The Life of Ellen White by D.M. Canright

Chapter 13 - First Visions Childish

The ideas, and the way of expressing them, in her first visions are often crude, childish and extravagant, differing in this, materially, from her writings in later years. At the time of her first visions she was only seventeen, unread, and filled with the fanatical ideas of the Millerites of that date. These visions were in keeping with her surroundings and her childish mind at that time. In her first vision she says she saw "a tree with a trunk on either side of the river, both of pure, transparent gold" (Early Writings, edition 1907, p. 17). Again: "I saw two long rods on which hung silver wires, and on the wires most glorious grapes." Think of a fruit tree of gold, and of silver wires bearing grapes! A worthy idea for a childish mind.

Once again: "All the angels hold a golden card, which they must present at the gate of the holy city, to get in and out" (p. 39).

Every saint of all the untold millions saved has a crown of gold. She says: "Jesus with his own right hand placed them on our heads" (p. 16). For Jesus himself to do all this for all the myriads of the redeemed, would require hundreds of years. Then she sees "a table of pure silver; it was many miles in length, yet out eyes could extend over it" (p. 19). The saints all have silver houses; in each house is a shelf of gold. The saints take off their golden crowns, lay them on the shelf, and go out to work in the ground (p. 18).

She sees little children "use their little wings and fly to the top of the mountains" (p. 19). Again: "The saints used their wings and mounted to the top of the wall" (p. 53). Where is the Scripture for such teaching?

She claimed to have had a minute view of Satan; saw his frame, shape of his head, his eyes, etc. She says: "His frame was large, but the flesh hung loosely about his hands and face. As I beheld him, his chin was resting upon his left hand" (p. 152).

Notice her extreme, materialistic views of everything like a simple-minded, imaginative child, just what she really was at that time. In her later writings, when she became more intelligent and better read, these crude ideas largely disappear. Her ideas of the fall of Satan, the fall of man and the loss of Eden, look as if she got them from Milton's "Paradise Lost," surely not from the Bible.

Look at her views regarding the destruction of the wicked. She says some were consumed "quickly." "Some were many days consuming, and just as long as there was a portion of them unconsumed, all the sense of suffering remained" (p. 294; old edition, p. 154). So if a thigh bone was the last to burn after the brain and all the nerves were gone, that bone could think and feel and understand, and suffer, without head or brain! This is worthy of Dante's Inferno, or the old medieval idea of torture in literal fire. God would have to work a miracle in each individual case to torture men that way.

While Dr. Kellogg was in her high favor, Mrs. White used the most extravagant terms in his praise. Here is one instance: Dr. Kellogg "took up the most difficult cases, where, if the knife had slipped one hair's-breadth, it would have cost a life. God stood by his side and an angel's hand was upon his hand, guiding it through operations" (General Conference Bulletin, 1901, p. 203).

If an angel could do this for Dr. Kellogg, other angels could do the same for any devout surgeon, or even for a person who never studied surgery at all. This illustrates the ungoverned bridle upon her fertile imagination in all her writings.

In 1901 she called Dr. Kellogg "God's appointed physician." A little later (July 23, 1904) she denounced him as a tool of the devil, and said he had been "taught by the master of sophistries" ("Special Testimonies," Series B, p. 43).

A Historical Blunder About the Two Herods

In her early years, especially, Mrs. White was entirely ignorant of history. Hence she made many mistakes which are very apparent. Here is one about the two Herods: One Herod took part in the trial of Christ; years later another Herod put James to death. Mrs. White did not know this, but supposed it was the same Herod in both cases. So this is her inspired comment: "Herod's heart grew still harder; and when he heard that Christ was risen, he was not much troubled. He took the life of James," etc. (Early Writings, second part, p. 54).

A note by the publisher, at the bottom of this page, makes this confession: "It was Herod Antipas who took part in the trial of Christ, and Herod Agrippa who put James to death." And they try to fix matters up for her by saying: "It was the same Herodian spirit, only in another personality."

Did not the Lord know the difference between the two Herods? Surely! Did he inspire Mrs. White to write this false statement? No. The simple fact is, she wrote this out of her own mind as she supposed it was. It affords clear proof that she was not inspired.

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