Ellen White and the Seventh-day Adventist Church
many of you know, one of the most commonly quoted critics of Ellen White
and her work was Dudley Marvin Canright. However what many do not know
is that he also wrote some outstanding testimonies in favor of what he
later tried to tear down. We present these here for your interest.
D.M. Canright - April
Thus far I have purposely omitted to
say much about Sr. White and her visions and their influence upon the
cause. I will now briefly refer to them, as this is a great stone of
stumbling with some.
Right here let me say that we do not
throw away the Bible, and take Mrs. White's visions instead. No; if there
is a class of people under heaven who believe the Bible strongly, who love
it devotedly, who study it and go to it for everything, it is Seventh-day
Adventists. Here is our store-house of doctrine and truth. We preach this
everywhere and always. We have no other authority. We go to this to test
and prove the genuineness of Sr. White's labors and visions. If they did
not harmonize with this in every particular, we would reject them.
It is wicked for men to cry, "The
Bible, the Bible, the Bible," and profess to follow that implicitly
when they reject one of the plainest doctrines of the Bible,--the doctrine
of spiritual gifts. Of course I have not time here to take up an argument
on spiritual gifts, or enter into a lengthy statement of her labors, their
nature, &c. We believe, however, that no doctrine of the Bible is
plainer than that of the perpetuity of spiritual gifts, and particularly
that these gifts are to be restored in the last days. Joel 2:28-32; Rev.
12:17; 19:10; 1 Thess. 5:1-21; &c.
From the very start of this message,
Sr. White has been intimately connected with it. Ever since 1845, she has
had her visions frequently, and they have had an important bearing upon
the work. Everywhere that Eld. White has gone preaching, advising,
planning, and directing in the work, she has gone, and stood side by side
She has always attended our large
gatherings, our Conferences, and our camp-meetings, preaching, exhorting,
and bearing her testimony, and her influence has been very great indeed.
Not a move of any importance has ever been made in any department of the
work but she has spoken in the testimonies supporting it, either before or
after it was started, and as her testimonies have been generally believed
and received by this people, they have necessarily had a great influence
upon the action of our people. I am thoroughly satisfied that without the
testimonies it would have been utterly impossible to sustain many
movements of great importance which have now proved a complete success in
this work. When the testimonies have spoken upon the subject, it has at
once put an end to strife and division of sentiments and complaints among
our people, and they have taken hold unitedly to prosecute the work.
To the very same source we are largely
indebted for the union in faith and doctrine which prevails among us, and
for our escape from the confusion, discord, wrangling, and bickering,
which everywhere characterize the other bodies of Adventists. Shall we not
thank God for such great benefits as these? Let others think as they
please, we are thankful for this inestimable blessing, and we are not
ashamed to say so.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE TESTIMONIES
The point which I wish to make is to
call the attention of our brethren to the important position and great
influence which Sr. White and her testimonies have ever held in this
work. There are no half dozen men in our ranks who have really influenced
the faith, the practice, and the different important moves in this work so
much as Sr. White and her testimonies.
As long as this is an undeniable fact,
let us look at the inevitable conclusion which one must draw from it.
Here is a special work to be done,-a special message to be given. The time
has come for the Lord to move out a people to do the work. We see this
very work commenced, and carried forward successfully. We look at the
means which have been used to accomplish this work, and we find that
from the very beginning, chief and very prominent among them are the
labors of Bro. and Sr. White.
She has traveled everywhere, and given
her influence to the work with all her might as an able speaker. Many have
been converted to this truth under her personal efforts. Her voice has
been heard in our Conferences, and in the counsels of our people. Through
her urgent appeals and strong entreaties, advance moves have been made,
institutions for the prosecution of the work have been founded, and in
every conceivable way her important labors for thirty years have been
intimately connected with this work, and have done very much for its
Now, while all this proves nothing to
men who do not believe the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, or the third
angel's message, yet to those who do believe these doctrines, it seems to
me that one conclusion is inevitable, viz., that Bro. and Sr. White must
be servants of God, and that her testimonies must be from the Lord.
Look at it a moment. Here are certain
great truths-a definitely foretold message, in the success of which we are
all deeply interested. We believe that it is not only truth, but the
present truth. These truths have brought us from darkness to light, from
the fables of men to the commandments of God. They have made the Bible to
us a new book. In the belief and practice of them we have been greatly
blessed by the Lord. They are the joy and rejoicing of our souls. We
believe they are destined to test the world and prepare it for the harvest
of the great day. We rejoice in the prosperity of this work, in the spread
of this truth.
Now consider: What means have been
used by the Lord to bring out, to maintain, and publish this work to the
world? What agents did God use to bring these blessed truths to our
attention? First, foremost, and prominent among them all, as we have
shown, are the untiring, life-long labors of Bro. and Sr. White. We appeal
to the common sense of every believer: How can you consistently believe
the work to be of God and the workmen of the devil? It is utterly
Every man in his own soul does and
must admit this. He may try to dodge and fight it, and fix it up some
other way, but it is of no use. We must either accept Bro. and Sr. White
as God's accredited servants, or we must reject the third angel's message; and
the facts show that this is just about what every one does. Those who
commence by finding fault with Bro. White, and by rejecting the
testimonies, sooner or later end by giving up the third angel's message,
and finally separating themselves from this people. This result is
inevitable, and hence we warn our brethren before they start upon that
path just where it will lead to. There has been no exception in the past,
there will be none in the future.
-REVIEW AND HERALD, April 19, 1877
A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
As to the Christian character of Sr.
White, I beg leave to say that I think I know something about it. I have
been acquainted with Sr. White for eighteen years, more than half the
history of our people. I have been in their family time and again,
sometimes weeks at a time. They have been in our house and family many
times. I have traveled with them almost everywhere; have been with them
in private and in public, in meeting and out of meeting, and have had the
very best chances to know something of the life, character, and spirit of
Bro. and Sr. White.
As a minister, I have had to deal with
all kinds of persons, and all kinds of character, till I think I can judge
something of what a person is, at least after years of intimate
I know Sr. White to be an unassuming,
modest, kind-hearted, noble woman. These traits in her character are not
simply put on and cultivated, but they spring gracefully and easily from
her natural disposition. She is not self-conceited, self-righteous, and
self-important, as fanatics always are.
I have frequently come in contact with
fanatical persons, and I have always found them to be full of
pretentions, full of pride, ready to give their opinion, boastful of their
holiness, etc. But I have ever found Sr. White the reverse of all this.
Any one, the poorest and the humblest, can go to her freely for advice and
comfort without being repulsed. She is ever looking after the needy, the
destitute, and the suffering, providing for them, and pleading their
cause. I have never formed an acquaintance with any persons who so
constantly have the fear of God before them. Nothing is undertaken without
earnest prayer to God. She studies God's word carefully and constantly.
I have heard Sr. White speak hundreds
of times, have read all her testimonies through and through, most of them
many times, and I have never been able to find one immoral sentence in the
whole of them, or anything that is not strictly pure and Christian;
nothing that leads away from the Bible, or from Christ; but there I find
the most earnest appeals to obey God, to love Jesus, to believe the
Scriptures, and to search them constantly. I have received great spiritual
benefit times without number, from the testimonies. Indeed, I never read
them without feeling reproved for my lack of faith in God, lack of
devotion, and lack of earnestness in saving souls. If I have any judgment,
any spiritual discernment, I pronounce the testimonies to be of the same
Spirit and of the same tenor as the Scriptures.
For thirty years these testimonies
have been believed and read among our people. How has it affected them?
Has it led them away from the law of God? Has it led them to give up faith
in Christ? Has it led them to throw aside the Bible? Has it led them to be
a corrupt, immoral people? I know that they will compare favorably with
any other Christian denomination.
One thing I have remarked, and that
is, that the most bitter opponents of the visions of Sr. White admit that
she is a Christian. How they can make this admission is more than I know.
They try to fix it up by saying that she is deceived. They are not able to
put their finger upon a single stain in all her life, nor any immoral
sentence in all her writings. They have to admit that much of her writings
are excellent, and that whoever would live out all she says would be a
good Christian, sure of Heaven. This is passing strange if she is a tool
of the devil, inspired by Satan, or if her writings are immoral or the
vagaries of her own mind.
Another fact should have great weight
with our Sabbath keeping Adventists. All the leading men among us, those
of the very strongest minds and the best talents, and who have had every
facility for more than a quarter of a century to become thoroughly
acquainted with Sr. White and her writings, have the strongest faith in
her testimonies. This, with our people who keep the Sabbath and believe in
the Advent doctrine, should have great weight.
I could name half a dozen men whose
writings you read with great delight, whose talent and ability you all
admire, whose piety and doctrine none of you question, who have all
confidence in her gift. By a long and intimate acquaintance with Sr.
White and her writings, they have had a hundred-fold better chance to
decide upon this question than ninety-nine out of a hundred lay brethren.
They have seen Sr. White in vision, they have heard her deliver hundreds
of testimonies to individuals whom they know. Indeed, they themselves have
been reproved through them, and they have read and studied her writings
over and over thoroughly. They are conscientious, God-fearing men,-men,
too, who are close Bible students. Do these persons doubt the testimonies?
No, not one of them.
We do not ask others to believe upon
their faith; but we do say that others who have not had the opportunity
to investigate this question as these men have, should feel some modesty
in giving a different decision upon, or taking up opposition against, the
CONTRASTED WITH IMPOSTORS
Another fact I have noticed: Impostors
are always anxious to build up themselves. Any one who will support them
they will flatter and praise and sustain; but I know it be just the
reverse in this case. Those who have been the most often, and, probably,
the most severely, reproved through the testimonies, are those who have
been the warmest supporters of Sr. White. This does not look like the
policy of a deceiver.
But the special point which we wish
our brethren to reconcile in their own minds is this: How they can believe
the third angel's message, how they can believe that this is the special
work of God, how they can believe that the time has come for these truths
to be given to the world, and that in the providence of God they are being
given, and still can believe that Sr. White is not the servant of God, and
her testimonies are not from the Lord.
Consider the fact that for over thirty
years these testimonies have been intimately connected with this work,
that Sr. White has had a very prominent position in the work, and that
her testimonies have had a good deal to do in shaping this work, and in
sustaining and building it up,-consider all these facts, and then
reconcile this if you can with the supposition that the work is of God and
the workmen are of Satan! Would God allow a deceiver, an impostor, to
stand in so prominent a place in his work for so long a time? If this be
so, we fearlessly challenge any one to point to a single example of a
similar case in all the history of God's work upon earth.
Where did the Lord ever have a special
work to be done for his church where a corrupt man has taken hold in that
work, and stood at its head all the way through? The very idea is absurd.
Do you find it so in the case of Noah? of Moses? of Elijah? of the
forerunner of the first advent? or at the time of the Reformation? in the
work of Wesley? or of Wm. Miller? There is no case. God has never suffered
it to be, neither will he now. No, dear brethren, we must either renounce
the third angel's message, or accept those whom God has raised up to give
it. And this naturally brings me to consider another notable fact in our
history. -REVIEW AND HERALD, April 26, 1877
In all my acquaintance among the
thousands of our people, and I have had a very extensive acquaintance with
them, I have always noticed that those who have rejected the testimonies
have largely lost their zeal in the cause, lost their faith in the work,
their piety and devotion, and have become cold, unfeeling, and dark in
their minds.... I now refer to those who have had a chance to become
informed upon the question, and have taken their stand against the
Of course there are a good many who
know but little or nothing about them, and have taken no position one way
or the other. I do not refer to them, but to those who have taken a
decided stand against them. I know whereof I affirm, and I have yet to see
one single exception.
Right in connection with this, I want
to call your attention to that which has had a powerful influence upon my
mind touching this question; viz., the failure and ruin which has every
time overtaken those who have undertaken to hold on to the message and the
present truth and still oppose the testimonies. Ever since the work began,
persons have risen up here and there in opposition to the visions, or
perhaps to the work of Bro. White, and have taken their stand against
them. They said that they believed the Sabbath, the advent doctrine, the
messages, indeed, all parts of present truth except the testimonies. They
claimed that the visions and the position of Bro. White were a hindrance
to the cause, and a stumbling block in the way of its advancement; that if
these were removed, then the cause would progress finely.... They have
generally begun by protesting that they were in harmony with all the truth
except those points named. On several occasions not only individuals but
even companies have started off on this track. [At this point Gamaliel's
counsel to the Sanhedrin is presented.]
He says, Let these men alone; if this
work or counsel be of God, it will stand, and you cannot overthrow it; but
if it is of men, it will come to naught. Then he proves this by citing two
Now, says Gamaliel, this is the way it
will always be. If the work is not of God, it will all come to confusion;
but if it is of God, all the powers of hell cannot arrest it.
Now apply this undoubted principle to
the history of those who have drawn off from the body of Seventh-day
Adventists. I have known of them, and have been more or less acquainted
with their history from Maine to California. Six different papers have
been started in the interest of that rebellious work, and all, except
one, have gone down. -REVIEW AND HERALD, May 10, 1877
GOD'S PROSPERING HAND
But now in conclusion: The real point
which I wish to make in the minds of our brethren and sisters is this: If
the third angel's message, including the Sabbath, the second advent, the
saints' inheritance, the nature of man, and these important points of
faith,-if this work is of God, and the time has come that these truths are
to be preached, and yet if the visions of Sr. White and the position of
Eld. White are not correct, but are really displeasing to God, I ask you
this one question: Why is it that God does not prosper and build up these
opposers who have gone off from us upon this very issue?
Every time they have started out with
simply leaving out the visions and opposing the work of Bro. White. Why
does not God help them, and show that they are right and we are wrong? I
maintain that the providence of God in the history of this work has
settled the question that we must either accept the testimonies, and Bro.
and Sr. White as God's servants, or give up the third angel's message
entirely. We warn you who are inclined to find fault and murmur and draw
off. Be careful what path you are entering upon. If you proceed in that
direction, you will land just where all others have who have tried it
Brethren, you who believe these
testimonies, do you read them and follow them as closely as you should? Do
you love them and remember what they say? Do you try to drink in their
spirit? Do you have them in your houses? Do you refer to them frequently?
I know that nothing would be more profitable to you than these, next to
the Bible. -REVIEW AND HERALD, June 14, 1877
Those in Doubting Castle
by Eld. D. M. Canright-Feb.
AMONG the most dangerous of the places
which pilgrims had to pass in the days of Bunyan was Doubting Castle. Many
a poor pilgrim was caught on these grounds, shut up in this terrible old
castle, and finally destroyed by the keeper, Giant Despair. But some were
finally lucky enough to make their escape. That same old castle still
stands by the way, as grim, and dark, and dreadful as ever. Every now and
then some poor pilgrim, venturing too near, is caught. Some are rescued,
but many are not. Hoping to help some of these, and to warn others, I
write these lines.
Twenty-five years ago I embraced this
message. The complete system of truth which it presented seemed to me
something wonderful and very glorious. The study of the Bible was a
continual feast to me. To preach it to others, and see them embrace it,
filled my heart with gladness and peace. But at length things came up
which threw me into doubt on some points, and finally were the occasion of
my ceasing to preach the message. As the same things have affected others
more or less, and will be liable to affect still others in the future, I
wish to give a few of the reasons why I still think that the work is all
right, that the Lord is in it, and that these doubts are not well founded.
EASY TO DOUBT
It is well for us to remember that it
is always easier to doubt than to believe. Jesus commanded his disciples
to preach the gospel. Those who should believe would be saved, but those
who should not believe would be damped. He knew full well that only a few
would believe, and such has been the case. The great mass of men from that
day to this have rejected the gospel. They claim that the evidence is not
sufficient to prove that the message is from God. Could not God have
given more evidence, and clearer, to sustain the gospel had he thought
best? He gave enough so that every one who really hungers and thirsts
after light, who is willing to seek for it as for hid treasures, who is
willing to humble his soul before God, and cry earnestly to him for
direction, can find it to the complete satisfaction of his soul.
But even the gospel is not so plain
that objections cannot be raised against it if men try hard to find them.
Well informed infidels even raise many objections against the Bible
itself,-objections which are difficult to answer, and which they claim
never have been satisfactorily answered. And so they go on scoffing and
disbelieving. But Christians don't give up their faith for all that. The
evidence on the other hand is too clear and too abundant to be
overbalanced by a few seeming objections.
We must remember that there are always
two sides to every question. Whatever position may be taken on any
question, some one can be found to dispute it and to raise arguments
against it. So generally has this been the case that the main tenet of one
sect of the old philosophers was that we could not know anything
certainly, not even our own existence. And yet for all that, common men go
right on believing that they know some things.
THE PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE
It is the accepted rule in all the
affairs of this life to decide the questions, even where life or death is
at stake, by the balance, or preponderance, of evidence. The existence
of God, the inspiration of the Bible, the truth of Christianity, etc.,
are accepted and firmly believed upon these grounds. I firmly believe that
the truth of our message can be just as clearly proved in the same manner.
It is by ignoring this rule of evidence that men become skeptical
concerning God, the Holy Scriptures, and all religious faith. In just the
same way some of our people come to be doubters concerning our message,
the testimonies, etc. They let a few light objections on one side outweigh
a mountain of truth on the other.
All the doubters and those troubled
with unbelief have not been outside the church. Even some of the real
children of God all along the ages have been troubled with unbelief. Jesus
had to meet it in his disciples, till it saddened his heart. Thus he
said, "0 fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets
have spoken." Luke 24:25. They had seen sufficient proof that Jesus
was the Messiah; but when some things transpired which they had not
expected, and could not understand, they let these outweigh the evidence
which had been clear and satisfactory to them before.
Thomas belonged to this class of
doubters; but it did not seem to profit himself, benefit the cause, or
please his Master. All we ever hear of him is about his asking questions.
When all his brethren positively assured him that they had actually seen
Jesus, and had talked with him, Thomas refused to believe it. He must see
for himself, and put his finger into the wounds in Jesus' hands, before he
would be convinced. The Lord granted him the proof he demanded, and then
said to him, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed;
blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." John
20:29. Thomas thought he could not help his unbelief; for there were the
stubborn facts, and what could he do with them? But the Lord thought
differently; and evidently his reproof of the doubting apostle was
designed also for all others of a like disposition in every age.
RESPONSE TO EVIDENCE
We must remember that we may demand
too much evidence,-more than God sees best to give. Take one case as an
illustration; John the Baptist came with a solemn warning from God. Jesus
says that the Pharisees, in rejecting him, rejected the counsel of God
against themselves; but that the publicans and common people
"justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John." Luke
7:29, 30. How did these justify God? Let us pass over to the judgment.
These Pharisees will be surprised to find themselves rejected. They will
plead that they were honest, that they would have believed if John had
only worked a miracle or had given sufficient evidence of his mission.
But the simple people who did believe
John will rise up, and say, "We lived at the same time you did, and
in the same town; we heard the same things that you heard, and we
believed. The evidence was sufficient for us." Thus they will justify
God, and condemn the unbelievers.
So will it be in every age. Those who
have believed will rise up and testify that the evidence was sufficient
if the heart had only been humble enough to submit to God's ways. Why is
it that the word of God so often and so earnestly insists upon humility of
heart and contrition of soul as necessary to a right understanding of
his work? Let the boastful doubter think of this, and beware.
From the very beginning God's work has
been doubted by some who have had a full knowledge of it and a close
connection with it. Thus Abel by faith offered unto God an acceptable
gift; but Cain's sacrifice was not accepted of God. For this Cain was
angry, angry with God and with his brother. He thought that Abel was a
fool, and God was unjust. From that day to this there have been the same
two classes,-the believing Abels and the doubting Cains. By faith Noah
condemned the world. Heb. 11:7. He had the same evidence which the world
had. He believed, they disbelieved. He was right, they were wrong.
No man ever came from God with better
evidences of his divine mission than Moses; and yet right among his own
people and followers and coworkers doubters were constantly springing
up. It now seems to us that one
or two clearly wrought miracles would
forever settle our doubts as to the divine mission of the person working
them. But look at this case. Consider the wonderful miracles which the
people saw Moses perform,-the river turned to blood, all the plagues in
Egypt, the pillar of cloud constantly attending them day and night, the
sea opened, etc. How strong their faith was then! how confident their song
after their triumph at the Red Sea!
But they start on, and for several
days in a hot climate there is not a drop of water for man or beast. Soon
they begin to murmur, then to question, and finally to doubt whether the
Lord was leading them. Doubtless they reasoned, "Didn't God know we
must have water? If he were leading, would he have made such a terrible
blunder?" "Is the Lord among us, or not?" (Ex.
17:7) was the all-absorbing question
of debate in tents, by the camp-fires, and in little groups of earnest
talkers. What about all the miracles they had witnessed, the faith they
had expressed but a few days before? These were not quite as weighty and
conclusive now as they had thought them to be.
The same spirit of fault-finding and
of doubt was continually cropping out during the whole forty years. Yet at
the same time there was the pillar of cloud always with them, the manna
falling day after day for forty years, besides many other miracles. In the
face of all this, a few objections which they could not, or would not,
understand outweighed everything else.
Look at the remarkable occurrences
related in Num. 16. Over two hundred and fifty leading men headed a
rebellion against Moses. They said, "Moses, you promised to lead us
right into a land flowing with milk and honey, and to give us possession;
but you have done no such thing. Here you have led us round and round for
twenty years. We are no nearer the promised land than when we started. Our
brethren have died of hunger and thirst, and we are nearly worn out. You
cannot deceive us any longer. We are going back to Egypt. Our mission is a
failure." (See verses 12-14.) They thought they had a clear case.
But Moses proposed to appeal to God to
decide who was right. They readily accepted his proposition, and boldly
went out with their censers, and stood before God for him to answer. This
showed that they were in earnest, and thoroughly believed that they were
right. But when God did answer, they all went down into the earth in a
moment, and perished. Just so now: fault-finders and doubters become so
confident in their positions that they are willing to go up to God and to
the judgment with it. Take care! Korah and his sympathizers did that, and
did it to their eternal ruin.
But what is more astonishing still, is
that "on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel
murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, "Ye have killed the
people of the Lord." Ver. 41. Was not that astonishing after all
they had witnessed the day before? But such is the power of unbelief when
once fortified in the heart. This should teach us great caution in
rejecting manifest light and truth because of some seeming difficulties
and objections connected with it.
ELIJAH, JOHN, AND THE DISCIPLES
The faith of even the best men has
sometimes wavered when hard pressed. Elijah had a special work to do in
reforming Israel in the days of Ahab. God wrought through him mightily.
The priests of Baal were slain, and a great victory gained. Elijah was
exultant. He thought that the king and queen and all the people were
coming over to the Lord. But when it did not turn out so, and the queen
threatened to kill him, he ran for his life, and went into the wilderness,
and lay down requesting to die. I Kings 19:1-4. He thought his mission was
a failure. And even when the Lord said to him, "What doest thou here,
Elijah?" (ver. 9) he was ready to argue his case, and defend his
course, till the Lord convinced him that he was wrong.
So also even John the Baptist, after
being left in prison for a long time, and being threatened with death,
became shaken in his faith in Jesus. If
Jesus was the Messiah, why did he
leave him there to perish? He sends two of his disciples to inquire if
after all he is really the Messiah? Luke 7:19. What a sad exhibition of
human weakness this was after his strong faith in Jesus when he cried,
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"
! John 1:29. When such men as these falter and doubt for a moment, no
wonder that weaker ones yield to temptations, and apostatize entirely when
trials and discouragements come upon the cause. So it always has been, and
so it always will be.
Even Christ's disciples went through
the same process of doubting and sifting and apostatizing; and that, too,
after they had seen many and wonderful miracles wrought by him. When
Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the multitude with a few loaves
and fishes, they were so moved that they proposed to take him by force and
make him a king. John 6:9-15. The next day when Jesus rebuked them for
seeking the things of this world, their faith suddenly cooled off, and
they demanded of him another miracle that they might believe. Ver. 30. And
when he rebuked them still more sharply, they said, "This is an hard
saying: who can hear it? " Ver. 60. "From that time many of his
disciples went back, and walked no more with him." Ver. 66.
We see them turning away with a sneer.
They have been deceived and misled; but now their eyes are open, and they
will be fooled no longer. Such is unbelief, such it always has been, and
such it always will be. Luther's work developed hundreds of these
doubters,-men who were at first warm believers. Wesley found the same
class. If God's work now does not develop them, it will be a new thing
under the sun.
GOD DOES NOT REMOVE OCCASION FOR DOUBT
The fact is that God has never at any
time given so much light and evidence that man had to believe whether he
wanted to or not. Nor has he been careful to remove all objections out of
the way of those who have believed and embraced his truth. In fact, he
has evidently placed objections right in their way on purpose to test
their faith and try their devotion to him. This is just what Moses said
God did do to the Israelites. Deut. 8:1-3. It is just what he has always
done, and always will do.
The gift of an immortal life in glory,
purchased at the infinite price of the death of God's own Son, is too
precious a boon to be lightly bestowed. God is willing, nay, anxious, that
all men should have it; but they must first show their appreciation of it
by carefully, humbly, earnestly, and prayerfully seeking after it. It
must be to them like the hid treasures and the pearl of great price for
which they are willing to give all. Such seekers do not miss the truth. A
few obstacles or difficulties do not turn them back.
But when men become proud and
self-sufficient, then the Lord leaves them to be filled with their own
ways. Behold the haughty Herod demanding proof of Christ that he was the
Son of God! How much did Jesus give him? He answered him not one word. He
had not a ray of light for him. But now see our Lord at the well in
Samaria. To that humble woman he opens his whole soul, and tells her
plainly that he is the Messiah. He
purposely left the proud Pharisees to
draw a wrong conclusion from his declaration that he could build the
temple in three days, while he carefully explained all his parables to the
Notice what God says of Christ:
"Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offense."
Rom. 9:23. Didn't God know that man would stumble over him? Yes; and so he
knows that they will also stumble over other truths just as they always
have done, and always will do. But those who seek God humbly and with
tears will not be left to fall. God would send every angel from heaven
before one such should miss the way. All these facts apply with equal
force to the cause of God in our day, to the third angel's message, and to
all connected with it.
Ellen White AND THE TESTIMONIES
But I wish more especially to apply
this to the testimonies. What evidence do we have that they are of God?
Every argument in favor of the third angel's message is an argument in
favor of the testimonies. Why? If it be a fact that the time has come for
a special warning to the world on the advent near, the law of God, and
other truths which we hold, then we may be sure that God would prepare the
way for that message by raising up proper persons to give it.
God by his providence raised up Moses
to lead his people out of Egypt. Before Jeremiah was born, God had set him
apart to do the work before him. Jer. 1:5. So of John the Baptist. Before
his birth the angel announced his mission. Luke 1. Who does not believe
that Luther was a man of God's providence, raised up to do that special
work? So of Wesley. Shall, then, the last closing message to the world
fall due and God provide no fit instruments to proclaim it, and push it
through to the end? That is absurd, and contrary to all God's doings in
the past, as we have already seen.
Now, admitting that ours is a special
message from God designed to warn this generation, look at its history.
Sr. White and her work have not only been connected with the message from
the very first, but she has had a leading influence in that work, has
stood front and foremost, and with voice and pen has done more to guide
and mold the message than any other half dozen laborers now in the cause.
From the beginning her teachings have been accepted by all the leading
ministers and believers as light from God.
Now would it not be the very height of
absurdity to accept the message and the work as the truth and God's work,
and yet reject the very one who had done the work? A deceiver, an
impostor, a false teacher stand at the head of God's special work for
forty years! No, that will never do. We must either reject the message or
receive the testimonies. They stand or fall together. So I repeat that
every argument in favor of the main doctrine of our faith is an argument
in favor of the testimonies.
Another argument in favor of the
testimonies is the fact that all those parties who have drawn off from our
people in opposition to the testimonies have come to naught, or at best
have had only a feeble existence. Time and again this has been tried by
different persons proposing to preach all the message except the
testimonies. Now if that position is right, why don't God prosper them?
Why don't they succeed better than those who hold and teach them?
Another evidence in favor of the
testimonies is the fact that those who have accepted them have always
stood together, and have perfectly agreed in faith and practice; while
those who have opposed them have disagreed in doctrine and discipline, and
have split up into little factions.
And still another evidence is found in
the fact that those who remain among us, and still oppose the testimonies,
soon lose their love for the message, their spirituality, their
devotion, their zeal for God and for the salvation of souls. I have seen
many such cases, and have never yet known an exception to this rule. Why
is this so? If they are right, why does it always have this effect? On the
other hand, the most devoted and zealous members in all our churches are
those who have the strongest faith in the testimonies.
Again, the tendency and influence of
the testimonies is not, like the teachings of Spiritualist mediums, to
lead away from the Bible, away from God, and away from faith in Christ;
nor, like Mormonism, to lead to sensuality, dishonesty, and crime; but
they lead to faith in the Holy Scriptures, devotion to God, and a life of
humility and holiness. Can a corrupt tree bear good fruit? Jesus said not.
What is a tree known by?-Its fruit. Here is a tree which has been standing
among us for forty years, and bearing fruit. What has been the nature of
that fruit? What have been its effects upon those who have partaken the
most of it?
It seems to me now that no one who has
ever felt the power of the Spirit of God upon his own heart can candidly
read through the four volumes of "Spirit of Prophecy" without
being deeply convicted that the writer must live very near to God, and be
thoroughly imbued with the same Spirit that inspired the Bible, and
animated the apostles and prophets. Such lofty thoughts of God, of heaven,
and of spiritual things cannot come from a carnal heart, nor from a mind
deceived and led by Satan.
DIFFICULTIES NO OCCASION FOR REJECTION
But are there not difficulties in
these writings hard to explain? passages which seem to conflict one with
another, or with some passage in the Bible, or with facts? I freely grant
for myself that there are some passages which bother me, and which I do
not know how to explain. But I believe them for all that just as I do the
Bible. There are many passages in the Bible which I should have to admit I
could not explain nor harmonize. If any man says that he can explain and
reconcile all the statements of the Scriptures, he simply shows his
self-conceit and ignorance. Yet I profoundly believe the Bible for all
I have not a shadow of a doubt about
the sleep of the dead, the annihilation of the wicked, the Sonship of
Christ, baptism by immersion, etc.; and yet there are scriptures, such for
instance, as the rich man and Lazarus, which are as difficult for me to
harmonize with these plain Bible doctrines as it is for me to explain the
hardest passage in Sr. White's writings. Peter admitted that there were
some things in the Scriptures hard to be understood. 2 Pet. 3:16. He says
that some wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction. And that is just
what some are doing with the testimonies.
When we consider how extensive these
writings are, extending over a period of nearly forty years, embracing ten
bound volumes besides many smaller works, it would be a wonder indeed if
in all these there should not be anything in the wording, the sentiment,
or the doctrine, hard to understand and explain, or on which a sharp
opponent could not make a plausible argument. We know that God's
revelations in the past have not been given free from all obscurity and
difficulties. Neither will they be now.
If a man reads the Bible on purpose to
find objections, as Tom Paine did, and as Ingersoll does, he will find
plenty of them to satisfy his unbelief, and confirm him in his infidelity.
But if, like thousands of others equally learned and intelligent, he goes
to the Scriptures to find light and God and salvation, he will find them
full and clear, to the joy of his soul. I am profoundly convinced in the
depths of my soul, after an experience of twenty-five years, that the same
thing is true of the testimonies.
AN EARNEST PERSONAL APPEAL
And now I want to reason awhile with
those among us who are holding off and living in doubt about the
testimonies. I believe that your course is not only wrong, but that it is
unsatisfactory to you here, and will be unsatisfactory at the Judgment.
You take very little interest in the progress of the cause, you carry a
very light burden in the work of the church, you take but little part, if
any, in the Sabbath-school, you do next to nothing in the missionary
work, you pay no tithes, you give nothing anywhere, you have no burden for
the salvation of souls, or if you have you never show it; if you say
anything at all it is mostly in raising queries and objections.
My brethren, my sisters, are you
willing to let your short life slip by year after year, and finally come
up to the searching test of the Judgment in this way? Beware! Many will
land in perdition who do not intend to. Shut your eyes to it as you may,
such a course must inevitably end in disaster.
But you say, "I would like to
believe and have full confidence in the whole work if I only could; but I
am afraid I shall believe an error." Well, let us see if there is
really any danger in going this way.
You certainly know that our people
hold all the cardinal doctrines of salvation,-faith in God, the Bible,
Jesus Christ, repentance, a holy life, etc. Isn't this safe? You know that
Sr. White and all our ministers not only so teach, but exert all their
influence to have our people live lives of devotion, of honesty, of
purity, of love, of plainness, of sacrifice, and of every Christian
virtue. You know that every sin is condemned among our people, and the
most solemn warnings are constantly given against even the appearance of
evil. You know that in almost every church of our people there are at
least some who are living blameless Christian lives. You know that there
is not one immoral doctrine taught or practiced by our people. Bad men and
examples there are, to be sure; but
they are such in spite of all our efforts to make them better. You know
that if any man will strictly live up to the teachings of the testimonies
and our people, he will certainly be saved.
Now will it not be better for you,
better in this life and safer in the next,-to believe and labor heartily
with this people than it is to believe with nobody, be in harmony with no
church, and have no settled system of doctrine? Of all the miserable,
unsatisfactory places to be in, that is the worst. There is no comfort in
it, there is no strength in it, there is no usefulness in it. Better to
believe something, better to run in somewhere, rather than to stand out
there in the storm all alone. A hut, a hovel, is better than that. What a
pitiable condition a man must be in at this day when there are so many
churches and kinds of doctrine, who can neither believe nor work with any
of them! Such a person must be badly befogged some way.
My friend, is this your condition? How
long have you been there? One year? five years? ten years? Haven't you
settled it yet? Then give it up, and come in with those who have settled
it, where there is faith and hope and zeal and active work for God and
Look at the grand truths which our
people hold,-the new earth, the beautiful city, the resurrection, the real
life hereafter, the literal coming of Christ, the sleep of the dead, the
destruction of sin and sinners, the law of God, all those grand lines of
prophecy unmistakably pointing to the end near. Can you give these all up,
forget them, and shut them from your heart? Can you once more have
confidence in intangible spirits, eternal hell, sprinkling for baptism,
Sunday-Sabbath, or the millennium? Pshaw! strain at a gnat, and swallow a
I find that there is peace and joy,
hope and confidence, love for souls, and the blessing of God in giving
full confidence to the whole message; and these I have never found in
doubting it, nor have I ever seen any one who did find them that way. All
admit that we have truth enough, if lived out, to save us. We know that
all other churches have many errors. How shall we gain anything, then, by
going there? Start a new church of our own? Well, the success of those who
have left us and tried that has not been very encouraging.
No, the real trouble lies close at
home, in a proud, unconverted heart, a lack of real humility, an
unwillingness to submit to God's way of finding the truth. REVIEW AND
HERALD, Feb. 10, 1885