The Captain




     I have been thinking that it’s time we visited our friends at Topsham,” James White said to his young bride one day.

     Ellen was pleased with the suggestion.  Early Friday morning James hitched the horse to the family sleigh, and they drove thirty miles to study the Bible with their friends.  On Sabbath they met at the Curtiss home.  They were glad to see among their old friends a retired sea captain named Joseph Bates.  This man had heard Ellen relate her visions, but he was not certain they were from the Lord.  He did not believe in modern visions.

     Christians in those days heard much about the Mormon “prophet” Joseph Smith, and about Ann Lee, leader of the shakers, both of whom claimed that God had sent an angel to talk with them.  But the visions of these two were very different  from the visions given God’s prophets in Bible times.  Their teachings were contrary to the Word of God.

     Because of these errors, many people were wary of anyone professing to have visions.  They said God might have spoken to Isaiah, Daniel, John and the other prophets in Bible times, but he did not speak to his people in that way nowadays. Ministers told their congregations that visions from heaven were a thing of the past.

     Some Bible students believed God was still speaking to his people by visions, just as he had promised to do in the last days.  Surely they thought, while Satan is sending his angels to deceive men, God would be sending messages from heaven to warn and guide His church.

     During the meeting in the Curtiss home Ellen white was given a vision, and Joseph Bates watched her intently.  He was an honest man who wanted to know the truth.  A bright smile was on her face as she moved about in the room, seeming to see something in the distance. Then he heard her speaking.  But how strange!  How wonderful!  He could hardly believe his eyes and ears—she was speaking, but not breathing!  In soft musical tones, she was describing what she saw.

    “I see four moons,” she said, she spoke of seeing several planets, one encircled with beautifully colored belts or rings.

     Captain Bates suddenly forgot he did not believe in visions.

     “She’s looking at Jupiter!” he said.  As she went on describing what she saw, he said. “That’s Saturn she’s describing!”  And later, “Now she’s viewing Uranus!”  She had not named any particular planet, but the seaman Joseph Bates had for years studied the heavens and read books about the stars, he knew what she was talking about.

     After a time she began to describe the “opening heavens,” an entrance into a more glorious region beyond, ablaze with light.

     Captain Bates sprang to his feet.  “How I wish Lord William Rosse were here!”

     “Who is Lord William Rosse?”  James white asked.

     “He is the great English astronomer,” came the enthusiastic reply.  “I wish he could here that woman talk astronomy, and her description of the “opening heavens.”  It’s ahead of anything I ever read on the subject.”

     From that time Joseph Bates never doubted that Mrs. White's visions were supernatural; and as he compared their teachings with the Bible, he was convinced that the messages she brought were not here own, but the voice of God to His people.

     At one time before the vision, Captain Bates had tried to discuss astronomy with Ellen but had found her unfamiliar with the subject.  He knew she was telling the truth when now she had said she had never opened an astronomy book.  He also felt impressed that God had given this vision in his presence so that he might never doubt again.

Ella Robinson