I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." This message to the Philadelphia church had laid the foundation for rightfully advocating a "shut door" [See Chapter 16, "THE SHUT AND THE OPEN DOORS."]  on October 22, 1844. The full significance of the expression was not immediately understood, but the term early became synonymous with confidence in the fulfillment of prophecy on October 22, and it was so used for about seven years after the 1844 disappointment. It was usually understood to be linked with a close of probation, but for whom?  {1BIO 95.6}
Of the vision at Exeter in mid-February, 1845, Ellen White wrote in 1847:  {1BIO 96.1}
Most of them received the vision, and were settled upon the shut door. -- Letter 3, 1847.  {1BIO 96.2}
Did this mean that probation had closed for mankind on October 22? This was a question in the minds of not a few. That the shut door did not connote a close of probation for all the world is made clear by what took place in Paris, Maine, in connection with the visit referred to above some four or five months after the vision at Exeter.  {1BIO 96.3}
While Ellen was in Paris she was approached by Marion C. Stowell with a question on this point. When the question of early holdings on the shut-door question was later revived and discussed, Marion wrote of this in a letter on August 17, 1875. Her report of what took place in 1845 was attested to by five other persons who were familiar with the circumstances. Here is what Marion Stowell (later Truesdail, then Crawford, after her first husband's death) wrote:  {1BIO 96.4}

During Miss Harmon's (now Mrs. White's) visit to Paris, Maine, in the summer of 1845, I stated to her the particulars of a dear friend of mine whose father had prevented her attending our meetings; consequently she had not rejected light. She smilingly replied, "God never has shown me that there is no salvation for such persons. It is only those who have had the light of truth presented to them and knowingly rejected it."  {1BIO 96.5}

Miss Harmon's reply coincided with my idea of a shut door, and in justice no other could be derived from it.--Quoted in an article by George I. Butler in RH, April 7, 1885.  {1BIO 97.1}
Ellen returned to her home in Portland. Shortly she was shown that she must go to Portsmouth the next day and bear her testimony there. At this time her sister Sarah and James White accompanied her in her travels. She tells the story:  {1BIO 97.2}
I had no means with which to pay my fare, but prepared to go, trusting in the Lord to open the way. The first car bell was ringing as I put on my bonnet. I looked out of the window, and saw a good brother driving very fast up to the gate. His horse was reeking with sweat. He quickly entered and asked, "Is there anyone here who needs means? I was impressed that someone here needed money."  {1BIO 97.3}
We hastily related that we were going to Portsmouth at the Lord's bidding, and had nothing to go with, but resolved to start, trusting in the providence of God to open the way.  {1BIO 97.4}
The brother handed us money enough to carry us to Portsmouth and back. Said he, "Take a seat in my wagon, and I will carry you to the depot" [some three or four short blocks away]. On the way to the cars he told us that while on the road to my father's, his horse would come with great speed the whole distance of twelve miles.  {1BIO 97.5}
We had just taken our seats in the cars when the train started.  Here the Lord tested and proved us, and strengthened our faith as we were brought into a very strait place, and were carried through by the manifestation of His providence. I had freedom in bearing my testimony in Portsmouth.--1LS, pp. 226, 227.  {1BIO 97.6}
The  First  Visit  to  Massachusetts

 It was now August. Ellen was shown that she must visit Massachusetts and bear her testimony. On reaching Boston, she understood better the importance of her being there.  {1BIO 97.7}

Joseph Turner, who opposed me in Maine, had arrived a few hours before. We considered that our being sent to Massachusetts just at that time was to save God's people from falling under his influence.-- Ibid., p. 227.  {1BIO 97.8}
Her first meeting was with the believers at Roxbury, where she found quite a large company of believers assembled in a private home. In his letter to William Miller, Otis Nichols mentioned this meeting and the favorable reception that was given to Ellen. Some years later she told the story:  {1BIO 98.1}
It was arranged that I should go to Roxbury and there relate my message. . . . As I was speaking, a sister who had been opposed to me arose and interrupted me. She grasped my hand, saying, I said that the devil sent you, but I can doubt no longer, and she declared to those present that I was a child of God, and that He had sent me. All in the meeting were greatly blessed. -- Ibid.  {1BIO 98.2}
Nichols reported on how happy the leader of the company at Roxbury was to receive the message, but Joseph Turner, with his spiritual view of the Second Advent, soon unsettled those who heard Ellen, and fanaticism followed. It was at this time that she and her traveling companions were invited by Nichols to stay as guests in his home, as noted earlier. A little later she and her sister Sarah were back again in Massachusetts, and the Nichols home became the base of her operations for the next eight months, or until April, 1846. Because of the spiritual views brought to Massachusetts by Joseph Turner, Ellen's experience in visiting the companies of believers there was similar to what it had been in Maine. "We had to be on our guard," she wrote, "strengthened on every side with Scripture testimony concerning the literal, personal appearing of our Saviour."-- Ibid., p. 230.  {1BIO 98.3}
Concerning her stay in the Nichols home Ellen White makes the following reference:  {1BIO 98.4}
I made my home at the house of Brother O. Nichols. They were ever ready with words of encouragement to comfort me when in trial, and their prayers often ascended to heaven in my behalf, until the clouds were dispersed, and the light of heaven again cheered me. Nor did their kindness end here  {1BIO 98.5}
They were attentive to my wants, and generously supplied me with means to travel. They were reproached because they believed me to be a child of God, chosen to bear a special testimony to His people, and on account of this they were obliged to be in almost constant conflict, for many left no means untried to turn them against me. A faithful record is kept of their acts of love and benevolence. They will not lose their reward. He that seeth in secret is acquainted with every kind and generous act, and will reward them openly.-- Ibid., p. 228.  {1BIO 99.1}
Gradually the way opened before Ellen, and she reported:  In many instances where the way had been previously closed up for me to bear my testimony, it was now opened, and I had more friends than I had before.-- Ibid.  {1BIO 99.2}
Her itinerary took her to Carver, New Bedford, and Dartmouth, and possibly to other points (such as Fairhaven, where Joseph Bates and H. S. Gurney resided), then back to Portland, Maine (DF 105, "Statement by Otis Nichols"; 1LS, p. 228). While she was still at Carver an important vision was given to her, a vision that prevented a disappointment related to the expected imminent second advent of Jesus.  {1BIO 99.3}
The 1845 Expectancy of the Second Advent
In view of the inevitable conclusion reached by the majority of the Adventists immediately after the Disappointment--that their message for the world closed on October 22, 1844 -- it was not strange that some should look forward to the autumn of 1845 as a time of importance. Not a few anticipated the jubilee year of deliverance at that time. Earnestly the Scriptures were searched for some clue. They found in Luke 12 the parable of the servants waiting for the return of their Lord, and the words of verse 38: "If he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so [waiting], blessed are those servants." Could it be that Jesus would come in the "fourth watch," or at the end of the year of expectancy? James White came to believe so, as presented in his article in the Day-Star of September 20, 1845. In recounting the history in 1847, he declared:  {1BIO 99.4}
It is well known that many were expecting the Lord to come at the seventh month, 1845. That Christ would then come we firmly believed."-- WLF, p. 22.  {1BIO 100.1}
And then he revealed what averted another disappointment on the part of the believers:  {1BIO 100.2}
   A few days before the time passed, I was at Fairhaven, and Dartmouth, Massachusetts, with a message on this point of time. At this time Ellen was with the band at Carver,  Massachusetts, where she saw in vision that we should be disappointed and that the saints must pass through the "time of      Jacob's trouble," which was future. Her view of Jacob's trouble was entirely new to us, as well as herself.-- Ibid.  {1BIO 100.3}
With a channel of communication now in the world, God in His mercy gave light that spared sincere Advent believers another disappointing blow.  {1BIO 100.4}
Thus early in the experience of the emerging church, light new to herself and others, yet in full harmony with the Scriptures, was given by the Lord through His chosen messenger. The pioneers were conscious of this; a decade and a half later, when organizing the church, they refrained from the adoption of a creed, which could stand in the way of God giving new light through the visions.  {1BIO 100.5}
Ellen and her sister Sarah returned to their home in Portland, Maine. But the battle continued in Massachusetts. Through the false representations of Turner, Haskins, Howell, and others, the believers were led to believe that the visions were of the devil, that James White mesmerized her, and that she could not have a vision if he was not present. Nichols, while visiting Portland, proposed what he hoped would check the opposition:  {1BIO 100.6}
I proposed to Sister White [Harmon] and Sarah, her sister, who were then at their father's house in Portland, to come up to Boston without Brother White accompanying them, to visit the bands in Boston, Roxbury, and Randolph, and wherever the war against visions was manifest, to convince them if possible that they had been deceived by their teachers. They assented to this arrangement, and Sister White and Sarah accompanied me to Massachusetts, leaving Brother White in Portland, and made their home at our house.-- DF 105, "Statement by Otis Nichols."  {1BIO 100.7}

The  Second  Visit  to  Massachusetts

Ellen White writes of this:

By invitation of Brother and Sister Nichols, my sister and myself again went to Massachusetts, and made their house our home. There was in Boston and vicinity a company of fanatical persons, who held that it was a sin to labor. Their principal message was "Sell that ye have, and give alms." They said they were in the jubilee, the land should rest, and the poor must be supported without labor. Sargent, Robbins, and some others were leaders. They denounced my visions as being of the devil, because I had been shown their errors. They were severe upon all who did not believe with them.-- 1LS, p. 231.  {1BIO 101.1}

At this point we let Otis Nichols pick up the story:   A few days after their arrival, G. Sargent and Robbins, two of the principal leaders in Boston, and obstinate opposers to Sister White's visions, came out to our house and talked to us and had prayers. I told them that we were glad of this opportunity with them, that Sister White and others were now with us, and we invited them to come in. But hearing of Sister White's presence, they departed, and made other reasons for coming here.  {1BIO 101.2}

Robbins then warned me against her visions, and said he knew they were of the devil, that he always felt a blessing whenever he declared they were from Satan.  {1BIO 101.3}
I told him we judged their character by their fruits, their doctrine in accordance with Bible testimony, and the effect upon those who believed them, leading them to a more holy and devoted life and confirming their faith in the past experiences of the Advent doctrine of 1843 and the seventh month of 1844, and enlightening our understanding in the present truth, and that we were acquainted with her moral character; that Turner and others had maliciously calumniated her without any facts and evidence; that Turner once said that he believed her visions were as true as the apostle John's, and that the only reason Turner turned against Sister White's visions was because she saw his hypocrisy in vision; and that he was exposed; that Turner and others in union with him were doing all in their power to destroy all faith in her visions.-- DF 105, "Statement by Otis Nichols."  {1BIO 101.4}
Nichols told the two men that Ellen was desirous "to attend their meeting in Boston the next Sabbath," and he asked them if they had any opposition to hearing her testimony.  {1BIO 102.1}
"None at all," replied Sargent. "Let her come next Sabbath."-- Ibid.  {1BIO 102.2}
Accordingly, it was arranged that Nichols would bring Ellen and Sarah Harmon to Boston, where they would meet with the believers. But in the evening before the proposed meeting Ellen Harmon was shown in vision the hypocrisy, and that there would be no meeting in Boston. She was shown that Sargent, Robbins, and others opposed would meet with a large company in Randolph [thirteen miles south of Boston] on the Sabbath, and that we must meet the opposers at Randolph at their meeting on the Sabbath, and there she would have a message given her for them, which would convince the honest, the unprejudiced ones, whether her visions were of the Lord or from Satan. -- Ibid.  {1BIO 102.3}
So the next morning, instead of driving north into Boston, they drove south to Randolph, arriving rather late in the morning. They found Sargent and Robbins and a large roomful meeting in the Thayer home. "As we entered," wrote Ellen White, "Robbins and Sargent looked at each other in surprise and began to groan. They had promised to meet me in Boston, but thought they would disappoint us by going to Randolph, and while we were in Boston, warn the brethren against us."-- 1LS, p. 232.  Closing the morning services rather early, Sargent announced that they would have a short intermission. Ellen Harmon learned during the intermission that one of the critics remarked that "good matter would be brought out in the afternoon." Robbins told Sarah Harmon that Ellen could not have a vision where he was (ibid.).  {1BIO 102.4}
Assembling again at about one o'clock in the afternoon, several engaged in prayer, including Ellen Harmon. She reported what took place The blessing of the Lord rested upon me, and I was taken off in vision. I was again shown the errors of these wicked men and others united with them. I saw that they could not prosper, their errors would confuse and distract; some would be deceived by them; but that truth would triumph in the end, and error be brought down.  {1BIO 103.1}
I was shown that they were not honest, and then I was carried into the future and shown that they would continue to despise the teachings of the Lord, to despise reproof, and that they would be left in total darkness, to resist God's Spirit until their folly should be made manifest to all. A chain of truth was presented to me from the Scriptures, in contrast with their errors.  {1BIO 103.2}
When I came out of vision, candles were burning. I had been in vision nearly four hours. As I was unconscious to all that transpired around me while in vision, I will copy from Brother Nichols' description of that meeting.-- Ibid.  {1BIO 103.3}
     In his statement written in 1859 or 1860, Otis Nichols described what took place while Ellen was in vision.  {1BIO 103.4}
Otis Nichols'  Eyewitness  Account
About one o'clock P.M. the meeting was opened by singing and praying by Sargent, Robbins, and French; then one of us prayed for the Lord to lead this meeting. Then Sister White commenced praying and was soon afterwards taken off in vision with extraordinary manifestations and continued talking in vision with a shrill voice which could be distinctly understood by all present, until about sundown.  {1BIO 103.5}
Sargent, Robbins, and French were much exasperated as well as excited to hear Sister White talk in vision, which they declared was of the devil. They exhausted all their influence and bodily strength to destroy the effect of the vision. They would unite in singing very loud, and then alternately would talk and read from the Bible in a loud voice in order that Ellen might not be heard, until their strength was  exhausted and their hands would shake, so they could not read from the Bible.  {1BIO 103.6}
But amidst all this confusion and noise, Ellen's clear and shrill voice as she talked in vision was distinctly heard by all present. The opposition of these men continued as long as they could talk and sing, notwithstanding some of their own friends rebuked them and requested them to stop.  {1BIO 103.7}
"But," said Robbins, "you are bowed to an idol. You are worshiping a golden calf."  {1BIO 104.1}
Mr. Thayer, the owner of the house, was not fully satisfied that her vision was of the devil, as Robbins declared it to be. He wanted it tested in some way. He had heard that visions of satanic power were arrested by opening the Bible and laying it on the person in vision, and asked Sargent if he would test it in this way, which he declined to do.  {1BIO 104.2}
Then Thayer took a heavy, large quarto family Bible which was lying on the table and seldom used, opened it, and laid it open upon the breast of Ellen while in vision, as she was then inclined backward against the wall in one corner of the room. Immediately after the Bible was laid upon her, she arose upon her feet and walked into the middle of the room, with the Bible open in one hand and lifted up as high as she could reach, and with her eyes steadily looking upward, declared in a solemn manner, "The inspired testimony of God," or words of the same import, and then she continued for a long time, while the Bible was extended in one hand and her eyes [were] looking upward and not on the Bible, to turn over the leaves with the other hand and place her finger upon certain passages and correctly utter their words with a solemn voice.  {1BIO 104.3}
Many present looked at the passages where her finger was pointed to see if she spoke them correctly, for her eyes at the same time were looking upward. Some of the passages referred to were judgments against the wicked and blasphemous; and others were admonitions and instructions relative to our present condition.  {1BIO 104.4}
In this state she continued all the afternoon until nearly sundown when she came out of vision.  {1BIO 104.5}
When Ellen arose in vision upon her feet with the heavy open Bible upon her hand, and walked the room uttering the passages of Scripture, Sargent, Robbins, and French were silent. For the remainder of the time they were troubled, with many others, but they shut their eyes and braved it out without making any acknowledgment of their feelings.-- DF 105, "Statement by Otis Nichols" (see also 1LS, pp. 232-234;  2SG, pp. 77-79).   {1BIO 104.6}

As to the final outcome, Nichols has given us this:

     Sister White visited Randolph a few weeks afterward for the last time, and as the principal members of the band still continued alienated from her, and the visions, she told them that the curse of God would soon follow their course. This was soon afterwards literally fulfilled.  {1BIO 105.1}

Satan took control of their minds and led them to confess publicly some of the most shameful acts of their lives, which had the effect to break up the meetings at Randolph and separate the honest souls from their unholy influence, and the principal leading ones united with Sargent, Robbins, and a company in Boston called the "No-work Party," a shameful company of fanatics numbering some twenty individuals whose principal teachings were denouncing and cursing those who believed in Sister White's visions, and all others, and also those who followed the exhortation of the apostle to be quiet and do your own business, to work with your own hands, and walk honestly toward those that are without, and that we may have lack in nothing. That with quietness they eat their own bread.  {1BIO 105.2}
They continued together in this state of feeling some time, a year or more, when they made a wreck of all their faith in the doctrines taught in the Bible and then broke up and scattered, declaring themselves free from all sinning, enjoined upon them in the Scriptures. -- Ibid.  {1BIO 105.3}
Meeting Joseph Bates at New Bedford
Joseph Bates had been an earnest worker in the Advent awakening of 1840-1844. A sea captain-turned-minister, he invested his property and his strength in heralding the soon coming of Christ. As Ellen and her sister were in New Bedford, Massachusetts, they became acquainted with him and his family. He, of course, learned of the visions given to Ellen, and this troubled him. He wrote of his experience two years later:  {1BIO 105.4}
Although I could see nothing in them that militated against the Word, yet I felt alarmed and tried exceedingly, and for a long time unwilling to believe that it was anything more than that was produced by a protracted debilitated state of her body.  {1BIO 105.5}
I therefore sought opportunities in presence of others, when her mind seemed freed from excitement (out of meeting), to question, and cross-question her, and her friends which accompanied her, especially her elder sister [Sarah], to get if possible at the truth.  {1BIO 106.1}
During the number of visits she has made to New Bedford and Fairhaven since, while at our meetings, I have seen her in vision a number of times, and also in Topsham, Maine, and those who were present during some of these exciting scenes know well with what interest and intensity I listened to every word, and watched every move to detect deception, or mesmeric influence. I thank God for the opportunity I have had with others to witness these things.  {1BIO 106.2}
As to the results of this close scrutiny and earnest investigation, he reported:   I can now confidently speak for myself. I believe the work is of God, and is given to comfort and strengthen His "scattered," "torn," and "pealed" people, since the closing up of our work for the world in October, 1844. The distracted state of lo, here! and lo, there! since that time has exceedingly perplexed God's honest, willing people, and made it  exceedingly difficult for such as were not able to expound the many conflicting texts that have been presented to their view.  {1BIO 106.4}
I confess that I have received light and instruction on many passages that I could not before clearly distinguish. I believe her to be a self-sacrificing, honest, willing child of God. -- WLF, p. 21 {1BIO 106.5}

She wrote of Elder Bates's attitude toward her at this time: I found him to be a true Christian gentleman, courteous and kind. He treated me as tenderly as though I were his own child.  . . . Elder Bates was keeping the Sabbath, and urged its importance. I did not feel its importance, and thought that Elder B. erred in dwelling upon the fourth commandment more than upon the other nine.-- 1LS, pp. 236, 237.  {1BIO 106.6}


The Publication of Her First Vision - - January, 1846

Shortly after her eighteenth birthday Ellen Harmon observed that Enoch Jacobs was wavering in his confidence in the fulfillment of prophecy on October 22. She wrote to him from Portland on December 20, 1845, recounting the highlights of her first vision. Although she stated that the letter was not written for publication, Jacobs printed it in the Day-Star issue of January 24, 1846. Through the next few years it was republished in various forms until it was carried into her first little book, Christian Experience and Views, published in 1851, and from there into Early Writings.  {1BIO 107.1}
In his letter to William Miller, written on April 20, 1846, Otis Nichols stated that Ellen Harmon had been "a resident in my family much of the time for about eight months" (DF 105). It was while there that Ellen discovered that the editor of the Day-Star had published her letter, including her statement that it was not written for publication.  {1BIO 107.2}
Publication of the Vision of the Heavenly Sanctuary
Seeing this, on February 15, 1846, she wrote a second letter to Jacobs stating that had she known he was going to publish her first letter she would have written more fully of what God had revealed to her. "As the readers of the Day-Star have seen a part of what God has revealed to me, . . . I humbly request you to publish this also in your paper."-- The Day-Star, March 14, 1846. She presented the vision given to her at Exeter, Maine, "one year ago this month." This was the vision in which she was shown the heavenly sanctuary and the transfer of the ministry of Christ from the holy place to the "Holy of Holies."  {1BIO 107.3}

The Place of the Vision in Confirming the Sanctuary Truth

Significantly, the Day-Star Extra dated February 7, 1846, had been devoted to the Bible study of Hiram Edson and O.R.L. Crosier in which they set forth from the Scriptures the evidence for the understanding that the two phases of ministry in the earthly sanctuary service were a type of Christ's ministry in the heavenlysanctuary. Consequently, according to Edson and Crosier, events that were to come to pass, beginning on October 22, 1844, were events taking place in heaven.  {1BIO 107.4}
The investigation supporting these conclusions had taken place at the Hiram Edson home in western New York State over a period of a number of months. The existence of this Bible study was unknown to Ellen Harmon when she was given the vision in Exeter in mid-February, 1845, nor had there been time for the February 7, 1846, issue of the Day-Star to reach her before she wrote of the vision for the readers of that journal. The vision, as published on March 14, gave unique confirmation to the conclusions of the Edson and Crosier Bible study. A year later, April 21, 1847, Ellen White wrote in a letter to Eli Curtis:  {1BIO 108.1}
The Lord showed me in vision, more than one year ago, that Brother Crosier had the true light, on the  cleansing of the sanctuary, et cetera, and that it was His will that Brother C. should write out the view which he gave us in the Day-Star Extra, February 7, 1846. I feel fully authorized by the Lord to recommend that Extra to every saint.-- WLF, p. 12.  {1BIO 108.2}
God's  Leadings  Clearly  Manifest
Step by step, God was leading His children. The great Second Advent Awakening, so powerful, so free from extremes and fanaticism, was to the sincere believers the work of God. The disappointment of October 22 was a bitter experience, but they were confident that God had led them and would continue to lead those who kept their eyes on Jesus. Earnest, prayerful Bible study pointed the way to an understanding of the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary. In vision Ellen Harmon witnessed Christ entering into the Most Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary to begin another phase of ministry, closing one door and opening another, thus confirming the integrity of their 1844 experience. It also confirmed the conclusions reached in earnest Bible study. It would take time to grasp fully the various aspects of unfolding truth.  {1BIO 108.3}
Vision  in  a  Sailboat
On another visit to Massachusetts in the summer of 1846, at a time when some insisted that the visions could be accounted for by mesmeric power, a vision was given to Ellen under very unusual circumstances. We have her account of the experience and that of H. S. Gurney, a blacksmith and close friend of Joseph Bates.  {1BIO 108.4}
Ellen was impressed that she should visit an Adventist family--the Halls--on West Island, around the point from Fairhaven and to the north by sea. She requested Gurney to take her to the island. Accompanied by her sister Sarah and a Sister A., they started on what should have been a pleasant trip. In the introduction to her first book Ellen recounted the experience.  {1BIO 109.1}
It was almost night when we got started. We had gone but a short distance when a storm suddenly arose. It thundered and lightened, and the rain came in torrents upon us. It seemed plain that we must be lost, unless God should deliver.  {1BIO 109.2}   I knelt down in the boat and began to cry to God to deliver us. And there upon the tossing billows, while the water washed over the top of the boat upon us, the rain descended as I never saw it before, the lightnings flashed and the thunders rolled, I was taken off in vision and saw that sooner would every drop of water in the ocean be dried up than we should perish, for I saw that my work had . . . just begun. After I came out of the vision all my fears were gone, and we sang and praised God, and our little      boat was a floating Bethel. . . .  {1BIO 109.3}
Brother Gurney had more than he could well do, to manage the boat. He tried to anchor, but the anchor dragged. Our little boat was tossed upon the waves, and driven by the wind, while it was so dark that we could not see from one end of the boat to the other. -- Experience and Views, pp. 8, 9 (see also EW, pp. 23, 24).  {1BIO 109.4}
Ellen White recounted the incident of the vision, a refutation that the visions were brought about by the influence of others. She asked: "What opportunity was there for mesmeric operations in such a time as that?"-- EW, p. 23.  {1BIO 109.5}
As the storm subsided, the little craft drifted near land. Seeing a light, they called loudly for assistance. The keel of the sailboat prevented a close approach to the shore, but they were soon rescued by one of the residents of West Island. They rejoiced that, although lost in the storm, they had arrived safely at their destination.  {1BIO 109.6}
Continue to Chapter 7
Return to  Table of Contnts - Biography of EGW