Mrs. Ellen G. White was a woman very gifted in prayer, her voice clear, her words distinct and ringing, and it was almost always during one of these earnest seasons of prayer that she was taken off in vision. She also had important visions in public, usually an unexpected experience to those present.
Though many of her old friends and associates are passed away—Elders J. N. Loughborough, Uriah Smith, J. N. Andrews, S. N. Haskell, G. W. Amadon, and others, yet there are people living today in various parts of the world who have seen her in vision from time to time, and what is here stated [November 24, 1925] will doubtless be familiar to them.
As one who has frequently observed her in vision, knowing the company of people usually present, all deeply observant, and believers in her exercises, I have often wondered why a more vivid description of the scenes which transpired has not been given.
In vision her eyes were open. There was no breath, but there were graceful movements of the shoulders, arms, and hands, expressive of what she saw. It was impossible for anyone else to move her hands or arms. She often uttered words singly, and sometimes sentences, which expressed to those about her the nature of the view she was having, either of heaven or of earth.
Her first word in vision was “Glory,” sounding at first close by, and then dying away in the distance, seemingly far away. This was sometimes repeated. When beholding Jesus our Saviour, she would exclaim in musical tones, low and sweet, “Lovely, lovely, lovely,” many times, always with the greatest affection. Looking upon the cloud which enveloped the Father, as she afterward explained, her shoulders would draw back, her hands lift in awe, and her lips would close.
Sometimes she would cross her lips with her fingers, meaning that she was not at that time to reveal what she saw, but later a message would perhaps go across the continent to save some individual or church from disaster. She said, “Words cannot express the beauties of heaven”; no more can they describe these scenes of which she was a part. Her visions seemed to bring you nearer heaven; and you longed to be there.
There was never any excitement among those present during a vision; nothing caused fear. It was a solemn, quiet scene, sometimes lasting an hour—a scene, during which, like prophets of old, she saw so much of the vastness of God’s work for His people that it would be the principal subject of her writing for two or more years. When the vision was ended, and she lost sight of the heavenly light, as it were, coming back to the earth once more, she would exclaim with a long-drawn sigh, as she took her first natural breath, “D-a-r-k.” She was then limp and strengthless, and had to be assisted to her chair, her position in vision being a recumbent one.
These impressive scenes encouraged and strengthened the faith of those present, not only in her work, but in the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.
The first time I ever saw her in vision was at my father’s house in Potsdam, New York. I was a girl of twenty, and there were only a few Sabbathkeepers then anywhere, no church as yet having been organized. This was in the early [eighteen] fifties. Brother John Andrews accompanied Elder and Mrs. White in our place, my father having made an appointment for Sister White to speak at the Wesleyan Methodist church in Morley, two miles distant. Just as we were about to start for the meeting, a violent thunderstorm came up, lasting so long that we could not go.
But what I best remember of that evening, nearly seventy-five years ago, was the occasion of our family worship, when Sister White was taken in vision.
The subject of this vision was the Sabbath question, and in connection with it, she saw that God had a great work for Brother Andrews to do.
As she came out of vision she reached for the hand of a young woman near her and, calling her by name, earnestly said, “Will you keep the Sabbath?” As the girl hesitated, Sister White repeated, “Will you keep the Sabbath? Will you?” She responded, “I will,” and she always did to the day of her death. Sister White had had no acquaintance with this girl, a beautiful young woman about whom we had all been anxious, fearing that she would not take the right step concerning the Sabbath. The earnestness of the Lord’s servant won her over, and it seemed that the Lord must have presented this case in the vision and impressed Sister White with what to say.
Similarly these experiences have turned many other footsteps from the wrong path to the right. From the very first a love for Sister White sprang up in my heart, and never has faded away.
Those were the days of turnpikes and plank roads; and the year before the Civil War, Brother and Sister White drove through from Rochester to Vermont, visiting little churches on the way. Father had pitched a tent in his pasture and fenced it in. It would hold about fifty people; and he called in his friends and neighbors for a meeting with Brother and Sister White.
This was a wonderful occasion—Sister White was taken in vision. After coming out she walked up and down in the tent, appearing in great perplexity, and repeating these words several times: “This country is to be deluged with blood.” It was a startling prophecy to all present, for political men were saying that the prospect of war would soon be over. But God knew otherwise, and her words proved true, for soon fathers and sons had to stand the draft and were sent to the battle front; and the time came when our whole country was in mourning for the loss of sons.
Another vision, which has always been of the deepest interest to me was in Sister White’s own room in Battle Creek. She sometimes differed in judgment even with her associate workers, and at this time their opinion varied somewhat over a situation which had arisen, and the matter was so intense to her that she fainted under the pressure. She was laid on the bed and Brother White, much alarmed, sent for Elder J. N. Loughborough and others to pray. While prayer was being offered—we were all kneeling about her—Elder White exclaimed, “She’s gone!” He thought that she was dead. But at that very instant he saw a gentle movement of her hand, and, showing great relief, he said, “She’s in vision!” By this vision the matter that was so difficult to understand was made clear, and God’s instruction through her was accepted by His people.
It is not easy for one to describe the influence of the Holy Spirit upon an individual, but all of Sister White’s experiences were appropriate and harmonious, and in no way apocryphal. She was quick to discern between the right and the wrong. Eternity only will reveal the influence she has had in saving souls.
In the old church in Battle Creek, before the tabernacle was first built, Sister White at one time arose to address the meeting concerning some who were too critical of one another because of differences of doctrine. While speaking she walked back and forth on the platform, earnestly appealing to the people, and pressing the question as to whether they had hold of the silken cord of love. Suddenly the sound went through the audience as if she had dropped to the floor, but immediately it was apparent that she was wrapped in a vision of God’s glory. What she saw was short and to the point, and sealed the truth of what she had been saying against the criticism prevalent. Her reproofs on such occasions might seem to have been severe, but she always ended with cheering encouragement to those who would obey the counsel of God.
A vision was given Sister White at Brother Aaron Hilliard’s in Otsego. This was in 1863. Brother White had been laboring under heavy discouragements. One Friday morning he invited some of his friends in Battle Creek to go with him to Otsego for a Sabbath meeting, for there was a tent effort at that place.
Friday evening we found ourselves all assembled at Brother Hilliard’s for family worship, about a dozen being present. A chapter was read and Sister White led in prayer, Brother White kneeling across the corner from her. Her burden in prayer was for him, and as she prayed, while still on her knees, she moved over to his side, laid her hands on his shoulders, and prayed until she was taken in vision. This lasted for about three quarters of an hour. At this time she was given the light on the health reform. Brother White also was greatly blessed and encouraged, and he was relieved of the burden of discouragement that he had been carrying.
Sister White loved the cause she served from her girlhood days. She loved the schools and the Sabbath schools which prepared the young people for missionary work; she loved the sanitarium for their promotion of health; she loved the church memorials built in His name; she loved the printed page which ever tells of the cross of Christ. The cross of Christ was her favorite theme. Her constant association with the atmosphere of heaven and with God’s Holy Word gave her a delineation of character far beyond human standards. She talked with Jesus, and He entrusted her with His messages of truth and love. The law of kindness was in her heart; she was thoughtful and considerate of those less fortunate than herself. She loved the fields, the trees, the flowers, and nature in all its beautiful forms had a charm for her.
Those best acquainted with her work have the most confidence in it. When she made her first visit to our old home in New York, she made a little appeal to our family. At first my brothers and sisters manifested some prejudice, and assembled in a room by themselves. As she ceased speaking, I went to them and said, “It makes no difference how anyone feels; I know that she is a woman of God.”
I am now nearly ninety-two years old and am the only living member of the first organized Seventh-day Adventist church in Buck’s Bridge, New York, about a mile from father Byington’s farm, St. Joseph, Michigan, November 24, 1925—the sixty-fifth anniversary of her marriage to George Amadon. She was nearly 103 years old when she died. Review and Herald, May 18, 1944.
Pioneers Authors, 1984, J.N. Loughborough, In Heavenly Visions, part 2, 123–125.