We feel deeply over the present state of the church whose members have long possessed a knowledge of those events which are to transpire near the close of time in fulfillment of prophetic history. Christ is coming in power and great glory, and the dead are to be “judged out of those things which are written in the books, according to their works.” The One who has stood as our intercessor; who hears all penitential prayers and confessions; who is represented with a rainbow, the symbol of grace and love, encircling his head, is soon to cease his work in the heavenly sanctuary. Grace and mercy will then descend from the throne, and justice will take their place. He for whom his people have looked will assume his right,—the office of Supreme Judge. “The Father ... hath committed all judgment unto the Son.... And he hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” It was he, says Peter, who was ordained to “judge the quick [the living] and the dead.” “He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.”
The faith and patience of those who have waited long, have been sorely tried. “Hope deferred has made the heart sick;” and the cry has come up before God, “Lord, how long?” But now the signs are fulfilling,—nation rising against nation, startling calamities by land and by sea, famine, pestilence, fearful storms, sweeping floods, and great conflagrations. All these testify that we are approaching the grand consummation. The cry going up to God from the waiting ones, will not be in vain. The response will come, “It is done.” “He which is filthy, let him be filthy still; ... he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Can the church contemplate this hour with calm indifference?
The crisis is now upon us. The battle is to be waged between the Christianity of the Bible and the Christianity of human tradition. Is there not a criminal neglect in our present sleepy condition? There must be a decided advance movement among us. We must show to the world that we recognize, in the events that are now taking place in connection with the National Reform movement, the fulfillment of prophecy. That which we have, for the last thirty or forty years, proclaimed would come, is now here; and the trumpet of every watchman upon the walls of Zion should raise the alarm.
Prophecy represents Protestantism as having lamb-like horns, but speaking like a dragon. Already we are beginning to hear the voice of the dragon. There is a satanic force propelling the Sunday movement, but it is concealed. Even the men who are engaged in the work, are themselves blinded to the results which will follow their movement. Let not the commandment-keeping people of God be silent at this time, as though we gracefully accepted the situation. There is the prospect before us, of waging a continuous war, at the risk of imprisonment, of losing property and even life itself, to defend the law of God, which is being made void by the laws of men. This Bible text will be quoted to us, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.... The powers that be are ordained of God.”
When the disciples preached Christ and him crucified, after his resurrection, the authorities commanded them not to speak any more nor to teach in the name of Jesus. “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.” They continued to preach Jesus and him crucified, and afterward raised from the dead. The sick were healed, and thousands were added to the church. “Then the high priest rose up, and all that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.”
But the God of heaven the mighty Ruler of the universe, took this matter into his own hands; for men were warring against his work. He showed them plainly that there is a ruler above man, whose authority must be respected. The Lord sent his angel by night to open the prison doors; and he brought forth these men whom God had commissioned to do his work. Thus we see that these rulers were not in harmony with God's word. Had they taken him into their counsel, they would not have commanded the disciples to do contrary to his will. The rulers said, “Speak not at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus;” but the heavenly messenger sent by God, said, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”
Those who shall seek to compel men to observe an institution of the papacy, and trample upon God's authority, are doing a work similar to that of the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees in the days of the apostles. When the laws of earthly rulers are brought into opposition to the laws of the Supreme Ruler of the universe, then those who are God's loyal subjects will be true to him.
The National Reform movement, that the world and the church have linked hands to bring about, will manifest the same oppression, haughtiness, arrogance, and intolerance which have prevailed in past ages. The powers of human councils then assumed the prerogatives of Deity, crushing under their despotic will, liberty of conscience and the right of individual responsibility; and imprisonment, exile, and death followed for all who opposed their dictates.
Many will plead that there is no prospect that popery will ever be revived. If it shall regain its lost ascendancy, it will be by Protestantism's giving it the right hand of fellowship. If it shall be legislated into power by the concessions of time-serving men, the fires of persecution will be rekindled against those who will not sacrifice conscience and the truth for the errors of the papacy. Once let the minds of the Christian world be turned away from God; let his law be dishonored and his holy day trampled upon, and they will be ready to take any step where Satan may lead the way.
Some urge that the Catholic religion is not what it once was; that the principles to which Protestants could not concede, and indignantly rose up to war against, were held by Catholics in the days of their ignorance and barbarism. They say that the present high mental development of the people would never allow them to adopt the plan of action carried out in the past,—compelling the conscience upon religious subjects. But there is nothing in the Scriptures to assure us against the reinstatement of popery. Protestants today are a self-sufficient, world-loving people; but they must have some religion, and prefer that consisting of forms and outward display, rather than the simplicity of the true religion of Jesus Christ. They are too wise in their own conceit to seek God for counsel and direction,—to open the Guide Book which points them to the only way that leads to heaven. They close their hearts to Jesus in his humiliation, self-denial, and self-sacrifice, and open the door to the delusions of Satan.
While the Protestant world is, by her attitude, making concessions to Rome, we should arouse to comprehend the situation, and view the contest before us in its true bearings. While men have slept, Satan has been stealthily sowing the tares. Let the watchmen now lift up their voice like a trumpet, and give the message which is present truth for this time. Let them know where we are in prophetic history, that the spirit of true Protestantism may awaken all the world to a sense of the value of the privileges of religious liberty so long enjoyed.
This nation has been highly favored of God. It has been the great center of religious light and liberty. O, do not sleep now, and in your inactivity feel that you are doing the will of God! The experience of God's commandment-keeping people now should correspond with the events that are crowding upon us.
It should be the business of all the righteous in the land, as they see signs of the approach of peril, to arouse to action, and not sit in calm expectation of ruin, comforting themselves with the belief that this work must go on, because prophecy has foretold it, and that the Lord will shelter his people in the day of trial. Effectual, fervent prayers should be ascending to Heaven, that this calamity may be deferred; for we are not ready to meet it.
Every passing hour now is one of activity in the heavenly courts, to make ready a people upon the earth to act a part in the great scenes that are soon to open upon us. These transient moments, that seem of so little value to us, are weighty with eternal interests. They are molding the destiny of souls for everlasting life or everlasting death. The words we utter today in the ears of the people, the works we are doing, the spirit of the message we are bearing, will be to human souls the savor of life unto life or of death unto death. We must be washing our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. If we would be saints above, we must first be saints below.
We have lost much time in inaction, because we have not realized the time in which we are living. This we deplore, and would humble our souls before God, pleading with him for pardon for sleeping at our post of duty, and allowing the enemy to gain the advantage over us. Many have chosen to do nothing, when they should have been diligent to repulse the enemy. Let your services now be dedicated to God. Gird on the armor for vigorous work, saying, “Here am I, Lord, send me.”
It is essential that we be much in prayer to God, that his voice and his power may be manifested in behalf of his people, and that the angels may hold the four winds until the truth is more fully proclaimed, and the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. God is not pleased with the attitude of his people. Satan is taking the world captive, and the sentinels for God and the truth are letting him do it. “Watch then, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” Arouse, and come to the front. Be stanch to defend your religious liberty.
Many of our people are registered in the books of heaven as slothful servants. They have buried their talents of money and capability in the world, and the work they should have done has been left undone. Some to whom the Lord has intrusted means, have been ease-lovers, and have not done their duty in the fear and love of God. Many have left the smaller churches, to unite with larger ones, where they carry no burden of responsibility, and are only in the way. Such lose their spirituality and vital force, because they do comparatively nothing for the truth. What account will these have to give to the Master when he shall say, “Give account of thy stewardship”?
We are not ready for this great issue to which the enforcement of the Sunday law will bring us. Let the members of our churches become missionaries for the Master; let them not linger in ease and indifference; but let them go forth to work for God. Their spiritual muscles have been nearly palsied with inaction. Go without the camp, bearing the reproach for Christ and the truth. Work today in the Lord's vineyard. Go out into the highways and hedges, and stir up the people to investigate the truth. Woe to all who profess to walk in the light, yet who are at ease in Zion. They absorb the God-given rays of righteousness, but do not diffuse the light to others. The parable of the faithless servant who hid his Lord's money, condemns them, and they are classed among those who refuse to be co-laborers with Jesus Christ, selfishly caring for their own ease, and leaving those for whom Christ has died, to perish without the knowledge of the truth which God has graciously given to them. Those who have been the receivers of spiritual light, may become the receptacles of darkness, to whom the words of Christ are applicable, “If therefore the light which is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” May this statement be true of God's people, to whom he has committed the sacred trust of the knowledge of his law. “Yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night; for when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” Just when many who have had light and evidence are saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” and declaring that all things continue as they were from the beginning, the terrible realities of the day of God will burst upon them. Marvelous beyond expression is the blindness of the people of this generation.
Every true child of God should now be inquiring, “What wouldst thou have me to do?” Brethren, for Christ's sake, do something, and do it now. Satanic influences are all around us, to be met and resisted. The tares are mingled with the wheat, error with truth, coldness with zeal, darkness with light. There must be a returning to our first love. We must battle nobly with tribulation and danger, in the midst of trials, tests, and provings of God. We must be rich in faith and good works. The message to the Laodicean church is applicable to those who have been made the repository of rich truth. This church is distinguished in prophecy by its great profession of advanced light; yet it was filled with spiritual pride and lukewarmness in religion. They had a religious theory, but were greatly lacking in moral power and holiness. They are pronounced wretched, poor, blind, and naked. O that our people would realize the danger, and heed the counsel of the True Witness, “Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed; ... and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.”
Will we now, who have such great light, make some sacrifice for Jesus, who for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich? We must arouse, and through piety and earnest work for the Master, partake of his spirit of love for souls, of faith in God, that he may work with us, by us, and through us.