Concerning a conference in 1856 Ellen White declared: "I was shown the company present at the conference. Said the angel, 'Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.' " All who were alive then are now dead. Does this prediction mean that Mrs. White is a false prophet?
Numerous statements made by Ellen White in the decades following the 1856 vision demonstrate her clear understanding that there is an implied conditional quality to God's promises and threatenings--as Jeremiah declared--and that the conditional feature in forecasts regarding Christ's Advent involves the state of heart of Christ's followers. The following statement, written in 1883, is especially relevant on this point:
"The angels of God in their messages to men represent time as very short. Thus it has always been presented to me. It is true that time has continued longer than we expected in the early days of this message. Our Saviour did not appear as soon as we hoped. But has the Word of the Lord failed? Never! It should be remembered that the promises and the threatenings of God are alike conditional. . . .
"It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed. God did not design that His people, Israel, should wander forty years in the wilderness. He promised to lead them directly to the land of Canaan, and establish them there a holy, healthy, people. But those to whom it was first preached, went not in 'because of unbelief.' Their hearts were filled with murmuring, rebellion, and hatred, and He could not fulfill His covenant with them.
"For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord's professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years" (Ms 4, 1883, quoted in Evangelism, pp. 695, 696).
We can better understand Mrs. White's prediction of 1856 by examining it in the light of the conditional character of prophetic promises found in the Scriptures. For further study on this topic see "The Predictions of the 1856 Vision," in the Reference Library.