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The Coming CONFLICT
Romanism is now regarded by Protestants with far greater favor than in former years. There is an increasing indifference concerning the doctrines that separate the reformed churches from the papal hierarchy; the opinion is gaining ground that, after all, we do not differ so widely upon vital points as has been supposed, and that a little concession on our part will bring us into a better understanding with Rome. The time was when Protestants placed a high value upon the liberty of conscience which had been so dearly purchased. They held that to seek harmony with Rome would be disloyalty to God. But how widely different are the sentiments now expressed!
The defenders of the papacy declare that the church has been maligned, and the Protestant world are inclined to accept the statement. Many urge that it is unjust to judge the church of today by the abominations and absurdities that marked her reign during the centuries of ignorance and darkness.
Have these persons forgotten the claim of infallibility put forth for eight hundred years by this haughty power? So far from being relinquished., this claim was affirmed in the nineteenth century with greater positiveness than ever before. Rome asserts that the “church never erred; nor will it. according to the Scriptures. ever err.” -John L. von Mosheim, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, bk. 3, cent. II, pt. 2, ch. 2, sec. 9, n. 17.
All that she has done in her persecution of those who reject her dogmas she holds to be right; would she not repeat the same acts, should the opportunity be presented?
A well-known writer speaks thus: “There are many who are disposed to attribute any fear of Roman Catholicism in the United States to bigotry or childishness. Let us, then, compare some of the fundamental principles of our government with those of the Catholic Church.
“The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX, in his Encyclical Letter of August 15, 1854, said: ‘The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience are a most pestilential error, most to be dreaded in a state.’ The same pope anathematized ‘those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,’ also ‘all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.’
“The pacific tone of Rome in the United States does not imply a change of heart. She is tolerant where she is helpless.
“Every cardinal, archbishop, and bishop in the Catholic Church takes an oath of allegiance to the pope, in which occur the following words: ‘Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord (the pope), or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose.’” -Josiah Strong, Our Country, ch. 5, pars 2-4. [See note below on paragraphs 5-8.]
It is true that thousands in that church are serving God according to the best light they have. But Romanism as a system is no more in harmony with the gospel of Christ now than at any former period in her history.
The papacy that Protestants are now so ready to honor is the same that ruled the world in the days of the Reformation.
Protestants little know what they are doing when they propose to accept the aid of Rome in the work of Sunday exaltation. While they are bent upon the accomplishment of their purpose, Rome is aiming to re-establish her power, to recover her lost supremacy. Let the principle once be established in the United States that the church may employ or control the power of the state; that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured.
The religious organizations of the day have refused to listen to unpopular truths plainly brought to view in the Scriptures, and in combating them they have adopted interpretations and taken positions which have sown broadcast the seeds of skepticism. Clinging to the papal error of natural immortality and man's consciousness in death, they have rejected the only defense against the delusions of spiritualism. And as the claims of the fourth commandment are urged upon the people, it is found that the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is enjoined; and as the only way to free themselves from a duty which they are unwilling to perform, many popular teachers declare that the law of God is no longer binding. Thus they cast away the law and the Sabbath together. The teachings of religious leaders have opened the door to infidelity, to spiritualism, and to contempt for God's holy law; and upon these leaders rests a fearful responsibility for the iniquity that exists in the Christian world.
Yet this very class put forth the claim that the fast-spreading corruption is largely attributable to the desecration of the so-called “Christian sabbath,” and that the enforcement of Sunday observance would greatly improve the morals of society.
Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.
As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, Satan himself will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.
As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Savior's advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness. resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation (Rev. 1:13-15). The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: “Christ has come! Christ has come!” The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Savior uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion.
But the people of God will not be misled. The teachings of this false christ are not in accordance with the Scriptures. Those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive.
Papists, who boast of miracles as a certain sign of the true church, will be readily deceived by this wonder-working power; and Protestants, having cast away the shield of truth, will also be deluded. Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness without the power, and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world.
Through spiritualism, Satan appears as a benefactor of the race, healing the diseases of the people, and professing to present a new and more exalted system of religious faith; but at the same time he works as a destroyer.
While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation.
Then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils. The class that have provoked the displeasure of Heaven will charge all their troubles upon those whose obedience to God's commandments is a perpetual reproof to transgressors. It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath: that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced; and that those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people.
As the Protestant churches reject the clear, Scriptural arguments in defense of God's law, they will long to silence those whose faith they cannot overthrow by the Bible.
The dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments.
Even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected.
The apostle Paul declared, looking down to the last days: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” 2 Tim. 4:3. That time has fully come. The multitudes do not want Bible truth, because it interferes with the desires of the sinful, world-loving heart.
A terrible condition of the religious world is here described. With every rejection of truth the minds of people become darker, their hearts more stubborn, until they are entrenched in an infidel hardihood. In defiance of the warnings which God has given, they will continue to trample upon one of the precepts of the Decalogue, until they are led to persecute those who hold it sacred.
Fearful is the issue to which the world is to be brought. The powers of earth, uniting to war against the commandments of God, will decree that “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond” (Rev. 13:16), shall conform to the customs of the church by the observance of the false sabbath. All who refuse compliance will be visited with civil penalties, and it will finally be declared that they are deserving of death.
The keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God's law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator; while the observance of the false sabbath will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God.
With the issue thus clearly brought before him, whoever shall trample upon God's law to obey a human enactment receives the mark of the beast. The line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not.
As the question of enforcing Sunday observance is widely agitated, the message of the third angel will be proclaimed with greatest power. In amazement thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. The rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand.
Now all have made their decision; the wicked have fully united with Satan in his warfare against God. The time has come for God to vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law.
THE 4th COMMANDMENT IN THE LAW OF GOD
As Changed By Man
Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant nor thy. cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
“Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:” “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: therefore the son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” “For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, and God did rest the seventh day from all His. works:' “There remaineth therefore a keeping of a sabbath to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His:“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth.”
Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day.
['A Doctrinal Catechism,” (Catholic) page 174, has the following question and answer:
“Q.-Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
“A.-Had she not such power ... she could not have substituted the observance of sunday, the first day of the week, for saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority.”]
Please note that the second commandment as found in the Bible is left out of this version.
Note regarding paragraphs 5-8:
QUOTATIONS FROM JOSIAH STRONG.--In his first edition of Our Country, Josiah Strong, without access to primary sources, incorrectly referenced the statements attributed to Pope Pius IX.
The correct reference for the first citation is Pope Gregory XVI's encyclical letter of August 15, 1832 "Marari Vos". The relevant paragraph is here quoted in full:
“14. This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. "But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error," as Augustine was wont to say.21 When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly "the bottomless pit"22 is opened from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws--in other words, a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other. Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty.” --As printed in Claudia Carlen, IHM, The Papal Encyclicals, 1740-1878 (Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Pierian Press, 1990), vol. 1, p. 238.
The second citation should be credited to Pope Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors, which accompanied his encyclical letter of December 8, 1864. Included among the 80 errors anathematized are:
“24. The Church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect.;--Apostolic Letter "Ad Apostolicae," Aug. 22, 1851.
“78. Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship.--Allocution "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852.
“79. Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indifferentism.--Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856.” --As printed in Anne Fremantle, ed., The Papal Encyclicals in Their Historical Context (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1956), pp. 146, 152.
Note regarding paragraph 8:
It should also be noted that the oath of allegiance to the pope, quoted in the last paragraph of the citation from Strong, was the bishop's oath, not one taken by cardinals.
Note regarding the above citation errors:
The errors corrected by the notes above were unfortunately not found until after We Have This Hope had been printed.
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