Home > Prophecy > Spirit of Prophecy Section > 1BIO - The Early Years by Arthur White >
Chapter 10 - Travels and Visions (p.152-162)
Chapter 10:    Heaven-directed Travels
                 and Important Visions
    ( 1848 - 1849 )
While attending the conference at Topsham in October, Ellen White realized she would have to make a very special sacrifice in giving up the company of her child. With the rigors of travel, it just was not feasible to take a 14-month-old child with them. The mother told of the excruciating experience:  {1BIO 152.1}
 Again I was called to deny self for the good of souls. We must sacrifice the company of our little Henry, and go forth to give ourselves unreservedly to the work. My health was poor, and he would necessarily occupy a great share of my time. It was a severe trial, yet I dared not let my child stand in the way of our duty. I believed that the Lord had spared him to us when he was very sick, and that if I should let him hinder me from doing my duty, God would remove him from me.  {1BIO 152.2}
Alone before the Lord, with most painful feelings and many tears, I made the sacrifice, and gave up my only child for another to have a mother's care and feelings. We left him in Brother Howland's family, in whom we had utmost confidence. They were willing to bear burdens to leave us as free as possible to labor in the cause of God. We knew that they could take better care of Henry than we could while journeying with him, and it was for his good that he should have a steady home and good discipline, that his sweet temper be not injured.  {1BIO 152.3}
 It was hard parting with my child. His little sad face, as I left him, was before me night and day; yet in the strength of the Lord I put him out of my mind, and sought to do others good.-- 1LS,  p. 255.  {1BIO 152.4}
The Whites arranged for the Howlands to keep Henry for $1 a week, which Otis Nichols promised to supply. But after a few weeks all pay was refused, and Henry lived with the Howlands for five years. They provided not only a good home but clothing as well, except for a little garment that Ellen brought each year, as did Hannah of old.  {1BIO 153.1}
 Troubles in Europe and Their Supposed Significance 
Quite naturally, those expecting the near advent of Christ, being students of prophecy, kept a close eye on world events. This was particularly so through 1848 as troubles involving many nations suddenly broke out in Europe. The sweeping, prophetic review given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, led to an interpretation of the troubles in Europe as an immediate precursor of the Second Advent. The words recorded in Matthew 24:29, 30, with reference to the shaking of the powers in heaven, seemed coercive:  {1BIO 153.2}
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven.  {1BIO 153.3}
J. N. Loughborough, who was 16 in 1848, was an Adventist but not a part of the Sabbathkeeping group. He later wrote:  {1BIO 153.4}
Many of the Adventist ministers who had not as yet heard the third angel's message saw this confusion [in Europe], and supposed it must be the rallying of the nations for "the battle of that great day of God Almighty."--GSAM, p. 272.  {1BIO 153.5}
But the Adventists who had clung to their confidence in the fulfillment of prophecy on October 22 and who were now accepting the Sabbath of the fourth commandment as the sign or seal of the living God were devising ways and means of presenting their message to the world. "You are too late with your sealing message," their fellow believers of earlier days asserted, "for the battle of the great day and the Lord's actual coming are right upon us."--Ibid.  {1BIO 153.6}
In the vision in Dorchester on November 18 there was a call for publishing the third angel's message. Now three weeks later, on the evening of the Sabbath, at Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Ellen White was again in vision. This one clarified an interpretation of Matthew 24:29, 30.  {1BIO 154.1}
the Shaking of the powers of Heavens
December 16, 1848, the Lord gave me a view of the shaking of the powers of the heavens. I saw that when the Lord said "heaven," in giving the signs recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, He meant heaven, and when He said "earth" he meant earth. The powers of the heavens are the sun, moon, and stars. They rule in the heavens. The powers of the earth are those that rule on the earth. The powers of heaven will be shaken at the voice of God. The sun, moon, and stars will be moved out of their places. Thewill not pass away, but be shaken by the voice of God.  {1BIO 154.2}
Dark, heavy clouds came up and clashed against each other. The atmosphere parted and rolled back; then we could look up through the open space in Orion, whence came the voice of God. The Holy City will come down through that open space.  {1BIO 154.3}
I saw that the powers of earth are now being shaken and that events come in order. War, and rumors of war, sword, famine, and pestilence are first to shake the powers of earth, then the voice of God will shake the sun, moon, and stars, and this earth also. I saw that the shaking of the powers in Europe is not, as some teach, the shaking of the powers of heaven, but it is the shaking of the angry nations.-- Letter 2, 1848, addressed to "The     Scattered Remnant" (see also EW, p. 41).  {1BIO 154.4}
Ellen White was pregnant again. Through the winter months she and her husband traveled among the believers, bringing courage to their hearts and urging them to hold fast their faith. On Friday evening, January 5, Ellen was given a view of the "sealing" of God's people. She wrote:  {1BIO 154.5}
At the commencement of the holy Sabbath, January 5, 1849, we engaged in prayer with Brother Belden's family at Rocky Hill, Connecticut, and the Holy Ghost fell upon us. I was taken off in vision to the most holy place, where I saw Jesus still interceding for Israel. . . . Then I saw that Jesus would not leave the most holy place until every case was decided either for salvation or destruction. -- EW, p. 36.  {1BIO 154.6}
In quick succession last-day events were reviewed before her -- the seven last plagues, the death decree, the deliverance at the voice of God, and then a scene she did not understand.  {1BIO 155.1}       
I asked my attending angel for an explanation of what I saw. He told me that I could see no more then, but he would shortly show me what those things that I then saw meant.--Ibid., p. 37.  {1BIO 155.2}
The explanation came the next afternoon in another vision.  {1BIO 155.3}
I saw four angels who had a work to do on the earth, and were on their way to accomplish it. Jesus was clothed with priestly garments. He gazed in pity on the remnant, then raised His hands, and with a voice of deep pity cried, "My blood, Father, My blood, My blood, My blood!"  {1BIO 155.4}
Then I saw an exceeding bright light come from God, who sat upon the great white throne, and was shed all about Jesus. Then I saw an angel with a commission from Jesus, swiftly flying to the four angels who had a work to do on the earth, and waving something up and down in his hand, and crying with a loud voice, "Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold! until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads."--Ibid., p. 38.  {1BIO 155.5}
Still perplexed as to the full significance of what was passing before her, she again made inquiry:  {1BIO 155.6}
I asked my accompanying angel the meaning of what I heard, and what the four angels were about to do. He said to me that it was God that restrained the powers, and that He gave His angels charge over things on earth; that the four angels had power from God to hold the four winds, and they were about to let them go; but while their hands were loosening, and the four winds were about to blow, the merciful eye of Jesus gazed on the remnant that were not sealed, and He raised His hands to the Father and pleaded with Him that He had spilled His blood for them. Then another angel was commissioned to fly swiftly to the four angels and bid them hold, until the servants of God were sealed with the seal of the living God in their foreheads. -- Ibid.  {1BIO 155.7}
View of Heaven and Other Worlds
  The visions clarifying certain points and confirming others were at this time quite frequent. In 1851 as Ellen White assembled the materials for her first book, she placed immediately following the vision that was just quoted an article titled "God's Love for His People," relating a vision that carries no date but is filled with encouragement and information:  {1BIO 156.1}
I have seen the tender love that God has for His people, and it is very great. I saw angels over the saints with their wings spread about them. Each saint had an attending angel. If the saints wept through discouragement, or were in danger, the angels that ever attended them would fly quickly upward to carry the tidings, and the angels in the city would cease to sing. Then Jesus would commission another angel to descend to encourage, watch over, and try to keep them from going out of the narrow path.--Ibid., p. 39.  {1BIO 156.2}
After being shown the order there is in heaven, she was given a view of other worlds. She wrote of the experience:  {1BIO 156.3}
Wings were given me, and an angel attended me from the city to a place that was bright and glorious. The grass of the place was living green, and the birds there warbled a sweet song.  {1BIO 156.4}
The inhabitants of the place were of all sizes; they were noble, majestic, and lovely. They bore the express image of Jesus, and their countenances beamed with holy joy, expressive of the freedom and happiness of the place. I asked one of them why they were so much more lovely than those on the earth. The reply was, "We have lived in strict obedience to the commandments of God, and have not fallen by disobedience, like those on the earth." -- Ibid., pp. 39, 40.  {1BIO 156.5}
She observed much of interest and significance on this seeming visit to another planet:  {1BIO 156.6}
Then I saw two trees, one looked much like the tree of life in the city. The fruit of both looked beautiful, but of one they could not eat. They had power to eat of both, but were forbidden to eat of one. Then my attending angel said to me, "None in this place have tasted of the forbidden tree; but if they should eat, they would fall." -- Ibid., p. 40.  {1BIO 156.7}
There she met "good old Enoch." In conversation with him she asked if this was the place to which he was taken from the earth. He replied, "It is not; the city is my home, and I have come to visit this place." Ellen observed that he moved about as if perfectly at home. Entranced with the planet she was visiting, she made a most natural request of her accompanying angel:  {1BIO 157.1}
I begged of my attending angel to let me remain in that place. I could not bear the thought of coming back to this dark world again. Then the angel said, "You must go back, and if you are faithful, you, with the 144,000, [NOTE: THE WORDING IS "YOU WITH THE 144,000," NOT "YOU AS ONE OF THE 144,000."] shall have the privilege of visiting all the worlds and viewing the handiwork of God." -- Ibid.  {1BIO 157.2}
 Was it Ellen White or the Spirit of God ?
 There were some who grumbled about the visions given to Ellen White; of course, the visions were openly opposed by many of their former brethren in the Advent movement. As she made a record of what was shown to her in early January, 1849, she made a statement relating to attitudes toward the visions that is rather startling:  {1BIO 157.3}
I saw the state of some who stood on present truth, but disregarded the visions -- the way God had chosen to teach in some cases, those who erred from Bible truth. I saw that in     striking against the visions they did not strike against the worm -- the feeble instrument that God spake through -- but against the Holy Ghost. I saw it was a small thing to speak     against the instrument, but it was dangerous to slight the words of God.  {1BIO 157.4}
I saw if they were in error and God chose to show them their errors through visions, and they disregarded the teachings of God through visions, they would be left to take their own way, and run in the way of error, and think they were right, until they would find it out too late. Then in the time of trouble I heard them cry to God in agony, "Why didst Thou not show us our wrong, that we might have got right and been ready for this time?"  {1BIO 157.5}
Then an angel pointed to them and said, "My Father taught, but you would not be taught. He spoke through visions, but you disregarded His voice, and He gave you up to your own ways, to be filled with your own doings."-- MS 2, 1849 (see also 1SM, p. 40 ).  {1BIO 158.1}
Travels and Labors in early 1849
January, February, and March of 1849 found James and Ellen White traveling among the groups of believers. Ellen's health was good, and she stood the strain well. The visions were quite frequent, some giving them directions as to the couple's labors, and others opening up important lines of instruction for the emerging church. In the latter part of January the Whites were in Topsham, Maine. On Thursday, January 18, Ellen was given the vision recorded in Early Writings, pages 56 to 58, "Duty in View of the Time of Trouble." One morning in early February, during family prayers in the Howland home, she was given a vision in which she was shown that it was their duty to visit Dartmouth, Massachusetts. She later explained why:  {1BIO 158.2}
Soon after, my husband went to the post office, and brought a letter from Brother Philip Collins, urging us to come to Dartmouth, for their son was very sick.--3LS, p. 121.  {1BIO 158.3}
When they reached Dartmouth they found 13-year-old Gilbert near death with whooping cough. He had suffered for nine weeks. As they prayed for the recovery of the boy, James White picked him up and held him in his arms, exclaiming, "You will not die, but live!" They believed that God would be glorified in his recovery. Eight days later when the Whites came again to the home, Gilbert was completely well and had gained four pounds (ibid.). Also on this trip Sister Temple in Boston was healed, and Sister Hastings in New Ipswich, as recorded in Life Sketches, pages 121-123. Both Mr. and Mrs. Hastings were sensitive in nature but fine Christians, and Ellen White wrote that her heart was knit with that of Sister Hastings as was the heart of David with Jonathan.  {1BIO 158.4}
James and Ellen White were back in Topsham on Wednesday, March 21, and were delighted to find little Henry well, happy, and growing. Journeying as they were called to do was sometimes far from pleasant. A little picture of conditions under which they sometimes traveled is provided in a letter written by James White on Thursday, March 22. To Brother and Sister Hastings, whose home they had just left, he reported:  {1BIO 159.1}
We came to Boston in Brother Nichols' carriage, took the cars at 7:00 A.M., arrived in Portland at 12:30 P.M. Passed through the city to the other depot, took cars at 2:30 P.M. for North Yarmouth (eleven miles), then got into an old stage to ride sixteen miles more. This was our best route, as the boats do not run until April.  {1BIO 159.2}
Ellen [nearly five months pregnant] stood it all well until we got into the stage. Here we were shook up and down, to and fro, for three hours in snowbanks and mud sloughs. I began to pray to God for help, and He gave us help.  {1BIO 159.3}
On Friday, March 23, Ellen wrote to Leonard and Elvira Hastings:  {1BIO 159.4}
I can write but little now, as I am weak, but the Lord is very good to poor, unworthy me. While riding in the stage Wednesday, I thought I should have to stop at a private house and go no farther, but James and I united in faith together that God would give me strength, and suddenly I felt a visible change for the better and arrived here without accident or harm. Praise the name of the Lord. Yesterday I was unable to sit up; today I am free from pain, though weak.  {1BIO 159.5}
My faith is strong in God. I am ready to go anywhere He shall send me, knowing He will give me strength. -- Letter 4, 1849.  {1BIO 159.6}
Another  important  vision
   Sabbath, March 24, was an interesting day for all who worshiped at the Howland home. Ellen White described it as: "a glorious meeting." She wrote:    160  {1BIO 159.7}
The first Sabbath we spent in Topsham was a sweet, interesting time. It seemed that Jesus Himself passed through our midst and shed His light and glory upon us. We all had a rich draught from the well of Bethlehem. The Spirit came upon me and I was taken off in vision. I saw many important things, some of which I will write you before I close this letter. [See EW, pp. 42-45.] I saw Brother Stowell of Paris was wavering upon the shut door. [THE TERM SHUT DOOR FINDS ITS ORIGIN IN REVELATION 3:7 AND 8 AS RELATED TO THE SANCTUARY IN HEAVEN, AND IN MATTHEW 25:10 AS USED IN THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS. IN THE CRITICAL YEARS 1844 TO 1851, THE TERM WAS EMPLOYED BY THE PIONEERS OF THE SDA CHURCH AT FIRST IN REFERRING TO THE CLOSE OF PROBATION BUT SOON IN THE BROADER SENSE AS SIGNIFYING THE INTEGRITY OF THE ADVENT AWAKENING THAT REACHED ITS CLIMAX ON OCTOBER 22, 1844, AS "A MOVE OF GOD." (SEE JW LETTER, JULY 21, 1850, ON PAGE 179 OF THIS BOOK, AND CHAPTER 16, "THE SHUT AND THE OPEN DOORS.")] I felt that I must visit them, although it was fifty miles off and very bad going; I believed God would strengthen me to perform the journey.-- Letter 5, 1849.  {1BIO 160.1}
  Responding to the light received in the vision, they went at once to Paris and found things in a deplorable state. Paris was isolated, off the beaten path of travel. Discouragement and some fanaticism had set in. The believers had not met together to worship for more than two years (ibid.). Ellen White reported:  {1BIO 160.2}
 We went and found they needed strengthening. . . . We spent one week with them. Our meetings were very interesting.     They were hungry for present truth. We had free, powerful meetings with them. God gave me two visions while there,     much to the comfort and strength of the brethren and sisters. Brother Stowell was established in the shut door and all the present truth he had doubted. Strength was given me from on high so that my journey wearied me not at all and my health has been better ever since.--Ibid.  {1BIO 160.3}
There is no record of the two visions given to Ellen while on this visit to Paris, but before closing her letter to Brother and Sister Hastings she wrote out what was shown her in the vision given March 24 in Topsham, and it was included in her first little book, Experience and Views. Today it may be found in Early Writings under the chapter title "The Open and the Shut Door," from which we quote:  {1BIO 160.4}
Sabbath, March 24, 1849, we had a sweet and very interesting meeting with the brethren at Topsham, Maine. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us, and I was taken off in the Spirit to the city of the living God.  {1BIO 160.5}

        Then I was shown that the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ relating to the shut door could not be separated, and that the time for the commandments of God to shine out with all their importance, and for God's people to be tried on the Sabbath truth, was when the door was opened in the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary, where the ark is, in which are contained the ten commandments. This door was not opened until the mediation of Jesus was finished in the holy place of the sanctuary in 1844.  {1BIO 161.1}
Then Jesus rose up and shut the door of the holy place, and opened the door into the most holy, and passed within the     second veil, where He now stands by the ark, and where the faith of Israel now reaches.  {1BIO 161.2}      
 I saw that Jesus had shut the door of the holy place, and no man can open it; and that He had opened the door into the most holy, and no man can shut it (Rev. 3:7, 8); and that since Jesus has opened the door into the most holy place, which contains the ark, the commandments have been shining out to God's people, and they are being tested on the Sabbath question. -- EW, p. 42.  {1BIO 161.3}
 The vision touched on many points, including "the mysterious knocking" near Rochester, New York. Spiritualism was emerging, and various other devices of Satan to mislead the people supposedly serving the Lord.  {1BIO 161.4}
Quandary over the Next Move 
 Returning from Paris to Topsham, James and Ellen were perplexed to know how to plan for the work during the coming summer. Wrote Ellen, "We had been expecting God to teach in such a way that we could not mistake duty, but we were disappointed, and as we had no light to go elsewhere, concluded to go to New York [State]." James wrote a letter to brethren in Utica requesting someone to meet them on their arrival there, and both James and Ellen signed the letter. In the experience immediately ensuing, we discover the unique way God then led them:  {1BIO 161.5}
Soon I began to feel distressed and burdened. It seemed that I should be driven to distraction. I found relief by weeping when in my distress. James was afraid I would die and he threw the letter in the stove, as he told me afterwards, then knelt down by my bedside and prayed God to roll off the burden, and I was relieved.  {1BIO 162.1}
The next morning I awoke perfectly free and clear; all my distress was gone and I felt assured God would open the way     before us. James went to the [post] office and brought in a letter from Brother Belden, of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, giving us a strong invitation to come there and live with them; [they] said they should consider it a privilege to administer to our wants. We felt clear to go and felt that it was the way the Lord had opened.-- Letter 5, 1849.  {1BIO 162.2}
The invitation was backed up with money to buy tickets, so leaving little Henry with the Howlands, they were soon on their way to Middletown, Connecticut, en route to Rocky Hill. They stopped off in Dorchester at the Nichols home, and while there Ellen continued her letter to Leonard and Elvira Hastings, joyfully declaring to them that the brethren in the Boston area were "steadfast in the faith, and strong in all the present truth" (ibid.). She also learned that "the work is still going on in Connecticut." She added, "The Lord has shown me in vision He was at work there and that what He was doing for His people was only a few drops before a more plentiful shower."  {1BIO 162.3}
James White added a postscript that gives a bit of atmosphere: 
        Here we are on our way to Connecticut. Ellen is very well or she could not have written so much. Brother Bates has returned from Vermont. He had a hard time, but God was with him and much good was done. He found or left quite a number in the Sabbath.  {1BIO 162.4}
 Now I want you to have a conference in New Hampshire as  soon as June. I think there will be one in Paris, Maine, in June, and I think Brother Bates and I could attend both, and then another in Vermont. The people must have line upon line. The cause requires an effort by all of us in this way.--Ibid.  {1BIO 162.5}
Continue to Chap. 11 -- (1849) Beginning to Publish
Return to  Table of Contnts - Biography of EGW