Edited by Brother Anderson
Below are some of the more prominent "prophets" who lived near the time of Ellen White.
Emanuel Swedenborg, 1688-1772
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, he was the son of a nobleman of high standing. Swedenborg was highly educated and moved in the highest society. He traveled extensively, and conversed with the most learned men of the age. The king appointed him to a high office, which he filled superbly for over thirty years. He rose to eminence in science and wrote 77 books, covering every branch of science. He was of the purest character and devoutly religious.
At the age of 55 he began to have visions of heaven, hell, angels, and the spiritual world. He says:
"I have been called to a holy office by the Lord himself, who most mercifully appeared to me, his servant, in the year 1743, when he opened my sight into the spiritual world and enabled me to converse with spirits and angels."
Like Ellen White, Swedenborg taught that he and his writings were inspired by God:
His ministry continued for 30 years, and he wrote about 30 "inspired" volumes. He made remarkable predictions which, it is claimed, were exactly fulfilled. He taught that the "judgment" commenced in the "spiritual heavens" in 1757, and he rejected the idea of eternal damnation.Wikipedia He founded a new religion based upon his revelations. The Bible is sacredly taught and holy living promoted.
The church of Swedenborg has steadily increased, till it has societies in all parts of the world and in the leading languages. His followers believe in him just as implicitly as Seventh-day Adventists believe in Ellen White, and are very zealous in propagating their faith. To learn more about him and the church he founded, click here to visit his web site.
Ann Lee and the Shakers, 1736-1784
Like Mrs. White, Ann Lee "received no education." Ann joined a society manifesting remarkable religious exercises called the Shakers. Soon she began "to have visions and make revelations," which, just like Mrs. White, she called "testimonies." "Henceforth she claimed to be directed by revelations and visions." (Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, article "Ann Lee.") She was accepted as leader and as "the second appearing of Christ." Like Mrs. White, she required a "peculiar kind of dress," "opposed war and the use of pork." (Johnson's Encyclopedia, article "Shakers.") The Shakers have no intercourse with other churches; are renowned for their purity and devotion. To learn more about Ann Lee and the Shakers, click here.
Mrs. Joanna Southcott, 1750-1814
Born in England, of poor parents, she was wholly uneducated. She worked as a domestic servant till over 40 years old. Like Mrs. White, she was a Methodist, having joined the church in 1790. In 1792 she announced herself as a prophetess, and "published numerous [over 60] pamphlets setting forth her revelations." (Johnson's Encyclopedia, article "Southcott.") She was a Sabbath-keeper and, like Mrs. White, had trances and announced the speedy advent of Christ. (Encyclopedia Americana, article "Southcott.") She carried on a lucrative trade in the sale of her books as Mrs. White did. Strange as it may appear, many of the clergy believed in her, and thousands joined her followers, till in a few years they numbered upwards of one hundred thousand! She made many predictions, which her followers claimed were fulfilled. "The faith of her followers, among whom were several clergymen of the established church, rose to enthusiasm."(Ibid.) To learn more about Joanna Southcott, click here.
Joseph Smith, 1805-1844
Smith, founder of the Mormons (also known as the "Latter Day Saints"), in 1823 began to have "visions" and "revelations," and even conversed with angels. In the picture (to the right) we find Smith receiving "inspiration" from an angel. Smith published a number of books, some of which show a remarkable similarity to Mrs. White's writings. Smith claimed the second advent of Christ was at hand, hence the name, "Latter Day Saints." His mission was to introduce "the new dispensation." According to Smith, his followers are the "saints," and all the other churches are "heathen," or Gentiles. (Note: Mrs. White's called her followers "saints" and all other churches "Babylon" or apostate.) To learn more about Joseph Smith, click here.
Mary Baker Eddy, 1821-1910
Mrs. Eddy is the prophet-founder of the Christian Science Church. She published a number of books. Like Mrs. White, she had an interest in health. In 1890, she published her most famous book, Science and Health, which has been translated into over 16 languages and read by over ten million people. The disciples of Mrs. Eddy believe the writings of their prophet to be inspired and infallible. She once prophesied:
"To my sense, the most imminent dangers confronting the coming century are: the robbing of people of life and liberty under the warrant of the Scriptures; the claims of politics and of human power, industrial slavery, and insufficient freedom of honest competition; and ritual, creed, and trusts in place of the Golden Rule, 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.'" (Dec. 1900, My. 266)
Other Visionaries of the 1800's
According to Dr. Ronald Numbers in his book Prophetess of Health, in the 1800s, America abounded with "prophets" of every description.
Visionaries in Garabanda, Spain
In the summer of 1961, several young Catholic girls in Garabanda Spain reportedly had "visions" of the virgin Mary. For those familiar with the tales of Ellen White's visions, many of the manifestations of these Catholic girls mirror those of the young Ellen White.
Visionaries in the Millerite Movement
In its final days the Millerite Movement was so infected with religious enthusiasm that Joshua Himes complained of being in: "mesmerism seven feet deep" .
According to Dr. Ronald Numbers, fanaticism continued to plague the Millerites even after the October 22 disappointment, and it seemed particularly prevalent among the "shut door" believers. In Springwater Valley, New York, a black shut-door advocate named Houston claimed that at times God spoke to him in visions. The shut-door group in Ellen Harmon's home town of Portland, Maine, was even more notorious in Millerite circles, as Joshua Himes describes its: "continual introduction of visionary nonsense".
In March of 1845 Himes informed Miller that a Sister Clemons of Ellen Harmon's home town of Portland, Maine, "has become very visionary and disgusted nearly all the good friends here" .
But only a couple of weeks later he reported that another Portland sister had received a vision showing that Miss Clemons was of the Devil. Himes concluded, "Things are in a bad way at Portland" .
As a girl, Ellen met two Millerites she regarded as prophets. William Foy claimed to have received visions from God, and later published them in a book. (Some of Ellen's early writings appear to closely resemble Foy's. Click Here to examine the evidence.) Ellen's sister Mary's brother-in-law, Hazen Foss, also claimed to have received visions.
In 1859, Ellen White rebuked a young prophetess named Phebe Knapp. She wrote the woman was "professing to have visions of God, yet teaching the grossest errors..." (Manuscript 9, 1859) Several years later she also rebuked another up-and-coming prophetess:
"The pretensions of Sister Steward to have visions, the fanaticism of the most wretched, revolting kind being the fruits, and the influence of the false exercises..." (Manuscript 3, 1862)
However, the visionary that likely caused Mrs. White the greatest consternation was Sister Ogden. The manner of Ogden's "visions" reminded people of Ellen's "visions" and this caused people to doubt Ellen's visions. Ellen was particularly outraged when Brother Moses Hull "said she looked just like Sister White when she was in vision." Ogden appeared to be under the control of someone else, which reminded people of how Ellen would seem to go into and out of vision at James' whim. As usual, Ellen attributed it all to Satan:
"Satan saw the influence of the visions was affecting some, and by controlling Sister Ogden and making her think she had a vision while under a satanic influence confirmed the opinions of many that Brother White controls his wife and gives her visions; therefore the visions are only Brother White's mind." (Manuscript 6, 1862)
Thus, the 1700s and early 1800s were an era when visionaries and prophets were popular and attracted large followings. Mrs. White grew up in this atmosphere of religious "enthusiasm" and was closely associated with several other visionaries of her time. Perhaps these associations helped to shape her own prophetic career. While affirming herself as the one true prophet, she derided others as fanatical and under the influence of Satan.
Primary sources of material for this web page:
Category: Visions Examined
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