Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith

Page 625

Revelation Chapter XIV

God's Final Warning to a Wicked World

Verse 1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

A wonderful feature of the prophetic word is that the people of God are never brought into positions of trial and difficulty, and there abandoned. After taking them into scenes of danger, the voice of prophecy does not leave them there to guess their fate, in doubt, perhaps despair, as to the final result. Rather, it takes them through to the end, and reveals the final triumph of the faithful.

The first five verses of Revelation 14 are an example of this. The thirteenth chapter closed with a view of the people of God, a small and apparently weak and defenseless company, in deadly conflict with the mightiest powers of earth which the dragon is able to muster to his service. A decree is passed, backed up by the supreme power of the land, that they shall worship the image and receive the mark, under pain of death if they refuse to comply. What can the people of God do in such a conflict and in such an extremity? What will become of them? Glance forward with the apostle to the very next scene in the unfolding drama, and what do we behold?--The same company standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb, a

Page 626

victorious company, playing on symphonic harps in the court of heaven. Thus are we assured that when the time of our conflict with the powers of darkness comes, deliverance is not only certain, but will immediately be brought to the people of God.

The 144,000.--We believe that the 144,000 here seen on Mount Zion are the saints who were in Revelation 13 brought to view as objects of the wrath of the beast and his image.

They are identical with those sealed, as described in Revelation 7, who have already been shown to be the righteous who are alive at the second coming of Christ.

They are "redeemed from among men" (verse 4), an expression which can be applicable only to those who are translated from among the living. Paul labored, if by any means he might attain to the resurrection from among the dead. (Philippians 3: 11.) This is the hope of those who sleep in Jesus--a resurrection from the dead. A redemption from among men, from among the living, must mean a different thing, and can mean only one thing, and that is translation. Hence the 144,000 are living saints, who will be translated at the second coming of Christ. (See comment on verse 13.)

On what Mount Zion does John see this company standing?--The Mount Zion above; for the song of harpers, which no doubt is uttered by these very ones, is heard from heaven. This is the same Zion from which the Lord utters His voice when He speaks to His people in close connection with the coming of the Son of man. (Joel 3: 16, Hebrews 12: 25-28; Revelation 16: 17.) An acceptance of the fact that there is a Mount Zion in heaven, and a Jerusalem above, would be a powerful antidote for the false doctrine of a second probation and a millennium of peace on earth.

Only a few more particulars respecting the 144,000, in addition to those given in Revelation 7, will claim our attention:

They have the name of the Lamb's Father written in their foreheads. In Revelation 7, they are said to have the seal of

Page 627

God in their foreheads. An important key to an understanding of the seal of God is thus furnished, for we at once perceive that the Father regards His name as His seal. That commandment of the law which contains God's name is therefore the seal of the law. The Sabbath commandment is the only one that contains the descriptive title which distinguishes the true God from all false gods. Wherever this was placed, there the Father's name was said to be. (Deuteronomy 12: 5, 14, 18, 21; 14: 23; 16: 2, 6; etc.) Therefore whoever truly keeps this commandment has the seal of the living God.

They sing a new song which no other company is able to learn. In Revelation 15: 3, it is called the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. The song of Moses, as may be seen by reference to Exodus 15, was a song of experience and deliverance. Therefore the song of the 144,000 is the song of their deliverance. No others can join in it, for no other company will have had an experience like theirs.

They "were not defiled with women." A woman is in Scripture the symbol of a church, a virtuous woman representing a pure church, a corrupt woman, an apostate church. It is, then, a characteristic of this company that at the time of their deliverance they are not defiled with the fallen churches of the land, nor do they have any connection with them. yet we are not understand that they never had any connection with these churches, for it is only at a certain time that people become defiled by them. In Revelation 18: 4 we find a call issued to the people of God while they are still in Babylon, to come out lest they become partakers of her sins. Heeding that call, and leaving her connection, they escape the defilement of her sins. So of the 144,000: though some of them may have once had a connection with corrupt churches, they sever that connection with corrupt churches, they sever that connection when it would become sin to retain it longer.

They follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. We understand that this is spoken of them in their redeemed state. They are the special companions of their glorified Lord in the kingdom. Of the same company and the same time, we read,

Page 628

"The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters." Revelation 7: 17.

They are "first fruits unto God and to the Lamb." This term appears to be applied to different ones to denote special conditions. Christ is the first fruits as the antitype of the wavesheaf. The first receivers of the gospel are called by James a kind of first fruits. (James 1: 18.) So the 144,000, being prepared for the heavenly garner here on the earth during the troublous scenes of the last days, being translated to heaven without seeing death, and occupying a pre-eminent position, are in this sense called the first fruits unto God and the Lamb. With this description of the 144,000 triumphant, the line of prophecy which began with Revelation 12 comes to a close.

Verse 6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

The First Angel's Message.--Another scene and another chain of prophetic events is introduced in these verses. We know that this is so, because the preceding verses of this chapter describe a company of the redeemed in the immortal state--a scene which constitutes a part of the prophetic chain beginning with the first verse of Revelation 12, and with which that chain of events closes, for no prophecy goes beyond the immortal state. Whenever we are brought in a line of prophecy to the end of the world, we know that that line ends there, and that what is introduced subsequently belongs to a new series of events. The book of Revelation in particular is composed of these independent prophetic chains, as has already been set forth in a number of examples.

The message described in these two verses is the first of what are known as "the three angels' messages of Revelation 14." We are justified by the prophecy itself in designating

Page 629

them the first, second, and third. In the verses that follow, the last one is distinctly called "the third angel," from which we infer that the one preceding was the second angel; and the one before that, the first angel.

These angels are evidently symbolic, for the work assigned them is that of preaching the everlasting gospel to the people. But the preaching of the gospel has not been entrusted to literal angels; it has been committed to men, who are responsible for this sacred trust placed in their hands. Each of these three angels, therefore, symbolizes those who are commissioned to make known to their fellow men the special truths which constitute the burden of these messages.

Literal angels are intensely interested in the work of grace among men, being sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. As there is order in all the movements and appointments of the heavenly world, it may not be fanciful to suppose that a literal angel has charge and oversight of the work of each message. (Hebrews 1: 14; Revelation 1: 1; 22: 16.)

In these symbols we see the sharp contrast the Bible draws between earthly and heavenly things. Wherever earthly governments are to be represented, even the best of them, the most appropriate symbol that can be found is a wild beast. But when the work of God is to be set forth, an angel clad in beauty and girt with power is used to symbolize it.

The importance of the work set forth in Revelation 14: 6-12 will be apparent to anyone who attentively studies it. Whenever these messages are to be proclaimed, they must from the very nature of the case constitute the great theme of interest for that generation. We do not mean that the great mass of mankind then living will give them attention, for in every age of the world the present truth for that time has been too often overlooked. But they constitute the theme to which the people will pay most earnest regard if they are awake to what concerns their highest interests.

When God commissions His ministers to announce to the world that the hour of his judgment is come, that Babylon has

Page 630

fallen, and that whoever worships the beast and his image must drink of His wrath poured out unmingled into the cup of His indignation--a threat more terrible than any other that can be found in the Scriptures--no man, except at the peril of his soul, can treat these warnings as nonessential, or pass them by with neglect and disregard. Hence the necessity in every age for the most earnest endeavor to understand the work of the Lord, lest we lose the benefit of the present truth. This is especially true today, when so many evidences betoken the soon coming of earth's final crisis.

This angel of Revelation 14: 6 is called "another angel," from the fact that John had previously seen an angel flying through heaven in a similar manner, as described in Revelation 8: 13, proclaiming that the last three of the series of seven trumpets were woe trumpets. (See comments on Revelation 8: 13.)

The Time of the Message.--The first point to be determined is the time when this message is to be given. When may the proclamation, "The hour of His judgment is come," be expected? The possibility that it may be in our own day makes it essential for us to examine this question with serious attention. But more positive proof that this is so will appear as we proceed. It should set every pulse bounding, and every heart beating high with a sense of the sublime importance of this hour in which we live.

Only three positions are possible on this question of the time of this prophecy. These positions are that this message has been given in the past, as in the days of the apostles, or in the days of the Reformers; that it is to be given in a future age; or that it belongs to the present generation.

We inquire first respecting the past. The very nature of the messages forbids the idea that it could have been given in the days of the apostles. They did not proclaim that the hour of God's judgment had come. If they had, it would not have been true, and their message would have been stamped with the infamy of falsehood. They did have something to say re-

Page 631

specting the judgment, but they pointed to an indefinite future for its accomplishment. In Christ's own words, the final judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre, Sidon, Chorazin, and Capernaum, was located indefinitely in the future from that day. (Matthew 10: 15; 11: 21-24.) Paul declared to the superstitious Athenians that God had appointed a day in which He would judge the world. (Acts 17: 31.) He reasoned before Felix "of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." Acts 24: 25. To the Romans he wrote concerning a day when God should judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. (Romans 2: 16.) He pointed the Corinthians forward to a time when "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." 2 Corinthians 5: 10. James wrote to the brethren scattered abroad that they were at some time in the future to be judged by the law of liberty. (James 2: 1 2.) Both Peter and Jude speak of the first rebel angels as reserved unto the judgment of the great day, still in the future at that time, to which the ungodly in this world are also reserved. (2 Peter 2: 4, 9; Jude 6.) How different is all this from ringing out upon the world the startling declaration that "the hour of His judgment is come!" --a sound which must be heard when the solemn message before us is given.

From the days of the apostles nothing has taken place which anyone could construe as the fulfillment of this first message, until we come to the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Some claim that Luther and his colaborers gave the first message, and that the two following message have been given since his day. This is a question to be decided by historical fact rather than by argument. Hence we inquire for the evidence that the Reformers mad any such proclamation. Their teaching has been fully recorded, and their writings preserved. When and where did they arouse the world with the proclamation that the hour of God's judgment had come? We find no record that such was the burden of their preaching.

"The above passage [Revelation 14: 6-11] is by some interpreters supposed to relate to the period of the Reformation,

Page 632

and to have been fulfilled in the preaching of Luther and the other eminent persons who were raised up at that time to proclaim the errors of the Romish Church. . . . But it appears to me that there are insuperable objections to these interpretations. The first angel is instrumental in preaching the gospel much more extensively than the Reformers could do. So far were they from preaching to all the inhabitants of the earth that they did not even preach through the whole of Christian Europe. The Reformation was not permitted to enter into some of the most extensive kingdoms of the Romish jurisdiction. It was entirely excluded from Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Neither could it be said, in consistence with truth, at the time of the Reformation that 'the hour of God's judgment is come.' . . . The hour of God's judgment is a time well known and exactly defined in the chronological prophecies of Daniel and John." [1]

"I hope," said Luther, "the last day of judgment is not far, I persuade myself verily it will not be absent full three hundred years longer; for God's word will decrease and be darkened for want of true shepherds and servants of God. The voice will sound and heard erelong: 'Behold the Bridegroom cometh.' God neither will nor can suffer this wicked world much longer, He must strike in with the dreadful day, and punish the contemning of His word." [2]

Such records ought to be decisive, as far as the Reformers are concerned.

The foregoing considerations being sufficient to forbid the application of the judgment message to the past, we now turn to the view that locates it in a future age, beyond the second advent. The reason urged for locating the message in that time is the fact that John saw the angel flying through heaven immediately after he had seen the Lamb standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000, which is a future event. If the books of Revelation were one consecutive prophecy, there would be

Page 633

force in this reasoning; but as it consists of a series of independent lines of prophecy, and as it has already been shown that one such chain ends with verse 5 of this chapter, and a new one begins with verse 6, the foregoing view cannot be sustained. To show that the message cannot have its fulfillment in an age beyond the second advent it will be sufficient to give a few reasons.

The apostolic commission extended only to the "harvest," which is the end of the world. (Matthew 13: 39.) If therefore this angel with "the everlasting gospel" comes after that event, he preaches another gospel, and subjects himself to the anathema of Paul in Galatians 1: 8.

The second message cannot of course be given before the first, but the second message announces the fall of Babylon, and a voice is heard from heaven after that, says, "Come out of her, My people." How absurd to locate this after the second advent of Christ, seeing that all God's people, both living and dead, are at that time caught up to meet the Lord in the air, to be thenceforth forever with Him. (1 Thessalonians 4: 17.) They cannot be called out of Babylon after this. Christ does not take them to Babylon, but to the Father's house, where there are many mansions. (John 14: 2, 3.)

A glance at the third angel's message, which must be fulfilled in a future age if the first one is, will still further show the difficulty of this view. This message warns against the worship of the beast, which refers, beyond question, to the papal beast. But the papal beast is destroyed and given to the burning flame when Christ comes. (Daniel 7: 11; 2 Thessalonians 2: 8.) He goes into the lake of fire at that time, to disturb the saints of the Most High no more. (Revelation 19: 20.) Why should we involve ourselves in the inconsistency of locating a message against the worship of the beast at a time when the beast has ceased to exist, and his worship is impossible?

In Revelation 14: 13 a blessing is pronounced upon the dead which die in the Lord "from henceforth," that is, from the time the threefold message begins to be given. This is a

Page 634

complete demonstration of the fact that the message must be given prior to the first resurrection, for after that event all who have a part therein can die no more. We therefore dismiss this view concerning the future age as unscriptural and impossible.

The Judgment Hour a Distinctive Note.--We are now prepared to examine the third view, that the message belongs to the present generation. The argument on the two preceding points has done much to establish the present proposition. If the message has not been given in the past, and cannot be given in the future after Christ comes, where else can we locate it but in the present generation, since we are obviously in the last days just preceding Christ's second coming? Indeed, the very nature of the message itself confines it to the last generation of men. It proclaims that the hour of God's judgment has come. The judgment pertains to the closing of the work of salvation for the world, and the proclamation announcing its approach can therefore be made only as we come near the end. It is further shown that the message belongs to the present time when it is proved that this angel is identical with the angel of Revelation 10, who utters his message in this generation. That the first angel of Revelation 14 and the angel of Revelation 10 are identical, see presentation in chapter 10.

The apostle Paul who before Felix the Roman governor reasoned of "judgment to come," proclaimed to his hearers on Mars' Hill that God "hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained." Acts 17: 31.

The prophecy of the 2300 days of Daniel 8 and 9 pointed unmistakably to this judgment hour. This longest time prophecy in the Scriptures reaches from 457 B.C. to A.D. 1844. Then, as we have in the study of Daniel's prophecy, the sanctuary was to be cleansed. This cleansing, according to the type in Leviticus 16, was the final work of atonement. That the work of the last day of the year in the typical service was none other than the day of judgment in type, will be seen from the following quotations:

Page 635

"The great Day of Atonement, with its services so peculiar and impressive, fell on the tenth day of the seventh month. . . . It was a day wherein every man was called to fast and afflict his soul; to mournfully and penitently reflect upon his sinful ways and transgressions. . . . He who thus failed to mourn was threatened with the penalty of death, as a direct visitation of judgment from the hand of Jehovah." [3] "Let us note well the actual Day of Atonement. It was on the tenth day of the seventh month. The Jubilee also commenced on the same day and was ushered in by the blowing of the solemn trumpet; emblem of a God coming near in judgment." [4]

"It was supposed that on the New Year Day (Tishri 1) the divine decrees were written down, and that on the Day of Atonement (Tishri 10) they are sealed, so that the decade is known by the name of 'Terrible Days' and the 'Ten Penitential Days.' So awful was the Day of Atonement that we are told in a Jewish book of ritual that the very angels run to and fro in fear and trembling, saying, 'Lo, the Day of Judgment has come!' " [5]

" 'God, seated on His throne to judge the world . . . openeth the Book of Records; it is read, every man's signature being found therein. The great trumpet is sounded; a still small voice is heard; the angels shudder, saying, "This is the day of judgment." . . . On New Year's Day the decree is written; on the Day of Atonement it is sealed who shall live and who are to die.' " [6]

One might ask if such a message has been given to the world. Again, Is a message of this character being proclaimed to the world today? We believe that the great second advent movement of the past century answers exactly to the prophecy.

Second Advent of Christ Another Distinctive Note.--As early as 1831, William Miller, of Low Hampton, New York, by an

Page 636

earnest and consistent study of the prophecies, was led to the conclusion that the gospel age was near its close. He placed the termination, which he thought would occur at the end of the prophetic periods, about the year 1843. This date was afterward extended to the autumn of 1844. We call his investigations a consistent study of the prophecies, because he adopted a sound rule of interpretation. This lies at the base of every religious reformation, and of every advance movement in prophetic language. This rule is to take all the language of the Scriptures, just as we would that of any other book, to be literal, unless the context or the laws of language require it to be understood figuratively; and to let scripture interpret scripture. True, on a vital point he made a mistake, as will be explained hereafter; but in principle, and in a great number of particulars, he was correct. He was on the right road, and made an immense advance over every theological system of his day. When he began to promulgate his views, they met with general favor, and were followed by great religious awakenings in different parts of the land.

Soon a multitude of colaborers gathered around his standard, among whom may be mentioned such men as F. G. Brown, Charles Fitch, Josiah Litch, J. V. Himes, and others, who were then eminent for piety, and men of influence in the religious world. The period marked by the years 1840-1844 was one of intense activity and great progress in this work. A message was proclaimed to the world which bore every characteristic of a fulfillment of the proclamation of Revelation 14: 6, 7. It was indeed that gospel of the kingdom which Christ declared should be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then the end should come. (Matthew 24: 14.) The fulfillment of either of these scriptures involves the preaching of the nearness of the end. The gospel could not be preached to all nations as a sign of the end, unless it was understood to be such, and the proximity of the end was at least one of its leading themes. The Advent Herald well expressed the truth on this point in the following language:

Page 637

"As an indication of the approach of the end, there was, however, to be seen 'another angel flying through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.' Revelation 14: 6. The burden of this angel was to be the same gospel which had been before proclaimed; but connected with it was the additional motive of the proximity of the kingdom--'saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.' Verse 7. No mere preaching of the gospel, without announcing its proximity, could fulfill this message." [7]

The persons who were engaged in this movement supposed it to be a fulfillment of prophecy, and claimed that they were giving the message of Revelation 14: 6, 7.

"I would now say to you this night, 'Fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgment is come,' in a strict and literal sense. We are now at the close of the last day concerning which the apostle says: 'Hereby we know that it is the last time.' . . . We are just at the evening of that day--we are at the last hour of that day; and it is very nigh, very nigh, even at the door. My dear hearers, I beseech you to consider that it is near at hand, at the very door, according to all who have studied this matter and have sought the teaching of God; . . . that they are all of one mind; that . . . the reign of Christ--is just at hand." [8]

"Revelation 14 represents the angel flying into the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell upon the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. When the event takes place which is signified by this symbol, the day of the Lord's judgment is actually at hand, for the angel cries unto all men, 'Fear God,

Page 638

and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.' " [9]

"It is the duty of all to call upon those to 'fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come,' but more especially is it the duty of God's ministers." [10]

But the general movement respecting the second advent of Christ, and the proclamation that "the hour of His judgment is come," was not confined to the Western Hemisphere. It was world-wide. It fulfilled in this respect the proclamation of the angel "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." Mourant Brock, an Anglican clergyman, and a strong leader in the advent movement in the British Isles, tells us:

"It is not merely in Great Britain that the expectation of the near return of the Redeemer is entertained, and the voice of warning raised, but also in America, India, and on the Continent of Europe. I was lately told by one of our German missionaries that in Wirtemburgh there is a Christian colony of several hundreds, one of the chief features of which is the looking for the Second Advent. And a Christian minister from near the shores of the Caspian Sea has told me, that there is the same daily expectation among his nation. They constantly speak of it as 'the day of consolation.' In a little publication, entitled 'The Millennium,' the writer says that he understands in America about 300 ministers of the Word are thus preaching 'the Gospel of the kingdom,' whilst in this country, he adds, about 700 of the Church of England are raising the same cry." [11]

Dr. Joseph Wolff traveled in Arabia, through the region inhabited by the descendants of Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law. He speaks as follows of a book which he saw in Yemen:

"The Arabs of this place have a book called 'Seera,' which treats of the second coming of Christ, and His reign in glory!" "In Yemen . . . I spent six days with the children of Rechabites.

Page 639

. . . They drink no wine, plant no vineyards, sow no seed, live in tents, and remember the word of Jonadab the son of Rechab. With them were children of Israel of the tribe of Dan, who reside near Yerim in Hatramawt [sic], who expected, in common with the children of Rechab, the speedy arrival of the Messiah in the clouds of heaven." [12]

D. T. Taylor speaks as follows concerning the wide diffusion of the advent hope:

"In Wurtemberg, there is a Christian colony numbering hundreds, who look for the speedy advent of Christ; also another of like belief on the shores of the Caspian; the Molokaners, a large body of dissenters from the Russian Greek Church, residing on the shores of the Baltic--a very pious people, of whom it is said, "Taking the Bible alone for their creed, the norm of their faith is simply the Holy Scriptures'--are characterized by the 'expectation of Christ's immediate and visible reign upon earth.' In Russia, the doctrine of Christ's coming and reign is preached to some extent, and received by many of the lower class. It has been extensively agitated in Germany, particularly in the south part among the Moravians. In Norway, charts and books on the advent have been circulated extensively, and the doctrine has been received by many. Among the Tartars in Tartary, there prevails an expectation of Christ's advent about this time. English and American publications on this doctrine have been sent to Holland, Germany, India, Ireland, Constantinople, Rome, and to nearly every missionary station on the globe. . . .

"Joseph Wolff, D. D., according to his journals, between the years 1821 and 1845, proclaimed the Lord's speedy advent in Palestine, Egypt, on the shores of the Read Sea, Mesopotamia, the Crimea, Persia, Georgia, throughout the Ottoman Empire, in Greece, Arabia, Turkistan, Bokhara, Afghanistan, Cashmere, Hindustan, Thibet, in Holland, Scotland, and Ireland, at Constantinople, Jerusalem, St. Helena, also on

Page 640

shipboard in the Mediterranean, and at New York City to all denominations. He declares he has preached among Jews, Turks, Mohammedans, Parsees, Hindus, Chaldeans, Yeseedes, Syrians, Sabeans, to pashas, sheiks, shahs, the king of Organtsh and Bokhara, the queen of Greece, etc.; and of his extraordinary labors the Investigator says, 'No individual has, perhaps, given greater publicity to the doctrine of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ than this well-known missionary to the world. Wherever he goes, he proclaims the approaching advent of the Messiah in glory.' " [13]

Another prominent writer in the great second advent movement writes:

"But that the Lord's warning was in reality heard and that the voice did at that very time go forth in the church as to the nearness of the advent, is undeniable. It may be safely affirmed that from the year 1828 to 1833 . . . a greater number of tracts and works on the subject of the advent and declaring its nearness went forth to the public and were advertised in the leading religious journals of the day than had previously appeared in any whole century, in the whole period that had elapsed from the age of the apostles; yea, probably than in the whole of the centuries from that age." [14]

That the mistake made by Adventists in 1844 was not in the time, has been shown by the argument on the seventy weeks and the 2300 days in Daniel 9. It was in the nature of the event to occur at the end of those days, as has been shown in the argument on the sanctuary in Daniel 8. Supposing the earth to be the sanctuary, with its cleansing to be accomplished by fire at the revelation of the Lord from heaven, they naturally looked for the appearing of Christ at the end of the days.

Through their misapprehension on this point, they met with a crushing disappointment, predicted in the Scripture itself, though everything which the prophecy declared, and everything which they were warranted to expect, took place

Page 641

with absolute accuracy at that time. There the cleansing of the sanctuary began; but this did not bring Christ to this earth, for the earth is not the sanctuary; and its cleansing does not involve the destruction of the earth, for cleansing is accomplished with the blood of a sacrificial offering, not with fire. Here was the bitterness of the little book to the church. (Revelation 10: 10.) Here was the coming of one like the Son of man, not to this earth, but to the Ancient of days. (Daniel 7: 13, 14.) Here was the coming of the Bridegroom to the marriage, as set forth in the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25.

The foolish virgins then said to the wise, "Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone ["going" margin] out." "While they went to buy, the Bridegroom came." This is not the coming of Christ to this earth, for it is a coming which precedes the marriage; but the marriage, that is, the reception of the kingdom (see comments on Revelation 21), must precede His coming to this earth to receive to Himself His people, who are to be the guests at the marriage supper. (Luke 19: 12; Revelation 19: 7-9.) This coming in the parable must therefore be the same as the coming to the Ancient of days spoken of in Daniel 7: 13, 14.

"And they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut." After the Bridegroom comes to the marriage, there is an examination of guests to see who are ready to participate in the ceremony, according to the parable of Matthew 22: 1-13. As the last thing before the marriage, the King comes in to see the guests, to ascertain if all are properly arrayed in the wedding garment; and whoever, after due examination, is found with the garment on, and is accepted by the King, never after loses that garment, but is sure of immortality. But this question of fitness for the kingdom can be determined only by the investigative judgment of the sanctuary.

This closing work in the sanctuary, which is the cleansing of the sanctuary and the atonement is therefore nothing else

Page 642

than the examination of the guests to see who have on the wedding garment. Consequently until this work is finished, it is not determined who are "ready" to go in to the marriage. "They that were ready went in with Him to the marriage." By this short expression we are carried from the time when the Bridegroom comes to the marriage, entirely through the period of the cleansing of the sanctuary, or the examination of the guests. When this is concluded, probation will end, and the door will be shut.

The connection of the parable with the message under examination is now apparent. It brings to view a period of making ready the guests for the marriage of the Lamb, which is the work of judgment to which the message brings us when it declares, "The hour of His judgment is come." This message was to be proclaimed with a loud voice. It went forth with the power thus indicated between the years 1840-44, more especially in the autumn of the latter year, bringing us to the end of the 2300 days, when the work of judgment started as Christ began the work of cleansing the sanctuary.

As has been already shown, this work did not bring us to the close of probation but rather to the beginning of the investigative judgment. In this judgment hour we are now living. Today, as in the period to which reference has been made, the judgment message is being heralded to all the earth. Today the solemn judgment proclamation is sounding "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come." Revelation 14: 6, 7.

Before passing on to the consideration of the second angel's message, let us contemplate for a moment the importance and sublime significance of the wonderful truth here so clearly revealed. We are standing on the very threshold of the eternal world. God's last message of mercy is now going to every nation and kindred and tongue and people. The final scenes in the great plan of salvation are even now being enacted in the sanctuary above. Think of it! The hour of God's judgment

Page 643

is come. The investigative judgment that concerns every soul and that immediately precedes the coming of Jesus, is now going forward in heaven. A wedding garment--the spotless robe of Christ's own righteousness--has at infinite cost been provided for all who will accept it. "How will it fare with thee and me when the King comes in?" "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2: 1.

Verse 8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

The Second Angel's Message.--The time of this message is determined to a great extent by that of the first message. The first cannot precede the second; but the first is confined to the last days. Yet the second must be given before the end, for no move of the kind described is possible after that event. It is therefore a part of that religious movement which takes place in the last days with special reference to the coming of Christ.

The inquires therefore follow: What is meant by the term "Babylon"? What is her fall? How does it take place? As to the meaning of the word, we learn something from the marginal readings of Genesis 10: 10 and 11: 9. The beginning of Nimrod's kingdom was Babel, or Babylon. The place was called Babylon, meaning "confusion," because God there confounded the language of the builders of the tower. The name is here used figuratively to designate the great symbolic city of the book of Revelation, probably with special reference to the significance of the term and the circumstances from which it originated. It applies to something on which, as specifying its chief characteristics, may be written the word "confusion."

There are but three possible things to which the word can be applied. These are the apostate religious world in general, the papal church in particular, and the city of Rome. In examining these terms, we shall first show what Babylon is not.

Page 644

Babylon is not confined to the Roman Catholic Church. That this church is a very prominent component part of great Babylon, is not denied. The descriptions in Revelation 17 seem to apply particularly to that church. But the name which she bears on her forehead, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth," reveals other family connections. If this church is the mother, who are the daughters? The fact that these daughters are spoken of, shows that there are other religious bodies besides the Roman Catholic Church which come under this designation. Again, there is to be a call made in connection with this message, "Come out of her, My people." Revelation 18: 1-4. As this message is located in the present generation, it follows, if no other church but the Roman Catholic is included Babylon, that the people of God are now found in the communion of that church, and are to be called out. But this conclusion, no Protestant at least will be willing to allow.

Babylon is not the city of Rome. The argument relied upon to show that the city of Rome is Babylon of the Apocalypse runs thus: The angel told John that the woman which he had seen was the great city which reigned over the kings of the earth, and that the seven heads of the beast are seven mountains upon which the woman sits. Then, by taking the city and the mountains to be literal, and finding Rome built upon seven hills, the application is made at once to literal Rome.

The principle upon which this interpretation rests is the assumption that the explanation of a symbol must always be literal. It falls to the ground the moment it can be shown that symbols are sometimes explained by substituting for them other symbols, and then explaining the latter. This can easily be done. In Revelation 11: 3, the symbol of the two witnesses is introduced. The next verse reads: "These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." In this case the first symbol is said to be the same as another symbol which is elsewhere clearly explained. So in

Page 645

the case before us. "The seven heads are seven mountains," and "the woman is that great city;" and it will not be difficult to show that the mountains and the city are used symbolically. The readers attention is directed to the following:

We are informed in Revelation 13 that one of the seven heads was wounded to death. This head therefore cannot be a literal mountain, for it would be folly to speak of wounding a mountain to death.

Each of the seven heads has a crown upon it. But who ever saw a literal mountain with a crown upon it?

The seven heads are evidently successive in order of time, for we read, "Five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come." Revelation 17: 10. But the seven hills on which Rome is built are not successive, and it would be absurd to apply such language to them.

According to Daniel 7: 6, compared with Daniel 8: 8, 22, heads denote governments, and according to Daniel 2: 35, 44, and Jeremiah 51: 25, mountains denote kingdoms. According to these facts, a literal translation of Revelation 17: 9, 10 removes all obscurity: "The seven heads are seven mountains on which on which the woman sitteth, and are seven kings." It will thus be seen that the angel represents the heads as mountains, and then explains the mountains to be seven successive kings. The meaning is transferred from one symbol to another, and then an explanation is given of the second symbol.

From the foregoing argument, it follows that the "woman" cannot represent a literal city, for the mountains upon which the woman sits being symbolic, a literal city cannot sit upon symbolic mountains. Again, Rome was the seat of the dragon of Revelation 12, and the dragon transferred it to the beast. (Revelation 13: 2.) Thus it became the seat of the beast; but it would be a singular mixture of figures to make the seat, which is sat upon by the beast, and a woman sitting upon the beast refer to the same thing.

Were the city of Rome the Babylon of the Apocalypse, what nonsense should we have in Revelation 18: 1-4, for in

Page 646

this case the fall of Babylon would be the overthrow and destruction of the city, in fact, its utter consumption by fire, according to verse 8. But mark what takes place after the fall. Babylon becomes "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." How can this happen to a city after that city is destroyed, even being utterly burned with fire? Again, after this a voice is heard, saying, "Come out of her, My people." Are God's people all in Rome?--Not to any great extent. How many can we suppose to be there to be called out after the city is burned with fire? It is not necessary to say more to show that Babylon cannot be the city of Rome.

What Does Babylon Signify?--Babylon signifies the universal worldly church. After seeing it cannot either of the other two possible things to which it could be applies, it must mean this. But we are not left to this kind of reasoning on this subject. Babylon is called "a woman." A woman, used as a symbol, signifies a church. The woman of Revelation 12 was interpreted to mean a church. The woman of Revelation 17 should undoubtedly be interpreted as also signifying a church. The character of the woman determines the character of the church represented, a chaste woman standing for a pure church, a vile woman for an impure, or apostate church. The woman Babylon is herself a harlot, and the mother of daughters like herself. This circumstance, as well as the name itself, shows that Babylon is not limited to any single ecclesiastical body, but must be composed of many. It must take in all of a like nature, and represent the entire corrupt, or apostate, church of the earth. This will perhaps explain the language of Revelation 18: 24, which represents that when God makes requisition upon great Babylon for the blood of His martyrs, in her will be found "the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all" that have been slain upon the earth.

Through the centuries practically every country of Europe has had its state church, and the most of these countries to the present day have their established religions, and zealously op-

Page 647

pose dissenters. Babylon has made all nations drunken with the wine of her fornication, that is, her false doctrines. It can therefore symbolize nothing less than the universal worldly church.

The great city Babylon is composed of three divisions. So the great religions of the world may be arranged under three heads. The first, oldest, and most widespread is paganism, separately symbolized under the form of a dragon. The second is the great papal apostasy, symbolized by the beast. The third is the daughters, or descendants from that church symbolized by the two-horned beast, though that does not embrace them all. War, oppression, conformity to the world, religious formalism, the worship of mammon, pursuit of pleasure, and the maintenance of very many errors of the Roman Catholic Church, identify with sad and faithful accuracy the great body of the Protestant churches as an important constituent part of this great Babylon.

A glance at some of the ways in which the Protestant church has deported herself will still further show this. When Rome had the power, she destroyed vast multitudes of those whom she adjudged heretics. The Protestant church has shown the same spirit. Witness the burning of Michael Servetus by the Protestants of Geneva with John Calvin at their head. Witness the long-continued oppression of dissenters by the Church of England. Witness the hanging of Quakers and the whipping of Baptists even by the Puritan fathers of New England, themselves fugitives from like oppression by the Church of England. But these, some may say, are things of the past. True, yet they show that when persons governed by strong religious prejudice have the power to coerce dissenters, they cannot forbear to use it--a state of things which we look for in this country under a further fulfillment of the closing prophecy of Revelation 13.

It was the will of Christ that His church should be one. He prayed that His disciples might be one, as He and the Father were one; for this would give power to His gospel, and

Page 648

cause the world to believe in Him. Instead of this, look at the confusion that exists in the Protestant world, the many sectional walls that divide it into a network of societies, and the many creeds, discordant as the languages of those who were dispersed at the tower of Babel. God is not the author of all these. It is this state of things which the word "Babylon," as a descriptive term, appropriately designates. It is evidently used for this purpose, and not a term of reproach. Instead of being stirred with feelings of resentment when this term is mentioned, people should rather examine their position, to see if in faith or practice they are guilty of any connection with this great city of confusion. If so, they should separate at once therefrom.

The true church is a chaste virgin. (2 Corinthians 11: 2.) The church that is joined with the world in friendship, is a harlot. It is this unlawful connection with the kings of the earth that constitutes her the great harlot of the Apocalypse. (Revelation 17.) Thus the Jewish Church, at first espoused to the Lord (Jeremiah 2: 3; 31: 32), became a harlot (Ezekiel 16). When this church apostatized from God, it was called Sodom (Isaiah 1), just as "the great city" (Babylon) is so called in Revelation 11. The unlawful union with the world of which Babylon is guilty, is positive proof that it is not the civil power. That the people of God are in her midst immediately before her overthrow is proof that she is professedly a religious body. For these reasons, it is very evident that the Babylon of the Apocalypse is the professed church united with the world.

"Babylon Is Fallen."--The fall of Babylon will next claim attention. After learning what constitutes Babylon, it will not be difficult to decide what is meant by the declaration that Babylon is fallen. As Babylon is not a literal city, the fall cannot be a literal overthrow. We have already seen what an absurdity this would involve. Besides, the clearest distinction is maintained by the prophecy itself between the fall and the destruction of Babylon. Babylon "falls" before it is with violence "thrown down," as a millstone cast into the sea, and

Page 649

"utterly burned with fire." The fall is therefore a spiritual fall, for after the fall the voice is addressed to the people of God who are still in her connection, "Come out of her, My people." The reason is immediately given, "that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Babylon therefore still exists in sin and her plagues are still future after the fall.

Those who make Babylon apply exclusively to the papacy, claim that the fall of Babylon is the loss of civil power by the papal church. Because of the fall of Babylon, she becomes the hold of foul spirits and hateful birds; but such is not at all the result to Rome of the loss of civil power.

The people of God are called out of Babylon on account of her increasing sinfulness resulting from the fall, but the loss of the temporal power of the papacy constitutes no additional reason why the people of God should leave that church.

Babylon meets with this spiritual fall "because she made all nations drink of the wine of wrath [not anger, but intense passion] of her fornication." There is but one thing to which this can refer, and that is false doctrines. She has corrupted the pure truths of God's word, and made the nations drunken with pleasing fables.

In the form of the papacy she has supplanted the gospel by substituting for it a false system of salvation:

Through the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception she denies that God in Christ dwelt in human flesh.

She has sought to set aside the mediation of Christ and has put another system of mediation in its place.

She has attempted to take away the priesthood of Jesus and substitute an earthly priesthood.

She has made salvation dependent upon confession to mortal man and thus has separated the sinner from Jesus, the only one through whom his sins can be forgiven.

She condemns the way of salvation through faith as "damnable heresy," and substitutes the doctrine of salvation by works.

Page 650

Her crowning blasphemy is the doctrine of transubstantiation, or the idolatrous sacrifice of the mass, which is declared to be "one and the same as that of the cross" and which, in "some senses," is said to have "the advantage over Calvary," for by it "the work of our redemption is carried out."

Among the doctrines she teaches contrary to the word of God, may be mentioned the following:

The substitution of tradition and the voice of the church as an infallible guide in the place of the Bible.

The change of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, the seventh day, into the festival of Sunday as the rest day of the Lord and a memorial of His resurrection, a memorial which has never been commanded, and can by no possible means appropriately commemorate that event. Fathered by heathenism as "the wild solar holiday of all pagan times," Sunday was lead to the font by the pope, and christened as an institution of the gospel church. Thus an attempt was made to destroy a memorial which the great God had set up to commemorate His own magnificent creative work, and erect another in its state to commemorate the resurrection of Christ, for which there was no occasion, as the Lord Himself had already provided a memorial for that purpose in baptism by immersion.

The doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul. This also was derived from the pagan world, and the "Fathers of the church" became the foster-fathers of this pernicious doctrine as a part of divine truth. This error nullifies the two great Scripture doctrines of the resurrection and the general judgment, and furnishes an open door to modern spiritism. From it have sprung such other evil doctrines as the conscious state of the dead, saint worship, mariology, purgatory, reward at death, prayers and baptisms for the dead, eternal torment, and universal salvation.

The doctrine that the saints, as disembodied spirits, find their eternal inheritance in faraway, indefinable regions, "beyond the bounds of time and space." Thus multitudes

Page 651

have been turned away from the Scriptural view that this present earth is to be destroyed by fire at the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, and that from its ashes the voice of Omnipotence will evoke a new earth, which will be the future everlasting kingdom of glory, and which the saints will possess as their eternal inheritance.

Sprinkling instead of immersion, the latter being the only Scriptural mode of baptism, and a fitting memorial of the burial and resurrection of our Lord, for which purpose it was designed. By the corruption of this ordinance and its destruction as a memorial of the resurrection of Christ, the way was prepared for the substitution of something else for this purpose--the Sunday rest day.

That the coming of Christ is a spiritual, not a literal event, and was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, or is fulfilled in conversion, at death, or in spiritism. How many minds have by such teaching been forever closed against the Scriptural view that the second coming of Christ is a future definite event, literal, personal, visible, resulting in destruction of all His foes, and everlasting life to all His people!

The doctrine of a temporal millennium, or a thousand years of peace and prosperity and righteousness all over the earth before the second coming of Christ. This doctrine is especially calculated to shut the ears of the people against the evidences of the second advent near, and will probably lull as many souls into a state of carnal security leading to their final ruin, as any heresy which has ever been devised by the great enemy of truth.

Application of the Fall of Babylon.--To come now more particularly to the application of the prophecy concerning the fall of Babylon, let us see how the religious world stood with reference to the possibility of such a change when the time came for the proclamation of such a change when the time came for the proclamation of this second message in connection with the first about the year 1844. Paganism was only apostasy and corruption in the beginning, and is so still. No spiritual fall is possible there. Roman Catholicism had been in a fallen con-

Page 653

dition for many centuries. But the Protestant churches had begun the great work of reformation from papal corruption and had done noble work. They were, in a word, in such a position that with them a spiritual fall was possible. The conclusion is therefore inevitable that the message announcing the fall had reference almost wholly to the Protestant churches.

The question may then be asked why this announcement was not made sooner, if so large a part of Babylon had been so long fallen. The answer is at hand: Babylon as a whole could not be said to be fallen so long as one division of it remained unfallen. It could not be announced, therefore, until a change for the worse came over the Protestant world, and the truth through which alone the path of progress lay, had been compromised. When this took place, and a spiritual fall was experienced in this last branch, then the announcement concerning Babylon as a whole could be made, as it could not have been made before--"Babylon is fallen."

It may be proper to inquire further how the reason assigned for the fall of Babylon--that she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication--would apply to the Protestant churches at the time in question. The answer is, It would apply most pertinently. The fault with Babylon lies in her confusion of the truth and her consequent false doctrines. Because she industriously propagates these, clinging to them when light and truth which would correct them is offered, she is in a fallen state.

With the Protestant churches, the time had come for an advance to higher religious ground. They could accept the proffered light and truth, and reach the higher attainment, or they could reject it, and lose their spirituality and favor with God, or, in other words, experience a spiritual fall.

The truth which God saw fit to use as an instrument in this work was the first angel's message. The hour of God's judgment come, and with it the imminent second advent of Christ, was the doctrine preached. After listening long enough to see the blessing that attended the doctrine, and the good

Page 654

results that accrued from it, the churches as a whole rejected it with scorn and scoffing. They were thereby tested, for they then plainly betrayed the fact that their hearts were with the world, not with the Lord, and that they preferred to have it so.

But the message would have healed the evils then existing in the religious world. The prophet exclaims, perhaps with reference to this time, "We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed." Jeremiah 51: 9. Do you ask how we know this would have been the effect of receiving the message? We answer, Because this was the effect with all who did receive it. They came from different denominations, and their denominational barriers were leveled to the ground; conflicting creeds were shivered to atoms; the unscriptural hope of a temporal millennium was abandoned; false views of the second advent were corrected; pride and conformity to the world were swept away; wrongs were made right; hearts were united in the sweetest fellowship; and love and joy reigned supreme. If the doctrine did this for the few who did receive it, it would have done the same for all if all had received it, but the message was rejected.

Everywhere throughout the land the cry was raised, "Babylon is fallen," and, in anticipation of the movement brought to view in Revelation 18: 1-4, those proclaiming the message added, "Come out of her, My people." Thousands severed their connection with the various denominations as the result.

A marked change then came over the churches in respect to their spiritual condition. When a person refuses the light, he necessarily puts himself in darkness; when he rejects truth, he inevitably forges the shackles of error about his own limbs. Loss of spirituality--a spiritual fall--must follow. This the churches experienced. They chose to adhere to old errors, and still promulgate their false doctrines among the people. The light of truth therefore left them.

Some of them felt and deplored the change. A few testimonies from their writers describe their condition at that time,

Page 655

The Christian Palladium, in 1844, spoke in the following mournful strain: "In every direction we hear the dolorous wound, wafted upon every breeze of heaven, chilling as the blast from the icebergs of the north, settling like an incubus on the breasts of the timid, and drinking up the energies of the weak, the lukewarmness, division, anarchy, and desolation are distressing the borders of Zion." [15]

In 1844, the Religious Telescope used the following language: "We have never witnessed such a general declension of religion as at the present. . . . When we call to mind how 'few and far between' cases of true conversion are, and the almost unparalleled impenitence and hardness of sinners, we almost involuntarily exclaim, 'Has God forgotten to be gracious? or is the door of mercy closed?' " [16]

About that time, proclamations of fasts and seasons of prayer for the return of the Holy Spirit were sent out in the religious papers. Even the Philadelphia Sun, November, 1844, had the following: "The undersigned, ministers, and members of various denominations in Philadelphia and vicinity, solemnly believing that the present 'signs of the times'--the spiritual dearth of our churches generally and the extreme evils in the world around us--seem to call loudly on all Christians for a special season of prayer, do therefore hereby agree, by divine permission, to unite in a week of special prayer to Almighty God, for the outpouring of His Holy Spirit on our city, our country, and the world." [17]

Charles G. Finney, well-known evangelist, said in February, 1844: "We have had the facts before our minds, that, in general, the Protestant churches of our country, as such, were either apathetic or hostile to nearly all the moral reforms of the age. There are partial exceptions, yet not enough to render the fact otherwise than general. We have also another corroborative fact--the almost universal absence of revival

Page 656

influence in the churches. The spiritual apathy is almost all-pervading, and is fearfully deep; so the religious press of the whole land testifies. . . The churches generally are becoming sadly degenerate. They have gone very far from the Lord, and He has withdrawn Himself from them."

In November, 1844, the Oberlin Evangelist remarked editorially:

"Some of our religious journals deplore, and all attest the fact that revivals have almost ceased in our churches. It is long since a period of so general dearth has been known. There is a great revival of political spirit, and of zeal in all the departments of business operations: but alas! decline and death sit like an incubus on the bosom of Christian activity and of holy love for God as for souls. The external forms of religion are sustained, the routine of Sabbath duties goes on: but those seasons of 'refreshing from the presence of the Lord,' in which fearfulness surprises the hypocrite, conviction fastens on the sinner, and humble hearts cleave to the promises and wrestle for the conversion of souls--those seasons are known only as they [are] held in sweet remembrance--days that were, but are no longer." [18]

Not only did the churches suffer a distinct loss of spirituality in 1844, but the decline since then has been marked and continuous.

The Congregationalist said in November, 1858: "The revived piety of our churches is not such that one can confidently infer, from its mere existence, its legitimate, practical fruits. It ought, for example, to be as certain, after such a shower of grace, that the treasuries of our benevolent societies would be filled, as it is after a plentiful rain that the streams will swell in their channels. But the managers of our societies are bewailing the feebleness of the sympathy and aid of the churches.

"There is another and sadder illustration of the same general truth. The Watchman and Reflector recently stated that

Page 657

there had never been among the Baptists so lamentable a spread of church dissension as prevails at present. . . . Even a glance at the weekly journals of our own denomination will evince that the evil is no means confined to the Baptists." [19]

The leading Methodist paper, the New York Christian Advocate, in 1883 contained an article from which we copy these statements:

"1. Disguise it as you like, the church, in a general sense, is spiritually in a rapid decline. While it grows in number and money it is becoming extremely feeble and limited in its spirituality, both in the pulpit and pew. It is assuming the shape and character of the church of Laodicea.

"2. . . . There are thousands of ministers, local and conference, and many thousands of the laity, who are dead and worthless as barren fig-trees. They contribute nothing of a temporal or spiritual nature to the progress and triumphs of the gospel throughout the earth. If all these dry bones in our church and its congregations could be resurrected and brought into requisition by faithful, active service, what new and glorious manifestations of divine power would break forth!" [20]

The editor of the Western Christ Advocate in 1893 wrote the following of his church:

"To the Church of Methodists, Write, the great trouble with us today is, that the rescue of imperiled souls is our last and least consideration. Many of our congregations are conducted on the basis of social clubs. They are made centers of social influence. Membership is sought in order to advance one's prospects in society, business, or politics. Preachers are called who know how to

" 'Smooth down the rugged text to ears polite, And snugly keep damnation out of sight.'

"The Sunday services are made the occasion of displaying the elegancies of apparel in the latest fashions. Even the little

Page 658

ones are tricked out as though they were the acolytes of pride. If the 'Rules' are read, it is to comply with the letter of a law whose spirit has long since fled. The class-books are filled with names of unconverted men and women. Official members may be found in box, dress-circle, and parquet of opera and theater. Communicants take in the races, and give and attend cardparties and dances. The distinction between inside and outside is so obscure that men smile when asked to unite with the Church, and sometimes tell us that they find the best men outside.

"When we go to the masses, it is too often with such ostentatious condescension that self-respect drives them from us.

"And yet we have so spread out, under the inflation of the rich and ungodly, that they are a necessity to us. The enforcement of the unmistakable letter of Discipline for a single year would cut our membership in half, bankrupt our Missionary Society, close our fashionable churches, paralyze our connectional interests, and leave our pastors and bishops unpaid and in distress. But the fact remains, that one of two things must happen--the Discipline must purge the church, or God's Holy Spirit will seek other organized agencies. The ax is laid at the root of the tree. The call is to repentance. God's work must be done. If we are in the way, He will remove us." [21]

The New York Independent of December 3, 1896, contained an article from D. L. Moody, from which the following is an extract:

"In a recent issue of your paper I saw an article from a contributor which stated that there were over three thousand churches in the Congregational and Presbyterian bodies of this country that did not report a single member added by profession of faith last year. Can this be true? The thought has taken such hold of me that I can't get it out of my mind. It

Page 659

is enough almost to send a thrill of horror through the soul of every true Christian.

"If this is the case with these two large denominations, what must be the condition of the others also? Are we all going to sit still and let this thing continue? Shall our religious newspapers and our pulpits keep their mouths closed like 'dumb dogs that cannot bark' to warn people of approaching danger? Should we not all lift up our voice like a trumpet about this matter? What must the Son of God think of such a result of our labor as this? What must an believing world think about a Christianity that can't bring forth any more fruit? And have we no care for the multitudes of souls going down to perdition every year while we all sit and look on? And this country of ours, where will it be in the next ten years, if we don't awake out of sleep?" [22]

The state of spiritual declension into which the churches generally had "fallen" as a result of their rejection of the first angel's message led to their acceptance of erroneous and corrupt doctrines. In the latter part of the nineteenth century a marked change was to be seen in the attitude of both leaders and people of the Protestant churches toward the basic doctrines of the Scriptures of truth. Having rejected the true, they accepted the false. The theory of evolution accepted by many church leaders in the words of one great religious writer "turned the Creator out of doors." A religious apologist for the theory declared that "prayer is communion with my inner racial self."

The effects of the evolution theory on the faith of the churches is so apparent that public comments upon the situation are commonplace. A professor of philosophy in a great university remarks:

"Today it seems that the great Hebrew-Christian moral tradition, the most ancient part of our heritage, is crumbling to pieces before our very eyes. . . . The faith in science has

Page 660

grown so strong, so self-sufficient, so deeply rooted in the processes of our society, that many of those who feel it have lost all desire to combine it with any other. . . . The man who trusts a physical science to describe the world finds no conceivable place into which to fit a deity. . . . The philosophies that express their [men's] basic interests today are no longer concerned, as they were in the nineteenth century, with vindicating a belief in God and immortality. Those ideas have simply dropped out of any serious attempt to reach an understanding of the world. . . . The present conflict of religious faith with science is no longer with a scientific explanation of the world, but with a scientific explanation of religion. The really revolutionary effect of the scientific faith on religion today is not its new view of the universe, but its new view of religion." [23]

What that new view of religion is, is frankly stated by a spokesman of modern liberalism:

"Liberal Protestants have abandoned belief in the verbal infallibility of the Bible." [24] "We believe that Jesus was a human being, not a supernatural being different from all other men in quality. We believe that he was born in the normal way, and that he faced the problems and the difficulties of life with no secret reinforcements of miraculous power. . . . To us Jesus' death is, in essence, no different from the death of other heroes." [25] "Today the ancient belief that Jesus will reappear in the sky, inaugurate a dramatic world judgment, sentence Satan and the demons to hell, and lead the angels and the Christians into paradise, has dwindled from a universally accepted and enormously influential Christian conviction to the esoteric doctrine of a minority. Once a modern man accepts what historians tell him about the age of the universe, and once he accepts what scientists tell him about

Page 661

the nature of evolutionary process, he cannot believe that there will ever be any such spectacular wind-up of the world's affairs as the one which the early Christians believed would presently take place." [26] "We propose to take from the Christianity of the past the elements which seem of abiding value, combine with them the religious convictions and the ethical insights which have emerged during the recent times, and from this composite material shape a new formulation of the Christian message. We frankly admit that our gospel is not the 'old gospel,' or even the modified version of the old gospel which is now proclaimed in conservative pulpits. Ours is, we confess, a 'new gospel.' " [27]

The acceptance by Protestantism of the first angel's message would have enabled the church to become a light to "all nations." But betraying her trust by her rejection of the message, she left the nations without the witness of present truth that they might have had, to grope in the darkness of error and superstition resulting from the intoxicating and stupefying influences of the system of false doctrines she had built up and refused to relinquish.

Robert M. Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, in speaking of our spiritual condition, said: "We do not know where we are going, or why, and we have almost given up the attempt to find out. We are in despair because the keys which were to open the gates of heaven have let us into a larger but more oppressive prison house. We think [thought] those keys were science and the free intelligence of man. They have failed us. We have long since cast off God. To what can we now appeal?" [28]

In its issue of May 24, 1941, the Philadelphia Inquirer editorially attempts to analyze our condition: "We appear to have reached one of those portentous periods in history when

Page 662

civilization halts and stands aghast in the presence of forces too complex and too terrible in their potentialities accurately to be appraised. Confronted by problems that can be disregarded by none but lighthearted children and lightheaded fools, we have reached the crossroads where every signpost points to bafflement. For years there have been increasingly bitter assaults upon religion. We have felt it was not our concern if 'the old faiths loosen and fall.' It would seem that in this, as in past civilizations when they were nearing their inevitable end, we--and by 'we' is meant mankind in general--have grown too cocksure of ourselves. . . .

"We have watched, many of us with scant misgivings, the growth of queer cults and the recrudescence of pagan philosophies. Unperturbed, we have witnessed the rise of modern Humanism, with its denial of a power greater than our own; its exalting of man to equality with his Maker. Now, when civilization may be dying on its feet, the barrage balloons of our self-sufficiency are in process of being blasted out of the sky. Human creatures at last are beginning to discover that they are not little gods--but only little men." [29]

But as the popular churches depart farther and farther from God, they at length reach such a condition that true Christians can on longer maintain a connection with them; and then they will be called out. This we look for in the future, in fulfillment of Revelation 18: 1-4. We believe it will come, when, in addition to their corruptions, the churches begin to raise against the saints the hand of oppression. (See comments on Revelation 18.)

Verse 9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of

Page 663

his name. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

The Third Angel's Message.--This is a message of most fearful import. No more severe threatening of divine wrath can be found in all the Bible. The sin against which it warns must be a terrible sin, and it must be one so plainly defined that all who will may understand it, and thus know how to avoid the judgments pronounced against it.

It will be noticed that these messages are cumulative, that is, one does not cease when another is introduced. Thus, for a time the first message was the only one going forth. The second message was introduced, but that did not put an end to the first. From that time there were two message. The third followed them, not to supersede them, but only to join with them, so that we now have three messages going forth simultaneously, or rather, a threefold message, embracing the truths of all three, the last one of course being the culminating proclamation. Until the work is done, it will never cease to be true that the hour of God's judgment has come, nor that Babylon has fallen. These facts sill continue to be proclaimed in connection with the truths introduced by the third message.

There will also be noticed a logical connection between the messages themselves. Viewing the situation immediately before the first message was introduced, we see the Protestant religious world sadly in need of reformation. Divisions and confusion existed in the churches. They were still clinging to many papal errors and superstitions. The power of the gospel was impaired in their hands. To correct these evils, the doctrine of the second coming of Christ was introduced, and proclaimed with power. They should have received it and been quickened by it into new life, as they would have been had they received it. Instead of this, they rejected it, and suffered the consequences spiritually. Then followed the second message, announcing the result of that rejection, and declaring what was not only a fact in itself, but a judicial version verdict of God upon them for recreancy in this respect;

Page 664

namely, that God had departed from them, and they had met with a spiritual fall.

This did not have the effect to arouse them and lead them to correct their errors, as it was sufficient to do had they been willing to be admonished and corrected. What follows? The way is open for a still further retrograde movement, for wider apostasy and still greater evils. The powers of darkness will press forward their work, and if the churches still persist in this course of shunning light and rejecting truth, they will soon find themselves worshiping the beast and receiving his mark. This will be the logical sequence of that course of action which began with the rejection of the first message.

Now another proclamation is sent forth, announcing in solemn tones that if any man shall do this, he shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation. That is to say, you rejected the first message, and met with spiritual fall. If you continue to reject truth and disregard the warnings sent out, you will exhaust God's last means of grace, and finally meet with a literal destruction for which there will be no remedy. This is as severe a threatening as God can make to be inflicted in this life, and it is the last. A few will heed it and be saved, but the multitude will pass on and perish.

The proclamation of the third angel's message is the special religious movement to be made before the Lord appears, for immediately following this, John beholds one like the Son of man coming upon a great white cloud to reap the harvest of the earth. This can represent nothing else than the second coming of Christ. If therefore the coming of Christ is at the door, the time has come for the proclamation of this message. There are many who with voice and pen are earnestly teaching that we are in the last days of time, and that the coming of Christ is at the door; but when we remind them of this prophecy, they are suddenly at sea, without anchor, chart, or compass. They do not know what to do with it. They can see as well as we that if what they are teaching

Page 665

respecting the coming of Christ is true, and the Lord is at hand, somewhere-- yes, all over the land--should be heard the warning notes of this angel's message.

The arguments on the two preceding messages fix the time of the third, and show that it belongs to the present day. But the best evidence that the message is now going to the world, is found in the events that demonstrate its fulfillment. We have identified the first message as a leading proclamation in the great Advent movement of 1840-1844. We have seen the fulfillment of the second message in connection with that movement in the latter year. Let us now look at what has taken place since that time.

When Christ did not come in 1844, the entire Adventist body was thrown into more or less confusion. Many gave up the movement entirely. More concluded that the argument on the time was wrong, and immediately endeavored to re-adjust the prophetic period, and set a new time for the Lord to come--a work which they have continued more or less to the present time, fixing a new date as each one passed. A few searched closely and candidly for the cause of the mistake, and were confirmed in their views of the providential character of the advent movement, and in the correctness of the argument on the time, but saw that a mistake had been made in their understanding of the sanctuary, by which error the disappointment could be explained. They learned that the sanctuary in Daniel 8: 14 was not on this earth, as had been supposed, that the cleansing was not to be fire, and that the prophecy on this point did not involve the coming of the Lord at all. They found in the Scriptures clear evidence that the sanctuary referred to was the temple in heaven, which Paul calls "the sanctuary," the "true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man." They saw further that its cleansing, according to the type, would consist of the final ministration of the priest in the second apartment, or most holy place. They then understood that the time had come for the fulfillment of Revelation 11: 19: "The temple of God was opened in hea-

Page 666

ven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament."

Having their attention thus called to the ark, they were naturally led to an examination of the law contained in the ark. That the ark contained the law was evident from the very name applied to it. It was called "the ark of His testament," but it would not have been the ark of His "testament," and it could not have been so called, had it not contained the law. Here then was the ark in heaven, the great antitype of the ark which, during typical times, existed here on earth. The law which this heavenly ark contained must consequently be the great original of which the law on the tables in the earthly ark was but a transcript, or copy. Both these laws must read precisely alike, word for word, jot for jot, tittle for tittle. To suppose otherwise would involve only falsehood.

That law, then, is still the law of God's government, and its fourth precept now as in the beginning demands the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. No one who admits the argument on the sanctuary disputes this point.

Thus the Sabbath reform was brought to view; and it was seen that whatever had been done in opposition to this law, especially in the introduction of a day of rest and worship which destroyed the Sabbath of Jehovah, must be the work of the papal beast, that power which was to oppose God, to attempt to change His laws and to exalt himself above God. But this is the exact work in reference to which the third angel utters his warning. Hence it began to be seen by the believers of 1844 that the period of the third angel's message synchronizes with the period of the cleansing of the sanctuary, which began with the ending of the 2300 days in 1844, and that the proclamation is based on the great truths developed by this subject.

Thus light of the third angel's message dawned upon the church. They saw at once that the world would have a right to demand of those who professed to be giving that message, an explanation of all the symbols which it contains--

Page 667

the beast, the image, the worship, and the mark. Hence these points were made subjects of special study. The testimony of the Scriptures was found to be clear and abundant, and it did not take long to formulate from the truths revealed, definite statements and proofs in explanation of all these points.

A Message of Warning.--The argument showing what constitutes the beast, the image, and the mark, has already been given in comments on Revelation 13; and it has been shown that the two-horned beast, which erects the image and enforces the mark, is the United States of America. It is this work, and these agents, against which the third angel's message utters its warning, which is further proof that this message is now in order, and shows the most conclusive harmony in all these prophecies. The arguments we need not here repeat; it will be sufficient to recapitulate the points established.

The "beast" is the Roman Catholic power.

The "mark of the beast" is that institution which this power sets forth as proof of its authority to legislate for the church, and command the consciences of men under sin. It consists in a change of the law of God, by which the signature of royalty is taken from the law. The seventh-day Sabbath, the great memorial of Jehovah's creative work, is torn from its place in the decalogue, and a false and counterfeit sabbath, the first day of the week, is set up in its stead.

The "image of the beast" is some ecclesiastical combination which will resemble the beast in being clothed with power to enforce its decrees with the pains and penalties of the civil law.

The "two-horned beast," by which the image is given power to speak and act, represents the United States of America, which is moving toward the formation of the image of the beast.

The two-horned beast enforces the mark of the beast, that is, it establishes by law the observance of the first day of the week, or the Sunday rest day. What is being done in this direction has already been noticed. The movement is urged

Page 668

on by individuals and by organized groups which mix agitation for religious laws with their better aims.

But the people are not left in the dark in this matter. The third angel's message utters a solemn protest against all this evil. It exposes the work of the beast, shows the nature of its opposition to the law of God, warns the people against compliance with its demands, and points the way of truth to all. This naturally excites opposition, and the church is led so much the more to seek the aid of human power in behalf of its dogmas as they are shown to be sadly lacking in divine authority.

What has this message accomplished, and what showing does it make in the world today? In answer to this query, some striking facts may be presented. The first publication in its interests was issued in 1849. Today this message is proclaimed by books, tracts, and periodicals in 200 different languages, and maintains 83 publishing houses scattered throughout both hemispheres, in which are published 313 periodicals. The value of its literature sold during 1942 amounted to $5,467,664.99. Its evangelistic work is carried forward in 413 countries, and preached in more than 810 languages.

Such a movement is at least a phenomenon to be explained. We have found movements which fulfill most strikingly and accurately the first and second angel's messages. Here is another which now challenges the attention of the world as a fulfillment of the third. It claims to be a fulfillment, and asks the world to examine the credentials on which it bases its right to such a claim. Let us look at them.

"The third angel followed them." So this movement follows the two previously mentioned. It takes up and continues the promulgation of the truths they uttered, and adds to them what the third angel's message involves besides.

The third message is characterized as a warning against the beast. So this movement holds prominent among its themes an explanation of this symbol, telling the people what it is, and exposing its blasphemous claims and works.

Page 669

The third message warns all against worshiping the beast. So this movement explains how this beast-power has brought into Christendom certain institutions which antagonize the requirements of the Most High, and shows that if we yield to these, we worship this power. "Know ye not," says Paul, "that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey?" Romans 6: 16.

The third message warns all against receiving the mark of the beast. So this movement makes it the burden of its work to show what the mark of the beast is, and to warn against is reception. It is the more solicitous to do this, because this unchristian power has worked so cunningly that the majority are deceived into making unconscious concessions to its authority. It is shown that the mark of the beast is a institution which has been arrayed in Christian garb, and insidiously introduced into the Christian church in such a way as to nullify the authority of Jehovah and enthrone that of the beast. Stripped of all its disguises, it is simply setting up a counterfeit sabbath of its own on the first day of the week, in place of the Sabbath of the Lord on the seventh day--a usurpation which the great God cannot tolerate, and from which the remnant church must fully clear itself before it will be prepared for the coming of Christ. Hence the urgent warning, Let no man worship the beast or receive his mark.

The third message has something to say against the worship of the image of the beast. So this movement speaks of this subject also, telling what the image will be, or at least explaining the prophecy of the two-horned beast. It reveals where the image is to be formed. The prophecy concerns this generation; and is evidently on the verge of fulfillment.

There is no religious enterprise extant today except that of the Seventh-day Adventists which claims to be a fulfillment of the third angel's message--no other which holds forth as its prominent themes the very subjects of which this book is composed. What shall we do with these things? Is this the fulfillment? It must so stand, unless its claims can be disproved:

Page 671

unless it can be shown that the first and second angels' messages have not been heard; that the positions taken in reference to the beast, the image, the mark, and the worship are not correct; and that all the prophecies, and signs, and evidences which show that the coming of Christ is near, and consequently that this message is due, can be wholly set aside. This the intelligent Bible student will hardly undertake.

The result of the proclamation as declared in verse 12, still further proves the correctness of the positions here taken. It brings out a company of whom it can be said, "Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." In the very heart of Christendom this work is being done, and those who receive the message are rendered peculiar by their practice in reference to the commandments of God. What difference is there in practice, and what only difference among Christians in this respect?--Only this: some think that the fourth commandment is kept by devoting the first day of the week to rest and worship. Others claim that the seventh day is the one set apart to such duties, and spend its hours accordingly, resuming on the first day their ordinary labor. No plainer line of demarcation could be drawn between two classes. The time which one class regards as sacred and devotes to religious uses, the other looks upon as only secular and devotes to ordinary laboring. One class, pursing its worldly vocations, finds the other class withdrawn from all such pursuits, and the avenue of commercial intercourse between them abruptly closed. Thus for two days in the week these two classes are kept apart by difference of doctrine and practice in regard to the fourth commandment. On no other commandment could there be so marked a difference.

The Sabbath Made Prominent in the Message.--The third angel's message brings its adherents to the observance of the seventh day, for in this way only are they made peculiar, inasmuch as an observance of the first day would not distinguish a person from the masses who were already observing that day

Page 672

when the message was introduced. In this we find still further evidence that Sundaykeeping is the mark of the beast, for the message, presenting as its chief burden a warning against receiving the mark of the beast, will of course brings its adherents to discard that practice which constitutes the mark, and to adopt the opposite course. It does lead them to discard the observance of the first day of the week, and adopt that of the seventh day. In view of this, it is at once seen that there is here more than an inference that Sundaykeeping is the mark of the beast against which it warns us, and that the observance of the seventh day is its opposite.

This is in harmony with the argument on the seal of God, as given in the remarks on Revelation 7. It was there shown that sign, seal, mark, and token are synonymous terms, and that God takes His Sabbath to be His sign, or seal, in reference to His people. Thus God has a seal, which is His Sabbath. The beast has a mark, which is a counterfeit sabbath. One is the seventh day, the other is the first day. Christendom will at last be divided into just two classes: those who are sealed with the seal of the living God--that is, have His sign, or keep His sabbath; and those who receive the mark of the beast-- that is, have his sign, or keep his counterfeit sabbath. In reference to this issue, the third angel's message both enlightens and warns us.

As so much importance attaches to the seventh-day Sabbath, it will be proper to present here the leading facts connected with the Sabbath institution.

The Sabbath was instituted in the beginning, at the conclusion of the first week of time. (Genesis 2: 1-3.)

It was the seventh day of that week, and was based on facts which are inseparably connected with its very name and existence--facts which can never be changed. God's resting on the seventh day made it His rest day, or the Sabbath (rest) of the Lord; and it can never cease to be His rest day, as that fact never can be changed. He sanctified, or set apart, the day then and there, the record states; and that sanctification can

Page 673

never cease, unless it is removed by an act on the part of Jehovah as direct and explicit as that by which He placed it upon the day in the beginning. No one claims that this has ever been done, and one could prove it if he did so claim.

The Sabbath has nothing in it of a typical or ceremonial nature, for it was instituted before man sinned, and hence belongs to a time when in the very nature of things a type or shadow could not exist.

The laws and institutions which existed before man's fall were primary in their nature. They grew out of the relation between God and man, and man and man, and were such as would always have remained if man never had sinned, and were not affected by his sin. In other words, they were in the nature of things immutable and eternal. Ceremonial and typical laws owed their origin to the fact that man had sinned. These were from dispensation to dispensation subject to change; and these, and these only, were abolished at the cross. The Sabbath law was a primary law, and therefore immutable and eternal.

The sanctification of the Sabbath in Eden assures its existence from creation to Sinai. Here it was placed in the very bosom of the decalogue as God spoke it with an audible voice, and wrote it with His finger on tables of stone-- circumstances which forever separate it from ceremonial laws, and place it among the moral and eternal.

The Sabbath is not indefinite, any seventh day after six labor. The law from Sinai (Exodus 20: 8-11) makes it as definite as language can make it. The events that gave it birth (Genesis 2: 1-3) confine it to the definite seventh day. The 6,240 Sabbath miracles in the wilderness, three each week for forty years--a double supply of manna on the sixth day, the preservation of the sixth-day manna on the seventh day, and none on the seventh day (Exodus 16)-- show that it is one particular day, and not simply a proportion of time. To claim otherwise would be like claiming that Washington's Birthday or Independence Day was only a 365th part of a year, and

Page 674

might be celebrated on any other day as well as the day upon which it occurred.

The Sabbath is a part of that law which our Lord openly declared that He came not to destroy. On the other hand, He most solemnly affirmed that it should endure in every jot and tittle while the earth should continue. (Matthew 5: 17- 20.)

It is a part of that law which Paul declares is not made void but established by faith in Christ. (Romans 3: 31.) On the contrary the ceremonial or typical law, which pointed to Christ and ceased at the cross is made void, or superseded, by faith in Him. (Ephesians 2: 15.)

It is a part of that royal law, a law pertaining to the King Jehovah, which James declares is a law of liberty, and which shall judge us at the last day. God does not have different standards of judgment for different ages of the world. (James 2: 11, 12.)

It is the "Lord's day" of Revelation 1: 10. (See comments on that verse.)

It appears as the institution in reference to which a great reform is predicted in the last days. (Isaiah 56: 1, 2 compared with 1 Peter 1: 5.) Under this head would also come the message under consideration.

In the new creation, the Sabbath, true to its origin and nature, again appears, and will thenceforward shed its blessings upon God's people through all eternity. (Isaiah 66: 22, 23.)

Such is a brief synopsis of some of the arguments to show that the Sabbath law has been in no wise relaxed, and the institution in no way changed; and that a person cannot be said to keep the commandments of God unless he keeps His day. To have to do with such an institution is a high honor. To pay heed to its claims will prove an infinite blessing.

Punishment of Beast Worshipers.--These shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. When is this torment inflicted? Revelation 19: 20 shows that at the second coming of Christ there is a

Page 675

manifestation of fiery judgments which may be called a lake of fire and brimstone, into which the beast and the false prophet are cast alive. This can refer only to the destruction visited upon them at the beginning, not at the end, of the thousand years.

There is a remarkable passage in Isaiah to which we are obliged to refer in explanation of the phraseology of the threatening of the third angel, and which unquestionably describes scenes to take place here at the second advent and in the desolate state of the earth during the thousand years following. That the language of Revelation was borrowed from this prophecy can hardly fail to be seen. After describing the Lord's anger upon the nations, the great slaughter of their armies, and the departing of the heavens as a scroll, the prophet says: "It is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever." Isaiah 34: 8-10. Since it is expressly revealed that there is to be a lake of fire in which all sinners perish at the end of the thousand years, we can only conclude that the destruction of the living wicked at the beginning of this period, and the final doom of all the ungodly at its close, are similar.

The expression "forever and ever" cannot here denote eternity. This is evident from the fact that this punishment is inflicted on this earth, where time is measured by day and night. This is further shown from the passage in Isaiah already referred to, if that is, as above suggested, the language from which this is borrowed, and applies to the same time. That language is spoken of the land of Idumea; but whether it be taken to mean literally the land of Edom, south and east of Judea, or to represent, as it doubtless does, this whole earth at the time when Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in

Page 676

flaming fire, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion comes, in either case the scene must eventually terminate. This earth is finally to be made new, cleansed of every stain of sin, every vestige of suffering and decay, and to become the habitation of righteousness and joy throughout eternal ages. The word {GREEK CHARACTERS IN PRINTED TEXT}, aion, here translated "forever" is defined thus by G. Abbot-Smith in A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament: "A space of time, as, a lifetime, generation, period of history, an indefinitely long period." So without doing violence to the accepted meaning of the Greek word, we may here interpret it in harmony with other plain statements of Scripture.

The period of the third angel's message is a time of patience with the people of God. Paul and James both give us instructions on this point. (Hebrews 10: 36; James 5: 7, 8.) Meanwhile this waiting company are keeping the commandments of God--the ten commandments--and the faith of Jesus, that is, all the teachings of Christ and His apostles as contained in the New Testament. The true Sabbath as given in the decalogue is thus brought out in vivid contrast with the counterfeit sabbath, the mark of the beast, which finally distinguishes those who reject the third angel's message.

Verse 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them. 14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16 And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.

A Solemn Crisis.--Events grow solemn as we near the end. It is this fact which gives to the third angel's message, now going forth, its unusual degree of solemnity and importance. It is the last warning to go forth prior to the coming of the Son of man, here represented as seated upon a white cloud, a

Page 677

crown upon His head, and a sickle in His hand, to reap the harvest of the earth.

We are fast passing over a line of prophecy which culminates in the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven in flaming fire, to take vengeance on His foes, and to reward His saints. Not only so, but we have come so near its accomplishment that the next link in the chain is this crowning and momentous event. Time never rolls backward. As the river does not falter as it approaches the precipice, but bears all floating bodies over with resistless power; and as the seasons never reverse their course, but summer follows in the path of the budding fig tree, and winter treads close upon the falling leaf; so we are borne onward and onward, whether we will or not, whether prepared or not, to the unavoidable and irreversible crisis. Ah, how little do the proud professor of religion and the careless sinner dream of the doom that is impending! How hard, even for those who know and profess the truth, to realize it as it is!

A Blessing Promised.--John is commanded by a voice from heave to write, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth;" and the response of the Spirit is, "Yea, . . . that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." "From henceforth" must signify from some particular point of time. What point?--Evidently from the beginning of the message in connection with which this is spoken. But why are those who die after this point of time blessed? There must be some special reason for pronouncing this benediction upon them. Is it not because they escape the time of fearful peril which the saints are to encounter as they close their pilgrimage? While they are thus blessed in common with all the righteous dead, they have an advantage over them in being doubtless that company who are raised to everlasting life in the special resurrection in Daniel 12: 2.

It will be noticed that in this line of prophecy three angels precede the Son of man on the white cloud, and three are introduced after that symbol. The opinion has already been

Page 678

expressed that literal angels are engaged in the scenes here described. The first three have charge of the three special messages. The message of the fourth angel is evidently to be uttered after the Son of man finishes His priestly work, and takes His seat upon the white cloud, but before He appears in the clouds of heaven. As the language is addressed to Him who is seated upon the white cloud, having in His hand a sharp sickle ready to reap, it must denote a message of prayer on the part of the church, after their work for the work is done, probation has ceased, and nothing remains but for the Lord to appear and take His people to Himself. It is doubtless the day-and-night cry spoken of by our Lord in Luke 18: 7, 8, in connection with the coming of the Son of man. This prayer will be answered; the elect will be avenged; for does not the parable read, "Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him?" He that is seated upon the cloud will thrust in His sickle, and the saints, under the figure of the wheat of the earth, will be gathered into the heavenly garner.

The Wheat Garnered.--"He that sat on the cloud," says the prophecy, "thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped." By this language we are carried past the second advent, with its accompanying scenes of destruction to the wicked and salvation to the righteous. Beyond these scenes we must therefore look for the application of the following verses.

Verse 17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

The Winepress of God's Wrath.--The last two angels have to do with the wicked, who are most fitly represented by the

Page 679

purple clusters of the vine of the earth. May it not be that the closing doom of that class at the end of the thousand years is here presented, the prophecy thus making a final disposition of both the righteous and the wicked-- the righteous clothed with immortality, and safely established in the kingdom, the wicked perishing outside the city?

This can hardly be applied at the time of the second advent, for events are here given in chronological order, and the destruction of the wicked would be contemporaneous with the gathering of the righteous. Again, the living wicked at Christ's coming drink of the "cup" of His indignation. But this passage brings to view the time when they perish in the "winepress" of His wrath, which is said to be trodden "without the city," answering completely to the description of Revelation 20: 9, this latter expression more naturally denoting their complete and final destruction.

The angel comes out of the temple, where the records are kept and the punishment is determined. The other angel has power over fire. This may have some connection with the fact that fire is the agent by which the wicked are at last to be destroyed, although, to carry out the figure, the wicked are likened to the clusters of the vine of the earth, and are said to be cast into the great winepress which is trodden without the city. Blood comes out of the winepress, even to the horses' bridles. We know that the wicked are doomed to be swallowed up at last in a flood of all-devouring flame descending from God out of heaven, but what preceding slaughter may take place among the doomed host, we do not know. It is not improbable that this language will be literally fulfilled. As the first four angels of this series denoted a marked movement on the part of the people of God, the last two may denote the same; for the saints are to have some part to act in meting out and executing the final punishment of the wicked. (1 Corinthians 6: 2; Psalm 149: 9.)

The Saints Triumphant.--This prophecy closes as the others do, with the triumph of God, Christ, and the redeemed.

[1] William Cuninghame, A Dissertation on the Seals and Trumpets of the Apocalypse, p. 255.

[2] Martin Luther, Familiar Discourses, pp. 7, 8.

[3] Albert Whalley, The Red Letter Days of Israel, p. 101.

[4] Ibid., p. 116.

[5] F. W. Farrar, The Early Days of Christianity, pp. 237, 238.

[6] Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 286.

[7] Editorial, in The Advent Herald, Dec. 14, 1850, p. 364.

[8] J. M. Campbell, The Everlasting Gospel.

[9] John Bayford, The Messiah's Kingdom, p. 283.

[10] J. W. Brooks, Elements of Prophetical Interpretation, pp. 166, 167.

[11] Mourant Brock, Glorification, pp. 10, 11, footnote.

[12] Joseph Wolff, Narrative of a Mission to Bokhara, pp. 40, 42.

[13] D. T. Taylor, The Voice of the Church, pp. 343, 344.

[14] William Cuninghame, A Dissertation on the Seals and Trumpets of the Apocalypse, p. 443.

[15] "The Remedy," Christian Palladium, May 15, 1844, p. 409.

[16] "Great Spiritual Dearth," Religious Telegraph, December 4, 1844, p. 76.

[17] Philadelphia Sun, November 11, 1844.

[18] "Revivals," Oberlin Evangelist, November 20, 1844, p. 189.

[19] "Breadth of Christian Culture," Congregationalist, November 19, 1858, p. 186.

[20] "The Greatest of Questions," New York Christian Advocate, August 30, 1883, p. 549.

[21] Western Christian Advocate, July 19, 1893, p. 456.

[22] Dwight L. Moody, "Those Three Thousand Churches," New York Independent, December 3, 1896, p. 1.

[23] John Herman Randall, "The Forces That Are Destroying Traditional Beliefs," Current History, June, 1929, pp. 359-361.

[24] James Gordon Gilkey, A Faith to Affirm, p. 3. By permission of the Macmillan Company, publishers.

[25] Ibid., pp. 9, 10.

[26] Ibid., p. 24.

[27] Ibid., p. 26.

[28] Robert M. Hutchins, quoted in "The Revolt Against Science," The Christian Century, January 24, 1934. Dr. Hutchins says he meant "thought" instead of "think."

[29] "Will They Turn to Religion?" Philadelphia Inquirer, May 24, 1941, p. 10.



[Home]    [Library]    Back ] Up ] Next ]