Autobiographical Sketch of Ellen G. White
Tempted to Withhold Reproof
It was a great cross for me to relate to the erring what had been shown me concerning them. It caused me great distress to see others troubled or grieved. And when obliged to declare the messages, I would often soften them down, and make them appear as favorable for the individual as I could, and then would go by myself and weep in agony of spirit. I looked upon those who seemed to have only their own souls to care for, and thought if I were in their condition I would not murmur. It was hard to relate the plain, cutting testimonies given me of God. I anxiously watched the result, and if the persons reproved rose up against the reproof, and afterward opposed the truth, these queries would arise in my mind: Did I deliver the message just as I should? Could there not have been some way to save them? And then such distress pressed upon my soul that I often felt that death would be a welcome messenger, and the grave a sweet resting-place.
I did not realize that I was unfaithful in thus questioning and doubting, and did not see the danger and sin of such a course, until in vision I was taken into the presence of Jesus. He looked upon me with a frown, and turned His face from me. It is not possible to describe the terror and agony I then felt. I fell upon my face before Him, but had no power to utter a word. Oh, how I longed to be covered and hid from that dreadful frown! Then could I realize, in some degree, what the feelings of the lost will be when they cry to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." Revelation 6:16.
Presently an angel bade me rise, and the sight that met my eyes can hardly be described. Before me was a company whose hair and garments were torn, and whose countenances were the very picture of despair and horror. They came close to me, and rubbed their garments upon mine. As I looked at my garments, I saw that they were stained with blood. Again I fell like one dead, at the feet of my accompanying angel. I could not plead one excuse, and longed to be away from that holy place.
The angel raised me to my feet, and said: "This is not your case now, but this scene has passed before you to let you know what your situation must be if you neglect to declare to others what the Lord has revealed to you. But if you are faithful to the end, you shall eat of the tree of life, and shall drink of the river of the water of life. You will have to suffer much, but the grace of God is sufficient."
I then felt willing to do all that the Lord might require me to do, that I might have His approbation, and not feel His dreadful frown.
The Seal of Divine Approval
Those were troublous times. If we had not stood firmly then, we should have made shipwreck of our faith. Some said we were stubborn; but we were obliged to set our faces as a flint, and turn not to the right hand nor to the left.
For years we labored to beat back the prejudice and subdue the opposition that at times threatened to overwhelm the faithful standard-bearers of truth—the heroes and heroines of faith. But we found that those who were seeking God in humility and contrition of soul, were able to discern between the true and the false. "The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way." Psalm 25:9.
God gave us a precious experience in those days. When brought in close conflict with the powers of darkness, as we frequently were, we laid the whole matter before the mighty Helper. Again and again we prayed for strength and wisdom. We would not yield the point; we felt that help must come. And through faith in God, the enemy's artillery was turned against himself, glorious victories were gained to the cause of truth, and we were made to realize that God gave not His Spirit by measure unto us. Had it not been for these special evidences of God's love, had He not thus, by the manifestation of His Spirit, set His seal to the truth, we might have become discouraged; but these proofs of divine guidance, these living experiences in the things of God, strengthened us to fight manfully the battles of the Lord. The believing ones could more clearly discern how God had mapped out their course, guiding them amid trials, disappointments, and fierce conflicts. They grew stronger as they met and overcame obstacles, and gained a rich experience at every step they advanced.
Lessons From the Past
In later years I have been shown that the false theories advanced in the past have by no means been given up. As favorable opportunities come, they will have a resurrection. Let us not forget that everything is to be shaken that can be shaken. The enemy will be successful in overthrowing the faith of some, but those who are true to principle will not be shaken. They will stand firm amid trial and temptation. The Lord has pointed out these errors; and those who do not discern where Satan has come in, will continue to be led in false paths. Jesus bids us be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die.
We are not called upon to enter into controversy with those who hold false theories. Controversy is unprofitable. Christ never entered into it. "It is written" is the weapon used by the world's Redeemer. Let us keep close to the Word. Let us allow the Lord Jesus and His messengers to testify. We know that their testimony is true.
Christ is over all the works of His creation. In the pillar of fire, He guided the children of Israel, His eyes seeing past, present, and future. He is to be recognized and honored by all who love God. His commandments are to be the controlling power in the lives of His people.
The tempter comes with the supposition that Christ has removed His seat of honor and power into some unknown region, and that men need no longer be inconvenienced by exalting His character and obeying His law. Human beings are to be a law unto themselves, he declares. These sophistries exalt self and make nothing of God. Restraint and moral control in the human family are destroyed. Restraint upon vice grows more and more feeble. The world loves not, fears not God. And those who do not love or fear God soon lose all sense of obligation to one another. They are without God and without hope in the world.
Those teachers who do not daily bring the word of God into their life work, are in great peril. They have not a saving knowledge of God or of Christ. It is those who do not live the truth who are most inclined to invent sophistries to occupy the time and absorb the attention that ought to be given to the study of God's word. It is a fearful mistake for us to neglect the study of the Bible to investigate theories that are misleading, diverting minds from the words of Christ to fallacies of human production.
We need no fanciful teaching regarding the personality of God. What God desires us to know of Him is revealed in His word and His works. The beautiful things of nature reveal His character and His power as Creator. They are His gift to the race, to show His power, and to show that He is a God of love. But no one is authorized to say that God Himself in person is in flower or leaf or tree. These things are God's handiwork, revealing His love for mankind.
Christ is the perfect revelation of God. Let those who desire to know God, study the work and teaching of Christ. To those who receive Him and believe on Him, He gives power to become the sons of God.
(Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, pp. 78-83)