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    The Testimony of Uriah Smith

    The testimony of one who was in a strategic point for observation should be most helpful. Uriah Smith, for many years the editor of the church paper, the Review and Herald, in constant touch with Mrs. White and her work, sometimes the recipient of her “testimonies” and “counsels,” should be able to judge her work by the fruit or results of that work:DGRGC 96.1

    “Every test which can be brought to bear upon such manifestations proves them genuine. The evidence which supports them, internal and external, is conclusive. They agree with the Word of God and with themselves. They are given, unless those best qualified to judge are invariably deceived, when the Spirit of God is especially present. Calm, dignified, impressive, they commend themselves to every beholder as the very opposite of that which is false or fanatical.DGRGC 96.2

    “Their fruit is such as to show that the source from which they spring is the opposite of evil.DGRGC 96.3

    “They tend to the purest morality. They discountenance every vice, and exhort to the practice of every virtue. They point out the perils through which we are to pass to the kingdom. They reveal the devices of Satan. They warn us against his snares. They have nipped in the bud scheme after scheme of fanaticism which the enemy has tried to foist into our midst. They have exposed hidden iniquity, brought to light concealed wrongs, and laid bare the evil motives of the false-hearted. They have warded off dangers from the cause of truth upon every hand. They have aroused and re-aroused us to greater consecration to God, more zealous efforts for holiness of heart, and greater diligence in the cause and service of our Master.DGRGC 96.4

    “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 His godly example, and with irresistible appeals they urge us to follow in His steps.DGRGC 96.5

    “They lead us to the Bible. They set forth that Book as the inspired and unalterable Word of God. They exhort to take that Word as the man of our counsel, and the rule of our faith and practice. And, with a compelling power they entreat us to study long and diligently its pages, and become familiar with its teachings, for it is to judge us in the last day.DGRGC 97.1

    “They have brought comfort and consolation to many hearts. They have strengthened the weak, encouraged the feeble, raised up the despondent. They have brought order out of confusion, made crooked places straight, and thrown light on what was dark and obscure. And no person with an unprejudiced mind can read their stirring appeals for a pure and lofty morality, their exaltation of God and the Saviour, their denunciations of every evil, and their exhortations to everything that is holy and of good report, without being compelled to say, ‘These are not the words of him that hath a devil.’” 8“Life and Teachings of Ellen G. White,” pp. 120, 121.DGRGC 97.2

    We shall pass on to the next group of contemporaries, those interested in her but who did not accept, who rather disapproved of what she said and what she did. The outstanding example of a contemporary of this type is D. M. Canright himself. The reason I choose D. M. Canright as an example is because everywhere I go around the world, I find that ministers and missionaries of other denominations know about D. M. Canright. They have not only known about him, but they have translated his materials into various languages. Then when somebody becomes interested in Seventh-day Adventists, they say, “Here, read this, and you will get the lowdown concerning Ellen G. White and on Adventists in general.”DGRGC 97.3

    I wish, therefore, to give you the story of D. M. Canright, and show how he came to disagree with the Spirit of prophecy and with the Advent Movement. D. M. Canright was a very capable man. He had remarkable talents. He was a very fine speaker. He was a keen debater. He was one who could bring fear and trembling into any opponent, and thus he began to think himself to be very good, an expert, in his field, too good for such a small denomination. Now, my friends, it is dangerous for a man to think highly of himself and of his qualifications and of his ability, for sometimes it does turn his head, and frequently causes him to feel a bit superior and somewhat puffed up. We call it an inflated ego.DGRGC 97.4

    D. M. Canright’s failure was due to the fact that he thought himself too big and too good for such a little denomination. And when the brethren did not accept him according to his own estimate of himself, he turned against the denomination and began to write against this people. Frankly this is the appraisal given to me by his own nephew, and that on the camp ground at Lynwood, California, in June, 1953. So what I am saying has been checked very carefully with this man who is certainly an authority, for he associated very intimately with his uncle. He knew him very well.DGRGC 98.1

    Now, let us go back to the time when D. M. Canright was an interested friend of the Movement, and read a few words from his pen. This is taken from the The Review and Herald, January 6, 1885:DGRGC 98.2

    “While I have carefully read the first, second, and third volumes of ‘Spirit of prophecy,’ 9Note: Reference is here made to the volumes depicting the “Conflict of the Ages” story which preceeded the present five volume set covering that topic. heaven has seemed very near to me. If the Spirit of God does not speak to us in these writings, then I should despair of ever discerning it. Oh, how precious the dear Saviour looks! How infinitely valuable the salvation of one soul! How hateful and inexcusable sin appears! God is good, and the sweetest thing on this earth is to love and serve him.” Pretty good words, from D. M. Canright. In the same issue he writes:DGRGC 98.3

    “I have read many books, but never one which has interested me so intensely and impressed me so profoundly as Volume 4 of The Great Controversy by Sister White. Perhaps it may be partly because I see things differently; but I am sure that is not wholly the reason. The historical part is good, but that which was of the most intense interest to me, was the last part, beginning with the ‘Origin of Evil.’ The ideas concerning the nature and attributes of God, the character of Christ, and the rebellion of Lucifer in heaven, carry with them their own proof of inspiration. They moved the depths of my soul as nothing else ever did. I feel that I have a new and higher conception of the goodness and forbearance of God, the awful wickedness of Satan, and the tender love of Christ. I wish everybody could read it whether of our people or not. Get it, brethren, and read it carefully.”DGRGC 98.4

    Let me go back now to 1877, which was exactly ten years before he separated himself from this denomination. In 1877 he wrote these words:DGRGC 99.1

    “As to the Christian character of Sister White, I beg leave to say that I think I know something about it. I have been acquainted with Sister 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 travelled 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 Brother and Sister 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 acquaintance.”DGRGC 99.2

    I think those are very interesting words. He seems to know what he is talking about, and does not hesitate to put himself on record. He says further:DGRGC 99.3

    “I know Sister White to be an unassuming, modest, kindhearted, 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 Sister White the reverse of all this. Anyone, 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.” 10The Review and Herald, April 26, 1877.DGRGC 99.4

    I am telling you, my friends, that you could not have a better testimony than that. I wish people could write something like that about me. Now listen: The year is 1889, just twelve years after this article, and four years after the first testimony which I just read. It is strange how people can shift their mental machinery from one gear to another, especially from high into reverse, and I think that is what happened in the case of D. M. Canright. I do not think he ever pushed in the clutch. It appears that he just switched from high to reverse without making any preparation at all. Automobile drivers, you must understand what I mean. Now listen carefully to the same man:DGRGC 99.5

    “I have been well acquainted with Mrs. White for nearly thirty years [this is 1889]; have been in her family for weeks at a time, and she has often been in my family. I am familiar with all her work and all her books. I am satisfied that the whole thing is a delusion. Her visions have been a constant source of quarrels and divisions among themselves. Many of their ablest men, and thousands of others, have left them on this account. There is a strong anti-vision party now....DGRGC 100.1

    “Mrs. White’s trances are simply the result of disease and religious excitement-hysteria. At the age of nine she received a blow upon her head which broke her nose and nearly killed her. It shattered her nervous system beyond recovery, and affected her mind to melancholy and even to insanity. She was weakly, sickly, often fainted, and did not expect to live. In this condition she was carried away with the Millerite fanaticism, and went into trances with others. All this she tells herself in Spiritual Gifts 2:7-48....DGRGC 100.2

    “What harm does she do? Much every way. She teaches a false doctrine, writes a new Bible, leads her people to be narrow, clannish, and bigoted, to oppose the work of all other churches and needed Sunday and temperance laws. She has divided families, broken up churches, driven some to infidelity and others into despair. It leads her advocates to deceive. Being afraid that it will hurt them if it is known in what light they really hold her visions, they deny that it is a matter of importance with them. This is false and deceptive, for they hold her visions to be as sacred as the Bible. To defend her mistakes and errors, both she and her apologists have to deny the plainest facts and resort to untruthful statements. Fear of her authoriy compels many to profess faith in her when they have none, and thus become hypocrites.” 11Canright, D. M., “No. 4, Mrs. White and Her Visions,” pp. 2, 3, 7, in “Adventism Refuted in a Nutshell” (1889).DGRGC 100.3

    I want to assure you, friends, for a man to be able to write words like that in such a few years from the time he wrote just the opposite, is one of the strangest and most interesting experiences in church history.DGRGC 101.1

    “Well, now,” some say, “did he ever change? Did he repent before he died? Did he ever express sorrow for all these terrible things that he had said against Mrs. White and written against her?” I think we should give a fair answer to such questions. Therefore, we turn to his book written in 1919, entitled The Life of Mrs. E. G. White, and on page 15 we find this statement which occupies the full page, showing that it must have been very important in his thinking. At the top of the page are the two words, “Present Standing.”DGRGC 101.2

    “Since I withdrew from the Adventists, over thirty years ago, they have continued to report that I have regretted leaving them, have tried to get back again, have repudiated my books which I wrote and have confessed that I am now a lost man. There has never been a word of truth in any of these reports. I expect them to report that I recanted on my deathbed. All this is done to hinder the influence of my books. I now reaffirm all that I have written in my books and tracts against that doctrine.DGRGC 101.3

    “Several Advent ministers have rendered valuable aid in preparing these pages. Once they were believers in Mrs. White’s divine inspiration, but plain facts finally compelled them to renounce faith in her dreams.”DGRGC 101.4

    That was in 1919.DGRGC 101.5

    No, we cannot make the statement that he ever repented or recanted or regretted except for one little thing that came in 1915. At her funeral in Battle Creek the casket was placed in the church with a group of our denominational leaders standing by as a sort of honour guard, and the people passed by that casket. Elder W. A. Spicer was one who stood by the casket, and from his pen we have the testimony that D. M. Canright and his brother, along with many other people, came by the casket. Of course, they paused a moment, and then walked on. But the two men came back a second time, and this time D. M. Canright rested his hand upon the side of the casket, and with warm tears trickling down his cheeks, said, “There is a noble Christian woman gone.” This is the eye-witness testimony of W. A. Spicer. You will find it in his book, The Spirit of Prophecy in the Advent Movement, page 127. This is the closest we have to anything that might express a regret. No, he never regretted, he never recanted. He was always very strong in his opposition. His chief opposition was against Ellen G. White. But this nephew of his, whom I met last summer at the Lynwood camp meeting, gave me a very interesting little sidelight into D. M. Canright’s own thinking during the years after he left the church.DGRGC 101.6

    This man lived in D. M. Canright’s home. D. M. Canright used to visit this man’s home, and therefore he gave me first hand information which I can pass on to you, just because of the interest it has in connection with this story. At one time a Methodist minister wanted to challenge a Seventh-day Adventist minister to debate regarding the Sabbath. He thought if he could only get to D. M. Canright, he certainly would have the material that he needed, and then he would squash that Adventist minister with D. M. Canright’s own thunder.DGRGC 102.1

    So he went to D. M. Canright’s home and said, “I have a debate coming up with a Seventh-day Adventist minister on the question of the Sabbath. I thought you would certainly be the man to give me all the material I need to squash him. Now here I am. I can spend three days!” D. M. Canright, in the presence of his nephew, told the Methodist minister, “Brother, I advise you not to debate with the Adventists on the Sabbath. They have all of the facts on their side of the question!” It did not take him three days to tell that man that he had better be careful in a debate on the Sabbath. No, it does not take three days to give anyone the facts of church history regarding the Sabbath or the Sunday.DGRGC 102.2

    D. M. Canright frequently expressed the thought that Adventists were right in their general doctrines and teachings of the church. He disagreed on the question of visions, and revelations, and the relation of Ellen G. White to the church and the Bible.DGRGC 102.3

    The third and last group of contemporaries is made up of people who lived with or near the person under observation, but who were not interested in that person other than as an individual, neither friend nor foe. They were merely on-lookers or by-standers, who observed much but said little.DGRGC 102.4

    This group of Mrs. E. G. White’s contemporaries saw her as a citizen, a neighbour, a mother, a person who seemed to be very much engrossed in her task, but whom they felt no obligation to accept or reject, to approve or disapprove.DGRGC 103.1

    She lived in a number of places in New England, in Europe, in Australia, in Michigan, and in California, but she was best known in Battle Creek, Michigan, which became a headquarters for the work of Seventh-day Adventists. The people of Battle Creek watched her come and go, and on the whole they had no special reason for saying anything good or bad about her.DGRGC 103.2

    They were, however, very much aware of her ability as a lecturer and public speaker. So much so that on one occasion when the city of Battle Creek was preparing for a big mass meeting in connection with some civic programme they turned to her as the most likely citizen who could rightly represent the city as a great public speaker. A committee of three, the city mayor, the cashier of the First National Bank, and a prominent citizen, went to the home of Ellen G. White to invite her to be the principal speaker of that great meeting.DGRGC 103.3

    Regarding that speaking appointment we have one paragraph in her writings. She wrote,DGRGC 103.4

    “I spoke in the mammoth tent, Sunday evening, July 1 [1877], on the subject of Christian Temperance. God helped me that evening; and although I spoke ninety minutes, the crowd of fully five thousand persons listened in almost breathless silence.” 12White, Ellen G., “Testimonies for the Church 4:275.DGRGC 103.5

    The following year, 1878, there was produced in the State of Michigan a book entitled American Biographical History of Eminent and Self-Made Men of the State of Michigan. This was published by the people of the State, and we will be interested in knowing what they said about Ellen G. White, a resident in the State of Michigan. I quote from that book:DGRGC 103.6

    “Mrs. White is a woman of singularly well balanced mental organization. Benevolence, spirituality, conscientiousness, and ideality are the predominating traits. Her personal qualities are such as to win for her the warmest friendship of all with whom she comes in contact, and to inspire them with the utmost confidence in her sincerity.... Notwithstanding her many years of public labour, she has retained all the simplicity and honesty which characterized her early life.DGRGC 103.7

    “As a speaker, Mrs. White is one of the most successful of the few ladies who have become noteworthy as lecturers, in this country, during the past twenty years. Constant use has so strengthened her vocal organs as to give her voice rare depth and power. Her clearness and strength of articulation are so great that, when speaking in the open air, she has frequently been distinctly heard at the distance of a mile. Her language, though simple, is always forcible and elegant. When inspired with her subject, she is often marvellously eloquent, holding the largest audience spellbound for hours without a sign of impatience or weariness.DGRGC 104.1

    “The subject matter of her discourse is always of a practical character, bearing chiefly on fireside duties, the religious education of children, temperance, and kindred topics. On revival occasions, she is always the most effective speaker. She has frequently spoken to immense audiences, in the large cities, on her favourite themes, and has always been received with great favour.” 13Quoted in “Our Firm Foundation,” Vol. 1, p. 241.DGRGC 104.2

    I consider that a wonderful testimony. Very few people can have such a testimony borne concerning them and their work. D. M. Canright speaks of Ellen G. White as a rather sickly individual, rather weak, rather frail; but, if she had a voice that could be heard distinctly at the distance of a mile, without a public address system, a microphone, and all that goes with our system of public speaking nowadays, she had something that very few speakers have today.DGRGC 104.3

    I like to think of this as coming from those who had no special interest in her, made no special claims for her, but simply knew her as a public speaker, one of the most effective speakers of the day.DGRGC 104.4

    I now come to the fifth evidence, and this one, of course, is known to all—the physical phenomena attending the visions. This particular evidence does not have too great an appeal to me, and I shall tell you the reason why. I have never been very much impressed by the supernatural or by that which is unusual, or strange. I would rather judge the validity of an individual, and the genuineness of the work of that individual by the fruit of his or her labour, rather than by some strange or unusual phenomena.DGRGC 104.5

    In 1844, during those early years, there were no fruits upon which to judge the work of Ellen G. White. So God gave her in those early days especially these physical manifestations which are in harmony with the record of the Scriptures. If you will read in Daniel, the tenth chapter, verses 16 to 19; Numbers 24, verses 3 and 4; in 2 Samuel 23, verse 2; and in 2 Corinthians 12, verses 2 to 4, you find the physical manifestations which will be, or must be, present in the true prophet. And all of them were manifested in the life of Ellen G. White, especially in those early days. Often physicians and people of responsibility and authority applied every possible test to make sure that there was nothing false, and no deception in the work, or in the attitude manifested by this individual. This phenomenon had its value primarily to those who saw Mrs. White in vision.DGRGC 105.1

    So when it comes to this part of the subject, I give it but a very brief mention in passing, because far greater than the physical manifestation is the evidence that comes from the fruits of a life of seventy years of activity and of the writing of some twenty-five million words—enough to satisfy even the most doubtful, the most incredulous. This is the evidence which comes to me with most telling and convincing power. That is far beyond anything that can be added by way of physical phenomena.DGRGC 105.2

    Now I hasten on to a sixth evidence that I would like to leave with you for your study. What was Ellen G. White’s relation to outside influences? In other words, was she influenced by some outside power or some outside material, that caused her to write and to speak as she did?DGRGC 105.3

    “It would be but human to question and wonder whether at times Ellen G. White was not influenced by someone near her, or working for her, or perhaps the president of the General Conference, who might give her “messages” aDGRGC 105.4

    “These are good and fair questions, and therefore detent Milton’s Paradise Lost might have influenced her Conflict Series, or whether she had been reading Doctors Trall and Jackson before her “health vision” of 1863.DGRGC 106.1

    These are good and fair questions, and therefore deserve the same kind of answer. First, let us look at the Paradise Lost question. In the spring of 1858 she had the long vision in which the scenes of the great controversy were opened before her. She was so thrilled with the message that she told it to the believers in Battle Creek at the morning and evening services.DGRGC 106.2

    “J. N. Andrews heard the description of the fall of Satan, the fall of man, and the plan of salvation. He asked Mrs. White whether she had ever read Milton’s book. She replied that she had never seen it nor read it. J. N. Andrews gave her a copy, but she put it up on a high shelf out of reach until she had finished writing out what she had been shown. Then she read it with great interest to see the harmony between the accounts.DGRGC 106.3

    “The health message of 1863 brought from her pen these words:DGRGC 106.4

    “‘As I introduced the subject of health to friends ... and spoke against drugs and flesh meats, and in favour of water, pure air, and a proper diet, the reply was often made, “You speak very nearly the opinions taught in the Laws of Life, and other publications, by Drs. Trall, Jackson, and others. Have you read that paper and those works?” My reply was that I had not, neither should I read them till I had fully written my views, lest it should be said that I had received my light upon the subject of health from physicians, and not from the Lord.’DGRGC 106.5

    “In the same year she again declared, ‘My views were written independent of books or the opinions of others.’” 14“Our Firm Foundation,” Vol. 1, pp. 234, 235.DGRGC 106.6

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