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The Ellen G. White Writings

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    Does the Expression “I Saw” Give a Clue?

    In her earlier writings Ellen White frequently employed the words “I saw” or “I was shown,” and she continued to do so until her death. Some readers would evaluate the writings as inspired or uninspired, depending on the use of such phrases. As pointed out elsewhere, Ellen White deliberately chose to omit such phrases in her books that would come before the general public lest the reader unfamiliar with her call and work be distracted from the message she was presenting.EGWW 101.2

    Inasmuch as her writings were based on the visions God gave her and she assumed that everyone understood this fact, she frequently presented light and instruction without employing such phrases. We present an illustration:EGWW 102.1

    Dores Robinson was a young man 21 years of age. His father was the president of the Australasian Union Conference. A physician in South Africa where Dores had previously resided had promised to put him through the medical course at Edinburgh, and he had studied there a couple of years. Then the doctor’s finances failed, and he had to withdraw his help from Dores. So in 1900 Dores was in Australia doing secretarial work for Ellen White. His first work was copying the manuscript of Christ’s Object Lessons.EGWW 102.2

    His uncle, Elder E. W. Farnsworth, working in Australia, proposed: “Dores, we have no children. You have started the medical course. If you want to go on, my wife and I will see you through.”EGWW 102.3

    What a generous offer that was! Dores went to talk with Ellen White about it. Would it be the wise course to follow? He visited with her for half an hour and then walked out of the room with absolutely no intimation from her as to whether he should or should not go on with the medical course. He was right where he was when he went in to see her.EGWW 102.4

    Consequently, he made up his mind to accept his uncle’s offer. On Wednesday he went down to Sydney and made his booking to go the next week to Europe. He was back at Sister White’s office on Thursday. Friday was to be his last day. As he went in he picked up from the typewriter a long envelope addressed “Dores Robinson.” He opened and read it. It began, “You asked me at one time what I thought in regard to your becoming a physician. I would say that the most useful lessons for you to learn will not now be found in taking a medical course of study.” She went on to point out that with his physical stamina, with his mental frame of mind, to pursue the medical course would leave him a physical and mental wreck. She pointed out that he should choose a lifework of a different nature entirely.EGWW 102.5

    What should he do? He looked carefully all the way through that letter to see whether he could find some such expression as “I saw” or “I was shown.” He could not find one. There was nothing to indicate special light from God.EGWW 103.1

    “Well,” he said, “this is good counsel. I should get exercise. I will get some exercisers and I’ll exercise and I’ll walk.” But in his heart he was not at all clear. He decided to make a test of the matter. As he prayed about it he made up his mind that he would go back down to Sydney, and if he could get his travel money back, all of it, he would take that as a sign that he should not go on with the medical course. On Monday morning he took the train and rode three hours to Sydney. He went directly to the booking office, and as he approached the counter he said, “My name is Robinson.” “Oh, Mr. Robinson,” the clerk replied, “we’re sorry, we had to cancel your booking. The British Government has commandeered the boat for troop movement to the Boer War. We think we can get you on a later boat, or we can give your money back.” He replied, “I’ll take my money back.”EGWW 103.2

    Now Ellen White told his father, Elder Asa T. Robinson, that in vision she saw an angel standing by the side of Dores saying to him what she said in that letter. But in the letter there wasn’t an intimation that there was any special illumination. However, he knew, when he talked with her a few days earlier that she had no counsel to give and now the letter did contain counsel. This testimony, part of which may be found in Medical Ministry, changed his lifework. 10Note: Dores Robinson taught church school; served many years as one of Mrs. White’s secretaries; married her eldest granddaughter; served in school, publishing, and mission work; and then until his retirement served in the White Estate.EGWW 103.3

    But what if she had no light? Did she speak or was she silent?EGWW 104.1

    For example, Dr. B. E. Fullmer, who resided in southern California, had some new ideas about the 144,000. In the year 1914 he was teaching that the 144,000 would all be from America and none from any other country. The union conference president, Elder Elmer E. Andross, wanted to know whether there was anything that Ellen White had written that would help the conference in dealing with this teaching. He wrote to Sister White’s Elmshaven office and made inquiry. Elder Clarence C. Crisler, the secretary in charge, took the matter to Sister White. Her comments were taken down stenographically. “I have no light on the subject,” she declared.EGWW 104.2

    Please tell my brethren I have nothing presented before me regarding the circumstances concerning which they write, and I can set before them only that which has been presented to me.—C. C. Crisler Letter to E. E. Andross, Dec. 8, 1914.EGWW 104.3

    This is a significant statement. We would expect her to slap down the foolish teaching. Instead she said, “I have no light on the subject, and I can set before them [her brethren] only that which has been presented to me.”EGWW 104.4

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