Mrs. E. G. White's Claims to Divine Inspiration Examined
By H.E. Carver
At the solicitation of friends who are partially acquainted with the circumstances of the case, and under a sense of duty, I take up my pen to state in my own plain and unvarnished way the reasons why I cannot believe in the divine inspiration of Mrs. E. G. White. It is far from being a pleasant thing for me to expose the errors and wrongs of any one, but more especially those who are connected so intimately with what I regard as great and important Bible truths, as are Elder and Mrs. White; and I have long debated the question in my own mind whether it is my duty to raise my voice of warning, feeble though it may be, and thus in any degree hinder their efforts in behalf of the truths they hold and advocate, or whether it would be better to be silent as to what I know of them, and thus let them unrebuked mingle their unjustifiable claims to divine inspiration with the precious truths of the Bible. I have even proposed to Eld. J. N. Andrews, a man well qualified to do justice to the subject, and whom I, as well as Eld. White and wife, have held in high respect for many years, to enter into a written discussion of the subject, in which I would give him my reasons for rejecting the visions and for him to reply; but Eld. A. declined, alleging as a reason the want of time. Subsequently I repeated this proposition to the authorities at Battle Creek, to which they have paid no attention. I did this in good faith, being well assured that if any reasons were indeed insufficient, Elder Andrews was fully qualified to make that fact appear. In view of the fact that Eld. White has been pleased to say within the past two years that they regretted my loss more than any that have left their ranks, I think I have given them ample opportunity to meet my objections, and, if possible, remove them, and thus obviate the necessity of this pamphlet appearing before the public.
It is claimed by our S.D. Adventist brethren that those who come out in opposition to the visions, do so in consequence of some fault, sin, or idol, held by them, and which are reproved or corrected by the visions. I can truly say that this does not apply in my case, for I do not remember of one practical duty that was enjoined upon us by vision whilst I was among them that did not run in harmony with my own mind. I never was a tobacco user in any form, gave up the habitual use of tea and coffee about eight years ago, have entirely discarded the use of pork, and nearly so of all other kinds of meats, and, indeed, I am decidedly in favor of the Health Reform. I was never reproved in any way, or on any account, by Mrs. White, either by vision or otherwise, but have reason to believe that I enjoyed the full confidence of both Eld. and Mrs. White. It will appear as the following pages are read that instead of being prompted by any such motive I was forced by accumulating evidence not only to give up my long cherished hope that the visions of Mrs. White would be vindicated, but also my confidence in the Christian integrity of both Elder White and wife.
When I first became fully convinced of the binding obligation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment upwards of ten years ago and attached myself to the people now called Seventh Day Adventists, I did so with a full knowledge of Mrs. White's claim to divine inspiration. The subject of the Sabbath had, for a number of years, troubled my mind, and when Eld. Waggoner pitched his tent at Iowa City, I resolved that I would give the subject a thorough examination, and if I was convinced of my duty to keep the seventh day Sabbath, I would do so. The result was as I have stated, and I have never had the slightest occasion since to regret the step I then took. My previous Advent experience of many years predisposed me to receive their theory of the Three [Angels'] Messages of Rev. 14, as well as that of the Two Horned Beast of Rev. 13, without sufficient investigation, as I have since learned; but for years I fully believed it. Being thus in perfect union with the brethren on these main points, and as faith in the visions was not made a test of fellowship among us then, I felt very favorably disposed towards them, from the fact that Eld. and Mrs. White were so intimately connected with what I then believed to be the correct Advent theory; and for several years my efforts were directed to the strengthening of my own confidence, as well as that of others with whom I was connected, in the visions. Believing as I did that the theory of the Three [Angels'] Messages was correct, I could only wish that a point of such great importance as the claim of the presence of divine inspiration among us should be fully vindicated by adequate results, and to this end I waited and watched, and hoped, but as the sequel proved, in vain.
As has already been remarked, the visions were not at that time made a test among us, nor were they made a topic of public investigation, at least here in Iowa. In one of the S. D. Adventist publications, however, it was claimed that among other things the visions were given to correct those who should err from Bible truth. This attracted attention and created alarm in the mind of one of our number, Eld. S. Everett, who saw in this the germ of that unscriptural and oppressive hierarchy that now reigns over the consciences of our S. D. Adventist brethren. Bro. Everett entered his protest against this claim of the visions, and faithfully warned us of the result. The brethren could not believe that such would ever be the case, and were much tried with him on account of his course.
At this point Eld. Cornell appeared amongst us, and attempted to settle the agitation produced by Bro. Everett's efforts against the visions. In prosecuting the case against Bro. E., Eld. Cornell manifested a most unkind, hasty, and unchristian spirit, which was a source of grief to the entire church, and which I took upon myself to communicate to Mrs. White. After having received this information from me, she published in the next "Testimony" that she had been shown that Eld. Cornell had acted hastily in Bro. Everett's case. The reader will readily perceive that this was not calculated to strengthen my confidence in the visions, but as I fully believed in their theory of the Messages, &c., and consequently that they were the peculiar if not the exclusive, people of God, I did my best to crush down the uprising of unbelief, and acquiesce in the situation.
Such was my state of mind at the time of the organization of the church at Pilot Grove, Iowa, at which I was present and desired to become a member. But as I could not express a full belief in the inspiration of the visions of Mrs. White, it was thought best that I should not become a member at that time, although I enjoyed then and afterwards the confidence and sympathy of all the brethren. Deeply interested in the prosperity of the cause I had espoused, I communicated all the facts in the case to Eld. White and wife, and expected from them instructions or advice as to my case; but nothing was received until the next vision was published, wherein she says she saw that a wrong use was being made of her visions in Iowa. Here, then, were two instances in which she claimed to see in vision things that I had communicated to her myself. And yet my attachment to the main points of our theory was strong enough to close my eyes to the folly of her claims to divine inspiration.
During a visit to our church, Eld. White and wife spent a portion of their time in the family of a brother with whom I was intimately connected, and there witnessed some of his peculiarities of demeanor, and which she afterwards wrote to him as having seen them in vision, but which in fact were apparent to any one who happened to spend a few hours in the household, and of which we were all aware from our own observation.
The fourth and last case concerning individuals which has come under my personal observation or knowledge, and which involves the inspiration of a vision, is that of two members of the Pilot Grove church, the nature of which it is not necessary to mention. This case produced a great commotion and trial in the church, which was not quieted until a vision was received from Mrs. White, in which she saw that the brother involved in the case, and who had been dismissed from the church, should resume his place in it. This brother, in kindly attempting afterwards to win me back to my allegiance to Eld. and Mrs. White, referred to his own case as a remarkable and indisputable evidence of the divine inspiration of the visions; for, said he, "she saw my case in vision." I told him I thought Mrs. White knew of the case before she had the vision. This he denied. I then told him that the other party implicated with him had positively asserted in the presence of my family that Mrs. White did know all about it, for the entire case had been written out and sent to her. These parties were then, and are now, believers in the visions.
Such facts as these could not but make some impression upon my mind, and give me some uneasiness; but I tried hard to repress such feelings on account of my attachment to the true advent theory, as I thought they held it, and so the time passed until the rebellion of the Southern States broke out. As this unhappy and wicked rebellion progressed, and volunteering into the army fell off, the question as to what would be duty in case of being drafted naturally presented itself to my mind, and became a subject of absorbing interest. Being conscientiously opposed to Christians fighting with carnal weapons, and believing that the church, as a church, ought to occupy the same position, I urged that the question should be discussed in the columns of the Review so we could come to some unity of views and action. To this it was objected that the office was already in danger of destruction by the war element of the community, and it was necessary to act with great caution. This was expressed by Eld. White when he and his wife were at the council at Lisbon, Iowa. An article appeared in the Review from the pen of Eld. White, in which he took the position that to engage in war would necessarily involve the violation of two of the commandments of God, but that in case of being drafted the government would assume the responsibility of such violation. Such a puerile subterfuge coming from a source so intimately related to the professed prophetess of the church operated as a severe blow against her divine inspiration, and more especially as Mrs. White found it necessary to come out in the paper with an apology for her husband, in which, later stating that something had to be said upon the subject, she said it was the best light they had. According to the Elder's position, the three Hebrew children would have been justifiable in worshipping the golden image, and permitting the government of Nebuchadnezzar to assume the responsibility of their violation of the second commandment, and thus escape the ordeal of the fiery furnace; or perhaps he was preparing the way to obey the decree of the two horned beast, and let that government bear the responsibility of his violation of the fourth commandment. At any rate the publication of such a sentiment by the husband of one who claims that her visions are given to correct those who err from Bible truth, bore heavily in my mind against her claims to divine inspiration.
The whole church was anxiously and prayerfully desirous to know what was duty at that crisis, and it did seem that the time had come if it ever was to come for the divine inspiration of Mrs. White to be demonstrated. True, an attempt was made to gain some credit for her by publishing a vision of the battle of Bull Run after it was fought and the result known, but the attempt was so ludicrously absurd that it was, I believe, never repeated. She could describe the battle of Bull Run after it occurred, but she could not tell us beforehand of Sherman's triumphant march through rebeldom, of Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox, or of our much beloved and lamented President's assassination. She could not even give us any instructions how to act in case of being drafted until it was too late to be of service.
She did, however, claim to have visions during the war, one of the principal items of which related to the proper length of the sisters' dresses; and upon this subject, plain and simple as it may seem, her instructions to the sister have been contradictory; at one time directing them to wear dresses that would clear the filth of the streets an inch or two and anon directing that they do not reach the ground by 8 or 9 inches. I do not claim that these instructions were both given by vision, but shall have more to say on the dress question in another connection.
The convictions and feelings of the brethren here in Iowa being averse to Christians engaging in war, and believing it to be proper and necessary to acquaint the civil authorities of this fact, in the early stage of the war, took measures to accomplish this object; and accordingly Elder B. F. Snook aided by Eld. J. H. Waggoner, prepared a petition to the civil government of our State, asking to be considered as noncombatants. This petition was circulated among the brethren for signatures, and then forwarded to the seat of government. This action of ours, unknown and of course unsanctioned by the leaders at Battle Creek, has since been stigmatized by them as fanaticism. But the fact is very carefully ignored that Eld. Waggoner, who stands high in their estimation, was one of the leaders in the movement. Whether it was fanaticism in us to take our stand on this subject at the beginning of the war, and thus aid in some slight degree in procuring the enactment of a law exempting noncombatants from bearing arms, instead of coward-like waiting, as our Battle Creek brethren did, till, through the exertions of others, the exemption law was passed, and then claim the benefit of that law, we leave our readers to judge. In view of the facts in the case, the charge of fanaticism, coming from the source it does, falls harmless to the ground.
What seems more remarkable, and to which I call special attention, is the fact that through all the stirring and important events of the war, and the agitation in our ranks in regard to duty in the matter, not a word of advice or instruction emanated from the prophetess of the church as being given in vision, so far as my memory serves me, nothing that I recollect, only that our action here in Iowa was "fanaticism." This fact alone, if there were no others, would prove to my mind that her claims to divine inspiration are not to be credited; for when, I ask, did it ever occur in the lifetime of any of the prophets of God that the church was brought into as close and straight a place as we were in the late war, and notwithstanding earnest and repeated solicitations of divine aid, the prophet fail to give the necessary information and instruction? But this is not the only instance, as we shall see, wherein the prophetess of the S. D. Adventist church has failed to give the necessary instructions at some important crisis in the history of that church.
I wish here to give a brief history of what is called the "Rebellion in Iowa," the object being to illustrate a point regarding the claim of divine inspiration for Mrs. White. In the spring of 1865, Elder B. F. Snook, feeling restive under the reign of the regime at Battle Creek, and probably very doubtful of the visions, wrote a letter to Eld. Ingraham, proposing to him to act independently of the Battle Creek authorities in proclaiming the truths of the Bible. This letter was placed in the hands of Eld. White at a meeting in Wisconsin, who endorsed on the back in substance this: "Rebellion in Iowa," and immediately wrote to Elder Snook, informing him of what he knew, and stating that his (Eld. Snook's) case would be attended to at the Pilot Grove Conference, soon to convene. He also wrote to Eld. Brinkerhoff that he had evidence in his possession of Eld. Snook's rebellion, and wishing him, Eld. B., to be present at the Conference. In view of the anticipated trial, these two ministers prepared themselves for their defense by collecting evidence against the visions; and thus armed they attended the Conference. It is not necessary to relate the incidents of that Conference, or the influences brought to bear upon Elder S. and B., resulting in their surrender. Suffice it to say that although Eld. White utterly refused to enter into a discussion of the merits of the visions until the other Elders had capitulated, he solemnly pledged himself not to leave Iowa till every point of difficulty was made plain, and every objection to the visions removed; and thus the matter was temporarily arranged.
In her report of this matter, Mrs. White is particular to state that they (her husband and self) were deeply impressed that they must come to Iowa, and that they knew nothing of the rebellion here till a few hours before they met its leaders face to face at Pilot Grove; thus leading the church at large to regard her as being led here by divine inspiration; and doubtless such was the influence of her report upon the minds of those who did not know that at least two weeks previously her husband had endorsed upon the back of that letter -- "Rebellion in Iowa." In regard to the facts connected with the letter, Elder White is my authority, for he related to me the incidents I have named.
In pursuance of his pledge, Elder and Mrs. White visited the church here at Marion, but entered into no public vindication of the visions; and I have reason to think that the greatest efforts that were privately made were for my own benefit; for nearly all the time spent here was at my house; and during their stay, I devoted my time and attention exclusively to the object of their visit. Elders Snook and Brinkerhoff had procured from the East some of the earliest publications of Elders White and Bates, and those portions relating to the "shut door theory" had made a deep impression on my mind, calling up old associations, when I, too, was a believer in that error. Seeing that the early visions ran in perfect harmony with that theory, I asked them whether Mrs. White was a believer in the shut door doctrine at the time of her first vision, hoping that the answer would be in the negative, in which case it would seem that there was no correspondence between her faith and the vision. The answer, however, was in the affirmative, and then Elder White remarked, "Bro. Carver, I will make an admission to you I would not make to a sharp opponent. Considering the circumstances of the case it would not be strange if they should give a coloring to the vision." He then related the circumstances. At the time of the vision the Advent band in Portland, Maine, were divided, some having denied their experience and become nominal Adventists, and some holding on to their experience, and the shut door view. The latter class met at her father's house, and she was one of them, and believed in the shut door, and besides, was young at the time. These are the circumstances he voluntarily admitted might have given coloring to the vision, Mrs. White at the same time sitting by and assenting to his statements.
Elder Loughborough, who was present, in attempting subsequently to explain away Elder White's admission, stated that the vision under consideration was one given at Exeter, at which time they were laboring for the conversion of sinners. This is a misstatement of the Elder's, for I did not know that she had a vision at Exeter at all. My question distinctly related to her first vision, in which she claims to be shown the travels of the Advent people, and I wished to know if she was a believer in the shut door at that time.
I wish here to give an extract from the pen of Elder White, published in a pamphlet called A Word to the Little Flock, in 1847.
However true this extract may be in relation to reveries, it is not true in regard to the visions, for the author does not obtain the sentiments of her visions from previous teaching or study. When she received her first vision, Dec., 1844, she and all the band in Portland, Maine, (where her parents then resided) had given up the midnight-cry and shut door as being in the past. It was then that the Lord showed her in vision the error into which she and the band in Portland had fallen. She then related her vision to the band, and about sixty confessed their error and acknowledged their 7th month experience to be the work of God.
The reader will readily perceive that those two statements cannot both be true, and whatever of falsehood will attach to Elder White in making these contradictory statements will also involve his wife, for she was present and assented to his statement to me; and it is but reasonable to believe that she assented to his statement in the book. He stated to me that at the time of her first vision she was a believer in the shut door view, whilst in the book he affirms that at that time she was not, although he admits she had previously been one, and the vision was given to bring her and others back upon the same position, which it accomplished. Now, Elder and Mrs. White, or their apologist, Uriah Smith, may take whichever horn of this dilemma they please. In regard to this shut door error I will speak more fully in another part of this work.
Elder and Mrs. White having failed to fulfill their pledge given at the Conference, the minds of the brethren and sisters were left in a unsettled and dissatisfied state after their departure from this State, and a very unkind, contemptuous thrust of Elder White's against Eld. Snook just on the eve of departure being communicated to the latter, again aroused his opposition. The circumstance was this: The evening before they left, being at the house of Bro. Hare, Eld. White, in the midst of a room full of the brethren and sisters, in a contemptuous manner stigmatized Eld. Snook as nothing but a "church pauper." This remark, unkind and unjust as all the church then knew it to be, was by some one reported to Eld. Snook, and convinced him that Eld. White's pretended reconciliation and friendship was not real, but assumed; and of course this did not tend to calm the still troubled mind of the church. Brother Hinton, of Toledo, who was present, afterwards remarked that it made his blood run cold to hear Eld. White speak so of Eld. Snook.
All this time, however, the brethren were firm believers in the S. D. Adventist view of the Three [Angels'] Messages, &c., and consequently felt no disposition to leave a church built upon that theory; but the expectation began to gain ground that the church would be relieved of the vision incubus that had fastened upon it, and thus freed go on in increasing prosperity and influence, till the consummation of our hope at the Lord's coming. This expectation, however, was doomed to a disappointment, for it was not long till Eld. Brinkerhoff, who had been investigating the Message and Two-horned Beast theory, came out in opposition to it. This, of course, caused quite a commotion amongst us, which resulted in a public discussion between Eld. B., who was supported by Eld. Snook, and Eld. W. S. Ingraham, supported by Elders Sanborn and R. F. Andrews. The discussion, which elicited much interest outside as well as inside the church, was abruptly terminated by Elder Ingraham refusing to continue it any longer, notwithstanding the almost unanimous request of a crowded audience that he should do so. Instead of this he called for a private meeting of all who were in sympathy with the views as held by them, when a new church was organized, leaving a majority of the old church out; and this is the way we became a distinct church.
Since that time my personal experience in regard to the visions has been slight, until January 1868, when a correspondence on that subject commenced between Bro. W. H. Ball, of Washington, N.H., and myself, the substance and result of which I will relate. In order to understand the matter, however, it will necessary for me to state briefly the circumstances leading to it. In the spring of 1863, my wife, in a dream, saw a company of people wearing short dresses and pants, and was impressed with the idea that the S. D. Adventist sisters (of which she was one) would have to wear such a style to distinguish them from the world. This dream she related among the sisters, not however with the least expectation of ever seeing it realized in fact, as nothing of the kind was thought of in the church, but merely as a singular dream. When Mrs. White was here in the summer of 1865, my wife related it to her, remarking that she thought in her dream that if such a style of dress should be adopted she could go no farther with them. This brought out the remark from Mrs. W. that she need not give herself the least uneasiness, that the short dress would never be adopted by them, that they despised it at Battle Creek. This remark was in substance repeated by Eld. White, at the same time that the remark was made about Eld. Snook, already related. I wish those facts kept in mind, as I shall have further use for them hereafter.
When the present style of dress was adopted and
worn by our
In the winter of 1867-8 Eld. and Mrs. White, Eld. Andrews, and others, held a series of meetings at the place of Bro. Ball's residence, Washington, N.H., and, upon calling for those who objections to the visions to present them, Bro. Ball read my account of my wife's dream as contradicting their present position. Bro. B. reports Mrs. White as seeming "very much surprised," and saying that "she never heard any thing about Sr. Carver's having a dream concerning this matter before" -- said she had some conversation with Sr. C. upon this subject -- said there was a sister living near us who had adopted a style of dress that did not reach the knee by some six inches -- said this was the dress Sr. C. was speaking against, and the one of which she said "we'll never put it on, we despise it in Battle Creek." She also stated that Sister Carver and daughter had, at the time of this conversation, short dresses, similar to those now worn by S. D. Adventists, in which they did their dirty work. Little did Mrs. W. suppose that her assertions made away in New Hampshire would ever reach our ears out here in Iowa, else she would have been more careful how she uttered such gross misstatements, especially that relating to my wife's dress, which does not contain a shade even of truth. Upon receiving this letter I applied to some of my S. D. Adventist friends here to correct this false statement, and they gave me the following certificate:
I immediately wrote to Bro. B. correcting Mrs. White's misstatements, and also wrote to Mrs. W. and to Eld. Andrews in regard to the matter. I did not hear from Mrs. W. directly, but Eld. Andrews wrote to me, enclosing a copy of a letter from Mrs. W. to Bro. Ball, explaining and correcting his statements. In regard to my wife wearing a short dress, she said she thought my wife told her so. In regard to the dream she says she will not deny that the dream may have been related to her, but if so she forgot it, as she had no recollection of it. I might enlarge on these two points, and show the discrepancies in her attempted explanations, but perhaps it is not necessary. I will merely remark that a person who can so distinctly remember language that she never heard, and not recollect remarks that she actually did hear, must have a remarkably eccentric memory, and the more so as Mrs. White's assertions were made in public, and were adapted, if not designed, to discredit my wife's statements, and destroy the influence of the facts involved.
In regard to a sister near us wearing a dress six inches above the knee, she says Bro. Ball is mistaken, as she referred to Miss Harriet N. Austin, of Dansville. Her language is as follows:
I said Miss Austin of Dansville wore her dress very short, and pointed to my own person to show how short. My husband spoke, "Six inches above the knee." I said I think it is about that.
Bro. Ball, commenting on this correction, in his second letter, remarks as follows:
I am generally considered very cautious in making statements, and cannot conceive how it is possible that I should mistake Sr. W. concerning Sr. H.'s dress. Had I relied wholly upon memory in stating the matter to you, it would not have appeared so strange had I mistaken Sr. W.'s testimony. But having paper and pencil in hand when the statement was made, I immediately noted it down. For this reason I can hardly be made to believe but that she said it was Sr. H. that wore her dress six inches above the knee, even if Miss Austin was meant.
Having requested Bro. Ball to procure other testimony corroborative of his statements of what Mrs. White said, he replied,
You must excuse me, dear brother, from complying with your request. Not but that I think such testimony might be obtained, but you know it would be very unpleasant to ask the brethren to bear a testimony that would tell against Sister White. I do not say but that I might have misunderstood Sr. W., but can hardly see how it could have been.
Elder J. N. Andrews, however, who was also present, has given me his certificate that Mrs. White's correction of Bro. Ball's statement is correct. Subsequently I endeavored to unravel the mystery of these contradictory statements, but Bro. B., who was at that time inclined in favor of the visions (and which he now endorses) did not respond to my inquiries, hence I must leave it in its present shape, merely remarking that as Mrs. White's and Eld. Andrews' statements agree, I think Bro. B. must be mistaken.
According then to their statements, Elder White and wife are both involved in this matter; they agree in representing Miss H. N. Austin, Editor of the Laws of Life, and one of the physicians at Dr. Jackson's Institute at Dansville, N.Y., as wearing a dress that does not extend to the knee by some six inches. Having already detected them in making misstatements, I thought that possibly this might be one; hence I wrote to Miss Austin, calling her attention to the statement of Mr. and Mrs. White, and asking for the facts in the case. In response I received the following:
I confess I was startled at the receipt of this note, and shocked at the depth of iniquity to which Eld. White and wife had descended, if Dr. Austin had told me the truth; and the tone of the note was such as to assure me of this. I thought of applying to her for some means of demonstrating the correctness of her statement, and really wished that I had her photograph. While contemplating this, however, I wrote to Eld. Andrews, giving him a copy of Miss A.'s note, and commenting in severe terms on the conduct of Mr. and Mrs. White. To this he replied with the evidence purpose of helping them out of the difficulty in which they were involved; and enclosed in his letter I was surprised and pleased to find a full length photograph likeness of Miss Austin in her short dress and pants, and which the Elder had taken the pains to have copied for me from one he received from the physicians at Dansville, in 1864, when he with Eld. White and wife were there. I could not help thanking Bro. Andrews for his favor, for when I am interested in a subject, I like to investigate it clear through; and here was an exact representation of the dress she wore when Elder White and wife were there.
I also received a similar one from Eld. J. H. Waggoner, with a request to measure the figure and mark the proportions of the person. This I did, and the result demonstrated that the dress reaches below the knee. I will give my mode of examination, that others may judge for themselves. From the heel to the bottom of the dress is just one-fourth the entire height of the person. Now let anyone take a cord and double it twice, making four double, and it will be found that it will not reach from the floor to the knee by several inches.
Thus it is demonstrated that Elder White and wife have been circulating what I have feel compelled to regard as a "malicious falsehood." This has been objected to as harsh, and the question will naturally arise, What evil object can they have in making such a statement? I think the facts below will answer that question, but leave all to judge for themselves.
At the time Eld. White and wife, and Eld. Andrews, were at Dr. Jackson's "Home" in 1864, at a Health Convention held there, Elder White made this remark in substance: "If we cannot produce a better style of dress reform than that worn here, you may expect to see my wife dressed in your style." My authority for making this statement is Elder J. N. Andrews, who was present, and who related it to me at the Iowa Conference in the spring of 1868. This remark of Eld. W., made in a public meeting, shows that it was his design at that time to get up a health reform, unless, indeed, we credit him with imbecility of mind, in making such a statement, which no one who knows him will do.
At the termination of that same visit, when about to leave Dr. Jackson's, Mrs. White stated to the Dr. and family "that she wished him to understand she did not consider herself indebted to him for what she knew of the Health Reform, for she received it from a higher source." This was stated by Mrs. White herself, before the brethren and sisters at a Conference at Pilot Grove, Iowa, and it proves that she, in connection with her husband, had determined to get up a new Health Reform, based on the claim of divine inspiration; and subsequent events prove that such was the intention. Such being the case, and a rival Health Institute established, to what other motive than that of building up their own establishment by depreciating that of Dr. Jackson's would induce the Elder and wife to make such false statements about Miss Austin's dress, for it would be enough to disgust any sensible person who could be made to believe that such a style of dress as six inches above the knee was tolerated at the Dr.'s Institute.
I now call attention particularly to the following facts. Eld. and Mrs. White represent Miss Austin's dress as six inches above the knee, and yet, according to Eld. Andrews Eld. W. pledged himself that upon certain contingencies his wife would wear that style. That was in 1864. Eight or nine months afterwards, in the summer of 1865, Elder White and wife, here in Iowa, when questioned by the brethren and sisters, utterly repudiated any style of short dress as being despised in Battle Creek. Mrs. White was wearing a dress of ordinary length, and represented it as being in accordance with their faith, while her husband remarked that a few of the sisters at Battle Creek had made their dresses an inch or two shorter than usual to do their dirty work in, but if they saw any one coming they would send off up stairs and change, for they would not be seen in it -- they despised it. Now, if they expressed their real intention at Dansville, in 1864, as events since prove they did, then they used gross deception and duplicity here amongst the brethren and sisters in repudiating all styles of short dress in 1865.
There were other objections that Bro. B. presented against the visions, one of which was their contradictory teachings concerning pork eating. In my response I gave him a copy of an extract from a letter of instructions from Mrs. White to a sister in Iowa. It is as follows:
Dear Sister Curtis: -- I felt sorry for you as I read your letter. I believe you to be in error. The Lord showed me two or three years since that the use of swine's flesh was no test. Dear sister, if it is your husband's wish to use swine's flesh you should be perfectly clear to use it.
The letter from which this is an extract, was written a number of years ago and corresponds with what Mrs. White professed in Testimony No. 5 to have seen. She says:
I saw that you had mistaken notions about afflicting your bodies, depriving yourselves of nourishing food. Some have gone too far in the eating question. They have taken a rigid course, and lived so very plain that their health has suffered. I saw that God did not require any one to take a course of such rigid economy as to weaken or injure the temple of God. All this is outside of the word of God. If this is a duty of the church to abstain from swine's flesh God will discover it to more than two or three. A fanatical spirit is with you. You are deceived.
Brother and Sister Curtis were among my most intimate friends for many years, and as we lived side by side a portion of the time, I knew some of the circumstances connected with the vision instruction given above. Sister Curtis was a very conscientious woman, and becoming satisfied (long before any movement was made in that direction by Eld. and Mrs. White) that pork-eating was injurious, she tried to banish it from the table. This produced trouble. Sister C. was a sincere believer in Mrs. White's divine inspiration, and from the extract given above, it appears that she must have written to her for instructions, which she received as above; and that professedly through vision. At the time of the Conference in 1865, Bro. Curtis had the original letter, and promised it to Eld. Snook; but when Eld. White learned that it was in existence, he demanded and obtained possession of it, but not without Bro. C. promising Elder S. a copy of that part relating to the pork question. Bro. Curtis also stated that Eld. White had endorsed on the back of the letter the following in substance:
To show that these professed visions were in perfect harmony with the views and practice of the church at that time, I will present the following from the pen of Uriah Smith in 1858:
From the evidence before us it will be perceived that twelve years ago the teachings and practice of S. D. Adventists were decidedly in favor of pork eating, and this practice was justified by the professedly divine inspiration of Mrs. White. The present teachings may be briefly summed up in the following assertion of Mrs. White: "God never designed the swine to be eaten under any circumstances." Mrs. White claims to be divinely inspired in banishing swine's flesh from use as an article of food, and yet twelve years ago if not later, she claimed divine inspiration in justifying its use, and moreover, used it herself.
We have no objection to any one advancing in knowledge in any laudable direction, and we especially commend our S.D.A. brethren for repudiating the use of swine's flesh as not being a very healthy article of food; but when we see a person like Mrs. White claiming divine inspiration on a subject that had been most clearly elucidated in the writings of Graham, Fowler and Wells, Drs. Trall, Jackson, and others, many years before she ever adopted the Health Reform, and at a time when she, professedly by divine inspiration, was pursuing a directly opposite course, we should feel condemned if we should charge such absurd and contradictory teachings upon the God of heaven; hence we must reject the claims of Mrs. White as spurious. As we have already stated, Mrs. White claimed in Dr. Jackson's presence divine inspiration as the source of her knowledge on the Health Reform. What then must have been the Doctor's estimate of her divine inspiration, when a few months afterwards she took her prostrated husband to his Institute for treatment! The Elder and his wife, while enjoying the hospitality of Dr. Jackson's Home, had been concocting a rival Health Reform, and upon departing had indulged in an attempted triumph over him, and then in a short time were completely humiliated at the Dr.'s feet.
I wish now to present to the reader another item brought out in Bro. Ball's letter to me. He states that one objection which he presented at that meeting against her divine inspiration, was the "Camden Vision." In response to this he represents her as saying that "she knew nothing about it, and could not say whether it was genuine or not unless she saw it in her own handwriting." It is not my purpose here to discuss the doctrines of that vision: this I shall do when the "Shut Door" error is under consideration; but my object is to bring out the stubborn facts in the case that prove that Mrs. White is guilty of dishonesty in making statements. The above statement of Mrs. White, that she knew nothing about the "Camden Vision," was made at Washington, N.H., in 1867. Two years pervious to that time, in 1865, the church here at Marion were very much troubled in regard to a printed document that had been sent here from the East, called the "Camden Vision," and one of the brethren wrote to Eld. Loughborough, who was then with Eld. and Mrs. White, at Rochester, N.Y., inquiring in reference to its genuineness. Eld. L. wrote in reply:
Here we see that in 1865 she admitted to Eld. L. and through him to us that there were a few things in that vision which she saw, and yet afterwards, when replying to Bro. Ball, she professed entire ignorance of it. But this is not all. The "Camden Vision," among others of the earlier publications of Elder White, Bates, &c., bearing on the "shut door" question, had been sent to Elders S. and B. to prepare them for their defense at the Conference held in June of the same year; and after their surrender at that time, when at a private conference between Eld. White and wife and Eld. Snook, the subject of the "Camden Vision" was under consideration, Elder White and wife admitted its genuineness, but claimed that it had only a local application. Here, then, in the summer of 1865, the genuineness of that vision is fully conceded, in the winter following it is partially admitted, and in 1867 utterly repudiated. How, I ask, can any confidence be placed in the truthfulness of any persona acting in this way, especially one who claims so near a relation to Almighty God?
I wish here to notice another point in Bro. Ball's communication. The opinion had gained ground among us that the original practice among the brethren of observing the Sabbath from 6 o'clock to 6 o'clock instead of from sunset to sunset had been confirmed by a vision; and this was stated in some of our publications. Bro. Ball raised this as an objection, but the statements and explanations given satisfied him it was an error, and he so stated to me. I told him if he would furnish me with the evidence I would correct the mistake through our paper, and I subsequently gave the following statements in its columns:
In commenting on this account of that affair, Eld. Waggoner, in the Review, raises two points of objection, one in reference to a matter of fact, and the other of application. He says that the vision given to Mrs. White in 1855 was not that sunset time was the right time to commence the Sabbath, but was precisely similar to her first one with the additional injunction to search the Scriptures to learn what it means. It was not my intention to misrepresent Mrs. White in the slightest particular, and I can only account for my inadvertent expression in this way. Eld. White, in giving his statement of the matter, had claimed credit for the vision as the means of bringing "Eld. Bates and some others (who were not satisfied with the Bible argument) into harmony with the body who were satisfied with the evidence." This was the idea in my mind, and would have been more clearly expressed and more exactly correct, and harmonized perfectly with the entire account had I said "that vision satisfied them that sunset time was the right time." One singular feature of this circumstance is that the same identical vision of Mrs. White's, which in 1847 confirmed Eld. Bates in his six o'clock theory, served upon its repetition in 1855 to change him to a sunset advocate. Eld. W. seems to think I was unfortunate in my reference to the prophet Daniel being so speedily corrected when he made a mistake, from the fact that a period of fifteen years elapsed between the vision of the eighth chapter and that of the ninth. A slight examination will serve to show that the Eld. has missed his aim, which was to destroy the striking contrast between the case of Daniel and that of the S. D. Adventist prophetess. At the close of the eighth chapter the prophet says that "none understood it."
In the ninth chapter he tells us that he understood by books the prophecy of Jeremiah regarding the time of Jerusalem's desolations. During the interval of fifteen years between these two chapters the Babylonian Empire had been subverted, and that of the Medo-Persian established; and as in the prophecy these events are intimately associated with the return of the captivity, he expected the speedy enlargement of the nation, and I think his mistake consisted in supposing that their final deliverance under Messiah, or the Prince of princes, as shown to him in the vision of chapter 8, was included in the series of events about to transpire; hence he engaged with all the zeal of a prophet of God in earnest supplication in behalf of his people. And what was the result? Why, before he had finished his prayer an angelic messenger who had been commissioned to give him the needed instructions being caused to fly swiftly appears to him to communicate to him an understanding of the matter. The point I make is this: The prophet of God was not left to plead and plead under a mistaken idea, call conferences of his brethren, have them solicit instruction at the hand of God, who later making two or three efforts to enlighten them, but failing in consequence of the ignorance or obstinacy of one of their number, refers them at last to the written word.
Now the facts in the case of this modern prophetess are these: When Mrs. White received the Sabbath truth through Eld. Bates, she also, notwithstanding her asserted divine inspiration, received from him his erroneous six o'clock time. According to their own showing, God attempted in 1847 to correct the error, but the effort was frustrated by Eld. Bates. Again, two years later, when the subject was again under consideration, God again interfered in behalf of his truth (as they then thought); but the result was only to confirm them in their error for the next six years; and then in the third and last effort, and after the most of the church had renounced their error, all that was done was to refer them to the Bible for light from which the Seventh Day Baptists had many years before learned that sunset was the proper time to commence the Sabbath. This is another and striking illustration of the fact before alluded to that the prophetess of the S. D. Adventist church has failed to give the necessary instructions at some important crisis in their history.
Another point in connection with this correspondence with Bro. Ball seems to demand attention before we leave the subject, tho' it is not intimately connected with the vision question. Bro. B. says, "Bro. and Sr. White spoke very highly of you and Sr. C. Bro. W. said they regretted your loss more than all the rest that had left their ranks. Said that you was too good a man to be engaged in such dirty work. Said also that Sr. Carver was a woman of very fine feelings, &c., &c. They spoke highly in your praise, and seemed to feel very bad for the course you had taken." I quote this to show the estimation in which Mrs. and Mrs. White professed to hold us at the time Bro. B. opened this correspondence, and to contrast it with a later expression contained in our correspondence; but before doing so I wish to say a word about "dirty work." Unpleasant and disagreeable as it unquestionably is, every one knows that it is necessary at times to engage in dirty work. The housekeeper, if she would appear tidy about the house, must occasionally engage in the "dirty work" of house cleaning. The mechanic, the farmer &c., must each have their seasons of dirty employment in the prosecution of their business; and it may be well considered the dirtiest and most unpleasant employment of one who considers himself a Christian, to expose the errors and dishonesty of his professed Christian brother or sister; but sometimes it is necessary to be done, and then the duty should not be evaded. Were Eld. White and wife occupying a humble, secluded position in the Christian church, I should consider it entirely outside of my line of duty to thus hold up their faults to the public gaze; but they claim to be not only the chosen leaders of the Lord's hosts, but also to stand in some sense between God and His people.
The other expression alluded to is this: Bro. Ball says, "One of our correspondents in a letter of a recent date remarks as follows; 'H. E. Carver is a man I have always respected. He is naturally a kind, fine, smart man. He has fallen, and is now employing his talents and influence in the low cunning of Satan.'" I allude to this for the reason that our S. D. Adventist brethren generally consider that those who give up their theories of the Three Messages, Two Horned Beast, &c., the visions and their connection with their church, are actually enlisted under the banner of Satan, no matter how faithful they may be to all the practical duties involved in the Christian life. Believing as they do that the Seventh Day Adventist church is preeminently if not exclusively the church of the living God, they must, to be consistent, consider those who leave them as being engaged in the enemy's work. It is perhaps as much their misfortune as their fault that they occupy such a selfish and exclusive position; it is but a modified though chronic form of that fanatical spirit that fastened upon a portion of the Advent people after our disappointment in 1844, in the "shut door" delusion.
Who this writer is I do not know, as Bro. Ball has not informed me; but he refers of course to my recent investigation into Elder and Mrs. White's course as developed in the correspondence, and in this he thinks I am doing the "low cunning work of Satan." As a reply to this I will give an extract from my reply to Bro. Ball.
We now come to the "shut door" error, and the first question that naturally arises is what is meant by the "shut door"? Uriah Smith, in treating on this subject, asserts and attempts to prove that the shut door doctrine as held by them and sustained by vision, does not and never did preclude the conversion and salvation of sinners. To those who are thoroughly acquainted with this subject from first to last, Editor Smith's lack of candor will be a striking feature of his late pamphlet put forth in behalf of the divine inspiration of Mrs. White. In that part relating to the "shut door" he writes in such a way as to leave a doubt upon the mind of the reader whether any person among the Adventists ever believed that the time for the salvation of sinners was past. This want of candor will appear more striking as we learn from indubitable evidence that not only did "some entertain this strong view," but that for years the main body of the church to which he belongs, including Mr. and Mrs. White, held that view as an important article of their creed. We now proceed to give the testimony proving the assertion we have just made, and first give some extracts from the writings of Wm. Miller.
He then quotes Dan. 12:10 and proceeds.
Such were the sentiments put forth by Bro. Miller shortly after the passing of the time in '44, and they were adopted quite extensively for awhile throughout the Advent ranks, and were finally incorporated into the theory of those who engaged in what they considered the Third Angel's Message.
We give the testimony of Eld. Jos. Bates:
The above needs no comment to show what was meant by the "shut door"; but we have the testimony of Eld. James White, equally as explicit. He says:
It may seem superfluous to offer any more evidence, yet we wish to present the combined testimony of nine of the ministers of the S. D. Adventist church placed upon record less than eight years ago touching the very point at issue.
The above is ample testimony to prove that the S. D. Adventist church, as a body, for years after 1844, did not believe in the possibility of the conversion and salvation of sinners, and yet Uriah Smith has the hardihood in the face of these facts to say that "some may perhaps have entertained the strong view" of the "shut door" above presented. Again he says, "IF it could be shown that men have believed and taught the shut door in its extremest sense, so much the better for the visions, if it should finally appear that they have not so taught."
To the above testimony we might add that of our own experience, for we have been all through the Advent experience of the last quarter of a century. We were among those who in '44 believed without a doubt that the Lord would come on the tenth day of the seventh month of that year, and with them met the severe disappointment. We were among those who embraced the shut door theory, and hence we only speak what we know to be true when we affirm that by the term "shut door" was meant that the probationary state for sinners was past. We can also bear testimony to the truth of the statement of those nine ministers, for well do we remember when, seventeen or eighteen years ago, our Advent band in Cincinnati was visited by Elders Holt, Case, and J. N. Andrews, who had no message or labor for any but those of the original Advent faith.
Now, cannot any one see that this is the very class of people of whom it can be consistently and truthfully said that they have or had no "travail of soul for sinners"? For if they believed the time for their salvation was past it would be impossible to engage in such a work; they could not do it, and did not do it for years.
And now having shown conclusively that at the time of Mrs. White's earlier visions the Advent people with whom she was associated understood the shut door view to teach the close of probation in 1844 to all except those then engaged in the Advent movement, we next proceed to inquire, Do the earlier visions of Mrs. White teach the same thing? Let it be borne in mind that we have already proved that she was at that time a believer in the shut door doctrine herself, and also from the testimony of ten competent witnesses that doctrine involved the end of probation to all except Adventists, with the exception, perhaps, of young children.
It will not be denied that her visions teach that a door was shut in 1844, but it is claimed that she also saw another door opened at the same time, and as Jesus entered into the Most Holy Place as a High Priest, that sinners may come to him at that open door and be saved. We know this is the modern view, but we have presented evidence amply sufficient to show that this was not the view entertained at the time of the earlier visions; and the question is: which theory do they harmonize with? The old or the new? We appeal now directly to the visions.
In a pamphlet published by James White in 1847, a copy of which is now before me, is published her first vision, in which she describes the Advent people as an on elevated path going towards the holy city, while the world is described as situated far below. The reader will not fail to notice that a division line is very distinctly drawn here between the Advent people and the world. She does not see a single individual on the path going to the city but Adventists which is in perfect harmony with the shut door view as understood at that time; and this principle holds good all through the vision. She describes some as growing weary of the long road to the city, and Jesus encouraging them; and says that "from his arm came a glorious light, which waved over the Advent band [still the Adventists exclusively] and they shouted Hallelujah. Others rashly denied the light behind them, &c. The light went out, leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and got their eyes off the mark and lost sight of Jesus, and fell off the path down in the dark and wicked world below. It was just as impossible for them to get on the path again and go to the city as all the wicked world which God had rejected."
Taking all the circumstances into consideration, and carefully studying the natural import of the language used, it would seem to any honest and candid mind that this vision teaches the shut door doctrine "in its extremest sense," as Uriah Smith states it; in fact that it can mean nothing else; and thus Eld. W. and his wife must have thought, or they would not have made the admission to me they did, nor expunged the obnoxious expression from a later edition of this vision.
We now come to the vision concerning False Reformations. In treating on this point in his late work Uriah Smith has again manifested a lack of candor. In quoting from the vision, on page 33, he quotes from Experience and Views, in which a portion of the original vision has been expunged. Why did he not quote from The Present Truth of Aug. 1849, which contains the entire vision? Why has he been so careful not to give the entire quotation in any one place in his book? After quoting that portion published in Experience and Views, he devotes five pages to explanations, without once informing the reader that an important item of the vision is left out. True, in the latter part of the book he attempts to break the force of the suppressed part; but even there he does not give the entire connection. This we will now do:
Here she professes to have been shown the false reformations that succeeded the shutting of the door in 1844, and that they would increase and spread; but instead of making men better they would be made worse, for those who professed to be converted had not been benefited in the least, but were just as blackhearted as ever; and then after saying she could not see the travail of soul for sinners as used to be, she gives the reason why; i.e., "the time for their salvation is past." It does seem that any one can see that this is a plain straightforward account, and what gives certainty to this view is the fact that it is in perfect harmony with the views of the body of Sabbath keeping Adventists at the time the vision was first published, for they then believed (Mrs. White among them) that the time of probation for sinners was ended.
But Uriah Smith tries to evade the force of this plain evidence, 1st, by leaving out the suppressed portion of the vision which qualifies and explains the closing paragraph; and 2nd, having done this, he goes back give paragraphs to find the antecedent of the word "their," showing that he is hard pressed to make out his case, and clear the visions of this odious feature. In order to understand his position we quote from his book.
Here then, Smith asserts that that class of ministers that rejected the truth (by which is meant the Advent movement), and who did not believe that the probationary state for sinners was ended, could not have that deep and genuine concern for sinners they felt formerly, and this for the reason that their own probationary state was ended; whilst those who believed (as we have abundantly proved) that the time for the salvation of sinners closed in 1844 could still feel a deep and genuine concern for their souls, and that God was working through them to bring sinners to himself. Oh consistency, thou art a jewel! How can any one charge God with the folly of sending out a class of ministers to convert sinners, whilst those ministers themselves did not believe it possible for them to be converted. Again how does he know that those ministers who rejected the (Advent) truth did not have that deep concern for souls they did previous to 1844? Who has enabled him to look into the hearts of men and pass such judgment upon them? Just think of it! laboring for the past twenty-six years for sinners, and yet have no deep and genuine concern for them as those can who believed the door was shut (in its extremest sense) in 1844! We wish the reader to bear in mind that Uriah Smith claims that it was the leaders in the (so called) false reformations that had no travail of soul for sinners as formerly. We might rest the case upon inconsistency and absurdity of this view in consideration of the fact that at the time of the vision that class of ministers were the only ones who were engaged in efforts for the salvation of sinners, except those Adventists who did not believe in the shut door; but we have the most direct and positive proof on this very point, and that too from Eld. Jas. White. This testimony is from a tract published by him at Oswego, N.Y., in May, 1850, entitled The Sanctuary, the 2300 Days, and Shut Door. On page 13 he says:
This it will be perceived was published fourteen months after the vision, and gives us a perfect knowledge as to who it was that had not "travail of soul for sinners." Uriah Smith says of those who have no travail of soul for sinners that the time of their salvation is past. If he tells the truth then Elders White, Bates, &c., occupy a very unenviable position, as the time for their salvation passed by twenty years ago. The plain simple truth of the case is evidently just this: She saw no travail of soul for sinners among her brethren, and hence she concluded there was no salvation for sinners.
On page 38 Uriah Smith claims that because the visions teach that after the shutting of the door in 1844, God's people are being tested on the Sabbath question, therefore "the visions do positively teach that there are some, how many we of course know not, whose probation has not yet ceased, but who are yet to be converted to God, or sealed to destruction." In putting forth such an assertion as this the writer manifests gross ignorance of the earlier visions, and the belief of those most intimately connected with them, or else he is practicing willful deception on his readers. Any one at all conversant with all the facts in the case will readily perceive from the visions themselves that the position maintained for years was that whilst the cases of the ungodly and of those professing Christians who had not identified themselves with the Advent movement had been decided against them forever at the tenth day of the seventh month, '44, the Lord then commenced to select out of the Advent people by means of the Third Angel's Message one hundred and forty-four thousand saints, who should keep the commandments of God and be alive to hale the coming of the Lord, whilst the rest of the Adventists who would not obey the Third Angel's Message and those who once embraced the Sabbath under its teachings and afterwards gave it up, would be lost forever. It is in this sense alone that the earlier visions teach any thing like a probationary state after '44 and there is not a single hint in them that we can find that shows a possibility of one new convert to God being made after '44, but the very reverse, Uriah Smith's assertion to the contrary notwithstanding.
To show that this was Mrs. White's position nearly seven years after the time specified, we will give a quotation from the "Camden Vision" published June 29th, 1851.
Why did Jesus pray for the ungodly then? Because they could be benefited and saved then. Why does he not pray for them now? Because they have been rejected of God. Jesus ceased to be their mediator when he left the outer apartment in 1844, and hence they cannot be benefited by his prayers since then, and hence God's people should not pray for them now. Uriah Smith may attempt to evade the force of this by asserting that the "world" is spoken of in general terms, and not as individuals, and hence there may be exceptions. We reply that there is no evidence that Jesus ever prayed for the world in the aggregate, and the vision does not contemplate this; or, if it does then it teaches that during Jesus' ministration in the outer apartment there was hope that the world in the aggregate might be saved, which is contrary to the whole tenor of the New Testament. Jesus declared, "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me." The prayers of Jesus will avail for the salvation of individuals, but not for the world as a whole; and hence when, as the vision says, "his spirit and sympathy were withdrawn from the world, she means that it is withdrawn from them individually, and not in the aggregate. This is made still more plain, if possible, by the following expression in the same vision: "I saw that the wicked could not be benefited by our prayers now." No one would suppose for a moment that the band in Camden had commenced to pray for the conversion of the entire world, but according to the statement of Mrs. W. to Elder Snook, some of the brethren there had commenced to labor and pray in behalf of some of their neighbors, or friends, and this vision was given to correct this erroneous course.
We have not presented all the testimony that might be produced on this subject, but have given sufficient we think to satisfy the unprejudiced mind that the first visions of Mrs. White teach most distinctly the closing up of the probationary state of the human race in 1844, with the exception of the class of people then engaged in the Advent movement, the former having been rejected of God and given over to destruction, whilst the latter were yet to be tested by the Third Angel's Message. This is what was understood by the shut door.
The question now arises do they believe in the shut door now? We answer, that according to Uriah Smith's late work, they do, with a slight modification, and that may be expressed thus: "The door is shut, but we hold the key, and can let you in." He asserts that a great change in the relation of Jesus to the world occurred in 1844, and that the means that were sufficient for the salvation of sinners previous to that time have become inefficient since then, -- that now they must come to him with an understanding of his present position and work in the sanctuary, and that this can only be obtained through the medium of the Third Angel's Message; and this message is being proclaimed by the Seventh Day Adventists exclusively. Any person may see that the above is not a burlesque upon the S. D. Adventist faith by reading his remarks on pages 24 to 26 of his late work in support of the visions. True, he admits on page 26 that there may be true Christians who have not yet become acquainted with this doctrine of the change of Christ's ministration from the Holy to the most Holy place; but this only destroys the force of all he has previously said about its being essential to understand this change, for if one person may be a Christian and not understand this change, then others may, even all of them; and yet we find the visions describing this very class as being under the deception and influence of Satan. The vision to which I allude is the one on pages 43 and 44 of Experience and Views, where she describes those who were still bowed before the throne, upon which Jesus sat previous to 1844, but was ignorant of his removal to the inner apartment. Now mark! They are worshipers of the true God; are believers in Jesus, and are worshiping with their faces towards the heavenly Sanctuary; but do not know anything of the change of position of the High Priest. Uriah Smith says they are true Christians, and if they should be cut down by death before learning of the change, they would be saved; but Mrs. White describes them as "under the malign influence of Satan, -- he breathing upon them in answer to their prayers an unholy influence in which there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy and peace." The only reason the vision pretends to assign why these persons did not rise up with those who arose when Jesus did, is that they did not know that he had risen. They were not of the careless multitude, because they are recognized in the attitude of worship, whilst the latter are not. In fact, they must be the identical class of true Christians Uriah Smith refers to, and yet under the influence of the Devil. Who can believe such absurdities?
Seeing then that the visions of Mrs. White as well as the doctrines and practice of the church to which she belongs, in their earlier days, agreed perfectly in teaching that after 1844 there was to be no more salvation for sinners, the question may be asked if we object to them giving up a doctrine when it is proved to be an error? We answer, By no means. We consider it a very commendable act to give up error when the error is made manifest; but this Mrs. White has failed to do, for when the error of her shut door visions were demonstrated, she did not as she ought to have done, give them up as delusions, but has permitted them to be tampered with, amended, and obnoxious features expunged from them, so as to suit the change of views and circumstances in the church. We have already given some instances of the expunging of portions of visions in subsequent editions, but we have another notable one to place before the candid reader. Before doing so however, we wish first to call attention to what she says in Spiritual Gifts, Vol. II, page 293. "I am just as dependent upon the spirit of the Lord in relating or writing a vision as in having a vision." Here she claims that the very words in which her visions are recorded are of divine inspiration. What an egregious blunder then for Mr. and Mrs. White to admit to me that circumstances might color a vision, if even the relating of that vision is divinely inspired! and how sinful it must be to expunge a portion of the word of God, and one of such general and vital importance as the following, if indeed it be the word of God!
This was published at Topsham, Maine, Jan. 31st, 1849, on a sheet directed "To those who are receiving the seal of the Living God," and is signed 'E. G. White.' This was published in Jan., 1849, and needs no comment to show the intelligent reader the leading position Mrs. White was assuming to occupy over the minds and consciences of her brethren at that time.
In August of that year, however, only about six months afterwards, the same vision was published over her own signature in her husband's paper called The Present Truth, with the above paragraph left out. Subsequently it was republished in Exp. and Views, page 19 to 21, but still in its mutilated condition.
What are we to think of a person who will suppress a portion of the word of God that is fraught with such terrible interest to those who may come in contact with the visions -- to know that a rejection of the visions will consign persons to irretrievable ruin, and yet fail to warn them of the consequences after being divinely instructed to do so!
We now come to another subject of some importance as illustrative of the non-inspiration of the visions. We refer to a vision that may be found on page 46 of Exp. and Views. She says:
U. Smith, in treating on this subject, has not given the entire connection, but has divided it and given it as two subjects, thus confusing the minds of his readers, and weakening the influence of its teachings. In his "Objection 5," he takes the latter clause of the quotation given above, and then after going all around the preceding part (without once alluding to it) to find the connection, he boldly asserts that "the idea of comparison between the time that Jesus had been in the Most Holy Place and the time he was to continue there is not introduced." Then when considering "Objection 6" he takes the first part of the above quotation and without informing his readers that it is in any way connected with the latter part, he assumes that because many different times have been set by many different people, therefore "this testimony does not have reference to any definite time at all."
Now if the reader will refer back to the vision as given above, he will easily perceive the dishonest course pursued by the above writer in handling the subject. The vision was not addressed to, nor does it contemplate, the world, or what is denominated the nominal church, but is a vision of instructions to the saints (Adventists) as to their "duty in view of the time of trouble." She saw that it was wrong to have food laid up for the time of trouble -- that the saints should sell their property and cut loose from every encumbrance before the time of trouble comes. She says: "The Lord showed me the danger of letting our minds be filled with worldly thoughts and cares. I saw that some minds were led away from present truth and a love of the holy Bible by reading other exciting books, and others were filled with perplexity, and care for what they shall eat, drink and wear"; and then follows the quotation already given; and even this shows that it is applicable only to a people who had been waiting of the Lord and had been disappointed in their expectations of his speedy coming. Time had continued a few years longer than they had expected, and they think it may continue a few years more. This she saw was a dangerous position for them to occupy, from the fact that the time for Jesus to be in the Most Holy place was nearly finished, and time could last but very little longer. Now if it was dangerous for them to suppose that time might last a few years longer when the fact was that the time for Jesus to be in the most holy place was then nearly finished, how can Smith make the assertion that the idea of comparison of time is not introduced. On the other hand we do not see how a comparison of time could have been much more clearly expressed. Some of the brethren were looking too far off for the coming of the Lord. How far off were they looking? Were they looking to 1868, or any remote period? The record says they thought time might continue a few years longer. Is there any thing in the connection to show what is meant by a few years? There is. Time has continued a few years longer than they expected. When did they expect the Lord's coming? In 1844. When was this vision? In 1849. Hence time had continued about five years longer than they expected, and they thought possibly it might continue as much longer; and right in this connection she says "the time for Jesus to be in the Most Holy Place was nearly finished." How long had he been in the Most Holy Place? Five years. Now what is the legitimate conclusion? That he will not remain there that much longer. How long has Jesus been there since the vision? Twenty years. What is the necessary conclusion? Ans., That vision was not divinely inspired.
This conclusion is confirmed by what purports to be a vision on page 55, Exp. and Views, given June 27th, 1850, being about a year after the one just considered, and while she was yet a shut door believer, as is evinced by the Camden vision, which was published the following year. "Said the angel: Deny self; ye must step fast. I saw that some of us have had time to get the truth and to advance step by step, and every step we have taken has given us strength to take the next; but now time is almost finished, and what we have been years learning they will have to learn in a few months." In attempting to explain this, Smith avers that the only idea intended is that "new converts" will have to make greater efforts and more rapid advances in order to attain to the same amount of strength and capability of endurance as that possessed by those of older standing in order to pass unscathed through the seven last plagues. We will analyze this a little. When was the vision given? In 1850. How long have "some of us" had "to advance step by step" in gaining this strength and power of endurance? Not quite six years. How long a time have the new converts, who had then but lately embraced the Third Angel's Message in which to attain to an equal degree of strength? More than twenty years, or more than three times as long. The intelligent reader will readily perceive that Smith has not given the correct idea of the vision, for the reason why the new converts would have to "step fast" and "learn in a few months" what the older ones had at the time of the vision been years in attaining is very distinctly stated -- "time is almost finished." The vision teaches, if it teaches anything, that the new converts would not from that point, 1850, have as much TIME in which to prepare for the plagues as those who had become believers previously. Thus it is evident that if the language of that vision conveys its true meaning, the vision itself cannot be of divine inspiration, and it will not do to plead any latitude for the language, as she has stated that it is just as much inspired as the vision itself.
We know that it is claimed that there are fewer apparent evidences of contradictions in the visions of Mrs. White than in the Bible, and that they should be judged by the same rules. To this we demur. The Bible has been translated from other languages into our own, and that, too, by translators who were interested in the promulgation of their own peculiar views of theology, who have manipulated some of the texts of the Bible accordingly, thus adding to the difficulty incidental to the translating of such a book from one language to another. The most of English readers are unacquainted with the original language of the Bible, and are more or less dependent upon the translators, who through ignorance or design, may by the change or addition of a word or sentence give the reader a wrong idea of the teachings of the text. Such are some of the difficulties the English reader must encounter in the study of the Bible; but in the case of the visions it is different. They are given in our own native tongue, in language the plain import of which we understand very well. We have the record of her own faith and views ever since her professed inspiration began. We know that her faith or religious opinions have undergone a marked change in the last twenty-five years, and we know that her visions have participated in the same change. We know that she has not always been as truthful in her statements as might be expected of one who is inspired of God. The same manipulations of her earlier visions is in process, by her defenders, to make them harmonize with the present opinions of the church, as was practiced by some of the translators of the Bible, until now her chief advocate and defender would have us understand that she never believed nor taught that the time for the salvation of sinners passed by in 1844.
It is claimed by one objector to the visions that Mrs. White teaches contrary to the Bible on the subject of immortality; that even the endless life in the eternal state may cease and waste away. This, Uriah Smith in his book, denies, and affirms that the vision applied only to Adam in his original state. It is not our purpose to defend the statement of this objector; this he is competent to do without our aid; but we wish merely to bear testimony as to what we know that bears upon this subject. The position was taken by Eld. Canright in the Review that in the future state of being the people of God would be dependent on the tree of Life for a perpetuation of their immortality, and he appealed to the visions for proof. We took occasion to write an article for the paper, taking issue with him on the point; but notwithstanding we were apparently in full fellowship with them, it was never published. When Elder and Mrs. White were at our house endeavoring to remove our difficulties with the visions, we called the Elder's attention to this subject (Mrs. White at the time being absent). He said he had never seen Canright's article, and expressed his dissent from his views, but, said he, "when Ellen comes we will question her in reference to the matter." Accordingly upon her return, without informing her of his object, he commenced a series of questions and cross questions upon the subject, just as a sharp lawyer would question a witness to get at a certain fact or object. Some of her answers favored Canright's view, and some favored mine; but nothing definite or conclusive was attained until finally the Elder related to his wife the facts in the case. She then stated that she had been shown that after the end of one thousand years the people of God would be absolutely or permanently immortal; and let the impression, though we cannot say she distinctly stated, that during that thousand years their immortality would depend on their eating of the fruit of the tree of life. We would not insist that the visions absolutely teach this doctrine but it is evident they have been so understood by some who advocate them.
Another point of objection Uriah Smith attempts to explain away is in reference to the apparent impossibility of the abolition of slavery in the United States. The language of the vision is, "It looked to me like an impossibility now for slavery to be done away." His comment on this is as follows: "Well, now, could not slavery be done away without proving it false that it at that time appeared to her that such a thing was impossible?" It does seem that Smith places a very low estimate upon the nature of the visions, and upon the character of that God he claims inspires them. Mark this. She claims to be divinely inspired in what she sees in vision. In this vision she claims that it was shown to her of God that it appeared impossible for slavery to be done away; and yet at the same time that God showed her this, the means were already in active operation in his own directing providence that have resulted in the overthrow of this wicked institution, so that now the probabilities are that before another presidential election (should the Lord delay his coming that long) the once downtrodden slaves will not only be freemen, but participators in the franchises of the nation. It seems absolutely astonishing that any man in possession of ordinary intelligence can charge God with such inconsistencies of character as Smith has done. Now if Mrs. White had only been expressing her own private opinion in this matter, the case would be different, for multitudes of people doubtless regarded it in the same light at that time; but circumstances since then have changed their opinions, and Mrs. White could have changed hers, took without any objections being raised, if she had not claimed divine inspiration in the matter. But Smith seems to think that it is possible, if not probable, that slavery may be reestablished in these United States before the Lord comes. We are free to admit that such a result is necessary in order to give force and effect to the visions; but the way political matters are progressing now, such a consummation, if looked for at all, must be expected in the far distant future. Every one knows now that slavery is an unpopular if not obsolete doctrine in this country, and it is equally certain that an unpopular institution like slavery cannot any longer be forced upon this nation, unless it is done by the influence and agency of the Supreme ruler of nations; and who can believe that God will interfere in behalf of such a system? No, Bro. Smith, the popular current in this country has set in the direction of anti-slavery, just as it has in the direction of anti-Sunday Sabbath laws, and you may expect the re-establishment of slavery about the same time that a law is enacted to put Seventh Day Adventists to death for observing the seventh day Sabbath instead of Sunday.
We now come to another subject of consideration, i.e., "The Sealing Time"; and our object is to show that our S. D. Adventist friends do not now believe and teach the same view of this subject as they formerly did; and also to give the teachings of the earlier visions on this subject. Uriah Smith, treating on this subject, takes the following positions: The Third Angel's Message is a sealing message, but a person is not sealed as soon as he embraces it. Time is given for the development of a holy character by obedience to the truth, and to bring people to a position where they can be sealed absolutely in the sense of having their cases forever decided for heaven. This sealing message he thinks commenced in 1844, but as "it must be apparent that a greater portion of the time of Christ's ministry in the Most Holy Place must be occupied with the decision of the cases of the dead, as they are the most numerous, therefore the actual sealing of the living has not yet commenced, but is about to begin." As it is not the custom among our S. D. Adventist friends of late years for individuals to assume the responsibility of publishing the doctrines of the church, we shall proceed to examine the position of Smith's, upon the assumption that it is the authorized exposition of the present views of the church on the subject; and first, we call attention to the shrewdness of the writer in attempting to smooth over the angularities of their doctrines. He does not once tell his readers what the seal is. He does not tell us that the Sabbath is the seal, and that keeping the Sabbath is receiving the seal. Had he given this fundamental point of their faith in that connection, it would have destroyed his course of reasoning, for we think it would be difficult for him to show in what way the dead can keep the Sabbath, and thus be sealed. But again: Does not Bro. Smith know that (in their opinion) the sealing under contemplation is applicable only to the 144,000 Seventh Day Adventists, and not at all applicable to the dead? Is it not a principle of the visions themselves that the seventh day Sabbath as brought to light since 1844 is not a test to those also who lived previous to that time? He must know these facts; why, then, does he ignore them, and publish to the world doctrines contradictory to, and that are subversive to, them? Is it because the church is preparing to deny the past and change front on this subject as well as on the shut door? Time will tell. The reason why this course is being pursued will readily be seen when we come to record the early doctrines of the church as well as the visions themselves on this point. It will be seen that the sealing dogma runs exactly parallel with the shut door error, and that Smith's position given above is a perversion of the doctrines of the church and visions of those early days. If we go back but a few years we find a work of thirty-two pages published at Battle Creek (Mark of the Beast and Seal of the Living God) devoted to the task of proving that the observance of the first day of the week as the Sabbath is the "mark of the beast," while the observance of the seventh day is the seal of the living God, as brought to view in Rev. 7:1,4 and ch. 14:9. We quote from the summing up on pp. 25, 26:
Hence the following positions are, 1st, The seal of the living God is the Sabbath. 2nd, The sealing angel having ascended from the east is now engaged in this work of sealing the servants of God with the Sabbath. 3rd, That those thus sealed (by observing the seventh day Sabbath) will be the ones who have a right to the tree of life and admission into the New Jerusalem. In a tract published in 1862 at the same office, called War and the Sealing, the same views are presented. We quote from page 15:
Hence then, we discover that the leading ideas of this doctrine as held by them a few years ago are that the sealing of the living people of God is now in process of accomplishment, and that this sealing is "in the sense of having their cases forever decided for heaven." Smith, however, and through him the S. D. Adventist church, now repudiate this doctrine, once so highly esteemed among them.
We now propose, if the patient reader will go back with us twenty years in the history of this people, to show when and how this sealing message originated, or rather how it received the consistency and from it maintained among them, till its recent repudiation by the Editor of the Review. We have before us a pamphlet bearing this title, A Seal of the Living God. A Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand of the Servants of God Being Sealed in 1849. This was published by Elder Joseph Bates at New Bedford, in 1849, and the title page itself shows very clearly that the writer believed the sealing work among the living was then in progress; and yet Smith says that this work has not yet (1868) begun. In his preface addressed "to the little flock," he says:
This is very explicit and unmistakable language, and shows that the writer believed that as early as 1849, Seventh Day Adventists were (in the language of a work on this subject in 1863) being "Sealed and labeled, Jesus Christ, care of God, Heavenly Jerusalem." The testimony already presented shows very conclusively what was the faith and teaching of that church on the subject of the sealing, from its early days down to a comparatively late period.
But it may be urged that we have not shown any connection between this doctrine of the sealing and the visions. This we will now proceed to do. We quote from Eld. Bates' book, page 24:
This is the vision, and Eld. Bates says of it:
We now have the evidence before us as to when and how this sealing doctrine arose. It seems that the subject had been discussed among them to some extent, previous to this vision, but they were undecided as to the propriety of publishing it to the world until they were authorized by Mrs. White's vision, so that the visions are entitled to the credit (if it be a credit) of proclaiming to the world that at that time, 1849, the Seventh Day Adventists were being sealed for the kingdom of God. This vision was seen about the 19th of Nov., 1848, and the book containing the sealing message as it was called and from which we have given the above testimony, was published the following January, 1849.
But now to show that Elder Bates has not misrepresented Mrs. White as to what constitutes the seal and as to some then being sealed, we would refer to a vision already noticed in this work, and which was published over Mrs. W.'s own signature, in the same month and year that Eld. Bates' book appeared. That vision is addressed "to those who are receiving the seal of the living God." In this vision she says: "If the mind is filled with other things, present truth is shut out, and there is no place in our foreheads for the seal of the living God. This seal is the Sabbath." Now if language as used above has any meaning, we have proved that the S. D. Adventists believed and taught for many years that the sealing of 144,000 saints in the sense of sealing them absolutely for salvation, has been in progress at least twenty years. We have proved too that the visions sustain the view. Mark particularly this expression in the vision: "all who are saved will be tried upon it (the Sabbath) in some way." This was spoken in 1848, and teaches that from that time, at least every true child of God has in some way been tested on the Sabbath truth, and that those not thus tested will not be saved. Such were the views of the church at that time, when they were involved in the shut door delusion; but now they are at work through their Editor to amend and modify their extreme views so as to suit the present condition of things. In doing this, however, he has struck directly against the visions, for nothing is more susceptible of proof than that the visions teach, and the church believed, that the sealing time of the living children of God began more than twenty years ago. This the Editor denies, and in denying rejects the visions.
But perhaps some may ask why it is they are thus changing position on this subject. We think we can give a satisfactory reason for it, and show the difficulty in which they are involved by adhering strictly to their long cherished view, and the visions sustaining it. It will be noticed that the church believed and the visions taught simply that the Sabbath is the seal, and that those who keep the Sabbath are the sealed ones. This would do very well for those early days, but of late years it has come to pass that there are other Sabbath keepers, and other Sabbath keeping churches besides the S. D. Adventists (and S. D. Baptists who the S. D. Adventists have ignored in their calculations); and if this old sealing doctrine be true, they (the outsiders)are just as much sealed as those of their own organization. They are not prepared to admit this, hence the doctrine must result in destroying the validity of the visions; and this work of amending the Editor of the Review is peculiarly qualified to perform, and at the same time make great professions of love for and attachment to the visions.
We now leave this point for the careful consideration of the candid, while we proceed to show that the visions teach doctrines that are contrary to the Bible. We are prepared to prove that they teach contrary to the Bible, not only in regard to prophetic events still in the future, but also unfortunately in relation to Christian duty. We shall confine ourself for the present to one item in each of these classes, and first in order will be in regard to future events.
The visions teach and Seventh Day Adventists believe that at or in connection with the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the unconcerned who are then living on the earth will all be destroyed, and that for one thousand years the earth will be entirely desolated of its inhabitants, that the cities and villages shaken down by the earthquake will lie in heaps, mountains will be moved out of their places, ragged rocks thrown out upon the earth, trees rooted up and strewn over its surface -- in short, that the earth will look like a desolate wilderness. This the visions teach is to be the home of the Devil and his angels during the thousand years, where they will wander up and down the broken surface of the earth and see the effects of rebellion against God's law. During this thousand years, while Satan is thus imprisoned in the bottomless pit (the earth), the saints are to reign with Christ in the New Jerusalem above, judging and measuring out to the wicked their portion of suffering and punishment. At the end of this time, Jesus, his saints, the angels, and the New Jerusalem, descend to the earth and the wicked are raised. Satan begins again to deceive them with the delusive hope of being able to capture and gain possession of the holy city, and in this he succeeds; and these countless millions are again under his influence, and immediately proceed to fit themselves for battle. They construct weapons of war, for there are many skillful men in that vast army. After preparing all kinds of implements of war, they are marshaled in battle array by Satan, and arrange themselves around the city. Then fire from heaven falls upon them, and they perish in the second death. This is the programme as marked out by vision an recorded on pp. 211 to 217, inclusive, of Spiritual Gifts Vol. I.
Before proceeding to demonstrate that this programme is directly contrary to the Scriptures, we wish to show some of the absurdities of the theory itself. First, then, it teaches that the entire earth is to be the location of the bottomless pit, for it is in the bottomless pit that Satan is bound. Then we find at the end of the thousand years, Jesus and his saints, angels, and the New Jerusalem, descending right into the bottomless pit where the Devil and his angels are bound.
The Bible teaches that the Devil is to be bound for a thousand years that he may not deceive the nations during that period. The visions teach that this is to be accomplished by those nations being put to death, while Satan roams at large over the scenes of his exploits during the past six thousand years. We have not the least doubt that horse stealing might be effectually prevented by killing off all the horses; but really it would seem as poor a substitute for the incarceration of horse thieves as this mode of binding the Devil would amount to in regard to the nations. But, ludicrous as this idea is, let us suppose for the time that it is the correct one, and proceed to examine this programme farther. When these countless millions of the wicked dead are restored to life, and brought under the deceptive influence of Satan, what do they do? Mrs. White says they immediately proceed to fit themselves for battle by constructing and preparing all kinds of implements of war. Now mark the circumstances under which they begin this preparation and we shall readily see the consequences involved. One thousand years of desolation have rolled their weary rounds over this hapless earth, if not obliterating the last vestige of civilization, at least corroding and destroying with rains and heat of ten centuries every thing in the shape of weapons of war, the cities and villages thrown down and buried under the debris of a millennium of desolation. Under these circumstances the resurrected wicked undertake to construct all kinds of implements of war, and Mrs. White says they succeed in it. -- First, then, they must go to work and open up their mines of iron and coal in the bowels of the earth. After procuring the ore they must prepare furnaces for melting and purifying it read to be cast into great Paixhan or some other kind of cannon, or as there are many skillful men in that army, perhaps they proceed in their improvements until they have produced a rifled cannon with steel pointed balls equal to any thing contrived in this dispensation. This will involve the necessity of providing machine shops with their turning lathes and forges for the manufacture of swords, bayonets, &c., &c. This will require the labor of the bricklayers and carpenters among them to erect the shops and foundries; but they can do nothing until the brickmakers and saw-mills furnish them with the materials with which to build. Then again they must prepare the necessary machinery and material for the manufacture of powder, for their powerful cannon will be of no service without it. Thus we might go on and multiply the consequences necessarily involved in Mrs. White's programme as given by vision, but content ourself with asking the question of how these countless millions are to live while engaged in these gigantic preparations for battle. They are not raised immortal, neither have they a right to the tree of life that is within the city. It does not seem likely that God will work a miracle in their behalf under these circumstances, and yet mortal men deprived of food cannot long engage in labor such as they must undergo. Do they cultivate the ground and raise corn, wheat, potatoes, &c., &c.? Perhaps Mrs. White will have a vision to remove the obscurity in which at present this subject is involved; if so we should like to see it.
But we come now to the Bible argument. It will be remembered that the vision teaches that for one thousand years subsequent to the second coming of Christ the earth will lie in a desolate condition, without inhabitants other than the Devil and his angels. Instead of this being the case, we affirm that at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ the kingdom of God will be set up on the earth. As a foundation for the Bible argument on this subject we quote from the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, 7. "For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice for henceforth even forever." From this passage we learn that from the time that the person here spoken of assumes the throne and kingdom of David, that throne and kingdom are to be of perpetual duration; but who is this person? We need only refer to one passage to show distinctly who is here spoken of. Luke 1:31-33. The angel of God announcing to Mary the intended miraculous birth of a son whom she should call Jesus declares, "He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." This is sufficient to show who it is that is to occupy forever the throne of David. It is our Lord Jesus Christ. Does he now, or has he ever occupied that throne and ruled that kingdom? True, he made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem once as their offered king, but how was he received? Arrested, maltreated, and slain. Has the prophecy then failed? Let us see. Jesus not only predicted his own death, but also foretold his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God. From this exalted position he sends by the hand of the seer of Patmos a message to his people, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne even as I also overcame and am set down with my father in his throne." This shows that while Jesus is now seated upon his Father's throne the time is coming when he will occupy his own throne. When will that time come? We cannot have better testimony than that from our Lord's own lips, hence we will hear him: "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory and before him shall be gathered all nations, &c. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Here we learn that it is at his second coming in glory that he is to occupy the throne of David, to which he is the only legitimate heir, and which is held in reservation for him, for, said God to the profane and wicked prince of Israel, "Remove the diadem and take off the crown: this shall not be the same; exalt him that is low and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him."
But where is that throne and kingdom to be located? The visions teach that for a thousand years it will be located in the New Jerusalem in heaven. We might rest our argument here by simply denying the allegation and calling for proof, and thus place the laboring oar in the hands of the advocates of the visions. We justly charge them with folly in teaching that the throne and kingdom of David that was once established here upon earth would ever be removed to and re-established in heaven; but we are not left to these alternatives. The Scriptures furnish abundant testimony on this very point. We need refer to but one. The angel of the Lord, after describing to the prophet Daniel the fourth great universal empire that should rise in the earth its division into ten parts as represented by the ten horns, the little horn that should wear out the saints of the Most High, and the judgment that should sit upon this great persecuting power, declares that "the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." This subject is susceptible of very clear and beautiful elaboration from the Scriptures; but we have presented evidence amply sufficient to prove that the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (which is the kingdom of David restored) is to be set up on the earth at his glorious appearing; and this being the doctrine of the Bible, the vision is necessarily in conflict with the Bible, and therefore cannot be of divine inspiration.
We now come to the second point in our charge that the visions teach doctrines contrary to the Bible, viz., as to Christian duty. It is claimed for the visions that "They tend to the purest morality. They discountenance every vice, and exhort to the practice of every virtue." This (to the astonishment of many, no doubt) we emphatically deny. We know that great credit is claimed for them on account of the purity of their teachings, and their harmony with the word of God. We know that it is claimed for them that "they lead us to Christ. Like the Bible, they set him forth as the only hope and only Saviour of mankind. They portray before us in living characters his holy life and godly example, and with irresistible appeals they urge us to follow his steps." Such are the claims put forth in behalf of the visions of Mrs. White. Now if we can show that they have not always tended to the purest morality -- that they have not always discountenanced vice and exhorted to the practice of every virtue, nor always urged us to follow the example of our divine Lord -- but if, on the other hand, we can show that they have taught a diametrically opposite doctrine, and one that is subversive of the great fundamental principle of the law of God, then it will be evident they are in conflict with the Bible and hence not to be believed. To do this we refer again to the Camden vision.
Here, then, under a (supposed) divinely inspired amendment to or commentary upon the great principle of the divine law, we are taught the monstrous and heaven-dishonoring doctrine that Christians should love none but fellow Christians. Many texts of scripture not necessary to quote, including the teachings of our Lord, will suggest themselves to the mind of the reader, teaching a doctrine contrary to this vision. The love here spoken of is not that love of the world that is calculated to lead the Christian away from God, but is of a character that prompts him to pray for those who are yet strangers to the gospel. This is evident from the preceding paragraph, where she says, "I saw that the wicked could not be benefited by our prayers now." This is based upon the assumption that when Jesus changed his ministration from the outer to the inner apartment of the sanctuary twenty-six years ago, his spirit and sympathy were withdrawn from the world, and hence the prayers of the children of God would avail nothing in their behalf. Thus we see that this unscriptural doctrine, so repugnant to every principle of vital godliness, is to be attributed to that soul-darkening delusion of the shut door, and into the lowest depths of what Mrs. White descended, notwithstanding her supposed inspiration. In view of these facts we do not see how any person of a sound mind and honest heart can avoid the conclusion that the visions are not of God. We shall have occasion, however to refer to this point again before we close.
We propose now, as briefly as possible, to examine four points of evidence presented by Editor Smith in favor of Mrs. White's divine inspiration. Speaking of her visions (pp. 6, 7), he claims for them, 1st. That they tend to the purest morality. 2nd. That they lead to Christ. 3rd. That they lead to the Bible. 4th. That they have brought comfort and consolation to many hearts.
In considering these points we shall reverse their order and take up the last point first. We feel free to admit that Mrs. White's visions have brought comfort and consolation to many hearts of those who believe in her divine inspiration, but the same may be just as truly said of other gross errors. The sincere Roman Catholic derives just as much comfort and consolation when he confesses his sins to the priest and receives a pardon for the same, from what he supposes to be a divine inspired source; and what can be more comforting and consoling to the mind and heart of the bereaved Christian mother than the idea that the spirit of her only and beloved deceased child is now enjoying the blessedness of heaven? And yet friend Smith would not be willing to admit that the consolation thus derived sufficient evidence to prove either that the priest can forgive sins, or that spirits of deceased persons are conscious of the joys of heaven; neither can we admit such testimony to be conclusive evidence in favor of the visions. On the contrary, we know that her visions, where introduced, have not always produced this happy effect. When the Seventh Day Adventist cause was first introduced into Iowa, and the visions were kept in the background, it flourished much more than could have been expected of such an unpopular and crossing truth as the Sabbath. Large and flourishing churches were organized in various parts of the State, and there is every reason to believe that if the visions had never been introduced among us, Sabbath keeping churches might now be numbered by scores instead of units, and Sabbath keeping Adventists by thousands instead of scores, and of fully as good material as now constitutes the S. D. A. church. It was a source of deep pain when we came into the vicinity of a once flourishing church that had been divided and broken into fragments by the introduction of the visions, and we saw the desolation thus produced. Some, from being active zealous Christians, have gone off into infidelity, and others have lost all hope of salvation; and thus it has been throughout the State; nearly every one of the flourishing churches of those days has been divided or more or less broken up; in some instances hardly a vestige being left; and this mostly the result of the introduction of the visions, so that Iowa furnishes a very emphatic and mournful answer to Smith's question, "What evil hath the visions done?" Lest some may misunderstand, we would say that the above desolations of Iowa occurred a number of years before the late division of the church here, and the establishment of our office and paper, and we rejoice to say that our efforts have resulted in repairing some of the injury done to the Sabbath cause as above related.
But it is also claimed that the visions "lead to the Bible." That Mrs. White in her oral and written testimonies advocates the Bible as the word of God, no one acquainted with the facts in the case will deny; and so does every denomination of people professing Christianity in the land; but upon a little reflection it will appear obvious that the visions sustain the same relation to the S. D. Adventist church that the creeds and confessions of faith of those other churches sustain to them; they all stand in some sense between the members of the various churches and the Bible; the main difference being that while the various denominations make no claim of specific divine inspiration for their creeds, the followers of Mrs. White do set up this claim for the visions, and thus voluntarily relinquish the right to private judgment as to Bible doctrines; for it must be evident to all that where the visions proceed to explain Bible doctrines there must be an end not only to controversy, but also to investigation. As an illustration of this fact we refer again to two points already established in the preceding pages. In her Camden vision Mrs. White explained the second great commandment as being applicable only to the household of faith, and the consequence was her followers did not love any but members of the same church. She told them it was wrong to pray for sinners, and did not pray for them. Thus the visions stood between them and the Bible, and it was not until they repudiated or ignored the teaching of the vision that they again came into harmony with the Scriptures on this subject. The other point to which we allude is the teaching of the visions respecting the "thousand years." There is no plainer truth in the Bible than that the kingdom of Christ is to be set up on the earth at his second appearing. In opposition to this the visions teach that from that point of time the earth will lie desolate during one thousand years, and thus interfere again between the members of that church and the Bible, just as truly and with almost infinitely more force than the doctrine of a temporal millennium does between the mass of Protestants and the Bible doctrine of the kingdom of God. Thus we see that this claim is not altogether founded in truth.
In regard to the claim that the visions "lead to Christ," we freely admit that in the same sense in which they lead to the Bible they lead to Christ, i.e., through their creed. They teach that a great change occurred in 1844 in the relation that Christ sustains to mankind at large, that he then changed his ministration from the Holy to the Most holy place, and that it is only those who recognize this change that can be benefited by his ministration; and that this change can only be known in harmony with the third Angel's Message, and that S. D. Adventists are proclaiming this message. This is the way the visions lead to Christ, and it is a way precisely similar in principle to that marked out by every other sect that claims to be the peculiar and exclusive people of God, i.e., through their own particular organization.
In regard to the other point, and which we have in part considered, we also admit that with the exception of those visions had while she was involved in the soul darkening fanaticism of the "shut door" they do tend to a pure morality; and under the circumstances it would be very strange indeed if it were otherwise. But is it true that her teaching stand alone in this respect? Is she or the people of whom she stands head, the only exponents of a pure morality? If so, this fact may well be urged in her favor. Instead of this, we aver that there is a religious body, people, or church, in our country, who teach a system of morality fully as pure as that of the visions of Mrs. White. We refer to the Shakers, and we refer to them in preference to any other people from the fact that in some respects there is quite a similarity between them. Seventh Day Adventists are believers in the perpetuity of Spiritual Gifts; so are the Shakers. S. D. Adventists claim the presence of the Gifts among them; so do the Shakers. A female prophetess and expositor of the Scriptures stands at the head of the S. D. A. church; the Shakers also have one. Divine inspiration is claimed for the S. D. A. prophetess, Mrs. White, and also by the Shakers for theirs, Mrs. Lee. Remarkable manifestations of miraculous powers are put forth as substantiating Mrs. White's claims; others equally so are alleged in favor of Mrs. Lee. Thus it will appear that there is quite a similarity between the two people, notwithstanding they differ very materially in regard to doctrines and practices. We do not doubt in the least that the doctrines of the Shakers are grossly erroneous, yet in regard to their outward deportment, and indeed as to their inner lives and principles, so far as that can be judged of by outward deportment, they give evidence of having attained to a higher standard of pure morality than our S. D. A. brethren. We have mingled to some extent with both people. With the Shakers we have mingled at different times and at different places; have associated with them at their worship, public and private, at their various daily avocations, as well as at their family reunions and their frugal repasts, and yet we never heard or saw any thing among them inconsistent with the highest standard of a pure morality; and in fact, as ever one knows, the very name Shaker is but the synonym of honesty.
The Seventh Day Adventists have adopted a style of dress reform to distinguish them from the world, and so have the Shakers; and upon comparison it will be found that the Shaker style is far better calculated to mortify pride than the other. The S. D. Adventists have adopted a system of health reform in eating, and other things. This the Shakers did long before the others moved in that direction, by abandoning the use of swine's flesh, while Mrs. White and her people were yet feasting on their pork.
The S. D. Adventists proclaim loudly against covetousness, and have adopted and are carrying out to some extent a system of self denial; but the Shakers are a vast distance ahead of them in this direction. They carry their self denial to such an extent that they will have no pecuniary interests separate from the body at large; they even go so far as to deny themselves the joys of a married life, of a distinct and separate home, of the endearing relation of husband and wife, parents and children; and they deny themselves of all this on account of what they consider the cause and work of God.
Perhaps some one will ask what objection we can raise against so good a people. Our objection can be couched in one short sentence. They have applied a system of interpretation to the Bible that exalts a mere woman to an equality with our Lord Jesus Christ. This, of course, the S. D. Adventists have not done for Mrs. White, and so far as they preach and practice the pure principles of the law of God and faith of Jesus, we would commend their course. If, however, such a high degree of morality and such extreme self denial as is exhibited among the Shakers does not prove their theories true, and their claims to divine inspiration genuine, surely a lower grade of these qualities in our S. D. Adventist friends is not to be taken as indubitable evidence of the genuineness of theirs.
As an illustration on this point we call attention to an incident alleged by Mrs. Lee's biographer as having occurred in her early religious experience. It is related that at one time when the opposition to her teaching was at its height in England, she was condemned to be stoned to death; and that accordingly a large quantity of stones having been collected at a suitable place, she with some of her followers were led out to execution. Being placed in a convenient ravine between two hills, the execution began and progressed till the stones were exhausted upon the unfortunate prisoners, when as a result it appeared that only one man was slightly hurt, Mrs. Lee escaping without a bruise. Again, while crossing the ocean to this land of liberty, it is related that the Captain threatened to throw her and her followers overboard if they did not desist from their mode of worship on the vessel. She declined compliance, and as the Captain was about to execute his threats a great storm arose, in the midst of which the vessel sprung a leak badly. After examining the leak and laboring for some time to remedy the danger, the Captain announced that the vessel must soon go down with all on board to a watery grave. At this juncture Mrs. Lee stepped forward and exhorted them all to be of good cheer, for an angel had stood by her and informed her that her work was not all done yet, and that she and all on board would arrive safely in America. It is related that a great wave soon after struck the vessel, drove the sprung plank back to its proper place, where it remained the rest of the voyage, and in due time they arrived sure enough in America. Now we challenge our S. D. Adventist friends to produce two instances of alleged divine interposition in Mrs. White's behalf as wonderful as these relating to Mrs. Lee; and if Mrs. Lee's remarkable escapes do not prove that she was divinely inspired in her mission, then less remarkable incidents will fail to establish Mrs. White's claims in the same direction.
We wish now in conclusion to present to the reader another consideration why the claims of Mrs. White to divine inspiration are not to be believed. Whenever God has designed in the past to reveal to man a new truth or an advanced stage of the plan of salvation, he has, in commissioning his chosen prophets to proclaim his purposes, also confirmed their commission as his prophets by conferring upon them the power to work miracles. Indeed, as Mr. Buck in his Theological Dictionary remarks, "Miracles, then, under which we include prophecy, are the only direct evidence which can be given of divine inspiration. When a religion or any religious truth is to be revealed from heaven they appear to be absolutely necessary to enforce its reception among men." When Moses was selected to deliver the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage and inaugurate the typical dispensation, God first satisfied him of his own selection by divers miracles, as the burning bush, the leprous hand, and the serpent rod; and then by those miracles wrought by the hand of Moses before the court of Pharaoh, he demonstrated to Egypt and the world that Moses was his prophet. Again; When the time drew near for God to reveal to men the progress of national events down to the establishment of his own kingdom on the earth, and he selected Daniel as the exponent of his intentions, he prepared his servant to stand before the mighty king of Babylon by conferring upon him the miraculous power of recalling to the mind of the king his forgotten dream; and when this had raised him and his three brethren to their exalted positions at the head of the affairs of the nation, and the eyes of the citizens of that vast empire were thus fixed upon these four once despised captives, he again demonstrated to the astonished world the truthfulness of Daniel's claims as the prophet of God, first by the miraculous deliverance of the three from the fiery furnace, and again by the miraculous deliverance of the prophet himself from the power of the lions. Again: When the time came for the gospel dispensation to take the place of the typical, and the Christian church to be substituted for that of the Jewish, this change was accompanied and confirmed by miracles frequent in number, varied in their manifestations, and unequally in their power.
This, then, has been the rule in the past; and it is worthy of serious consideration that those miracles and the actors connected with them were of world-wide celebrity. Moses was at the capital of Egypt at the zenith of its power and glory; Daniel at the court of Nebuchadnezzar, the monarch of the world; and Christ and his apostles, although they commenced their work in Judea, yet it was ultimately carried with the attending miracles to the utmost bounds of the Roman Empire.
With these facts before us we turn again to Mrs. White's claims to divine inspiration as a prophet of God. The Seventh Day Adventists, through Uriah Smith, claim that in the fall of 1844 "a new era so to speak was reached in the ministry of our Lord involving a change in his relation to the world nearly as great as that which took place when he entered upon his work in the first apartment of the heavenly temple." It is further claimed as we have before shown, that a knowledge of this change is essential to salvation, and that this can only be obtained through themselves. Here then according to them a new truth and one in which the eternal interests of the whole human family is involved was revealed about the year 1844, and that it was committed to their trust. They have among them a woman who claims that she has been shown in prophetic vision this change in the divine economy. How does her claims as a prophet compare with those of Moses, Daniel, or the Apostles? Has she ever been possessed of any of the miraculous power exhibited in their cases? Never. Not an incident in her life half as remarkable even as those claimed to have attended the Shaker prophetess. But even more than this: She was not the originator of the theory of the Sanctuary as held by them, it having been worked out by another person making no claim to divine inspiration, and adopted by Mrs. White and incorporated into their theory. These considerations alone, if permitted to have their legitimate influence, we should think sufficient to demonstrate to any candid and intelligent mind that Mrs. White's claims to divine inspiration are unfounded and spurious.
Source of the Visions
The question may here arise, If the visions are not of divine inspiration, whence come they? We think it has been clearly demonstrated that they are not divinely inspired, and we just as freely present our opinion as to the source from whence they arise, with the facts and reasons that have led us to form this opinion. We were in hopes of having professional aid on this point, as we make no pretense to medical skill, only as far as may be obtained by common observation. This aid we were promised, as will appear hereafter; but for some cause or other have been disappointed, and must rely on such light as we have, and give our opinion for what it may be worth. We admit what some may not be willing to admit, that Mrs. White has visions. We have never seen her in a trance state, but feel bound to accept the testimony of those in whose intelligence and truthfulness we place implicit confidence, and who have seen her in vision.
For a number of years our mind vibrated between hope and fear upon this subject, hoping that events would demonstrate her divine inspiration, but fearing that she and her friends were mistaken as to the true source of the visions. Finally, after patiently waiting the development of events, Mrs. White herself furnished the clue that has led, as we think, to a true solution of the question as to their origin. When giving to a Conference at Pilot Grove an account of her visit at Dr. Jackson's Health Institute, she stated that the Doctor, upon a medical examination, pronounced her a subject of Hysteria. Now to those who have confidence in Dr. Jackson's skill as a physician, this declaration of his furnishes a clue to her supposed divine inspiration. According to medical authorities hysteria is a real disease, but of a very peculiar type, affecting not only the body, but also the mind, producing phenomena of a very marked though much varied character, the disease acting upon different persons and temperaments, and thus producing varied results.
When Dr. Wm. Russell, of the Battle Creek Health Institute, wrote to us expressing his doubts as to the divine inspiration of the visions, and asking for the evidence we had on that subject, we cheerfully complied with his request, sent him the published works, and also a brief synopsis of the work we now present to the public. We also called his attention to Dr. Jackson's medical opinion in Mrs. White's case, and solicited his also for publication in the book. To this he replied as follows:
My esteemed Bro:
For some reason, the nature of which we are not informed, Dr. R. has not fulfilled the promise made, neither has he expressed any wish for the suppression of the above, given as it was in view of the publication of a more full and perfect medical opinion in the case; hence we feel free to place the testimony before the public.
Here then are two medical gentlemen, in whose skill as physicians Mrs. White and S. D. Adventists generally have confidence, agreeing in their opinion as to her predisposition to a diseased condition of the brain and nervous system.
Bearing these testimonies in mind, let us go back to her first vision and see if we cannot, from the attending circumstances obtain a reasonable and commonsense solution of the phenomena in the case. According to her published works, Mrs. White, at the age of nine years, met with a very serious misfortune in having her nose crushed in by a blow from a stone producing a permanent disfigurement of the features. Whether this accident was the producing cause of her predisposition to hysteria we do not of course know but one thing is certain, if it did not originate it it aggravated, as Dr. Russell describes it, "a diseased organization or condition of the brain and nervous system." This is proved by the fact that for three weeks after the accident she laid in a state of total unconsciousness, the brain being so much injured as to cause a cessation of its functions for that time. Shortly after her recovery she seems to have turned her attention to religious subjects, with which she became deeply impressed, until at the age of twelve she professed conversion and joined the Methodist Church. Her religious experience at that early age was of a peculiar type, and gives evidence, we think, of a partially, at least, unbalanced mind. At times she would be exalted to the very point of ecstasy, and again depressed to the regions of despair. This unfortunate condition of the mind does not seem to have been caused by surrounding outward circumstances, which were all favorable to her profession of religion, but by pleasant or unpleasant dreams and impressions.
About this time the Advent doctrine was preached in Portland, Maine, where her father's family resided, and including herself, became interested in it, so much so that in 1842 she constantly attended Advent meetings, though still a Methodist. A peculiarity attended these meetings which has often been witnessed in the Methodist church in olden times; and which so strikingly attended the great Kentucky revival. This was the sudden loss of strength and prostration to the ground or floor professedly by the power of God. Mrs. W. was one of those persons thus operated upon. In the midst of such scenes and influences as these she passed her time until the time of the Lord's expected advent passed by, in 1843 and '44. The result of the passing by of the time in 1844 was the division of the Advent people into two portions, one portion falling back upon the position that the coming of the Lord was near, but admitting that the '43 and '44 movements were mistakes, the others claiming that God had led them out thus far and that the past would be fully justified; the latter class finally going off into the shut door error, asserting that the Bridegroom had come, and that the time for the salvation of sinners and nominal Christians and apostate Adventists, was past. Mrs. White (at that time Ellen G. Harmon) was identified with the latter class, who held their meetings at her father's house, showing that she was constantly under the influence of this terrible delusion, the power of which none can properly appreciate but those who witnessed or participated in it. Under these circumstances, and with her diseased organization or condition of the brain and nervous system and predisposition to hysteria, it is no wonder that she had what is called a vision, and that just as might be expected her visions would correspond in their main features with the religious views she entertained, as we have clearly shown in this work.
Mrs. White's case is not an isolated one in this respect. Many others have had visions, or thought they had, and in each case the vision would run in harmony with their religious views. Believers in natural immortality would see immortal souls in heaven or hell as the case might be. Catholic visions will advocate Catholicism, Spiritualist visions, Spiritualism, &c., but all this cannot prove the various and conflicting isms true, neither do the earlier visions of Mrs. W. prove the shut door doctrine true; but the fact that she and her people have repudiated that error prove that her visions were a great mistake, and instead of being of divine inspiration had their origin in human frailty.
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