Accepting Ellen White as a Prophet of God

1845 - 1846

It was not easy to be a messenger of the Lord. Particularly at the beginning of Ellen Harmon's ministry it was important that the gift of prophecy promised to the remnant church be established with unusual phenomena.

Through false representations some of 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. Some attributed her visions to magnetism (hypnotism) or mesmerism.

At times because of all the suggestions and accusations that were made, she was led to question her own experience. One morning, the power of God began to rest upon her, but she resisted it. Because of her sin in doubting the power of God, she was struck dumb for twenty-four hours.

On another occasion, while in vision, Ellen placed the large family Bible on her left hand and held it easily with her arm extended for an estimated half hour. This Bible weighs 18 1/2 pounds (seven kilograms).

Fanaticism in Boston was balked when they saw Ellen in Vision. A large Bible was placed upon her brest while in vision. 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.

Joseph Bates had been troubled with serious doubts as to the visions, but the evidence in the experience at Topsham, Maine was such that he accepted them wholeheartedly from that time forth. While in vision, Ellen began to talk about the stars and gave a perfect description of planets, only astronomers know. This convinced the sea-captain-turned-minister.

Individual visions were marked by various characteristics, but James White pointed out four:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. . . .
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