Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

«Back «Hit «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»

The Signs of the Times

November 8, 1899

The Seal of God—No. 2

A Sign of Authority—How Receive the Mark—National Apostasy—Rome the Same—An Image to the Papacy—The Trials of the Remnant Church

The change of the Sabbath is a sign or mark of the authority of the Romish Church. Those who, understanding the claims of the fourth commandment, choose to observe the false sabbath in the place of the true, are thereby paying homage to that power by which alone it is commanded. The mark of the beast is the papal sabbath, which has been accepted by the world in the place of the day of God's appointment.

There are true Christians in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion. None are condemned until they have had the light and have seen the obligation of the fourth commandment. But when the decree shall go forth enforcing the counterfeit sabbath, and the loud cry of “the third angel” shall warn men against the worship of the beast and his image, the line will be clearly drawn between the false and the true. Then those who still continue in transgression will receive the mark of the beast.

With rapid steps we are approaching this period. When Protestant churches shall unite with the secular power in sustaining a false religion, for opposing which their ancestors endured the fiercest persecution, then will the papal Sabbath be enforced by the combined authority of church and State. There will be a national apostasy, which will end only in national ruin.

Marvelous in her shrewdness and cunning is the Roman Catholic Church. She presents a fair front to the world, covering with apologies her record of horrible cruelties, and declaring that her spirit of persecution no longer exists. But she is the same as in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up at the peril of their lives to expose her iniquity; the same as when she assumed the power to control kings and princes, and claimed the prerogatives of God. She may clothe herself in Christlike garments, the better to carry forward her purposes; but she still retains the venom of the serpent, and her principles are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in churches, and in the hearts of men. Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when it crushed out human liberty, and slew the saints of the Most High.

By compromises and concessions, Protestants have tampered with and patronized popery, giving her vantage-ground which papists themselves are surprised to see and fail to understand. The Protestant world needs to be aroused to resist the advances of this most dangerous foe to civil and religious liberty.

When the State shall enforce the decrees and sustain the institutions of the church, then will Protestant America have formed an image of the Papacy. Then the true church will be assailed by persecution as were God's people in ancient times. Almost every century furnishes instances of what human hearts, controlled by rage and malice, can do under a plea of serving God by protecting the rights of the church and State. The Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliances with worldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience. How many non-conformist ministers have suffered under the power of the Church of England! Persecution always follows a restriction of religious liberty on the part of secular governments.

Rejection of Great Light

It is urged by many that the intellectual and moral darkness prevailing during the middle ages favored the spread of dogma, superstition, and the oppression of popery, and that the general diffusion of knowledge, and the well-nigh universal acceptance of the principles of religious liberty, forbid a revival of superstition and tyranny. It is true that great light, intellectual, moral, and religious, is shining upon this generation. Since 1844 light from the heaven of heavens has beamed from the open door of the temple of God. But it is to be remembered that the greater the light bestowed, the greater the delusion and darkness of those who reject the Word of God and accept fables, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.

Satan will excite the indignation of apostate Christendom against the humble remnant who conscientiously refuse to accept false customs and traditions. Blinded by the prince of darkness, popular religionists will see only as he sees, and feel as he feels. They will determine as he determines, and oppress as he has oppressed. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected. The church and the world will unite, and the world will lend to the church power to crush out the right of the people to worship God according to His Word.

The decree which is to go forth against the people of God in the near future is in some respects similar to that issued by Ahasuerus against the Jews in the time of Esther. The Persian edict sprang from the malice of Haman against Mordecai. Not that Mordecai had done Haman harm, but he had refused to flatter his vanity by showing him the reverence which is due only to God. The king's decision against the Jews was secured under false pretenses. Satan instigated this scheme in order to rid the earth of those who preserved a knowledge of the true God. But his plots were defeated by a counter-power that reigns among the children of men. Angels who excel in strength were commissioned to protect the people of God, and the plots of their adversaries returned upon their own heads.

History repeats itself. The same masterful mind that plotted against the faithful in ages past is now at work to gain control of the Protestant churches, that through them he may condemn and put to death all who will not worship the idol sabbath. We have not to battle with man, as it may appear. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. But if the people of God will put their trust in Him, and by faith rely upon His power, the devices of Satan will be defeated in our time as signally as in the days of Mordecai.

The decree is to go forth that all who will not receive the mark of the beast shall neither buy nor sell, and, finally, that they shall be put to death. But the saints of God do not receive this mark. The prophet of Patmos beheld those that had gotten the victory over the beast and over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God, and singing the song of Moses and the Lamb.

To every soul will come the searching test, Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Satan is putting forth his utmost efforts in the rage of a last despairing struggle against Christ and His followers. False teachers are employing every device possible to stimulate the hardened sinner in his rebellious daring, to confirm the questioning, the doubting, the unbelieving, and, by misrepresentation and falsehood, to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. Who are prepared to stand firmly under the banner on which is inscribed, “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus”?

Christ never purchased peace and friendship by compromise with evil. Tho His heart overflowed with love toward the human race, He could not be indulgent to their sins. Because He loved men and women, He was a stern reprover of their vices. His life of suffering, the humiliation to which He was subjected by a perverse nation, show His followers that there must be no sacrifice of principle. God's tried people must maintain watchfulness, with fervent prayer, lest, in their eagerness to prevent discord, they surrender truth, and thus dishonor the God of truth. Peace is too dearly obtained if purchased by the smallest concession to Satan's agencies. The least surrender of principle entangles us in the snare of the enemy.

Paul writes to the Romans, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” But there is a point beyond which it is impossible to maintain union and harmony without the sacrifice of principle. Separation then becomes an absolute duty. The laws of nations should be respected when they do not conflict with the laws of God. But when there is collision between them, every true disciple of Christ will say, as did the apostle Peter when commanded to speak no more in the name of Jesus, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Mrs. E. G. White

«Back «Hit «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»