Daniel T. Bourdeau (1835-1905)

"Satan is at work to undermine the faith of the people of God at this time. There are persons ready to catch up every new idea. The prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation are misinterpreted. These persons do not consider that the truth has been set forth at the appointed time by the very men whom God was leading to do this special work. These men followed on step by step in the very fulfillment of prophecy, and those who have not had a personal experience in this work, are to take the Word of God and believe on “their word” who have been led by the Lord in the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages" … (emphasis supplied), 2SM 111-112.

"In the days of the apostles the most foolish heresies were presented as truth. History has been and will be repeated. There will always be those who, though apparently conscientious, will grasp at the shadow, preferring it to the substance. They take error in the place of truth, because error is clothed with a new garment, which they think covers something wonderful. But let the covering be removed, and nothingness appears" 1SM 162-163.

In 1861, a 26-year-old Adventist preacher by the name of Daniel T. Bourdeau was getting ready for his wedding ceremony in a private home in Vermont. He had asked James White to perform the ceremony and Ellen White to offer a prayer at the conclusion of the service. After the late ceremony, Daniel and his new bride, Marion, were persuaded by the hosts of the private estate to postpone their honeymoon travels and stay the night. Because of the inconvenience of traveling in the dark, the hosts also convinced James and Ellen to rest in the estate for the night.

NOT A PRUDISH, COLD, OR GRUMPY OLD LADY, BUT RATHER A WARM, COMPASSIONATE, AND FUN PERSONALITY.

By the time Ellen White made her way upstairs to her room, around 9:00 PM, she found the new husband nervously pacing up and down the hallway in front of his bedroom. I can’t blame the guy; he was spending his first honeymoon night in a room right next to James and Ellen White’s room, of all people. That’s enough to make any new husband a bit jittery. Behind those doors was his new young bride clad in her winter underwear and tensely staring at the wall. Ellen White quickly read the situation and, pointing toward the closed bedroom door, she said:

“Daniel, inside that room is a frightened young woman in bed petrified with fear. Now you go in to her right now, and you love her, and you comfort her. And, Daniel, you treat her gently, and you treat her tenderly, and you treat her lovingly. It will do her good…”

Then with a slight grin on her face she said:

Daniel, it will do you good, too!” Roger W. Coon, “Council to a Nervous Bridegroom,” Adventist Heritage, Summer, 1990; Quoted in Herbert E. Douglas, Messenger of the Lord (Pacific Press, 1998), 105-106

On another occasion an Adventist man in California wrote a tract promoting the idea that sex within marriage should only be engaged in for the purpose of bearing children and not for pleasure. He was one voice among several in a movement that was persuading some married couples to shun sexual intercourse, favoring a kind of holy abstinence that would lead them to a higher “spiritual” level.

This man wrote to Ellen White asking her to meet with him and support the printing of his tract. She wrote back telling him that “he had better let that matter alone.” But he kept pestering her for a meeting, and she finally agreed to see him. When he finished rambling she asked, “Are you through?” “Yes,” he replied. Then Ellen White told him, “Go home, and be a man.” J.N. Loughborough letter, dated April 21, 1907. Quoted in Arthur L. White, “Marital Relations,” September, 1962, Washington, D.C. Official Document, Ellen G. White Publications.

 Needless to say, the tract was never published.

These examples reveal a version of the little old lady that is not familiar to most Adventists today. This is an aspect of Ellen White not often spoken about. Not a prudish, cold, or grumpy old lady, but rather a warm, compassionate, and fun personality.


In June 1857, the Whites had driven to Buck’s Bridge, New York, for weekend meetings. As James White spoke to a full house, Ellen was taken off into vision. In the audience that morning was a young man, 22-year-old Daniel Bourdeau from Vermont, who would later become one of our leading evangelists. He helped pioneer the work in California, and (because he was fluent in French) later in Switzerland, France, and Italy. I like his statement about Ellen in vision the best—because what he did was a test which cannot be faked!

“June 28, 1857, I saw Sister Ellen G. White in vision for the first time. I was an unbeliever in the visions; but one circumstance among others that I might mention convinced me that her visions were of God.

“To satisfy my mind as to whether she breathed or not, I first put my hand on her chest sufficiently long to know that there was no more heaving of the lungs than there would have been had she been a corpse. I then took my hand and placed it over her mouth, pinching her nostrils between my thumb and forefinger, so that it was impossible for her to exhale or inhale air, even if she had desired to do so. I held her thus with my hand about ten minutes, long enough for her to suffocate under ordinary circumstances. She was not in the least affected by this ordeal.

“Since witnessing this wonderful phenomenon, I have not once been inclined to doubt the divine origin of her visions.”—D.T. Bourdeau, Battle Creek, Michigan, Feb. 4, 1891; Great Second Advent Movement, 208.

More examples of Ellen White not breathing while in vision and tests of a true Prophet can be found here.

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