Gilbert Cranmer's Personal Experiences with Ellen White

From the Autobiography of Gilbert Cranmer, as told to M.A. Branch

Gilbert Cranmer
1814 - 1903
Adventist Pioneer
Founded Church of God (7th day)

About this time the doctrine of the advent as taught by William Miller was sounded. I, with many others, became interested and enlisted my energies in what was afterward called the Advent movement of 1844. . . . I sincerely believed it. Even the day was set for the Lord to come and those who believed and took part in the work, expected to go and meet the Lord.

Many did not accept the doctrine...and when the time came in which to expect the Lord to come we repaired to a schoolhouse where we were to remain all night or until He should come. ...but the night passed and the morning came and we were disappointed. We went home amid the jeers and smiles of our neighbors. ... It was a great disappointment; some had sold their farms and given the proceeds to help in paying the expense of publishing the doctrine of the Lord's coming.

About this time the visions of Mrs. Ellen G. White were first introduced. Some thought they were from the Lord; others doubted. She claimed while in vision, that the Lord had shown her the travels of the Advent people. Her position was that the figures [prophetic calculations of William Miller] were correct. She said,

"I saw that they were correct in their reckoning of the prophetic periods; prophetic time closed in 1844 and Jesus entered the Most Holy to cleanse the Sanctuary at the ending of the days."

Their mistake consisted in not understanding what the sanctuary was and the nature of its cleansing.

"I was shown what did take place in heaven at the close of the prophetic period in 1844, viz., Jesus entered the Most Holy place of the heavenly Sanctuary at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8 in 1844, to make a final atonement for all who could be benefited by His mediation, and thus to cleanse the Sanctuary."

They taught that Jesus rose up and shut the door of the Holy Place and opened the door into the Most Holy. Many also believed and taught that the door of mercy was closed against sinners in 1844. In fact, the position taken by the body of Advent believers in 1844, William Miller included, was that the work for the world was finished, that there was no salvation for sinners after 1844. So firmly was this believed that some who had a desire to unite with the body of Advent believers, who had not been in the '44 move, were rejected.

... Among other subjects, the seventh day Sabbath was being investigated. My attention was first called to it by an article in a paper called the Midnight Cry written by J.C. Day of Ashburnham, Massachusetts. S.C. Hancock of Forestville, Connecticut also advocated the doctrine the same year. They strongly urged the doctrine at the time, but I did not become fully established in the Sabbath truth until the year 1845. ... About this time I made the acquaintance of elder Joseph Bates. He too commenced the observance of the Sabbath. Others began to fall in line.

The Sabbath truth was gaining ground and became quite prominent among the Adventist believers. In 1846, James White received the Sabbath truth from elder Joseph Bates. ...

The "shut-door" doctrine formed a part of the doctrine of the church; that is, Mrs. White had seen in vision that the day of salvation for sinners was past, and those that fully believed in her visions as coming from God, also accepted that doctrine. I did not believe the doctrine nor teach it; no line had been drawn in the church up to this time and the visions had not been made a test. But they were fast becoming popular and some began to press them quite strongly; but matters ran quite smoothly as far as I was concerned until on Sabbath while I was preaching at Otsego.

Among other things, I stated that I had no evidence that the door of the Holy Place had been closed. This did not meet the mind of some present. One of the brethren called my attention to the visions. I said, "This may be evidence to you, but it is not to me." A general discussion followed and the meeting broke up. I was then reported to the officers of the church in Battle Creek. I then requested that a meeting be called to investigate, which was done, and an effort was made to bring me in subjection to the visions. I saw no way of reconciling matters. Then it was that I concluded to walk no farther with them and told them so; thus my connection with the Seventh-day Adventists ended.

Open Letter About Gilbert Cranmer Written by Joseph & Louise Perkins

Being requested to state our knowledge of the facts concerning the disputed statement of elder Gilbert Cranmer about the visions of Mrs. White being a test of fellowship, we would say that we resided in Otsego, Michigan at the time he came here to preach, and we distinctly remember his preaching that he had no evidence whatever that the door of the sanctuary closed in 1844. And also that he made an appointment to preach on the same question in four weeks from that time. He came to our house, and while there Mr. Lester Russell came in and asked him if he really meant to say that the outer door of the Sanctuary was still open. In answer, brother Cranmer told him that he had said just what he meant, and that he had no proof to the contrary. Mr. Russell said that he had proof that the outer door of the Sanctuary was closed in 1844. Brother Cranmer asked him the nature of his proof, and he drew from his pocket Ellen G. White's book of visions and said there was his proof.

Brother Cranmer answered, "Perhaps Mrs. White's visions are proof to you, but they are not to me."

Some of the church got very much excited over the course elder Cranmer proposed to pursue in regard to the "shut-door" question, and Mr. George Leighton went to Battle Creek to confer with elder White on the subject. On his return, Mr. Leighton said that elder White told him not to let elder Cranmer preach to the church at Otsego. According to my recollection of the matter elder Cranmer then wrote to Battle Creek and requested a decision as to whether they considered him a minister, and as to his right to preach among them. The result of their conclusion in the matter was that they refused him the privilege of preaching to them or for them for the reason that he did not hold the visions of Ellen G. White to be inspired. Mr. Leighton said in our presence that the visions were inspired, that they were better than the Bible because they were warm and fresh from the throne of God, and that anyone who did not accept them as inspiration absolutely would be damned. The visions were made a test of fellowship from that time. These statements we solemnly aver to be true, and we were members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Otsego at the time.


        Joseph J. Perkins

        Louise H. Perkins

        Galesburgh, Michigan

What Happened after Gilbert Cranmer left the SDA's?

After Cranmer parted with the SDA church, many said, "If you are going to leave, we shall follow." Quite a number of the church at Otsego no longer walked with the SDA church. The news began to spread. Someone had dared to take a stand against the visions of Mrs. White. After this elder Cranmer preached as the Spirit of the Lord directed. He began to have quite a following and new members were added to the church constantly. Elder Cranmer raised a number of churches, and a church structure was organized in 1860. This church is known today as the, Church of God (seventh day).

Elder Cranmer believed the Lord heard the prayer of faith in behalf of the sick, and their were numerous examples of miraculous healings witnessed in the church.

Elder Cranmer was a powerful speaker, a man of pleasing address and a profound reasoner, active in thought and fearless; but with a tender heart, generous to a fault. In 1869, he published this report on his labors in the Hope of Israel:

The first stop I made was in the town Denver, Newaygo County. Here I preached one week and organized a band of 12 members. From thence I went to another neighborhood, six miles distant among the disciples, preached one week and there a half dozen more stepped out to keep the whole law, as well as the gospel.

From there I came to Ottawa County and preached among the Seventh-day Adventists, showing up the imperfections of Mrs. E.G. White's visions and their unscriptural mode of church government. Six or eight threw off their galling yoke.

In December of 1903, at the ripe age of 89, elder Cranmer went to sleep a conqueror, awaiting the resurrection morning. Friends and foes alike remembered Gilbert Cranmer as a man who stood on the Bible and the Bible alone. Thus, he concluded over 60 years of active ministry, and most amazingly, he never received a salary for his labors, not a single penny.

Category: Testimonies
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