Did an Ellen White vision picture people on Saturn?
There is a letter from Mrs. Truesdail, quoted by J. N. Loughborough in his The Great Second Advent Movement, pages 260, 261. I assume that this is the letter you are referring to. Here is what Loughborough quotes,
“Sister White was in very feeble health, and while prayers were offered in her behalf, the Spirit of God rested upon us. We soon noticed that she was insensible to earthly things. This was her first view of the planetary world. After counting aloud the moons of Jupiter, and soon after those of Saturn, she gave a beautiful description of the rings of the latter. She then said, ‘The inhabitants are a tall, majestic people, so unlike the inhabitants of earth. Sin has never entered here.’ It was evident from Brother Bates’s smiling face that his past doubts in regard to the source of her visions were fast leaving him. We all knew that Captain Bates was a great lover of astronomy, as he would often locate many of the heavenly bodies for our instruction. When Sister White replied to his questions, after the vision, saying that she had never studied or otherwise received knowledge in this direction, he was filled with joy and happiness. He praised God, and expressed his belief that this vision concerning the planets was given that he might never again doubt.”—Mrs. Truesdail’s letter of Jan. 27, 1891.
I find no reference here to a meal, by the way. We should also note that two pages earlier, Loughborough tells the story of the vision. In his account of it, he never claims that Mrs. White named the planets she saw. Rather, he quotes Joseph Bates as saying so as she described what she saw, “Oh, she is viewing Jupiter!” Then, when she described a planet with belts and rings, and she said, “I see seven moons,” Bates exclaimed, “She is describing Saturn.” Mrs. Truesdail’s account corresponds to this. She, too, does not say that Mrs. White identified the planets by name. No doubt she accepted Bates’s identity of these planets and assumed it to be their true identity.
We have no reason to doubt the legitimacy of Mrs. Truesdail’s letter or to question the veracity of its author on these points. But we need to recognize which pieces of information came from Mrs. White and which came from Bates. Others, too, appear to have accepted Bates’s identification. In A Word to the Little Flock, James White refers to this vision and mentions Jupiter and Saturn. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mrs. White herself accepted Bates’s judgment on this, since apparently she was not told the planets’ identities.
I believe that Mrs. White was shown the things she described and that they correspond to the reality on some planets. But I don’t think those planets were Jupiter and Saturn, despite the fact that Bates thought they were. And we mustn’t pin Bates’s mistaken assumption on Mrs. White.
By the way, there is some brief material about this vision on the Ellen G. White Estate Web site. It’s in the “Comments Regarding Unusual Statements Found in Ellen G. White’s Writings” section, under “Astronomical Statements.”