Fearing a negative reception, Ellen did not share her visions with the wider Millerite community until—while in a meeting at her parent’s home—she received what she regarded as supernatural confirmation of her ministry: “ While praying, the thick darkness that had enveloped me was scattered, a bright light, like a ball of fire, came towards me, and as it fell upon me, my strength was taken away. I seemed to be in the presence of Jesus and the angels. Again it was repeated, ‘Make known to others what I have revealed to you .’” White, Spiritual Gifts , 37. The outcome of this experience was Ellen’s commitment to share her visions publicly.
Soon Ellen was giving her testimony in public meetings—some of which she arranged herself; and in her regular Methodist class meetings in private homes. “ I arranged meetings with my young friends, some of whom were considerably older than myself, and a few were married persons. A number of them were vain and thoughtless; my experience sounded to them like an idle tale, and they did not heed my entreaties. But I determined that my efforts should never cease till these dear souls, for whom I had so great an interest, yielded to God. Several entire nights were spent by me in earnest prayer for those whom I had sought out and brought together for the purpose of laboring and praying with them .” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White , 41
News of her visions spread and Ellen was soon travelling and speaking to groups of Millerite followers in Maine and the surrounding area. Neither vision was however publicized further afield until January 24, 1846, when White’s account of the first vision: “Letter From Sister Harmon” was published in the Day Star— an Adventist paper published in Cincinnati, Ohio by Enoch Jacobs.
The majority of Millerites never recognised White’s legitimacy. The 1845 Albany Conference specifically rejected any such ministry stating, “We have no confidence in any new messages, visions, dreams, tongues, miracles, extraordinary revelations, impressions, discerning of spirits, or teachings not in accordance with the unadulterated word of God.” "Proceedings of the Mutual Conference of Adventists."
Ellen’s first vision was to prove instrumental in bringing the discouraged and fragmented Adventists together. She saw the “Advent people” travelling a high and dangerous path towards the city of New Jerusalem [heaven]. Their path was lit from behind by “a bright light...which an angel told me was the midnight cry.” Some of the travellers grew weary and were encouraged by Jesus; others denied the presence of the light that went out and they fell “off the path into the dark and wicked world below.” Early Writings , p14,15.
Ellen’s vision continued with a portrayal of Christ’s second coming, following which the Advent people entered the New Jerusalem. The vision ended with her returning to earth feeling lonely, desolate and longing for that “better world.” As Godfrey T. Anderson points out, “In effect, the vision assured the Advent believers of eventual triumph despite the immediate despair into which they had plunged.” Godfrey T. Anderson, "Sectarianism and Organisation, 1846-1864," in Adventism in America: a History , ed. Gary Land (Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 1998), 31.
Ellen’s second vision concerned Crozier’s views on the October 22 disappointment. It became known as the “Bridegroom” vision and White received it in Exeter, Maine, in February 1845. Together with a third vision where White saw the new earth, these visions: “ Gave continued meaning to the October 1844 experience and supported the developing sanctuary rationale. Additionally they played an important role in countering the spiritualizing views of many fanatical Adventists by portraying the Father and Jesus as literal beings and heaven as a physical place .” Burt, “Historical Background”, 170. These three visions were later published as articles, a broadside, and in a tract; thus gaining White a widespread audience.
“ All these things weighed heavily upon my spirits, and in the confusion I was sometimes tempted to doubt my own experience.” Early Writings , p22.
“ 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.” Life Sketches , p222.
Shortly after her eighteenth birthday Ellen observed that Enoch Jacobs was wavering in his confidence in the fulfilment 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 .
April, 1847, marked James White's first major publishing accomplishment—a twenty-four-page pamphlet that he titled A Word to the "Little Flock .“ Just a year earlier, on April 6, 1846, he had arranged for the broadside publication of Ellen's first vision—a single large sheet printed on one side only. Two hundred and fifty copies were printed in Portland, Maine. H. S. Gurney, blacksmith of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, shared the printing costs. It carried the title To the Little Remnant Scattered Abroad . A little more than two of the three columns were given to Ellen's first vision. Half of the third column was devoted to the vision of mid-February, 1845, concerning the heavenly sanctuary and the events at the end of the 2300 days. Early Writings , p54-56.
This PowerPoint presentation has been produced by Jeff Crocombe for a class on EGW: Life and Writings at Helderberg College in Semester 1, 2007. It should not be used without giving credit to its compiler, nor reproduced in any way without permission. You may contact Jeff Crocombe at: [email_address]
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