The issues revolving around 1844 are well known. That blunder however cannot be squarely placed upon her. The 1844 predictions of the end of the world were started by William Miller, and though Ellen agreed with him it would not be fair to test her on that specifically. Those early events of the advent movement were before the start of her ministry and claims of prophetic insight.
It is however fair to test her on date setting visions and prophetic utterances that she claimed later. Although she never gave a specific date again, she did give specific time frames in which Jesus would return.
“Soon our eyes were drawn to the east, for a small black cloud had appeared, about half as large as a man’s hand, which we all knew was the sign of the Son of man. . . . Then there was a mighty earthquake. The graves opened, and the dead came up clothed with immortality. The 144,000 shouted, “Alleluia!” as they recognized their friends who had been torn from them by death, and in the same moment we were changed and caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.” Early Writings, pp. 15-16.
Notice above she predicts that she will witness the Resurrection. One cannot claim that she was simply part of the Resurrection, she talks about herself actually seeing it happen. Notice she pens herself personally into the story alive and breathing as the events unfold. The truth is that she died in 1915 and the last day has not yet come.
“Some are looking too far off for the coming of the Lord. Time has continued a few years longer than they expected; therefore they think it may continue a few years more, and in this way their minds are being led from present truth, out after the world. . . . I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the most holy place was nearly finished and that time can last but a little longer.” Early Writings, p. 58.In a view given June 27, 1850
Logically people that are looking too far off are looking further than “a few years” from the time of this writing (1850).
According to the definition of “few” on google dictionary we see that it means anywhere from 1-3.
If Ellen White had defined the scope of time as a few “centuries” or “millennia” we might have a case for this prophecy as it has been over 160 years since this prediction was made. The problem is, a few years from 1850 would only be 1853 at the most. Perhaps 1855 if she was bending the meaning of the word. But anything beyond that is delving into false prophecy.
“my accompanying angel said, “Time is almost finished.” . . . Said the angel,“Get ready, get ready, get ready . . .” I saw that there was a great work to do for them and but little time in which to do it. . . . Then I saw the seven last plagues were soon to be poured out upon those who have no shelter . . .” Early Writings, p. 64.
So, not only has more than a “few” years passed since 1850, but the seven last plagues have not begun as she defined them either. There really is no defending this stuff, it is very sad that so many have believed her for so long only to receive one “Great Disappointment” after another generation after generation.
“I was shown the company present at the Conference. Said the angel: “Some food for worms, [Sister Clarissa M. Bonfoey, who fell asleep in Jesus only three days after this vision was given, was present in usual health, and was deeply impressed that she was one who would go into the grave, and stated her convictions to others.] some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.” Ellen White, Testimonies to the Church Vol 1, Pg 131
Nobody alive at the conference she is speaking of is currently alive now. All have since died, Ellen White clearly said some would be alive at the “coming of Jesus”. She even gives an example of a specific person there at the conference who died shortly after. This is seen by Ellen White as proof of her prophecy, but for us it further demonstrates that her context was those present in the room at the time she was speaking to them.
If you are going to believe Ellen White you might as well also follow Harold Camping and others who have predicted the end of the world in their lifetime. There is a line that is crossed between blessed hope for the eschaton and cursed date setting. Ellen White crossed that line.
There really is no getting around this, unless the second coming has already transpired at or before 1853 Ellen White is a false prophet. That said, anyone giving you a date or even narrowly defined time range of the return of Christ is very wrong indeed. Jesus said no man knows the day or the hour.
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Matt 24:36 ESV
Some will tell you that you cannot know the day or the hour but you can know the season. Let’s be honest though, without getting into eschatology, just look at the track record. Predicting the end of the world with a day or season has a 100% failure rate. There is not a single time anyone has ever been right on this. The real damage though in this “sky is falling” eschatology, which plagues more than just the SDA, is that it takes hearts and minds off Christ. Something to think and pray about, God Bless.