Ellen G. White Writings

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From Trials to Triumph, Page 37

The disciples saw that they would meet the same determined opposition that Christ had encountered. While their united prayers were ascending in faith to heaven, the answer came. They were endowed anew with the Holy Spirit. Filled with courage, they again went forth to proclaim the word of God. “With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” And God blessed their efforts.

The principle for which the disciples stood so fearlessly is the same that adherents of the gospel maintained in the days of the Reformation. At the Diet of Spires, in 1529, there was presented to the German princes the emperor's decree restricting religious liberty and prohibiting further dissemination of the reformed doctrines. Would the princes accept the decree? Should the light of the gospel be shut out from multitudes still in darkness? Those who had accepted the reformed faith met together, and their unanimous decision was, “Let us reject this decree. In matters of conscience the majority has no power.”

The banner of religious liberty held aloft by the founders of the gospel church and by God's witnesses during the centuries since then, has, in this last conflict, been committed to our hands. We are to recognize human government as of divine appointment and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere; but when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. A “Thus saith the Lord” is not to be set aside for a “Thus saith the church” or a “Thus saith the state.”

We are not to defy authorities. Our words should be carefully considered, lest we appear antagonistic to law and order. We are not to say or do anything that would unnecessarily close up our way of advocating the truths committed to us. If we are forbidden by men to do this work, then we may say, as did the apostles, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

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