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Counsels for the Church

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    The Vision that Could not Be Told

    During a series of meetings in Salamanca, New York, in November 1890, in which Mrs. White was making some public addresses to large gatherings, she became quite weak, as she had caught a severe cold on the trip to the city. After one of the meetings she left for her room discouraged and sick. She was thinking about pouring out her soul before God and pleading for mercy and for health and strength. She knelt by her chair, and in her own words, in telling about what happened, she said:CCh 25.7

    “I had not uttered a word when the whole room seemed filled with a soft silvery light, and my pain of disappointment and discouragement was removed. I was filled with comfort and hope—the peace of Christ.”CCh 26.1

    And then she was given a vision. After the vision she did not wish to sleep. She did not wish to rest. She was healed—she was rested.CCh 26.2

    In the morning a decision must be given. Could she go on to the place where the next meetings were to be held, or must she go back to her home at Battle Creek? A. T. Robinson, who had charge of the work, and William White, Mrs. White's son, called at her room to get her answer. They found her dressed and well. She was ready to go. She told of the healing. She told of the vision. She said, “I want to tell you what was revealed to me last night. In the vision I seemed to be in Battle Creek, and the angel messenger said, ‘Follow me.’” And then she hesitated. She could not recall it to mind. Twice she attempted to tell it, but could not recall what had been shown to her. In the days that followed she wrote about what she was shown. It was about plans being made for our religious liberty journal, then called the American Sentinel.CCh 26.3

    “In the night season I was present in several councils, and there I heard words repeated by influential men to the effect that if the American Sentinel would drop the words ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ from its column, and would say nothing about the sabbath, the great men of the world would patronize it; it would become popular, and do a larger work. This looked very pleasing.CCh 26.4

    “I saw their countenances brighten, and they began to work on a policy to make the Sentinel a popular success. The whole matter was introduced by men who needed the truth in the chambers of the mind and soul.”CCh 26.5

    It is clear that she saw a group of men discussing the editorial policy of this paper. When the General Conference was opened in March 1891, Mrs. White was asked to speak to the workers each morning at half past five and to address the whole conference of 4,000 on Sabbath afternoon. Her text on Sabbath afternoon was, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The entire discourse was an appeal to Seventh-day Adventists to hold forth the distinctive features of their faith. Three times during the meeting she started to tell of the Salamanca vision, but each time she was restrained. The events of the vision would simply leave her mind. Then she said, “Of this, I shall have more to say later.” She rounded out her sermon in about an hour's time, and the meeting was dismissed. All had noticed that she was unable to call the vision to mind. The president of the General Conference came to her and asked if she would take the morning meeting.CCh 26.6

    “No,” she replied, “I'm weary; I've borne my testimony. You must make other plans for the morning meeting.” Other plans were made.CCh 27.1

    As Mrs. White returned to her home, she told the members of her family that she would not be attending the morning meeting. She was weary, and she was going to have a good rest. She was going to sleep in on Sunday morning, and plans were laid accordingly.CCh 27.2

    That night, after the close of the Conference session, a small group of men met in one of the offices in the Review and Herald building. At that meeting were representatives of the publishing house that issued the American Sentinel, and there were present also the representatives of the Religious Liberty Association. They met to discuss and settle a very vexing question—the editorial policy of the American Sentinel. The door was then locked, and all agreed that the door would not be unlocked until the question was settled.CCh 27.3

    A little before three o'clock on Sunday morning the meeting ended in a deadlock, with the assertion on the part of the religious liberty men that unless the pacific press would accede to their demands and drop the term “Seventh-day Adventist” and “the Sabbath” from the columns of that paper, they would no longer use it as the organ of the religious liberty association. That meant killing the paper. They unlocked the door, and the men went to their rooms, went to bed, and went to sleep.CCh 27.4

    But God, who never slumbers nor sleeps, sent his angel messenger to Ellen White's room at three o'clock that morning. She was aroused from her sleep and instructed that she must go into the workers’ meeting at half-past five, and there she must present what was shown to her at Salamanca. She dressed, went to her bureau, took from it the journal in which she had made the record of what had been shown to her at Salamanca. As the scene came clearly to her mind, she wrote more to go with it.CCh 27.5

    The ministers were just getting up from prayer in the tabernacle as Mrs. White was seen coming in the door, a bundle of manuscripts under her arm. The president of the General Conference was the speaker, and he addressed her:CCh 27.6

    “Sister White,” he said, “we are happy to see you. Do you have a message for us?”CCh 27.7

    “Indeed I do,” she said, and stepped to the front. Then she began right where she left off the day before. She told them that at three o'clock that morning she had been aroused from her sleep and instructed to go to the workers’ meeting at half-past five and there present what had been shown to her at Salamanca.CCh 27.8

    “In the vision,” she said, “I seemed to be in Battle Creek. I was taken to the Review and Herald office, and the angel messenger bade me, ‘Follow me.’ I was taken to a room where a group of men were earnestly discussing a matter. There was a zeal manifest, but not according to knowledge.” She told of how they were discussing the editorial policy of the American Sentinel, and she said, “I saw one of the men take a copy of the Sentinel, hold it high over his head, and say, ‘unless these articles on the sabbath and the second advent come out of this paper, we can no longer use it as the organ of the Religious Liberty Association.’” Ellen White spoke for an hour, describing the meeting that had been shown to her in vision months before, and giving counsel based upon that revelation. Then she sat down.CCh 27.9

    The president of the General Conference did not know what to think of it. He had never heard of any such meeting. But they did not wait very long for an explanation, for a man stood up in the back of the room and began to speak:CCh 28.1

    “I was in that meeting last night.”CCh 28.2

    “Last night!” Sister White remarked, “Last night? I thought that meeting took place months ago, when it was shown to me in vision.”CCh 28.3

    “I was in that meeting last night,” he said, “and I am the man who made the remarks about the articles in the paper, holding it high over my head. I am sorry to say that I was on the wrong side, but I take this opportunity to place myself on the right side.” He sat down.CCh 28.4

    Another man stood to speak. He was the president of the Religious Liberty Association. Note his words: “I was in that meeting. Last night after the close of the conference some of us met in my room in the Review office where we locked ourselves in and there took up and discussed the questions and the matter that has been presented to us this morning. We remained in that room until three o'clock this morning. If I should begin to give a description of what took place and the personal attitude of those in the room, I could not give it as exactly and as correctly as it has been given by sister White. I now see that I was in error and that the position that I took was not correct. From the light that has been given this morning, I acknowledge that I was wrong.”CCh 28.5

    Others spoke that day. Every man who was in the meeting the night before stood to his feet and bore his testimony, saying that Ellen White had accurately described the meeting and the attitude of those in the room. Before that meeting closed that Sunday morning, the Religious Liberty group were called together, and they rescinded the action they had taken only a few hours before.CCh 28.6

    Had Mrs. White not been restrained and had she related the vision on Sabbath afternoon, her message would not have served the purpose that God had intended, for the meeting had not yet taken place.CCh 28.7

    Somehow the men did not apply the general counsel given Sabbath afternoon. They thought they knew better. Perhaps they reasoned as some do today, “well, perhaps sister White did not understand,” or, “we are living in a different day now.” The thoughts that Satan whispers to us in these days are the same with which he tempted our ministers in 1891. God, in His own time and in His own way, made it clear that it was His work; He was guiding; He was guarding; He had His hand upon the wheel. Ellen White tells us that God “has often permitted matters to come to a crisis, that His interference might become marked. Then He has made it manifest that there is a God in Israel.”CCh 28.8

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