God was working through Ellen White, and He didn’t want it to pass by unnoticed. So He manifested his divine power in interesting and concrete ways — especially at the outset of her ministry, before there was sufficient long-term evidence of her validity. Consider, for instance, her physical state during visions, and how it paralleled the Bible prophet Daniel’s state as put forth in Daniel chapter 10.
Daniel was guided through his vision by a “certain man, clothed in linen” (vs. 5, 6). Ellen spoke of her “guide,” and “the angel” or “angel messenger” or “young man,” who led her through her visions.
Daniel was “left alone” (vs. 8), unaware of his surroundings, in a trance-like state. Ellen was “utterly unconscious of everything transpiring around her.”
Daniel was first weak, but then strengthened to stand (vs. 8, 11, 18). Ellen would often lose her strength temporarily and sit, but then later stand.
Daniel said, “neither is there breath left in me” (vs. 17). Ellen did not breathe while in visions, which lasted up to three hours!
Often during public visions, anyone who wished could examine her., Dr. Drummond, a local physician who had once declared her visions were the product of mesmerism, jumped at the opportunity to examine her while in vision. After giving her a thorough examination, he turned very pale and remarked, “She doesn’t breathe.” Skeptics would pinch both her nostrils and mouth, and even hold a mirror before her mouth while she was in vision. Both techniques proved that she simply didn’t breathe while in a vision, not even when she spoke.
In another incident, a physician named Dr. Brown claimed that her visions were the product of spiritualism, and that he could control them. When the opportunity arose, Dr. Brown examined her, but before it was complete, he turned deathly pale and began to shake. “She does not breathe,” he shuddered, making his way to the door.
The people at the door said, “Go back, and do as you said you would; bring that woman out of vision.” But the doctor, sufficiently spooked, grabbed the doorknob. “Doctor, what is it?” the people at the door persisted. “God only knows,” he replied.
But as dramatic as this story is, it doesn’t match the drama of the visions themselves. Let’s now turn our attention to some of her most extraordinary visions.
Amazingly, in one vision, events concerning the yet-to-happen Civil War were revealed to Ellen. At the time of the vision, the firing on Fort Sumter, which marked the beginning of the war, was yet three months away. After this vision, Ellen solemnly surveyed the room and said, “There are those in this house who will lose sons in that war.” This is especially remarkable given the fact that the prevailing sentiment throughout the North and the South was that war was unlikely, and if it came, it would be brief and result in few casualties. Her extended predictions were astonishingly accurate.
Often highly personal information was revealed in vision. While in Oswego, New York, in 1850, the White family was conducting an evangelistic meeting. The county treasurer, also a lay preacher, was publicly demeaning James White. A young couple attending his meetings went to Ellen asking for clarification. In vision, Ellen saw that the troubled questioner would know within the month what to believe. Within that month it was discovered that the man had stolen $1,000 from the county and his credibility was ruined. The young couple became lifelong members of the church.
In another incident in the early 1870s, James and Ellen attended a camp meeting in Wisconsin. After arriving late, James sat down while Ellen walked straight to the front and stood before the pulpit where a man was preaching. Pointing her finger at him, she said that she had heard his voice in vision. She went on, “Brother, I know a woman in Pennsylvania with two little children. That woman calls you husband and those children call you father and they are hunting everywhere for you and they can’t find you. They don’t know where you are. Right over there is another woman with six children hanging to her skirts and she calls you husband and they call you father. Brother, you have no business in that desk!” The man lunged for the tent flap and disappeared. His brother remained in the meeting and confirmed the truth of Ellen’s words.
While none of these signs and wonders absolutely confirmed that Ellen possessed the gift of prophecy, they certainly drew attention to her ministry in a manner that prompted deeper investigation. For instance, today we can observe the long-term validation of her gift by science. Time and time again her counsels regarding health, spirituality, world events, and scores of other issues proved true.