The Great Controversy (2022)

The Great Controversy (1)

The Great Controversy

Ellen G. White


Copyright © 2017Ellen G. White Estate, Inc.

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Ellen G. White (1827-1915) is considered the most widely translatedAmerican author, her works having been published in more than 160languages. She wrote more than 100,000 pages on a wide variety ofspiritual and practical topics. Guided by the Holy Spirit, she exaltedJesus and pointed to the Scriptures as the basis of one’s faith.

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This book, reader, is not published to tell us that there is sin andwoe and misery in this world. We know it all too well. This bookis not published to tell us that there is an irreconcilable controversybetween darkness and light, sin and righteousness, wrong and right,death and life. In our heart of hearts we know it, and know that weare participators, actors, in the conflict.

But to every one of us comes at times a longing to know moreof the great controversy. How did the controversy begin? Or was italways here? What elements enter into its awfully complex aspect?How am I related to it? What is my responsibility? I find myself inthis world by no choice of my own. Does that mean to me evil orgood?

What are the great principles involved? How long will the con-troversy continue? What will be its ending? Will this earth sink,as some scientists say, into the depths of a sunless, frozen, eternalnight? Or is there a better future?

The question comes closer still: How may the controversy inmy own heart, the strife between inflowing selfishness and outgoinglove, be settled in the victory of good, and settled forever? Whatdoes the Bible say? What has God to teach us about this eternallyimportant question?

It is the aim of this book, reader, to help the troubled soul toa right solution of all these problems. It is written by one whohas tasted and found that God is good, and who has learned incommunion with God and the study of his word that the secret ofthe Lord is with them that fear Him, and that He will show them Hiscovenant.

That we may better understand the principles of the all-importantcontroversy, in which the life of a universe is involved, the authorhas set it before us in great, concrete object lessons of the last twentycenturies.


The book opens with the sad closing scenes of Jerusalem’s his-[iv] tory, the city of God’s chosen, after her rejection of the Man ofCalvary, who came to save. Thence onward along the great highwayof the nations, it points us to the persecutions of God’s children inthe first centuries; the great apostasy which followed in his church;the world-awakening of the reformation, in which some of the greatprinciples of the controversy are clearly manifest; the awful lesson

of the rejection of right principles by France; the revival and exal-tation of the Scriptures, and their beneficent, life-saving influence;the religious awakening of the last days; the unsealing of the radiantfountain of God’s word, with its wonderful revelations of light andknowledge to meet the baleful upspringing of every delusion ofdarkness.

The present impending conflict, with the vital principles in-volved, in which no one can be neutral, is simply, lucidly, strongly,set forth.

Last of all, we are told of the eternal and glorious victory of goodover evil, right over wrong, light over darkness, joy over sorrow,hope over despair, glory over shame, life over death, and everlasting,long-suffering love over vindictive hate.

Beginning with its first edition (1888), followed by an author’srevision (1911), this outstanding work has achieved worldwide cir-culation through many editions and translations. The reader will findthat the author writes frankly and vigorously, pointing out errors andsuggesting solutions based on the infallible Word of God. And eventhough the last few decades have witnessed shifts and adjustments inthe socioreligious world, the main scheme and the future projectionspresented in this book maintain today full timeliness and absorbinginterest.

Former editions of this book have brought many souls to theTrue Shepherd; it is the prayer of the Publisher that this edition maybe even more fruitful of eternal good.

The Publishers.

Introduction [v]

Before the entrance of sin, Adam enjoyed open communion withhis Maker; but since man separated himself from God by transgression, the human race has been cut off from this high privilege. Bythe plan of redemption, however, a way has been opened wherebythe inhabitants of the earth may still have connection with heaven.God has communicated with men by His Spirit, and divine light hasbeen imparted to the world by revelations to His chosen servants.“Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2Peter 1:21.

During the first twenty-five hundred years of human history,there was no written revelation. Those who had been taught of God,communicated their knowledge to others, and it was handed downfrom father to son, through successive generations. The preparationof the written word began in the time of Moses. Inspired revelationswere then embodied in an inspired book. This work continued duringthe long period of sixteen hundred years—from Moses, the historianof creation and the law, to John, the recorder of the most sublimetruths of the gospel.

The Bible points to God as its author; yet it was written byhuman hands; and in the varied style of its different books it presentsthe characteristics of the several writers. The truths revealed areall “given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16); yet they areexpressed in the words of men. The Infinite One by His Holy Spirithas shed light into the minds and hearts of His servants. He hasgiven dreams and visions, symbols and figures; and those to whomthe truth was thus revealed have themselves embodied the thoughtin human language.

The Ten Commandments were spoken by God Himself, andwere written by His own hand. They are of divine, and not of human [vi]composition. But the Bible, with its God-given truths expressed inthe language of men, presents a union of the divine and the human.
Such a union existed in the nature of Christ, who was the Son ofGod and the Son of man. Thus it is true of the Bible, as it was of Christ, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”
John 1:14.



Written in different ages, by men who differed widely in rankand occupation, and in mental and spiritual endowments, the booksof the Bible present a wide contrast in style, as well as a diversity inthe nature of the subjects unfolded. Different forms of expression areemployed by different writers; often the same truth is more strikinglypresented by one than by another. And as several writers presenta subject under varied aspects and relations, there may appear, tothe superficial, careless, or prejudiced reader, to be discrepancy orcontradiction, where the thoughtful, reverent student, with clearerinsight, discerns the underlying harmony.

As presented through different individuals, the truth is broughtout in its varied aspects. One writer is more strongly impressed withone phase of the subject; he grasps those points that harmonize withhis experience or with his power of perception and appreciation;another seizes upon a different phase; and each, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, presents what is most forcibly impressedupon his own mind—a different aspect of the truth in each, but aperfect harmony through all. And the truths thus revealed unite toform a perfect whole, adapted to meet the wants of men in all thecircumstances and experiences of life.

God has been pleased to communicate His truth to the worldby human agencies, and He Himself, by His Holy Spirit, qualifiedmen and enabled them to do this work. He guided the mind inthe selection of what to speak and what to write. The treasure wasentrusted to earthen vessels, yet it is, nonetheless, from Heaven. Thetestimony is conveyed through the imperfect expression of humanlanguage, yet it is the testimony of God; and the obedient, believingchild of God beholds in it the glory of a divine power, full of graceand truth.

In His word, God has committed to men the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as anauthoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standardof character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience.“Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, forreproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness; thatthe man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto everygood work.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, R.V.

Yet the fact that God has revealed His will to men through Hisword, has not rendered needless the continued presence and guidingof the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the Spirit was promised by ourSaviour, to open the word to His servants, to illuminate and applyits teachings. And since it was the Spirit of God that inspired theBible, it is impossible that the teaching of the Spirit should ever becontrary to that of the word.

The Spirit was not given—nor can it ever be bestowed—to supersede the Bible; for the Scriptures explicitly state that the word ofGod is the standard by which all teaching and experience must betested. Says the apostle John, “Believe not every spirit, but try thespirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets aregone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1. And Isaiah declares, “To thelaw and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, itis because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.

Great reproach has been cast upon the work of the Holy Spiritby the errors of a class that, claiming its enlightenment, professto have no further need of guidance from the word of God. Theyare governed by impressions which they regard as the voice of Godin the soul. But the spirit that controls them is not the Spirit ofGod. This following of impressions, to the neglect of the Scriptures,can lead only to confusion, to deception and ruin. It serves only tofurther the designs of the evil one. Since the ministry of the HolySpirit is of vital importance to the church of Christ, it is one of thedevices of Satan, through the errors of extremists and fanatics, tocast contempt upon the work of the Spirit and cause the people ofGod to neglect this source of strength which our Lord Himself hasprovided.

In harmony with the word of God, His Spirit was to continue itswork throughout the period of the gospel dispensation. During theages while the Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testamentwere being given, the Holy Spirit did not cease to communicate lightto individual minds, apart from the revelations to be embodied inthe Sacred Canon. The Bible itself relates how, through the HolySpirit, men received warning, reproof, counsel, and instruction, inmatters in no way relating to the giving of the Scriptures. Andmention is made of prophets in different ages, of whose utterances nothing is recorded. In like manner, after the close of the canon of the Scripture, the Holy Spirit was still to continue its work, to enlighten, warn, and comfort the children of God.


Jesus promised His disciples, “The Comforter which is the HolyGhost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach youall things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever Ihave said unto you.” “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He willguide you into all truth: ... and He will show you things to come.”John 14:26; 16:13. Scripture plainly teaches that these promises,so far from being limited to apostolic days, extend to the church ofChrist in all ages. The Saviour assures His followers, “I am withyou alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20. AndPaul declares that the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit were setin the church “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of theministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all comein the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”Ephesians 4:12, 13.


For the believers at Ephesus the apostle prayed, “That the Godof our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you theSpirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyesof your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what isthe hope of His calling, and ... what is the exceeding greatness ofHis power to usward who believe.” Ephesians 1:17-19. The ministryof the divine Spirit in enlightening the understanding and openingto the mind the deep things of God’s holy word, was the blessingwhich Paul thus besought for the Ephesian church.

After the wonderful manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the Dayof Pentecost, Peter exhorted the people to repentance and baptism inthe name of Christ, for the remission of their sins; and he said: “Yeshall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you,and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as theLord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38, 39.

In immediate connection with the scenes of the great day of God,the Lord by the prophet Joel has promised a special manifestationof His Spirit. Joel 2:28. This prophecy received a partial fulfillmentin the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost; but it willreach its full accomplishment in the manifestation of divine gracewhich will attend the closing work of the gospel.

The great controversy between good and evil will increase inintensity to the very close of time. In all ages the wrath of Satanhas been manifested against the church of Christ; and God hasbestowed His grace and Spirit upon His people to strengthen themto stand against the power of the evil one. When the apostles ofChrist were to bear His gospel to the world and to record it for allfuture ages, they were especially endowed with the enlightenment
of the Spirit. But as the church approaches her final deliverance,
[x]Satan is to work with greater power. He comes down “having greatwrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Revelation12:12. He will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders.” 2Thessalonians 2:9. For six thousand years that mastermind that oncewas highest among the angels of God has been wholly bent to thework of deception and ruin. And all the depths of satanic skill andsubtlety acquired, all the cruelty developed, during these strugglesof the ages, will be brought to bear against God’s people in the finalconflict. And in this time of peril the followers of Christ are to bearto the world the warning of the Lord’s second advent; and a peopleare to be prepared to stand before Him at His coming, “without spot,and blameless.” 2 Peter 3:14. At this time the special endowmentof divine grace and power is not less needful to the church than inapostolic days.

Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the scenes of thelong-continued conflict between good and evil have been opened tothe writer of these pages. From time to time I have been permittedto behold the working, in different ages, of the great controversybetween Christ, the Prince of life, the Author of our salvation, andSatan, the prince of evil, the author of sin, the first transgressor ofGod’s holy law. Satan’s enmity against Christ has been manifestedagainst His followers. The same hatred of the principles of God’slaw, the same policy of deception, by which error is made to appearas truth, by which human laws are substituted for the law of God,and men are led to worship the creature rather than the Creator, maybe traced in all the history of the past. Satan’s efforts to misrepresentthe character of God, to cause men to cherish a false conceptionof the Creator, and thus to regard Him with fear and hate ratherthan with love; his endeavors to set aside the divine law, leadingthe people to think themselves free from its requirements; and hispersecution of those who dare to resist his deceptions, have beensteadfastly pursued in all ages. They may be traced in the history ofpatriarchs, prophets, and apostles, of martyrs and reformers.

In the great final conflict, Satan will employ the same policy,manifest the same spirit, and work for the same end as in all pre-ceding ages. That which has been, will be, except that the comingstruggle will be marked with a terrible intensity such as the worldhas never witnessed. Satan’s deceptions will be more subtle, hisassaults more determined. If it were possible, he would lead astraythe elect. Mark 13:22, R.V.

As the Spirit of God has opened to my mind the great truths ofHis word, and the scenes of the past and the future, I have beenbidden to make known to others that which has thus been revealed—to trace the history of the controversy in past ages, and especially soto present it as to shed a light on the fast-approaching struggle of thefuture. In pursuance of this purpose, I have endeavored to select andgroup together events in the history of the church in such a manneras to trace the unfolding of the great testing truths that at differentperiods have been given to the world, that have excited the wrath ofSatan, and the enmity of a world-loving church, and that have beenmaintained by the witness of those who “loved not their lives untothe death.”

In these records we may see a foreshadowing of the conflictbefore us. Regarding them in the light of God’s word, and by theillumination of His Spirit, we may see unveiled the devices of thewicked one, and the dangers which they must shun who would befound “without fault” before the Lord at His coming.

The great events which have marked the progress of reformin past ages are matters of history, well known and universallyacknowledged by the Protestant world; they are facts which nonecan gainsay. This history I have presented briefly, in accordancewith the scope of the book, and the brevity which must necessarilybe observed, the facts having been condensed into as little space asseemed consistent with a proper understanding of their application. In some cases where a historian has so grouped together events as to afford, in brief, a comprehensive view of the subject, or hassummarized details in a convenient manner, his words have been quoted; but in some instances no specific credit has been given, since the quotations are not given for the purpose of citing that writer as authority, but because his statement affords a ready and forcible presentation of the subject. In narrating the experience and views of those carrying forward the work of reform in our own time, similar use has been made of their published works.


It is not so much the object of this book to present new truthsconcerning the struggles of former times, as to bring out facts andprinciples which have a bearing on coming events. Yet viewed asa part of the controversy between the forces of light and darkness,all these records of the past are seen to have a new significance; andthrough them a light is cast upon the future, illumining the pathwayof those who, like the reformers of past ages, will be called, even atthe peril of all earthly good, to witness “for the word of God, andfor the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

To unfold the scenes of the great controversy between truth anderror; to reveal the wiles of Satan, and the means by which he maybe successfully resisted; to present a satisfactory solution of thegreat problem of evil, shedding such a light upon the origin andthe final disposition of sin as to make fully manifest the justice andbenevolence of God in all His dealings with His creatures; and toshow the holy, unchanging nature of His law, is the object of thisbook. That through its influence souls may be delivered from thepower of darkness, and become “partakers of the inheritance of thesaints in light,” to the praise of Him who loved us, and gave Himselffor us, is the earnest prayer of the writer.



InformationaboutthisBook .............................. i

Preface ............................................... iii

Introduction ............................................ v

Chapter1—TheDestructionofJerusalem ................. 14

Chapter2—PersecutionintheFirstCenturies.............. 32

Chapter3—AnEraofSpiritualDarkness.................. 40

Chapter4—TheWaldenses .............................. 51

Chapter5—JohnWycliffe .............................. 66

Chapter6—HussandJerome............................. 81

Chapter7—Luther’sSeparationFromRome.............. 101

Chapter8—LutherBeforetheDiet...................... 122

Chapter9—TheSwissReformer........................ 144

Chapter10—ProgressofReforminGermany............. 156

Chapter11—ProtestofthePrinces ...................... 167

Chapter12—TheFrenchReformation ................... 179

Chapter 13—The Netherlands and Scandinavia . . . . . . . . . . . . 202

Chapter14—LaterEnglishReformers ................... 209

Chapter 15—The Bible and the French Revolution . . . . . . . . . 226

Chapter16—ThePilgrimFathers ....................... 247

Chapter17—HeraldsoftheMorning .................... 256

Chapter18—AnAmericanReformer .................... 271

Chapter19—LightThroughDarkness ................... 293

Chapter20—AGreatReligiousAwakening............... 303

Chapter21—AWarningRejected....................... 320

Chapter22—PropheciesFulfilled ....................... 334

Chapter23—WhatistheSanctuary? .................... 349

Chapter24—IntheHolyofHolies ...................... 361

Chapter25—God’sLawImmutable ..................... 369

Chapter26—AWorkofReform ........................ 384

Chapter27—ModernRevivals.......................... 393

Chapter28—FacingLife’sRecord ...................... 408

Chapter29—TheOriginofEvil ........................ 419

Chapter30—EnmityBetweenManandSatan............. 430

Chapter31—AgencyofEvilSpirits ..................... 435


Contents xiii

Chapter32—SnaresofSatan........................... 441

Chapter33—TheFirstGreatDeception.................. 452

Chapter34—CanOurDeadSpeaktoUs? ................ 469

Chapter 35—Liberty of Conscience Threatened..................479

Chapter36—TheImpendingConflict.................... 495

Chapter37—TheScripturesaSafeguard ................. 505

Chapter38—TheFinalWarning ........................ 513

Chapter39—TheTimeofTrouble ...................... 521

Chapter40—God’sPeopleDelivered.................... 540

Chapter41—DesolationoftheEarth .................... 555

Chapter42—TheControversyEnded.................... 563

Appendix ........................................... 578

GeneralNotes ..................................... 578


Chapter 1—The Destruction of Jerusalem

“If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, thethings which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thineeyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shallcast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep theein on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thychildren within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone uponanother; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Luke19:42-44.

From the crest of Olivet, Jesus looked upon Jerusalem. Fair andpeaceful was the scene spread out before Him. It was the season ofthe Passover, and from all lands the children of Jacob had gatheredthere to celebrate the great national festival. In the midst of gardensand vineyards, and green slopes studded with pilgrims’ tents, rose theterraced hills, the stately palaces, and massive bulwarks of Israel’scapital. The daughter of Zion seemed in her pride to say, I sit aqueen and shall see no sorrow; as lovely then, and deeming herselfas secure in Heaven’s favor, as when, ages before, the royal minstrelsang: “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is MountZion, ... the city of the great King.” Psalm 48:2. In full view werethe magnificent buildings of the temple. The rays of the setting sunlighted up the snowy whiteness of its marble walls and gleamed fromgolden gate and tower and pinnacle. “The perfection of beauty” itstood, the pride of the Jewish nation. What child of Israel could gazeupon the scene without a thrill of joy and admiration! But far otherthoughts occupied the mind of Jesus. “When He was come near, Hebeheld the city, and wept over it.” Luke 19:41. Amid the universalrejoicing of the triumphal entry, while palm branches waved, whileglad hosannas awoke the echoes of the hills, and thousands of voicesdeclared Him king, the world’s Redeemer was overwhelmed with asudden and mysterious sorrow. He, the Son of God, the PromisedOne of Israel, whose power had conquered death and called itscaptives from the grave, was in tears, not of ordinary grief, but of intense, irrepressible agony.



Destruction of Jerusalem 15

His tears were not for Himself, though He well knew whitherHis feet were tending. Before Him lay Gethsemane, the scene ofHis approaching agony. The sheepgate also was in sight, throughwhich for centuries the victims for sacrifice had been led, and whichwas to open for Him when He should be “brought as a lamb to theslaughter.” Isaiah 53:7. Not far distant was Calvary, the place ofcrucifixion. Upon the path which Christ was soon to tread must fallthe horror of great darkness as He should make His soul an offeringfor sin. Yet it was not the contemplation of these scenes that cast theshadow upon Him in this hour of gladness. No foreboding of Hisown superhuman anguish clouded that unselfish spirit. He wept forthe doomed thousands of Jerusalem—because of the blindness andimpenitence of those whom He came to bless and to save.


The history of more than a thousand years of God’s special favorand guardian care, anifested to the chosen people, was open to theeye of Jesus. There was Mount Moriah, where the son of promise,an unresisting victim, had been bound to the altar—emblem of theoffering of the Son of God. There the covenant of blessing, theglorious Messianic promise, had been confirmed to the father of thefaithful. Genesis 22:9, 16-18. There the flames of the sacrifice ascending to heaven from the threshing floor of Ornan had turned asidethe sword of the destroying angel (1 Chronicles 21)—fitting symbolof the Saviour’s sacrifice and mediation for guilty men. Jerusalemhad been honored of God above all the earth. The Lord had “chosenZion,” He had “desired it for His habitation.” Psalm 132:13. There,for ages, holy prophets had uttered their messages of warning. Therepriests had waved their censers, and the cloud of incense, with theprayers of the worshipers, had ascended before God. There dailythe blood of slain lambs had been offered, pointing forward to theLamb of God. There Jehovah had revealed His presence in the cloudof glory above the mercy seat. There rested the base of that mysticladder connecting earth with heaven (Genesis 28:12; John 1:51)—that ladder upon which angels of God descended and ascended, andwhich opened to the world the way into the holiest of all. Had Israelas a nation preserved her allegiance to Heaven, Jerusalem wouldhave stood forever, the elect of God. Jeremiah 17:21-25. But thehistory of that favored people was a record of backsliding and rebellion. They had resisted Heaven’s grace, abused their privileges, and slighted their opportunities.

16 The Great Controversy

Although Israel had “mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets” (2 Chronicles 36:16),He had still manifested Himself to them, as “the Lord God, mercifuland gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth”(Exodus 34:6); notwithstanding repeated rejections, His mercy hadcontinued its pleadings. With more than a father’s pitying love forthe son of his care, God had “sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on Hispeople, and on His dwelling place.” 2 Chronicles 36:15. Whenremonstrance, entreaty, and rebuke had failed, He sent to them thebest gift of heaven; nay, He poured out all heaven in that one Gift.


The Son of God Himself was sent to plead with the impenitentcity. It was Christ that had brought Israel as a goodly vine out ofEgypt. Psalm 80:8. His own hand had cast out the heathen beforeit. He had planted it “in a very fruitful hill.” His guardian care hadhedged it about. His servants had been sent to nurture it. “Whatcould have been done more to My vineyard,” He exclaims, “that Ihave not done in it?” Isaiah 5:1-4. Though when He looked that itshould bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes, yet with astill yearning hope of fruitfulness He came in person to His vineyard,if haply it might be saved from destruction. He digged about Hisvine; He pruned and cherished it. He was unwearied in His effortsto save this vine of His own planting.

For three years the Lord of light and glory had gone in and outamong His people. He “went about doing good, and healing all thatwere oppressed of the devil,” binding up the brokenhearted, settingat liberty them that were bound, restoring sight to the blind, causingthe lame to walk and the deaf to hear, cleansing the lepers, raisingthe dead, and preaching the gospel to the poor. Acts 10:38; Luke4:18; Matthew 11:5. To all classes alike was addressed the graciouscall: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and Iwill give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

Destruction of Jerusalem 17

Though rewarded with evil for good, and hatred for His love (Psalm 109:5), He had steadfastly pursued His mission of mercy. Never were those repelled that sought His grace. A homeless wanderer, reproach and penury His daily lot, He lived to minister to theneeds and lighten the woes of men, to plead with them to acceptthe gift of life. The waves of mercy, beaten back by those stubbornhearts, returned in a stronger tide of pitying, inexpressible love.But Israel had turned from her best Friend and only Helper. Thepleadings of His love had been despised, His counsels spurned, Hiswarnings ridiculed.


The hour of hope and pardon was fast passing; the cup of God’slong-deferred wrath was almost full. The cloud that had been gathering through ages of apostasy and rebellion, now black with woe, wasabout to burst upon a guilty people; and He who alone could save them from their impending fate had been slighted, abused, rejected,and was soon to be crucified. When Christ should hang upon thecross of Calvary, Israel’s day as a nation favored and blessed of Godwould be ended. The loss of even one soul is a calamity infinitelyoutweighing the gains and treasures of a world; but as Christ lookedupon Jerusalem, the doom of a whole city, a whole nation, wasbefore Him—that city, that nation, which had once been the chosenof God, His peculiar treasure.

Prophets had wept over the apostasy of Israel and the terribledesolations by which their sins were visited. Jeremiah wished thathis eyes were a fountain of tears, that he might weep day and nightfor the slain of the daughter of his people, for the Lord’s flock thatwas carried away captive. Jeremiah 9:1; 13:17. What, then, was thegrief of Him whose prophetic glance took in, not years, but ages!He beheld the destroying angel with sword uplifted against the citywhich had so long been Jehovah’s dwelling place. From the ridgeof Olivet, the very spot afterward occupied by Titus and his army,He looked across the valley upon the sacred courts and porticoes,and with tear-dimmed eyes He saw, in awful perspective, the wallssurrounded by alien hosts. He heard the tread of armies marshalingfor war. He heard the voice of mothers and children crying for breadin the besieged city. He saw her holy and beautiful house, her palacesand towers, given to the flames, and where once they stood, only aheap of smoldering ruins.

18 The Great Controversy

Looking down the ages, He saw the covenant people scattered in every land, “like wrecks on a desert shore.” In the temporal retribution about to fall upon her children, He saw but the first draftfrom that cup of wrath which at the final judgment she must drain toits dregs. Divine pity, yearning love, found utterance in the mournfulwords: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, andstonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”


O that thou, a nation favoredabove every other, hadst known the time of thy visitation, and thethings that belong unto thy peace! I have stayed the angel of justice,I have called thee to repentance, but in vain. It is not merely servants,delegates, and prophets, whom thou hast refused and rejected, butthe Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer. If thou art destroyed, thoualone art responsible. “Ye will not come to Me, that ye might havelife.” Matthew 23:37; John 5:40.

Christ saw in Jerusalem a symbol of the world hardened in unbelief and rebellion, and hastening on to meet the retributive judgmentsof God. The woes of a fallen race, pressing upon His soul, forcedfrom His lips that exceeding bitter cry. He saw the record of sintraced in human misery, tears, and blood; His heart was moved withinfinite pity for the afflicted and suffering ones of earth; He yearnedto relieve them all. But even His hand might not turn back the tideof human woe; few would seek their only Source of help. He waswilling to pour out His soul unto death, to bring salvation withintheir reach; but few would come to Him that they might have life.

The Majesty of heaven in tears! the Son of the infinite God troubled in spirit, bowed down with anguish! The scene filled all heavenwith wonder. That scene reveals to us the exceeding sinfulness ofsin; it shows how hard a task it is, even for Infinite Power, to save theguilty from the consequences of transgressing the law of God. Jesus,looking down to the last generation, saw the world involved in adeception similar to that which caused the destruction of Jerusalem.The great sin of the Jews was their rejection of Christ; the great sinof the Christian world would be their rejection of the law of God, thefoundation of His government in heaven and earth. The precepts ofJehovah would be despised and set at nought. Millions in bondage tosin, slaves of Satan, doomed to suffer the second death, would refuse to listen to the words of truth in their day of visitation. Terrible blindness! strange infatuation!


Destruction of Jerusalem 19

Two days before the Passover, when Christ had for the last timedeparted from the temple, after denouncing the hypocrisy of theJewish rulers, He again went out with His disciples to the Mount ofOlives and seated Himself with them upon the grassy slope over-looking the city. Once more He gazed upon its walls, its towers,and its palaces. Once more He beheld the temple in its dazzlingsplendor, a diadem of beauty crowning the sacred mount.

A thousand years before, the psalmist had magnified God’s favorto Israel in making her holy house His dwelling place: “In Salemalso is His tabernacle, and His dwelling place in Zion.” He “chosethe tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which He loved. And He builtHis sanctuary like high palaces.” Psalm 76:2; 78:68, 69. The firsttemple had been erected during the most prosperous period of Israel’shistory. Vast stores of treasure for this purpose had been collectedby King David, and the plans for its construction were made bydivine inspiration. 1 Chronicles 28:12, 19. Solomon, the wisest ofIsrael’s monarchs, had completed the work. This temple was themost magnificent building which the world ever saw. Yet the Lordhad declared by the prophet Haggai, concerning the second temple:“The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former.” “Iwill shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come: and Iwill fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:9, 7.

After the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar it wasrebuilt about five hundred years before the birth of Christ by a peoplewho from a lifelong captivity had returned to a wasted and almostdeserted country. There were then among them aged men who had
seen the glory of Solomon’s temple, and who wept at the foundationof the new building, that it must be so inferior to the former. Thefeeling that prevailed is forcibly described by the prophet: “Who isleft among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?”
Haggai 2:3; Ezra 3:12. Then was given the promise that the glory ofthis latter house should be greater than that of the former.


But the second temple had not equaled the first in magnificence;nor was it hallowed by those visible tokens of the divine presencewhich pertained to the first temple. There was no manifestationof supernatural power to mark its dedication. No cloud of glorywas seen to fill the newly erected sanctuary. No fire from heavendescended to consume the sacrifice upon its altar. The Shekinah no longer abode between the cherubim in the most holy place; the ark, the mercy seat, and the tables of the testimony were not to be found therein. No voice sounded from heaven to make known to the inquiring priest the will of Jehovah.

20 The Great Controversy

For centuries the Jews had vainly endeavored to show whereinthe promise of God given by Haggai had been fulfilled; yet prideand unbelief blinded their minds to the true meaning of the prophet’swords. The second temple was not honored with the cloud of Jehovah’s glory, but with the living presence of One in whom dwelt thefullness of the Godhead bodily—who was God Himself manifest inthe flesh. The “Desire of all nations” had indeed come to His templewhen the Man of Nazareth taught and healed in the sacred courts.In the presence of Christ, and in this only, did the second templeexceed the first in glory. But Israel had put from her the profferedGift of heaven. With the humble Teacher who had that day passedout from its golden gate, the glory had forever departed from thetemple. Already were the Saviour’s words fulfilled: “Your house isleft unto you desolate.” Matthew 23:38.

The disciples had been filled with awe and wonder at Christ’sprediction of the overthrow of the temple, and they desired to understand more fully the meaning of His words. Wealth, labor, andarchitectural skill had for more than forty years been freely expendedto enhance its splendors.


Herod the Great had lavished upon it bothRoman wealth and Jewish treasure, and even the emperor of theworld had enriched it with his gifts. Massive blocks of white marble,of almost fabulous size, forwarded from Rome for this purpose,formed a part of its structure; and to these the disciples had calledthe attention of their Master, saying: “See what manner of stonesand what buildings are here!” Mark 13:1.

To these words, Jesus made the solemn and startling reply: “Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another,that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2.

With the overthrow of Jerusalem the disciples associated theevents of Christ’s personal coming in temporal glory to take thethrone of universal empire, to punish the impenitent Jews, and tobreak from off the nation the Roman yoke. The Lord had told themthat He would come the second time. Hence at the mention ofjudgments upon Jerusalem, their minds reverted to that coming; and as they were gathered about the Saviour upon the Mount of Olives, they asked: “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?”Verse 3.

Destruction of Jerusalem 21

The future was mercifully veiled from the disciples. Had they atthat time fully comprehended the two awful facts—the Redeemer’ssufferings and death, and the destruction of their city and temple—they would have been overwhelmed with horror. Christ presentedbefore them an outline of the prominent events to take place beforethe close of time. His words were not then fully understood; buttheir meaning was to be unfolded as His people should need the instruction therein given. The prophecy which He uttered was twofoldin its meaning; while foreshadowing the destruction of Jerusalem, itprefigured also the terrors of the last great day.


Jesus declared to the listening disciples the judgments that wereto fall upon apostate Israel, and especially the retributive vengeancethat would come upon them for their rejection and crucifixion of theMessiah. Unmistakable signs would precede the awful climax. Thedreaded hour would come suddenly and swiftly. And the Saviour warned His followers: “When ye therefore shall see the abominationof desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holyplace, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which bein Judea flee into the mountains.” Matthew 24:15, 16; Luke 21:20,21.When the idolatrous standards of the Romans should be setup in the holy ground, which extended some furlongs outside thecity walls, then the followers of Christ were to find safety in flight. When the warning sign should be seen, those who would escapemust make no delay. Throughout the land of Judea, as well as in Jerusalem itself, the signal for flight must be immediately obeyed.

He who chanced to be upon the housetop must not go down intohis house, even to save his most valued treasures. Those who wereworking in the fields or vineyards must not take time to return forthe outer garment laid aside while they should be toiling in the heatof the day. They must not hesitate a moment, lest they be involvedin the general destruction.

22 The Great Controversy


In the reign of Herod, Jerusalem had not only been greatly beautified, but by the erection of towers, walls, and fortresses, adding to the natural strength of its situation, it had been rendered apparentlyimpregnable. He who would at this time have foretold publicly itsdestruction, would, like Noah in his day, have been called a crazedalarmist. But Christ had said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away,but My words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35. Because of hersins, wrath had been denounced against Jerusalem, and her stubbornunbelief rendered her doom certain.

The Lord had declared by the prophet Micah: “Hear this, I prayyou, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house ofIsrael, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. They build upZion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereofjudge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and theprophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord,and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us.”Micah 3:9-11.

These words faithfully described the corrupt and self-righteousinhabitants of Jerusalem. While claiming to observe rigidly theprecepts of God’s law, they were transgressing all its principles.They hated Christ because His purity and holiness revealed theiriniquity; and they accused Him of being the cause of all the troubleswhich had come upon them in consequence of their sins. Thoughthey knew Him to be sinless, they had declared that His death wasnecessary to their safety as a nation. “If we let Him thus alone,” saidthe Jewish leaders, “all men will believe on Him: and the Romansshall come and take away both our place and nation.” John 11:48. IfChrist were sacrificed, they might once more become a strong, unitedpeople. Thus they reasoned, and they concurred in the decision oftheir high priest, that it would be better for one man to die than forthe whole nation to perish.

Thus the Jewish leaders had built up “Zion with blood, andJerusalem with iniquity.” Micah 3:10. And yet, while they slew theirSaviour because He reproved their sins, such was their self-righteousness that they regarded themselves as God’s favored people andexpected the Lord to deliver them from their enemies. “Therefore,”continued the prophet, “shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field,and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the houseas the high places of the forest.” Verse 12.

Destruction of Jerusalem 23

For nearly forty years after the doom of Jerusalem had been pronounced by Christ Himself, the Lord delayed His judgmentsupon the city and the nation. Wonderful was the longsuffering ofGod toward the rejectors of His gospel and the murderers of His Son.
The parable of the unfruitful tree represented God’s dealings withthe Jewish nation. The command had gone forth, “Cut it down; whycumbereth it the ground?” (
Luke 13:7) but divine mercy had sparedit yet a little longer. There were still many among the Jews who wereignorant of the character and the work of Christ. And the childrenhad not enjoyed the opportunities or received the light which theirparents had spurned. Through the preaching of the apostles andtheir associates, God would cause light to shine upon them; theywould be permitted to see how prophecy had been fulfilled, not onlyin the birth and life of Christ, but in His death and resurrection.The children were not condemned for the sins of the parents; butwhen, with a knowledge of all the light given to their parents, thechildren rejected the additional light granted to themselves, theybecame partakers of the parents’ sins, and filled up the measure oftheir iniquity.


The long-suffering of God toward Jerusalem only confirmedthe Jews in their stubborn impenitence. In their hatred and crueltytoward the disciples of Jesus they rejected the last offer of mercy.Then God withdrew His protection from them and removed Hisrestraining power from Satan and his angels, and the nation was leftto the control of the leader she had chosen. Her children had spurnedthe grace of Christ, which would have enabled them to subdue theirevil impulses, and now these became the conquerors. Satan arousedthe fiercest and most debased passions of the soul. Men did notreason; they were beyond reason—controlled by impulse and blindrage. They became satanic in their cruelty. In the family and in thenation, among the highest and the lowest classes alike, there wassuspicion, envy, hatred, strife, rebellion, murder. There was no safetyanywhere. Friends and kindred betrayed one another. Parents slewtheir children, and children their parents. The rulers of the peoplehad no power to rule themselves. Uncontrolled passions made themtyrants. The Jews had accepted false testimony to condemn theinnocent Son of God. Now false accusations made their own livesuncertain. By their actions they had long been saying: “Cause theHoly One of Israel to cease from before us.” Isaiah 30:11. Now theirdesire was granted. The fear of God no longer disturbed them. Satanwas at the head of the nation, and the highest civil and religious authorities were under his sway.

24 The Great Controversy


The leaders of the opposing factions at times united to plunderand torture their wretched victims, and again they fell upon eachother’s forces and slaughtered without mercy. Even the sanctity ofthe temple could not restrain their horrible ferocity. The worshiperswere stricken down before the altar, and the sanctuary was pollutedwith the bodies of the slain. Yet in their blind and blasphemouspresumption the instigators of this hellish work publicly declaredthat they had no fear that Jerusalem would be destroyed, for it wasGod’s own city. To establish their power more firmly, they bribedfalse prophets to proclaim, even while Roman legions were besiegingthe temple, that the people were to wait for deliverance from God.To the last, multitudes held fast to the belief that the Most Highwould interpose for the defeat of their adversaries. But Israel hadspurned the divine protection, and now she had no defense. UnhappyJerusalem! rent by internal dissensions, the blood of her childrenslain by one another’s hands crimsoning her streets, while alienarmies beat down her fortifications and slew her men of war!

All the predictions given by Christ concerning the destruction ofJerusalem were fulfilled to the letter. The Jews experienced the truthof His words of warning: “With what measure ye mete, it shall bemeasured to you again.” Matthew 7:2.

Signs and wonders appeared, foreboding disaster and doom. Inthe midst of the night an unnatural light shone over the temple andthe altar. Upon the clouds at sunset were pictured chariots and menof war gathering for battle. The priests ministering by night in thesanctuary were terrified by mysterious sounds; the earth trembled,and a multitude of voices were heard crying: “Let us depart hence.”The great eastern gate, which was so heavy that it could hardlybe shut by a score of men, and which was secured by immense bars of iron fastened deep in the pavement of solid stone, opened at midnight, without visible agency.—Milman,The History of the Jews,book 13.


Destruction of Jerusalem 25

For seven years a man continued to go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, declaring the woes that were to come upon the city. By day and by night he chanted the wild dirge: “A voice from the east! a voice from the west! a voice from the four winds! a voiceagainst Jerusalem and against the temple! a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides! a voice against the whole people!”—Ibid.This strange being was imprisoned and scourged, but no complaintescaped his lips. To insult and abuse he answered only: “Woe, woeto Jerusalem!” “woe, woe to the inhabitants thereof!” His warningcry ceased not until he was slain in the siege he had foretold.

Not one Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem.Christ had given His disciples warning, and all who believed Hiswords watched for the promised sign. “When ye shall see Jerusalemcompassed with armies,” said Jesus, “then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to themountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out.”Luke 21:20, 21.

After the Romans under Cestius had surroundedthe city, they unexpectedly abandoned the siege when everythingseemed favorable for an immediate attack. The besieged, despair-
ing of successful resistance, were on the point of surrender, whenthe Roman general withdrew his forces without the least apparentreason. But God’s merciful providence was directing events for thegood of His own people. The promised sign had been given to thewaiting Christians, and now an opportunity was offered for all whowould, to obey the Saviour’s warning. Events were so overruled thatneither Jews nor Romans should hinder the flight of the Christians.


Upon the retreat of Cestius, the Jews, sallying from Jerusalem, pursued after his retiring army; and while both forces were thus fullyengaged, the Christians had an opportunity to leave the city. At thistime the country also had been cleared of enemies who might have endeavored to intercept them. At the time of the siege, the Jews wereassembled at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, and thusthe Christians throughout the land were able to make their escapeunmolested. Without delay they fled to a place of safety—the cityof Pella, in the land of Perea, beyond Jordan.

The Jewish forces, pursuing after Cestius and his army, fellupon their rear with such fierceness as to threaten them with totaldestruction. It was with great difficulty that the Romans succeededin making their retreat. The Jews escaped almost without loss,and with their spoils returned in triumph to Jerusalem. Yet thisapparent success brought them only evil. It inspired them with thatspirit of stubborn resistance to the Romans which speedily brought unutterable woe upon the doomed city.

26 The Great Controversy


Terrible were the calamities that fell upon Jerusalem when thesiege was resumed by Titus. The city was invested at the time of thePassover, when millions of Jews were assembled within its walls.Their stores of provision, which if carefully preserved would havesupplied the inhabitants for years, had previously been destroyedthrough the jealousy and revenge of the contending factions, and nowall the horrors of starvation were experienced. A measure of wheatwas sold for a talent. So fierce were the pangs of hunger that menwould gnaw the leather of their belts and sandals and the coveringof their shields. Great numbers of the people would steal out atnight to gather wild plants growing outside the city walls, thoughmany were seized and put to death with cruel torture, and often thosewho returned in safety were robbed of what they had gleaned atso great peril. The most inhuman tortures were inflicted by thosein power, to force from the want-stricken people the last scantysupplies which they might have concealed. And these cruelties werenot infrequently practiced by men who were themselves well fed,and who were merely desirous of laying up a store of provision forthe future.

Thousands perished from famine and pestilence. Natural affection seemed to have been destroyed. Husbands robbed their wives,and wives their husbands. Children would be seen snatching the foodfrom the mouths of their aged parents. The question of the prophet,“Can a woman forget her sucking child?” received the answer withinthe walls of that doomed city: “The hands of the pitiful women havesodden their own children: they were their meat in the destructionof the daughter of my people.” Isaiah 49:15; Lamentations 4:10.Again was fulfilled the warning prophecy given fourteen centuriesbefore: “The tender and delicate woman among you, which wouldnot adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of herbosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, ... and towardher children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want ofall things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemyshall distress thee in thy gates.” Deuteronomy 28:56, 57.

Destruction of Jerusalem 27

The Roman leaders endeavored to strike terror to the Jews andthus cause them to surrender. Those prisoners who resisted whentaken, were scourged, tortured, and crucified before the wall ofthe city. Hundreds were daily put to death in this manner, and thedreadful work continued until, along the Valley of Jehoshaphat andat Calvary, crosses were erected in so great numbers that there wasscarcely room to move among them. So terribly was visited thatawful imprecation uttered before the judgment seat of Pilate: “Hisblood be on us, and on our children.” Matthew 27:25.


Titus would willingly have put an end to the fearful scene, andthus have spared Jerusalem the full measure of her doom. He wasfilled with horror as he saw the bodies of the dead lying in heapsin the valleys. Like one entranced, he looked from the crest ofOlivet upon the magnificent temple and gave command that not onestone of it be touched. Before attempting to gain possession of thisstronghold, he made an earnest appeal to the Jewish leaders not to force him to defile the sacred place with blood. If they wouldcome forth and fight in any other place, no Roman should violate thesanctity of the temple. Josephus himself, in a most eloquent appeal,entreated them to surrender, to save themselves, their city, and their
place of worship. But his words were answered with bitter curses.

Darts were hurled at him, their last human mediator, as he stoodpleading with them. The Jews had rejected the entreaties of the Sonof God, and now expostulation and entreaty only made them moredetermined to resist to the last. In vain were the efforts of Titus tosave the temple; One greater than he had declared that not one stonewas to be left upon another.

The blind obstinacy of the Jewish leaders, and the detestablecrimes perpetrated within the besieged city, excited the horror andindignation of the Romans, and Titus at last decided to take thetemple by storm. He determined, however, that if possible it shouldbe saved from destruction. But his commands were disregarded.After he had retired to his tent at night, the Jews, sallying from thetemple, attacked the soldiers without. In the struggle, a firebrand wasflung by a soldier through an opening in the porch, and immediatelythe cedar-lined chambers about the holy house were in a blaze. Titusrushed to the place, followed by his generals and legionaries, andcommanded the soldiers to quench the flames. His words wereunheeded. In their fury the soldiers hurled blazing brands into the chambers adjoining the temple, and then with their swords they slaughtered in great numbers those who had found shelter there. Blood flowed down the temple steps like water. Thousands upon thousands of Jews perished. Above the sound of battle, voices were heard shouting: “Ichabod!”—the glory is departed.

28 The Great Controversy


“Titus found it impossible to check the rage of the soldiery; he entered with his officers, and surveyed the interior of the sacred edifice. The splendor filled them with wonder; and as the flameshad not yet penetrated to the holy place, he made a last effort tosave it, and springing forth, again exhorted the soldiers to stay theprogress of the conflagration. The centurion Liberalis endeavoredto force obedience with his staff of office; but even respect for theemperor gave way to the furious animosity against the Jews, to thefierce excitement of battle, and to the insatiable hope of plunder.The soldiers saw everything around them radiant with gold, whichshone dazzlingly in the wild light of the flames; they supposedthat incalculable treasures were laid up in the sanctuary. A soldier,unperceived, thrust a lighted torch between the hinges of the door:the whole building was in flames in an instant. The blinding smokeand fire forced the officers to retreat, and the noble edifice was leftto its fate.

“It was an appalling spectacle to the Roman—what was it tothe Jew? The whole summit of the hill which commanded the city,blazed like a volcano. One after another the buildings fell in, with atremendous crash, and were swallowed up in the fiery abyss. Theroofs of cedar were like sheets of flame; the gilded pinnacles shonelike spikes of red light; the gate towers sent up tall columns of flameand smoke. The neighboring hills were lighted up; and dark groupsof people were seen watching in horrible anxiety the progress of thedestruction: the walls and heights of the upper city were crowdedwith faces, some pale with the agony of despair, others scowlingunavailing vengeance. The shouts of the Roman soldiery as they ranto and fro, and the howlings of the insurgents who were perishingin the flames, mingled with the roaring of the conflagration and thethundering sound of falling timbers. The echoes of the mountainsreplied or brought back the shrieks of the people on the heights; allalong the walls resounded screams and wailings; men who wereexpiring with famine rallied their remaining strength to utter a cry of anguish and desolation.

Destruction of Jerusalem 29


“The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectaclefrom without. Men and women, old and young, insurgents andpriests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewndown in indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceededthat of the slayers. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps ofdead to carry on the work of extermination.”—Milman, The Historyof the Jews, book 16.

After the destruction of the temple, the whole city soon fell intothe hands of the Romans. The leaders of the Jews forsook theirimpregnable towers, and Titus found them solitary. He gazed uponthem with amazement, and declared that God had given them intohis hands; for no engines, however powerful, could have prevailedagainst those stupendous battlements. Both the city and the templewere razed to their foundations, and the ground upon which the holyhouse had stood was “plowed like a field.” Jeremiah 26:18. In thesiege and the slaughter that followed, more than a million of thepeople perished; the survivors were carried away as captives, sold asslaves, dragged to Rome to grace the conqueror’s triumph, thrown towild beasts in the amphitheaters, or scattered as homeless wanderersthroughout the earth.

The Jews had forged their own fetters; they had filled for themselves the cup of vengeance. In the utter destruction that befell themas a nation, and in all the woes that followed them in their dispersion,they were but reaping the harvest which their own hands had sown.
Says the prophet: “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself;” “for thouhast fallen by thine iniquity.”
Hosea 13:9; 14:1. Their sufferings areoften represented as a punishment visited upon them by the directdecree of God. It is thus that the great deceiver seeks to conceal his
own work. By stubborn rejection of divine love and mercy, the Jewshad caused the protection of God to be withdrawn from them, andSatan was permitted to rule them according to his will. The horriblecruelties enacted in the destruction of Jerusalem are a demonstration
of Satan’s vindictive power over those who yield to his control.


30 The Great Controversy

We cannot know how much we owe to Christ for the peace and protection which we enjoy. It is the restraining power of God that prevents mankind from passing fully under the control of Satan. Thedisobedient and unthankful have great reason for gratitude for God’smercy and long-suffering in holding in check the cruel, malignantpower of the evil one. But when men pass the limits of divineforbearance, that restraint is removed. God does not stand towardthe sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression;but He leaves the rejectors of His mercy to themselves, to reap thatwhich they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warningdespised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgressionof the law of God, is a seed sown which yields its unfailing harvest.The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from thesinner, and then there is left no power to control the evil passions ofthe soul, and no protection from the malice and enmity of Satan. Thedestruction of Jerusalem is a fearful and solemn warning to all whoare trifling with the offers of divine grace and resisting the pleadingsof divine mercy. Never was there given a more decisive testimony toGod’s hatred of sin and to the certain punishment that will fall uponthe guilty.

The Saviour’s prophecy concerning the visitation of judgmentsupon Jerusalem is to have another fulfillment, of which that terribledesolation was but a faint shadow. In the fate of the chosen citywe may behold the doom of a world that has rejected God’s mercyand trampled upon His law. Dark are the records of human miserythat earth has witnessed during its long centuries of crime. Theheart sickens, and the mind grows faint in contemplation. Terriblehave been the results of rejecting the authority of Heaven. But ascene yet darker is presented in the revelations of the future. Therecords of the past,—the long procession of tumults, conflicts, and revolutions, the “battle of the warrior ... with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood” (Isaiah 9:5),—what are these, in contrast with the terrors of that day when the restraining Spirit of God shall be wholly withdrawn from the wicked, no longer to hold in check the outburst of human passion and satanic wrath! The world will then behold, as never before, the results of Satan’s rule.


Destruction of Jerusalem 31

But in that day, as in the time of Jerusalem’s destruction, God’s people will be delivered, everyone that shall be found written among the living.Isaiah 4:3. Christ has declared that He will come the second time to gather His faithful ones to Himself: “Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of mancoming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. AndHe shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and theyshall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one endof heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:30, 31. Then shall they thatobey not the gospel be consumed with the spirit of His mouth andbe destroyed with the brightness of His coming. 2 Thessalonians2:8. Like Israel of old the wicked destroy themselves; they fall bytheir iniquity. By a life of sin, they have placed themselves so out ofharmony with God, their natures have become so debased with evil,that the manifestation of His glory is to them a consuming fire.

Let men beware lest they neglect the lesson conveyed to themin the words of Christ. As He warned His disciples of Jerusalem’sdestruction, giving them a sign of the approaching ruin, that theymight make their escape; so He has warned the world of the day offinal destruction and has given them tokens of its approach, that allwho will may flee from the wrath to come. Jesus declares: “Thereshall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon
the earth distress of nations.”
Luke 21:25; Matthew 24:29; Mark13:24-26; Revelation 6:12-17. Those who behold these harbingers ofHis coming are to “know that it is near, even at the doors.” Matthew24:33. “Watch ye therefore,” are His words of admonition. Mark13:35. They that heed the warning shall not be left in darkness, thatthat day should overtake them unawares. But to them that will notwatch, “the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” 1Thessalonians 5:2-5.

The world is no more ready to credit the message for this timethan were the Jews to receive the Saviour’s warning concerningJerusalem. Come when it may, the day of God will come unawaresto the ungodly. When life is going on in its unvarying round; whenmen are absorbed in pleasure, in business, in traffic, in money-making; when religious leaders are magnifying the world’s progressand enlightenment, and the people are lulled in a false security—then, as the midnight thief steals within the unguarded dwelling, soshall sudden destruction come upon the careless and ungodly, “andthey shall not escape.” Verse 3.


Chapter 2—Persecution in the First Centuries

When Jesus revealed to His disciples the fate of Jerusalem andthe scenes of the second advent, He foretold also the experience ofHis people from the time when He should be taken from them, toHis return in power and glory for their deliverance. From Olivet theSaviour beheld the storms about to fall upon the apostolic church;and penetrating deeper into the future, His eye discerned the fierce,wasting tempests that were to beat upon His followers in the comingages of darkness and persecution. In a few brief utterances of awfulsignificance He foretold the portion which the rulers of this worldwould mete out to the church of God. Matthew 24:9, 21, 22. Thefollowers of Christ must tread the same path of humiliation, reproach,and suffering which their Master trod. The enmity that burst forthagainst the world’s Redeemer would be manifested against all whoshould believe on His name.

The history of the early church testified to the fulfillment of theSaviour’s words. The powers of earth and hell arrayed themselvesagainst Christ in the person of His followers. Paganism foresaw thatshould the gospel triumph, her temples and altars would be sweptaway; therefore she summoned her forces to destroy Christianity.The fires of persecution were kindled. Christians were stripped oftheir possessions and driven from their homes. They “endured agreat fight of afflictions.” Hebrews 10:32. They “had trial of cruelmockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment.” Hebrews 11:36. Great numbers sealed their testimony withtheir blood. Noble and slave, rich and poor, learned and ignorant,were alike slain without mercy.

These persecutions, beginning under Nero about the time of themartyrdom of Paul, continued with greater or less fury for centuries.Christians were falsely accused of the most dreadful crimes anddeclared to be the cause of great calamities—famine, pestilence,and earthquake. As they became the objects of popular hatred andsuspicion, informers stood ready, for the sake of gain, to betray theinnocent.



Persecution in the First Centuries 33

They were condemned as rebels against the empire, as foesof religion, and pests to society. Great numbers were thrown to wildbeasts or burned alive in the amphitheaters. Some were crucified;others were covered with the skins of wild animals and thrust intothe arena to be torn by dogs. Their punishment was often made thechief entertainment at public fetes. Vast multitudes assembled toenjoy the sight and greeted their dying agonies with laughter andapplause.

Wherever they sought refuge, the followers of Christ were huntedlike beasts of prey. They were forced to seek concealment in desolateand solitary places. “Destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom theworld was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains,and in dens and caves of the earth.” Verses 37, 38. The catacombsafforded shelter for thousands. Beneath the hills outside the city ofRome, long galleries had been tunneled through earth and rock; thedark and intricate network of passages extended for miles beyondthe city walls. In these underground retreats the followers of Christburied their dead; and here also, when suspected and proscribed,they found a home. When the Life-giver shall awaken those whohave fought the good fight, many a martyr for Christ’s sake willcome forth from those gloomy caverns.


Under the fiercest persecution these witnesses for Jesus kepttheir faith unsullied. Though deprived of every comfort, shut awayfrom the light of the sun, making their home in the dark but friendlybosom of the earth, they uttered no complaint. With words of faith,patience, and hope they encouraged one another to endure privationand distress. The loss of every earthly blessing could not force themto renounce their belief in Christ. Trials and persecution were butsteps bringing them nearer their rest and their reward.

Like God’s servants of old, many were “tortured, not acceptingdeliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Verse 35.These called to mind the words of their Master, that when persecutedfor Christ’s sake, they were to be exceeding glad, for great wouldbe their reward in heaven; for so the prophets had been persecutedbefore them. They rejoiced that they were accounted worthy tosuffer for the truth, and songs of triumph ascended from the midstof crackling flames. Looking upward by faith, they saw Christand angels leaning over the battlements of heaven, gazing uponthem with the deepest interest and regarding their steadfastness with approval. A voice came down to them from the throne of God: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”Revelation 2:10.

34 The Great Controversy

In vain were Satan’s efforts to destroy the church of Christ by violence. The great controversy in which the disciples of Jesus yieldedup their lives did not cease when these faithful standard-bearersfell at their post. By defeat they conquered. God’s workmen wereslain, but His work went steadily forward. The gospel continued tospread and the number of its adherents to increase. It penetrated intoregions that were inaccessible even to the eagles of Rome. Said aChristian, expostulating with the heathen rulers who were urgingforward the persecution: You may “kill us, torture us, condemn us....


Your injustice is the proof that we are innocent .... Nor does your cruelty ... avail you.” It was but a stronger invitation to bring others totheir persuasion. “The oftener we are mown down by you, the morein number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.”—Tertullian,Apology, paragraph 50.

Thousands were imprisoned and slain, but others sprang upto fill their places. And those who were martyred for their faithwere secured to Christ and accounted of Him as conquerors. Theyhad fought the good fight, and they were to receive the crown ofglory when Christ should come. The sufferings which they enduredbrought Christians nearer to one another and to their Redeemer.Their living example and dying testimony were a constant witnessfor the truth; and where least expected, the subjects of Satan wereleaving his service and enlisting under the banner of Christ.

Satan therefore laid his plans to war more successfully against thegovernment of God by planting his banner in the Christian church.If the followers of Christ could be deceived and led to displeaseGod, then their strength, fortitude, and firmness would fail, and theywould fall an easy prey.

The great adversary now endeavored to gain by artifice what hehad failed to secure by force. Persecution ceased, and in its steadwere substituted the dangerous allurements of temporal prosperityand worldly honor. Idolaters were led to receive a part of the Christian faith, while they rejected other essential truths. They professedto accept Jesus as the Son of God and to believe in His death andresurrection, but they had no conviction of sin and felt no need of repentance or of a change of heart. With some concessions on their part they proposed that Christians should make concessions, that all might unite on the platform of belief in Christ.

Persecution in the First Centuries 35


Now the church was in fearful peril. Prison, torture, fire, andsword were blessings in comparison with this. Some of the Christians stood firm, declaring that they could make no compromise.Others were in favor of yielding or modifying some features of their
faith and uniting with those who had accepted a part of Christianity,urging that this might be the means of their full conversion. That was a time of deep anguish to the faithful followers of Christ. Undera cloak of pretended Christianity, Satan was insinuating himself into
the church, to corrupt their faith and turn their minds from the wordof truth.

Most of the Christians at last consented to lower their standard,and a union was formed between Christianity and paganism. Although the worshipers of idols professed to be converted, and unitedwith the church, they still clung to their idolatry, only changingthe objects of their worship to images of Jesus, and even of Maryand the saints. The foul leaven of idolatry, thus brought into thechurch, continued its baleful work. Unsound doctrines, superstitiousrites, and idolatrous ceremonies were incorporated into her faithand worship. As the followers of Christ united with idolaters, theChristian religion became corrupted, and the church lost her purityand power. There were some, however, who were not misled bythese delusions. They still maintained their fidelity to the Author oftruth and worshiped God alone.

There have ever been two classes among those who profess tobe followers of Christ. While one class study the Saviour’s life andearnestly seek to correct their defects and conform to the Pattern, theother class shun the plain, practical truths which expose their errors.
Even in her best estate the church was not composed wholly of thetrue, pure, and sincere. Our Saviour taught that those who willfullyindulge in sin are not to be received into the church; yet He connectedwith Himself men who were faulty in character, and granted them
the benefits of His teachings and example, that they might have anopportunity to see their errors and correct them. Among the twelveapostles was a traitor. Judas was accepted, not because of his defects
of character, but notwithstanding them.

36 The Great Controversy


He was connected with thedisciples, that, through the instruction and example of Christ, hemight learn what constitutes Christian character, and thus be led tosee his errors, to repent, and, by the aid of divine grace, to purifyhis soul “in obeying the truth.” But Judas did not walk in the lightso graciously permitted to shine upon him. By indulgence in sin heinvited the temptations of Satan. His evil traits of character becamepredominant. He yielded his mind to the control of the powers ofdarkness, he became angry when his faults were reproved, and thushe was led to commit the fearful crime of betraying his Master. Sodo all who cherish evil under a profession of godliness hate thosewho disturb their peace by condemning their course of sin. Whena favorable opportunity is presented, they will, like Judas, betraythose who for their good have sought to reprove them.

The apostles encountered those in the church who professedgodliness while they were secretly cherishing iniquity. Ananias andSapphira acted the part of deceivers, pretending to make an entiresacrifice for God, when they were covetously withholding a portionfor themselves. The Spirit of truth revealed to the apostles the realcharacter of these pretenders, and the judgments of God rid thechurch of this foul blot upon its purity. This signal evidence of thediscerning Spirit of Christ in the church was a terror to hypocrites andevildoers. They could not long remain in connection with those whowere, in habit and disposition, constant representatives of Christ;and as trials and persecution came upon His followers, those onlywho were willing to forsake all for the truth’s sake desired to becomeHis disciples. Thus, as long as persecution continued, the churchremained comparatively pure. But as it ceased, converts were addedwho were less sincere and devoted, and the way was open for Satanto obtain a foothold.

But there is no union between the Prince of light and the princeof darkness, and there can be no union between their followers.When Christians consented to unite with those who were but halfconverted from paganism, they entered upon a path which led furtherand further from the truth. Satan exulted that he had succeeded indeceiving so large a number of the followers of Christ. He thenbrought his power to bear more fully upon these, and inspired themto persecute those who remained true to God. None understood sowell how to oppose the true Christian faith as did those who had once been its defenders; and these apostate Christians, uniting with their half-pagan companions, directed their warfare against the most essential features of the doctrines of Christ.

Persecution in the First Centuries 37

It required a desperate struggle for those who would be faithfulto stand firm against the deceptions and abominations which weredisguised in sacerdotal garments and introduced into the church.The Bible was not accepted as the standard of faith. The doctrine ofreligious freedom was termed heresy, and its upholders were hatedand proscribed.

After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few decided todissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to freeherself from falsehood and idolatry. They saw that separation was anabsolute necessity if they would obey the word of God. They darednot tolerate errors fatal to their own souls, and set an example whichwould imperil the faith of their children and children’s children. Tosecure peace and unity they were ready to make any concessionconsistent with fidelity to God; but they felt that even peace wouldbe too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle. If unity couldbe secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, thenlet there be difference, and even war.


Well would it be for the church and the world if the principlesthat actuated those steadfast souls were revived in the hearts of God’sprofessed people. There is an alarming indifference in regard to thedoctrines which are the pillars of the Christian faith. The opinion is gaining ground, that, after all, these are not of vital importance.This degeneracy is strengthening the hands of the agents of Satan,so that false theories and fatal delusions which the faithful in agespast imperiled their lives to resist and expose, are now regarded withfavor by thousands who claim to be followers of Christ.

The early Christians were indeed a peculiar people. Their blameless deportment and unswerving faith were a continual reproof thatdisturbed the sinner’s peace. Though few in numbers, withoutwealth, position, or honorary titles, they were a terror to evildoers wherever their character and doctrines were known. Thereforethey were hated by the wicked, even as Abel was hated by the ungodly Cain. For the same reason that Cain slew Abel, did thosewho sought to throw off the restraint of the Holy Spirit, put to deathGod’s people. It was for the same reason that the Jews rejected and crucified the Saviour—because the purity and holiness of His character was a constant rebuke to their selfishness and corruption. From the days of Christ until now His faithful disciples have excited the hatred and opposition of those who love and follow the ways of sin.

38 The Great Controversy


How, then, can the gospel be called a message of peace? WhenIsaiah foretold the birth of the Messiah, he ascribed to Him the title,“Prince of Peace.” When angels announced to the shepherds thatChrist was born, they sang above the plains of Bethlehem: “Glory toGod in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke2:14. There is a seeming contradiction between these propheticdeclarations and the words of Christ: “I came not to send peace, buta sword.” Matthew 10:34. But, rightly understood, the two are inperfect harmony. The gospel is a message of peace. Christianity is asystem which, received and obeyed, would spread peace, harmony,and happiness throughout the earth. The religion of Christ will unitein close brotherhood all who accept its teachings. It was the missionof Jesus to reconcile men to God, and thus to one another. Butthe world at large are under the control of Satan, Christ’s bitterestfoe. The gospel presents to them principles of life which are whollyat variance with their habits and desires, and they rise in rebellionagainst it. They hate the purity which reveals and condemns theirsins, and they persecute and destroy those who would urge uponthem its just and holy claims. It is in this sense—because the exaltedtruths it brings occasion hatred and strife—that the gospel is calleda sword.

The mysterious providence which permits the righteous to sufferpersecution at the hand of the wicked has been a cause of greatperplexity to many who are weak in faith. Some are even ready tocast away their confidence in God because He suffers the basest ofmen to prosper, while the best and purest are afflicted and tormentedby their cruel power. How, it is asked, can One who is just andmerciful, and who is also infinite in power, tolerate such injusticeand oppression? This is a question with which we have nothing todo. God has given us sufficient evidence of His love, and we are notto doubt His goodness because we cannot understand the workingsof His providence. Said the Saviour to His disciples, foreseeingthe doubts that would press upon their souls in days of trial and darkness:

Persecution in the First Centuries 39

“Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant isnot greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will alsopersecute you.” John 15:20. Jesus suffered for us more than any ofHis followers can be made to suffer through the cruelty of wickedmen. Those who are called to endure torture and martyrdom are butfollowing in the steps of God’s dear Son.


“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise.” 2 Peter 3:9. Hedoes not forget or neglect His children; but He permits the wicked toreveal their true character, that none who desire to do His will maybe deceived concerning them. Again, the righteous are placed in thefurnace of affliction, that they themselves may be purified; that theirexample may convince others of the reality of faith and godliness;and also that their consistent course may condemn the ungodly andunbelieving.

God permits the wicked to prosper and to reveal their enmityagainst Him, that when they shall have filled up the measure of theiriniquity all may see His justice and mercy in their utter destruction.The day of His vengeance hastens, when all who have transgressedHis law and oppressed His people will meet the just recompenseof their deeds; when every act of cruelty or injustice toward God’sfaithful ones will be punished as though done to Christ Himself.

There is another and more important question that should engagethe attention of the churches of today. The apostle Paul declaresthat “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”2 Timothy 3:12. Why is it, then, that persecution seems in a greatdegree to slumber? The only reason is that the church has conformedto the world’s standard and therefore awakens no opposition. Thereligion which is current in our day is not of the pure and holycharacter that marked the Christian faith in the days of Christ andHis apostles. It is only because of the spirit of compromise withsin, because the great truths of the word of God are so indifferentlyregarded, because there is so little vital godliness in the church, thatChristianity is apparently so popular with the world. Let there bea revival of the faith and power of the early church, and the spiritof persecution will be revived, and the fires of persecution will berekindled.


Chapter 3—An Era of Spiritual Darkness

The apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, foretold the great apostasy which would result in the establishment ofthe papal power. He declared that the day of Christ should not come,“except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himselfabove all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as Godsitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Andfurthermore, the apostle warns his brethren that “the mystery ofiniquity doth already work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 7. Even at thatearly date he saw, creeping into the church, errors that would preparethe way for the development of the papacy.

Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openlyas it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men,“the mystery of iniquity” carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism foundtheir way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise andconformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions whichthe church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, andChristianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid asidethe humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp andpride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirementsof God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominalconversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century,caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruptionrapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished,became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faithand worship of the professed followers of Christ.

This compromise between paganism and Christianity resultedin the development of “the man of sin” foretold in prophecy asopposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system offalse religion is a masterpiece of Satan’s power—a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.



Era of Spiritual Darkness 41

Satan once endeavored to form a compromise with Christ. Hecame to the Son of God in the wilderness of temptation, and showingHim all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, offered togive all into His hands if He would but acknowledge the supremacyof the prince of darkness. Christ rebuked the presumptuous tempterand forced him to depart. But Satan meets with greater success inpresenting the same temptations to man. To secure worldly gainsand honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of thegreat men of earth; and having thus rejected Christ, she was inducedto yield allegiance to the representative of Satan—the bishop ofRome.

It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the popeis the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested withsupreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world.More than this, the pope has been given the very titles of Deity. Hehas been styled “Lord God the Pope” (see Appendix), and has beendeclared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The sameclaim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urgedby him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready toyield him homage.


But those who fear and reverence God meet this heaven-daringassumption as Christ met the solicitations of the wily foe: “Thoushalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” Luke4:8. God has never given a hint in His word that He has appointed any man to be the head of the church. The doctrine of papal supremacyis directly opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures. The pope canhave no power over Christ’s church except by usurpation.

Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants thecharge of heresy and willful separation from the true church. Butthese accusations apply rather to themselves. They are the ones wholaid down the banner of Christ and departed from “the faith whichwas once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3.

42 The Great Controversy

Satan well knew that the Holy Scriptures would enable men to discern his deceptions and withstand his power. It was by the word that even the Saviour of the world had resisted his attacks. Atevery assault, Christ presented the shield of eternal truth, saying, “Itis written.” To every suggestion of the adversary, He opposed thewisdom and power of the word. In order for Satan to maintain hissway over men, and establish the authority of the papal usurper, hemust keep them in ignorance of the Scriptures. The Bible wouldexalt God and place finite men in their true position; therefore itssacred truths must be concealed and suppressed. This logic wasadopted by the Roman Church. For hundreds of years the circulationof the Bible was prohibited. The people were forbidden to read itor to have it in their houses, and unprincipled priests and prelatesinterpreted its teachings to sustain their pretensions. Thus the popecame to be almost universally acknowledged as the vicegerent ofGod on earth, endowed with authority over church and state.


The detector of error having been removed, Satan worked according to his will. Prophecy had declared that the papacy was to“think to change times and laws.” Daniel 7:25. This work it wasnot slow to attempt. To afford converts from heathenism a substitute for the worship of idols, and thus to promote their nominalacceptance of Christianity, the adoration of images and relics wasgradually introduced into the Christian worship. The decree of ageneral council (see Appendix) finally established this system ofidolatry. To complete the sacrilegious work, Rome presumed toexpunge from the law of God the second commandment, forbiddingimage worship, and to divide the tenth commandment, in order topreserve the number.

The spirit of concession to paganism opened the way for a stillfurther disregard of Heaven’s authority. Satan, working throughunconsecrated leaders of the church, tampered with the fourth commandment also, and essayed to set aside the ancient Sabbath, theday which God had blessed and sanctified (Genesis 2:2, 3), and in itsstead to exalt the festival observed by the heathen as “the venerableday of the sun.” This change was not at first attempted openly. Inthe first centuries the true Sabbath had been kept by all Christians.They were jealous for the honor of God, and, believing that His lawis immutable, they zealously guarded the sacredness of its precepts.But with great subtlety Satan worked through his agents to bringabout his object. That the attention of the people might be calledto the Sunday, it was made a festival in honor of the resurrection ofChrist. Religious services were held upon it; yet it was regarded as a day of recreation, the Sabbath being still sacredly observed.

Era of Spiritual Darkness 43

To prepare the way for the work which he designed to accomplish, Satan had led the Jews, before the advent of Christ, to loaddown the Sabbath with the most rigorous exactions, making its observance a burden. Now, taking advantage of the false light in which
he had thus caused it to be regarded, he cast contempt upon it as aJewish institution. While Christians generally continued to observethe Sunday as a joyous festival, he led them, in order to show their hatred of Judaism, to make the Sabbath a fast, a day of sadness andgloom.


In the early part of the fourth century the emperor Constantineissued a decree making Sunday a public festival throughout theRoman Empire. (See Appendix.) The day of the sun was reverencedby his pagan subjects and was honored by Christians; it was theemperor’s policy to unite the conflicting interests of heathenism andChristianity. He was urged to do this by the bishops of the church,who, inspired by ambition and thirst for power, perceived that if thesame day was observed by both Christians and heathen, it wouldpromote the nominal acceptance of Christianity by pagans and thusadvance the power and glory of the church. But while many God-fearing Christians were gradually led to regard Sunday as possessinga degree of sacredness, they still held the true Sabbath as the holy ofthe Lord and observed it in obedience to the fourth commandment.

The archdeceiver had not completed his work. He was resolvedto gather the Christian world under his banner and to exercise hispower through his vicegerent, the proud pontiff who claimed tobe the representative of Christ. Through half-converted pagans,ambitious prelates, and world-loving churchmen he accomplishedhis purpose. Vast councils were held from time to time, in whichthe dignitaries of the church were convened from all the world.In nearly every council the Sabbath which God had instituted waspressed down a little lower, while the Sunday was correspondinglyexalted. Thus the pagan festival came finally to be honored as adivine institution, while the Bible Sabbath was pronounced a relicof Judaism, and its observers were declared to be accursed.

44 The Great Controversy


The great apostate had succeeded in exalting himself “above all that is called God, or that is worshiped.”2 Thessalonians 2:4.He had dared to change the only precept of the divine law thatunmistakably points all mankind to the true and living God. In thefourth commandment, God is revealed as the Creator of the heavensand the earth, and is thereby distinguished from all false gods. Itwas as a memorial of the work of creation that the seventh day wassanctified as a rest day for man. It was designed to keep the livingGod ever before the minds of men as the source of being and theobject of reverence and worship. Satan strives to turn men fromtheir allegiance to God, and from rendering obedience to His law;therefore he directs his efforts especially against that commandmentwhich points to God as the Creator.

Protestants now urge that the resurrection of Christ on Sundaymade it the Christian Sabbath. But Scripture evidence is lacking.No such honor was given to the day by Christ or His apostles. Theobservance of Sunday as a Christian institution had its origin in that“mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7, R.V.) which, evenin Paul’s day, had begun its work. Where and when did the Lordadopt this child of the papacy? What valid reason can be given for achange which the Scriptures do not sanction?

In the sixth century the papacy had become firmly established.Its seat of power was fixed in the imperial city, and the bishop ofRome was declared to be the head over the entire church. Paganismhad given place to the papacy. The dragon had given to the beast “hispower, and his seat, and great authority.” Revelation 13:2. And nowbegan the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the propheciesof Daniel and the Revelation. Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5-7. (SeeAppendix.) Christians were forced to choose either to yield theirintegrity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wearaway their lives in dungeons or suffer death by the rack, the fagot,or the headsman’s ax. Now were fulfilled the words of Jesus: “Yeshall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, andfriends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. Andye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.” Luke 21:16, 17.Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than everbefore, and the world became a vast battlefield. For hundreds ofyears the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity.Thus says the prophet: “The woman fled into the wilderness, whereshe hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three-score days.”Revelation 12:6.


Era of Spiritual Darkness 45

The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darknessdeepened. Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation,to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God forforgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to thepope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority.They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator and thatnone could approach God except through him; and, further, that hestood in the place of God to them and was therefore to be implicitlyobeyed. A deviation from his requirements was sufficient cause forthe severest punishment to be visited upon the bodies and souls ofthe offenders. Thus the minds of the people were turned away fromGod to fallible, erring, and cruel men, nay, more, to the prince ofdarkness himself, who exercised his power through them. Sin wasdisguised in a garb of sanctity. When the Scriptures are suppressed,and man comes to regard himself as supreme, we need look onlyfor fraud, deception, and debasing iniquity. With the elevation ofhuman laws and traditions was manifest the corruption that everresults from setting aside the law of God.

Those were days of peril for the church of Christ. The faithfulstandard-bearers were few indeed. Though the truth was not leftwithout witnesses, yet at times it seemed that error and superstitionwould wholly prevail, and true religion would be banished from theearth. The gospel was lost sight of, but the forms of religion weremultiplied, and the people were burdened with rigorous exactions.

They were taught not only to look to the pope as their mediator,but to trust to works of their own to atone for sin. Long pilgrimages,acts of penance, the worship of relics, the erection of churches, shrines, and altars, the payment of large sums to the church—theseand many similar acts were enjoined to appease the wrath of God orto secure His favor; as if God were like men, to be angered at trifles,or pacified by gifts or acts of penance!


46 The Great Controversy

Notwithstanding that vice prevailed, even among the leaders of the Roman Church, her influence seemed steadily to increase. About the close of the eighth century, papists put forth the claim that in the first ages of the church the bishops of Rome had possessed the samespiritual power which they now assumed. To establish this claim,some means must be employed to give it a show of authority; andthis was readily suggested by the father of lies. Ancient writingswere forged by monks. Decrees of councils before unheard of werediscovered, establishing the universal supremacy of the pope fromthe earliest times. And a church that had rejected the truth greedilyaccepted these deceptions. (See Appendix.)

The few faithful builders upon the true foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11) were perplexed and hindered as the rubbish of falsedoctrine obstructed the work. Like the builders upon the wall ofJerusalem in Nehemiah’s day, some were ready to say: “The strengthof the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; sothat we are not able to build.” Nehemiah 4:10. Wearied with theconstant struggle against persecution, fraud, iniquity, and every otherobstacle that Satan could devise to hinder their progress, some whohad been faithful builders became disheartened; and for the sakeof peace and security for their property and their lives, they turnedaway from the true foundation. Others, undaunted by the oppositionof their enemies, fearlessly declared: “Be not ye afraid of them:remember the Lord, which is great and terrible” (verse 14); and theyproceeded with the work, everyone with his sword girded by hisside. Ephesians 6:17.


The same spirit of hatred and opposition to the truth has inspiredthe enemies of God in every age, and the same vigilance and fidelityhave been required in His servants. The words of Christ to the firstdisciples are applicable to His followers to the close of time: “WhatI say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Mark 13:37.

The darkness seemed to grow more dense. Image worship became more general. Candles were burned before images, and prayerswere offered to them. The most absurd and superstitious customsprevailed. The minds of men were so completely controlled bysuperstition that reason itself seemed to have lost its sway. Whilepriests and bishops were themselves pleasure-loving, sensual, andcorrupt, it could only be expected that the people who looked tothem for guidance would be sunken in ignorance and vice.

Era of Spiritual Darkness 47

Another step in papal assumption was taken, when, in the eleventh century, Pope Gregory VII proclaimed the perfection of the Roman Church. Among the propositions which he put forthwas one declaring that the church had never erred, nor would it evererr, according to the Scriptures. But the Scripture proofs did notaccompany the assertion. The proud pontiff also claimed the powerto depose emperors, and declared that no sentence which he pronounced could be reversed by anyone, but that it was his prerogativeto reverse the decisions of all others. (See Appendix.)

A striking illustration of the tyrannical character of this advocateof infallibility was given in his treatment of the German emperor,Henry IV. For presuming to disregard the pope’s authority, thismonarch was declared to be excommunicated and dethroned. Terrified by the desertion and threats of his own princes, who wereencouraged in rebellion against him by the papal mandate, Henryfelt the necessity of making his peace with Rome. In company withhis wife and a faithful servant he crossed the Alps in midwinter,that he might humble himself before the pope. Upon reaching thecastle whither Gregory had withdrawn, he was conducted, withouthis guards, into an outer court, and there, in the severe cold of winter,
with uncovered head and naked feet, and in a miserable dress, he awaited the pope’s permission to come into his presence. Not untilhe had continued three days fasting and making confession, did thepontiff condescend to grant him pardon. Even then it was only uponcondition that the emperor should await the sanction of the popebefore resuming the insignia or exercising the power of royalty. AndGregory, elated with his triumph, boasted that it was his duty to pulldown the pride of kings.


How striking the contrast between the overbearing pride of thishaughty pontiff and the meekness and gentleness of Christ, whorepresents Himself as pleading at the door of the heart for admittance,that He may come in to bring pardon and peace, and who taughtHis disciples: “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be yourservant.” Matthew 20:27.

The advancing centuries witnessed a constant increase of errorin the doctrines put forth from Rome. Even before the establishmentof the papacy the teachings of heathen philosophers had received attention and exerted an influence in the church. Many who professedconversion still clung to the tenets of their pagan philosophy, andnot only continued its study themselves, but urged it upon others asa means of extending their influence among the heathen.

48 The Great Controversy

Serious errors were thus introduced into the Christian faith. Prominent amongthese was the belief in man’s natural immortality and his consciousness in death. This doctrine laid the foundation upon which Romeestablished the invocation of saints and the adoration of the VirginMary. From this sprang also the heresy of eternal torment for thefinally impenitent, which was early incorporated into the papal faith.

Then the way was prepared for the introduction of still anotherinvention of paganism, which Rome named purgatory, and employedto terrify the credulous and superstitious multitudes. By this heresyis affirmed the existence of a place of torment, in which the souls ofsuch as have not merited eternal damnation are to suffer punishment[59] for their sins, and from which, when freed from impurity, they areadmitted to heaven. (See Appendix.)

Still another fabrication was needed to enable Rome to profitby the fears and the vices of her adherents. This was supplied bythe doctrine of indulgences. Full remission of sins, past, present,and future, and release from all the pains and penalties incurred,were promised to all who would enlist in the pontiff’s wars to extendhis temporal dominion, to punish his enemies, or to exterminatethose who dared deny his spiritual supremacy. The people were alsotaught that by the payment of money to the church they might freethemselves from sin, and also release the souls of their deceasedfriends who were confined in the tormenting flames. By such meansdid Rome fill her coffers and sustain the magnificence, luxury, andvice of the pretended representatives of Him who had not where tolay His head. (See Appendix.)

The Scriptural ordinance of the Lord’s Supper had been supplanted by the idolatrous sacrifice of the mass. Papal priests pretended, by their senseless mummery, to convert the simple bread andwine into the actual “body and blood of Christ.”—Cardinal Wiseman,The Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ inthe Blessed Eucharist, Proved From Scripture, lecture 8, sec. 3, par.26. With blasphemous presumption, they openly claimed the powerof creating God, the Creator of all things. Christians were required,on pain of death, to avow their faith in this horrible, Heaven-insulting heresy. Multitudes who refused were given to the flames. (SeeAppendix.)

Era of Spiritual Darkness 49

In the thirteenth century was established that most terrible of allthe engines of the papacy—the Inquisition. The prince of darknesswrought with the leaders of the papal hierarchy. In their secretcouncils Satan and his angels controlled the minds of evil men,while unseen in the midst stood an angel of God, taking the fearfulrecord of their iniquitous decrees and writing the history of deeds toohorrible to appear to human eyes. “Babylon the great” was “drunkenwith the blood of the saints.” The mangled forms of millions ofmartyrs cried to God for vengeance upon that apostate power.


Popery had become the world’s despot. Kings and emperorsbowed to the decrees of the Roman pontiff. The destinies of men,both for time and for eternity, seemed under his control. For hundredsof years the doctrines of Rome had been extensively and implicitlyreceived, its rites reverently performed, its festivals generally observed. Its clergy were honored and liberally sustained. Never sincehas the Roman Church attained to greater dignity, magnificence, orpower.

But “the noon of the papacy was the midnight of the world.”—J.A. Wylie, The History of Protestantism, b. 1, ch. 4. The Holy Scriptures were almost unknown, not only to the people, but to the priests.Like the Pharisees of old, the papal leaders hated the light whichwould reveal their sins. God’s law, the standard of righteousness,having been removed, they exercised power without limit, and practiced vice without restraint. Fraud, avarice, and profligacy prevailed.Men shrank from no crime by which they could gain wealth or po-sition. The palaces of popes and prelates were scenes of the vilestdebauchery. Some of the reigning pontiffs were guilty of crimes sorevolting that secular rulers endeavored to depose these dignitariesof the church as monsters too vile to be tolerated. For centuriesEurope had made no progress in learning, arts, or civilization. Amoral and intellectual paralysis had fallen upon Christendom.

The condition of the world under the Romish power presented afearful and striking fulfillment of the words of the prophet Hosea:“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thouhast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee: ... seeing thouhast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”“There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committingadultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.”Hosea 4:6, 1, 2. Such were the results of banishing the word of God.

50 The Great Controversy

Chapter 4—The Waldenses


Amid the gloom that settled upon the earth during the longperiod of papal supremacy, the light of truth could not be whollyextinguished. In every age there were witnesses for God—men whocherished faith in Christ as the only mediator between God and man,who held the Bible as the only rule of life, and who hallowed thetrue Sabbath. How much the world owes to these men, posterity willnever know. They were branded as heretics, their motives impugned,their characters maligned, their writings suppressed, misrepresented,or mutilated. Yet they stood firm, and from age to age maintainedtheir faith in its purity, as a sacred heritage for the generations tocome.

The history of God’s people during the ages of darkness thatfollowed upon Rome’s supremacy is written in heaven, but theyhave little place in human records. Few traces of their existence canbe found, except in the accusations of their persecutors. It was thepolicy of Rome to obliterate every trace of dissent from her doctrinesor decrees. Everything heretical, whether persons or writings, shesought to destroy. Expressions of doubt, or questions as to theauthority of papal dogmas, were enough to forfeit the life of rich or
poor, high or low. Rome endeavored also to destroy every record ofher cruelty toward dissenters. Papal councils decreed that books andwritings containing such records should be committed to the flames. Before the invention of printing, books were few in number, and in
a form not favorable for preservation; therefore there was little toprevent the Romanists from carrying out their purpose.


No church within the limits of Romish jurisdiction was long leftundisturbed in the enjoyment of freedom of conscience. No soonerhad the papacy obtained power than she stretched out her arms tocrush all that refused to acknowledge her sway, and one after anotherthe churches submitted to her dominion.


52 The Great Controversy

In Great Britain primitive Christianity had very early taken root. The gospel received by the Britons in the first centuries was thenuncorrupted by Romish apostasy. Persecution from pagan emperors,which extended even to these far-off shores, was the only gift thatthe first churches of Britain received from Rome. Many of theChristians, fleeing from persecution in England, found refuge inScotland; thence the truth was carried to Ireland, and in all thesecountries it was received with gladness.

When the Saxons invaded Britain, heathenism gained control.The conquerors disdained to be instructed by their slaves, and theChristians were forced to retreat to the mountains and the wildmoors. Yet the light, hidden for a time, continued to burn. InScotland, a century later, it shone out with a brightness that extendedto far-distant lands. From Ireland came the pious Columba and hiscolaborers, who, gathering about them the scattered believers on thelonely island of Iona, made this the center of their missionary labors.Among these evangelists was an observer of the Bible Sabbath, andthus this truth was introduced among the people. A school wasestablished at Iona, from which missionaries went out, not only toScotland and England, but to Germany, Switzerland, and even Italy.


But Rome had fixed her eyes on Britain, and resolved to bring itunder her supremacy. In the sixth century her missionaries undertookthe conversion of the heathen Saxons. They were received with favorby the proud barbarians, and they induced many thousands to professthe Romish faith. As the work progressed, the papal leaders and theirconverts encountered the primitive Christians. A striking contrastwas presented. The latter were simple, humble, and Scriptural incharacter, doctrine, and manners, while the former manifested thesuperstition, pomp, and arrogance of popery. The emissary of Romedemanded that these Christian churches acknowledge the supremacyof the sovereign pontiff. The Britons meekly replied that they desiredto love all men, but that the pope was not entitled to supremacy inthe church, and they could render to him only that submission whichwas due to every follower of Christ. Repeated attempts were madeto secure their allegiance to Rome; but these humble Christians,amazed at the pride displayed by her emissaries, steadfastly repliedthat they knew no other master than Christ. Now the true spirit ofthe papacy was revealed. Said the Romish leader: “If you will notreceive brethren who bring you peace, you shall receive enemieswho will bring you war. If you will not unite with us in showing the Saxons the way of life, you shall receive from them the stroke of death.”—J. H. Merle D’Aubigne,History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century,b. 17, ch. 2.These were no idle threats. War, intrigue, and deception were employed against these witnesses for a Bible faith, until the churches of Britain were destroyed, or forced to submit to the authority of the pope.

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In lands beyond the jurisdiction of Rome there existed for manycenturies bodies of Christians who remained almost wholly freefrom papal corruption. They were surrounded by heathenism and inthe lapse of ages were affected by its errors; but they continued toregard the Bible as the only rule of faith and adhered to many of itstruths. These Christians believed in the perpetuity of the law of Godand observed the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Churchesthat held to this faith and practice existed in Central Africa andamong the Armenians of Asia.


But of those who resisted the encroachments of the papal power, the Waldenses stood foremost. In the very land where popery hadfixed its seat, there its falsehood and corruption were most steadfastlyresisted. For centuries the churches of Piedmont maintained theirindependence; but the time came at last when Rome insisted upontheir submission. After ineffectual struggles against her tyranny, theleaders of these churches reluctantly acknowledged the supremacyof the power to which the whole world seemed to pay homage.There were some, however, who refused to yield to the authority ofpope or prelate. They were determined to maintain their allegianceto God and to preserve the purity and simplicity of their faith. Aseparation took place. Those who adhered to the ancient faith nowwithdrew; some, forsaking their native Alps, raised the banner oftruth in foreign lands; others retreated to the secluded glens androcky fastnesses of the mountains, and there preserved their freedomto worship God.

The faith which for centuries was held and taught by the Waldensian Christians was in marked contrast to the false doctrines put forthfrom Rome. Their religious belief was founded upon the writtenword of God, the true system of Christianity. But those humblepeasants, in their obscure retreats, shut away from the world, andbound to daily toil among their flocks and their vineyards, had notby themselves arrived at the truth in opposition to the dogmas andheresies of the apostate church.

54 The Great Controversy


Theirs was not a faith newly received. Their religious belief was their inheritance from their fathers.They contended for the faith of the apostolic church,—“the faithwhich was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3. “The churchin the wilderness,” and not the proud hierarchy enthroned in theworld’s great capital, was the true church of Christ, the guardian ofthe treasures of truth which God has committed to His people to begiven to the world.

Among the leading causes that had led to the separation of thetrue church from Rome was the hatred of the latter toward the BibleSabbath. As foretold by prophecy, the papal power cast down thetruth to the ground. The law of God was trampled in the dust, whilethe traditions and customs of men were exalted. The churches thatwere under the rule of the papacy were early compelled to honor theSunday as a holy day. Amid the prevailing error and superstition,many, even of the true people of God, became so bewildered thatwhile they observed the Sabbath, they refrained from labor alsoon the Sunday. But this did not satisfy the papal leaders. Theydemanded not only that Sunday be hallowed, but that the Sabbathbe profaned; and they denounced in the strongest language thosewho dared to show it honor. It was only by fleeing from the powerof Rome that any could obey God’s law in peace. (See Appendix.)

The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe toobtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures. (See Appendix.) Hundreds of years before the Reformation they possessed the Bible inmanuscript in their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated,and this rendered them the special objects of hatred and persecution.They declared the Church of Rome to be the apostate Babylon ofthe Apocalypse, and at the peril of their lives they stood up to resist her corruptions. While, under the pressure of long-continuedpersecution, some compromised their faith, little by little yieldingits distinctive principles, others held fast the truth. Through agesof darkness and apostasy there were Waldenses who denied thesupremacy of Rome, who rejected image worship as idolatry, andwho kept the true Sabbath. Under the fiercest tempests of opposition they maintained their faith. Though gashed by the Savoyardspear, and scorched by the Romish fagot, they stood unflinchinglyfor God’s word and His honor.

Waldenses 55


Behind the lofty bulwarks of the mountains—in all ages therefuge of the persecuted and oppressed—the Waldenses found a hiding place. Here the light of truth was kept burning amid thedarkness of the Middle Ages. Here, for a thousand years, witnesses
for the truth maintained the ancient faith.

God had provided for His people a sanctuary of awful grandeur,befitting the mighty truths committed to their trust. To those faithfulexiles the mountains were an emblem of the immutable righteousness of Jehovah. They pointed their children to the heights toweringabove them in unchanging majesty, and spoke to them of Him withwhom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning, whose word isas enduring as the everlasting hills. God had set fast the mountainsand girded them with strength; no arm but that of Infinite Powercould move them out of their place. In like manner He had established His law, the foundation of His government in heaven andupon earth. The arm of man might reach his fellow men and destroytheir lives; but that arm could as readily uproot the mountains fromtheir foundations, and hurl them into the sea, as it could change oneprecept of the law of Jehovah, or blot out one of His promises tothose who do His will. In their fidelity to His law, God’s servantsshould be as firm as the unchanging hills.

The mountains that girded their lowly valleys were a constantwitness to God’s creative power, and a never-failing assurance of Hisprotecting care. Those pilgrims learned to love the silent symbolsof Jehovah’s presence. They indulged no repining because of thehardships of their lot; they were never lonely amid the mountain solitudes. They thanked God that He had provided for them an asylumfrom the wrath and cruelty of men. They rejoiced in their freedomto worship before Him. Often when pursued by their enemies, thestrength of the hills proved a sure defense. From many a lofty cliffthey chanted the praise of God, and the armies of Rome could notsilence their songs of thanksgiving.


Pure, simple, and fervent was the piety of these followers of Christ. The principles of truth they valued above houses and lands,friends, kindred, even life itself. These principles they earnestlysought to impress upon the hearts of the young. From earliestchildhood the youth were instructed in the Scriptures and taught toregard sacredly the claims of the law of God. Copies of the Biblewere rare; therefore its precious words were committed to memory. Many were able to repeat large portions of both the Old and the New Testament. Thoughts of God were associated alike with the sublime scenery of nature and with the humble blessings of daily life. Little children learned to look with gratitude to God as the giver of every favor and every comfort.

56 The Great Controversy

Parents, tender and affectionate as they were, loved their childrentoo wisely to accustom them to self-indulgence. Before them wasa life of trial and hardship, perhaps a martyr’s death. They wereeducated from childhood to endure hardness, to submit to control,and yet to think and act for themselves. Very early they were taughtto bear responsibilities, to be guarded in speech, and to understandthe wisdom of silence. One indiscreet word let fall in the hearing oftheir enemies might imperil not only the life of the speaker, but thelives of hundreds of his brethren; for as wolves hunting their preydid the enemies of truth pursue those who dared to claim freedomof religious faith.


The Waldenses had sacrificed their worldly prosperity for thetruth’s sake, and with persevering patience they toiled for their bread.Every spot of tillable land among the mountains was carefully improved; the valleys and the less fertile hillsides were made to yieldtheir increase. Economy and severe self-denial formed a part of theeducation which the children received as their only legacy. Theywere taught that God designs life to be a discipline, and that theirwants could be supplied only by personal labor, by forethought,care, and faith. The process was laborious and wearisome, but it waswholesome, just what man needs in his fallen state, the school which God has provided for his training and development. While the youth were inured to toil and hardship, the culture of the intellect was not neglected. They were taught that all their powers belonged to God, and that all were to be improved and developed for His service.

The Vaudois churches, in their purity and simplicity, resembledthe church of apostolic times. Rejecting the supremacy of the popeand prelate, they held the Bible as the only supreme, infallibleauthority. Their pastors, unlike the lordly priests of Rome, followedthe example of their Master, who “came not to be ministered unto,but to minister.” They fed the flock of God, leading them to thegreen pastures and living fountains of His holy word.

Waldenses 57

Far from themonuments of human pomp and pride the people assembled, not inmagnificent churches or grand cathedrals, but beneath the shadow ofthe mountains, in the Alpine valleys, or, in time of danger, in somerocky stronghold, to listen to the words of truth from the servants ofChrist. The pastors not only preached the gospel, but they visitedthe sick, catechized the children, admonished the erring, and laboredto settle disputes and promote harmony and brotherly love. In timesof peace they were sustained by the freewill offerings of the people;but, like Paul the tentmaker, each learned some trade or professionby which, if necessary, to provide for his own support.

From their pastors the youth received instruction. While attention was given to branches of general learning, the Bible was madethe chief study. The Gospels of Matthew and John were committedto memory, with many of the Epistles. They were employed alsoin copying the Scriptures. Some manuscripts contained the wholeBible, others only brief selections, to which some simple explanations of the text were added by those who were able to expound theScriptures. Thus were brought forth the treasures of truth so longconcealed by those who sought to exalt themselves above God.


By patient, untiring labor, sometimes in the deep, dark caverns ofthe earth, by the light of torches, the Sacred Scriptures were writtenout, verse by verse, chapter by chapter. Thus the work went on, therevealed will of God shining out like pure gold; how much brighter,clearer, and more powerful because of the trials undergone for itssake only those could realize who were engaged in the work. Angelsfrom heaven surrounded these faithful workers.

Satan had urged on the papal priests and prelates to bury the wordof truth beneath the rubbish of error, heresy, and superstition; but ina most wonderful manner it was preserved uncorrupted through allthe ages of darkness. It bore not the stamp of man, but the impress ofGod. Men have been unwearied in their efforts to obscure the plain,simple meaning of the Scriptures, and to make them contradict theirown testimony; but like the ark upon the billowy deep, the wordof God outrides the storms that threaten it with destruction. As themine has rich veins of gold and silver hidden beneath the surface,so that all must dig who would discover its precious stores, so theHoly Scriptures have treasures of truth that are revealed only to theearnest, humble, prayerful seeker.

58 The Great Controversy

God designed the Bible to be alessonbook to all mankind, in childhood, youth, and manhood, and tobe studied through all time. He gave His word to men as a revelationof Himself. Every new truth discerned is a fresh disclosure of thecharacter of its Author. The study of the Scriptures is the meansdivinely ordained to bring men into closer connection with theirCreator and to give them a clearer knowledge of His will. It is themedium of communication between God and man.


While the Waldenses regarded the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom, they were not blind to the importance of a contactwith the world, a knowledge of men and of active life, in expandingthe mind and quickening the perceptions. From their schools in themountains some of the youth were sent to institutions of learningin the cities of France or Italy, where was a more extended fieldfor study, thought, and observation than in their native Alps. Theyouth thus sent forth were exposed to temptation, they witnessedvice, they encountered Satan’s wily agents, who urged upon themthe most subtle heresies and the most dangerous deceptions. Buttheir education from childhood had been of a character to preparethem for all this.

In the schools whither they went, they were not to make confidants of any. Their garments were so prepared as to conceal theirgreatest treasure—the precious manuscripts of the Scriptures. These,the fruit of months and years of toil, they carried with them, andwhenever they could do so without exciting suspicion, they cautiously placed some portion in the way of those whose hearts seemedopen to receive the truth. From their mother’s knee the Waldensianyouth had been trained with this purpose in view; they understoodtheir work and faithfully performed it. Converts to the true faith werewon in these institutions of learning, and frequently its principleswere found to be permeating the entire school; yet the papal leaders could not, by the closest inquiry, trace the so-called corruptingheresy to its source.

The spirit of Christ is a missionary spirit. The very first impulseof the renewed heart is to bring others also to the Saviour. Suchwas the spirit of the Vaudois Christians. They felt that God requiredmore of them than merely to preserve the truth in its purity in theirown churches; that a solemn responsibility rested upon them to lettheir light shine forth to those who were in darkness; by the mightypower of God’s word they sought to break the bondage which Romehad imposed.

Waldenses 59


The Vaudois ministers were trained as missionaries,everyone who expected to enter the ministry being required first togain an experience as an evangelist. Each was to serve three years in some mission field before taking charge of a church at home. Thisservice, requiring at the outset self-denial and sacrifice, was a fittingintroduction to the pastor’s life in those times that tried men’s souls.

The youth who received ordination to the sacred office saw beforethem, not the prospect of earthly wealth and glory, but a life of toiland danger, and possibly a martyr’s fate. The missionaries went outtwo and two, as Jesus sent forth His disciples. With each young manwas usually associated a man of age and experience, the youth beingunder the guidance of his companion, who was held responsible forhis training, and whose instruction he was required to heed. Thesecolaborers were not always together, but often met for prayer andcounsel, thus strengthening each other in the faith.

To have made known the object of their mission would haveensured its defeat; therefore they carefully concealed their real character. Every minister possessed a knowledge of some trade or profession, and the missionaries prosecuted their work under cover ofa secular calling. Usually they chose that of merchant or peddler.“They carried silks, jewelry, and other articles, at that time not easily purchasable save at distant marts; and they were welcomed asmerchants where they would have been spurned as missionaries.”—Wylie, b. 1, ch. 7. All the while their hearts were uplifted to God forwisdom to present a treasure more precious than gold or gems. Theysecretly carried about with them copies of the Bible, in whole or inpart; and whenever an opportunity was presented, they called theattention of their customers to these manuscripts. Often an interestto read God’s word was thus awakened, and some portion was gladlyleft with those who desired to receive it.


The work of these missionaries began in the plains and valleysat the foot of their own mountains, but it extended far beyond theselimits. With naked feet and in garments coarse and travel-stainedas were those of their Master, they passed through great cities andpenetrated to distant lands. Everywhere they scattered the preciousseed. Churches sprang up in their path, and the blood of martyrswitnessed for the truth. The day of God will reveal a rich harvestof souls garnered by the labors of these faithful men. Veiled and silent, the word of God was making its way through Christendom and meeting a glad reception in the homes and hearts of men.

60 The Great Controversy

To the Waldenses the Scriptures were not merely a record ofGod’s dealings with men in the past, and a revelation of the responsibilities and duties of the present, but an unfolding of the perils andglories of the future. They believed that the end of all things wasnot far distant, and as they studied the Bible with prayer and tearsthey were the more deeply impressed with its precious utterancesand with their duty to make known to others its saving truths. Theysaw the plan of salvation clearly revealed in the sacred pages, andthey found comfort, hope, and peace in believing in Jesus. As thelight illuminated their understanding and made glad their hearts, theylonged to shed its beams upon those who were in the darkness ofpapal error.

They saw that under the guidance of pope and priest, multitudeswere vainly endeavoring to obtain pardon by afflicting their bodiesfor the sin of their souls. Taught to trust to their good works to savethem, they were ever looking to themselves, their minds dwellingupon their sinful condition, seeing themselves exposed to the wrathof God, afflicting soul and body, yet finding no relief. Thus conscientious souls were bound by the doctrines of Rome. Thousandsabandoned friends and kindred, and spent their lives in convent cells.By oft-repeated fasts and cruel scourgings, by midnight vigils, byprostration for weary hours upon the cold, damp stones of theirdreary abode, by long pilgrimages, by humiliating penance and fearful torture, thousands vainly sought to obtain peace of conscience.Oppressed with a sense of sin, and haunted with the fear of God’savenging wrath, many suffered on, until exhausted nature gave way, and without one ray of light or hope they sank into the tomb.


The Waldenses longed to break to these starving souls the breadof life, to open to them the messages of peace in the promises ofGod, and to point them to Christ as their only hope of salvation.The doctrine that good works can atone for the transgression ofGod’s law they held to be based upon falsehood. Reliance uponhuman merit intercepts the view of Christ’s infinite love. Jesus diedas a sacrifice for man because the fallen race can do nothing torecommend themselves to God. The merits of a crucified and risenSaviour are the foundation of the Christian’s faith. The dependence of the soul upon Christ is as real, and its connection with Him must be as close, as that of a limb to the body, or of a branch to the vine.

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The teachings of popes and priests had led men to look uponthe character of God, and even of Christ, as stern, gloomy, and forbidding. The Saviour was represented as so far devoid of sympathywith man in his fallen state that the mediation of priests and saintsmust be invoked. Those whose minds had been enlightened by theword of God longed to point these souls to Jesus as their compassionate, loving Saviour, standing with outstretched arms, inviting allto come to Him with their burden of sin, their care and weariness.They longed to clear away the obstructions which Satan had piledup that men might not see the promises, and come directly to God,confessing their sins, and obtaining pardon and peace.

Eagerly did the Vaudois missionary unfold to the inquiring mindthe precious truths of the gospel. Cautiously he produced the carefully written portions of the Holy Scriptures. It was his greatest joyto give hope to the conscientious, sin-stricken soul, who could seeonly a God of vengeance, waiting to execute justice. With quivering lip and tearful eye did he, often on bended knees, open to hisbrethren the precious promises that reveal the sinner’s only hope.Thus the light of truth penetrated many a darkened mind, rollingback the cloud of gloom, until the Sun of Righteousness shone intothe heart with healing in His beams. It was often the case that someportion of Scripture was read again and again, the hearer desiringit to be repeated, as if he would assure himself that he had heardaright. Especially was the repetition of these words eagerly desired:“The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John1:7. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so mustthe Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him shouldnot perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:14, 15.


Many were undeceived in regard to the claims of Rome. Theysaw how vain is the mediation of men or angels in behalf of thesinner. As the true light dawned upon their minds they exclaimedwith rejoicing: “Christ is my priest; His blood is my sacrifice; Hisaltar is my confessional.” They cast themselves wholly upon themerits of Jesus, repeating the words, “Without faith it is impossibleto please Him.”Hebrews 11:6. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”Acts 4:12.

62 The Great Controversy

The assurance of a Saviour’s love seemed too much for some ofthese poor tempest-tossed souls to realize. So great was the reliefwhich it brought, such a flood of light was shed upon them, that theyseemed transported to heaven. Their hands were laid confidingly inthe hand of Christ; their feet were planted upon the Rock of Ages.All fear of death was banished. They could now covet the prison andthe fagot if they might thereby honor the name of their Redeemer.

In secret places the word of God was thus brought forth andread, sometimes to a single soul, sometimes to a little companywho were longing for light and truth. Often the entire night wasspent in this manner. So great would be the wonder and admirationof the listeners that the messenger of mercy was not infrequentlycompelled to cease his reading until the understanding could graspthe tidings of salvation. Often would words like these be uttered:“Will God indeed accept my offering? Will He smile upon me? WillHe pardon me?” The answer was read: “Come unto Me, all ye thatlabor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.


Faith grasped the promise, and the glad response was heard: “Nomore long pilgrimages to make; no more painful journeys to holyshrines. I may come to Jesus just as I am, sinful and unholy, andHe will not spurn the penitential prayer. ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee.’Mine, even mine, may be forgiven!”

A tide of sacred joy would fill the heart, and the name of Jesuswould be magnified by praise and thanksgiving. Those happy soulsreturned to their homes to diffuse light, to repeat to others, as wellas they could, their new experience; that they had found the true andliving Way. There was a strange and solemn power in the words ofScripture that spoke directly to the hearts of those who were longingfor the truth. It was the voice of God, and it carried conviction tothose who heard.

The messenger of truth went on his way; but his appearanceof humility, his sincerity, his earnestness and deep fervor, weresubjects of frequent remark. In many instances his hearers had notasked him whence he came or whither he went. They had been sooverwhelmed, at first with surprise, and afterward with gratitude andjoy, that they had not thought to question him. When they had urgedhim to accompany them to their homes, he had replied that he must visit the lost sheep of the flock. Could he have been an angel from heaven? they queried.

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In many cases the messenger of truth was seen no more. Hehad made his way to other lands, or he was wearing out his life insome unknown dungeon, or perhaps his bones were whitening onthe spot where he had witnessed for the truth. But the words he hadleft behind could not be destroyed. They were doing their work inthe hearts of men; the blessed results will be fully known only in thejudgment.

The Waldensian missionaries were invading the kingdom ofSatan, and the powers of darkness aroused to greater vigilance.Every effort to advance the truth was watched by the prince of evil,and he excited the fears of his agents. The papal leaders saw aportent of danger to their cause from the labors of these humbleitinerants. If the light of truth were allowed to shine unobstructed,it would sweep away the heavy clouds of error that enveloped thepeople. It would direct the minds of men to God alone and wouldeventually destroy the supremacy of Rome.

The very existence of this people, holding the faith of the ancientchurch, was a constant testimony to Rome’s apostasy, and thereforeexcited the most bitter hatred and persecution. Their refusal tosurrender the Scriptures was also an offense that Rome could nottolerate. She determined to blot them from the earth. Now began themost terrible crusades against God’s people in their mountain homes.Inquisitors were put upon their track, and the scene of innocent Abelfalling before the murderous Cain was often repeated.

Again and again were their fertile lands laid waste, theirdwellings and chapels swept away, so that where once were flourishing fields and the homes of an innocent, industrious people, thereremained only a desert. As the ravenous beast is rendered morefurious by the taste of blood, so the rage of the papists was kindled to greater intensity by the sufferings of their victims. Many ofthese witnesses for a pure faith were pursued across the mountainsand hunted down in the valleys where they were hidden, shut in bymighty forests and pinnacles of rock.

64 The Great Controversy

No charge could be brought against the moral character of this proscribed class. Even their enemies declared them to be a peaceable,quiet, pious people. Their grand offense was that they would notworship God according to the will of the pope. For this crime everyhumiliation, insult, and torture that men or devils could invent washeaped upon them.


When Rome at one time determined to exterminate the hatedsect, a bull was issued by the pope, condemning them as heretics,and delivering them to slaughter. (See Appendix.) They were notaccused as idlers, or dishonest, or disorderly; but it was declaredthat they had an appearance of piety and sanctity that seduced “thesheep of the true fold.” Therefore the pope ordered “that maliciousand abominable sect of malignants,” if they “refuse to abjure, tobe crushed like venomous snakes.”—Wylie, b. 16, ch. 1. Did thishaughty potentate expect to meet those words again? Did he knowthat they were registered in the books of heaven, to confront him atthe judgment? “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least ofthese My brethren,” said Jesus, “ye have done it unto Me.” Matthew25:40.

This bull called upon all members of the church to join thecrusade against the heretics. As an incentive to engage in this cruelwork, it “absolved from all ecclesiastical pains and penalties, generaland particular; it released all who joined the crusade from any oathsthey might have taken; it legitimatized their title to any propertythey might have illegally acquired; and promised remission of alltheir sins to such as should kill any heretic. It annulled all contractsmade in favor of Vaudois, ordered their domestics to abandon them,forbade all persons to give them any aid whatever, and empoweredall persons to take possession of their property.”—Wylie, b. 16, ch.1. This document clearly reveals the master spirit behind the scenes.It is the roar of the dragon, and not the voice of Christ, that is heardtherein.

The papal leaders would not conform their characters to the greatstandard of God’s law, but erected a standard to suit themselves, anddetermined to compel all to conform to this because Rome willed it.The most horrible tragedies were enacted. Corrupt and blasphemouspriests and popes were doing the work which Satan appointed them.

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Mercy had no place in their natures. The same spirit that crucified Christ and slew the apostles, the same that moved the blood-thirstyNero against the faithful in his day, was at work to rid the earth ofthose who were beloved of God.

The persecutions visited for many centuries upon this God-fearing people were endured by them with a patience and constancythat honored their Redeemer. Notwithstanding the crusades againstthem, and the inhuman butchery to which they were subjected, theycontinued to send out their missionaries to scatter the precious truth.They were hunted to death; yet their blood watered the seed sown,and it failed not of yielding fruit. Thus the Waldenses witnessed forGod centuries before the birth of Luther. Scattered over many lands,they planted the seeds of the Reformation that began in the time ofWycliffe, grew broad and deep in the days of Luther, and is to becarried forward to the close of time by those who also are willingto suffer all things for “the word of God, and for the testimony ofJesus Christ.” Revelation 1:9.


Chapter 5—John Wycliffe

Before the Reformation there were at times but very few copiesof the Bible in existence, but God had not suffered His word to bewholly destroyed. Its truths were not to be forever hidden. He couldas easily unchain the words of life as He could open prison doors andunbolt iron gates to set His servants free. In the different countries ofEurope men were moved by the Spirit of God to search for the truthas for hid treasures. Providentially guided to the Holy Scriptures,they studied the sacred pages with intense interest. They were willingto accept the light at any cost to themselves. Though they did not seeall things clearly, they were enabled to perceive many long-buriedtruths. As Heaven-sent messengers they went forth, rending asunderthe chains of error and superstition, and calling upon those who hadbeen so long enslaved, to arise and assert their liberty.

Except among the Waldenses, the word of God had for agesbeen locked up in languages known only to the learned; but the timehad come for the Scriptures to be translated and given to the peopleof different lands in their native tongue. The world had passed itsmidnight. The hours of darkness were wearing away, and in manylands appeared tokens of the coming dawn.

In the fourteenth century arose in England the “morning star ofthe Reformation.” John Wycliffe was the herald of reform, not forEngland alone, but for all Christendom. The great protest againstRome which it was permitted him to utter was never to be silenced.That protest opened the struggle which was to result in the emancipation of individuals, of churches, and of nations.

Wycliffe received a liberal education, and with him the fear ofthe Lord was the beginning of wisdom. He was noted at collegefor his fervent piety as well as for his remarkable talents and soundscholarship. In his thirst for knowledge he sought to become acquainted with every branch of learning. He was educated in thescholastic philosophy, in the canons of the church, and in the civillaw, especially that of his own country. In his after labors the valueof this early training was apparent.



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A thorough acquaintance withthe speculative philosophy of his time enabled him to expose itserrors; and by his study of national and ecclesiastical law he wasprepared to engage in the great struggle for civil and religious liberty.While he could wield the weapons drawn from the word of God,he had acquired the intellectual discipline of the schools, and heunderstood the tactics of the schoolmen. The power of his geniusand the extent and thoroughness of his knowledge commanded therespect of both friends and foes. His adherents saw with satisfactionthat their champion stood foremost among the leading minds of thenation; and his enemies were prevented from casting contempt uponthe cause of reform by exposing the ignorance or weakness of itssupporter.

While Wycliffe was still at college, he entered upon the studyof the Scriptures. In those early times, when the Bible existed onlyin the ancient languages, scholars were enabled to find their way tothe fountain of truth, which was closed to the uneducated classes.Thus already the way had been prepared for Wycliffe’s future workas a Reformer. Men of learning had studied the word of God and had found the great truth of His free grace there revealed. In theirteachings they had spread a knowledge of this truth, and had ledothers to turn to the living oracles.


When Wycliffe’s attention was directed to the Scriptures, heentered upon their investigation with the same thoroughness whichhad enabled him to master the learning of the schools. Heretoforehe had felt a great want, which neither his scholastic studies nor theteaching of the church could satisfy. In the word of God he foundthat which he had before sought in vain. Here he saw the plan ofsalvation revealed and Christ set forth as the only advocate for man.He gave himself to the service of Christ and determined to proclaimthe truths he had discovered.

Like after Reformers, Wycliffe did not, at the opening of hiswork, foresee whither it would lead him. He did not set himselfdeliberately in opposition to Rome. But devotion to truth couldnot but bring him in conflict with falsehood. The more clearly hediscerned the errors of the papacy, the more earnestly he presentedthe teaching of the Bible. He saw that Rome had forsaken the wordof God for human tradition; he fearlessly accused the priesthoodof having banished the Scriptures, and demanded that the Bible be restored to the people and that its authority be again established in the church.

68 The Great Controversy


He was an able and earnest teacher and an eloquent preacher,and his daily life was a demonstration of the truths he preached. Hisknowledge of the Scriptures, the force of his reasoning, the purityof his life, and his unbending courage and integrity won for himgeneral esteem and confidence. Many of the people had becomedissatisfied with their former faith as they saw the iniquity thatprevailed in the Roman Church, and they hailed with unconcealedjoy the truths brought to view by Wycliffe; but the papal leaderswere filled with rage when they perceived that this Reformer wasgaining an influence greater than their own.

Wycliffe was a keen detector of error, and he struck fearlesslyagainst many of the abuses sanctioned by the authority of Rome.While acting as chaplain for the king, he took a bold stand against thepayment of tribute claimed by the pope from the English monarchand showed that the papal assumption of authority over secular rulerswas contrary to both reason and revelation. The demands of the popehad excited great indignation, and Wycliffe’s teachings exerted aninfluence upon the leading minds of the nation. The king and thenobles united in denying the pontiff’s claim to temporal authorityand in refusing the payment of the tribute. Thus an effectual blowwas struck against the papal supremacy in England.

Another evil against which the Reformer waged long and resolutebattle was the institution of the orders of mendicant friars. Thesefriars swarmed in England, casting a blight upon the greatness andprosperity of the nation. Industry, education, morals, all felt thewithering influence. The monk’s life of idleness and beggary wasnot only a heavy drain upon the resources of the people, but itbrought useful labor into contempt. The youth were demoralizedand corrupted. By the influence of the friars many were inducedto enter a cloister and devote themselves to a monastic life, andthis not only without the consent of their parents, but even withouttheir knowledge and contrary to their commands. One of the earlyFathers of the Roman Church, urging the claims of monasticismabove the obligations of filial love and duty, had declared: “Thoughthy father should lie before thy door weeping and lamenting, andthy mother should show the body that bore thee and the breasts thatnursed thee, see that thou trample them underfoot, and go onward straightway to Christ.” By this “monstrous inhumanity,” as Luther afterward styled it, “savoring more of the wolf and the tyrant thanof the Christian and the man,” were the hearts of children steeled against their parents.—Barnas Sears,The Life of Luther,pages 70.Thus did the papal leaders, like the Pharisees of old, make thecommandment of God of none effect by their tradition. Thus homeswere made desolate and parents were deprived of the society of their sons and daughters.


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Even the students in the universities were deceived by the falserepresentations of the monks and induced to join their orders. Manyafterward repented this step, seeing that they had blighted their ownlives and had brought sorrow upon their parents; but once fast inthe snare it was impossible for them to obtain their freedom. Manyparents, fearing the influence of the monks, refused to send their sonsto the universities. There was a marked falling off in the number ofstudents in attendance at the great centers of learning. The schoolslanguished, and ignorance prevailed.

The pope had bestowed on these monks the power to hear confessions and to grant pardon. This became a source of great evil. Benton enhancing their gains, the friars were so ready to grant absolutionthat criminals of all descriptions resorted to them, and, as a result,the worst vices rapidly increased. The sick and the poor were leftto suffer, while the gifts that should have relieved their wants wentto the monks, who with threats demanded the alms of the people,denouncing the impiety of those who should withhold gifts fromtheir orders. Notwithstanding their profession of poverty, the wealthof the friars was constantly increasing, and their magnificent edificesand luxurious tables made more apparent the growing poverty ofthe nation. And while spending their time in luxury and pleasure,they sent out in their stead ignorant men, who could only recountmarvelous tales, legends, and jests to amuse the people and makethem still more completely the dupes of the monks. Yet the friarscontinued to maintain their hold on the superstitious multitudes andled them to believe that all religious duty was comprised in acknowledging the supremacy of the pope, adoring the saints, and makinggifts to the monks, and that this was sufficient to secure them a placein heaven.


Men of learning and piety had labored in vain to bring about areform in these monastic orders; but Wycliffe, with clearer insight,struck at the root of the evil, declaring that the system itself wasfalse and that it should be abolished. Discussion and inquiry wereawakening. As the monks traversed the country, vending the pope’spardons, many were led to doubt the possibility of purchasing forgiveness with money, and they questioned whether they should notseek pardon from God rather than from the pontiff of Rome. (SeeAppendix note for page 59.) Not a few were alarmed at the rapacityof the friars, whose greed seemed never to be satisfied. “The monksand priests of Rome,” said they, “are eating us away like a cancer.God must deliver us, or the people will perish.”—D’Aubigne, b. 17,ch. 7. To cover their avarice, these begging monks claimed that theywere following the Saviour’s example, declaring that Jesus and Hisdisciples had been supported by the charities of the people. Thisclaim resulted in injury to their cause, for it led many to the Bible tolearn the truth for themselves—a result which of all others was leastdesired by Rome. The minds of men were directed to the Source oftruth, which it was her object to conceal.

Wycliffe began to write and publish tracts against the friars, not,however, seeking so much to enter into dispute with them as to callthe minds of the people to the teachings of the Bible and its Author.He declared that the power of pardon or of excommunication ispossessed by the pope in no greater degree than by common priests,and that no man can be truly excommunicated unless he has firstbrought upon himself the condemnation of God. In no more effectualway could he have undertaken the overthrow of that mammoth fabricof spiritual and temporal dominion which the pope had erected andin which the souls and bodies of millions were held captive.

Again Wycliffe was called to defend the rights of the Englishcrown against the encroachments of Rome; and being appointed aroyal ambassador, he spent two years in the Netherlands, in conference with the commissioners of the pope. Here he was broughtinto communication with ecclesiastics from France, Italy, and Spain,and he had an opportunity to look behind the scenes and gain aknowledge of many things which would have remained hidden fromhim in England. He learned much that was to give point to his afterlabors. In these representatives from the papal court he read thetrue character and aims of the hierarchy. He returned to England to repeat his former teachings more openly and with greater zeal, declaring that covetousness, pride, and deception were the gods of Rome.


70 The Great Controversy

John Wycliffe 71

In one of his tracts he said, speaking of the pope and his collectors: “They draw out of our land poor men’s livelihood, and manythousand marks, by the year, of the king’s money, for sacramentsand spiritual things, that is cursed heresy of simony, and maketh allChristendom assent and maintain this heresy. And certes though ourrealm had a huge hill of gold, and never other man took thereof butonly this proud worldly priest’s collector, by process of time thishill must be spended; for he taketh ever money out of our land, andsendeth nought again but God’s curse for his simony.”—John Lewis,History of the Life and Sufferings of J. Wiclif, page 37.

Soon after his return to England, Wycliffe received from theking the appointment to the rectory of Lutterworth. This was anassurance that the monarch at least had not been displeased by hisplain speaking. Wycliffe’s influence was felt in shaping the actionof the court, as well as in molding the belief of the nation.

The papal thunders were soon hurled against him. Three bullswere dispatched to England,—to the university, to the king, and tothe prelates,—all commanding immediate and decisive measures tosilence the teacher of heresy. (Augustus Neander, General History of
the Christian Religion and Church,
period 6, sec. 2, pt. 1, par. 8. Seealso Appendix.) Before the arrival of the bulls, however, the bishops,in their zeal, had summoned Wycliffe before them for trial. But twoof the most powerful princes in the kingdom accompanied him to
the tribunal; and the people, surrounding the building and rushingin, so intimidated the judges that the proceedings were for the time
suspended, and he was allowed to go his way in peace. A littlelater, Edward III, whom in his old age the prelates were seeking toinfluence against the Reformer, died, and Wycliffe’s former protectorbecame regent of the kingdom.


But the arrival of the papal bulls laid upon all England a peremptory command for the arrest and imprisonment of the heretic. Thesemeasures pointed directly to the stake. It appeared certain thatWycliffe must soon fall a prey to the vengeance of Rome. But Hewho declared to one of old, “Fear not: ... I am thy shield” (Genesis15:1), again stretched out His hand to protect His servant. Death came, not to the Reformer, but to the pontiff who had decreed his destruction. Gregory XI died, and the ecclesiastics who had assembled for Wycliffe’s trial, dispersed.

72 The Great Controversy

God’s providence still further overruled events to give opportunity for the growth of the Reformation. The death of Gregory wasfollowed by the election of two rival popes. Two conflicting powers,each professedly infallible, now claimed obedience. (See Appendixnotes for pages 50 and 85.) Each called upon the faithful to assisthim in making war upon the other, enforcing his demands by terrible anathemas against his adversaries, and promises of rewardsin heaven to his supporters. This occurrence greatly weakened thepower of the papacy. The rival factions had all they could do toattack each other, and Wycliffe for a time had rest. Anathemas andrecriminations were flying from pope to pope, and torrents of bloodwere poured out to support their conflicting claims. Crimes andscandals flooded the church. Meanwhile the Reformer, in the quietretirement of his parish of Lutterworth, was laboring diligently topoint men from the contending popes to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

The schism, with all the strife and corruption which it caused, prepared the way for the Reformation by enabling the people to see what the papacy really was. In a tract which he published,On theSchism of the Popes, Wycliffe called upon the people to considerwhether these two priests were not speaking the truth in condemningeach other as the antichrist. “God,” said he, “would no longer sufferthe fiend to reign in only one such priest, but ... made division amongtwo, so that men, in Christ’s name, may the more easily overcomethem both.”—R. Vaughan, Life and Opinions of John de Wycliffe,vol. 2, p. 6.


Wycliffe, like his Master, preached the gospel to the poor. Notcontent with spreading the light in their humble homes in his ownparish of Lutterworth, he determined that it should be carried toevery part of England. To accomplish this he organized a bodyof preachers, simple, devout men, who loved the truth and desirednothing so much as to extend it. These men went everywhere,teaching in the market places, in the streets of the great cities, and inthe country lanes. They sought out the aged, the sick, and the poor,and opened to them the glad tidings of the grace of God.

John Wycliffe 73

As a professor of theology at Oxford, Wycliffe preached the wordof God in the halls of the university. So faithfully did he present thetruth to the students under his instruction, that he received the titleof “the gospel doctor.” But the greatest work of his life was to be thetranslation of the Scriptures into the English language. In a work,On the Truth and Meaning of Scripture, he expressed his intentionto translate the Bible, so that every man in England might read, inthe language in which he was born, the wonderful works of God.

But suddenly his labors were stopped. Though not yet sixtyyears of age, unceasing toil, study, and the assaults of his enemieshad told upon his strength and made him prematurely old. He wasattacked by a dangerous illness. The tidings brought great joy tothe friars. Now they thought he would bitterly repent the evil hehad done the church, and they hurried to his chamber to listen tohis confession. Representatives from the four religious orders, with
four civil officers, gathered about the supposed dying man. “Youhave death on your lips,” they said; “be touched by your faults, and
retract in our presence all that you have said to our injury.” TheReformer listened in silence; then he bade his attendant raise himin his bed, and, gazing steadily upon them as they stood waiting forhis recantation, he said, in the firm, strong voice which had so oftencaused them to tremble: “I shall not die, but live; and again declarethe evil deeds of the friars.”—D’Aubigne, b. 17, ch. 7. Astonishedand abashed, the monks hurried from the room.


Wycliffe’s words were fulfilled. He lived to place in the handsof his countrymen the most powerful of all weapons against Rome—to give them the Bible, the Heaven-appointed agent to liberate,enlighten, and evangelize the people. There were many and greatobstacles to surmount in the accomplishment of this work. Wycliffewas weighed down with infirmities; he knew that only a few yearsfor labor remained for him; he saw the opposition which he mustmeet; but, encouraged by the promises of God’s word, he wentforward nothing daunted. In the full vigor of his intellectual powers,rich in experience, he had been preserved and prepared by God’sspecial providence for this, the greatest of his labors. While allChristendom was filled with tumult, the Reformer in his rectoryat Lutterworth, unheeding the storm that raged without, appliedhimself to his chosen task.

74 The Great Controversy

At last the work was completed—the first English translationof the Bible ever made. The word of God was opened to England.The Reformer feared not now the prison or the stake. He had placedin the hands of the English people a light which should never beextinguished. In giving the Bible to his countrymen, he had donemore to break the fetters of ignorance and vice, more to liberateand elevate his country, than was ever achieved by the most brilliantvictories on fields of battle.


The art of printing being still unknown, it was only by slowand wearisome labor that copies of the Bible could be multiplied.So great was the interest to obtain the book, that many willinglyengaged in the work of transcribing it, but it was with difficulty thatthe copyists could supply the demand. Some of the more wealthypurchasers desired the whole Bible. Others bought only a portion.In many cases, several families united to purchase a copy. ThusWycliffe’s Bible soon found its way to the homes of the people.

The appeal to men’s reason aroused them from their passivesubmission to papal dogmas. Wycliffe now taught the distinctivedoctrines of Protestantism—salvation through faith in Christ, andthe sole infallibility of the Scriptures. The preachers whom he hadsent out circulated the Bible, together with the Reformer’s writings,and with such success that the new faith was accepted by nearly onehalf of the people of England.

The appearance of the Scriptures brought dismay to the authorities of the church. They had now to meet an agency more powerfulthan Wycliffe—an agency against which their weapons would availlittle. There was at this time no law in England prohibiting theBible, for it had never before been published in the language of thepeople. Such laws were afterward enacted and rigorously enforced.Meanwhile, notwithstanding the efforts of the priests, there was fora season opportunity for the circulation of the word of God.

Again the papal leaders plotted to silence the Reformer’s voice.Before three tribunals he was successively summoned for trial, butwithout avail. First a synod of bishops declared his writings heretical,and, winning the young king, Richard II, to their side, they obtained aroyal decree consigning to prison all who should hold the condemneddoctrines.

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Wycliffe appealed from the synod to Parliament; he fearlesslyarraigned the hierarchy before the national council and demandeda reform of the enormous abuses sanctioned by the church. Withconvincing power he portrayed the usurpation and corruptions ofthe papal see. His enemies were brought to confusion. The friendsand supporters of Wycliffe had been forced to yield, and it had beenconfidently expected that the Reformer himself, in his old age, alone and friendless, would bow to the combined authority of the crownand the miter. But instead of this the papists saw themselves defeated.Parliament, roused by the stirring appeals of Wycliffe, repealed thepersecuting edict, and the Reformer was again at liberty.

A third time he was brought to trial, and now before the highestecclesiastical tribunal in the kingdom. Here no favor would be shownto heresy. Here at last Rome would triumph, and the Reformer’swork would be stopped. So thought the papists. If they could butaccomplish their purpose, Wycliffe would be forced to abjure hisdoctrines, or would leave the court only for the flames.

But Wycliffe did not retract; he would not dissemble. He fearlessly maintained his teachings and repelled the accusations of hispersecutors. Losing sight of himself, of his position, of the occasion,he summoned his hearers before the divine tribunal, and weighedtheir sophistries and deceptions in the balances of eternal truth. Thepower of the Holy Spirit was felt in the council room. A spell fromGod was upon the hearers. They seemed to have no power to leavethe place. As arrows from the Lord’s quiver, the Reformer’s wordspierced their hearts. The charge of heresy, which they had broughtagainst him, he with convincing power threw back upon themselves.Why, he demanded, did they dare to spread their errors? For the sakeof gain, to make merchandise of the grace of God?

“With whom, think you,” he finally said, “are ye contending?with an old man on the brink of the grave? No! with Truth—Truthwhich is stronger than you, and will overcome you.”—Wylie, b. 2,ch. 13. So saying, he withdrew from the assembly, and not one ofhis adversaries attempted to prevent him.

76 The Great Controversy


Wycliffe’s work was almost done; the banner of truth which hehad so long borne was soon to fall from his hand; but once more hewas to bear witness for the gospel. The truth was to be proclaimedfrom the very stronghold of the kingdom of error. Wycliffe was summoned for trial before the papal tribunal at Rome, which had sooften shed the blood of the saints. He was not blind to the dangerthat threatened him, yet he would have obeyed the summons hadnot a shock of palsy made it impossible for him to perform thejourney. But though his voice was not to be heard at Rome, he couldspeak by letter, and this he determined to do. From his rectory theReformer wrote to the pope a letter, which, while respectful in toneand Christian in spirit, was a keen rebuke to the pomp and pride ofthe papal see.

“Verily I do rejoice,” he said, “to open and declare unto everyman the faith which I do hold, and especially unto the bishop ofRome: which, forasmuch as I do suppose to be sound and true,he will most willingly confirm my said faith, or if it be erroneous,amend the same.

“First, I suppose that the gospel of Christ is the whole body ofGod’s law.... I do give and hold the bishop of Rome, forasmuch ashe is the vicar of Christ here on earth, to be most bound, of all othermen, unto that law of the gospel. For the greatness among Christ’sdisciples did not consist in worldly dignity or honors, but in the nearand exact following of Christ in His life and manners.... Christ, forthe time of His pilgrimage here, was a most poor man, abjecting andcasting off all worldly rule and honor....

“No faithful man ought to follow either the pope himself or anyof the holy men, but in such points as he hath followed the LordJesus Christ; for Peter and the sons of Zebedee, by desiring worldlyhonor, contrary to the following of Christ’s steps, did offend, andtherefore in those errors they are not to be followed….


“The pope ought to leave unto the secular power all temporaldominion and rule, and thereunto effectually to move and exhorthis whole clergy; for so did Christ, and especially by His apostles.Wherefore, if I have erred in any of these points, I will most humblysubmit myself unto correction, even by death, if necessity so require;and if I could labor according to my will or desire in mine ownperson, I would surely present myself before the bishop of Rome;but the Lord hath otherwise visited me to the contrary, and hathtaught me rather to obey God than men.”

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In closing he said: “Let us pray unto our God, that He will so stir up our Pope Urban VI, as he began, that he with his clergy mayfollow the Lord Jesus Christ in life and manners; and that they mayteach the people effectually, and that they, likewise, may faithfullyfollow them in the same.”—John Foxe, Acts and Monuments, vol. 3,pp. 49, 50.

Thus Wycliffe presented to the pope and his cardinals the meekness and humility of Christ, exhibiting not only to themselves but toall Christendom the contrast between them and the Master whoserepresentatives they professed to be.

Wycliffe fully expected that his life would be the price of hisfidelity. The king, the pope, and the bishops were united to accomplish his ruin, and it seemed certain that a few months at most wouldbring him to the stake. But his courage was unshaken. “Why doyou talk of seeking the crown of martyrdom afar?” he said. “Preachthe gospel of Christ to haughty prelates, and martyrdom will not failyou. What! I should live and be silent? ... Never! Let the blow fall,I await its coming.”—D’Aubigne, b. 17, ch. 8.

But God’s providence still shielded His servant. The man whofor a whole lifetime had stood boldly in defense of the truth, indaily peril of his life, was not to fall a victim of the hatred of itsfoes. Wycliffe had never sought to shield himself, but the Lord hadbeen his protector; and now, when his enemies felt sure of theirprey, God’s hand removed him beyond their reach. In his church atLutterworth, as he was about to dispense the communion, he fell,stricken with palsy, and in a short time yielded up his life.


God had appointed to Wycliffe his work. He had put the word of truth in his mouth, and He set a guard about him that this wordmight come to the people. His life was protected, and his laborswere prolonged, until a foundation was laid for the great work of theReformation.

Wycliffe came from the obscurity of the Dark Ages. There werenone who went before him from whose work he could shape hissystem of reform. Raised up like John the Baptist to accomplish aspecial mission, he was the herald of a new era. Yet in the system oftruth which he presented there was a unity and completeness whichReformers who followed him did not exceed, and which some didnot reach, even a hundred years later. So broad and deep was laidthe foundation, so firm and true was the framework, that it needednot to be reconstructed by those who came after him.

78 The Great Controversy


The great movement that Wycliffe inaugurated, which was toliberate the conscience and the intellect, and set free the nationsso long bound to the triumphal car of Rome, had its spring in theBible. Here was the source of that stream of blessing, which, likethe water of life, has flowed down the ages since the fourteenthcentury. Wycliffe accepted the Holy Scriptures with implicit faithas the inspired revelation of God’s will, a sufficient rule of faithand practice. He had been educated to regard the Church of Romeas the divine, infallible authority, and to accept with unquestioningreverence the established teachings and customs of a thousand years;but he turned away from all these to listen to God’s holy word. Thiswas the authority which he urged the people to acknowledge. Insteadof the church speaking through the pope, he declared the only trueauthority to be the voice of God speaking through His word. And hetaught not only that the Bible is a perfect revelation of God’s will,but that the Holy Spirit is its only interpreter, and that every man is,by the study of its teachings, to learn his duty for himself. Thus heturned the minds of men from the pope and the Church of Rome tothe word of God.

Wycliffe was one of the greatest of the Reformers. In breadthof intellect, in clearness of thought, in firmness to maintain thetruth, and in boldness to defend it, he was equaled by few whocame after him. Purity of life, unwearying diligence in study andin labor, incorruptible integrity, and Christlike love and faithfulnessin his ministry, characterized the first of the Reformers. And thisnotwithstanding the intellectual darkness and moral corruption ofthe age from which he emerged.

The character of Wycliffe is a testimony to the educating, transforming power of the Holy Scriptures. It was the Bible that madehim what he was. The effort to grasp the great truths of revelationimparts freshness and vigor to all the faculties. It expands the mind,sharpens the perceptions, and ripens the judgment. The study ofthe Bible will ennoble every thought, feeling, and aspiration as noother study can. It gives stability of purpose, patience, courage, andfortitude; it refines the character and sanctifies the soul. An earnest,reverent study of the Scriptures, bringing the mind of the student indirect contact with the infinite mind, would give to the world men ofstronger and more active intellect, as well as of nobler principle, thanhas ever resulted from the ablest training that human philosophy affords. “The entrance of Thy words,” says the psalmist, “giveth light; it giveth understanding.”Psalm 119:130.

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The doctrines which had been taught by Wycliffe continued fora time to spread; his followers, known as Wycliffites and Lollards,not only traversed England, but scattered to other lands, carrying theknowledge of the gospel. Now that their leader was removed, thepreachers labored with even greater zeal than before, and multitudesflocked to listen to their teachings. Some of the nobility, and eventhe wife of the king, were among the converts. In many placesthere was a marked reform in the manners of the people, and theidolatrous symbols of Romanism were removed from the churches.


But soon the pitiless storm of persecution burst upon those who haddared to accept the Bible as their guide. The English monarchs,eager to strengthen their power by securing the support of Rome,did not hesitate to sacrifice the Reformers. For the first time in thehistory of England the stake was decreed against the disciples of thegospel. Martyrdom succeeded martyrdom. The advocates of truth,proscribed and tortured, could only pour their cries into the ear ofthe Lord of Sabaoth. Hunted as foes of the church and traitors to therealm, they continued to preach in secret places, finding shelter asbest they could in the humble homes of the poor, and often hidingaway even in dens and caves.

Notwithstanding the rage of persecution, a calm, devout, earnest,patient protest against the prevailing corruption of religious faithcontinued for centuries to be uttered. The Christians of that earlytime had only a partial knowledge of the truth, but they had learnedto love and obey God’s word, and they patiently suffered for its sake.Like the disciples in apostolic days, many sacrificed their worldlypossessions for the cause of Christ. Those who were permitted todwell in their homes gladly sheltered their banished brethren, andwhen they too were driven forth they cheerfully accepted the lotof the outcast. Thousands, it is true, terrified by the fury of theirpersecutors, purchased their freedom at the sacrifice of their faith,and went out of their prisons, clothed in penitents’ robes, to publishtheir recantation. But the number was not small—and among themwere men of noble birth as well as the humble and lowly—whobore fearless testimony to the truth in dungeon cells, in “Lollardtowers,” and in the midst of torture and flame, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to know “the fellowship of His sufferings.”

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The papists had failed to work their will with Wycliffe duringhis life, and their hatred could not be satisfied while his body restedquietly in the grave. By the decree of the Council of Constance, morethan forty years after his death his bones were exhumed and publiclyburned, and the ashes were thrown into a neighboring brook. “Thisbrook,” says an old writer, “hath conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avoninto Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean.And thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, whichnow is dispersed all the world over.”—T. Fuller, Church Historyof Britain, b. 4, sec. 2, par. 54. Little did his enemies realize thesignificance of their malicious act.

It was through the writings of Wycliffe that John Huss, of Bohemia, was led to renounce many of the errors of Romanism andto enter upon the work of reform. Thus in these two countries, sowidely separated, the seed of truth was sown. From Bohemia thework extended to other lands. The minds of men were directed tothe long-forgotten word of God. A divine hand was preparing theway for the Great Reformation.

Chapter 6—Huss and Jerome


The gospel had been planted in Bohemia as early as the ninthcentury. The Bible was translated, and public worship was conducted, in the language of the people. But as the power of the popeincreased, so the word of God was obscured. Gregory VII, whohad taken it upon himself to humble the pride of kings, was no lessintent upon enslaving the people, and accordingly a bull was issuedforbidding public worship to be conducted in the Bohemian tongue.The pope declared that “it was pleasing to the Omnipotent that Hisworship should be celebrated in an unknown language, and thatmany evils and heresies had arisen from not observing this rule.”—Wylie, b. 3, ch. 1. Thus Rome decreed that the light of God’s wordshould be extinguished and the people should be shut up in darkness. But Heaven had provided other agencies for the preservationof the church. Many of the Waldenses and Albigenses, driven bypersecution from their homes in France and Italy, came to Bohemia.Though they dared not teach openly, they labored zealously in secret.Thus the true faith was preserved from century to century.

Before the days of Huss there were men in Bohemia who rose up to condemn openly the corruption in the church and the profligacyof the people. Their labors excited widespread interest. The fearsof the hierarchy were roused, and persecution was opened againstthe disciples of the gospel. Driven to worship in the forests and the mountains, they were hunted by soldiers, and many were putto death. After a time it was decreed that all who departed fromthe Romish worship should be burned. But while the Christiansyielded up their lives, they looked forward to the triumph of theircause. One of those who “taught that salvation was only to be foundby faith in the crucified Saviour,” declared when dying: “The rageof the enemies of the truth now prevails against us, but it will notbe forever; there shall arise one from among the common people,without sword or authority, and against him they shall not be able toprevail.”—Ibid., b. 3, ch. 1. Luther’s time was yet far distant; butalready one was rising, whose testimony against Rome would stir the nations.



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John Huss was of humble birth, and was early left an orphan bythe death of his father. His pious mother, regarding education andthe fear of God as the most valuable of possessions, sought to securethis heritage for her son. Huss studied at the provincial school, andthen repaired to the university at Prague, receiving admission as acharity scholar. He was accompanied on the journey to Prague byhis mother; widowed and poor, she had no gifts of worldly wealthto bestow upon her son, but as they drew near to the great city, shekneeled down beside the fatherless youth and invoked for him theblessing of their Father in heaven. Little did that mother realize howher prayer was to be answered.

At the university, Huss soon distinguished himself by his untiringapplication and rapid progress, while his blameless life and gentle,winning deportment gained him universal esteem. He was a sincereadherent of the Roman Church and an earnest seeker for the spiritualblessings which it professes to bestow. On the occasion of a jubileehe went to confession, paid the last few coins in his scanty store,and joined in the processions, that he might share in the absolutionpromised. After completing his college course, he entered the priesthood, and rapidly attaining to eminence, he soon became attached to the court of the king. He was also made professor and afterward rector of the university where he had received his education. In a few years the humble charity scholar had become the pride of his country, and his name was renowned throughout Europe.


But it was in another field that Huss began the work of reform.Several years after taking priest’s orders he was appointed preacherof the chapel of Bethlehem. The founder of this chapel had advocated, as a matter of great importance, the preaching of the Scripturesin the language of the people. Notwithstanding Rome’s oppositionto this practice, it had not been wholly discontinued in Bohemia.But there was great ignorance of the Bible, and the worst vices prevailed among the people of all ranks. These evils Huss unsparinglydenounced, appealing to the word of God to enforce the principlesof truth and purity which he inculcated.

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A citizen of Prague, Jerome, who afterward became so closely associated with Huss, had, on returning from England, broughtwith him the writings of Wycliffe. The queen of England, who hadbeen a convert to Wycliffe’s teachings, was a Bohemian princess,and through her influence also the Reformer’s works were widelycirculated in her native country. These works Huss read with interest;he believed their author to be a sincere Christian and was inclined toregard with favor the reforms which he advocated. Already, thoughhe knew it not, Huss had entered upon a path which was to lead himfar away from Rome.

About this time there arrived in Prague two strangers from England, men of learning, who had received the light and had come tospread it in this distant land. Beginning with an open attack on thepope’s supremacy, they were soon silenced by the authorities; butbeing unwilling to relinquish their purpose, they had recourse toother measures. Being artists as well as preachers, they proceededto exercise their skill. In a place open to the public they drew twopictures. One represented the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem,“meek, and sitting upon an ass” (Matthew 21:5), and followed byHis disciples in travel-worn garments and with naked feet. The otherpicture portrayed a pontifical procession—the pope arrayed in hisrich robes and triple crown, mounted upon a horse magnificentlyadorned, preceded by trumpeters and followed by cardinals andprelates in dazzling array.

Here was a sermon which arrested the attention of all classes.Crowds came to gaze upon the drawings. None could fail to readthe moral, and many were deeply impressed by the contrast betweenthe meekness and humility of Christ the Master and the pride andarrogance of the pope, His professed servant. There was great commotion in Prague, and the strangers after a time found it necessary,for their own safety, to depart. But the lesson they had taught was notforgotten. The pictures made a deep impression on the mind of Hussand led him to a closer study of the Bible and of Wycliffe’s writings.Though he was not prepared, even yet, to accept all the reformsadvocated by Wycliffe, he saw more clearly the true character of thepapacy, and with greater zeal denounced the pride, the ambition, andthe corruption of the hierarchy.

From Bohemia the light extended to Germany, for disturbancesin the University of Prague caused the withdrawal of hundreds ofGerman students. Many of them had received from Huss their firstknowledge of the Bible, and on their return they spread the gospel in their fatherland.


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Tidings of the work at Prague were carried to Rome, and Husswas soon summoned to appear before the pope. To obey would be toexpose himself to certain death. The king and queen of Bohemia, theuniversity, members of the nobility, and officers of the governmentunited in an appeal to the pontiff that Huss be permitted to remain atPrague and to answer at Rome by deputy. Instead of granting thisrequest, the pope proceeded to the trial and condemnation of Huss,and then declared the city of Prague to be under interdict.

In that age this sentence, whenever pronounced, createdwidespread alarm. The ceremonies by which it was accompaniedwere well adapted to strike terror to a people who looked uponthe pope as the representative of God Himself, holding the keys ofheaven and hell, and possessing power to invoke temporal as well asspiritual judgments. It was believed that the gates of heaven wereclosed against the region smitten with interdict; that until it shouldplease the pope to remove the ban, the dead were shut out from theabodes of bliss. In token of this terrible calamity, all the servicesof religion were suspended. The churches were closed. Marriageswere solemnized in the churchyard. The dead, denied burial in consecrated ground, were interred, without the rites of sepulture, inthe ditches or the fields. Thus by measures which appealed to theimagination, Rome essayed to control the consciences of men.

The city of Prague was filled with tumult. A large class denounced Huss as the cause of all their calamities and demanded thathe be given up to the vengeance of Rome. To quiet the storm, theReformer withdrew for a time to his native village. Writing to thefriends whom he had left at Prague, he said: “If I have withdrawnfrom the midst of you, it is to follow the precept and example ofJesus Christ, in order not to give room to the ill-minded to draw onthemselves eternal condemnation, and in order not to be to the piousa cause of affliction and persecution. I have retired also throughan apprehension that impious priests might continue for a longertime to prohibit the preaching of the word of God amongst you;but I have not quitted you to deny the divine truth, for which, withGod’s assistance, I am willing to die.”—Bonnechose, The ReformersBefore the Reformation, vol. 1, p. 87.

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Huss did not cease his labors,but traveled through the surrounding country, preaching to eagercrowds. Thus the measures to which the pope resorted to suppressthe gospel were causing it to be the more widely extended. “We cando nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” 2 Corinthians 13:8.

“The mind of Huss, at this stage of his career, would seem to havebeen the scene of a painful conflict. Although the church was seekingto overwhelm him by her thunderbolts, he had not renounced herauthority. The Roman Church was still to him the spouse of Christ,and the pope was the representative and vicar of God. What Husswas warring against was the abuse of authority, not the principleitself. This brought on a terrible conflict between the convictions ofhis understanding and the claims of his conscience. If the authoritywas just and infallible, as he believed it to be, how came it that hefelt compelled to disobey it? To obey, he saw, was to sin; but whyshould obedience to an infallible church lead to such an issue? Thiswas the problem he could not solve; this was the doubt that torturedhim hour by hour. The nearest approximation to a solution which hewas able to make was that it had happened again, as once before inthe days of the Saviour, that the priests of the church had becomewicked persons and were using their lawful authority for unlawfulends. This led him to adopt for his own guidance, and to preach toothers for theirs, the maxim that the precepts of Scripture, conveyedthrough the understanding, are to rule the conscience; in other words,that God speaking in the Bible, and not the church speaking throughthe priesthood, is the one infallible guide.”—Wylie, b. 3, ch. 2.

When after a time the excitement in Prague subsided, Hussreturned to his chapel of Bethlehem, to continue with greater zeal andcourage the preaching of the word of God. His enemies were activeand powerful, but the queen and many of the nobles were his friends,and the people in great numbers sided with him. Comparing his pureand elevating teachings and holy life with the degrading dogmaswhich the Romanists preached, and the avarice and debaucherywhich they practiced, many regarded it an honor to be on his side.

Hitherto Huss had stood alone in his labors; but now Jerome, whowhile in England had accepted the teachings of Wycliffe, joined inthe work of reform. The two were hereafter united in their lives, andin death they were not to be divided. Brilliancy of genius, eloquenceand learning—gifts that win popular favor—were possessed in a preeminent degree by Jerome; but in those qualities which constitute real strength of character, Huss was the greater. His calm judgment served as a restraint upon the impulsive spirit of Jerome, who, with true humility, perceived his worth, and yielded to his counsels. Under their united labors the reform was more rapidly extended.


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God permitted great light to shine upon the minds of these chosenmen, revealing to them many of the errors of Rome; but they didnot receive all the light that was to be given to the world. Throughthese, His servants, God was leading the people out of the darknessof Romanism; but there were many and great obstacles for them tomeet, and He led them on, step by step, as they could bear it. Theywere not prepared to receive all the light at once. Like the full gloryof the noontide sun to those who have long dwelt in darkness, itwould, if presented, have caused them to turn away. Therefore Herevealed it to the leaders little by little, as it could be received bythe people. From century to century, other faithful workers were tofollow, to lead the people on still further in the path of reform.

The schism in the church still continued. Three popes were nowcontending for the supremacy, and their strife filled Christendomwith crime and tumult. Not content with hurling anathemas, theyresorted to temporal weapons. Each cast about him to purchase armsand to obtain soldiers. Of course money must be had; and to procurethis, the gifts, offices, and blessings of the church were offered forsale. (See Appendix note for page 59.) The priests also, imitatingtheir superiors, resorted to simony and war to humble their rivalsand strengthen their own power. With daily increasing boldnessHuss thundered against the abominations which were tolerated inthe name of religion; and the people openly accused the Romishleaders as the cause of the miseries that overwhelmed Christendom.

Again the city of Prague seemed on the verge of a bloody conflict.As in former ages, God’s servant was accused as “he that troublethIsrael.” 1 Kings 18:17. The city was again placed under interdict,and Huss withdrew to his native village. The testimony so faithfullyborne from his loved chapel of Bethlehem was ended. He was tospeak from a wider stage, to all Christendom, before laying downhis life as a witness for the truth.

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To cure the evils that were distracting Europe, a general council was summoned to meet at Constance. The council was called at thedesire of the emperor Sigismund, by one of the three rival popes,John XXIII. The demand for a council had been far from welcometo Pope John, whose character and policy could ill bear investigation,even by prelates as lax in morals as were the churchmen of thosetimes. He dared not, however, oppose the will of Sigismund. (SeeAppendix.)

The chief objects to be accomplished by the council were toheal the schism in the church and to root out heresy. Hence the twoantipopes were summoned to appear before it, as well as the leadingpropagator of the new opinions, John Huss. The former, havingregard to their own safety, did not attend in person, but were represented by their delegates. Pope John, while ostensibly the convokerof the council, came to it with many misgivings, suspecting theemperor’s secret purpose to depose him, and fearing to be broughtto account for the vices which had disgraced the tiara, as well asfor the crimes which had secured it. Yet he made his entry into thecity of Constance with great pomp, attended by ecclesiastics of thehighest rank and followed by a train of courtiers. All the clergyand dignitaries of the city, with an immense crowd of citizens, wentout to welcome him. Above his head was a golden canopy, borneby four of the chief magistrates. The host was carried before him,and the rich dresses of the cardinals and nobles made an imposingdisplay.

Meanwhile another traveler was approaching Constance. Husswas conscious of the dangers which threatened him. He parted fromhis friends as if he were never to meet them again, and went on hisjourney feeling that it was leading him to the stake. Notwithstandinghe had obtained a safe-conduct from the king of Bohemia, andreceived one also from the emperor Sigismund while on his journey,he made all his arrangements in view of the probability of his death.

In a letter addressed to his friends at Prague he said: “Mybrethren, ... I am departing with a safe-conduct from the king tomeet my numerous and mortal enemies.... I confide altogether in theall-powerful God, in my Saviour; I trust that He will listen to yourardent prayers, that He will infuse His prudence and His wisdom intomy mouth, in order that I may resist them; and that He will accordme His Holy Spirit to fortify me in His truth, so that I may facewith courage, temptations, prison, and, if necessary, a cruel death.


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Jesus Christ suffered for His well-beloved; and therefore ought weto be astonished that He has left us His example, in order that wemay ourselves endure with patience all things for our own salvation?He is God, and we are His creatures; He is the Lord, and we areHis servants; He is Master of the world, and we are contemptiblemortals—yet He suffered! Why, then, should we not suffer also, particularly when suffering is for us a purification? Therefore, beloved,if my death ought to contribute to His glory, pray that it may comequickly, and that He may enable me to support all my calamities withconstancy. But if it be better that I return amongst you, let us pray toGod that I may return without stain—that is, that I may not suppressone tittle of the truth of the gospel, in order to leave my brethren anexcellent example to follow. Probably, therefore, you will nevermorebehold my face at Prague; but should the will of the all-powerfulGod deign to restore me to you, let us then advance with a firmerheart in the knowledge and the love of His law.”—Bonnechose, vol.1, pp. 147, 148.

In another letter, to a priest who had become a disciple of thegospel, Huss spoke with deep humility of his own errors, accusing[106] himself “of having felt pleasure in wearing rich apparel and of havingwasted hours in frivolous occupations.” He then added these touchingadmonitions: “May the glory of God and the salvation of soulsoccupy thy mind, and not the possession of benefices and estates.Beware of adorning thy house more than thy soul; and, above all,give thy care to the spiritual edifice. Be pious and humble with thepoor, and consume not thy substance in feasting. Shouldst thou notamend thy life and refrain from superfluities, I fear that thou wilt beseverely chastened, as I am myself.... Thou knowest my doctrine, forthou hast received my instructions from thy childhood; it is thereforeuseless for me to write to thee any further. But I conjure thee, bythe mercy of our Lord, not to imitate me in any of the vanities intowhich thou hast seen me fall.” On the cover of the letter he added:“I conjure thee, my friend, not to break this seal until thou shalt haveacquired the certitude that I am dead.”—Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 148, 149.

On his journey, Huss everywhere beheld indications of the spreadof his doctrines and the favor with which his cause was regarded.The people thronged to meet him, and in some towns the magistratesattended him through their streets.

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Upon arriving at Constance, Huss was granted full liberty. Tothe emperor’s safe-conduct was added a personal assurance of protection by the pope. But, in violation of these solemn and repeateddeclarations, the Reformer was in a short time arrested, by order ofthe pope and cardinals, and thrust into a loathsome dungeon. Laterhe was transferred to a strong castle across the Rhine and there kepta prisoner. The pope, profiting little by his perfidy, was soon aftercommitted to the same prison. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 247. He had beenproved before the council to be guilty of the basest crimes, besidesmurder, simony, and adultery, “sins not fit to be named.” So thecouncil itself declared, and he was finally deprived of the tiara andthrown into prison. The antipopes also were deposed, and a newpontiff was chosen.

Though the pope himself had been guilty of greater crimes thanHuss had ever charged upon the priests, and for which he had demanded a reformation, yet the same council which degraded thepontiff proceeded to crush the Reformer. The imprisonment of Hussexcited great indignation in Bohemia. Powerful noblemen addressedto the council earnest protests against this outrage. The emperor,who was loath to permit the violation of a safe-conduct, opposedthe proceedings against him. But the enemies of the Reformer weremalignant and determined. They appealed to the emperor’s prejudices, to his fears, to his zeal for the church. They brought forwardarguments of great length to prove that “faith ought not to be keptwith heretics, nor persons suspected of heresy, though they are furnished with safe-conducts from the emperor and kings.”—JacquesLenfant, History of the Council of Constance, vol. 1, p. 516. Thusthey prevailed.

Enfeebled by illness and imprisonment,—for the damp, foul airof his dungeon had brought on a fever which nearly ended his life,—Huss was at last brought before the council. Loaded with chains hestood in the presence of the emperor, whose honor and good faithhad been pledged to protect him. During his long trial he firmlymaintained the truth, and in the presence of the assembled dignitariesof church and state he uttered a solemn and faithful protest againstthe corruptions of the hierarchy. When required to choose whether hewould recant his doctrines or suffer death, he accepted the martyr’sfate.


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The grace of God sustained him. During the weeks of sufferingthat passed before his final sentence, heaven’s peace filled his soul.“I write this letter,” he said to a friend, “in my prison, and with myfettered hand, expecting my sentence of death tomorrow.... When,with the assistance of Jesus Christ, we shall again meet in the delicious peace of the future life, you will learn how merciful God hasshown Himself toward me, how effectually He has supported me inthe midst of my temptations and trials.”—Bonnechose, vol. 2, p. 67.

In the gloom of his dungeon he foresaw the triumph of the truefaith. Returning in his dreams to the chapel at Prague where he hadpreached the gospel, he saw the pope and his bishops effacing thepictures of Christ which he had painted on its walls. “This visiondistressed him: but on the next day he saw many painters occupiedin restoring these figures in greater number and in brighter colors.As soon as their task was ended, the painters, who were surroundedby an immense crowd, exclaimed, ‘Now let the popes and bishopscome; they shall never efface them more!’” Said the Reformer, ashe related his dream: “I maintain this for certain, that the image ofChrist will never be effaced. They have wished to destroy it, but itshall be painted afresh in all hearts by much better preachers thanmyself.”—D’Aubigne, b. 1, ch. 6.

For the last time, Huss was brought before the council. It wasa vast and brilliant assembly—the emperor, the princes of the empire, the royal deputies, the cardinals, bishops, and priests, and animmense crowd who had come as spectators of the events of theday. From all parts of Christendom had been gathered the witnessesof this first great sacrifice in the long struggle by which liberty ofconscience was to be secured.

Being called upon for his final decision, Huss declared his refusalto abjure, and, fixing his penetrating glance upon the monarch whoseplighted word had been so shamelessly violated, he declared: “Idetermined, of my own free will, to appear before this council,under the public protection and faith of the emperor here present.”—Bonnechose, vol. 2, p. 84. A deep flush crimsoned the face ofSigismund as the eyes of all in the assembly turned upon him.

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Sentence having been pronounced, the ceremony of degradation began. The bishops clothed their prisoner in the sacerdotal habit, and as he took the priestly robe, he said: “Our Lord Jesus Christwas covered with a white robe, by way of insult, when Herod hadHim conducted before Pilate.”—Ibid., vol. 2, p. 86. Being againexhorted to retract, he replied, turning toward the people: “Withwhat face, then, should I behold the heavens? How should I lookon those multitudes of men to whom I have preached the puregospel? No; I esteem their salvation more than this poor body, nowappointed unto death.” The vestments were removed one by one,each bishop pronouncing a curse as he performed his part of theceremony. Finally “they put on his head a cap or pyramidal-shapedmiter of paper, on which were painted frightful figures of demons,with the word ‘Archheretic’ conspicuous in front. ‘Most joyfully,’said Huss, ‘will I wear this crown of shame for Thy sake, O Jesus,who for me didst wear a crown of thorns.’”

When he was thus arrayed, “the prelates said, ‘Now we devotethy soul to the devil.’ ‘And I,’ said John Huss, lifting up his eyestoward heaven, ‘do commit my spirit into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus,for Thou hast redeemed me.’”—Wylie, b. 3, ch. 7.

He was now delivered up to the secular authorities and led awayto the place of execution. An immense procession followed, hundreds of men at arms, priests and bishops in their costly robes, andthe inhabitants of Constance. When he had been fastened to thestake, and all was ready for the fire to be lighted, the martyr wasonce more exhorted to save himself by renouncing his errors. “Whaterrors,” said Huss, “shall I renounce? I know myself guilty of none. Icall God to witness that all that I have written and preached has beenwith the view of rescuing souls from sin and perdition; and, therefore, most joyfully will I confirm with my blood that truth which Ihave written and preached.”—Ibid., b. 3, ch. 7. When the flameskindled about him, he began to sing, “Jesus, Thou Son of David,have mercy on me,” and so continued till his voice was silencedforever.

Even his enemies were struck with his heroic bearing. A zealouspapist, describing the martyrdom of Huss, and of Jerome, who diedsoon after, said: “Both bore themselves with constant mind whentheir last hour approached. They prepared for the fire as if theywere going to a marriage feast. They uttered no cry of pain. Whenthe flames rose, they began to sing hymns; and scarce could thevehemency of the fire stop their singing.”—Ibid., b. 3, ch. 7.


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When the body of Huss had been wholly consumed, his ashes,with the soil upon which they rested, were gathered up and cast intothe Rhine, and thus borne onward to the ocean. His persecutorsvainly imagined that they had rooted out the truths he preached. Little did they dream that the ashes that day borne away to the sea wereto be as seed scattered in all the countries of the earth; that in landsyet unknown it would yield abundant fruit in witnesses for the truth.The voice which had spoken in the council hall of Constance hadwakened echoes that would be heard through all coming ages. Husswas no more, but the truths for which he died could never perish. Hisexample of faith and constancy would encourage multitudes to standfirm for the truth, in the face of torture and death. His execution hadexhibited to the whole world the perfidious cruelty of Rome. Theenemies of truth, though they knew it not, had been furthering thecause which they vainly sought to destroy.

Yet another stake was to be set up at Constance. The blood ofanother witness must testify for the truth. Jerome, upon biddingfarewell to Huss on his departure for the council, had exhortedhim to courage and firmness, declaring that if he should fall intoany peril, he himself would fly to his assistance. Upon hearingof the Reformer’s imprisonment, the faithful disciple immediatelyprepared to fulfill his promise. Without a safe-conduct he set out,with a single companion, for Constance. On arriving there he wasconvinced that he had only exposed himself to peril, without thepossibility of doing anything for the deliverance of Huss. He fledfrom the city, but was arrested on the homeward journey and broughtback loaded with fetters and under the custody of a band of soldiers.At his first appearance before the council his attempts to reply tothe accusations brought against him were met with shouts, “To theflames with him! to the flames!”—Bonnechose, vol. 1, p. 234. Hewas thrown into a dungeon, chained in a position which caused himgreat suffering, and fed on bread and water. After some months thecruelties of his imprisonment brought upon Jerome an illness thatthreatened his life, and his enemies, fearing that he might escapethem, treated him with less severity, though he remained in prisonfor one year.

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The death of Huss had not resulted as the papists had hoped. The violation of his safe-conduct had roused a storm of indignation,and as the safer course, the council determined, instead of burningJerome, to force him, if possible, to retract. He was brought beforethe assembly, and offered the alternative to recant, or to die at thestake. Death at the beginning of his imprisonment would have beena mercy in comparison with the terrible sufferings which he hadundergone; but now, weakened by illness, by the rigors of his prisonhouse, and the torture of anxiety and suspense, separated from hisfriends, and disheartened by the death of Huss, Jerome’s fortitudegave way, and he consented to submit to the council. He pledgedhimself to adhere to the Catholic faith, and accepted the actionof the council in condemning the doctrines of Wycliffe and Huss,excepting, however, the “holy truths” which they had taught.—Ibid,vol. 2, p. 141.

By this expedient Jerome endeavored to silence the voice ofconscience and escape his doom. But in the solitude of his dungeonhe saw more clearly what he had done. He thought of the courageand fidelity of Huss, and in contrast pondered upon his own denialof the truth. He thought of the divine Master whom he had pledgedhimself to serve, and who for his sake endured the death of the cross.Before his retraction he had found comfort, amid all his sufferings,in the assurance of God’s favor; but now remorse and doubts torturedhis soul. He knew that still other retractions must be made before hecould be at peace with Rome. The path upon which he was enteringcould end only in complete apostasy. His resolution was taken: Toescape a brief period of suffering he would not deny his Lord.

Soon he was again brought before the council. His submissionhad not satisfied his judges. Their thirst for blood, whetted by thedeath of Huss, clamored for fresh victims. Only by an unreservedsurrender of the truth could Jerome preserve his life. But he haddetermined to avow his faith and follow his brother martyr to theflames.

He renounced his former recantation and, as a dying man,solemnly required an opportunity to make his defense. Fearingthe effect of his words, the prelates insisted that he should merelyaffirm or deny the truth of the charges brought against him. Jeromeprotested against such cruelty and injustice. “You have held meshut up three hundred and forty days in a frightful prison,” he said,“in the midst of filth, noisomeness, stench, and the utmost want ofeverything; you then bring me out before you, and lending an ear to my mortal enemies, you refuse to hear me.... If you be really wise men, and the lights of the world, take care not to sin against justice. As to me, I am only a feeble mortal; my life is but of little importance; and when I exhort you not to deliver an unjust sentence, I speak less for myself than for you.”—Ibid.,vol. 2, pp. 146, 147.


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His request was finally granted. In the presence of his judges,Jerome kneeled down and prayed that the divine Spirit might controlhis thoughts and words, that he might speak nothing contrary to thetruth or unworthy of his Master. To him that day was fulfilled thepromise of God to the first disciples: “Ye shall be brought beforegovernors and kings for My sake.... But when they deliver you up,take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given youin that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, butthe Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Matthew 10:18-20.

The words of Jerome excited astonishment and admiration, evenin his enemies. For a whole year he had been immured in a dungeon,unable to read or even to see, in great physical suffering and mentalanxiety. Yet his arguments were presented with as much clearnessand power as if he had had undisturbed opportunity for study. Hepointed his hearers to the long line of holy men who had beencondemned by unjust judges. In almost every generation have beenthose who, while seeking to elevate the people of their time, havebeen reproached and cast out, but who in later times have beenshown to be deserving of honor. Christ Himself was condemned asa malefactor at an unrighteous tribunal.

At his retraction, Jerome had assented to the justice of the sentence condemning Huss; he now declared his repentance and borewitness to the innocence and holiness of the martyr. “I knew himfrom his childhood,” he said. “He was a most excellent man, justand holy; he was condemned, notwithstanding his innocence.... Ialso—I am ready to die: I will not recoil before the torments that areprepared for me by my enemies and false witnesses, who will oneday have to render an account of their impostures before the greatGod, whom nothing can deceive.”—Bonnechose, vol. 2, p. 151.

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In self-reproach for his own denial of the truth, Jerome continued: “Of all the sins that I have committed since my youth, none weigh so heavily on my mind, and cause me such poignant remorse, asthat which I committed in this fatal place, when I approved of theiniquitous sentence rendered against Wycliffe, and against the holymartyr, John Huss, my master and my friend. Yes! I confess it frommy heart, and declare with horror that I disgracefully quailed when,through a dread of death, I condemned their doctrines. I thereforesupplicate ... Almighty God to deign to pardon me my sins, and thisone in particular, the most heinous of all.” Pointing to his judges,he said firmly: “You condemned Wycliffe and John Huss, not forhaving shaken the doctrine of the church, but simply because theybranded with reprobation the scandals proceeding from the clergy—their pomp, their pride, and all the vices of the prelates and priests.The things which they have affirmed, and which are irrefutable, Ialso think and declare, like them.”

His words were interrupted. The prelates, trembling with rage,cried out: “What need is there of further proof? We behold with ourown eyes the most obstinate of heretics!”

Unmoved by the tempest, Jerome exclaimed: “What! do yousuppose that I fear to die? You have held me for a whole year in afrightful dungeon, more horrible than death itself. You have treatedme more cruelly than a Turk, Jew, or pagan, and my flesh has literallyrotted off my bones alive; and yet I make no complaint, for lamentation ill becomes a man of heart and spirit; but I cannot but expressmy astonishment at such great barbarity toward a Christian.”—Ibid.,vol. 2, pp. 151-153.

Again the storm of rage burst out, and Jerome was hurried awayto prison. Yet there were some in the assembly upon whom hiswords had made a deep impression and who desired to save his life.He was visited by dignitaries of the church and urged to submithimself to the council. The most brilliant prospects were presentedbefore him as the reward of renouncing his opposition to Rome.But like his Master when offered the glory of the world, Jeromeremained steadfast.

“Prove to me from the Holy Writings that I am in error,” he said,“and I will abjure it.”

“The Holy Writings!” exclaimed one of his tempters, “is everything then to be judged by them? Who can understand them till thechurch has interpreted them?”


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“Are the traditions of men more worthy of faith than the gospelof our Saviour?” replied Jerome. “Paul did not exhort those to whomhe wrote to listen to the traditions of men, but said, ‘Search theScriptures.’”

“Heretic!” was the response, “I repent having pleaded so longwith you. I see that you are urged on by the devil.”—Wylie, b. 3, ch.10.

Erelong sentence of condemnation was passed upon him. Hewas led out to the same spot upon which Huss had yielded up hislife. He went singing on his way, his countenance lighted up withjoy and peace. His gaze was fixed upon Christ, and to him deathhad lost its terrors. When the executioner, about to kindle the pile,stepped behind him, the martyr exclaimed: “Come forward boldly;apply the fire before my face. Had I been afraid, I should not behere.”

His last words, uttered as the flames rose about him, were aprayer. “Lord, Almighty Father,” he cried, “have pity on me, andpardon me my sins; for Thou knowest that I have always loved Thytruth.”—Bonnechose, vol. 2, p. 168. His voice ceased, but his lipscontinued to move in prayer. When the fire had done its work, theashes of the martyr, with the earth upon which they rested, weregathered up, and like those of Huss, were thrown into the Rhine.

So perished God’s faithful light bearers. But the light of thetruths which they proclaimed—the light of their heroic example—could not be extinguished. As well might men attempt to turn backthe sun in its course as to prevent the dawning of that day which waseven then breaking upon the world.

The execution of Huss had kindled a flame of indignation andhorror in Bohemia. It was felt by the whole nation that he had fallena prey to the malice of the priests and the treachery of the emperor.He was declared to have been a faithful teacher of the truth, and thecouncil that decreed his death was charged with the guilt of murder.His doctrines now attracted greater attention than ever before. Bythe papal edicts the writings of Wycliffe had been condemned to theflames. But those that had escaped destruction were now brought outfrom their hiding places and studied in connection with the Bible, orsuch parts of it as the people could obtain, and many were thus ledto accept the reformed faith.

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The murderers of Huss did not stand quietly by and witness thetriumph of his cause. The pope and the emperor united to crushout the movement, and the armies of Sigismund were hurled uponBohemia.

But a deliverer was raised up. Ziska, who soon after the openingof the war became totally blind, yet who was one of the ablestgenerals of his age, was the leader of the Bohemians. Trusting inthe help of God and the righteousness of their cause, that peoplewithstood the mightiest armies that could be brought against them.Again and again the emperor, raising fresh armies, invaded Bohemia,only to be ignominiously repulsed. The Hussites were raised abovethe fear of death, and nothing could stand against them. A few yearsafter the opening of the war, the brave Ziska died; but his place wasfilled by Procopius, who was an equally brave and skillful general,and in some respects a more able leader.

The enemies of the Bohemians, knowing that the blind warriorwas dead, deemed the opportunity favorable for recovering all thatthey had lost. The pope now proclaimed a crusade against the Hussites, and again an immense force was precipitated upon Bohemia,but only to suffer terrible defeat. Another crusade was proclaimed.In all the papal countries of Europe, men, money, and munitions ofwar were raised. Multitudes flocked to the papal standard, assuredthat at last an end would be made of the Hussite heretics. Confidentof victory, the vast force entered Bohemia. The people rallied torepel them. The two armies approached each other until only a riverlay between them. “The crusaders were in greatly superior force,but instead of dashing across the stream, and closing in battle withthe Hussites whom they had come so far to meet, they stood gazingin silence at those warriors.”—Wylie, b. 3, ch. 17. Then suddenly amysterious terror fell upon the host. Without striking a blow, thatmighty force broke and scattered as if dispelled by an unseen power.Great numbers were slaughtered by the Hussite army, which pursuedthe fugitives, and an immense booty fell into the hands of the victors,so that the war, instead of impoverishing, enriched the Bohemians.


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A few years later, under a new pope, still another crusade was set on foot. As before, men and means were drawn from all the papal countries of Europe. Great were the inducements held out to those who should engage in this perilous enterprise. Full forgiveness of the most heinous crimes was ensured to every crusader. All who diedin the war were promised a rich reward in heaven, and those whosurvived were to reap honor and riches on the field of battle. Againa vast army was collected, and, crossing the frontier they enteredBohemia. The Hussite forces fell back before them, thus drawingthe invaders farther and farther into the country, and leading them tocount the victory already won. At last the army of Procopius madea stand, and turning upon the foe, advanced to give them battle. Thecrusaders, now discovering their mistake, lay in their encampmentawaiting the onset. As the sound of the approaching force was heard,even before the Hussites were in sight, a panic again fell upon thecrusaders. Princes, generals, and common soldiers, casting awaytheir armor, fled in all directions. In vain the papal legate, whowas the leader of the invasion, endeavored to rally his terrified anddisorganized forces. Despite his utmost endeavors, he himself wasswept along in the tide of fugitives. The rout was complete, andagain an immense booty fell into the hands of the victors.

Thus the second time a vast army, sent forth by the most powerful nations of Europe, a host of brave, warlike men, trained andequipped for battle, fled without a blow before the defenders of asmall and hitherto feeble nation. Here was a manifestation of divinepower. The invaders were smitten with a supernatural terror. He whooverthrew the hosts of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, who put to flight thearmies of Midian before Gideon and his three hundred, who in onenight laid low the forces of the proud Assyrian, had again stretchedout His hand to wither the power of the oppressor. “There were theyin great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bonesof him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame,because God hath despised them.” Psalm 53:5.

The papal leaders, despairing of conquering by force, at lastresorted to diplomacy. A compromise was entered into, that whileprofessing to grant to the Bohemians freedom of conscience, reallybetrayed them into the power of Rome. The Bohemians had specifiedfour points as the condition of peace with Rome: the free preachingof the Bible; the right of the whole church to both the bread and thewine in the communion, and the use of the mother tongue in divineworship; the exclusion of the clergy from all secular offices andauthority; and, in cases of crime, the jurisdiction of the civil courtsover clergy and laity alike.

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The papal authorities at last “agreedthat the four articles of the Hussites should be accepted, but thatthe right of explaining them, that is, of determining their preciseimport, should belong to the council—in other words, to the popeand the emperor.”—Wylie, b. 3, ch. 18. On this basis a treaty wasentered into, and Rome gained by dissimulation and fraud what shehad failed to gain by conflict; for, placing her own interpretationupon the Hussite articles, as upon the Bible, she could pervert theirmeaning to suit her own purposes.

A large class in Bohemia, seeing that it betrayed their liberties,could not consent to the compact. Dissensions and divisions arose,leading to strife and bloodshed among themselves. In this strife thenoble Procopius fell, and the liberties of Bohemia perished.

Sigismund, the betrayer of Huss and Jerome, now became kingof Bohemia, and regardless of his oath to support the rights of theBohemians, he proceeded to establish popery. But he had gainedlittle by his subservience to Rome. For twenty years his life hadbeen filled with labors and perils. His armies had been wasted andhis treasuries drained by a long and fruitless struggle; and now, afterreigning one year, he died, leaving his kingdom on the brink of civilwar, and bequeathing to posterity a name branded with infamy.

Tumults, strife, and bloodshed were protracted. Again foreignarmies invaded Bohemia, and internal dissension continued to distract the nation. Those who remained faithful to the gospel weresubjected to a bloody persecution.

As their former brethren, entering into compact with Rome,imbibed her errors, those who adhered to the ancient faith hadformed themselves into a distinct church, taking the name of “UnitedBrethren.” This act drew upon them maledictions from all classes.Yet their firmness was unshaken. Forced to find refuge in the woodsand caves, they still assembled to read God’s word and unite in Hisworship.

Through messengers secretly sent out into different countries,they learned that here and there were “isolated confessors of thetruth, a few in this city and a few in that, the object, like themselves,of persecution; and that amid the mountains of the Alps was an ancient church, resting on the foundations of Scripture, and protestingagainst the idolatrous corruptions of Rome.”—Wylie, b. 3, ch. 19.


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This intelligence was received with great joy, and a correspondencewas opened with the Waldensian Christians.

Steadfast to the gospel, the Bohemians waited through the nightof their persecution, in the darkest hour still turning their eyes towardthe horizon like men who watch for the morning. “Their lot wascast in evil days, but ... they remembered the words first uttered byHuss, and repeated by Jerome, that a century must revolve beforethe day should break. These were to the Taborites [Hussites] whatthe words of Joseph were to the tribes in the house of bondage: ‘Idie, and God will surely visit you, and bring you out.’”—Ibid., b. 3,ch. 19. “The closing period of the fifteenth century witnessed theslow but sure increase of the churches of the Brethren. Although farfrom being unmolested, they yet enjoyed comparative rest. At thecommencement of the sixteenth century their churches numberedtwo hundred in Bohemia and Moravia.”—Ezra Hall Gillett, Life andTimes of John Huss, vol. 2, p. 570. “So goodly was the remnantwhich, escaping the destructive fury of fire and sword, was permittedto see the dawning of that day which Huss had foretold.”—Wylie, b.3, ch. 19.

Chapter 7—Luther’s Separation From Rome

Foremost among those who were called to lead the church fromthe darkness of popery into the light of a purer faith, stood MartinLuther. Zealous, ardent, and devoted, knowing no fear but the fearof God, and acknowledging no foundation for religious faith but theHoly Scriptures, Luther was the man for his time; through him Godaccomplished a great work for the reformation of the church and theenlightenment of the world.

Like the first heralds of the gospel, Luther sprang from the ranksof poverty. His early years were spent in the humble home of aGerman peasant. By daily toil as a miner his father earned the meansfor his education. He intended him for a lawyer; but God purposedto make him a builder in the great temple that was rising so slowlythrough the centuries. Hardship, privation, and severe disciplinewere the school in which Infinite Wisdom prepared Luther for theimportant mission of his life.

Luther’s father was a man of strong and active mind and greatforce of character, honest, resolute, and straightforward. He was trueto his convictions of duty, let the consequences be what they might.His sterling good sense led him to regard the monastic system withdistrust. He was highly displeased when Luther, without his consent,entered a monastery; and it was two years before the father wasreconciled to his son, and even then his opinions remained the same.

Luther’s parents bestowed great care upon the education andtraining of their children. They endeavored to instruct them in theknowledge of God and the practice of Christian virtues. The father’sprayer often ascended in the hearing of his son that the child mightremember the name of the Lord and one day aid in the advancementof His truth. Every advantage for moral or intellectual culture whichtheir life of toil permitted them to enjoy was eagerly improved bythese parents. Their efforts were earnest and persevering to preparetheir children for a life of piety and usefulness. With their firmnessand strength of character they sometimes exercised too great severity;but the Reformer himself, though conscious that in some respects they had erred, found in their discipline more to approve than to condemn.



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At school, where he was sent at an early age, Luther was treatedwith harshness and even violence. So great was the poverty of hisparents that upon going from home to school in another town he wasfor a time obliged to obtain his food by singing from door to door,and he often suffered from hunger. The gloomy, superstitious ideasof religion then prevailing filled him with fear. He would lie down atnight with a sorrowful heart, looking forward with trembling to thedark future and in constant terror at the thought of God as a stern,unrelenting judge, a cruel tyrant, rather than a kind heavenly Father.

Yet under so many and so great discouragements Luther pressedresolutely forward toward the high standard of moral and intellectualexcellence which attracted his soul. He thirsted for knowledge, andthe earnest and practical character of his mind led him to desire thesolid and useful rather than the showy and superficial.

When, at the age of eighteen, he entered the University of Erfurt,his situation was more favorable and his prospects were brighterthan in his earlier years. His parents having by thrift and industryacquired a competence, they were able to render him all neededassistance. And the influence of judicious friends had somewhatlessened the gloomy effects of his former training. He appliedhimself to the study of the best authors, diligently treasuring theirmost weighty thoughts and making the wisdom of the wise his own.Even under the harsh discipline of his former instructors he had earlygiven promise of distinction, and with favorable influences his mindrapidly developed. A retentive memory, a lively imagination, strongreasoning powers, and untiring application soon placed him in theforemost rank among his associates. Intellectual discipline ripenedhis understanding and aroused an activity of mind and a keenness ofperception that were preparing him for the conflicts of his life.

The fear of the Lord dwelt in the heart of Luther, enabling himto maintain his steadfastness of purpose and leading him to deephumility before God. He had an abiding sense of his dependenceupon divine aid, and he did not fail to begin each day with prayer,while his heart was continually breathing a petition for guidanceand support. “To pray well,” he often said, “is the better half of study.”—D’Aubigne, b. 2, ch. 2.

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While one day examining the books in the library of the university, Luther discovered a Latin Bible. Such a book he had neverbefore seen. He was ignorant even of its existence. He had heardportions of the Gospels and Epistles, which were read to the peopleat public worship, and he supposed that these were the entire Bible.Now, for the first time, he looked upon the whole of God’s word.With mingled awe and wonder he turned the sacred pages; withquickened pulse and throbbing heart he read for himself the wordsof life, pausing now and then to exclaim: “O that God would giveme such a book for myself!”—Ibid., b. 2, ch. 2. Angels of heavenwere by his side, and rays of light from the throne of God revealedthe treasures of truth to his understanding. He had ever feared tooffend God, but now the deep conviction of his condition as a sinnertook hold upon him as never before.

An earnest desire to be free from sin and to find peace with Godled him at last to enter a cloister and devote himself to a monasticlife. Here he was required to perform the lowest drudgery andto beg from house to house. He was at an age when respect andappreciation are most eagerly craved, and these menial offices weredeeply mortifying to his natural feelings; but he patiently enduredthis humiliation, believing that it was necessary because of his sins.

Every moment that could be spared from his daily duties heemployed in study, robbing himself of sleep and grudging even thetime spent at his scanty meals. Above everything else he delightedin the study of God’s word. He had found a Bible chained to theconvent wall, and to this he often repaired. As his convictions of sindeepened, he sought by his own works to obtain pardon and peace.He led a most rigorous life, endeavoring by fasting, vigils, andscourgings to subdue the evils of his nature, from which the monasticlife had brought no release. He shrank from no sacrifice by which hemight attain to that purity of heart which would enable him to standapproved before God. “I was indeed a pious monk,” he afterwardsaid, “and followed the rules of my order more strictly than I canexpress. If ever monk could obtain heaven by his monkish works, Ishould certainly have been entitled to it.... If it had continued muchlonger, I should have carried my mortifications even to death.”—Ibid.,b. 2, ch. 3. As the result of this painful discipline he lost strength and suffered from fainting spasms, from the effects of which he never fully recovered. But with all his efforts his burdened soul found no relief. He was at last driven to the verge of despair.


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When it appeared to Luther that all was lost, God raised up afriend and helper for him. The pious Staupitz opened the wordof God to Luther’s mind and bade him look away from himself,cease the contemplation of infinite punishment for the violation ofGod’s law, and look to Jesus, his sin-pardoning Saviour. “Instead oftorturing yourself on account of your sins, throw yourself into theRedeemer’s arms. Trust in Him, in the righteousness of His life, inthe atonement of His death.... Listen to the Son of God. He becameman to give you the assurance of divine favor.” “Love Him who firstloved you.”—Ibid., b. 2, ch. 4. Thus spoke this messenger of mercy.His words made a deep impression upon Luther’s mind. After manya struggle with long-cherished errors, he was enabled to grasp thetruth, and peace came to his troubled soul.

Luther was ordained a priest and was called from the cloisterto a professorship in the University of Wittenberg. Here he appliedhimself to the study of the Scriptures in the original tongues. Hebegan to lecture upon the Bible; and the book of Psalms, the Gospels,and the Epistles were opened to the understanding of crowds ofdelighted listeners. Staupitz, his friend and superior, urged him toascend the pulpit and preach the word of God. Luther hesitated,feeling himself unworthy to speak to the people in Christ’s stead. Itwas only after a long struggle that he yielded to the solicitations ofhis friends. Already he was mighty in the Scriptures, and the graceof God rested upon him. His eloquence captivated his hearers, theclearness and power with which he presented the truth convincedtheir understanding, and his fervor touched their hearts.

Luther was still a true son of the papal church and had no thoughtthat he would ever be anything else. In the providence of God hewas led to visit Rome. He pursued his journey on foot, lodging atthe monasteries on the way. At a convent in Italy he was filled withwonder at the wealth, magnificence, and luxury that he witnessed.Endowed with a princely revenue, the monks dwelt in splendidapartments, attired themselves in the richest and most costly robes,and feasted at a sumptuous table. With painful misgivings Luthercontrasted this scene with the self-denial and hardship of his own life. His mind was becoming perplexed.

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At last he beheld in the distance the seven-hilled city. With deepemotion he prostrated himself upon the earth, exclaiming: “HolyRome, I salute thee!”—Ibid., b. 2, ch. 6. He entered the city, visitedthe churches, listened to the marvelous tales repeated by priests andmonks, and performed all the ceremonies required. Everywhere helooked upon scenes that filled him with astonishment and horror. Hesaw that iniquity existed among all classes of the clergy. He heardindecent jokes from prelates, and was filled with horror at their awfulprofanity, even during mass. As he mingled with the monks andcitizens he met dissipation, debauchery. Turn where he would, inthe place of sanctity he found profanation. “No one can imagine,”he wrote, “what sins and infamous actions are committed in Rome;they must be seen and heard to be believed. Thus they are in thehabit of saying, ‘If there is a hell, Rome is built over it: it is an abysswhence issues every kind of sin.’”—Ibid., b. 2, ch. 6.

By a recent decretal an indulgence had been promised by thepope to all who should ascend upon their knees “Pilate’s staircase,”said to have been descended by our Saviour on leaving the Roman judgment hall and to have been miraculously conveyed fromJerusalem to Rome. Luther was one day devoutly climbing thesesteps, when suddenly a voice like thunder seemed to say to him:“The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17. He sprang to his feet andhastened from the place in shame and horror. That text never lostits power upon his soul. From that time he saw more clearly thanever before the fallacy of trusting to human works for salvation, andthe necessity of constant faith in the merits of Christ. His eyes hadbeen opened, and were never again to be closed, to the delusions ofthe papacy. When he turned his face from Rome he had turned awayalso in heart, and from that time the separation grew wider, until hesevered all connection with the papal church.

After his return from Rome, Luther received at the University ofWittenberg the degree of doctor of divinity. Now he was at liberty todevote himself, as never before, to the Scriptures that he loved. Hehad taken a solemn vow to study carefully and to preach with fidelitythe word of God, not the sayings and doctrines of the popes, allthe days of his life. He was no longer the mere monk or professor,but the authorized herald of the Bible.


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He had been called as ashepherd to feed the flock of God, that were hungering and thirstingfor the truth. He firmly declared that Christians should receive noother doctrines than those which rest on the authority of the SacredScriptures. These words struck at the very foundation of papalsupremacy. They contained the vital principle of the Reformation.

Luther saw the danger of exalting human theories above theword of God. He fearlessly attacked the speculative infidelity of theschoolmen and opposed the philosophy and theology which had solong held a controlling influence upon the people. He denouncedsuch studies as not only worthless but pernicious, and sought to turnthe minds of his hearers from the sophistries of philosophers andtheologians to the eternal truths set forth by prophets and apostles.

Precious was the message which he bore to the eager crowdsthat hung upon his words. Never before had such teachings fallenupon their ears. The glad tidings of a Saviour’s love, the assuranceof pardon and peace through His atoning blood, rejoiced their heartsand inspired within them an immortal hope. At Wittenberg a lightwas kindled whose rays should extend to the uttermost parts of theearth, and which was to increase in brightness to the close of time.

But light and darkness cannot harmonize. Between truth anderror there is an irrepressible conflict. To uphold and defend the oneis to attack and overthrow the other. Our Saviour Himself declared:“I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. Said Luther,a few years after the opening of the Reformation: “God does notguide me, He pushes me forward. He carries me away. I am notmaster of myself. I desire to live in repose; but I am thrown into themidst of tumults and revolutions.”—D’Aubigne, b. 5, ch. 2. He wasnow about to be urged into the contest.

The Roman Church had made merchandise of the grace of God.The tables of the money-changers (Matthew 21:12) were set upbeside her altars, and the air resounded with the shouts of buyers andsellers. Under the plea of raising funds for the erection of St. Peter’sChurch at Rome, indulgences for sin were publicly offered for saleby the authority of the pope. By the price of crime a temple was tobe built up for God’s worship—the cornerstone laid with the wagesof iniquity! But the very means adopted for Rome’s aggrandizementprovoked the deadliest blow to her power and greatness. It was thisthat aroused the most determined and successful of the enemies of popery, and led to the battle which shook the papal throne and jostled the triple crown upon the pontiff’s head.

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The official appointed to conduct the sale of indulgences in Germany—Tetzel by name—had been convicted of the basest offensesagainst society and against the law of God; but having escaped thepunishment due for his crimes, he was employed to further the mercenary and unscrupulous projects of the pope. With great effronteryhe repeated the most glaring falsehoods and related marvelous talesto deceive an ignorant, credulous, and superstitious people. Had theypossessed the word of God they would not have been thus deceived.It was to keep them under the control of the papacy, in order to swellthe power and wealth of her ambitious leaders, that the Bible hadbeen withheld from them. (See John C. L. Gieseler, A Compendiumof Ecclesiastical History, per. 4, sec. 1, par. 5.)

As Tetzel entered a town, a messenger went before him, announcing: “The grace of God and of the holy father is at yourgates.”—D’Aubigne, b. 3, ch. 1. And the people welcomed theblasphemous pretender as if he were God Himself come down fromheaven to them. The infamous traffic was set up in the church, andTetzel, ascending the pulpit, extolled the indulgences as the mostprecious gift of God. He declared that by virtue of his certificatesof pardon all the sins which the purchaser should afterward desireto commit would be forgiven him, and that “not even repentanceis necessary.”—Ibid., b. 3, ch. 1. More than this, he assured hishearers that the indulgences had power to save not only the livingbut the dead; that the very moment the money should clink againstthe bottom of his chest, the soul in whose behalf it had been paidwould escape from purgatory and make its way to heaven. (See K.R. Hagenbach, History of the Reformation, vol. 1, p. 96.)

When Simon Magus offered to purchase of the apostles thepower to work miracles, Peter answered him: “Thy money perishwith thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may bepurchased with money.” Acts 8:20. But Tetzel’s offer was graspedby eager thousands. Gold and silver flowed into his treasury. Asalvation that could be bought with money was more easily obtainedthan that which requires repentance, faith, and diligent effort to resistand overcome sin. (See Appendix note for page 59.)


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The doctrine of indulgences had been opposed by men of learning and piety in the Roman Church, and there were many who hadno faith in pretensions so contrary to both reason and revelation.No prelate dared lift his voice against this iniquitous traffic; but theminds of men were becoming disturbed and uneasy, and many eagerly inquired if God would not work through some instrumentalityfor the purification of His church.

Luther, though still a papist of the straitest sort, was filled withhorror at the blasphemous assumptions of the indulgence mongers.Many of his own congregation had purchased certificates of pardon,and they soon began to come to their pastor, confessing their varioussins, and expecting absolution, not because they were penitent andwished to reform, but on the ground of the indulgence. Lutherrefused them absolution, and warned them that unless they shouldrepent and reform their lives, they must perish in their sins.


Ingreat perplexity they repaired to Tetzel with the complaint that theirconfessor had refused his certificates; and some boldly demandedthat their money be returned to them. The friar was filled with rage.He uttered the most terrible curses, caused fires to be lighted in thepublic squares, and declared that he “had received an order fromthe pope to burn all heretics who presumed to oppose his most holyindulgences.”—D’Aubigne, b. 3, ch. 4.

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Luther now entered boldly upon his work as a champion ofthe truth. His voice was heard from the pulpit in earnest, solemnwarning. He set before the people the offensive character of sin, andtaught them that it is impossible for man, by his own works, to lessenits guilt or evade its punishment. Nothing but repentance towardGod and faith in Christ can save the sinner. The grace of Christcannot be purchased; it is a free gift. He counseled the people notto buy indulgences, but to look in faith to a crucified Redeemer. Herelated his own painful experience in vainly seeking by humiliationand penance to secure salvation, and assured his hearers that it wasby looking away from himself and believing in Christ that he foundpeace and joy.

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As Tetzel continued his traffic and his impious pretensions, Luther determined upon a more effectual protest against these crying abuses. An occasion soon offered. The castle church of Wittenberg possessed many relics, which on certain holy days were exhibited tothe people, and full remission of sins was granted to all who thenvisited the church and made confession. Accordingly on these daysthe people in great numbers resorted thither. One of the most important of these occasions, the festival of All Saints, was approaching.On the preceding day, Luther, joining the crowds that were alreadymaking their way to the church, posted on its door a paper containing ninety-five propositions against the doctrine of indulgences.He declared his willingness to defend these theses next day at theuniversity, against all who should see fit to attack them.

His propositions attracted universal attention. They were readand reread, and repeated in every direction. Great excitement wascreated in the university and in the whole city. By these theses itwas shown that the power to grant the pardon of sin, and to remitits penalty, had never been committed to the pope or to any otherman. The whole scheme was a farce,—an artifice to extort moneyby playing upon the superstitions of the people,—a device of Satanto destroy the souls of all who should trust to its lying pretensions. Itwas also clearly shown that the gospel of Christ is the most valuabletreasure of the church, and that the grace of God, therein revealed,is freely bestowed upon all who seek it by repentance and faith.

Luther’s theses challenged discussion; but no one dared acceptthe challenge. The questions which he proposed had in a few daysspread through all Germany, and in a few weeks they had soundedthroughout Christendom. Many devoted Romanists, who had seenand lamented the terrible iniquity prevailing in the church, but hadnot known how to arrest its progress, read the propositions withgreat joy, recognizing in them the voice of God. They felt that theLord had graciously set His hand to arrest the rapidly swelling tideof corruption that was issuing from the see of Rome. Princes andmagistrates secretly rejoiced that a check was to be put upon thearrogant power which denied the right of appeal from its decisions.

But the sin-loving and superstitious multitudes were terrified asthe sophistries that had soothed their fears were swept away. Craftyecclesiastics, interrupted in their work of sanctioning crime, andseeing their gains endangered, were enraged, and rallied to upholdtheir pretensions. The Reformer had bitter accusers to meet. Somecharged him with acting hastily and from impulse. Others accusedhim of presumption, declaring that he was not directed of God, butwas acting from pride and forwardness.



“Who does not know,” heresponded, “that a man rarely puts forth any new idea without havingsome appearance of pride, and without being accused of excitingquarrels? ... Why were Christ and all the martyrs put to death?Because they seemed to be proud contemners of the wisdom ofthe time, and because they advanced novelties without having firsthumbly taken counsel of the oracles of the ancient opinions.”

Again he declared: “Whatever I do will be done, not by theprudence of men, but by the counsel of God. If the work be ofGod, who shall stop it? if it be not, who can forward it? Not mywill, nor theirs, nor ours; but Thy will, O holy Father, which art inheaven.”—Ibid., b. 3, ch. 6.

Though Luther had been moved by the Spirit of God to begin hiswork, he was not to carry it forward without severe conflicts. Thereproaches of his enemies, their misrepresentation of his purposes,and their unjust and malicious reflections upon his character andmotives, came in upon him like an overwhelming flood; and theywere not without effect. He had felt confident that the leaders ofthe people, both in the church and in the schools, would gladlyunite with him in efforts for reform. Words of encouragement fromthose in high position had inspired him with joy and hope. Alreadyin anticipation he had seen a brighter day dawning for the church.But encouragement had changed to reproach and condemnation.Many dignitaries, of both church and state, were convicted of thetruthfulness of his theses; but they soon saw that the acceptance ofthese truths would involve great changes. To enlighten and reformthe people would be virtually to undermine the authority of Rome,to stop thousands of streams now flowing into her treasury, and thusgreatly to curtail the extravagance and luxury of the papal leaders.Furthermore, to teach the people to think and act as responsiblebeings, looking to Christ alone for salvation, would overthrow thepontiff’s throne and eventually destroy their own authority. Forthis reason they refused the knowledge tendered them of God andarrayed themselves against Christ and the truth by their oppositionto the man whom He had sent to enlighten them.


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Luther trembled as he looked upon himself—one man opposed to the mightiest powers of earth. He sometimes doubted whether he had indeed been led of God to set himself against the authority ofthe church. “Who was I,” he writes, “to oppose the majesty of thepope, before whom ... the kings of the earth and the whole worldtrembled? ... No one can know what my heart suffered during thesefirst two years, and into what despondency, I may say into whatdespair, I was sunk.”—Ibid., b. 3, ch. 6. But he was not left tobecome utterly disheartened. When human support failed, he lookedto God alone and learned that he could lean in perfect safety uponthat all-powerful arm.

To a friend of the Reformation Luther wrote: “We cannot attainto the understanding of Scripture either by study or by the intellect.Your first duty is to begin by prayer. Entreat the Lord to grant you,of His great mercy, the true understanding of His word. There is noother interpreter of the word of God than the Author of this word,as He Himself has said, ‘They shall be all taught of God.’ Hope fornothing from your own labors, from your own understanding: trustsolely in God, and in the influence of His Spirit. Believe this on theword of a man who has had experience.”—Ibid., b. 3, ch. 7. Here isa lesson of vital importance to those who feel that God has calledthem to present to others the solemn truths for this time. These truthswill stir the enmity of Satan and of men who love the fables that hehas devised. In the conflict with the powers of evil there is need ofsomething more than strength of intellect and human wisdom.

When enemies appealed to custom and tradition, or to the assertions and authority of the pope, Luther met them with the Bible andthe Bible only. Here were arguments which they could not answer;therefore the slaves of formalism and superstition clamored for hisblood, as the Jews had clamored for the blood of Christ. “He is aheretic,“ cried the Roman zealots. “It is high treason against thechurch to allow so horrible a heretic to live one hour longer. Letthe scaffold be instantly erected for him!”—Ibid., b. 3, ch. 9. ButLuther did not fall a prey to their fury. God had a work for him to do,and angels of heaven were sent to protect him. Many, however, whohad received from Luther the precious light were made the objectsof Satan’s wrath and for the truth’s sake fearlessly suffered tortureand death.


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Luther’s teachings attracted the attention of thoughtful minds throughout all Germany. From his sermons and writings issued beams of light which awakened and illuminated thousands. A livingfaith was taking the place of the dead formalism in which the churchhad so long been held. The people were daily losing confidencein the superstitions of Romanism. The barriers of prejudice weregiving way. The word of God, by which Luther tested every doctrineand every claim, was like a two-edged sword, cutting its way to thehearts of the people. Everywhere there was awakening a desire forspiritual progress. Everywhere was such a hungering and thirstingafter righteousness as had not been known for ages. The eyes of thepeople, so long directed to human rites and earthly mediators, werenow turning in penitence and faith to Christ and Him crucified.

This widespread interest aroused still further the fears of thepapal authorities. Luther received a summons to appear at Rometo answer to the charge of heresy. The command filled his friendswith terror. They knew full well the danger that threatened him inthat corrupt city, already drunk with the blood of the martyrs ofJesus. They protested against his going to Rome and requested thathe receive his examination in Germany.

This arrangement was finally effected, and the pope’s legate wasappointed to hear the case. In the instructions communicated by thepontiff to this official, it was stated that Luther had already beendeclared a heretic. The legate was therefore charged “to prosecuteand constrain without any delay.” If he should remain steadfast,and the legate should fail to gain possession of his person, he wasempowered “to proscribe him in every part of Germany; to banish,curse, and excommunicate all those who are attached to him.”—Ibid., b. 4, ch. 2. And, further, the pope directed his legate, in orderentirely to root out the pestilent heresy, to excommunicate all, ofwhatever dignity in church or state, except the emperor, who shouldneglect to seize Luther and his adherents, and deliver them up to thevengeance of Rome.

Here is displayed the true spirit of popery. Not a trace of Christian principle, or even of common justice, is to be seen in the wholedocument. Luther was at a great distance from Rome; he had hadno opportunity to explain or defend his position; yet before his casehad been investigated, he was summarily pronounced a heretic, andin the same day, exhorted, accused, judged, and condemned; andall this by the self-styled holy father, the only supreme, infallibleauthority in church or state!

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At this time, when Luther so much needed the sympathy andcounsel of a true friend, God’s providence sent Melanchthon toWittenberg. Young in years, modest and diffident in his manners,Melanchthon’s sound judgment, extensive knowledge, and winningeloquence, combined with the purity and uprightness of his character,won universal admiration and esteem. The brilliancy of his talentswas not more marked than his gentleness of disposition. He soonbecame an earnest disciple of the gospel, and Luther’s most trustedfriend and valued supporter; his gentleness, caution, and exactnessserving as a complement to Luther’s courage and energy. Theirunion in the work added strength to the Reformation and was asource of great encouragement to Luther.

Augsburg had been fixed upon as the place of trial, and theReformer set out on foot to perform the journey thither. Serious fearswere entertained in his behalf. Threats had been made openly thathe would be seized and murdered on the way, and his friends beggedhim not to venture. They even entreated him to leave Wittenbergfor a time and find safety with those who would gladly protect him.But he would not leave the position where God had placed him.He must continue faithfully to maintain the truth, notwithstandingthe storms that were beating upon him. His language was: “I amlike Jeremiah, a man of strife and contention; but the more theirthreats increase, the more my joy is multiplied.... They have alreadydestroyed my honor and my reputation. One single thing remains;it is my wretched body: let them take it; they will thus shorten mylife by a few hours. But as for my soul, they cannot take that. Hewho desires to proclaim the word of Christ to the world, must expectdeath at every moment.”—Ibid., b. 4, ch. 4.

The tidings of Luther’s arrival at Augsburg gave great satisfactionto the papal legate. The troublesome heretic who was exciting theattention of the whole world seemed now in the power of Rome, andthe legate determined that he should not escape. The Reformer hadfailed to provide himself with a safe-conduct. His friends urged himnot to appear before the legate without one, and they themselvesundertook to procure it from the emperor. The legate intended toforce Luther, if possible, to retract, or, failing in this, to cause himto be conveyed to Rome, to share the fate of Huss and Jerome.Therefore through his agents he endeavored to induce Luther toappear without a safe-conduct, trusting himself to his mercy. This the Reformer firmly declined to do. Not until he had received the document pledging him the emperor’s protection, did he appear in the presence of the papal ambassador.


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As a matter of policy, the Romanists had decided to attemptto win Luther by an appearance of gentleness. The legate, in hisinterviews with him, professed great friendliness; but he demandedthat Luther submit implicitly to the authority of the church, andyield every point without argument or question. He had not rightlyestimated the character of the man with whom he had to deal. Luther,in reply, expressed his regard for the church, his desire for the truth,his readiness to answer all objections to what he had taught, and tosubmit his doctrines to the decision of certain leading universities.But at the same time he protested against the cardinal’s course inrequiring him to retract without having proved him in error.

The only response was: “Retract, retract!” The Reformer showedthat his position was sustained by the Scriptures and firmly declaredthat he could not renounce the truth. The legate, unable to reply toLuther’s arguments, overwhelmed him with a storm of reproaches,gibes, and flattery, interspersed with quotations from tradition andthe sayings of the Fathers, granting the Reformer no opportunity tospeak. Seeing that the conference, thus continued, would be utterlyfutile, Luther finally obtained a reluctant permission to present hisanswer in writing.

“In so doing,” said he, writing to a friend, “the oppressed finddouble gain; first, what is written may be submitted to the judgmentof others; and second, one has a better chance of working on thefears, if not on the conscience, of an arrogant and babbling despot,who would otherwise overpower by his imperious language.”—Martyn, The Life and Times of Luther, pages 271, 272.

At the next interview, Luther presented a clear, concise, andforcible exposition of his views, fully supported by many quotationsfrom Scripture. This paper, after reading aloud, he handed to thecardinal, who, however, cast it contemptuously aside, declaringit to be a mass of idle words and irrelevant quotations. Luther,fully aroused, now met the haughty prelate on his own ground—thetraditions and teachings of the church—and utterly overthrew hisassumptions.

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When the prelate saw that Luther’s reasoning was unanswerable,he lost all self-control, and in a rage cried out: “Retract! or I willsend you to Rome, there to appear before the judges commissionedto take cognizance of your cause. I will excommunicate you andall your partisans, and all who shall at any time countenance you,and will cast them out of the church.” And he finally declared, in ahaughty and angry tone: “Retract, or return no more.”—D’Aubigne,London ed., b. 4, ch. 8.

The Reformer promptly withdrew with his friends, thus declaringplainly that no retraction was to be expected from him. This wasnot what the cardinal had purposed. He had flattered himself that byviolence he could awe Luther to submission. Now, left alone withhis supporters, he looked from one to another in utter chagrin at theunexpected failure of his schemes.

Luther’s efforts on this occasion were not without good results.The large assembly present had opportunity to compare the two men,and to judge for themselves of the spirit manifested by them, as wellas of the strength and truthfulness of their positions. How markedthe contrast! The Reformer, simple, humble, firm, stood up in thestrength of God, having truth on his side; the pope’s representative,self-important, overbearing, haughty, and unreasonable, was without a single argument from the Scriptures, yet vehemently crying:“Retract, or be sent to Rome for punishment.”

Notwithstanding Luther had secured a safe-conduct, the Romanists were plotting to seize and imprison him. His friends urged thatas it was useless for him to prolong his stay, he should return toWittenberg without delay, and that the utmost caution should beobserved in order to conceal his intentions. He accordingly leftAugsburg before day-break, on horseback, accompanied only by aguide furnished him by the magistrate. With many forebodings hesecretly made his way through the dark and silent streets of the city.Enemies, vigilant and cruel, were plotting his destruction. Would heescape the snares prepared for him? Those were moments of anxietyand earnest prayer. He reached a small gate in the wall of the city. Itwas opened for him, and with his guide he passed through withouthindrance. Once safely outside, the fugitives hastened their flight,and before the legate learned of Luther’s departure, he was beyondthe reach of his persecutors. Satan and his emissaries were defeated.

The man whom they had thought in their power was gone, escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowler.


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At the news of Luther’s escape the legate was overwhelmed withsurprise and anger. He had expected to receive great honor for hiswisdom and firmness in dealing with this disturber of the church;but his hope was disappointed. He gave expression to his wrath in aletter to Frederick, the elector of Saxony, bitterly denouncing Lutherand demanding that Frederick send the Reformer to Rome or banishhim from Saxony.

In defense, Luther urged that the legate or the pope show himhis errors from the Scriptures, and pledged himself in the mostsolemn manner to renounce his doctrines if they could be shown tocontradict the word of God. And he expressed his gratitude to Godthat he had been counted worthy to suffer in so holy a cause.

The elector had, as yet, little knowledge of the reformed doctrines, but he was deeply impressed by the candor, force, and clearness of Luther’s words; and until the Reformer should be provedto be in error, Frederick resolved to stand as his protector. In replyto the legate’s demand he wrote: “Since Dr. Martin has appearedbefore you at Augsburg, you should be satisfied. We did not expectthat you would endeavor to make him retract without having convinced him of his errors. None of the learned men in our principalityhave informed me that Martin’s doctrine is impious, anti-christian,or heretical.’ The prince refused, moreover, to send Luther to Rome,or to expel him from his states.”—D’Aubigne, b. 4, ch. 10.

The elector saw that there was a general breaking down of themoral restraints of society. A great work of reform was needed.The complicated and expensive arrangements to restrain and punishcrime would be unnecessary if men but acknowledged and obeyedthe requirements of God and the dictates of an enlightened conscience. He saw that Luther was laboring to secure this object, andhe secretly rejoiced that a better influence was making itself felt inthe church.

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He saw also that as a professor in the university Luther was eminently successful. Only a year had passed since the Reformer posted his theses on the castle church, yet there was already a great falling off in the number of pilgrims that visited the church at the festival of All Saints. Rome had been deprived of worshipers andofferings, but their place was filled by another class, who now cameto Wittenberg, not pilgrims to adore her relics, but students to fill herhalls of learning. The writings of Luther had kindled everywhere anew interest in the Holy Scriptures, and not only from all parts ofGermany, but from other lands, students flocked to the university.Young men, coming in sight of Wittenberg for the first time, “raisedtheir hands to heaven, and praised God for having caused the lightof truth to shine forth from this city, as from Zion in times of old,and whence it spread even to the most distant countries.”—Ibid., b.4, ch. 10.

Luther was as yet but partially converted from the errors ofRomanism. But as he compared the Holy Oracles with the papaldecrees and constitutions, he was filled with wonder. “I am reading,”he wrote, “the decrees of the pontiffs, and ... I do not know whetherthe pope is antichrist himself, or his apostle, so greatly is Christmisrepresented and crucified in them.”—Ibid., b. 5, ch. 1. Yet at thistime Luther was still a supporter of the Roman Church, and had nothought that he would ever separate from her communion.

The Reformer’s writings and his doctrine were extending toevery nation in Christendom. The work spread to Switzerland andHolland. Copies of his writings found their way to France andSpain. In England his teachings were received as the word of life.To Belgium and Italy also the truth had extended. Thousands wereawakening from their deathlike stupor to the joy and hope of a lifeof faith.

Rome became more and more exasperated by the attacks ofLuther, and it was declared by some of his fanatical opponents,even by doctors in Catholic universities, that he who should kill therebellious monk would be without sin. One day a stranger, with apistol hidden under his cloak, approached the Reformer and inquiredwhy he went thus alone. “I am in God’s hands,” answered Luther.“He is my strength and my shield. What can man do unto me?”—Ibid., b. 6, ch. 2. Upon hearing these words, the stranger turned paleand fled away as from the presence of the angels of heaven.


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Rome was bent upon the destruction of Luther; but God was his defense. His doctrines were heard everywhere—“in cottages and convents, ... in the castles of the nobles, in the universities, and inthe palaces of kings;” and noble men were rising on every hand tosustain his efforts.—Ibid., b. 6, ch. 2.

It was about this time that Luther, reading the works of Huss,found that the great truth of justification by faith, which he himselfwas seeking to uphold and teach, had been held by the BohemianReformer. “We have all,” said Luther, “Paul, Augustine, and myself,been Hussites without knowing it!” “God will surely visit it uponthe world,” he continued, “that the truth was preached to it a centuryago, and burned!”—Wylie, b. 6, ch. 1

In an appeal to the emperor and nobility of Germany in behalf ofthe reformation of Christianity, Luther wrote concerning the pope:“It is a horrible thing to behold the man who styles himself Christ’svicegerent, displaying a magnificence that no emperor can equal. Isthis being like the poor Jesus, or the humble Peter? He is, say they,the lord of the world! But Christ, whose vicar he boasts of being,has said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ Can the dominions of avicar extend beyond those of his superior?”—D’Aubigne, b. 6, ch.3.

He wrote thus of the universities: “I am much afraid that theuniversities will prove to be the great gates of hell, unless theydiligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engravingthem in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his childwhere the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution inwhich men are not unceasingly occupied with the word of God mustbecome corrupt.”—Ibid., b. 6, ch. 3.

This appeal was rapidly circulated throughout Germany andexerted a powerful influence upon the people. The whole nation wasstirred, and multitudes were roused to rally around the standard ofreform. Luther’s opponents, burning with a desire for revenge, urgedthe pope to take decisive measures against him. It was decreed thathis doctrines should be immediately condemned. Sixty days weregranted the Reformer and his adherents, after which, if they did notrecant, they were all to be excommunicated.

That was a terrible crisis for the Reformation. For centuriesRome’s sentence of excommunication had struck terror to powerfulmonarchs; it had filled mighty empires with woe and desolation.Those upon whom its condemnation fell were universally regardedwith dread and horror; they were cut off from intercourse with theirfellows and treated as outlaws, to be hunted to extermination.

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Lutherwas not blind to the tempest about to burst upon him; but he stoodfirm, trusting in Christ to be his support and shield. With a martyr’sfaith and courage he wrote: “What is about to happen I know not, nordo I care to know.... Let the blow light where it may, I am withoutfear. Not so much as a leaf falls, without the will of our Father. Howmuch rather will He care for us! It is a light thing to die for theWord, since the Word which was made flesh hath Himself died. Ifwe die with Him, we shall live with Him; and passing through thatwhich He has passed through before us, we shall be where He is anddwell with Him forever.”—Ibid., 3d London ed., Walther, 1840, b.6, ch. 9.

When the papal bull reached Luther, he said: “I despise andattack it, as impious, false.... It is Christ Himself who is condemnedtherein.... I rejoice in having to bear such ills for the best of causes.Already I feel greater liberty in my heart; for at last I know that thepope is antichrist, and that his throne is that of Satan himself.”—D’Aubigne, b. 6, ch. 9.

Yet the mandate of Rome was not without effect. Prison, torture,and sword were weapons potent to enforce obedience. The weak andsuperstitious trembled before the decree of the pope; and while therewas general sympathy for Luther, many felt that life was too dear tobe risked in the cause of reform. Everything seemed to indicate thatthe Reformer’s work was about to close.

But Luther was fearless still. Rome had hurled her anathemasagainst him, and the world looked on, nothing doubting that he wouldperish or be forced to yield. But with terrible power he flung backupon herself the sentence of condemnation and publicly declaredhis determination to abandon her forever. In the presence of a crowdof students, doctors, and citizens of all ranks Luther burned thepope’s bull, with the canon laws, the decretals, and certain writingssustaining the papal power. “My enemies have been able, by burningmy books,” he said, “to injure the cause of truth in the minds of thecommon people, and destroy their souls; for this reason I consumedtheir books in return. A serious struggle has just begun. Hitherto Ihave been only playing with the pope. I began this work in God’sname; it will be ended without me, and by His might.”—Ibid., b. 6,ch. 10.


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To the reproaches of his enemies who taunted him with theweakness of his cause, Luther answered: “Who knows if God has notchosen and called me, and if they ought not to fear that, by despisingme, they despise God Himself? Moses was alone at the departurefrom Egypt; Elijah was alone in the reign of King Ahab; Isaiah alonein Jerusalem; Ezekiel alone in Babylon.... God never selected asa prophet either the high priest or any other great personage; butordinarily He chose low and despised men, once even the shepherdAmos. In every age, the saints have had to reprove the great, kings,princes, priests, and wise men, at the peril of their lives.... I do notsay that I am a prophet; but I say that they ought to fear preciselybecause I am alone and that they are many. I am sure of this, thatthe word of God is with me, and that it is not with them.”—Ibid., b.6, ch. 10.

Yet it was not without a terrible struggle with himself that Lutherdecided upon a final separation from the church. It was about thistime that he wrote: “I feel more and more every day how difficultit is to lay aside the scruples which one has imbibed in childhood.Oh, how much pain it has caused me, though I had the Scriptureson my side, to justify it to myself that I should dare to make a standalone against the pope, and hold him forth as antichrist! What havethe tribulations of my heart not been! How many times have I notasked myself with bitterness that question which was so frequent onthe lips of the papists: ‘Art thou alone wise? Can everyone else bemistaken? How will it be, if, after all, it is thyself who art wrong,and who art involving in thy error so many souls, who will then beeternally damned?’ ‘Twas so I fought with myself and with Satan,till Christ, by His own infallible word, fortified my heart againstthese doubts.”—Martyn, pages 372, 373.

The pope had threatened Luther with excommunication if he didnot recant, and the threat was now fulfilled. A new bull appeared,declaring the Reformer’s final separation from the Roman Church,denouncing him as accursed of Heaven, and including in the samecondemnation all who should receive his doctrines. The great contesthad been fully entered upon.

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Opposition is the lot of all whom God employs to present truths specially applicable to their time. There was a present truth in the days of Luther,—a truth at that time of special importance; there is apresent truth for the church today. He who does all things accordingto the counsel of His will has been pleased to place men undervarious circumstances and to enjoin upon them duties peculiar tothe times in which they live and the conditions under which they areplaced. If they would prize the light given them, broader views oftruth would be opened before them. But truth is no more desired bythe majority today than it was by the papists who opposed Luther.There is the same disposition to accept the theories and traditionsof men instead of the word of God as in former ages. Those whopresent the truth for this time should not expect to be received withgreater favor than were earlier reformers. The great controversybetween truth and error, between Christ and Satan, is to increase inintensity to the close of this world’s history.

Said Jesus to His disciples: “If ye were of the world, the worldwould love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but Ihave chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greaterthan his Lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecuteyou; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” John15:19, 20. And on the other hand our Lord declared plainly: “Woeunto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did theirfathers to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26. The spirit of the world is nomore in harmony with the spirit of Christ today than in earlier times,and those who preach the word of God in its purity will be receivedwith no greater favor now than then. The forms of opposition to thetruth may change, the enmity may be less open because it is moresubtle; but the same antagonism still exists and will be manifestedto the end of time.


Chapter 8—Luther Before the Diet

A new emperor, Charles V, had ascended the throne of Germany,and the emissaries of Rome hastened to present their congratulationsand induce the monarch to employ his power against the Reformation. On the other hand, the elector of Saxony, to whom Charleswas in great degree indebted for his crown, entreated him to takeno step against Luther until he should have granted him a hearing.The emperor was thus placed in a position of great perplexity andembarrassment. The papists would be satisfied with nothing shortof an imperial edict sentencing Luther to death. The elector haddeclared firmly that “neither his imperial majesty nor any other person had shown that Luther’s writings had been refuted;” thereforehe requested “that Dr. Luther should be furnished with a safe-conduct, so that he might appear before a tribunal of learned, pious, andimpartial judges.”—D’Aubigne, b. 6, ch. 11.

The attention of all parties was now directed to the assembly ofthe German states which convened at Worms soon after the accessionof Charles to the empire. There were important political questionsand interests to be considered by this national council; for the firsttime the princes of Germany were to meet their youthful monarch indeliberative assembly. From all parts of the fatherland had come thedignitaries of church and state. Secular lords, highborn, powerful,and jealous of their hereditary rights; princely ecclesiastics, flushedwith their conscious superiority in rank and power; courtly knightsand their armed retainers; and ambassadors from foreign and distantlands,—all gathered at Worms. Yet in that vast assembly the subjectthat excited the deepest interest was the cause of the Saxon Reformer.

Charles had previously directed the elector to bring Luther withhim to the Diet, assuring him of protection, and promising a freediscussion, with competent persons, of the questions in dispute.Luther was anxious to appear before the emperor. His health was atthis time much impaired; yet he wrote to the elector: “If I cannot goto Worms in good health, I will be carried there, sick as I am. For ifthe emperor calls me, I cannot doubt that it is the call of God Himself.



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If they desire to use violence against me, and that is very probable(for it is not for their instruction that they order me to appear), Iplace the matter in the Lord’s hands. He still lives and reigns whopreserved the three young men in the burning fiery furnace. If Hewill not save me, my life is of little consequence. Let us only preventthe gospel from being exposed to the scorn of the wicked, and letus shed our blood for it, for fear they should triumph. It is not forme to decide whether my life or my death will contribute most tothe salvation of all.... You may expect everything from me... exceptflight and recantation. Fly I cannot, and still less retract.”—Ibid., b.7, ch. 1.

As the news was circulated at Worms that Luther was to appearbefore the Diet, a general excitement was created. Aleander, thepapal legate to whom the case had been specially entrusted, wasalarmed and enraged. He saw that the result would be disastrous tothe papal cause. To institute inquiry into a case in which the popehad already pronounced sentence of condemnation would be to castcontempt upon the authority of the sovereign pontiff. Furthermore,he was apprehensive that the eloquent and powerful arguments ofthis man might turn away many of the princes from the cause of thepope. He therefore, in the most urgent manner, remonstrated withCharles against Luther’s appearance at Worms. About this time thebull declaring Luther’s excommunication was published; and this,coupled with the representations of the legate, induced the emperorto yield. He wrote to the elector that if Luther would not retract, hemust remain at Wittenberg.

Not content with this victory, Aleander labored with all the powerand cunning at his command to secure Luther’s condemnation. Witha persistence worthy of a better cause, he urged the matter upon theattention of princes, prelates, and other members of the assembly,accusing the Reformer of “sedition, rebellion, impiety, and blasphemy.” But the vehemence and passion manifested by the legaterevealed too plainly the spirit by which he was actuated. “He ismoved by hatred and vengeance,” was the general remark, “muchmore than by zeal and piety.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 1. The majority ofthe Diet were more than ever inclined to regard Luther’s cause withfavor.


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With redoubled zeal Aleander urged upon the emperor the duty ofexecuting the papal edicts. But under the laws of Germany this couldnot be done without the concurrence of the princes; and, overcomeat last by the legate’s importunity, Charles bade him present his caseto the Diet. “It was a proud day for the nuncio. The assembly wasa great one: the cause was even greater. Aleander was to pleadfor Rome, ... the mother and mistress of all churches.” He was tovindicate the princedom of Peter before the assembled principalitiesof Christendom. “He had the gift of eloquence, and he rose to thegreatness of the occasion. Providence ordered it that Rome shouldappear and plead by the ablest of her orators in the presence of themost august of tribunals, before she was condemned.”—Wylie, b.6, ch. 4. With some misgivings those who favored the Reformerlooked forward to the effect of Aleander’s speech. The elector ofSaxony was not present, but by his direction some of his councilorsattended to take notes of the nuncio’s address.

With all the power of learning and eloquence, Aleander set himself to overthrow the truth. Charge after charge he hurled againstLuther as an enemy of the church and the state, the living and thedead, clergy and laity, councils and private Christians. “In Luther’serrors there is enough,” he declared, to warrant the burning of “ahundred thousand heretics.”

In conclusion he endeavored to cast contempt upon the adherents of the reformed faith: “What are all these Lutherans? A crewof insolent pedagogues, corrupt priests, dissolute monks, ignorantlawyers, and degraded nobles, with the common people whom theyhave misled and perverted. How far superior to them is the Catholicparty in number, ability, and power! A unanimous decree from thisillustrious assembly will enlighten the simple, warn the imprudent,decide the waverers, and give strength to the weak.”—D’Aubigne,b. 7, ch. 3.

With such weapons the advocates of truth in every age havebeen attacked. The same arguments are still urged against all whodare to present, in opposition to established errors, the plain anddirect teachings of God’s word. “Who are these preachers of newdoctrines?” exclaim those who desire a popular religion. “They areunlearned, few in numbers, and of the poorer class. Yet they claim tohave the truth, and to be the chosen people of God. They are ignorantand deceived. How greatly superior in numbers and influence is our church! How many great and learned men are among us! How much more power is on our side!” These are the arguments that have a telling influence upon the world; but they are no more conclusive now than in the days of the Reformer.

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The Reformation did not, as many suppose, end with Luther. Itis to be continued to the close of this world’s history. Luther hada great work to do in reflecting to others the light which God hadpermitted to shine upon him; yet he did not receive all the lightwhich was to be given to the world. From that time to this, new lighthas been continually shining upon the Scriptures, and new truthshave been constantly unfolding.

The legate’s address made a deep impression upon the Diet.There was no Luther present, with the clear and convincing truths ofGod’s word, to vanquish the papal champion. No attempt was madeto defend the Reformer. There was manifest a general dispositionnot only to condemn him and the doctrines which he taught, but ifpossible to uproot the heresy. Rome had enjoyed the most favorableopportunity to defend her cause. All that she could say in her ownvindication had been said. But the apparent victory was the signalof defeat. Henceforth the contrast between truth and error wouldbe more clearly seen, as they should take the field in open warfare.Never from that day would Rome stand as secure as she had stood.

While most of the members of the Diet would not have hesitatedto yield up Luther to the vengeance of Rome, many of them saw anddeplored the existing depravity in the church, and desired a suppression of the abuses suffered by the German people in consequence ofthe corruption and greed of the hierarchy. The legate had presentedthe papal rule in the most favorable light. Now the Lord movedupon a member of the Diet to give a true delineation of the effects ofpapal tyranny. With noble firmness, Duke George of Saxony stoodup in that princely assembly and specified with terrible exactnessthe deceptions and abominations of popery, and their dire results. Inclosing he said:


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“These are some of the abuses that cry out against Rome. All shame has been put aside, and their only object is ... money, money, money, ... so that the preachers who should teach the truth, utter nothing but falsehoods, and are not only tolerated, but rewarded,because the greater their lies, the greater their gain. It is from thisfoul spring that such tainted waters flow. Debauchery stretches outthe hand to avarice.... Alas, it is the scandal caused by the clergythat hurls so many poor souls into eternal condemnation. A generalreform must be effected.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 4.

A more able and forcible denunciation of the papal abuses couldnot have been presented by Luther himself; and the fact that thespeaker was a determined enemy of the Reformer’s gave greaterinfluence to his words.

Had the eyes of the assembly been opened, they would havebeheld angels of God in the midst of them, shedding beams oflight athwart the darkness of error and opening minds and heartsto the reception of truth. It was the power of the God of truth andwisdom that controlled even the adversaries of the reformation, andthus prepared the way for the great work about to be accomplished.Martin Luther was not present; but the voice of One greater thanLuther had been heard in that assembly.

A committee was at once appointed by the Diet to prepare anenumeration of the papal oppressions that weighed so heavily on theGerman people. This list, containing a hundred and one specifications, was presented to the emperor, with a request that he wouldtake immediate measures for the correction of these abuses. “Whata loss of Christian souls,” said the petitioners, “what depredations,what extortions, on account of the scandals by which the spiritualhead of Christendom is surrounded! It is our duty to prevent theruin and dishonor of our people. For this reason we most humblybut most urgently entreat you to order a general reformation, and toundertake its accomplishment.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 4.

The council now demanded the Reformer’s appearance beforethem. Notwithstanding the entreaties, protests, and threats of Aleander, the emperor at last consented, and Luther was summoned toappear before the Diet. With the summons was issued a safe-conduct, ensuring his return to a place of security. These were borne toWittenberg by a herald, who was commissioned to conduct him toWorms.

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The friends of Luther were terrified and distressed. Knowing the prejudice and enmity against him, they feared that even his safe-conduct would not be respected, and they entreated him not toimperil his life. He replied: “The papists do not desire my comingto Worms, but my condemnation and my death. It matters not. Praynot for me, but for the word of God.... Christ will give me His Spiritto overcome these ministers of error. I despise them during my life;I shall triumph over them by my death. They are busy at Wormsabout compelling me to retract; and this shall be my retraction: Isaid formerly that the pope was Christ’s vicar; now I assert that heis our Lord’s adversary, and the devil’s apostle.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 6.

Luther was not to make his perilous journey alone. Besidesthe imperial messenger, three of his firmest friends determined toaccompany him. Melanchthon earnestly desired to join them. Hisheart was knit to Luther’s, and he yearned to follow him, if need be,to prison or to death. But his entreaties were denied. Should Lutherperish, the hopes of the Reformation must center upon his youthfulcolaborer. Said the Reformer as he parted from Melanchthon: “If Ido not return, and my enemies put me to death, continue to teach,and stand fast in the truth. Labor in my stead.... If you survive, mydeath will be of little consequence.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 7. Studentsand citizens who had gathered to witness Luther’s departure weredeeply moved. A multitude whose hearts had been touched by thegospel, bade him farewell with weeping. Thus the Reformer and hiscompanions set out from Wittenberg.

On the journey they saw that the minds of the people were oppressed by gloomy forebodings. At some towns no honors wereproffered them. As they stopped for the night, a friendly priestexpressed his fears by holding up before Luther the portrait of anItalian reformer who had suffered martyrdom. The next day theylearned that Luther’s writings had been condemned at Worms. Imperial messengers were proclaiming the emperor’s decree and callingupon the people to bring the proscribed works to the magistrates.The herald, fearing for Luther’s safety at the council, and thinkingthat already his resolution might be shaken, asked if he still wishedto go forward. He answered: “Although interdicted in every city, Ishall go on.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 7.

At Erfurt, Luther was received with honor. Surrounded by admiring crowds, he passed through the streets that he had often traversedwith his beggar’s wallet. He visited his convent cell, and thoughtupon the struggles through which the light now flooding Germanyhad been shed upon his soul. He was urged to preach. This he had been forbidden to do, but the herald granted him permission, and the friar who had once been made the drudge of the convent, now entered the pulpit.


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To a crowded assembly he spoke from the words of Christ,“Peace be unto you.” “Philosophers, doctors, and writers,” he said,“have endeavored to teach men the way to obtain everlasting life,and they have not succeeded. I will now tell it to you: ... God hasraised one Man from the dead, the Lord Jesus Christ, that He mightdestroy death, extirpate sin, and shut the gates of hell. This is thework of salvation.... Christ has vanquished! this is the joyful news;and we are saved by His work, and not by our own.... Our LordJesus Christ said, ‘Peace be unto you; behold My hands;’ that is tosay, Behold, O man! it is I, I alone, who have taken away thy sin,and ransomed thee; and now thou hast peace, saith the Lord.”

He continued, showing that true faith will be manifested by aholy life. “Since God has saved us, let us so order our works that theymay be acceptable to Him. Art thou rich? let thy goods administerto the necessities of the poor. Art thou poor? let thy services beacceptable to the rich. If thy labor is useful to thyself alone, theservice that thou pretendest to render unto God is a lie.”—Ibid., b.7, ch. 7.

The people listened as if spellbound. The bread of life wasbroken to those starving souls. Christ was lifted up before them asabove popes, legates, emperors, and kings. Luther made no referenceto his own perilous position. He did not seek to make himself theobject of thought or sympathy. In the contemplation of Christ hehad lost sight of self. He hid behind the Man of Calvary, seekingonly to present Jesus as the sinner’s Redeemer.

As the Reformer proceeded on his journey, he was everywhereregarded with great interest. An eager multitude thronged about him,and friendly voices warned him of the purpose of the Romanists.“They will burn you,” said some, “and reduce your body to ashes, asthey did with John Huss.” Luther answered, “Though they shouldkindle a fire all the way from Worms to Wittenberg, the flamesof which reached to heaven, I would walk through it in the nameof the Lord; I would appear before them; I would enter the jawsof this behemoth, and break his teeth, confessing the Lord Jesus Christ.”—Ibid.,b. 7, ch. 7.

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The news of his approach to Worms created great commotion.His friends trembled for his safety; his enemies feared for the successof their cause. Strenuous efforts were made to dissuade him fromentering the city. At the instigation of the papists he was urged torepair to the castle of a friendly knight, where, it was declared, alldifficulties could be amicably adjusted. Friends endeavored to excitehis fears by describing the dangers that threatened him. All theirefforts failed. Luther, still unshaken, declared: “Even should therebe as many devils in Worms as tiles on the housetops, still I wouldenter it.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 7.

Upon his arrival at Worms, a vast crowd flocked to the gates towelcome him. So great a concourse had not assembled to greet theemperor himself. The excitement was intense, and from the midstof the throng a shrill and plaintive voice chanted a funeral dirge asa warning to Luther of the fate that awaited him. “God will be mydefense,” said he, as he alighted from his carriage.

The papists had not believed that Luther would really ventureto appear at Worms, and his arrival filled them with consternation.The emperor immediately summoned his councilors to considerwhat course should be pursued. One of the bishops, a rigid papist,declared: “We have long consulted on this matter. Let your imperialmajesty get rid of this man at once. Did not Sigismund cause JohnHuss to be burnt? We are not bound either to give or to observe thesafe-conduct of a heretic.” “No,” said the emperor, “we must keepour promise.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 8. It was therefore decided that theReformer should be heard.

All the city were eager to see this remarkable man, and a throngof visitors soon filled his lodgings. Luther had scarcely recoveredfrom his recent illness; he was wearied from the journey, which hadoccupied two full weeks; he must prepare to meet the momentousevents of the morrow, and he needed quiet and repose. But so greatwas the desire to see him that he had enjoyed only a few hours’rest when noblemen, knights, priests, and citizens gathered eagerlyabout him. Among these were many of the nobles who had so boldlydemanded of the emperor a reform of ecclesiastical abuses and who,says Luther, “had all been freed by my gospel.”—Martyn, page 393.


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Enemies, as well as friends, came to look upon the dauntless monk;but he received them with unshaken calmness, replying to all withdignity and wisdom. His bearing was firm and courageous. His pale,thin face, marked with the traces of toil and illness, wore a kindlyand even joyous expression. The solemnity and deep earnestness ofhis words gave him a power that even his enemies could not whollywithstand. Both friends and foes were filled with wonder. Somewere convinced that a divine influence attended him; others declared,as had the Pharisees concerning Christ: “He hath a devil.”

On the following day Luther was summoned to attend the Diet.An imperial officer was appointed to conduct him to the hall ofaudience; yet it was with difficulty that he reached the place. Everyavenue was crowded with spectators eager to look upon the monkwho had dared resist the authority of the pope.

As he was about to enter the presence of his judges, an oldgeneral, the hero of many battles, said to him kindly: “Poor monk,poor monk, thou art now going to make a nobler stand than I or anyother captains have ever made in the bloodiest of our battles. But ifthy cause is just, and thou art sure of it, go forward in God’s name,and fear nothing. God will not forsake thee.”—D’Aubigne, b. 7, ch.8.

At length Luther stood before the council. The emperor occupiedthe throne. He was surrounded by the most illustrious personages inthe empire. Never had any man appeared in the presence of a moreimposing assembly than that before which Martin Luther was toanswer for his faith. “This appearance was of itself a signal victoryover the papacy. The pope had condemned the man, and he was nowstanding before a tribunal which, by this very act, set itself abovethe pope. The pope had laid him under an interdict, and cut himoff from all human society; and yet he was summoned in respectfullanguage, and received before the most august assembly in the world.The pope had condemned him to perpetual silence, and he was nowabout to speak before thousands of attentive hearers drawn togetherfrom the farthest parts of Christendom. An immense revolution hadthus been effected by Luther’s instrumentality. Rome was alreadydescending from her throne, and it was the voice of a monk thatcaused this humiliation.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 8.

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In the presence of that powerful and titled assembly the lowlyborn Reformer seemed awed and embarrassed. Several of theprinces, observing his emotion, approached him, and one of themwhispered: “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not ableto kill the soul.” Another said: “When ye shall be brought beforegovernors and kings for My sake, it shall be given you, by the Spiritof your Father, what ye shall say.” Thus the words of Christ werebrought by the world’s great men to strengthen His servant in thehour of trial.

Luther was conducted to a position directly in front of the emperor’s throne. A deep silence fell upon the crowded assembly.Then an imperial officer arose and, pointing to a collection ofLuther’s writings, demanded that the Reformer answer two questions—whether he acknowledged them as his, and whether he proposed to retract the opinions which he had therein advanced. Thetitles of the books having been read, Luther replied that as to the firstquestion, he acknowledged the books to be his. “As to the second,”he said, “seeing that it is a question which concerns faith and thesalvation of souls, and in which the word of God, the greatest andmost precious treasure either in heaven or earth, is involved, I shouldact imprudently were I to reply without reflection. I might affirmless than the circumstance demands, or more than truth requires,and so sin against this saying of Christ: ‘Whosoever shall denyMe before men, him will I also deny before My Father which isin heaven.’ [Matthew 10:33.] For this reason I entreat your imperial majesty, with all humility, to allow me time, that I may answerwithout offending against the word of God.”—D’Aubigne, b. 7, ch.8.

In making this request, Luther moved wisely. His course convinced the assembly that he did not act from passion or impulse.Such calmness and self-command, unexpected in one who hadshown himself bold and uncompromising, added to his power, andenabled him afterward to answer with a prudence, decision, wisdom, and dignity that surprised and disappointed his adversaries,and rebuked their insolence and pride.


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The next day he was to appear to render his final answer. For a time his heart sank within him as he contemplated the forces that were combined against the truth. His faith faltered; fearfulness andtrembling came upon him, and horror overwhelmed him. Dangersmultiplied before him; his enemies seemed about to triumph, andthe powers of darkness to prevail. Clouds gathered about him andseemed to separate him from God. He longed for the assurance thatthe Lord of hosts would be with him. In anguish of spirit he threwhimself with his face upon the earth and poured out those broken,heart-rending cries, which none but God can fully understand.

“O almighty and everlasting God,” he pleaded, “how terrible isthis world! Behold, it openeth its mouth to swallow me up, and Ihave so little trust in Thee.... If it is only in the strength of this worldthat I must put my trust, all is over.... My last hour is come, mycondemnation has been pronounced.... O God, do Thou help meagainst all the wisdom of the world. Do this, ... Thou alone; ... forthis is not my work, but Thine. I have nothing to do here, nothing tocontend for with these great ones of the world.... But the cause isThine, ... and it is a righteous and eternal cause. O Lord, help me!Faithful and unchangeable God, in no man do I place my trust.... Allthat is of man is uncertain; all that cometh of man fails.... Thou hastchosen me for this work.... Stand at my side, for the sake of Thywell-beloved Jesus Christ, who is my defense, my shield, and mystrong tower.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 8.

An all-wise Providence had permitted Luther to realize his peril,that he might not trust to his own strength and rush presumptuouslyinto danger. Yet it was not the fear of personal suffering, a dread oftorture or death, which seemed immediately impending, that overwhelmed him with its terror. He had come to the crisis, and he felthis insufficiency to meet it. Through his weakness the cause of truthmight suffer loss. Not for his own safety, but for the triumph of thegospel did he wrestle with God. Like Israel’s, in that night strugglebeside the lonely stream, was the anguish and conflict of his soul.Like Israel, he prevailed with God. In his utter helplessness his faithfastened upon Christ, the mighty Deliverer. He was strengthenedwith the assurance that he would not appear alone before the council.Peace returned to his soul, and he rejoiced that he was permitted touplift the word of God before the rulers of the nations.

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With his mind stayed upon God, Luther prepared for the struggle before him. He thought upon the plan of his answer, examined passages in his own writings, and drew from the Holy Scripturessuitable proofs to sustain his positions. Then, laying his left hand onthe Sacred Volume, which was open before him, he lifted his righthand to heaven and vowed “to remain faithful to the gospel, andfreely to confess his faith, even should he seal his testimony with hisblood.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 8.

When he was again ushered into the presence of the Diet, hiscountenance bore no trace of fear or embarrassment. Calm andpeaceful, yet grandly brave and noble, he stood as God’s witnessamong the great ones of the earth. The imperial officer now demanded his decision as to whether he desired to retract his doctrines.Luther made his answer in a subdued and humble tone, withoutviolence or passion. His demeanor was diffident and respectful; yethe manifested a confidence and joy that surprised the assembly.

“Most serene emperor, illustrious princes, gracious lords,” saidLuther, “I appear before you this day, in conformity with the ordergiven me yesterday, and by God’s mercies I conjure your majestyand your august highnesses to listen graciously to the defense of acause which I am assured is just and true. If, through ignorance, Ishould transgress the usages and proprieties of courts, I entreat youto pardon me; for I was not brought up in the palaces of kings, butin the seclusion of a convent.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 8.

Then, proceeding to the question, he stated that his publishedworks were not all of the same character. In some he had treated offaith and good works, and even his enemies declared them not onlyharmless but profitable. To retract these would be to condemn truthswhich all parties confessed. The second class consisted of writingsexposing the corruptions and abuses of the papacy. To revoke theseworks would strengthen the tyranny of Rome and open a wider doorto many and great impieties. In the third class of his books he hadattacked individuals who had defended existing evils. Concerningthese he freely confessed that he had been more violent than wasbecoming. He did not claim to be free from fault; but even thesebooks he could not revoke, for such a course would embolden theenemies of truth, and they would then take occasion to crush God’speople with still greater cruelty.


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“Yet I am but a mere man, and not God,” he continued; “I shall therefore defend myself as Christ did: ‘If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil.’ ... By the mercy of God, I conjure you, mostserene emperor, and you, most illustrious princes, and all men ofevery degree, to prove from the writings of the prophets and apostlesthat I have erred. As soon as I am convinced of this, I will retractevery error, and be the first to lay hold of my books and throw theminto the fire.

“What I have just said plainly shows, I hope, that I have carefullyweighed and considered the dangers to which I expose myself; butfar from being dismayed, I rejoice to see that the gospel is now, as informer times, a cause of trouble and dissension. This is the character,this is the destiny, of the word of God. ‘I came not to send peace onearth, but a sword,’ said Jesus Christ. God is wonderful and terriblein His counsels; beware lest, by presuming to quench dissensions,you should persecute the holy word of God, and draw down uponyourselves a frightful deluge of insurmountable dangers, of presentdisasters, and eternal desolation.... I might quote many examplesfrom the oracles of God. I might speak of the Pharaohs, the kingsof Babylon, and those of Israel, whose labors never more effectually contributed to their own destruction than when they sought bycounsels, to all appearance most wise, to strengthen their dominion.‘God removeth mountains, and they know it not.’”—Ibid., b. 7, ch.8.

Luther had spoken in German; he was now requested to repeatthe same words in Latin. Though exhausted by the previous effort,he complied, and again delivered his speech, with the same clearnessand energy as at the first. God’s providence directed in this matter.The minds of many of the princes were so blinded by error andsuperstition that at the first delivery they did not see the force ofLuther’s reasoning; but the repetition enabled them to perceiveclearly the points presented.

Those who stubbornly closed their eyes to the light, and determined not to be convinced of the truth, were enraged at the power ofLuther’s words. As he ceased speaking, the spokesman of the Dietsaid angrily: “You have not answered the question put to you.... Youare required to give a clear and precise answer.... Will you, or willyou not, retract?”

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The Reformer answered: “Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require from me a clear, simple, and precise answer, I will give you one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faitheither to the pope or to the councils, because it is clear as the daythat they have frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unlesstherefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by theclearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passagesI have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound bythe word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for aChristian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do noother; may God help me. Amen.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 8.

Thus stood this righteous man upon the sure foundation of theword of God. The light of heaven illuminated his countenance. Hisgreatness and purity of character, his peace and joy of heart, weremanifest to all as he testified against the power of error and witnessedto the superiority of that faith that overcomes the world.

The whole assembly were for a time speechless with amazement.At his first answer Luther had spoken in a low tone, with a respectful,almost submissive bearing. The Romanists had interpreted this asevidence that his courage was beginning to fail. They regarded therequest for delay as merely the prelude to his recantation. Charleshimself, noting, half contemptuously, the monk’s worn frame, hisplain attire, and the simplicity of his address, had declared: “Thismonk will never make a heretic of me.” The courage and firmnesswhich he now displayed, as well as the power and clearness of hisreasoning, filled all parties with surprise. The emperor, moved toadmiration, exclaimed: “This monk speaks with an intrepid heartand unshaken courage.” Many of the German princes looked withpride and joy upon this representative of their nation.

The partisans of Rome had been worsted; their cause appearedin a most unfavorable light. They sought to maintain their power,not by appealing to the Scriptures, but by a resort to threats, Rome’sunfailing argument. Said the spokesman of the Diet: “If you do notretract, the emperor and the states of the empire will consult whatcourse to adopt against an incorrigible heretic.”

Luther’s friend, who had with great joy listened to his nobledefense, trembled at these words; but the doctor himself said calmly:“May God be my helper, for I can retract nothing.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch.8.


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He was directed to withdraw from the Diet while the princes consulted together. It was felt that a great crisis had come. Luther’spersistent refusal to submit might affect the history of the church forages. It was decided to give him one more opportunity to retract. Forthe last time he was brought into the assembly. Again the questionwas put, whether he would renounce his doctrines. “I have no otherreply to make,” he said, “than that which I have already made.” Itwas evident that he could not be induced, either by promises orthreats, to yield to the mandate of Rome.

The papal leaders were chagrined that their power, which hadcaused kings and nobles to tremble, should be thus despised by ahumble monk; they longed to make him feel their wrath by torturinghis life away. But Luther, understanding his danger, had spoken toall with Christian dignity and calmness. His words had been freefrom pride, passion, and misrepresentation. He had lost sight ofhimself, and the great men surrounding him, and felt only that hewas in the presence of One infinitely superior to popes, prelates,kings, and emperors. Christ had spoken through Luther’s testimonywith a power and grandeur that for the time inspired both friends andfoes with awe and wonder. The Spirit of God had been present in thatcouncil, impressing the hearts of the chiefs of the empire. Several ofthe princes boldly acknowledged the justice of Luther’s cause. Manywere convinced of the truth; but with some the impressions receivedwere not lasting. There was another class who did not at the timeexpress their convictions, but who, having searched the Scripturesfor themselves, at a future time became fearless supporters of theReformation.

The elector Frederick had looked forward anxiously to Luther’sappearance before the Diet, and with deep emotion he listened tohis speech. With joy and pride he witnessed the doctor’s courage,firmness, and self-possession, and determined to stand more firmlyin his defense. He contrasted the parties in contest, and saw that thewisdom of popes, kings, and prelates had been brought to nought bythe power of truth. The papacy had sustained a defeat which wouldbe felt among all nations and in all ages.

As the legate perceived the effect produced by Luther’s speech,he feared, as never before, for the security of the Romish power,and resolved to employ every means at his command to effect theReformer’s overthrow. With all the eloquence and diplomatic skillfor which he was so eminently distinguished, he represented to theyouthful emperor the folly and danger of sacrificing, in the cause of an insignificant monk, the friendship and support of the powerful see of Rome.

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His words were not without effect. On the day following Luther’sanswer, Charles caused a message to be presented to the Diet, announcing his determination to carry out the policy of his predecessors to maintain and protect the Catholic religion. Since Luther hadrefused to renounce his errors, the most vigorous measures shouldbe employed against him and the heresies he taught. “A single monk,misled by his own folly, has risen against the faith of Christendom.To stay such impiety, I will sacrifice my kingdoms, my treasures,my friends, my body, my blood, my soul, and my life. I am aboutto dismiss the Augustine Luther, forbidding him to cause the leastdisorder among the people; I shall then proceed against him andhis adherents as contumacious heretics, by excommunication, byinterdict, and by every means calculated to destroy them. I call onthe members of the states to behave like faithful Christians.”—Ibid.,b. 7, ch. 9. Nevertheless the emperor declared that Luther’s safeconduct must be respected, and that before proceedings against himcould be instituted, he must be allowed to reach his home in safety.

Two conflicting opinions were now urged by the members ofthe Diet. The emissaries and representatives of the pope againdemanded that the Reformer’s safe-conduct should be disregarded.“The Rhine,” they said, “should receive his ashes, as it had receivedthose of John Huss a century ago.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 9. But princesof Germany, though themselves papists and avowed enemies toLuther, protested against such a breach of public faith, as a stainupon the honor of the nation. They pointed to the calamities whichhad followed the death of Huss, and declared that they dared not calldown upon Germany, and upon the head of their youthful emperor,a repetition of those terrible evils.

Charles himself, in answer to the base proposal, said: “Thoughhonor and faith should be banished from all the world, they ought tofind a refuge in the hearts of princes.”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 9. He was stillfurther urged by the most bitter of Luther’s papal enemies to dealwith the Reformer as Sigismund had dealt with Huss—abandon himto the mercies of the church; but recalling the scene when Huss inpublic assembly had pointed to his chains and reminded the monarchof his plighted faith, Charles V declared: “I should not like to blush like Sigismund.”—Lenfant, vol. 1, p. 422.


Yet Charles had deliberately rejected the truths presented byLuther. “I am firmly resolved to imitate the example of my ancestors,” wrote the monarch.—D’Aubigne, b. 7, ch. 9. He had decidedthat he would not step out of the path of custom, even to walk inthe ways of truth and righteousness. Because his fathers did, hewould uphold the papacy, with all its cruelty and corruption. Thushe took his position, refusing to accept any light in advance of whathis fathers had received, or to perform any duty that they had notperformed.

There are many at the present day thus clinging to the customsand traditions of their fathers. When the Lord sends them additionallight, they refuse to accept it, because, not having been granted totheir fathers, it was not received by them. We are not placed whereour fathers were; consequently our duties and responsibilities are notthe same as theirs. We shall not be approved of God in looking to theexample of our fathers to determine our duty instead of searchingthe word of truth for ourselves. Our responsibility is greater thanwas that of our ancestors. We are accountable for the light whichthey received, and which was handed down as an inheritance for us,and we are accountable also for the additional light which is nowshining upon us from the word of God.

Said Christ of the unbelieving Jews: “If I had not come andspoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have nocloak for their sin.” John 15:22. The same divine power had spokenthrough Luther to the emperor and princes of Germany. And asthe light shone forth from God’s word, His Spirit pleaded for thelast time with many in that assembly. As Pilate, centuries before,permitted pride and popularity to close his heart against the world’sRedeemer; as the trembling Felix bade the messenger of truth, “Gothy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will callfor thee;” as the proud Agrippa confessed, “Almost thou persuadestme to be a Christian” (Acts 24:25; 26:28), yet turned away from theHeaven-sent message—so had Charles V, yielding to the dictates ofworldly pride and policy, decided to reject the light of truth.


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Rumors of the designs against Luther were widely circulated, causing great excitement throughout the city. The Reformer hadmade many friends, who, knowing the treacherous cruelty of Rometoward all who dared expose her corruptions, resolved that he shouldnot be sacrificed. Hundreds of nobles pledged themselves to protecthim. Not a few openly denounced the royal message of evincing aweak submission to the controlling power of Rome. On the gates ofhouses and in public places, placards were posted, some condemningand others sustaining Luther. On one of these were written merelythe significant words of the wise man: “Woe to thee, O land, whenthy king is a child.” Ecclesiastes 10:16. The popular enthusiasm inLuther’s favor throughout all Germany convinced both the emperorand the Diet that any injustice shown him would endanger the peaceof the empire and even the stability of the throne.

Frederick of Saxony maintained a studied reserve, carefully concealing his real feelings toward the Reformer, while at the same timehe guarded him with tireless vigilance, watching all his movementsand all those of his enemies. But there were many who made noattempt to conceal their sympathy with Luther. He was visited byprinces, counts, barons, and other persons of distinction, both layand ecclesiastical. “The doctor’s little room,” wrote Spalatin, “couldnot contain all the visitors who presented themselves.”—Martyn1:404. The people gazed upon him as if he were more than human.Even those who had no faith in his doctrines could not but admirethat lofty integrity which led him to brave death rather than violatehis conscience.

Earnest efforts were made to obtain Luther’s consent to a compromise with Rome.

[Webmaster note:Yet compromises have taken place since these words were written. In 2016 and 2017 a joint agreement has beenestablished.]

Nobles and princes represented to him thatif he persisted in setting up his own judgment against that of thechurch and the councils he would soon be banished from the empireand would have no defense. To this appeal Luther answered: “Thegospel of Christ cannot be preached without offense.... Why thenshould the fear or apprehension of danger separate me from the Lord,and from that divine word which alone is truth? No; I would rathergive up my body, my blood, and my life.”—D’Aubigne, b. 7, ch. 10.

Again he was urged to submit to the judgment of the emperor,and then he would have nothing to fear. “I consent,” said he inreply, “with all my heart, that the emperor, the princes, and eventhe meanest Christian, should examine and judge my works; buton one condition, that they take the word of God for their standard. Men have nothing to do but to obey it. Do not offer violence to my conscience, which is bound and chained up with the Holy Scriptures.”—Ibid.,b. 7, ch. 10.


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To another appeal he said: “I consent to renounce my safe conduct. I place my person and my life in the emperor’s hands,but the word of God—never!”—Ibid., b. 7, ch. 10. He stated hiswillingness to submit to the decision of a general council, but onlyon condition that the council be required to decide according tothe Scriptures. “In what concerns the word of God and the faith,”he added, “every Christian is as good a judge as the pope, thoughsupported by a million councils, can be for him.”—Martyn 1:410.Both friends and foes were at last convinced that further effort forreconciliation would be useless.

Had the Reformer yielded a single point, Satan and his hostswould have gained the victory. But his unwavering firmness was themeans of emancipating the church, and beginning a new and betterera. The influence of this one man, who dared to think and act forhimself in religious matters, was to affect the church and the world,not only in his own time, but in all future generations. His firmnessand fidelity would strengthen all, to the close of time, who shouldpass through a similar experience. The power and majesty of Godstood forth above the counsel of men, above the mighty power ofSatan.

Luther was soon commanded by the authority of the emperorto return home, and he knew that this notice would be speedilyfollowed by his condemnation. Threatening clouds overhung hispath; but as he departed from Worms, his heart was filled with joyand praise. “The devil himself,” said he, “guarded the pope’s citadel;but Christ has made a wide breach in it, and Satan was constrainedto confess that the Lord is mightier than he.”—D’Aubigne, b. 7, ch.11.

After his departure, still desirous that his firmness should notbe mistaken for rebellion, Luther wrote to the emperor. “God, whois the searcher of hearts, is my witness,” he said, “that I am readymost earnestly to obey your majesty, in honor or in dishonor, inlife or in death, and with no exception save the word of God, bywhich man lives. In all the affairs of this present life, my fidelityshall be unshaken, for here to lose or to gain is of no consequence tosalvation. But when eternal interests are concerned, God wills not that man should submit unto man. For such submission in spiritual matters is a real worship, and ought to be rendered solely to the Creator.”—Ibid.,b. 7, ch. 11.

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On the journey from Worms, Luther’s reception was even moreflattering than during his progress thither. Princely ecclesiasticswelcomed the excommunicated monk, and civil rulers honored theman whom the emperor had denounced. He was urged to preach,and, notwithstanding the imperial prohibition, he again entered thepulpit. “I never pledged myself to chain up the word of God,” hesaid, “nor will I.”—Martyn 1:420.

He had not been long absent from Worms, when the papistsprevailed upon the emperor to issue an edict against him. In thisdecree Luther was denounced as “Satan himself under the form ofa man and dressed in a monk’s frock.”—D’Aubigne, b. 7, ch. 11.It was commanded that as soon as his safe-conduct should expire,measures be taken to stop his work. All persons were forbidden toharbor him, to give him food or drink, or by word or act, in public orprivate, to aid or abet him. He was to be seized wherever he mightbe, and delivered to the authorities. His adherents also were to beimprisoned and their property confiscated. His writings were to bedestroyed, and, finally, all who should dare to act contrary to thisdecree were included in its condemnation. The elector of Saxonyand the princes most friendly to Luther had left Worms soon afterhis departure, and the emperor’s decree received the sanction of theDiet. Now the Romanists were jubilant. They considered the fate ofthe Reformation sealed.

God had provided a way of escape for His servant in this hourof peril. A vigilant eye had followed Luther’s movements, and atrue and noble heart had resolved upon his rescue. It was plainthat Rome would be satisfied with nothing short of his death; onlyby concealment could he be preserved from the jaws of the lion.God gave wisdom to Frederick of Saxony to devise a plan for theReformer’s preservation. With the co-operation of true friends theelector’s purpose was carried out, and Luther was effectually hiddenfrom friends and foes. Upon his homeward journey he was seized,separated from his attendants, and hurriedly conveyed through theforest to the castle of Wartburg, an isolated mountain fortress. Bothhis seizure and his concealment were so involved in mystery that even Frederick himself for a long time knew not whither he had been conducted. This ignorance was not without design; so long as the elector knew nothing of Luther’s whereabouts, he could reveal nothing. He satisfied himself that the Reformer was safe, and with this knowledge he was content


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Spring, summer, and autumn passed, and winter came, andLuther still remained a prisoner. Aleander and his partisans exulted as the light of the gospel seemed about to be extinguished. Butinstead of this, the Reformer was filling his lamp from the storehouseof truth; and its light was to shine forth with brighter radiance.

In the friendly security of the Wartburg, Luther for a time rejoiced in his release from the heat and turmoil of battle. But hecould not long find satisfaction in quiet and repose. Accustomedto a life of activity and stern conflict, he could ill endure to remaininactive. In those solitary days the condition of the church rose upbefore him, and he cried in despair. “Alas! there is no one in thislatter day of His anger, to stand like a wall before the Lord, and saveIsrael!”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 2. Again, his thoughts returned to himself,and he feared being charged with cowardice in withdrawing from thecontest. Then he reproached himself for his indolence and self-indulgence. Yet at the same time he was daily accomplishing more thanit seemed possible for one man to do. His pen was never idle. Whilehis enemies flattered themselves that he was silenced, they wereastonished and confused by tangible proof that he was still active. Ahost of tracts, issuing from his pen, circulated throughout Germany.He also performed a most important service for his countrymen bytranslating the New Testament into the German tongue. From hisrocky Patmos he continued for nearly a whole year to proclaim thegospel and rebuke the sins and errors of the times.

But it was not merely to preserve Luther from the wrath of hisenemies, nor even to afford him a season of quiet for these importantlabors, that God had withdrawn His servant from the stage of publiclife. There were results more precious than these to be secured.In the solitude and obscurity of his mountain retreat, Luther wasremoved from earthly supports and shut out from human praise. Hewas thus saved from the pride and self-confidence that are so oftencaused by success. By suffering and humiliation he was preparedagain to walk safely upon the dizzy heights to which he had been so suddenly exalted.

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As men rejoice in the freedom which the truth brings them, theyare inclined to extol those whom God has employed to break thechains of error and superstition. Satan seeks to divert men’s thoughtsand affections from God, and to fix them upon human agencies; heleads them to honor the mere instrument and to ignore the Handthat directs all the events of providence. Too often religious leaderswho are thus praised and reverenced lose sight of their dependenceupon God and are led to trust in themselves. As a result they seek tocontrol the minds and consciences of the people, who are disposedto look to them for guidance instead of looking to the word of God.The work of reform is often retarded because of this spirit indulgedby its supporters. From this danger, God would guard the cause ofthe Reformation. He desired that work to receive, not the impress ofman, but that of God. The eyes of men had been turned to Luther asthe expounder of the truth; he was removed that all eyes might bedirected to the eternal Author of truth.


Chapter 9—The Swiss Reformer

In the choice of instrumentalities for the reforming of the church,the same divine plan is seen as in that for the planting of the church.The heavenly Teacher passed by the great men of the earth, the titledand wealthy, who were accustomed to receive praise and homage asleaders of the people. They were so proud and self-confident in theirboasted superiority that they could not be molded to sympathizewith their fellow men and to become colaborers with the humbleMan of Nazareth. To the unlearned, toiling fishermen of Galilee wasthe call addressed: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”Matthew 4:19. These disciples were humble and teachable. The lessthey had been influenced by the false teaching of their time, the moresuccessfully could Christ instruct and train them for His service. Soin the days of the Great Reformation. The leading Reformers weremen from humble life—men who were most free of any of their timefrom pride of rank and from the influence of bigotry and priestcraft.It is God’s plan to employ humble instruments to accomplish greatresults. Then the glory will not be given to men, but to Him whoworks through them to will and to do of His own good pleasure.

A few weeks after the birth of Luther in a miner’s cabin inSaxony, Ulric Zwingli was born in a herdsman’s cottage among theAlps. Zwingli’s surroundings in childhood, and his early training,were such as to prepare him for his future mission. Reared amidscenes of natural grandeur, beauty, and awful sublimity, his mindwas early impressed with a sense of the greatness, the power, andthe majesty of God. The history of the brave deeds achieved uponhis native mountains kindled his youthful aspirations. And at theside of his pious grandmother he listened to the few precious Biblestories which she had gleaned from amid the legends and traditionsof the church. With eager interest he heard of the grand deeds ofpatriarchs and prophets, of the shepherds who watched their flockson the hills of Palestine where angels talked with them, of the Babeof Bethlehem and the Man of Calvary.



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Like John Luther, Zwingli’s father desired an education for hisson, and the boy was early sent from his native valley. His mindrapidly developed, and it soon became a question where to find teachers competent to instruct him. At the age of thirteen he went to Bern,which then possessed the most distinguished school in Switzerland.Here, however, a danger arose which threatened to blight the promiseof his life. Determined efforts were put forth by the friars to allurehim into a monastery. The Dominican and Franciscan monks werein rivalry for popular favor. This they endeavored to secure by theshowy adornments of their churches, the pomp of their ceremonials,and the attractions of famous relics and miracle-working images.

The Dominicans of Bern saw that if they could win this talentedyoung scholar, they would secure both gain and honor. His extremeyouth, his natural ability as a speaker and writer, and his genius formusic and poetry, would be more effective than all their pomp anddisplay, in attracting the people to their services and increasing therevenues of their order. By deceit and flattery they endeavored toinduce Zwingli to enter their convent. Luther, while a student atschool, had buried himself in a convent cell, and he would have beenlost to the world had not God’s providence released him. Zwingliwas not permitted to encounter the same peril. Providentially hisfather received information of the designs of the friars. He had nointention of allowing his son to follow the idle and worthless lifeof the monks. He saw that his future usefulness was at stake, anddirected him to return home without delay.

The command was obeyed; but the youth could not be long co tent in his native valley, and he soon resumed his studies, repairing,after a time, to Basel. It was here that Zwingli first heard the gospelof God’s free grace. Wittembach, a teacher of the ancient languages,had, while studying Greek and Hebrew, been led to the Holy Scriptures, and thus rays of divine light were shed into the minds of thestudents under his instruction. He declared that there was a truthmore ancient, and of infinitely greater worth, than the theories taughtby schoolmen and philosophers. This ancient truth was that thedeath of Christ is the sinner’s only ransom. To Zwingli these wordswere as the first ray of light that precedes the dawn.


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Zwingli was soon called from Basel to enter upon his lifework. His first field of labor was in an Alpine parish, not far distant fromhis native valley. Having received ordination as a priest, he “devotedhimself with his whole soul to the search after divine truth; for hewas well aware,” says a fellow Reformer, “how much he must knowto whom the flock of Christ is entrusted.”—Wylie, b. 8, ch. 5. Themore he searched the Scriptures, the clearer appeared the contrastbetween their truths and the heresies of Rome. He submitted himselfto the Bible as the word of God, the only sufficient, infallible rule.He saw that it must be its own interpreter. He dared not attemptto explain Scripture to sustain a preconceived theory or doctrine,but held it his duty to learn what is its direct and obvious teaching.He sought to avail himself of every help to obtain a full and correctunderstanding of its meaning, and he invoked the aid of the HolySpirit, which would, he declared, reveal it to all who sought it insincerity and with prayer.

“The Scriptures,” said Zwingli, “come from God, not from man,and even that God who enlightens will give thee to understand thatthe speech comes from God. The word of God ... cannot fail; it isbright, it teaches itself, it discloses itself, it illumines the soul withall salvation and grace, comforts it in God, humbles it, so that it losesand even forfeits itself, and embraces God.” The truth of these wordsZwingli himself had proved. Speaking of his experience at this time,he afterward wrote: “When ... I began to give myself wholly upto the Holy Scriptures, philosophy and theology (scholastic) wouldalways keep suggesting quarrels to me. At last I came to this, that Ithought, ‘Thou must let all that lie, and learn the meaning of Godpurely out of His own simple word.’ Then I began to ask God forHis light, and the Scriptures began to be much easier to me.”—Ibid.,b. 8, ch. 6.

The doctrine preached by Zwingli was not received from Luther. It was the doctrine of Christ. “If Luther preaches Christ,” said theSwiss Reformer, “he does what I am doing. Those whom he hasbrought to Christ are more numerous than those whom I have led.But this matters not. I will bear no other name than that of Christ,whose soldier I am, and who alone is my Chief. Never has onesingle word been written by me to Luther, nor by Luther to me. Andwhy? ... That it might be shown how much the Spirit of God is inunison with itself, since both of us, without any collusion, teach thedoctrine of Christ with such uniformity.”—D’Aubigne, b. 8, ch. 9.

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In 1516 Zwingli was invited to become a preacher in the conventat Einsiedeln. Here he was to have a closer view of the corruptionsof Rome and was to exert an influence as a Reformer that would befelt far beyond his native Alps. Among the chief attractions of Einsiedeln was an image of the Virgin which was said to have the powerof working miracles. Above the gateway of the convent was theinscription, “Here a plenary remission of sins may be obtained.”—Ibid., b. 8, ch. 5. Pilgrims at all seasons resorted to the shrine ofthe Virgin; but at the great yearly festival of its consecration multitudes came from all parts of Switzerland, and even from France andGermany. Zwingli, greatly afflicted at the sight, seized the opportunity to proclaim liberty through the gospel to these bondslaves ofsuperstition.

“Do not imagine,” he said, “that God is in this temple more thanin any other part of creation. Whatever be the country in whichyou dwell, God is around you, and hears you.... Can unprofitableworks, long pilgrimages, offerings, images, the invocation of theVirgin or of the saints, secure for you the grace of God? ... Whatavails the multitude of words with which we embody our prayers?What efficacy has a glossy cowl, a smooth-shorn head, a long andflowing robe, or gold-embroidered slippers? ... God looks at theheart, and our hearts are far from Him.” “Christ,” he said, “who wasonce offered upon the cross, is the sacrifice and victim, that hadmade satisfaction for the sins of believers to all eternity.”—Ibid., b.8, ch. 5.

To many listeners these teachings were unwelcome. It was abitter disappointment to them to be told that their toilsome journeyhad been made in vain. The pardon freely offered to them throughChrist they could not comprehend. They were satisfied with the oldway to heaven which Rome had marked out for them. They shrankfrom the perplexity of searching for anything better. It was easierto trust their salvation to the priests and the pope than to seek forpurity of heart.

But another class received with gladness the tidings of redemption through Christ. The observances enjoined by Rome had failedto bring peace of soul, and in faith they accepted the Saviour’s bloodas their propitiation. These returned to their homes to reveal to others the precious light which they had received. The truth was thuscarried from hamlet to hamlet, from town to town, and the number of pilgrims to the Virgin’s shrine greatly lessened. There was a falling off in the offerings, and consequently in the salary of Zwingli, which was drawn from them. But this caused him only joy as he saw that the power of fanaticism and superstition was being broken.


The authorities of the church were not blind to the work whichZwingli was accomplishing; but for the present they forbore tointerfere. Hoping yet to secure him to their cause, they endeavoredto win him by flatteries; and meanwhile the truth was gaining a holdupon the hearts of the people.

Zwingli’s labors at Einsiedeln had prepared him for a widerfield, and this he was soon to enter. After three years here he wascalled to the office of preacher in the cathedral at Zurich. Thiswas then the most important town of the Swiss confederacy, andthe influence exerted here would be widely felt. The ecclesiasticsby whose invitation he came to Zurich were, however, desirousof preventing any innovations, and they accordingly proceeded toinstruct him as to his duties.

“You will make every exertion,” they said, “to collect the revenues of the chapter, without overlooking the least. You will exhortthe faithful, both from the pulpit and in the confessional, to pay alltithes and dues, and to show by their offerings their affection to thechurch. You will be diligent in increasing the income arising fromthe sick, from masses, and in general from every ecclesiastical ordinance.” “As for the administration of the sacraments, the preaching,and the care of the flock,” added his instructors, “these are also theduties of the chaplain. But for these you may employ a substitute,and particularly in preaching. You should administer the sacramentsto none but persons of note, and only when called upon; you areforbidden to do so without distinction of persons.”—Ibid., b. 8, ch.6.

Zwingli listened in silence to this charge, and in reply, afterexpressing his gratitude for the honor of a call to this importantstation, he proceeded to explain the course which he proposed toadopt. “The life of Christ,” he said, “has been too long hiddenfrom the people. I shall preach upon the whole of the Gospel of St.Matthew, ... drawing solely from the fountains of Scripture, soundingits depths, comparing one passage with another, and seeking forunderstanding by constant and earnest prayer. It is to God’s glory, to the praise of His only Son, to the real salvation of souls, and to their edification in the true faith, that I shall consecrate my ministry.”—Ibid.,b. 8, ch. 6.


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Though some of the ecclesiastics disapprovedhis plan, and endeavored to dissuade him from it, Zwingli remainedsteadfast. He declared that he was about to introduce no new method,but the old method employed by the church in earlier and purer times.

Already an interest had been awakened in the truths he taught;and the people flocked in great numbers to listen to his preaching.Many who had long since ceased to attend service were amonghis hearers. He began his ministry by opening the Gospels andreading and explaining to his hearers the inspired narrative of the life,teachings, and death of Christ. Here, as at Einsiedeln, he presentedthe word of God as the only infallible authority and the death ofChrist as the only complete sacrifice. “It is to Christ,” he said, “thatI desire to lead you—to Christ, the true source of salvation.”—Ibid.,b. 8, ch. 6. Around the preacher crowded the people of all classes,from statesmen and scholars to the artisan and the peasant. Withdeep interest they listened to his words. He not only proclaimedthe offer of a free salvation, but fearlessly rebuked the evils andcorruptions of the times. Many returned from the cathedral praisingGod. “This man,” they said, “is a preacher of the truth. He will beour Moses, to lead us forth from this Egyptian darkness.”—Ibid., b.8, ch. 6.

But though at first his labors were received with great enthusiasm,after a time opposition arose. The monks set themselves to hinderhis work and condemn his teachings. Many assailed him with gibesand sneers; others resorted to insolence and threats. But Zwinglibore all with patience, saying: “If we desire to gain over the wickedto Jesus Christ, we must shut our eyes against many things.”—Ibid.,b. 8, ch. 6.

About this time a new agency came in to advance the workof reform. One Lucian was sent to Zurich with some of Luther’swritings, by a friend of the reformed faith at Basel, who suggestedthat the sale of these books might be a powerful means of scatteringthe light. “Ascertain,” he wrote to Zwingli, “whether this manpossesses sufficient prudence and skill; if so, let him carry from cityto city, from town to town, from village to village, and even fromhouse to house, among the Swiss, the works of Luther, and especially his exposition of the Lord’s Prayer written for the laity. The more they are known, the more purchasers they will find.”—Ibid.,b. 8, ch. 6. Thus the light found entrance.


150 The Great Controversy

At the time when God is preparing to break the shackles ofignorance and superstition, then it is that Satan works with greatestpower to enshroud men in darkness and to bind their fetters stillmore firmly. As men were rising up in different lands to present tothe people forgiveness and justification through the blood of Christ,Rome proceeded with renewed energy to open her market throughoutChristendom, offering pardon for money.

Every sin had its price, and men were granted free license forcrime if the treasury of the church was kept well filled. Thus the twomovements advanced,—one offering forgiveness of sin for money,the other forgiveness through Christ,—Rome licensing sin and making it her source of revenue; the Reformers condemning sin andpointing to Christ as the propitiation and deliverer.

In Germany the sale of indulgences had been committed to theDominican friars and was conducted by the infamous Tetzel. InSwitzerland the traffic was put into the hands of the Franciscans,under the control of Samson, an Italian monk. Samson had alreadydone good service to the church, having secured immense sumsfrom Germany and Switzerland to fill the papal treasury. Now hetraversed Switzerland, attracting great crowds, despoiling the poorpeasants of their scanty earnings, and exacting rich gifts from thewealthy classes. But the influence of the reform already made itselffelt in curtailing, though it could not stop, the traffic. Zwingli wasstill at Einsiedeln when Samson, soon after entering Switzerland,arrived with his wares at a neighboring town. Being apprised of hismission, the Reformer immediately set out to oppose him. The twodid not meet, but such was Zwingli’s success in exposing the friar’spretensions that he was obliged to leave for other quarters.

At Zurich, Zwingli preached zealously against the pardonmongers; and when Samson approached the place, he was met by amessenger from the council with an intimation that he was expectedto pass on. He finally secured an entrance by stratagem, but wassent away without the sale of a single pardon, and he soon after leftSwitzerland.

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A strong impetus was given to the reform by the appearance ofthe plague, or Great Death, which swept over Switzerland in theyear 1519. As men were thus brought face to face with the destroyer,many were led to feel how vain and worthless were the pardonswhich they had so lately purchased; and they longed for a surerfoundation for their faith. Zwingli at Zurich was smitten down; hewas brought so low that all hope of his recovery was relinquished,and the report was widely circulated that he was dead. In that tryinghour his hope and courage were unshaken. He looked in faith tothe cross of Calvary, trusting in the all-sufficient propitiation for sin.When he came back from the gates of death, it was to preach thegospel with greater fervor than ever before; and his words exertedan unwonted power. The people welcomed with joy their belovedpastor, returned to them from the brink of the grave. They themselveshad come from attending upon the sick and the dying, and they felt,as never before, the value of the gospel.

Zwingli had arrived at a clearer understanding of its truths, andhad more fully experienced in himself its renewing power. The fallof man and the plan of redemption were the subjects upon whichhe dwelt. “In Adam,” he said, “we are all dead, sunk in corruptionand condemnation.”—Wylie, b. 8, ch. 9. “Christ ... has purchasedfor us a never-ending redemption.... His passion is ... an eternalsacrifice, and everlastingly effectual to heal; it satisfies the divinejustice forever in behalf of all those who rely upon it with firm andunshaken faith.” Yet he clearly taught that men are not, because ofthe grace of Christ, free to continue in sin. “Wherever there is faithin God, there God is; and wherever God abideth, there a zeal existsurging and impelling men to good works.”—D’Aubigne, b. 8, ch. 9.

Such was the interest in Zwingli’s preaching that the cathedralwas filled to overflowing with the crowds that came to listen tohim. Little by little, as they could bear it, he opened the truth to hishearers. He was careful not to introduce, at first, points which wouldstartle them and create prejudice. His work was to win their hearts tothe teachings of Christ, to soften them by His love, and keep beforethem His example; and as they should receive the principles of thegospel, their superstitious beliefs and practices would inevitably beoverthrown.


152 The Great Controversy

Step by step the Reformation advanced in Zurich. In alarm itsenemies aroused to active opposition. One year before, the monk ofWittenberg had uttered his No to the pope and the emperor at Worms,and now everything seemed to indicate a similar withstanding of thepapal claims at Zurich. Repeated attacks were made upon Zwingli.In the papal cantons, from time to time, disciples of the gospel werebrought to the stake, but this was not enough; the teacher of heresymust be silenced. Accordingly the bishop of Constance dispatchedthree deputies to the Council of Zurich, accusing Zwingli of teachingthe people to transgress the laws of the church, thus endangering thepeace and good order of society. If the authority of the church wereto be set aside, he urged, universal anarchy would result. Zwinglireplied that he had been for four years teaching the gospel in Zurich,“which was more quiet and peaceful than any other town in theconfederacy.” “Is not, then,” he said, “Christianity the best safeguardof the general security?”—Wylie, b. 8, ch. 11.

The deputies had admonished the councilors to continue in thechurch, out of which, they declared, there was no salvation. Zwingliresponded: “Let not this accusation move you. The foundation of thechurch is the same Rock, the same Christ, that gave Peter his namebecause he confessed Him faithfully. In every nation whosoeverbelieves with all his heart in the Lord Jesus is accepted of God. Here,truly, is the church, out of which no one can be saved.”—D’Aubigne,London ed., b. 8, ch. 11. As a result of the conference, one of thebishop’s deputies accepted the reformed faith.

The council declined to take action against Zwingli, and Romeprepared for a fresh attack. The Reformer, when apprised of theplots of his enemies, exclaimed: “Let them come on; I fear them asthe beetling cliff fears the waves that thunder at its feet.”—Wylie, b.8, ch. 11. The efforts of the ecclesiastics only furthered the causewhich they sought to overthrow. The truth continued to spread. InGermany its adherents, cast down by Luther’s disappearance, tookheart again, as they saw the progress of the gospel in Switzerland.

As the Reformation became established in Zurich, its fruits weremore fully seen in the suppression of vice and the promotion oforder and harmony. “Peace has her habitation in our town,” wroteZwingli; “no quarrel, no hypocrisy, no envy, no strife. Whence cansuch union come but from the Lord, and our doctrine, which fills us with the fruits of peace and piety?”—Ibid.,b. 8, ch. 15.

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The victories gained by the Reformation stirred the Romaniststo still more determined efforts for its overthrow. Seeing how littlehad been accomplished by persecution in suppressing Luther’s workin Germany, they decided to meet the reform with its own weapons.They would hold a disputation with Zwingli, and having the arrangement of matters, they would make sure of victory by choosing,themselves, not only the place of the combat, but the judges thatshould decide between the disputants. And if they could once getZwingli into their power, they would take care that he did not escapethem. The leader silenced, the movement could speedily be crushed.This purpose, however, was carefully concealed.

The disputation was appointed to be held at Baden; but Zwingliwas not present. The Council of Zurich, suspecting the designs ofthe papists, and warned by the burning piles kindled in the papalcantons for confessors of the gospel, forbade their pastor to exposehimself to this peril. At Zurich he was ready to meet all the partisansthat Rome might send; but to go to Baden, where the blood ofmartyrs for the truth had just been shed, was to go to certain death.Oecolampadius and Haller were chosen to represent the Reformers,while the famous Dr. Eck, supported by a host of learned doctorsand prelates, was the champion of Rome.

Though Zwingli was not present at the conference, his influencewas felt. The secretaries were all chosen by the papists, and otherswere forbidden to take notes, on pain of death. Notwithstandingthis, Zwingli received daily a faithful account of what was said atBaden. A student in attendance at the disputation made a recordeach evening of the arguments that day presented. These paperstwo other students undertook to deliver, with the daily letters ofOecolampadius, to Zwingli at Zurich. The Reformer answered,giving counsel and suggestions. His letters were written by night,and the students returned with them to Baden in the morning. Toelude the vigilance of the guard stationed at the city gates, thesemessengers brought baskets of poultry on their heads, and they werepermitted to pass without hindrance.


154 The Great Controversy

Thus Zwingli maintained the battle with his wily antagonists. He “has labored more,” said Myconius, “by his meditations, hissleepless nights, and the advice which he transmitted to Baden, thanhe would have done by discussing in person in the midst of hisenemies.”—D’Aubigne, b. 11, ch. 13.

The Romanists, flushed with anticipated triumph, had come toBaden attired in their richest robes and glittering with jewels. Theyfared luxuriously, their tables spread with the most costly delicaciesand the choicest wines. The burden of their ecclesiastical duties waslightened by gaiety and reveling. In marked contrast appeared theReformers, who were looked upon by the people as little better thana company of beggars, and whose frugal fare kept them but shorttime at table. Oecolampadius’s landlord, taking occasion to watchhim in his room, found him always engaged in study or at prayer,and greatly wondering, reported that the heretic was at least “verypious.”

At the conference, “Eck haughtily ascended a pulpit splendidlydecorated, while the humble Oecolampadius, meanly clothed, wasforced to take his seat in front of his opponent on a rudely carvedstool.”—Ibid., b. 11, ch. 13. Eck’s stentorian voice and unboundedassurance never failed him. His zeal was stimulated by the hope ofgold as well as fame; for the defender of the faith was to be rewardedby a handsome fee. When better arguments failed, he had resort toinsults, and even to oaths.

Oecolampadius, modest and self-distrustful, had shrunk from thecombat, and he entered upon it with the solemn avowal: “I acknowledge no other standard of judgment than the word of God.”—Ibid.,b. 11, ch. 13. Though gentle and courteous in demeanor, he provedhimself able and unflinching. While the Romanists, according totheir wont, appealed for authority to the customs of the church, theReformer adhered steadfastly to the Holy Scriptures. “Custom,” hesaid, “has no force in our Switzerland, unless it be according to theconstitution; now, in matters of faith, the Bible is our constitution.”—Ibid., b. 11, ch. 13.

The contrast between the two disputants was not without effect.The calm, clear reasoning of the Reformer, so gently and modestlypresented, appealed to minds that turned in disgust from Eck’s boastful and boisterous assumptions.

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The discussion continued eighteen days. At its close the papists with great confidence claimed the victory. Most of the deputies sidedwith Rome, and the Diet pronounced the Reformers vanquished anddeclared that they, together with Zwingli, their leader, were cut offfrom the church. But the fruits of the conference revealed on whichside the advantage lay. The contest resulted in a strong impetus tothe Protestant cause, and it was not long afterward that the importantcities of Bern and Basel declared for the Reformation.


Chapter 10—Progress of Reform in Germany

Luther’s mysterious disappearance excited consternationthroughout all Germany. Inquiries concerning him were heard everywhere. The wildest rumors were circulated, and many believedthat he had been murdered. There was great lamentation, not only byhis avowed friends, but by thousands who had not openly taken theirstand with the Reformation. Many bound themselves by a solemnoath to avenge his death.

The Romish leaders saw with terror to what a pitch had risen thefeeling against them. Though at first exultant at the supposed deathof Luther, they soon desired to hide from the wrath of the people.His enemies had not been so troubled by his most daring acts whileamong them as they were at his removal. Those who in their ragehad sought to destroy the bold Reformer were filled with fear nowthat he had become a helpless captive. “The only remaining way ofsaving ourselves,” said one, “is to light torches, and hunt for Lutherthrough the whole world, to restore him to the nation that is callingfor him.”—D’Aubigne, b. 9, ch. 1. The edict of the emperor seemedto fall powerless. The papal legates were filled with indignation asthey saw that it commanded far less attention than did the fate ofLuther.

The tidings that he was safe, though a prisoner, calmed the fearsof the people, while it still further aroused their enthusiasm in hisfavor. His writings were read with greater eagerness than ever before.Increasing numbers joined the cause of the heroic man who had, atsuch fearful odds, defended the word of God. The Reformation wasconstantly gaining in strength. The seed which Luther had sownsprang up everywhere. His absence accomplished a work whichhis presence would have failed to do. Other laborers felt a newresponsibility, now that their great leader was removed. With newfaith and earnestness they pressed forward to do all in their power,that the work so nobly begun might not be hindered.



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But Satan was not idle. He now attempted what he has attemptedin every other reformatory movement—to deceive and destroy thepeople by palming off upon them a counterfeit in place of the truework. As there were false Christs in the first century of the Christianchurch, so there arose false prophets in the sixteenth century.

A few men, deeply affected by the excitement in the religiousworld, imagined themselves to have received special revelations fromHeaven, and claimed to have been divinely commissioned to carryforward to its completion the Reformation which, they declared,had been but feebly begun by Luther. In truth, they were undoingthe very work which he had accomplished. They rejected the greatprinciple which was the very foundation of the Reformation—thatthe word of God is the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice; andfor that unerring guide they substituted the changeable, uncertainstandard of their own feelings and impressions. By this act of settingaside the great detector of error and falsehood the way was openedfor Satan to control minds as best pleased himself.

One of these prophets claimed to have been instructed by theangel Gabriel. A student who united with him forsook his studies,declaring that he had been endowed by God Himself with wisdom toexpound His word. Others who were naturally inclined to fanaticismunited with them. The proceedings of these enthusiasts created nolittle excitement. The preaching of Luther had aroused the peopleeverywhere to feel the necessity of reform, and now some reallyhonest persons were misled by the pretensions of the new prophets.

The leaders of the movement proceeded to Wittenberg and urgedtheir claims upon Melanchthon and his colaborers. Said they: “Weare sent by God to instruct the people. We have held familiar conversations with the Lord; we know what will happen; in a word, we areapostles and prophets, and appeal to Dr. Luther.”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 7.

The Reformers were astonished and perplexed. This was suchan element as they had never before encountered, and they knewnot what course to pursue. Said Melanchthon: “There are indeedextraordinary spirits in these men; but what spirits? ... On the onehand, let us beware of quenching the Spirit of God, and on the other,of being led astray by the spirit of Satan.”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 7.


158 The Great Controversy

The fruit of the new teaching soon became apparent. The people were led to neglect the Bible or to cast it wholly aside. The schoolswere thrown into confusion. Students, spurning all restraint, abandoned their studies and withdrew from the university. The men whothought themselves competent to revive and control the work of theReformation succeeded only in bringing it to the verge of ruin. TheRomanists now regained their confidence and exclaimed exultingly:“One last struggle, and all will be ours.”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 7.

Luther at the Wartburg, hearing of what had occurred, said withdeep concern: “I always expected that Satan would send us thisplague.”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 7. He perceived the true character of thosepretended prophets and saw the danger that threatened the cause oftruth. The opposition of the pope and the emperor had not causedhim so great perplexity and distress as he now experienced. Fromthe professed friends of the Reformation had risen its worst enemies.The very truths which had brought him so great joy and consolationwere being employed to stir up strife and create confusion in thechurch.

In the work of reform, Luther had been urged forward by theSpirit of God, and had been carried beyond himself. He had notpurposed to take such positions as he did, or to make so radicalchanges. He had been but the instrument in the hand of InfinitePower. Yet he often trembled for the result of his work. He had oncesaid: “If I knew that my doctrine injured one man, one single man,however lowly and obscure,—which it cannot, for it is the gospelitself,—I would rather die ten times than not retract it.”—Ibid., b. 9,ch. 7.

And now Wittenberg itself, the very center of the Reformation,was fast falling under the power of fanaticism and lawlessness. Thisterrible condition had not resulted from the teachings of Luther;but throughout Germany his enemies were charging it upon him.In bitterness of soul he sometimes asked: “Can such, then, be theend of this great work of the Reformation?”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 7.Again, as he wrestled with God in prayer, peace flowed into hisheart. “The work is not mine, but Thine own,” he said; “Thouwilt not suffer it to be corrupted by superstition or fanaticism.” Butthe thought of remaining longer from the conflict in such a crisis,became insupportable. He determined to return to Wittenberg.

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Without delay he set out on his perilous journey. He was under the ban of the empire. Enemies were at liberty to take his life; friendswere forbidden to aid or shelter him. The imperial government wasadopting the most stringent measures against his adherents. But hesaw that the work of the gospel was imperiled, and in the name ofthe Lord he went out fearlessly to battle for the truth.

In a letter to the elector, after stating his purpose to leave theWartburg, Luther said: “Be it known to your highness that I am goingto Wittenberg under a protection far higher than that of princes andelectors. I think not of soliciting your highness’s support, and farfrom desiring your protection, I would rather protect you myself. IfI knew that your highness could or would protect me, I would notgo to Wittenberg at all. There is no sword that can further this cause.God alone must do everything, without the help or concurrenceof man. He who has the greatest faith is he who is most able toprotect.”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 8.

In a second letter, written on the way to Wittenberg, Lutheradded: “I am ready to incur the displeasure of your highness andthe anger of the whole world. Are not the Wittenbergers my sheep?Has not God entrusted them to me? And ought I not, if necessary, toexpose myself to death for their sakes? Besides, I fear to see a terribleoutbreak in Germany, by which God will punish our nation.”—Ibid.,b. 9, ch. 7.

With great caution and humility, yet with decision and firmness,he entered upon his work. “By the word,” said he, “must we overthrow and destroy what has been set up by violence. I will not makeuse of force against the superstitious and unbelieving.... No onemust be constrained. Liberty is the very essence of faith.”—Ibid., b.9, ch. 8.

It was soon noised through Wittenberg that Luther had returnedand that he was to preach. The people flocked from all directions,and the church was filled to overflowing. Ascending the pulpit, hewith great wisdom and gentleness instructed, exhorted, and reproved.Touching the course of some who had resorted to violent measuresin abolishing the mass, he said:

“The mass is a bad thing; God is opposed to it; it ought to beabolished; and I would that throughout the whole world it werereplaced by the supper of the gospel. But let no one be torn fromit by force. We must leave the matter in God’s hands. His wordmust act, and not we. And why so? you will ask. Because I do nothold men’s hearts in my hand, as the potter holds the clay.


160 The Great Controversy

We havea right to speak: we have not the right to act. Let us preach; therest belongs unto God. Were I to employ force, what should I gain?Grimace, formality, apings, human ordinances, and hypocrisy.... Butthere would be no sincerity of heart, nor faith, nor charity. Wherethese three are wanting, all is wanting, and I would not give a pearstalk for such a result.... God does more by His word alone than youand I and all the world by our united strength. God lays hold uponthe heart; and when the heart is taken, all is won....

“I will preach, discuss, and write; but I will constrain none, forfaith is a voluntary act. See what I have done. I stood up against thepope, indulgences, and papists, but without violence or tumult. I putforward God’s word; I preached and wrote—this was all I did. Andyet while I was asleep, ... the word that I had preached overthrewpopery, so that neither prince nor emperor has done it so much harm.And yet I did nothing; the word alone did all. If I had wished toappeal to force, the whole of Germany would perhaps have beendeluged with blood. But what would have been the result? Ruin anddesolation both to body and soul. I therefore kept quiet, and left theword to run through the world alone.”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 8.

Day after day, for a whole week, Luther continued to preachto eager crowds. The word of God broke the spell of fanaticalexcitement. The power of the gospel brought back the misguidedpeople into the way of truth.

Luther had no desire to encounter the fanatics whose course hadbeen productive of so great evil. He knew them to be men of unsoundjudgment and undisciplined passions, who, while claiming to bespecially illuminated from heaven, would not endure the slightestcontradiction or even the kindest reproof or counsel. Arrogating tothemselves supreme authority, they required everyone, without aquestion, to acknowledge their claims. But, as they demanded aninterview with him, he consented to meet them; and so successfullydid he expose their pretensions that the impostors at once departedfrom Wittenberg.


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The fanaticism was checked for a time; but several years later it broke out with greater violence and more terrible results. SaidLuther, concerning the leaders in this movement: “To them the Holy Scriptures were but a dead letter, and they all began to cry, ‘TheSpirit! the Spirit!’ But most assuredly I will not follow where theirspirit leads them. May God of His mercy preserve me from a churchin which there are none but saints. I desire to dwell with the humble,the feeble, the sick, who know and feel their sins, and who groanand cry continually to God from the bottom of their hearts to obtainHis consolation and support.”—Ibid., b. 10, ch. 10.

Thomas Munzer, the most active of the fanatics, was a man ofconsiderable ability, which, rightly directed, would have enabledhim to do good; but he had not learned the first principles of true religion. “He was possessed with a desire of reforming the world, andforgot, as all enthusiasts do, that the reformation should begin withhimself.”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 8. He was ambitious to obtain positionand influence, and was unwilling to be second, even to Luther. Hedeclared that the Reformers, in substituting the authority of Scripture for that of the pope, were only establishing a different form ofpopery. He himself, he claimed, had been divinely commissionedto introduce the true reform. “He who possesses this spirit,” saidMunzer, “possesses the true faith, although he should never see theScriptures in his life.”—Ibid., b. 10, ch. 10.

The fanatical teachers gave themselves up to be governed byimpressions, regarding every thought and impulse as the voice ofGod; consequently they went to great extremes. Some even burnedtheir Bibles, exclaiming: “The letter killeth, but the Spirit givethlife.” Munzer’s teaching appealed to men’s desire for the marvelous,while it gratified their pride by virtually placing human ideas andopinions above the word of God. His doctrines were received bythousands. He soon denounced all order in public worship, anddeclared that to obey princes was to attempt to serve both God andBelial.

The minds of the people, already beginning to throw off the yokeof the papacy, were also becoming impatient under the restraints ofcivil authority. Munzer’s revolutionary teachings, claiming divinesanction, led them to break away from all control and give the reinto their prejudices and passions. The most terrible scenes of seditionand strife followed, and the fields of Germany were drenched withblood.


162 The Great Controversy

The agony of soul which Luther had so long before experienced at Erfurt now pressed upon him with redoubled power as he sawthe results of fanaticism charged upon the Reformation. The papistprinces declared—and many were ready to credit the statement—thatthe rebellion was the legitimate fruit of Luther’s doctrines. Althoughthis charge was without the slightest foundation, it could not butcause the Reformer great distress. That the cause of truth should bethus disgraced by being ranked with the basest fanaticism, seemedmore than he could endure. On the other hand, the leaders in therevolt hated Luther because he had not only opposed their doctrinesand denied their claims to divine inspiration, but had pronouncedthem rebels against the civil authority. In retaliation they denouncedhim as a base pretender. He seemed to have brought upon himselfthe enmity of both princes and people.

The Romanists exulted, expecting to witness the speedy downfallof the Reformation; and they blamed Luther, even for the errorswhich he had been most earnestly endeavoring to correct. Thefanatical party, by falsely claiming to have been treated with greatinjustice, succeeded in gaining the sympathies of a large class ofthe people, and, as is often the case with those who take the wrongside, they came to be regarded as martyrs. Thus the ones who wereexerting every energy in opposition to the Reformation were pitiedand lauded as the victims of cruelty and oppression. This was thework of Satan, prompted by the same spirit of rebellion which wasfirst manifested in heaven.

Satan is constantly seeking to deceive men and lead them to callsin righteousness, and righteousness sin. How successful has beenhis work! How often censure and reproach are cast upon God’sfaithful servants because they will stand fearlessly in defense of thetruth! Men who are but agents of Satan are praised and flattered, andeven looked upon as martyrs, while those who should be respectedand sustained for their fidelity to God, are left to stand alone, undersuspicion and distrust.

Counterfeit holiness, spurious sanctification, is still doing itswork of deception. Under various forms it exhibits the same spiritas in the days of Luther, diverting minds from the Scriptures andleading men to follow their own feelings and impressions rather thanto yield obedience to the law of God. This is one of Satan’s mostsuccessful devices to cast reproach upon purity and truth.

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Fearlessly did Luther defend the gospel from the attacks whichcame from every quarter. The word of God proved itself a weaponmighty in every conflict. With that word he warred against theusurped authority of the pope, and the rationalistic philosophy of theschoolmen, while he stood firm as a rock against the fanaticism thatsought to ally itself with the Reformation.

Each of these opposing elements was in its own way setting asidethe Holy Scriptures and exalting human wisdom as the source of religious truth and knowledge. Rationalism idolizes reason and makesthis the criterion for religion. Romanism, claiming for her sovereignpontiff an inspiration descended in unbroken line from the apostles,and unchangeable through all time, gives ample opportunity for every species of extravagance and corruption to be concealed underthe sanctity of the apostolic commission. The inspiration claimedby Munzer and his associates proceeded from no higher source thanthe vagaries of the imagination, and its influence was subversive ofall authority, human or divine. True Christianity receives the wordof God as the great treasure house of inspired truth and the test ofall inspiration.

Upon his return from the Wartburg, Luther completed his translation of the New Testament, and the gospel was soon after givento the people of Germany in their own language. This translationwas received with great joy by all who loved the truth; but it wasscornfully rejected by those who chose human traditions and thecommandments of men.

The priests were alarmed at the thought that the common peoplewould now be able to discuss with them the precepts of God’s word,and that their own ignorance would thus be exposed. The weaponsof their carnal reasoning were powerless against the sword of theSpirit. Rome summoned all her authority to prevent the circulationof the Scriptures; but decrees, anathemas, and tortures were alike invain. The more she condemned and prohibited the Bible, the greaterwas the anxiety of the people to know what it really taught. Allwho could read were eager to study the word of God for themselves.They carried it about with them, and read and reread, and couldnot be satisfied until they had committed large portions to memory.Seeing the favor with which the New Testament was received, Lutherimmediately began the translation of the Old, and published it in parts as fast as completed.


164 The Great Controversy

Luther’s writings were welcomed alike in city and in hamlet.“What Luther and his friends composed, others circulated. Monks,convinced of the unlawfulness of monastic obligations, desirous ofexchanging a long life of slothfulness for one of active exertion,but too ignorant to proclaim the word of God, traveled through theprovinces, visiting hamlets and cottages, where they sold the booksof Luther and his friends. Germany soon swarmed with these boldcolporteurs.”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 11.

These writings were studied with deep interest by rich and poor,the learned and the ignorant. At night the teachers of the villageschools read them aloud to little groups gathered at the fireside.With every effort some souls would be convicted of the truth and,receiving the word with gladness, would in their turn tell the goodnews to others.

The words of Inspiration were verified: “The entrance of Thywords giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psalm119:130. The study of the Scriptures was working a mighty changein the minds and hearts of the people. The papal rule had placedupon its subjects an iron yoke which held them in ignorance anddegradation. A superstitious observance of forms had been scrupulously maintained; but in all their service the heart and intellect hadhad little part. The preaching of Luther, setting forth the plain truthsof God’s word, and then the word itself, placed in the hands of thecommon people, had aroused their dormant powers, not only purifying and ennobling the spiritual nature, but imparting new strengthand vigor to the intellect.

Persons of all ranks were to be seen with the Bible in their hands,defending the doctrines of the Reformation. The papists who hadleft the study of the Scriptures to the priests and monks now calledupon them to come forward and refute the new teachings. But, ignorant alike of the Scriptures and of the power of God, priests andfriars were totally defeated by those whom they had denounced asunlearned and heretical. “Unhappily,” said a Catholic writer, “Lutherhad persuaded his followers to put no faith in any other oracle thanthe Holy Scriptures.”—D’Aubigne, b. 9, ch. 11.

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Crowds would gather to hear the truth advocated by men of little education, andeven discussed by them with learned and eloquent theologians. Theshameful ignorance of these great men was made apparent as theirarguments were met by the simple teachings of God’s word. Laborers, soldiers, women, and even children, were better acquainted withthe Bible teachings than were the priests and learned doctors.

The contrast between the disciples of the gospel and the upholders of popish superstition was no less manifest in the ranksof scholars than among the common people. “Opposed to the oldchampions of the hierarchy, who had neglected the study of languages and the cultivation of literature, ... were generous-mindedyouth, devoted to study, investigating Scripture, and familiarizingthemselves with the masterpieces of antiquity. Possessing an activemind, an elevated soul, and intrepid heart, these young men soonacquired such knowledge that for a long period none could competewith them.... Accordingly, when these youthful defenders of theReformation met the Romish doctors in any assembly, they attackedthem with such ease and confidence that these ignorant men hesitated, became embarrassed, and fell into a contempt merited in theeyes of all.”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 11.

As the Romish clergy saw their congregations diminishing, theyinvoked the aid of the magistrates, and by every means in their powerendeavored to bring back their hearers. But the people had foundin the new teachings that which supplied the wants of their souls,and they turned away from those who had so long fed them with theworthless husks of superstitious rites and human traditions.

When persecution was kindled against the teachers of the truth,they gave heed to the words of Christ: “When they persecute you inthis city, flee ye into another.” Matthew 10:23. The light penetratedeverywhere. The fugitives would find somewhere a hospitable dooropened to them, and there abiding, they would preach Christ, sometimes in the church, or, if denied that privilege, in private housesor in the open air. Wherever they could obtain a hearing was aconsecrated temple. The truth, proclaimed with such energy andassurance, spread with irresistible power.

In vain both ecclesiastical and civil authorities were invoked tocrush the heresy. In vain they resorted to imprisonment, torture,fire, and sword. Thousands of believers sealed their faith with theirblood, and yet the work went on. Persecution served only to extendthe truth, and the fanaticism which Satan endeavored to unite with it resulted in making more clear the contrast between the work of Satan and the work of God.


166 The Great Controversy

Chapter 11—Protest of the Princes

One of the noblest testimonies ever uttered for the Reformationwas the Protest offered by the Christian princes of Germany at theDiet of Spires in 1529. The courage, faith, and firmness of thosemen of God gained for succeeding ages liberty of thought and ofconscience. Their Protest gave to the reformed church the name ofProtestant; its principles are “the very essence of Protestantism.”—D’Aubigne, b. 13, ch. 6.

A dark and threatening day had come for the Reformation.Notwithstanding the Edict of Worms, declaring Luther to be an outlaw and forbidding the teaching or belief of his doctrines, religioustoleration had thus far prevailed in the empire. God’s providencehad held in check the forces that opposed the truth. Charles V wasbent on crushing the Reformation, but often as he raised his hand tostrike he had been forced to turn aside the blow. Again and againthe immediate destruction of all who dared to oppose themselvesto Rome appeared inevitable; but at the critical moment the armiesof the Turk appeared on the eastern frontier, or the king of France,or even the pope himself, jealous of the increasing greatness of theemperor, made war upon him; and thus, amid the strife and tumultof nations, the Reformation had been left to strengthen and extend.

At last, however, the papal sovereigns had stifled their feuds, thatthey might make common cause against the Reformers. The Diet ofSpires in 1526 had given each state full liberty in matters of religionuntil the meeting of a general council; but no sooner had the dangerspassed which secured this concession, than the emperor summoned asecond Diet to convene at Spires in 1529 for the purpose of crushingheresy. The princes were to be induced, by peaceable means ifpossible, to side against the Reformation; but if these failed, Charleswas prepared to resort to the sword.



168 The Great Controversy

The papists were exultant. They appeared at Spires in great numbers, and openly manifested their hostility toward the Reformers and all who favored them. Said Melanchthon: “We are the execrationand the sweepings of the world; but Christ will look down on Hispoor people, and will preserve them.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 5. Theevangelical princes in attendance at the Diet were forbidden even tohave the gospel preached in their dwellings. But the people of Spiresthirsted for the word of God, and, notwithstanding the prohibition,thousands flocked to the services held in the chapel of the elector ofSaxony.

This hastened the crisis. An imperial message announced to theDiet that as the resolution granting liberty of conscience had givenrise to great disorders, the emperor required that it be annulled. Thisarbitrary act excited the indignation and alarm of the evangelicalChristians. Said one: “Christ has again fallen into the hands of Caiaphas and Pilate.” The Romanists became more violent. A bigotedpapist declared: “The Turks are better than the Lutherans; for theTurks observe fast days, and the Lutherans violate them. If we mustchoose between the Holy Scriptures of God and the old errors of thechurch, we should reject the former.” Said Melanchthon: “Every day,in full assembly, Faber casts some new stone at us gospelers.”—Ibid.,b. 13, ch. 5.

Religious toleration had been legally established, and the evangelical states were resolved to oppose the infringement of their rights.Luther, being still under the ban imposed by the Edict of Worms, wasnot permitted to be present at Spires; but his place was supplied byhis colaborers and the princes whom God had raised up to defend Hiscause in this emergency. The noble Frederick of Saxony, Luther’sformer protector, had been removed by death; but Duke John, hisbrother and successor, had joyfully welcomed the Reformation, andwhile a friend of peace, he displayed great energy and courage in allmatters relating to the interests of the faith.

The priests demanded that the states which had accepted the Reformation submit implicitly to Romish jurisdiction. The Reformers,on the other hand, claimed the liberty which had previously beengranted. They could not consent that Rome should again bring underher control those states that had with so great joy received the wordof God.

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As a compromise it was finally proposed that where the Reformation had not become established, the Edict of Worms should be rigorously enforced; and that “in those where the people haddeviated from it, and where they could not conform to it withoutdanger of revolt, they should at least effect no new reform, theyshould touch upon no controverted point, they should not opposethe celebration of the mass, they should permit no Roman Catholicto embrace Lutheranism.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 5. This measure passedthe Diet, to the great satisfaction of the popish priests and prelates.

If this edict were enforced, “the Reformation could neither beextended ... where as yet it was unknown, nor be established onsolid foundations ... where it already existed.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch.5. Liberty of speech would be prohibited. No conversions wouldbe allowed. And to these restrictions and prohibitions the friendsof the Reformation were required at once to submit. The hopes ofthe world seemed about to be extinguished. “The re-establishmentof the Romish hierarchy ... would infallibly bring back the ancientabuses;” and an occasion would readily be found for “completingthe destruction of a work already so violently shaken” by fanaticismand dissension.—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 5.

As the evangelical party met for consultation, one looked toanother in blank dismay. From one to another passed the inquiry:“What is to be done?” Mighty issues for the world were at stake.“Shall the chiefs of the Reformation submit, and accept the edict?How easily might the Reformers at this crisis, which was truly atremendous one, have argued themselves into a wrong course! Howmany plausible pretexts and fair reasons might they have found forsubmission! The Lutheran princes were guaranteed the free exerciseof their religion. The same boon was extended to all those of theirsubjects who, prior to the passing of the measure, had embraced thereformed views. Ought not this to content them? How many perilswould submission avoid! On what unknown hazards and conflictswould opposition launch them! Who knows what opportunities thefuture may bring? Let us embrace peace; let us seize the olive branchRome holds out, and close the wounds of Germany. With argumentslike these might the Reformers have justified their adoption of acourse which would have assuredly issued in no long time in theoverthrow of their cause.


170 The Great Controversy

“Happily they looked at the principle on which this arrangement was based, and they acted in faith. What was that principle? It was the right of Rome to coerce conscience and forbid free inquiry. Butwere not themselves and their Protestant subjects to enjoy religiousfreedom? Yes, as a favor specially stipulated for in the arrangement,but not as a right. As to all outside that arrangement, the greatprinciple of authority was to rule; conscience was out of court;Rome was infallible judge, and must be obeyed. The acceptanceof the proposed arrangement would have been a virtual admissionthat religious liberty ought to be confined to reformed Saxony; andas to all the rest of Christendom, free inquiry and the professionof the reformed faith were crimes, and must be visited with thedungeon and the stake. Could they consent to localize religiousliberty? to have it proclaimed that the Reformation had made itslast convert? had subjugated its last acre? and that wherever Romebore sway at this hour, there her dominion was to be perpetuated?Could the Reformers have pleaded that they were innocent of theblood of those hundreds and thousands who, in pursuance of thisarrangement, would have to yield up their lives in popish lands? This would have been to betray, at that supreme hour, the cause of the gospel and the liberties of Christendom.”—Wylie, b. 9, ch. 15. Rather would they “sacrifice everything, even their states, their crowns, and their lives.”—D’Aubigne, b. 13, ch. 5.


“Let us reject this decree,” said the princes. “In matters ofconscience the majority has no power.” The deputies declared: “Itis to the decree of 1526 that we are indebted for the peace thatthe empire enjoys: its abolition would fill Germany with troublesand divisions. The Diet is incompetent to do more than preservereligious liberty until the council meets.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 5. Toprotect liberty of conscience is the duty of the state, and this is thelimit of its authority in matters of religion. Every secular governmentthat attempts to regulate or enforce religious observances by civilauthority is sacrificing the very principle for which the evangelicalChristian so nobly struggled.

The papists determined to put down what they termed “daringobstinacy.” They began by endeavoring to cause divisions amongthe supporters of the Reformation and to intimidate all who hadnot openly declared in its favor. The representatives of the freecities were at last summoned before the Diet and required to declarewhether they would accede to the terms of the proposition. Theypleaded for delay, but in vain. When brought to the test, nearly onehalf their number sided with the Reformers. Those who thus refused to sacrifice liberty of conscience and the right of individual judgment well knew that their position marked them for future criticism, condemnation, and persecution. Said one of the delegates: “We must either deny the word of God, or—be burnt.”—Ibid.,b. 13, ch. 5.

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King Ferdinand, the emperor’s representative at the Diet, sawthat the decree would cause serious divisions unless the princescould be induced to accept and sustain it. He therefore tried theart of persuasion, well knowing that to employ force with suchmen would only render them the more determined. He “beggedthe princes to accept the decree, assuring them that the emperorwould be exceedingly pleased with them.” But these faithful menacknowledged an authority above that of earthly rulers, and theyanswered calmly: “We will obey the emperor in everything that maycontribute to maintain peace and the honor of God.”—Ibid., b. 13,ch. 5.

In the presence of the Diet the king at last announced to the elector and his friends that the edict “was about to be drawn up in theform of an imperial decree,” and that “their only remaining coursewas to submit to the majority.” Having thus spoken, he withdrewfrom the assembly, giving the Reformers no opportunity for deliberation or reply. “To no purpose they sent a deputation entreatingthe king to return.” To their remonstrances he answered only: “It isa settled affair; submission is all that remains.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 5.

The imperial party were convinced that the Christian princeswould adhere to the Holy Scriptures as superior to human doctrinesand requirements; and they knew that wherever this principle wasaccepted, the papacy would eventually be overthrown. But, likethousands since their time, looking only “at the things which areseen,” they flattered themselves that the cause of the emperor andthe pope was strong, and that of the Reformers weak. Had theReformers depended upon human aid alone, they would have beenas powerless as the papists supposed. But though weak in numbers,and at variance with Rome, they had their strength. They appealed“from the report of the Diet to the word of God, and from the emperorCharles to Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords.”—Ibid.,b. 13, ch. 6.


172 The Great Controversy

As Ferdinand had refused to regard their conscientious convictions, the princes decided not to heed his absence, but to bringtheir Protest before the national council without delay. A solemndeclaration was therefore drawn up and presented to the Diet:

“We protest by these presents, before God, our only Creator,Preserver, Redeemer, and Saviour, and who will one day be ourJudge, as well as before all men and all creatures, that we, for us andfor our people, neither consent nor adhere in any manner whatsoever to the proposed decree, in anything that is contrary to God, to His holy word, to our right conscience, to the salvation of our souls.”


“What! we ratify this edict! We assert that when Almighty Godcalls a man to His knowledge, this man nevertheless cannot receivethe knowledge of God!” “There is no sure doctrine but such as isconformable to the word of God.... The Lord forbids the teaching ofany other doctrine.... The Holy Scriptures ought to be explained byother and clearer texts; ... this Holy Book is, in all things necessaryfor the Christian, easy of understanding, and calculated to scatterthe darkness. We are resolved, with the grace of God, to maintainthe pure and exclusive preaching of His only word, such as it iscontained in the biblical books of the Old and New Testaments,without adding anything thereto that may be contrary to it. Thisword is the only truth; it is the sure rule of all doctrine and of all life,and can never fail or deceive us. He who builds on this foundationshall stand against all the powers of hell, while all the human vanitiesthat are set up against it shall fall before the face of God.”

“For this reason we reject the yoke that is imposed on us.” “Atthe same time we are in expectation that his imperial majesty willbehave toward us like a Christian prince who loves God above allthings; and we declare ourselves ready to pay unto him, as well asunto you, gracious lords, all the affection and obedience that are ourjust and legitimate duty.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 6.

A deep impression was made upon the Diet. The majority werefilled with amazement and alarm at the boldness of the protesters.The future appeared to them stormy and uncertain. Dissension, strife,and bloodshed seemed inevitable. But the Reformers, assured ofthe justice of their cause, and relying upon the arm of Omnipotence,were “full of courage and firmness.”

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“The principles contained in this celebrated Protest ... constitutethe very essence of Protestantism. Now this Protest opposes twoabuses of man in matters of faith: the first is the intrusion of thecivil magistrate, and the second the arbitrary authority of the church.Instead of these abuses, Protestantism sets the power of conscienceabove the magistrate, and the authority of the word of God above thevisible church. In the first place, it rejects the civil power in divinethings, and says with the prophets and apostles, ‘We must obey Godrather than man.’ In presence of the crown of Charles the Fifth, ituplifts the crown of Jesus Christ. But it goes farther: it lays down theprinciple that all human teaching should be subordinate to the oraclesof God.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 6. The protesters had moreover affirmedtheir right to utter freely their convictions of truth. They would notonly believe and obey, but teach what the word of God presents, andthey denied the right of priest or magistrate to interfere. The Protestof Spires was a solemn witness against religious intolerance, andan assertion of the right of all men to worship God according to thedictates of their own consciences.

The declaration had been made. It was written in the memory ofthousands and registered in the books of heaven, where no effort ofman could erase it. All evangelical Germany adopted the Protest asthe expression of its faith. Everywhere men beheld in this declarationthe promise of a new and better era. Said one of the princes to theProtestants of Spires: “May the Almighty, who has given you graceto confess energetically, freely, and fearlessly, preserve you in thatChristian firmness until the day of eternity.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 6.

Had the Reformation, after attaining a degree of success, consented to temporize to secure favor with the world, it would havebeen untrue to God and to itself, and would thus have ensured itsown destruction. The experience of these noble Reformers containsa lesson for all succeeding ages. Satan’s manner of working againstGod and His word has not changed; he is still as much opposed to theScriptures being made the guide of life as in the sixteenth century. Inour time there is a wide departure from their doctrines and precepts,and there is need of a return to the great Protestant principle—theBible, and the Bible only, as the rule of faith and duty. Satan isstill working through every means which he can control to destroyreligious liberty. The antichristian power which the protesters ofSpires rejected is now with renewed vigor seeking to re-establish its lost supremacy. The same unswerving adherence to the word of God manifested at that crisis of the Reformation is the only hope of reform today.


174 The Great Controversy

There appeared tokens of danger to the Protestants; there weretokens, also, that the divine hand was stretched out to protect thefaithful. It was about this time that “Melanchthon hastily conductedthrough the streets of Spires toward the Rhine his friend SimonGrynaeus, pressing him to cross the river. The latter was astonishedat such precipitation. ‘An old man of grave and solemn air, but whois unknown to me,’ said Melanchthon, ‘appeared before me and said,In a minute officers of justice will be sent by Ferdinand to arrestGrynaeus.’”

During the day, Grynaeus had been scandalized at a sermon byFaber, a leading papal doctor; and at the close, remonstrated withhim for defending “certain detestable errors.” “Faber dissembled hisanger, but immediately after repaired to the king, from whom he hadobtained an order against the importunate professor of Heidelberg.Melanchthon doubted not that God had saved his friend by sendingone of His holy angels to forewarn him.

“Motionless on the banks of the Rhine, he waited until the watersof that stream had rescued Grynaeus from his persecutors. ‘Atlast,’ cried Melanchthon, as he saw him on the opposite side, ‘atlast he is torn from the cruel jaws of those who thirst for innocentblood.’ When he returned to his house, Melanchthon was informedthat officers in search of Grynaeus had ransacked it from top tobottom.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 6.


The Reformation was to be brought into greater prominence before the mighty ones of the earth. The evangelical princes had been denied a hearing by King Ferdinand; but they were to begranted an opportunity to present their cause in the presence of theemperor and the assembled dignitaries of church and state. To quietthe dissensions which disturbed the empire, Charles V, in the yearfollowing the Protest of Spires, convoked a diet at Augsburg, overwhich he announced his intention to preside in person. Thither theProtestant leaders were summoned.

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Great dangers threatened the Reformation; but its advocates still trusted their cause with God, and pledged themselves to be firm tothe gospel. The elector of Saxony was urged by his councilors not toappear at the Diet. The emperor, they said, required the attendanceof the princes in order to draw them into a snare. “Is it not riskingeverything to go and shut oneself up within the walls of a city witha powerful enemy?” But others nobly declared, “Let the princesonly comport themselves with courage, and God’s cause is saved.”“God is faithful; He will not abandon us,” said Luther.—Ibid., b.14, ch. 2. The elector set out, with his retinue, for Augsburg. Allwere acquainted with the dangers that menaced him, and many wentforward with gloomy countenance and troubled heart. But Luther,who accompanied them as far as Coburg, revived their sinking faithby singing the hymn, written on that journey, “A strong tower is ourGod.” Many an anxious foreboding was banished, many a heavyheart lightened, at the sound of the inspiring strains.

The reformed princes had determined upon having a statementof their views in systematic form, with the evidence from the Scriptures, to present before the Diet; and the task of its preparationwas committed to Luther, Melanchthon, and their associates. ThisConfession was accepted by the Protestants as an exposition oftheir faith, and they assembled to affix their names to the importantdocument. It was a solemn and trying time. The Reformers weresolicitous that their cause should not be confounded with politicalquestions; they felt that the Reformation should exercise no otherinfluence than that which proceeds from the word of God. As theChristian princes advanced to sign the Confession, Melanchthoninterposed, saying: “It is for the theologians and ministers to propose these things; let us reserve for other matters the authority ofthe mighty ones of the earth.” “God forbid,” replied John of Saxony,“that you should exclude me. I am resolved to do what is right,without troubling myself about my crown. I desire to confess theLord. My electoral hat and my ermine are not so precious to meas the cross of Jesus Christ.” Having thus spoken, he wrote downhis name. Said another of the princes as he took the pen: “If thehonor of my Lord Jesus Christ requires it, I am ready ... to leavemy goods and life behind.” “I would rather renounce my subjectsand my states, rather quit the country of my fathers staff in hand,”he continued, “than receive any other doctrine than that which iscontained in this Confession.”—Ibid.,b. 14, ch. 6. Such was the faith and daring of those men of God.


176 The Great Controversy

The appointed time came to appear before the emperor. CharlesV, seated upon his throne, surrounded by the electors and the princes,gave audience to the Protestant Reformers. The confession of theirfaith was read. In that august assembly the truths of the gospel wereclearly set forth, and the errors of the papal church were pointed out.Well has that day been pronounced “the greatest day of the Reformation, and one of the most glorious in the history of Christianityand of mankind.”—Ibid., b. 14, ch. 7.

But a few years had passed since the monk of Wittenberg stoodalone at Worms before the national council. Now in his stead werethe noblest and most powerful princes of the empire. Luther hadbeen forbidden to appear at Augsburg, but he had been present byhis words and prayers. “I am overjoyed,” he wrote, “that I have liveduntil this hour, in which Christ has been publicly exalted by suchillustrious confessors, and in so glorious an assembly.”—Ibid., b. 14,ch. 7. Thus was fulfilled what the Scripture says: “I will speak ofThy testimonies ... before kings.” Psalm 119:46.

In the days of Paul the gospel for which he was imprisonedwas thus brought before the princes and nobles of the imperial city.So on this occasion, that which the emperor had forbidden to bepreached from the pulpit was proclaimed from the palace; whatmany had regarded as unfit even for servants to listen to was heardwith wonder by the masters and lords of the empire. Kings and greatmen were the auditory, crowned princes were the preachers, and thesermon was the royal truth of God. “Since the apostolic age,” says awriter, “there has never been a greater work or a more magnificentconfession.”—D’Aubigne, b. 14, ch. 7.

“All that the Lutherans have said is true; we cannot deny it,”declared a papist bishop. “Can you refute by sound reasons theConfession made by the elector and his allies?” asked another of Dr.Eck. “With the writings of the apostles and prophets—no!” was thereply; “but with those of the Fathers and of the councils—yes!” “Iunderstand,” responded the questioner. “The Lutherans, accordingto you, are in Scripture, and we are outside.”—Ibid., b. 14, ch. 8.

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Some of the princes of Germany were won to the reformed faith. The emperor himself declared that the Protestant articles were butthe truth. The Confession was translated into many languages andcirculated through all Europe, and it has been accepted by millionsin succeeding generations as the expression of their faith.

God’s faithful servants were not toiling alone. While principalities and powers and wicked spirits in high places were leaguedagainst them, the Lord did not forsake His people. Could their eyeshave been opened, they would have seen as marked evidence ofdivine presence and aid as was granted to a prophet of old. WhenElisha’s servant pointed his master to the hostile army surroundingthem and cutting off all opportunity for escape, the prophet prayed:“Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17.And, lo, the mountain was filled with chariots and horses of fire, thearmy of heaven stationed to protect the man of God. Thus did angelsguard the workers in the cause of the Reformation.

One of the principles most firmly maintained by Luther wasthat there should be no resort to secular power in support of theReformation, and no appeal to arms for its defense. He rejoicedthat the gospel was confessed by princes of the empire; but whenthey proposed to unite in a defensive league, he declared that “thedoctrine of the gospel should be defended by God alone.... Theless man meddled in the work, the more striking would be God’sintervention in its behalf. All the politic precautions suggested were,in his view, attributable to unworthy fear and sinful mistrust.”—D’Aubigne, London ed., b. 10, ch. 14.

When powerful foes were uniting to overthrow the reformedfaith, and thousands of swords seemed about to be unsheathedagainst it, Luther wrote: “Satan is putting forth his fury; ungodlypontiffs are conspiring; and we are threatened with war. Exhort thepeople to contend valiantly before the throne of the Lord, by faithand prayer, so that our enemies, vanquished by the Spirit of God,may be constrained to peace. Our chief want, our chief labor, isprayer; let the people know that they are now exposed to the edge ofthe sword and to the rage of Satan, and let them pray.”—D’Aubigne,b. 10, ch. 14.


178 The Great Controversy

Again, at a later date, referring to the league contemplated by the reformed princes, Luther declared that the only weapon employed in this warfare should be “the sword of the Spirit.” He wrote to the elector of Saxony: “We cannot on our conscience approve theproposed alliance. We would rather die ten times than see our gospelcause one drop of blood to be shed. Our part is to be like lambs of theslaughter. The cross of Christ must be borne. Let your highness bewithout fear. We shall do more by our prayers than all our enemiesby their boastings. Only let not your hands be stained with the bloodof your brethren. If the emperor requires us to be given up to histribunals, we are ready to appear. You cannot defend our faith: eachone should believe at his own risk and peril.”—Ibid., b. 14, ch. 1.

From the secret place of prayer came the power that shook theworld in the Great Reformation. There, with holy calmness, theservants of the Lord set their feet upon the rock of His promises.During the struggle at Augsburg, Luther “did not pass a day withoutdevoting three hours at least to prayer, and they were hours selectedfrom those the most favorable to study.” In the privacy of his chamberhe was heard to pour out his soul before God in words “full ofadoration, fear, and hope, as when one speaks to a friend.” “I knowthat Thou art our Father and our God,” he said, “and that Thouwilt scatter the persecutors of Thy children; for Thou art Thyselfendangered with us. All this matter is Thine, and it is only by Thyconstraint that we have put our hands to it. Defend us, then, OFather!”—Ibid., b. 14, ch. 6.

To Melanchthon, who was crushed under the burden of anxietyand fear, he wrote: “Grace and peace in Christ—in Christ, I say,and not in the world. Amen. I hate with exceeding hatred thoseextreme cares which consume you. If the cause is unjust, abandonit; if the cause is just, why should we belie the promises of Him whocommands us to sleep without fear? ... Christ will not be wanting tothe work of justice and truth. He lives, He reigns; what fear, then,can we have?”—Ibid., b. 14, ch. 6.

God did listen to the cries of His servants. He gave to princes andministers grace and courage to maintain the truth against the rulersof the darkness of this world. Saith the Lord: “Behold, I lay in Ziona chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Himshall not be confounded.” 1 Peter 2:6. The Protestant Reformers hadbuilt on Christ, and the gates of hell could not prevail against them.

Chapter 12—The French Reformation

The Protest of Spires and the Confession at Augsburg, whichmarked the triumph of the Reformation in Germany, were followedby years of conflict and darkness. Weakened by divisions amongits supporters, and assailed by powerful foes, Protestantism seemeddestined to be utterly destroyed. Thousands sealed their testimonywith their blood. Civil war broke out; the Protestant cause wasbetrayed by one of its leading adherents; the noblest of the reformedprinces fell into the hands of the emperor and were dragged ascaptives from town to town. But in the moment of his apparenttriumph, the emperor was smitten with defeat. He saw the preywrested from his grasp, and he was forced at last to grant tolerationto the doctrines which it had been the ambition of his life to destroy.He had staked his kingdom, his treasures, and life itself upon thecrushing out of the heresy. Now he saw his armies wasted by battle,his treasuries drained, his many kingdoms threatened by revolt, whileeverywhere the faith which he had vainly endeavored to suppress,was extending. Charles V had been battling against omnipotentpower. God had said, “Let there be light,” but the emperor hadsought to keep the darkness unbroken. His purposes had failed; andin premature old age, worn out with the long struggle, he abdicatedthe throne and buried himself in a cloister.

In Switzerland, as in Germany, there came dark days for theReformation. While many cantons accepted the reformed faith,others clung with blind persistence to the creed of Rome. Theirpersecution of those who desired to receive the truth finally gave riseto civil war. Zwingli and many who had united with him in reformfell on the bloody field of Cappel. Oecolampadius, overcome bythese terrible disasters, soon after died. Rome was triumphant, andin many places seemed about to recover all that she had lost. ButHe whose counsels are from everlasting had not forsaken His causeor His people. His hand would bring deliverance for them. In otherlands He had raised up laborers to carry forward the reform.



180 The Great Controversy

In France, before the name of Luther had been heard as a Reformer, the day had already begun to break. One of the first to catchthe light was the aged Lefevre, a man of extensive learning, a professor in the University of Paris, and a sincere and zealous papist. Inhis researches into ancient literature his attention was directed to theBible, and he introduced its study among his students.

Lefevre was an enthusiastic adorer of the saints, and he hadundertaken to prepare a history of the saints and martyrs as givenin the legends of the church. This was a work which involved greatlabor; but he had already made considerable progress in it, when,thinking that he might obtain useful assistance from the Bible, hebegan its study with this object. Here indeed he found saints broughtto view, but not such as figured in the Roman calendar. A flood ofdivine light broke in upon his mind. In amazement and disgust heturned away from his self-appointed task and devoted himself to theword of God. The precious truths which he there discovered he soonbegan to teach.

In 1512, before either Luther or Zwingli had begun the workof reform, Lefevre wrote: “It is God who gives us, by faith, thatrighteousness which by grace alone justifies to eternal life.”—Wylie,b. 13, ch. 1. Dwelling upon the mysteries of redemption, heexclaimed: “Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—theSinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; theBlessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing;the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness,and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed withglory.”—D’Aubigne, London ed., b. 12, ch. 2.

And while teaching that the glory of salvation belongs solely toGod, he also declared that the duty of obedience belongs to man. “Ifthou art a member of Christ’s church,” he said, “thou art a memberof His body; if thou art of His body, then thou art full of the divinenature.... Oh, if men could but enter into the understanding of thisprivilege, how purely, chastely, and holily would they live, and howcontemptible, when compared with the glory within them,—thatglory which the eye of flesh cannot see,—would they deem all theglory of this world.”—Ibid., b. 12, ch. 2.

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There were some among Lefevre’s students who listened eagerly to his words, and who, long after the teacher’s voice should besilenced, were to continue to declare the truth. Such was WilliamFarel. The son of pious parents, and educated to accept with implicitfaith the teachings of the church, he might, with the apostle Paul,have declared concerning himself: “After the most straitest sect ofour religion I lived a Pharisee.” Acts 26:5. A devoted Romanist, heburned with zeal to destroy all who should dare to oppose the church.“I would gnash my teeth like a furious wolf,” he afterward said,referring to this period of his life, “when I heard anyone speakingagainst the pope.”—Wylie, b. 13, ch. 2. He had been untiring in hisadoration of the saints, in company with Lefevre making the roundof the churches of Paris, worshipping at the altars, and adorningwith gifts the holy shrines. But these observances could not bringpeace of soul. Conviction of sin fastened upon him, which all theacts of penance that he practiced failed to banish. As to a voice fromheaven he listened to the Reformer’s words: “Salvation is of grace.”“The Innocent One is condemned, and the criminal is acquitted.” “Itis the cross of Christ alone that openeth the gates of heaven, andshutteth the gates of hell.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 2.

Farel joyfully accepted the truth. By a conversion like that ofPaul he turned from the bondage of tradition to the liberty of thesons of God. “Instead of the murderous heart of a ravening wolf,”he came back, he says, “quietly like a meek and harmless lamb,having his heart entirely withdrawn from the pope, and given toJesus Christ.”—D’Aubigne, b. 12, ch. 3.

While Lefevre continued to spread the light among his students,Farel, as zealous in the cause of Christ as he had been in that of thepope, went forth to declare the truth in public. A dignitary of thechurch, the bishop of Meaux, soon after united with them. Otherteachers who ranked high for their ability and learning joined inproclaiming the gospel, and it won adherents among all classes,from the homes of artisans and peasants to the palace of the king.The sister of Francis I, then the reigning monarch, accepted thereformed faith. The king himself, and the queen mother, appearedfor a time to regard it with favor, and with high hopes the Reformerslooked forward to the time when France should be won to the gospel.


182 The Great Controversy

But their hopes were not to be realized. Trial and persecution awaited the disciples of Christ. This, however, was mercifully veiled from their eyes. A time of peace intervened, that they mightgain strength to meet the tempest; and the Reformation made rapidprogress. The bishop of Meaux labored zealously in his own dioceseto instruct both the clergy and the people. Ignorant and immoralpriests were removed, and, so far as possible, replaced by men oflearning and piety. The bishop greatly desired that his people mighthave access to the word of God for themselves, and this was soonaccomplished. Lefevre undertook the translation of the New Testament; and at the very time when Luther’s German Bible was issuingfrom the press in Wittenberg, the French New Testament was published at Meaux. The bishop spared no labor or expense to circulateit in his parishes, and soon the peasants of Meaux were in possessionof the Holy Scriptures.

As travelers perishing from thirst welcome with joy a livingwater spring, so did these souls receive the message of heaven. Thelaborers in the field, the artisans in the workshop, cheered their dailytoil by talking of the precious truths of the Bible. At evening, insteadof resorting to the wine-shops, they assembled in one another’shomes to read God’s word and join in prayer and praise. A greatchange was soon manifest in these communities. Though belongingto the humblest class, an unlearned and hard-working peasantry, thereforming, uplifting power of divine grace was seen in their lives.Humble, loving, and holy, they stood as witnesses to what the gospelwill accomplish for those who receive it in sincerity.

The light kindled at Meaux shed its beams afar. Every day thenumber of converts was increasing. The rage of the hierarchy wasfor a time held in check by the king, who despised the narrow bigotryof the monks; but the papal leaders finally prevailed. Now the stakewas set up. The bishop of Meaux, forced to choose between thefire and recantation, accepted the easier path; but notwithstandingthe leader’s fall, his flock remained steadfast. Many witnessed forthe truth amid the flames. By their courage and fidelity at the stake,these humble Christians spoke to thousands who in days of peacehad never heard their testimony.

It was not alone the humble and the poor that amid suffering andscorn dared to bear witness for Christ. In the lordly halls of the castleand the palace there were kingly souls by whom truth was valuedabove wealth or rank or even life. Kingly armor concealed a loftierand more steadfast spirit than did the bishop’s robe and miter.

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Louisde Berquin was of noble birth. A brave and courtly knight, he wasdevoted to study, polished in manners, and of blameless morals. “Hewas,” says a writer, “a great follower of the papistical constitutions,and a great hearer of masses and sermons; ... and he crowned allhis other virtues by holding Lutheranism in special abhorrence.”But, like so many others, providentially guided to the Bible, he wasamazed to find there, “not the doctrines of Rome, but the doctrinesof Luther.”—Wylie, b. 13, ch. 9. Henceforth he gave himself withentire devotion to the cause of the gospel.

“The most learned of the nobles of France,” his genius and eloquence, his indomitable courage and heroic zeal, and his influenceat court,—for he was a favorite with the king,—caused him to beregarded by many as one destined to be the Reformer of his country.Said Beza: “Berquin would have been a second Luther, had he foundin Francis I a second elector.” “He is worse than Luther,” cried thepapists.—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 9. More dreaded he was indeed by theRomanists of France. They thrust him into prison as a heretic, buthe was set at liberty by the king. For years the struggle continued.Francis, wavering between Rome and the Reformation, alternatelytolerated and restrained the fierce zeal of the monks. Berquin wasthree times imprisoned by the papal authorities, only to be releasedby the monarch, who, in admiration of his genius and his nobility ofcharacter, refused to sacrifice him to the malice of the hierarchy.

Berquin was repeatedly warned of the danger that threatenedhim in France, and urged to follow the steps of those who had foundsafety in voluntary exile. The timid and time-serving Erasmus, whowith all the splendor of his scholarship failed of that moral greatnesswhich holds life and honor subservient to truth, wrote to Berquin:“Ask to be sent as ambassador to some foreign country; go and travelin Germany. You know Beda and such as he—he is a thousand-headed monster, darting venom on every side. Your enemies arenamed legion. Were your cause better than that of Jesus Christ,they will not let you go till they have miserably destroyed you. Donot trust too much to the king’s protection. At all events, do notcompromise me with the faculty of theology.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 9.


184 The Great Controversy

But as dangers thickened, Berquin’s zeal only waxed the stronger. So far from adopting the politic and self-serving counsel of Erasmus, he determined upon still bolder measures. He would not only standin defense of the truth, but he would attack error. The charge ofheresy which the Romanists were seeking to fasten upon him, hewould rivet upon them. The most active and bitter of his opponentswere the learned doctors and monks of the theological departmentin the great University of Paris, one of the highest ecclesiasticalauthorities both in the city and the nation. From the writings ofthese doctors, Berquin drew twelve propositions which he publiclydeclared to be “opposed to the Bible, and heretical;” and he appealedto the king to act as judge in the controversy.

The monarch, not loath to bring into contrast the power andacuteness of the opposing champions, and glad of an opportunityof humbling the pride of these haughty monks, bade the Romanistsdefend their cause by the Bible. This weapon, they well knew, wouldavail them little; imprisonment, torture, and the stake were armswhich they better understood how to wield. Now the tables wereturned, and they saw themselves about to fall into the pit into whichthey had hoped to plunge Berquin. In amazement they looked aboutthem for some way of escape.

“Just at that time an image of the Virgin at the corner of one ofthe streets, was mutilated.” There was great excitement in the city.Crowds of people flocked to the place, with expressions of mourningand indignation. The king also was deeply moved. Here was anadvantage which the monks could turn to good account, and theywere quick to improve it. “These are the fruits of the doctrines ofBerquin,” they cried. “All is about to be overthrown—religion, thelaws, the throne itself—by this Lutheran conspiracy.”—Ibid., b. 13,ch. 9.

Again Berquin was apprehended. The king withdrew from Paris,and the monks were thus left free to work their will. The Reformerwas tried and condemned to die, and lest Francis should even yetinterpose to save him, the sentence was executed on the very day itwas pronounced. At noon Berquin was conducted to the place ofdeath. An immense throng gathered to witness the event, and therewere many who saw with astonishment and misgiving that the victimhad been chosen from the best and bravest of the noble families ofFrance. Amazement, indignation, scorn, and bitter hatred darkenedthe faces of that surging crowd; but upon one face no shadow rested.

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The martyr’s thoughts were far from that scene of tumult; he wasconscious only of the presence of his Lord.

The wretched tumbrel upon which he rode, the frowning faces ofhis persecutors, the dreadful death to which he was going—these heheeded not; He who liveth and was dead, and is alive for evermore,and hath the keys of death and of hell, was beside him. Berquin’scountenance was radiant with the light and peace of heaven. Hehad attired himself in goodly raiment, wearing “a cloak of velvet,a doublet of satin and damask, and golden hose.”—D’Aubigne,History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, b. 2, ch.16. He was about to testify to his faith in the presence of the King ofkings and the witnessing universe, and no token of mourning shouldbelie his joy.

As the procession moved slowly through the crowded streets,the people marked with wonder the unclouded peace, and joyoustriumph, of his look and bearing. “He is,” they said, “like one whosits in a temple, and meditates on holy things.”—Wylie, b. 13, ch. 9.

At the stake, Berquin endeavored to address a few words to thepeople; but the monks, fearing the result, began to shout, and thesoldiers to clash their arms, and their clamor drowned the martyr’svoice. Thus in 1529 the highest literary and ecclesiastical authorityof cultured Paris “set the populace of 1793 the base example ofstifling on the scaffold the sacred words of the dying.”—Ibid., b. 13,ch. 9.

Berquin was strangled, and his body was consumed in the flames.The tidings of his death caused sorrow to the friends of the Reformation throughout France. But his example was not lost. “We, too,are ready,” said the witnesses for the truth, “to meet death cheerfully,setting our eyes on the life that is to come.”—D’Aubigne, History ofthe Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, b. 2, ch. 16.

During the persecution of Meaux, the teachers of the reformedfaith were deprived of their license to preach, and they departed toother fields. Lefevre after a time made his way to Germany. Farelreturned to his native town in eastern France, to spread the light inthe home of his childhood. Already tidings had been received ofwhat was going on at Meaux, and the truth, which he taught withfearless zeal, found listeners. Soon the authorities were roused tosilence him, and he was banished from the city.


186 The Great Controversy

Though he could nolonger labor publicly, he traversed the plains and villages, teachingin private dwellings and in secluded meadows, and finding shelterin the forests and among the rocky caverns which had been hishaunts in boyhood. God was preparing him for greater trials. “Thecrosses, persecutions, and machinations of Satan, of which I wasforewarned, have not been wanting,” he said; “they are even muchseverer than I could have borne of myself; but God is my Father;He has provided and always will provide me the strength which Irequire.”—D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation of the SixteenthCentury, b. 12, ch. 9.

As in apostolic days, persecution had “fallen out rather unto thefurtherance of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12. Driven from Paris andMeaux, “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preachingthe word.” Acts 8:4. And thus the light found its way into many ofthe remote provinces of France.

God was still preparing workers to extend His cause. In one ofthe schools of Paris was a thoughtful, quiet youth, already givingevidence of a powerful and penetrating mind, and no less marked forthe blamelessness of his life than for intellectual ardor and religiousdevotion.


His genius and application soon made him the pride of the college, and it was confidently anticipated that John Calvinwould become one of the ablest and most honored defenders of thechurch. But a ray of divine light penetrated even within the wallsof scholasticism and superstition by which Calvin was enclosed.He heard of the new doctrines with a shudder, nothing doubtingthat the heretics deserved the fire to which they were given. Yet allunwittingly he was brought face to face with the heresy and forced totest the power of Romish theology to combat the Protestant teaching.

A cousin of Calvin’s, who had joined the Reformers, was inParis. The two kinsmen often met and discussed together the mattersthat were disturbing Christendom. “There are but two religions in theworld,” said Olivetan, the Protestant. “The one class of religions arethose which men have invented, in all of which man saves himselfby ceremonies and good works; the other is that one religion whichis revealed in the Bible, and which teaches man to look for salvationsolely from the free grace of God.”

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“I will have none of your new doctrines,” exclaimed Calvin;“think you that I have lived in error all my days?”—Wylie, b. 13, ch.7.

But thoughts had been awakened in his mind which he couldnot banish at will. Alone in his chamber he pondered upon hiscousin’s words. Conviction of sin fastened upon him; he saw himself,without an intercessor, in the presence of a holy and just Judge. Themediation of saints, good works, the ceremonies of the church, allwere powerless to atone for sin. He could see before him nothingbut the blackness of eternal despair. In vain the doctors of the churchendeavored to relieve his woe. Confession, penance, were resortedto in vain; they could not reconcile the soul with God.

While still engaged in these fruitless struggles, Calvin, chancingone day to visit one of the public squares, witnessed there the burningof a heretic. He was filled with wonder at the expression of peacewhich rested upon the martyr’s countenance. Amid the tortures ofthat dreadful death, and under the more terrible condemnation of thechurch, he manifested a faith and courage which the young studentpainfully contrasted with his own despair and darkness, while livingin strictest obedience to the church. Upon the Bible, he knew, theheretics rested their faith. He determined to study it, and discover, ifhe could, the secret of their joy.

In the Bible he found Christ. “O Father,” he cried, “His sacrificehas appeased Thy wrath; His blood has washed away my impurities;His cross has borne my curse; His death has atoned for me. We haddevised for ourselves many useless follies, but Thou hast placed Thyword before me like a torch, and Thou hast touched my heart, inorder that I may hold in abomination all other merits save those ofJesus.”—Martyn, vol. 3, ch. 13.

Calvin had been educated for the priesthood. When only twelveyears of age he had been appointed to the chaplaincy of a smallchurch, and his head had been shorn by the bishop in accordancewith the canon of the church. He did not receive consecration, nordid he fulfill the duties of a priest, but he became a member of theclergy, holding the title of his office, and receiving an allowance inconsideration thereof.


188 The Great Controversy

Now, feeling that he could never become a priest, he turned for a time to the study of law, but finally abandoned this purposeand determined to devote his life to the gospel. But he hesitated tobecome a public teacher. He was naturally timid, and was burdenedwith a sense of the weighty responsibility of the position, and hedesired still to devote himself to study. The earnest entreaties ofhis friends, however, at last won his consent. “Wonderful it is,” hesaid, “that one of so lowly an origin should be exalted to so great adignity.”—Wylie, b. 13, ch. 9.

Quietly did Calvin enter upon his work, and his words were asthe dew falling to refresh the earth. He had left Paris, and was now ina provincial town under the protection of the princess Margaret, who,loving the gospel, extended her protection to its disciples. Calvinwas still a youth, of gentle, unpretentious bearing. His work beganwith the people at their homes. Surrounded by the members of thehousehold, he read the Bible and opened the truths of salvation.Those who heard the message carried the good news to others, andsoon the teacher passed beyond the city to the outlying towns andhamlets. To both the castle and the cabin he found entrance, and hewent forward, laying the foundation of churches that were to yieldfearless witnesses for the truth.

A few months and he was again in Paris. There was unwontedagitation in the circle of learned men and scholars. The study of theancient languages had led men to the Bible, and many whose heartswere untouched by its truths were eagerly discussing them and evengiving battle to the champions of Romanism. Calvin, though anable combatant in the fields of theological controversy, had a highermission to accomplish than that of these noisy schoolmen. Theminds of men were stirred, and now was the time to open to themthe truth. While the halls of the universities were filled with theclamor of theological disputation, Calvin was making his way fromhouse to house, opening the Bible to the people, and speaking tothem of Christ and Him crucified.

In God’s providence, Paris was to receive another invitation toaccept the gospel. The call of Lefevre and Farel had been rejected,but again the message was to be heard by all classes in that greatcapital. The king, influenced by political considerations, had not yetfully sided with Rome against the Reformation. Margaret still clungto the hope that Protestantism was to triumph in France. She resolvedthat the reformed faith should be preached in Paris.

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During theabsence of the king, she ordered a Protestant minister to preach in thechurches of the city. This being forbidden by the papal dignitaries,the princess threw open the palace. An apartment was fitted up as achapel, and it was announced that every day, at a specified hour, asermon would be preached, and the people of every rank and stationwere invited to attend. Crowds flocked to the service. Not only thechapel, but the antechambers and halls were thronged. Thousandsevery day assembled—nobles, statesmen, lawyers, merchants, andartisans. The king, instead of forbidding the assemblies, orderedthat two of the churches of Paris should be opened. Never beforehad the city been so moved by the word of God. The spirit of lifefrom heaven seemed to be breathed upon the people. Temperance,purity, order, and industry were taking the place of drunkenness,licentiousness, strife, and idleness.

But the hierarchy were not idle. The king still refused to interfereto stop the preaching, and they turned to the populace. No meanswere spared to excite the fears, the prejudices, and the fanaticismof the ignorant and superstitious multitude. Yielding blindly to herfalse teachers, Paris, like Jerusalem of old, knew not the time ofher visitation nor the things which belonged unto her peace. Fortwo years the word of God was preached in the capital; but, whilethere were many who accepted the gospel, the majority of the peoplerejected it. Francis had made a show of toleration, merely to serve hisown purposes, and the papists succeeded in regaining the ascendancy.Again the churches were closed, and the stake was set up.

Calvin was still in Paris, preparing himself by study, meditation,and prayer for his future labors, and continuing to spread the light.At last, however, suspicion fastened upon him. The authoritiesdetermined to bring him to the flames. Regarding himself as securein his seclusion, he had no thought of danger, when friends camehurrying to his room with the news that officers were on their wayto arrest him. At that instant a loud knocking was heard at the outerentrance. There was not a moment to be lost. Some of his friendsdetained the officers at the door, while others assisted the Reformerto let himself down from a window, and he rapidly made his way tothe outskirts of the city. Finding shelter in the cottage of a laborerwho was a friend to the reform, he disguised himself in the garmentsof his host, and, shouldering a hoe, started on his journey. Travelingsouthward, he again found refuge in the dominions of Margaret. (See D’Aubigne,History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin,b. 2, ch. 30.)


190 The Great Controversy

Here for a few months he remained, safe under the protectionof powerful friends, and engaged as before in study. But his heartwas set upon the evangelization of France, and he could not longremain inactive. As soon as the storm had somewhat abated, hesought a new field of labor in Poitiers, where was a university, andwhere already the new opinions had found favor. Persons of allclasses gladly listened to the gospel. There was no public preaching,but in the home of the chief magistrate, in his own lodgings, andsometimes in a public garden, Calvin opened the words of eternallife to those who desired to listen. After a time, as the numberof hearers increased, it was thought safer to assemble outside thecity. A cave in the side of a deep and narrow gorge, where treesand overhanging rocks made the seclusion still more complete, waschosen as the place of meeting. Little companies, leaving the cityby different routes, found their way hither. In this retired spot theBible was read aloud and explained. Here the Lord’s Supper wascelebrated for the first time by the Protestants of France. From thislittle church several faithful evangelists were sent out.

Once more Calvin returned to Paris. He could not even yet relinquish the hope that France as a nation would accept the Reformation.But he found almost every door of labor closed. To teach the gospelwas to take the direct road to the stake, and he at last determinedto depart to Germany. Scarcely had he left France when a stormburst over the Protestants, that, had he remained, must surely haveinvolved him in the general ruin.

The French Reformers, eager to see their country keeping pacewith Germany and Switzerland, determined to strike a bold blowagainst the superstitions of Rome, that should arouse the wholenation. Accordingly placards attacking the mass were in one nightposted all over France. Instead of advancing the reform, this zealousbut ill-judged movement brought ruin, not only upon its propagators,but upon the friends of the reformed faith throughout France. It gavethe Romanists what they had long desired—a pretext for demandingthe utter destruction of the heretics as agitators dangerous to thestability of the throne and the peace of the nation.

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By some secret hand—whether of indiscreet friend or wily foewas never known—one of the placards was attached to the door ofthe king’s private chamber. The monarch was filled with horror. Inthis paper, superstitions that had received the veneration of ages wereattacked with an unsparing hand. And the unexampled boldness ofobtruding these plain and startling utterances into the royal presencearoused the wrath of the king. In his amazement he stood for a littletime trembling and speechless. Then his rage found utterance inthe terrible words: “Let all be seized without distinction who aresuspected of Lutheresy. I will exterminate them all.—Ibid., b. 4, ch.10. The die was cast. The king had determined to throw himselffully on the side of Rome.

Measures were at once taken for the arrest of every Lutheran inParis. A poor artisan, an adherent of the reformed faith, who hadbeen accustomed to summon the believers to their secret assemblies,was seized and, with the threat of instant death at the stake, wascommanded to conduct the papal emissary to the home of everyProtestant in the city. He shrank in horror from the base proposal,but at last fear of the flames prevailed, and he consented to becomethe betrayer of his brethren. Preceded by the host, and surroundedby a train of priests, incense bearers, monks, and soldiers, Morin, theroyal detective, with the traitor, slowly and silently passed throughthe streets of the city. The demonstration was ostensibly in honor ofthe “holy sacrament,” an act of expiation for the insult put upon themass by the protesters. But beneath this pageant a deadly purposewas concealed. On arriving opposite the house of a Lutheran, thebetrayer made a sign, but no word was uttered. The processionhalted, the house was entered, the family were dragged forth andchained, and the terrible company went forward in search of freshvictims. They “spared no house, great or small, not even the collegesof the University of Paris.... Morin made all the city quake.... It wasa reign of terror.”—Ibid., b. 4, ch. 10.

The victims were put to death with cruel torture, it being speciallyordered that the fire should be lowered in order to prolong theiragony. But they died as conquerors. Their constancy was unshaken,their peace unclouded. Their persecutors, powerless to move theirinflexible firmness, felt themselves defeated.


192 The Great Controversy

“The scaffolds were distributed over all the quarters of Paris, and the burnings followedon successive days, the design being to spread the terror of heresyby spreading the executions. The advantage, however, in the end,remained with the gospel. All Paris was enabled to see what kind ofmen the new opinions could produce. There was no pulpit like themartyr’s pile. The serene joy that lighted up the faces of these menas they passed along ... to the place of execution, their heroism asthey stood amid the bitter flames, their meek forgiveness of injuries,transformed, in instances not a few, anger into pity, and hate intolove, and pleaded with resistless eloquence in behalf of the gospel.”—Wylie, b. 13, ch. 20.

The priests, bent upon keeping the popular fury at its height,circulated the most terrible accusations against the Protestants. Theywere charged with plotting to massacre the Catholics, to overthrowthe government, and to murder the king. Not a shadow of evidencecould be produced in support of the allegations. Yet these propheciesof evil were to have a fulfillment; under far different circumstances,however, and from causes of an opposite character. The crueltiesthat were inflicted upon the innocent Protestants by the Catholicsaccumulated in a weight of retribution, and in after centuries wroughtthe very doom they had predicted to be impending, upon the king,his government, and his subjects; but it was brought about by infidelsand by the papists themselves. It was not the establishment, but thesuppression, of Protestantism, that, three hundred years later, was tobring upon France these dire calamities.

Suspicion, distrust, and terror now pervaded all classes of society.Amid the general alarm it was seen how deep a hold the Lutheranteaching had gained upon the minds of men who stood highest foreducation, influence, and excellence of character. Positions of trustand honor were suddenly found vacant. Artisans, printers, scholars,professors in the universities, authors, and even courtiers, disappeared. Hundreds fled from Paris, self-constituted exiles from theirnative land, in many cases thus giving the first intimation that theyfavored the reformed faith. The papists looked about them in amazement at thought of the unsuspected heretics that had been toleratedamong them. Their rage spent itself upon the multitudes of humblervictims who were within their power. The prisons were crowded,and the very air seemed darkened with the smoke of burning piles,kindled for the confessors of the gospel.

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Francis I had gloried in being a leader in the great movement forthe revival of learning which marked the opening of the sixteenthcentury. He had delighted to gather at his court men of letters fromevery country. To his love of learning and his contempt for theignorance and superstition of the monks was due, in part at least,the degree of toleration that had been granted to the reform. But,inspired with zeal to stamp out heresy, this patron of learning issuedan edict declaring printing abolished all over France! Francis Ipresents one among the many examples on record showing thatintellectual culture is not a safeguard against religious intoleranceand persecution.

France by a solemn and public ceremony was to commit herselffully to the destruction of Protestantism. The priests demandedthat the affront offered to High Heaven in the condemnation of themass be expiated in blood, and that the king, in behalf of his people,publicly give his sanction to the dreadful work.

The 21st of January, 1535, was fixed upon for the awful ceremonial. The superstitious fears and bigoted hatred of the wholenation had been roused. Paris was thronged with the multitudes thatfrom all the surrounding country crowded her streets. The day wasto be ushered in by a vast and imposing procession. “The housesalong the line of march were hung with mourning drapery, and altarsrose at intervals.” Before every door was a lighted torch in honorof the “holy sacrament.” Before daybreak the procession formed atthe palace of the king. “First came the banners and crosses of theseveral parishes; next appeared the citizens, walking two and two,and bearing torches.” The four orders of friars followed, each in itsown peculiar dress. Then came a vast collection of famous relics.Following these rode lordly ecclesiastics in their purple and scarletrobes and jeweled adornings, a gorgeous and glittering array.

“The host was carried by the bishop of Paris under a magnificentcanopy, ... supported by four princes of the blood.... After the hostwalked the king.... Francis I on that day wore no crown, nor robe ofstate.” With “head uncovered, his eyes cast on the ground, and in hishand a lighted taper,” the king of France appeared “in the characterof a penitent.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 21. At every altar he bowed down inhumiliation, nor for the vices that defiled his soul, nor the innocentblood that stained his hands, but for the deadly sin of his subjectswho had dared to condemn the mass. Following him came the queen and the dignitaries of state, also walking two and two, each with a lighted torch.


194 The Great Controversy

As a part of the services of the day the monarch himself addressed the high officials of the kingdom in the great hall of thebishop’s palace. With a sorrowful countenance he appeared beforethem and in words of moving eloquence bewailed “the crime, theblasphemy, the day of sorrow and disgrace,” that had come uponthe nation. And he called upon every loyal subject to aid in theextirpation of the pestilent heresy that threatened France with ruin.“As true, messieurs, as I am your king,” he said, “if I knew one ofmy own limbs spotted or infected with this detestable rottenness, Iwould give it you to cut off.... And further, if I saw one of my children defiled by it, I would not spare him.... I would deliver him upmyself, and would sacrifice him to God.” Tears choked his utterance,and the whole assembly wept, with one accord exclaiming: “We willlive and die for the Catholic religion!”—D’Aubigne, History of theReformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, b. 4, ch. 12.

Terrible had become the darkness of the nation that had rejectedthe light of truth. The grace “that bringeth salvation” had appeared;but France, after beholding its power and holiness, after thousandshad been drawn by its divine beauty, after cities and hamlets hadbeen illuminated by its radiance, had turned away, choosing darknessrather than light. They had put from them the heavenly gift whenit was offered them. They had called evil good, and good evil,till they had fallen victims to their willful self-deception. Now,though they might actually believe that they were doing God servicein persecuting His people, yet their sincerity did not render themguiltless. The light that would have saved them from deception,from staining their souls with bloodguiltiness, they had willfullyrejected.

A solemn oath to extirpate heresy was taken in the great cathedralwhere, nearly three centuries later, the Goddess of Reason was tobe enthroned by a nation that had forgotten the living God. Againthe procession formed, and the representatives of France set out tobegin the work which they had sworn to do. “At short distancesscaffolds had been erected, on which certain Protestant Christianswere to be burned alive, and it was arranged that the fagots should belighted at the moment the king approached, and that the procession should halt to witness the execution.”—Wylie, b. 13, ch. 21.

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Thedetails of the tortures endured by these witnesses for Christ are tooharrowing for recital; but there was no wavering on the part of thevictims. On being urged to recant, one answered: “I only believe inwhat the prophets and the apostles formerly preached, and what allthe company of saints believed. My faith has a confidence in Godwhich will resist all the powers of hell.”—D’Aubigne, History of theReformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, b. 4, ch. 12.

Again and again the procession halted at the places of torture.Upon reaching their starting point at the royal palace, the crowddispersed, and the king and the prelates withdrew, well satisfiedwith the day’s proceedings and congratulating themselves that thework now begun would be continued to the complete destruction ofheresy.

The gospel of peace which France had rejected was to be onlytoo surely rooted out, and terrible would be the results. On the 21stof January, 1793, two hundred and fifty-eight years from the veryday that fully committed France to the persecution of the Reformers,another procession, with a far different purpose, passed through thestreets of Paris. “Again the king was the chief figure; again therewere tumult and shouting; again there was heard the cry for morevictims; again there were black scaffolds; and again the scenes of theday were closed by horrid executions; Louis XVI, struggling handto hand with his jailers and executioners, was dragged forward to theblock, and there held down by main force till the ax had fallen, andhis dissevered head rolled on the scaffold.”—Wylie, b. 13, ch. 21.Nor was the king the only victim; near the same spot two thousandand eight hundred human beings perished by the guillotine duringthe bloody days of the Reign of Terror.

The Reformation had presented to the world an open Bible,unsealing the precepts of the law of God and urging its claims uponthe consciences of the people. Infinite Love had unfolded to men thestatutes and principles of heaven. God had said: “Keep therefore anddo them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sightof the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surelythis great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy4:6. When France rejected the gift of heaven, she sowed the seeds ofanarchy and ruin; and the inevitable outworking of cause and effect resulted in the Revolution and the Reign of Terror.


Long before the persecution excited by the placards, the boldand ardent Farel had been forced to flee from the land of his birth.He repaired to Switzerland, and by his labors, seconding the work ofZwingli, he helped to turn the scale in favor of the Reformation. Hislater years were to be spent here, yet he continued to exert a decidedinfluence upon the reform in France. During the first years of hisexile, his efforts were especially directed to spreading the gospel inhis native country. He spent considerable time in preaching amonghis countrymen near the frontier, where with tireless vigilance hewatched the conflict and aided by his words of encouragement andcounsel. With the assistance of other exiles, the writings of theGerman Reformers were translated into the French language and,together with the French Bible, were printed in large quantities. Bycolporteurs these works were sold extensively in France. They werefurnished to the colporteurs at a low price, and thus the profits of thework enabled them to continue it.

Farel entered upon his work in Switzerland in the humble guiseof a schoolmaster. Repairing to a secluded parish, he devoted himselfto the instruction of children. Besides the usual branches of learning,he cautiously introduced the truths of the Bible, hoping throughthe children to reach the parents. There were some who believed,but the priests came forward to stop the work, and the superstitiouscountry people were roused to oppose it. “That cannot be the gospelof Christ,” urged the priest, “seeing the preaching of it does not bringpeace, but war.”—Wylie, b. 14, ch. 3. Like the first disciples, whenpersecuted in one city he fled to another. From village to village,from city to city, he went, traveling on foot, enduring hunger, cold,and weariness, and everywhere in peril of his life. He preached inthe market places, in the churches, sometimes in the pulpits of thecathedrals. Sometimes he found the church empty of hearers; attimes his preaching was interrupted by shouts and jeers; again he waspulled violently out of the pulpit. More than once he was set uponby the rabble and beaten almost to death. Yet he pressed forward.Though often repulsed, with unwearying persistence he returned tothe attack; and, one after another, he saw towns and cities which hadbeen strongholds of popery, opening their gates to the gospel. Thelittle parish where he had first labored soon accepted the reformed faith. The cities of Morat and Neuchatel also renounced the Romish rites and removed the idolatrous images from their churches.


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Farel had long desired to plant the Protestant standard in Geneva.If this city could be won, it would be a center for the Reformation inFrance, in Switzerland, and in Italy. With this object before him, hehad continued his labors until many of the surrounding towns andhamlets had been gained. Then with a single companion he enteredGeneva. But only two sermons was he permitted to preach. Thepriests, having vainly endeavored to secure his condemnation by thecivil authorities, summoned him before an ecclesiastical council, towhich they came with arms concealed under their robes, determinedto take his life. Outside the hall, a furious mob, with clubs andswords, was gathered to make sure of his death if he should succeedin escaping the council. The presence of magistrates and an armedforce, however, saved him. Early next morning he was conducted,with his companion, across the lake to a place of safety. Thus endedhis first effort to evangelize Geneva.

For the next trial a lowlier instrument was chosen—a youngman, so humble in appearance that he was coldly treated even bythe professed friends of reform. But what could such a one dowhere Farel had been rejected? How could one of little courage andexperience withstand the tempest before which the strongest andbravest had been forced to flee? “Not by might, nor by power, butby My Spirit, saith the Lord.” Zechariah 4:6. “God hath chosen theweak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weaknessof God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:27, 25.

Froment began his work as a schoolmaster. The truths which hetaught the children at school they repeated at their homes. Soon theparents came to hear the Bible explained, until the schoolroom wasfilled with attentive listeners. New Testaments and tracts were freelydistributed, and they reached many who dared not come openly tolisten to the new doctrines. After a time this laborer also was forcedto flee; but the truths he taught had taken hold upon the minds ofthe people. The Reformation had been planted, and it continued tostrengthen and extend. The preachers returned, and through theirlabors the Protestant worship was finally established in Geneva.


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The city had already declared for the Reformation when Calvin,after various wanderings and vicissitudes, entered its gates. Returning from a last visit to his birthplace, he was on his way to Basel,when, finding the direct road occupied by the armies of Charles V,he was forced to take the circuitous route by Geneva.

In this visit Farel recognized the hand of God. Though Genevahad accepted the reformed faith, yet a great work remained to beaccomplished here. It is not as communities but as individuals thatmen are converted to God; the work of regeneration must be wroughtin the heart and conscience by the power of the Holy Spirit, not bythe decrees of councils. While the people of Geneva had cast off theauthority of Rome, they were not so ready to renounce the vices thathad flourished under her rule. To establish here the pure principlesof the gospel and to prepare this people to fill worthily the positionto which Providence seemed calling them were not light tasks.

Farel was confident that he had found in Calvin one whom hecould unite with himself in this work. In the name of God hesolemnly adjured the young evangelist to remain and labor here.Calvin drew back in alarm. Timid and peace-loving, he shrank fromcontact with the bold, independent, and even violent spirit of theGenevese. The feebleness of his health, together with his studioushabits, led him to seek retirement. Believing that by his pen hecould best serve the cause of reform, he desired to find a quiet retreatfor study, and there, through the press, instruct and build up thechurches. But Farel’s solemn admonition came to him as a call fromHeaven, and he dared not refuse. It seemed to him, he said, “thatthe hand of God was stretched down from heaven, that it lay hold ofhim, and fixed him irrevocably to the place he was so impatient toleave.”—D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation in Europe in theTime of Calvin, b. 9, ch. 17.

At this time great perils surrounded the Protestant cause. Theanathemas of the pope thundered against Geneva, and mighty nationsthreatened it with destruction. How was this little city to resist thepowerful hierarchy that had so often forced kings and emperors tosubmission? How could it stand against the armies of the world’sgreat conquerors?

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Throughout Christendom, Protestantism was menaced by formidable foes. The first triumphs of the Reformation past, Romesummoned new forces, hoping to accomplish its destruction. Atthis time the order of the Jesuits was created, the most cruel, unscrupulous, and powerful of all the champions of popery. Cut offfrom earthly ties and human interests, dead to the claims of natural affection, reason and conscience wholly silenced, they knewno rule, no tie, but that of their order, and no duty but to extendits power. (See Appendix.) The gospel of Christ had enabled itsadherents to meet danger and endure suffering, undismayed by cold,hunger, toil, and poverty, to uphold the banner of truth in face of therack, the dungeon, and the stake. To combat these forces, Jesuitisminspired its followers with a fanaticism that enabled them to endurelike dangers, and to oppose to the power of truth all the weaponsof deception. There was no crime too great for them to commit, nodeception too base for them to practice, no disguise too difficult forthem to assume. Vowed to perpetual poverty and humility, it wastheir studied aim to secure wealth and power, to be devoted to theoverthrow of Protestantism, and the re-establishment of the papalsupremacy.

When appearing as members of their order, they wore a garb ofsanctity, visiting prisons and hospitals, ministering to the sick and thepoor, professing to have renounced the world, and bearing the sacredname of Jesus, who went about doing good. But under this blamelessexterior the most criminal and deadly purposes were often concealed.It was a fundamental principle of the order that the end justifies themeans. By this code, lying, theft, perjury, assassination, were notonly pardonable but commendable, when they served the interestsof the church. Under various disguises the Jesuits worked their wayinto offices of state, climbing up to be the counselors of kings, andshaping the policy of nations. They became servants to act as spiesupon their masters. They established colleges for the sons of princesand nobles, and schools for the common people; and the children ofProtestant parents were drawn into an observance of popish rites. Allthe outward pomp and display of the Romish worship was broughtto bear to confuse the mind and dazzle and captivate the imagination,and thus the liberty for which the fathers had toiled and bled wasbetrayed by the sons. The Jesuits rapidly spread themselves overEurope, and wherever they went, there followed a revival of popery.


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To give them greater power, a bull was issued re-establishingthe inquisition. (See Appendix.) Notwithstanding the general abhorrence with which it was regarded, even in Catholic countries, thisterrible tribunal was again set up by popish rulers, and atrocities tooterrible to bear the light of day were repeated in its secret dungeons.In many countries, thousands upon thousands of the very flower ofthe nation, the purest and noblest, the most intellectual and highlyeducated, pious and devoted pastors, industrious and patriotic citizens, brilliant scholars, talented artists, skillful artisans, were slainor forced to flee to other lands.

Such were the means which Rome had invoked to quench thelight of the Reformation, to withdraw from men the Bible, andto restore the ignorance and superstition of the Dark Ages. Butunder God’s blessing and the labors of those noble men whom Hehad raised up to succeed Luther, Protestantism was not overthrown.Not to the favor or arms of princes was it to owe its strength. Thesmallest countries, the humblest and least powerful nations, becameits strongholds. It was little Geneva in the midst of mighty foesplotting her destruction; it was Holland on her sandbanks by thenorthern sea, wrestling against the tyranny of Spain, then the greatestand most opulent of kingdoms; it was bleak, sterile Sweden, thatgained victories for the Reformation.

For nearly thirty years Calvin labored at Geneva, first to establishthere a church adhering to the morality of the Bible, and then for theadvancement of the Reformation throughout Europe. His course as apublic leader was not faultless, nor were his doctrines free from error.But he was instrumental in promulgating truths that were of specialimportance in his time, in maintaining the principles of Protestantismagainst the fast-returning tide of popery, and in promoting in thereformed churches simplicity and purity of life, in place of the prideand corruption fostered under the Romish teaching.

From Geneva, publications and teachers went out to spread thereformed doctrines. To this point the persecuted of all lands lookedfor instruction, counsel, and encouragement. The city of Calvinbecame a refuge for the hunted Reformers of all Western Europe.Fleeing from the awful tempests that continued for centuries, thefugitives came to the gates of Geneva. Starving, wounded, bereftof home and kindred, they were warmly welcomed and tenderly

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cared for; and finding a home here, they blessed the city of theiradoption by their skill, their learning, and their piety. Many whosought here a refuge returned to their own countries to resist thetyranny of Rome. John Knox, the brave Scotch Reformer, not a fewof the English Puritans, the Protestants of Holland and of Spain, andthe Huguenots of France carried from Geneva the torch of truth tolighten the darkness of their native lands.


Chapter 13—The Netherlands and Scandinavia

In The Netherlands the papal tyranny very early called forthresolute protest. Seven hundred years before Luther’s time theRoman pontiff was thus fearlessly impeached by two bishops, who,having been sent on an embassy to Rome, had learned the truecharacter of the “holy see“: God “has made His queen and spouse,the church, a noble and everlasting provision for her family, with adowry that is neither fading nor corruptible, and given her an eternalcrown and scepter; ... all which benefits you like a thief intercept.You set up yourself in the temple of God; instead of a pastor, you arebecome a wolf to the sheep; ... you would make us believe you are asupreme bishop, but you rather behave like a tyrant.... Whereas youought to be a servant of servants, as you call yourself, you endeavorto become a lord of lords.... You bring the commands of God intocontempt.... The Holy Ghost is the builder of all churches as faras the earth extends.... The city of our God, of which we are thecitizens, reaches to all the regions of the heavens; and it is greaterthan the city, by the holy prophets named Babylon, which pretendsto be divine, wins herself to heaven, and brags that her wisdom isimmortal; and finally, though without reason, that she never did err,nor ever can.”—Gerard Brandt, History of the Reformation in andAbout the Low Countries 1:6.

Others arose from century to century to echo this protest. Andthose early teachers who, traversing different lands and known byvarious names, bore the character of the Vaudois missionaries, andspread everywhere the knowledge of the gospel, penetrated to theNetherlands. Their doctrines spread rapidly. The Waldensian Biblethey translated in verse into the Dutch language. They declared “thatthere was great advantage in it; no jests, no fables, no trifles, nodeceits, but the words of truth; that indeed there was here and therea hard crust, but that the marrow and sweetness of what was goodand holy might be easily discovered in it.”—Ibid. 1:14. Thus wrotethe friends of the ancient faith, in the twelfth century.



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Now began the Romish persecutions; but in the midst of fagotsand torture the believers continued to multiply, steadfastly declaring that the Bible is the only infallible authority in religion, andthat “no man should be coerced to believe, but should be won bypreaching.”—Martyn 2:87.

The teachings of Luther found a congenial soil in the Netherlands, and earnest and faithful men arose to preach the gospel. Fromone of the provinces of Holland came Menno Simons. Educated aRoman Catholic and ordained to the priesthood, he was wholly ignorant of the Bible, and he would not read it for fear of being beguiledinto heresy. When a doubt concerning the doctrine of transubstantiation forced itself upon him, he regarded it as a temptation fromSatan, and by prayer and confession sought to free himself from it;but in vain. By mingling in scenes of dissipation he endeavored tosilence the accusing voice of conscience; but without avail. After atime he was led to the study of the New Testament, and this, withLuther’s writings, caused him to accept the reformed faith. He soonafter witnessed in a neighboring village the beheading of a man whowas put to death for having been rebaptized. This led him to studythe Bible in regard to infant baptism. He could find no evidence forit in the Scriptures, but saw that repentance and faith are everywhererequired as the condition of receiving baptism.

Menno withdrew from the Roman Church and devoted his lifeto teaching the truths which he had received. In both Germany andthe Netherlands a class of fanatics had risen, advocating absurd andseditious doctrines, outraging order and decency, and proceeding toviolence and insurrection. Menno saw the horrible results to whichthese movements would inevitably lead, and he strenuously opposedthe erroneous teachings and wild schemes of the fanatics. Therewere many, however, who had been misled by these fanatics, butwho had renounced their pernicious doctrines; and there were stillremaining many descendants of the ancient Christians, the fruits ofthe Waldensian teaching. Among these classes Menno labored withgreat zeal and success.


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For twenty-five years he traveled, with his wife and children, enduring great hardships and privations, and frequently in peril of his life. He traversed the Netherlands and northern Germany, laboring chiefly among the humbler classes but exerting a widespread influence. Naturally eloquent, though possessing a limited education,he was a man of unwavering integrity, of humble spirit and gentlemanners, and of sincere and earnest piety, exemplifying in his ownlife the precepts which he taught, and he commanded the confidenceof the people. His followers were scattered and oppressed. They suffered greatly from being confounded with the fanatical Munsterites.Yet great numbers were converted under his labors.

Nowhere were the reformed doctrines more generally receivedthan in the Netherlands. In few countries did their adherents enduremore terrible persecution. In Germany Charles V had banned theReformation, and he would gladly have brought all its adherents tothe stake; but the princes stood up as a barrier against his tyranny.In the Netherlands his power was greater, and persecuting edictsfollowed each other in quick succession. To read the Bible, to hearor preach it, or even to speak concerning it, was to incur the penalty of death by the stake. To pray to God in secret, to refrain from bowing to an image, or to sing a psalm, was also punishable with death. Even those who should abjure their errors were condemned, if men, to die by the sword; if women, to be buried alive. Thousands perished under the reign of Charles and of Philip II.


At one time a whole family was brought before the inquisitors,charged with remaining away from mass and worshiping at home.On his examination as to their practices in secret the youngest sonanswered: “We fall on our knees, and pray that God may enlightenour minds and pardon our sins; we pray for our sovereign, thathis reign may be prosperous and his life happy; we pray for ourmagistrates, that God may preserve them.”—Wylie, b. 18, ch. 6.Some of the judges were deeply moved, yet the father and one of hissons were condemned to the stake.

The rage of the persecutors was equaled by the faith of themartyrs. Not only men but delicate women and young maidensdisplayed unflinching courage. “Wives would take their stand bytheir husband’s stake, and while he was enduring the fire they wouldwhisper words of solace, or sing psalms to cheer him.” “Youngmaidens would lie down in their living grave as if they were enteringinto their chamber of nightly sleep; or go forth to the scaffold andthe fire, dressed in their best apparel, as if they were going to theirmarriage.”—Ibid., b. 18, ch. 6.

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As in the days when paganism sought to destroy the gospel, theblood of the Christians was seed. (See Tertullian, Apology, paragraph50.) Persecution served to increase the number of witnesses forthe truth. Year after year the monarch, stung to madness by theunconquerable determination of the people, urged on his cruel work;but in vain. Under the noble William of Orange the Revolution atlast brought to Holland freedom to worship God.

In the mountains of Piedmont, on the plains of France and theshores of Holland, the progress of the gospel was marked with theblood of its disciples. But in the countries of the North it founda peaceful entrance. Students at Wittenberg, returning to theirhomes, carried the reformed faith to Scandinavia. The publication of Luther’s writings also spread the light. The simple, hardypeople of the North turned from the corruption, the pomp, and thesuperstitions of Rome, to welcome the purity, the simplicity, and thelife-giving truths of the Bible.

Tausen, “the Reformer of Denmark,” was a peasant’s son. Theboy early gave evidence of vigorous intellect; he thirsted for an education; but this was denied him by the circumstances of his parents,and he entered a cloister. Here the purity of his life, together withhis diligence and fidelity, won the favor of his superior. Examinationshowed him to possess talent that promised at some future day goodservice to the church. It was determined to give him an educationat some one of the universities of Germany or the Netherlands. Theyoung student was granted permission to choose a school for himself,with one proviso, that he must not go to Wittenberg. The scholarof the church was not to be endangered by the poison of heresy. Sosaid the friars.

Tausen went to Cologne, which was then, as now, one of thestrongholds of Romanism. Here he soon became disgusted withthe mysticisms of the schoolmen. About the same time he obtainedLuther’s writings. He read them with wonder and delight, andgreatly desired to enjoy the personal instruction of the Reformer.But to do so he must risk giving offense to his monastic superior andforfeiting his support. His decision was soon made, and erelong hewas enrolled as a student at Wittenberg.


On returning to Denmark, he again repaired to his cloister. No one as yet suspected him of Lutheranism; he did not reveal his secret,but endeavored, without exciting the prejudices of his companions,to lead them to a purer faith and a holier life. He opened the Bible,and explained its true meaning, and at last preached Christ to them asthe sinner’s righteousness and his only hope of salvation. Great wasthe wrath of the prior, who had built high hopes upon him as a valiantdefender of Rome. He was at once removed from his own monasteryto another and confined to his cell under strict supervision.

To the terror of his new guardians several of the monks soondeclared themselves converts to Protestantism. Through the bars ofhis cell Tausen had communicated to his companions a knowledgeof the truth. Had those Danish fathers been skilled in the church’splan of dealing with heresy, Tausen’s voice would never again havebeen heard; but instead of consigning him to a tomb in some underground dungeon, they expelled him from the monastery. Now theywere powerless. A royal edict, just issued, offered protection to theteachers of the new doctrine. Tausen began to preach. The churcheswere opened to him, and the people thronged to listen. Others alsowere preaching the word of God. The New Testament, translatedinto the Danish tongue, was widely circulated. The efforts madeby the papists to overthrow the work resulted in extending it, anderelong Denmark declared its acceptance of the reformed faith.

In Sweden, also, young men who had drunk from the well of Wittenberg carried the water of life to their countrymen. Two of the leaders in the Swedish Reformation, Olaf and Laurentius Petri, the sonsof a blacksmith of Orebro, studied under Luther and Melanchthon,and the truths which they thus learned they were diligent to teach.Like the great Reformer, Olaf aroused the people by his zeal and eloquence, while Laurentius, like Melanchthon, was learned, thoughtful, and calm. Both were men of ardent piety, of high theologicalattainments, and of unflinching courage in advancing the truth. Papist opposition was not lacking. The Catholic priest stirred up theignorant and superstitious people. Olaf Petri was often assailed bythe mob, and upon several occasions barely escaped with his life.These Reformers were, however, favored and protected by the king.


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Under the rule of the Roman Church the people were sunken in poverty and ground down by oppression. They were destitute of the Scriptures; and having a religion of mere signs and ceremonies, which conveyed no light to the mind, they were returning to thesuperstitious beliefs and pagan practices of their heathen ancestors.The nation was divided into contending factions, whose perpetualstrife increased the misery of all. The king determined upon areformation in the state and the church, and he welcomed these ableassistants in the battle against Rome.

In the presence of the monarch and the leading men of Sweden,Olaf Petri with great ability defended the doctrines of the reformedfaith against the Romish champions. He declared that the teachingsof the Fathers are to be received only when in accordance with theScriptures; that the essential doctrines of the faith are presented in theBible in a clear and simple manner, so that all men may understandthem. Christ said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me”(John 7:16); and Paul declared that should he preach any other gospelthan that which he had received, he would be accursed (Galatians1:8). “How, then,” said the Reformer, “shall others presume to enactdogmas at their pleasure, and impose them as things necessary tosalvation?”—Wylie, b. 10, ch. 4. He showed that the decrees of thechurch are of no authority when in opposition to the commands ofGod, and maintained the great Protestant principle that “the Bibleand the Bible only” is the rule of faith and practice.

This contest, though conducted upon a stage comparatively obscure, serves to show us “the sort of men that formed the rank andfile of the army of the Reformers. They were not illiterate, sectarian,noisy controversialists—far from it; they were men who had studiedthe word of God, and knew well how to wield the weapons withwhich the armory of the Bible supplied them. In respect of eruditionthey were ahead of their age. When we confine our attention tosuch brilliant centers as Wittenberg and Zurich, and to such illustrious names as those of Luther and Melanchthon, of Zwingli andOecolampadius, we are apt to be told, these were the leaders ofthe movement, and we should naturally expect in them prodigiouspower and vast acquisitions; but the subordinates were not like these.Well, we turn to the obscure theater of Sweden, and the humblenames of Olaf and Laurentius Petri—from the masters to the disciples—what do we find? ... Scholars and theologians; men who havethoroughly mastered the whole system of gospel truth, and who winan easy victory over the sophists of the schools and the dignitariesof Rome.”—Ibid., b. 10, ch. 4.


208 The Great Controversy

As the result of this disputation the king of Sweden acceptedthe Protestant faith, and not long afterward the national assemblydeclared in its favor. The New Testament had been translated byOlaf Petri into the Swedish language, and at the desire of the kingthe two brothers undertook the translation of the whole Bible. Thusfor the first time the people of Sweden received the word of Godin their native tongue. It was ordered by the Diet that throughoutthe kingdom, ministers should explain the Scriptures and that thechildren in the schools should be taught to read the Bible.

Steadily and surely the darkness of ignorance and superstitionwas dispelled by the blessed light of the gospel. Freed from Romishoppression, the nation attained to a strength and greatness it hadnever before reached. Sweden became one of the bulwarks of Protestantism. A century later, at a time of sorest peril, this small andhitherto feeble nation—the only one in Europe that dared lend ahelping hand—came to the deliverance of Germany in the terriblestruggle of the Thirty Years’ War. All Northern Europe seemedabout to be brought again under the tyranny of Rome. It was thearmies of Sweden that enabled Germany to turn the tide of popishsuccess, to win toleration for the Protestants,—Calvinists as well asLutherans,—and to restore liberty of conscience to those countriesthat had accepted the Reformation.

Chapter 14—Later English Reformers

While Luther was opening a closed Bible to the people of Germany, Tyndale was impelled by the Spirit of God to do the same forEngland. Wycliffe’s Bible had been translated from the Latin text,which contained many errors. It had never been printed, and thecost of manuscript copies was so great that few but wealthy men ornobles could procure it; and, furthermore, being strictly proscribedby the church, it had had a comparatively narrow circulation. In1516, a year before the appearance of Luther’s theses, Erasmus hadpublished his Greek and Latin version of the New Testament. Nowfor the first time the word of God was printed in the original tongue.In this work many errors of former versions were corrected, and thesense was more clearly rendered. It led many among the educatedclasses to a better knowledge of the truth, and gave a new impetusto the work of reform. But the common people were still, to a greatextent, debarred from God’s word. Tyndale was to complete thework of Wycliffe in giving the Bible to his countrymen.

A diligent student and an earnest seeker for truth, he had receivedthe gospel from the Greek Testament of Erasmus. He fearlesslypreached his convictions, urging that all doctrines be tested by theScriptures. To the papist claim that the church had given the Bible,and the church alone could explain it, Tyndale responded: “Do youknow who taught the eagles to find their prey? Well, that same Godteaches His hungry children to find their Father in His word. Farfrom having given us the Scriptures, it is you who have hidden themfrom us; it is you who burn those who teach them, and if you could,you would burn the Scriptures themselves.”—D’Aubigne, Historyof the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, b. 18, ch. 4.

Tyndale’s preaching excited great interest; many accepted thetruth. But the priests were on the alert, and no sooner had he left thefield than they by their threats and misrepresentations endeavoredto destroy his work. Too often they succeeded. “What is to bedone?” he exclaimed. “While I am sowing in one place, the enemyravages the field I have just left. I cannot be everywhere. Oh! if Christians possessed the Holy Scriptures in their own tongue, they could of themselves withstand these sophists. Without the Bible it is impossible to establish the laity in the truth.”—Ibid.,b. 18, ch. 4.



210 The Great Controversy

A new purpose now took possession of his mind. “It was in thelanguage of Israel,” said he, “that the psalms were sung in the templeof Jehovah; and shall not the gospel speak the language of Englandamong us? ... Ought the church to have less light at noonday thanat the dawn? ... Christians must read the New Testament in theirmother tongue.” The doctors and teachers of the church disagreedamong themselves. Only by the Bible could men arrive at the truth.“One holdeth this doctor, another that.... Now each of these authorscontradicts the other. How then can we distinguish him who saysright from him who says wrong? ... How? ... Verily by God’sword.”—Ibid., b. 18, ch. 4.

It was not long after that a learned Catholic doctor, engaging incontroversy with him, exclaimed: “We were better to be withoutGod’s laws than the pope’s.” Tyndale replied: “I defy the pope andall his laws; and if God spare my life, ere many years I will causea boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scripture than youdo.”—Anderson, Annals of the English Bible, page 19.

The purpose which he had begun to cherish, of giving to thepeople the New Testament Scriptures in their own language, wasnow confirmed, and he immediately applied himself to the work.Driven from his home by persecution, he went to London, and therefor a time pursued his labors undisturbed. But again the violence ofthe papists forced him to flee. All England seemed closed againsthim, and he resolved to seek shelter in Germany. Here he beganthe printing of the English New Testament. Twice the work wasstopped; but when forbidden to print in one city, he went to another.At last he made his way to Worms, where, a few years before, Lutherhad defended the gospel before the Diet. In that ancient city weremany friends of the Reformation, and Tyndale there prosecuted hiswork without further hindrance. Three thousand copies of the NewTestament were soon finished, and another edition followed in thesame year.

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With great earnestness and perseverance he continued his labors. Notwithstanding the English authorities had guarded their ports withthe strictest vigilance, the word of God was in various ways secretlyconveyed to London and thence circulated throughout the country.The papists attempted to suppress the truth, but in vain. The bishopof Durham at one time bought of a bookseller who was a friend ofTyndale his whole stock of Bibles, for the purpose of destroyingthem, supposing that this would greatly hinder the work. But, onthe contrary, the money thus furnished, purchased material for anew and better edition, which, but for this, could not have beenpublished. When Tyndale was afterward made a prisoner, his libertywas offered him on condition that he would reveal the names ofthose who had helped him meet the expense of printing his Bibles.He replied that the bishop of Durham had done more than any otherperson; for by paying a large price for the books left on hand, he hadenabled him to go on with good courage.

Tyndale was betrayed into the hands of his enemies, and at onetime suffered imprisonment for many months. He finally witnessedfor his faith by a martyr’s death; but the weapons which he preparedhave enabled other soldiers to do battle through all the centurieseven to our time.

Latimer maintained from the pulpit that the Bible ought to beread in the language of the people. The Author of Holy Scripture,said he, “is God Himself;” and this Scripture partakes of the mightand eternity of its Author. “There is no king, emperor, magistrate,and ruler ... but are bound to obey ... His holy word.” “Let us nottake any bywalks, but let God’s word direct us: let us not walk after... our forefathers, nor seek not what they did, but what they shouldhave done.”—Hugh Latimer, “First Sermon Preached Before KingEdward VI.”

Barnes and Frith, the faithful friends of Tyndale, arose to defendthe truth. The Ridleys and Cranmer followed. These leaders in theEnglish Reformation were men of learning, and most of them hadbeen highly esteemed for zeal or piety in the Romish communion.Their opposition to the papacy was the result of their knowledge ofthe errors of the “holy see.” Their acquaintance with the mysteriesof Babylon gave greater power to their testimonies against her.


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“Now I would ask a strange question,” said Latimer. “Who is the most diligent bishop and prelate in all England? ... I see you listening and hearkening that I should name him.... I will tell you: itis the devil.... He is never out of his diocese; call for him when youwill, he is ever at home; ... he is ever at his plow.... Ye shall neverfind him idle, I warrant you.... Where the devil is resident, ... thereaway with books, and up with candles; away with Bibles, and upwith beads; away with the light of the gospel, and up with the lightof candles, yea, at noondays; ... down with Christ’s cross, up withpurgatory pickpurse; ... away with clothing the naked, the poor, andimpotent, up with decking of images and gay garnishing of stocksand stones; up with man’s traditions and his laws, down with God’straditions and His most holy word.... O that our prelates would be asdiligent to sow the corn of good doctrine, as Satan is to sow cockleand darnel!”—Ibid., “Sermon of the Plough.”

The grand principle maintained by these Reformers—the samethat had been held by the Waldenses, by Wycliffe, by John Huss, byLuther, Zwingli, and those who united with them—was the infallibleauthority of the Holy Scriptures as a rule of faith and practice. Theydenied the right of popes, councils, Fathers, and kings, to controlthe conscience in matters of religion. The Bible was their authority,and by its teaching they tested all doctrines and all claims. Faith inGod and His word sustained these holy men as they yielded up theirlives at the stake. “Be of good comfort,” exclaimed Latimer to hisfellow martyr as the flames were about to silence their voices, “weshall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as Itrust shall never be put out.”—Works of Hugh Latimer 1:8.

In Scotland the seeds of truth scattered by Columba and hiscolaborers had never been wholly destroyed. For hundreds of yearsafter the churches of England submitted to Rome, those of Scotlandmaintained their freedom. In the twelfth century, however, poperybecame established here, and in no country did it exercise a moreabsolute sway. Nowhere was the darkness deeper. Still there camerays of light to pierce the gloom and give promise of the coming day.The Lollards, coming from England with the Bible and the teachingsof Wycliffe, did much to preserve the knowledge of the gospel, andevery century had its witnesses and martyrs.

With the opening of the Great Reformation came the writingsof Luther, and then Tyndale’s English New Testament. Unnoticedby the hierarchy, these messengers silently traversed the mountainsand valleys, kindling into new life the torch of truth so nearly extinguished in Scotland, and undoing the work which Rome for four centuries of oppression had done.

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Then the blood of martyrs gave fresh impetus to the movement.The papist leaders, suddenly awakening to the danger that threatened their cause, brought to the stake some of the noblest and mosthonored of the sons of Scotland. They did but erect a pulpit, fromwhich the words of these dying witnesses were heard throughout theland, thrilling the souls of the people with an undying purpose tocast off the shackles of Rome.

Hamilton and Wishart, princely in character as in birth, with along line of humbler disciples, yielded up their lives at the stake. Butfrom the burning pile of Wishart there came one whom the flameswere not to silence, one who under God was to strike the death knellof popery in Scotland.

John Knox had turned away from the traditions and mysticismsof the church, to feed upon the truths of God’s word; and the teachingof Wishart had confirmed his determination to forsake the communion of Rome and join himself to the persecuted Reformers.

Urged by his companions to take the office of preacher, he shrankwith trembling from its responsibility, and it was only after days ofseclusion and painful conflict with himself that he consented. Buthaving once accepted the position, he pressed forward with inflexibledetermination and undaunted courage as long as life continued.This truehearted Reformer feared not the face of man. The fires ofmartyrdom, blazing around him, served only to quicken his zeal togreater intensity. With the tyrant’s ax held menacingly over his head,he stood his ground, striking sturdy blows on the right hand and onthe left to demolish idolatry.

When brought face to face with the queen of Scotland, in whosepresence the zeal of many a leader of the Protestants had abated, JohnKnox bore unswerving witness for the truth. He was not to be wonby caresses; he quailed not before threats. The queen charged himwith heresy. He had taught the people to receive a religion prohibitedby the state, she declared, and had thus transgressed God’s commandenjoining subjects to obey their princes. Knox answered firmly:


214 The Great Controversy

“As right religion took neither original strength nor authority from worldly princes, but from the eternal God alone, so are not subjects bound to frame their religion according to the appetites oftheir princes. For oft it is that princes are the most ignorant of allothers in God’s true religion.... If all the seed of Abraham had beenof the religion of Pharaoh, whose subjects they long were, I prayyou, madam, what religion would there have been in the world? Orif all men in the days of the apostles had been of the religion of theRoman emperors, what religion would there have been upon the faceof the earth? ... And so, madam, ye may perceive that subjects arenot bound to the religion of their princes, albeit they are commandedto give them obedience.”

Said Mary: “Ye interpret the Scriptures in one manner, and they[the Roman Catholic teachers] interpret in another; whom shall Ibelieve, and who shall be judge?”

“Ye shall believe God, that plainly speaketh in His word,” answered the Reformer; “and farther than the word teaches you, yeneither shall believe the one nor the other. The word of God is plainin itself; and if there appear any obscurity in one place, the HolyGhost, which is never contrary to Himself, explains the same moreclearly in other places, so that there can remain no doubt but untosuch as obstinately remain ignorant.”—David Laing, The CollectedWorks of John Knox, vol. 2, pp. 281, 284.

Such were the truths that the fearless Reformer, at the peril of hislife, spoke in the ear of royalty. With the same undaunted couragehe kept to his purpose, praying and fighting the battles of the Lord,until Scotland was free from popery.

In England the establishment of Protestantism as the nationalreligion diminished, but did not wholly stop, persecution. Whilemany of the doctrines of Rome had been renounced, not a few of itsforms were retained. The supremacy of the pope was rejected, but inhis place the monarch was enthroned as the head of the church. In theservice of the church there was still a wide departure from the purityand simplicity of the gospel. The great principle of religious libertywas not yet understood. Though the horrible cruelties which Romeemployed against heresy were resorted to but rarely by Protestantrulers, yet the right of every man to worship God according tothe dictates of his own conscience was not acknowledged. Allwere required to accept the doctrines and observe the forms ofworship prescribed by the established church. Dissenters sufferedpersecution, to a greater or less extent, for hundreds of years.

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In the seventeenth century thousands of pastors were expelledfrom their positions. The people were forbidden, on pain of heavyfines, imprisonment, and banishment, to attend any religious meetings except such as were sanctioned by the church. Those faithfulsouls who could not refrain from gathering to worship God werecompelled to meet in dark alleys, in obscure garrets, and at someseasons in the woods at midnight. In the sheltering depths of theforest, a temple of God’s own building, those scattered and persecuted children of the Lord assembled to pour out their souls in prayerand praise. But despite all their precautions, many suffered for theirfaith. The jails were crowded. Families were broken up. Manywere banished to foreign lands. Yet God was with His people, andpersecution could not prevail to silence their testimony. Many weredriven across the ocean to America and here laid the foundations ofcivil and religious liberty which have been the bulwark and glory ofthis country.

Again, as in apostolic days, persecution turned out to the furtherance of the gospel. In a loathsome dungeon crowded with profligatesand felons, John Bunyan breathed the very atmosphere of heaven;and there he wrote his wonderful allegory of the pilgrim’s journeyfrom the land of destruction to the celestial city. For over two hundred years that voice from Bedford jail has spoken with thrillingpower to the hearts of men. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and GraceAbounding to the Chief of Sinners have guided many feet into thepath of life.

Baxter, Flavel, Alleine, and other men of talent, education, anddeep Christian experience stood up in valiant defense of the faithwhich was once delivered to the saints. The work accomplished bythese men, proscribed and outlawed by the rulers of this world, cannever perish. Flavel’s Fountain of Life and Method of Grace havetaught thousands how to commit the keeping of their souls to Christ.Baxter’s Reformed Pastor has proved a blessing to many who desirea revival of the work of God, and his Saints’ Everlasting Rest hasdone its work in leading souls to the “rest” that remaineth for thepeople of God.


216 The Great Controversy

A hundred years later, in a day of great spiritual darkness, Whitefield and the Wesleys appeared as light bearers for God. Under the rule of the established church the people of England had lapsedinto a state of religious declension hardly to be distinguished fromheathenism. Natural religion was the favorite study of the clergy,and included most of their theology. The higher classes sneered atpiety, and prided themselves on being above what they called its fanaticism. The lower classes were grossly ignorant and abandoned tovice, while the church had no courage or faith any longer to supportthe downfallen cause of truth.

The great doctrine of justification by faith, so clearly taughtby Luther, had been almost wholly lost sight of; and the Romishprinciple of trusting to good works for salvation, had taken its place.Whitefield and the Wesleys, who were members of the establishedchurch, were sincere seekers for the favor of God, and this they hadbeen taught was to be secured by a virtuous life and an observanceof the ordinances of religion.

When Charles Wesley at one time fell ill, and anticipated thatdeath was approaching, he was asked upon what he rested his hopeof eternal life. His answer was: “I have used my best endeavors toserve God.” As the friend who had put the question seemed not tobe fully satisfied with his answer, Wesley thought: “What! are notmy endeavors a sufficient ground of hope? Would he rob me of myendeavors? I have nothing else to trust to.”—John Whitehead, Lifeof the Rev. Charles Wesley, page 102. Such was the dense darknessthat had settled down on the church, hiding the atonement, robbingChrist of His glory, and turning the minds of men from their onlyhope of salvation—the blood of the crucified Redeemer.

Wesley and his associates were led to see that true religion isseated in the heart, and that God’s law extends to the thoughts aswell as to the words and actions. Convinced of the necessity ofholiness of heart, as well as correctness of outward deportment, theyset out in earnest upon a new life. By the most diligent and prayerfulefforts they endeavored to subdue the evils of the natural heart.They lived a life of self-denial, charity, and humiliation, observingwith great rigor and exactness every measure which they thoughtcould be helpful to them in obtaining what they most desired—thatholiness which could secure the favor of God. But they did notobtain the object which they sought. In vain were their endeavors tofree themselves from the condemnation of sin or to break its power.It was the same struggle which Luther had experienced in his cell atErfurt. It was the same question which had tortured his soul—“How should man be just before God?”Job 9:2.

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The fires of divine truth, well-nigh extinguished upon the altarsof Protestantism, were to be rekindled from the ancient torch handeddown the ages by the Bohemian Christians. After the Reformation,Protestantism in Bohemia had been trampled out by the hordesof Rome. All who refused to renounce the truth were forced toflee. Some of these, finding refuge in Saxony, there maintained theancient faith. It was from the descendants of these Christians thatlight came to Wesley and his associates.

John and Charles Wesley, after being ordained to the ministry,were sent on a mission to America. On board the ship was a companyof Moravians. Violent storms were encountered on the passage, andJohn Wesley, brought face to face with death, felt that he had notthe assurance of peace with God. The Germans, on the contrary,manifested a calmness and trust to which he was a stranger.

“I had long before,” he says, “observed the great seriousness oftheir behavior. Of their humility they had given a continual proof,by performing those servile offices for the other passengers whichnone of the English would undertake; for which they desired andwould receive no pay, saying it was good for their proud hearts, andtheir loving Saviour had done more for them. And every day hadgiven them occasion of showing a meekness which no injury couldmove. If they were pushed, struck, or thrown about, they rose againand went away; but no complaint was found in their mouth. Therewas now an opportunity of trying whether they were delivered fromthe spirit of fear, as well as from that of pride, anger, and revenge. Inthe midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea brokeover, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured inbetween the decks as if the great deep had already swallowed us up.A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmlysang on. I asked one of them afterwards, ‘Were you not afraid?’ Heanswered, ‘I thank God, no.’ I asked, ‘But were not your women andchildren afraid?’ He replied mildly, ‘No; our women and childrenare not afraid to die.’”—Whitehead, Life of the Rev. John Wesley,page 10.


218 The Great Controversy

Upon arriving in Savannah, Wesley for a short time abode with the Moravians, and was deeply impressed with their Christian deportment. Of one of their religious services, in striking contrast tothe lifeless formalism of the Church of England, he wrote: “Thegreat simplicity as well as solemnity of the whole almost mademe forget the seventeen hundred years between, and imagine myself in one of those assemblies where form and state were not; butPaul, the tentmaker, or Peter, the fisherman, presided; yet with thedemonstration of the Spirit and of power.”—Ibid., pages 11, 12.

On his return to England, Wesley, under the instruction of aMoravian preacher, arrived at a clearer understanding of Bible faith.He was convinced that he must renounce all dependence upon hisown works for salvation and must trust wholly to “the Lamb ofGod, which taketh away the sin of the world.” At a meeting ofthe Moravian society in London a statement was read from Luther,describing the change which the Spirit of God works in the heart ofthe believer. As Wesley listened, faith was kindled in his soul. “Ifelt my heart strangely warmed,” he says. “I felt I did trust in Christ,Christ alone, for salvation: and an assurance was given me, that Hehad taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law ofsin and death.”—Ibid., page 52.

Through long years of wearisome and comfortless striving—years of rigorous self-denial, of reproach and humiliation—Wesleyhad steadfastly adhered to his one purpose of seeking God. Now hehad found Him; and he found that the grace which he had toiled towin by prayers and fasts, by almsdeeds and self-abnegation, was agift, “without money and without price.”

Once established in the faith of Christ, his whole soul burnedwith the desire to spread everywhere a knowledge of the gloriousgospel of God’s free grace. “I look upon all the world as my parish,”he said; “in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and mybounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the gladtidings of salvation.”—Ibid., page 74.

He continued his strict and self-denying life, not now as theground, but the result of faith; not the root, but the fruit of holiness.The grace of God in Christ is the foundation of the Christian’s hope,and that grace will be manifested in obedience. Wesley’s life wasdevoted to the preaching of the great truths which he had received—justification through faith in the atoning blood of Christ, and therenewing power of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, bringing forth fruit in a life conformed to the example of Christ.

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Whitefield and the Wesleys had been prepared for their workby long and sharp personal convictions of their own lost condition;and that they might be able to endure hardness as good soldiers ofChrist, they had been subjected to the fiery ordeal of scorn, derision,and persecution, both in the university and as they were enteringthe ministry. They and a few others who sympathized with themwere contemptuously called Methodists by their ungodly fellowstudents—a name which is at the present time regarded as honorableby one of the largest denominations in England and America.

As members of the Church of England they were strongly attached to her forms of worship, but the Lord had presented beforethem in His word a higher standard. The Holy Spirit urged them topreach Christ and Him crucified. The power of the Highest attendedtheir labors. Thousands were convicted and truly converted. It wasnecessary that these sheep be protected from ravening wolves. Wesley had no thought of forming a new denomination, but he organizedthem under what was called the Methodist Connection.

Mysterious and trying was the opposition which these preachersencountered from the established church; yet God, in His wisdom,had overruled events to cause the reform to begin within the churchitself. Had it come wholly from without, it would not have penetratedwhere it was so much needed. But as the revival preachers werechurchmen, and labored within the pale of the church wherever theycould find opportunity, the truth had an entrance where the doorswould otherwise have remained closed. Some of the clergy wereroused from their moral stupor and became zealous preachers intheir own parishes. Churches that had been petrified by formalismwere quickened into life.

In Wesley’s time, as in all ages of the church’s history, menof different gifts performed their appointed work. They did notharmonize upon every point of doctrine, but all were moved by theSpirit of God, and united in the absorbing aim to win souls to Christ.The differences between Whitefield and the Wesleys threatened atone time to create alienation; but as they learned meekness in theschool of Christ, mutual forbearance and charity reconciled them.They had no time to dispute, while error and iniquity were teeming everywhere, and sinners were going down to ruin.


220 The Great Controversy

The servants of God trod a rugged path. Men of influence andlearning employed their powers against them. After a time manyof the clergy manifested determined hostility, and the doors of thechurches were closed against a pure faith and those who proclaimedit. The course of the clergy in denouncing them from the pulpitaroused the elements of darkness, ignorance, and iniquity. Againand again did John Wesley escape death by a miracle of God’s mercy.When the rage of the mob was excited against him, and there seemedno way of escape, an angel in human form came to his side, the mobfell back, and the servant of Christ passed in safety from the placeof danger.

Of his deliverance from the enraged mob on one of these occasions, Wesley said: “Many endeavored to throw me down while wewere going down hill on a slippery path to the town; as well judgingthat if I was once on the ground, I should hardly rise any more. ButI made no stumble at all, nor the least slip, till I was entirely outof their hands.... Although many strove to lay hold on my collar orclothes, to pull me down, they could not fasten at all: only one gotfast hold of the flap of my waistcoat, which was soon left in his hand;the other flap, in the pocket of which was a bank note, was torn buthalf off.... A lusty man just behind, struck at me several times, witha large oaken stick; with which if he had struck me once on the backpart of my head, it would have saved him all further trouble. Butevery time, the blow was turned aside, I know not how; for I couldnot move to the right hand or left.... Another came rushing throughthe press, and raising his arm to strike, on a sudden let it drop, andonly stroked my head, saying, ‘What soft hair he has!’ ... The veryfirst men whose hearts were turned were the heroes of the town, thecaptains of the rabble on all occasions, one of them having been aprize fighter at the bear gardens....

“By how gentle degrees does God prepare us for His will! Twoyears ago, a piece of brick grazed my shoulders. It was a year afterthat the stone struck me between the eyes. Last month I received oneblow, and this evening two, one before we came into the town, andone after we were gone out; but both were as nothing: for thoughone man struck me on the breast with all his might, and the other onthe mouth with such force that the blood gushed out immediately, I felt no more pain from either of the blows than if they had touched me with a straw.”—John Wesley,Works,vol. 3, pp. 297, 298.

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The Methodists of those early days—people as well as preachers—endured ridicule and persecution, alike from church membersand from the openly irreligious who were inflamed by their misrepresentations. They were arraigned before courts of justice—such onlyin name, for justice was rare in the courts of that time. Often theysuffered violence from their persecutors. Mobs went from houseto house, destroying furniture and goods, plundering whatever theychose, and brutally abusing men, women, and children. In someinstances, public notices were posted, calling upon those who desired to assist in breaking the windows and robbing the houses ofthe Methodists, to assemble at a given time and place. These openviolations of both human and divine law were allowed to pass without a reprimand. A systematic persecution was carried on againsta people whose only fault was that of seeking to turn the feet ofsinners from the path of destruction to the path of holiness.

Said John Wesley, referring to the charges against himself andhis associates: “Some allege that the doctrines of these men arefalse, erroneous, and enthusiastic; that they are new and unheard-oftill of late; that they are Quakerism, fanaticism, popery. This wholepretense has been already cut up by the roots, it having been shownat large that every branch of this doctrine is the plain doctrine ofScripture interpreted by our own church. Therefore it cannot beeither false or erroneous, provided the Scripture be true.” “Othersallege, ‘Their doctrine is too strict; they make the way to heaventoo narrow.’ And this is in truth the original objection, (as it wasalmost the only one for some time,) and is secretly at the bottomof a thousand more, which appear in various forms. But do theymake the way to heaven any narrower than our Lord and His apostlesmade it? Is their doctrine stricter than that of the Bible? Consideronly a few plain texts: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with allthy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with allthy strength.’ ‘For every idle word which men shall speak, they shallgive an account in the day of judgment.’ ‘Whether ye eat, or drink,or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.’


222 The Great Controversy

“If their doctrine is stricter than this, they are to blame; but youknow in your conscience it is not. And who can be one jot lessstrict without corrupting the word of God? Can any steward of themysteries of God be found faithful if he change any part of thatsacred depositum? No. He can abate nothing, he can soften nothing;he is constrained to declare to all men, ‘I may not bring down theScripture to your taste. You must come up to it, or perish forever.’This is the real ground of that other popular cry concerning ‘theuncharitableness of these men.’ Uncharitable, are they? In whatrespect? Do they not feed the hungry and clothe the naked? ‘No;that is not the thing: they are not wanting in this: but they are souncharitable in judging! they think none can be saved but those oftheir own way.’”—Ibid., vol. 3, pp. 152, 153.

The spiritual declension which had been manifest in Englandjust before the time of Wesley was in great degree the result ofantinomian teaching. Many affirmed that Christ had abolished themoral law and that Christians are therefore under no obligation toobserve it; that a believer is freed from the “bondage of good works.”Others, though admitting the perpetuity of the law, declared that itwas unnecessary for ministers to exhort the people to obedience of itsprecepts, since those whom God had elected to salvation would, “bythe irresistible impulse of divine grace, be led to the practice of pietyand virtue,” while those who were doomed to eternal reprobation“did not have power to obey the divine law.”

Others, also holding that “the elect cannot fall from grace norforfeit the divine favor,” arrived at the still more hideous conclusionthat “the wicked actions they commit are not really sinful, nor to beconsidered as instances of their violation of the divine law, and that,consequently, they have no occasion either to confess their sins orto break them off by repentance.”—McClintock and Strong, Cyclo-pedia, art. “Antinomians.” Therefore, they declared that even oneof the vilest of sins, “considered universally an enormous violationof the divine law, is not a sin in the sight of God,” if committed byone of the elect, “because it is one of the essential and distinctivecharacteristics of the elect, that they cannot do anything that is eitherdispleasing to God or prohibited by the law.”

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These monstrous doctrines are essentially the same as the later teaching of popular educators and theologians—that there is nounchangeable divine law as the standard of right, but that the standardof morality is indicated by society itself, and has constantly beensubject to change. All these ideas are inspired by the same masterspirit—by him who, even among the sinless inhabitants of heaven,began his work of seeking to break down the righteous restraints ofthe law of God.

The doctrine of the divine decrees, unalterably fixing the character of men, had led many to a virtual rejection of the law of God.Wesley steadfastly opposed the errors of the antinomian teachers andshowed that this doctrine which led to antinomianism was contraryto the Scriptures. “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hathappeared to all men.” “This is good and acceptable in the sight ofGod our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to comeunto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and onemediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gaveHimself a ransom for all.” Titus 2:11; 1 Timothy 2:3-6. The Spiritof God is freely bestowed to enable every man to lay hold upon themeans of salvation. Thus Christ, “the true Light,” “lighteth everyman that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. Men fail of salvationthrough their own willful refusal of the gift of life.

In answer to the claim that at the death of Christ the precepts ofthe Decalogue had been abolished with the ceremonial law, Wesleysaid: “The moral law, contained in the Ten Commandments andenforced by the prophets, He did not take away. It was not thedesign of His coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law whichnever can be broken, which ‘stands fast as the faithful witness inheaven.’ ... This was from the beginning of the world, being ‘writtennot on tables of stone,’ but on the hearts of all the children of men,when they came out of the hands of the Creator. And however theletters once wrote by the finger of God are now in a great measuredefaced by sin, yet can they not wholly be blotted out, while wehave any consciousness of good and evil. Every part of this lawmust remain in force upon all mankind, and in all ages; as notdepending either on time or place, or any other circumstances liableto change, but on the nature of God, and the nature of man, and theirunchangeable relation to each other.


“‘I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.’ ... Without question, His meaning in this place is (consistently with all that goes beforeand follows after),—I am come to establish it in its fullness, in spiteof all the glosses of men: I am come to place in a full and clearview whatsoever was dark or obscure therein: I am come to declarethe true and full import of every part of it; to show the length andbreadth, the entire extent, of every commandment contained therein,and the height and depth, the inconceivable purity and spirituality ofit in all its branches.”—Wesley, sermon 25.

Wesley declared the perfect harmony of the law and the gospel.“There is, therefore, the closest connection that can be conceived,between the law and the gospel. On the one hand, the law continuallymakes way for, and points us to, the gospel; on the other, the gospelcontinually leads us to a more exact fulfilling of the law. The law,for instance, requires us to love God, to love our neighbor, to bemeek, humble, or holy. We feel that we are not sufficient for thesethings; yea, that ‘with man this is impossible;’ but we see a promiseof God to give us that love, and to make us humble, meek, and holy:we lay hold of this gospel, of these glad tidings; it is done unto usaccording to our faith; and ‘the righteousness of the law is fulfilledin us,’ through faith which is in Christ Jesus....

“In the highest rank of the enemies of the gospel of Christ,” saidWesley, “are they who openly and explicitly ‘judge the law’ itself,and ‘speak evil of the law;’ who teach men to break (to dissolve, toloose, to untie the obligation of) not one only, whether of the leastor of the greatest, but all the commandments at a stroke.... The mostsurprising of all the circumstances that attend this strong delusion,is that they who are given up to it, really believe that they honorChrist by overthrowing His law, and that they are magnifying Hisoffice while they are destroying His doctrine! Yea, they honor Himjust as Judas did when he said, ‘Hail, Master, and kissed Him.’ AndHe may as justly say to every one of them, ‘Betrayest thou the Sonof man with a kiss?’ It is no other than betraying Him with a kiss,to talk of His blood, and take away His crown; to set light by anypart of His law, under pretense of advancing His gospel. Nor indeedcan anyone escape this charge, who preaches faith in any such amanner as either directly or indirectly tends to set aside any branchof obedience: who preaches Christ so as to disannul, or weaken inany wise, the least of the commandments of God.”—Ibid.


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To those who urged that “the preaching of the gospel answers allthe ends of the law,” Wesley replied: “This we utterly deny. It doesnot answer the very first end of the law, namely, the convincing menof sin, the awakening those who are still asleep on the brink of hell.”The apostle Paul declares that “by the law is the knowledge of sin;”“and not until man is convicted of sin, will he truly feel his needof the atoning blood of Christ.... ‘They that be whole,’ as our LordHimself observes, ‘need not a physician, but they that are sick.’ It isabsurd, therefore, to offer a physician to them that are whole, or thatat least imagine themselves so to be. You are first to convince themthat they are sick; otherwise they will not thank you for your labor.It is equally absurd to offer Christ to them whose heart is whole,having never yet been broken.”—Ibid., sermon 35.

Thus while preaching the gospel of the grace of God, Wesley,like his Master, sought to “magnify the law, and make it honorable.”Faithfully did he accomplish the work given him of God, and glorious were the results which he was permitted to behold. At the closeof his long life of more than fourscore years—above half a centuryspent in itinerant ministry—his avowed adherents numbered morethan half a million souls. But the multitude that through his laborshad been lifted from the ruin and degradation of sin to a higher anda purer life, and the number who by his teaching had attained to adeeper and richer experience, will never be known till the whole family of the redeemed shall be gathered into the kingdom of God. Hislife presents a lesson of priceless worth to every Christian. Wouldthat the faith and humility, the untiring zeal, self-sacrifice, and devotion of this servant of Christ might be reflected in the churches oftoday!


Chapter 15—The Bible and the French Revolution

In the sixteenth century the Reformation, presenting an openBible to the people, had sought admission to all the countries ofEurope. Some nations welcomed it with gladness, as a messengerof Heaven. In other lands the papacy succeeded to a great extent inpreventing its entrance; and the light of Bible knowledge, with itselevating influences, was almost wholly excluded. In one country,though the light found entrance, it was not comprehended by thedarkness. For centuries, truth and error struggled for the mastery.At last the evil triumphed, and the truth of Heaven was thrust out.“This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and menloved darkness rather than light.” John 3:19. The nation was left toreap the results of the course which she had chosen. The restraint ofGod’s Spirit was removed from a people that had despised the giftof His grace. Evil was permitted to come to maturity. And all theworld saw the fruit of willful rejection of the light.

The war against the Bible, carried forward for so many centuriesin France, culminated in the scenes of the Revolution. That terribleoutbreaking was but the legitimate result of Rome’s suppressionof the Scriptures. (See Appendix.) It presented the most strikingillustration which the world has ever witnessed of the working outof the papal policy—an illustration of the results to which for morethan a thousand years the teaching of the Roman Church had beentending.

The suppression of the Scriptures during the period of papalsupremacy was foretold by the prophets; and the Revelator pointsalso to the terrible results that were to accrue especially to Francefrom the domination of the “man of sin.”

Said the angel of the Lord: “The holy city shall they tread underfoot forty and two months. And I will give power unto My twowitnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred andthreescore days, clothed in sackcloth.... And when they shall havefinished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.



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And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the greatcity, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also ourLord was crucified.... And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another;because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God enteredinto them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell uponthem which saw them.” Revelation 11:2-11.

The periods here mentioned—“forty and two months,” and “athousand two hundred and threescore days”—are the same, alikerepresenting the time in which the church of Christ was to sufferoppression from Rome. The 1260 years of papal supremacy beganin A.D. 538, and would therefore terminate in 1798. (See Appendixnote for page 54.) At that time a French army entered Rome andmade the pope a prisoner, and he died in exile. Though a new popewas soon afterward elected, the papal hierarchy has never since beenable to wield the power which it before possessed.

The persecution of the church did not continue throughout theentire period of the 1260 years. God in mercy to His people cutshort the time of their fiery trial. In foretelling the “great tribulation”to befall the church, the Saviour said: “Except those days shouldbe shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’ssake those days shall be shortened.” Matthew 24:22. Through theinfluence of the Reformation the persecution was brought to an endprior to 1798.

Concerning the two witnesses the prophet declares further:“These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standingbefore the God of the earth.” “Thy word,” said the psalmist, “is alamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Revelation 11:4; Psalm119:105. The two witnesses represent the Scriptures of the Old andthe New Testament. Both are important testimonies to the origin andperpetuity of the law of God. Both are witnesses also to the plan ofsalvation. The types, sacrifices, and prophecies of the Old Testamentpoint forward to a Saviour to come. The Gospels and Epistles of theNew Testament tell of a Saviour who has come in the exact mannerforetold by type and prophecy.


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“They shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three-scoredays, clothed in sackcloth.” During the greater part of this period,God’s witnesses remained in a state of obscurity. The papal powersought to hide from the people the word of truth, and set before themfalse witnesses to contradict its testimony. (See Appendix.) Whenthe Bible was proscribed by religious and secular authority; when itstestimony was perverted, and every effort made that men and demonscould invent to turn the minds of the people from it; when thosewho dared proclaim its sacred truths were hunted, betrayed, tortured,buried in dungeon cells, martyred for their faith, or compelled toflee to mountain fastnesses, and to dens and caves of the earth—thenthe faithful witnesses prophesied in sackcloth. Yet they continuedtheir testimony throughout the entire period of 1260 years. In thedarkest times there were faithful men who loved God’s word andwere jealous for His honor. To these loyal servants were givenwisdom, power, and authority to declare His truth during the wholeof this time.

“And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of theirmouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them,he must in this manner be killed.” Revelation 11:5. Men cannot withimpunity trample upon the word of God. The meaning of this fearfuldenunciation is set forth in the closing chapter of the Revelation: “Itestify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of thisbook, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto himthe plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall takeaway from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall takeaway his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, andfrom the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18,19.

Such are the warnings which God has given to guard men againstchanging in any manner that which He has revealed or commanded.These solemn denunciations apply to all who by their influence leadmen to regard lightly the law of God. They should cause those to fearand tremble who flippantly declare it a matter of little consequencewhether we obey God’s law or not. All who exalt their own opinionsabove divine revelation, all who would change the plain meaning ofScripture to suit their own convenience, or for the sake of conformingto the world, are taking upon themselves a fearful responsibility.

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The written word, the law of God, will measure the character ofevery man and condemn all whom this unerring test shall declarewanting.“When they shall have finished [are finishing] their testimony.”The period when the two witnesses were to prophesy clothed insackcloth, ended in 1798. As they were approaching the terminationof their work in obscurity, war was to be made upon them by thepower represented as “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomlesspit.” In many of the nations of Europe the powers that ruled inchurch and state had for centuries been controlled by Satan throughthe medium of the papacy. But here is brought to view a newmanifestation of satanic power.


It had been Rome’s policy, under a profession of reverence for theBible, to keep it locked up in an unknown tongue and hidden awayfrom the people. Under her rule the witnesses prophesied “clothedin sackcloth.” But another power—the beast from the bottomlesspit—was to arise to make open, avowed war upon the word of God.

“The great city” in whose streets the witnesses are slain, andwhere their dead bodies lie, is “spiritually” Egypt. Of all nationspresented in Bible history, Egypt most boldly denied the existenceof the living God and resisted His commands. No monarch everventured upon more open and highhanded rebellion against theauthority of Heaven than did the king of Egypt. When the messagewas brought him by Moses, in the name of the Lord, Pharaoh proudlyanswered: “Who is Jehovah, that I should hearken unto His voiceto let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, and moreover I will not letIsrael go.” Exodus 5:2, A.R.V. This is atheism, and the nationrepresented by Egypt would give voice to a similar denial of theclaims of the living God and would manifest a like spirit of unbeliefand defiance. “The great city” is also compared, “spiritually,” toSodom. The corruption of Sodom in breaking the law of God wasespecially manifested in licentiousness. And this sin was also tobe a pre-eminent characteristic of the nation that should fulfill thespecifications of this scripture.

(Video) The Great Controversy (FULL Audiobook)

230 The Great Controversy


According to the words of the prophet, then, a little before the year 1798 some power of satanic origin and character would rise to make war upon the Bible. And in the land where the testimonyof God’s two witnesses should thus be silenced, there would bemanifest the atheism of the Pharaoh and the licentiousness of Sodom.This prophecy has received a most exact and striking fulfillmentin the history of France. During the Revolution, in 1793, “the worldfor the first time heard an assembly of men, born and educated incivilization, and assuming the right to govern one of the finest of theEuropean nations, uplift their united voice to deny the most solemntruth which man’s soul receives, and renounce unanimously thebelief and worship of a Deity.”—Sir Walter Scott, Life of Napoleon,vol. 1, ch. 17.

“France is the only nation in the world concerningwhich the authentic record survives, that as a nation she lifted herhand in open rebellion against the Author of the universe. Plenty ofblasphemers, plenty of infidels, there have been, and still continue tobe, in England, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere; but France standsapart in the world’s history as the single state which, by the decreeof her Legislative Assembly, pronounced that there was no God, andof which the entire population of the capital, and a vast majorityelsewhere, women as well as men, danced and sang with joy inaccepting the announcement.”—Blackwood’s Magazine, November,1870.

France presented also the characteristics which especially distinguished Sodom. During the Revolution there was manifest a stateof moral debasement and corruption similar to that which broughtdestruction upon the cities of the plain. And the historian presentstogether the atheism and the licentiousness of France, as given in theprophecy: “Intimately connected with these laws affecting religion,was that which reduced the union of marriage—the most sacredengagement which human beings can form, and the permanence ofwhich leads most strongly to the consolidation of society—to thestate of a mere civil contract of a transitory character, which anytwo persons might engage in and cast loose at pleasure.... If fiendshad set themselves to work to discover a mode of most effectuallydestroying whatever is venerable, graceful, or permanent in domesticlife, and of obtaining at the same time an assurance that the mischiefwhich it was their object to create should be perpetuated from onegeneration to another, they could not have invented a more effectual plan than the degradation of marriage.... Sophie Arnoult, anactress famous for the witty things she said, described the republicanmarriage as ‘the sacrament of adultery.’”—Scott, vol. 1, ch. 17.


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“Where also our Lord was crucified.” This specification of theprophecy was also fulfilled by France. In no land had the spirit ofenmity against Christ been more strikingly displayed. In no countryhad the truth encountered more bitter and cruel opposition. In thepersecution which France had visited upon the confessors of thegospel, she had crucified Christ in the person of His disciples.Century after century the blood of the saints had been shed.While the Waldenses laid down their lives upon the mountains ofPiedmont “for the word of God, and for the testimony of JesusChrist,” similar witness to the truth had been borne by their brethren,the Albigenses of France. In the days of the Reformation its disciples had been put to death with horrible tortures. King and nobles,highborn women and delicate maidens, the pride and chivalry ofthe nation, had feasted their eyes upon the agonies of the martyrsof Jesus. The brave Huguenots, battling for those rights which thehuman heart holds most sacred, had poured out their blood on manya hard-fought field. The Protestants were counted as outlaws, aprice was set upon their heads, and they were hunted down like wildbeasts.

The “Church in the Desert,” the few descendants of the ancientChristians that still lingered in France in the eighteenth century,hiding away in the mountains of the south, still cherished the faithof their fathers. As they ventured to meet by night on mountainsideor lonely moor, they were chased by dragoons and dragged awayto lifelong slavery in the galleys. The purest, the most refined, andthe most intelligent of the French were chained, in horrible torture,amidst robbers and assassins. (See Wylie, b. 22, ch. 6.) Others, moremercifully dealt with, were shot down in cold blood, as, unarmedand helpless, they fell upon their knees in prayer. Hundreds of agedmen, defenseless women, and innocent children were left dead uponthe earth at their place of meeting. In traversing the mountainside orthe forest, where they had been accustomed to assemble, it was notunusual to find “at every four paces, dead bodies dotting the sward,and corpses hanging suspended from the trees.” Their country, laidwaste with the sword, the ax, the fagot, “was converted into onevast, gloomy wilderness.” “These atrocities were enacted ... in nodark age, but in the brilliant era of Louis XIV. Science was thencultivated, letters flourished, the divines of the court and of the capital were learned and eloquent men, and greatly affected the graces of meekness and charity.”—Ibid.,b. 22, ch. 7.


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But blackest in the black catalogue of crime, most horribleamong the fiendish deeds of all the dreadful centuries, was theSt. Bartholomew Massacre. The world still recalls with shudderinghorror the scenes of that most cowardly and cruel onslaught. Theking of France, urged on by Romish priests and prelates, lent hissanction to the dreadful work. A bell, tolling at dead of night, was asignal for the slaughter. Protestants by thousands, sleeping quietlyin their homes, trusting to the plighted honor of their king, weredragged forth without a warning and murdered in cold blood.

As Christ was the invisible leader of His people from Egyptianbondage, so was Satan the unseen leader of his subjects in thishorrible work of multiplying martyrs. For seven days the massacrewas continued in Paris, the first three with inconceivable fury. Andit was not confined to the city itself, but by special order of the kingwas extended to all the provinces and towns where Protestants werefound. Neither age nor sex was respected. Neither the innocentbabe nor the man of gray hairs was spared. Noble and peasant, oldand young, mother and child, were cut down together. ThroughoutFrance the butchery continued for two months. Seventy thousand ofthe very flower of the nation perished.

“When the news of the massacre reached Rome, the exultationamong the clergy knew no bounds. The cardinal of Lorraine rewarded the messenger with a thousand crowns; the cannon of St.Angelo thundered forth a joyous salute; and bells rang out fromevery steeple; bonfires turned night into day; and Gregory XIII,attended by the cardinals and other ecclesiastical dignitaries, wentin long procession to the church of St. Louis, where the cardinal ofLorraine chanted a Te Deum.... A medal was struck to commemoratethe massacre, and in the Vatican may still be seen three frescoes ofVasari, describing the attack upon the admiral, the king in councilplotting the massacre, and the massacre itself. Gregory sent Charlesthe Golden Rose; and four months after the massacre, ... he listenedcomplacently to the sermon of a French priest, ... who spoke of ‘thatday so full of happiness and joy, when the most holy father receivedthe news, and went in solemn state to render thanks to God and St.Louis.’”—Henry White,The Massacre of St. Bartholomew,ch. 14, par. 34.

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The same master spirit that urged on the St. Bartholomew Massacre led also in the scenes of the Revolution. Jesus Christ wasdeclared to be an impostor, and the rallying cry of the French infidels was, “Crush the Wretch,” meaning Christ. Heaven-daringblasphemy and abominable wickedness went hand in hand, and thebasest of men, the most abandoned monsters of cruelty and vice,were most highly exalted. In all this, supreme homage was paidto Satan; while Christ, in His characteristics of truth, purity, andunselfish love, was crucified.

“The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall makewar against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” Theatheistical power that ruled in France during the Revolution andthe Reign of Terror, did wage such a war against God and His holyword as the world had never witnessed. The worship of the Deitywas abolished by the National Assembly. Bibles were collected andpublicly burned with every possible manifestation of scorn. Thelaw of God was trampled underfoot. The institutions of the Biblewere abolished. The weekly rest day was set aside, and in its steadevery tenth day was devoted to reveling and blasphemy. Baptismand the Communion were prohibited. And announcements postedconspicuously over the burial places declared death to be an eternalsleep.

The fear of God was said to be so far from the beginning ofwisdom that it was the beginning of folly. All religious worship wasprohibited, except that of liberty and the country. The “constitutionalbishop of Paris was brought forward to play the principal part inthe most impudent and scandalous farce ever acted in the face of anational representation.... He was brought forward in full procession,to declare to the Convention that the religion which he had taught somany years was, in every respect, a piece of priestcraft, which had nofoundation either in history or sacred truth. He disowned, in solemnand explicit terms, the existence of the Deity to whose worship hehad been consecrated, and devoted himself in future to the homageof liberty, equality, virtue, and morality. He then laid on the tablehis episcopal decorations, and received a fraternal embrace from thepresident of the Convention. Several apostate priests followed the example of this prelate.”—Scott, vol. 1, ch. 17.


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“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, andmake merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these twoprophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” Infidel France hadsilenced the reproving voice of God’s two witnesses. The word oftruth lay dead in her streets, and those who hated the restrictions andrequirements of God’s law were jubilant. Men publicly defied theKing of heaven. Like the sinners of old, they cried: “How doth Godknow? and is there knowledge in the Most High?” Psalm 73:11.

With blasphemous boldness almost beyond belief, one of thepriests of the new order said: “God, if You exist, avenge Your injured name. I bid You defiance! You remain silent; You dare notlaunch Your thunders. Who after this will believe in Your existence?”—Lacretelle, History 11:309; in Sir Archibald Alison, History of Europe, vol. 1, ch. 10. What an echo is this of the Pharaoh’sdemand: “Who is Jehovah, that I should obey His voice?” “I knownot Jehovah!”

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Psalm 14:1.And the Lord declares concerning the perverters of the truth: “Theirfolly shall be manifest unto all.” 2 Timothy 3:9. After France hadrenounced the worship of the living God, “the high and lofty Onethat inhabiteth eternity,” it was only a little time till she descendedto degrading idolatry, by the worship of the Goddess of Reason, inthe person of a profligate woman. And this in the representativeassembly of the nation, and by its highest civil and legislative authorities! Says the historian: “One of the ceremonies of this insanetime stands unrivaled for absurdity combined with impiety. Thedoors of the Convention were thrown open to a band of musicians,preceded by whom, the members of the municipal body entered insolemn procession, singing a hymn in praise of liberty, and escorting, as the object of their future worship, a veiled female, whomthey termed the Goddess of Reason. Being brought within the bar,she was unveiled with great form, and placed on the right of thepresident, when she was generally recognized as a dancing girl ofthe opera.... To this person, as the fittest representative of that reasonwhom they worshiped, the National Convention of France renderedpublic homage.

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“This impious and ridiculous mummery had a certain fashion;and the installation of the Goddess of Reason was renewed and imitated throughout the nation, in such places where the inhabitantsdesired to show themselves equal to all the heights of the Revolution.”—Scott, vol. 1, ch. 17.

Said the orator who introduced the worship of Reason: “Legislators! Fanaticism has given way to reason. Its bleared eyes could notendure the brilliancy of the light. This day an immense concoursehas assembled beneath those gothic vaults, which, for the first time,reechoed the truth. There the French have celebrated the only trueworship,—that of Liberty, that of Reason. There we have formedwishes for the prosperity of the arms of the Republic. There we haveabandoned inanimate idols for Reason, for that animated image,the masterpiece of nature.”—M. A. Thiers, History of the FrenchRevolution, vol. 2, pp. 370, 371.

When the goddess was brought into the Convention, the oratortook her by the hand, and turning to the assembly said: “Mortals,cease to tremble before the powerless thunders of a God whom yourfears have created. Henceforth acknowledge no divinity but Reason.I offer you its noblest and purest image; if you must have idols,sacrifice only to such as this.... Fall before the august Senate ofFreedom, oh! Veil of Reason!”

“The goddess, after being embraced by the president, wasmounted on a magnificent car, and conducted, amid an immensecrowd, to the cathedral of Notre Dame, to take the place of the Deity.There she was elevated on the high altar, and received the adorationof all present.”—Alison, vol. 1, ch. 10.

This was followed, not long afterward, by the public burning ofthe Bible. On one occasion “the Popular Society of the Museum”entered the hall of the municipality, exclaiming, “Vive la Raison!”and carrying on the top of a pole the half-burned remains of severalbooks, among others breviaries, missals, and the Old and New Testaments, which “expiated in a great fire,” said the president, “all thefooleries which they have made the human race commit.”—Journalof Paris, 1793, No. 318. Quoted in Buchez-Roux, Collection ofParliamentary History, vol. 30, pp. 200, 201.


It was popery that had begun the work which atheism was completing. The policy of Rome had wrought out those conditions,social, political, and religious, that were hurrying France on to ruin.Writers, in referring to the horrors of the Revolution, say that theseexcesses are to be charged upon the throne and the church. (SeeAppendix.) In strict justice they are to be charged upon the church.Popery had poisoned the minds of kings against the Reformation,as an enemy to the crown, an element of discord that would be fatalto the peace and harmony of the nation. It was the genius of Romethat by this means inspired the direst cruelty and the most gallingoppression which proceeded from the throne.

The spirit of liberty went with the Bible. Wherever the gospelwas received, the minds of the people were awakened. They beganto cast off the shackles that had held them bondslaves of ignorance,vice, and superstition. They began to think and act as men. Monarchssaw it and trembled for their despotism.

Rome was not slow to inflame their jealous fears. Said the popeto the regent of France in 1525: “This mania [Protestantism] will notonly confound and destroy religion, but all principalities, nobility,laws, orders, and ranks besides.”—G. de Felice, History of theProtestants of France, b. 1, ch. 2, par. 8. A few years later a papalnuncio warned the king: “Sire, be not deceived. The Protestantswill upset all civil as well as religious order.... The throne is in asmuch danger as the altar.... The introduction of a new religion mustnecessarily introduce a new government.”—D’Aubigne, History ofthe Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, b. 2, ch. 36. Andtheologians appealed to the prejudices of the people by declaring thatthe Protestant doctrine “entices men away to novelties and folly; itrobs the king of the devoted affection of his subjects, and devastatesboth church and state.” Thus Rome succeeded in arraying Franceagainst the Reformation. “It was to uphold the throne, preserve thenobles, and maintain the laws, that the sword of persecution wasfirst unsheathed in France.”—Wylie, b. 13, ch. 4.

Little did the rulers of the land foresee the results of that fatefulpolicy. The teaching of the Bible would have implanted in the mindsand hearts of the people those principles of justice, temperance, truth,equity, and benevolence which are the very cornerstone of a nation’sprosperity. “Righteousness exalteth a nation.” Thereby “the throneis established.” Proverbs 14:34; 16:12. “The work of righteousnessshall be peace;” and the effect, “quietness and assurance forever.”


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Isaiah 32:17. He who obeys the divine law will most truly respectand obey the laws of his country. He who fears God will honor theking in the exercise of all just and legitimate authority. But unhappyFrance prohibited the Bible and banned its disciples. Century aftercentury, men of principle and integrity, men of intellectual acutenessand moral strength, who had the courage to avow their convictionsand the faith to suffer for the truth—for centuries these men toiledas slaves in the galleys, perished at the stake, or rotted in dungeoncells. Thousands upon thousands found safety in flight; and thiscontinued for two hundred and fifty years after the opening of theReformation.

“Scarcely was there a generation of Frenchmen during the longperiod that did not witness the disciples of the gospel fleeing beforethe insane fury of the persecutor, and carrying with them the intelligence, the arts, the industry, the order, in which, as a rule, theypre-eminently excelled, to enrich the lands in which they found anasylum. And in proportion as they replenished other countries withthese good gifts, did they empty their own of them. If all that wasnow driven away had been retained in France; if, during these threehundred years, the industrial skill of the exiles had been cultivatingher soil; if, during these three hundred years, their artistic bent hadbeen improving her manufactures; if, during these three hundredyears, their creative genius and analytic power had been enrichingher literature and cultivating her science; if their wisdom had beenguiding her councils, their bravery fighting her battles, their equityframing her laws, and the religion of the Bible strengthening theintellect and governing the conscience of her people, what a glorywould at this day have encompassed France! What a great, prosperous, and happy country—a pattern to the nations—would she havebeen!

“But a blind and inexorable bigotry chased from her soil everyteacher of virtue, every champion of order, every honest defender ofthe throne; it said to the men who would have made their countrya ‘renown and glory’ in the earth, Choose which you will have,a stake or exile. At last the ruin of the state was complete; thereremained no more conscience to be proscribed; no more religionto be dragged to the stake; no more patriotism to be chased intobanishment.”—Wylie, b. 13, ch. 20. And the Revolution, with all its horrors, was the dire result.


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“With the flight of the Huguenots a general decline settled uponFrance. Flourishing manufacturing cities fell into decay; fertiledistricts returned to their native wildness; intellectual dullness andmoral declension succeeded a period of unwonted progress. Parisbecame one vast almshouse, and it is estimated that, at the breakingout of the Revolution, two hundred thousand paupers claimed charityfrom the hands of the king. The Jesuits alone flourished in thedecaying nation, and ruled with dreadful tyranny over churches andschools, the prisons and the galleys.”

The gospel would have brought to France the solution of thosepolitical and social problems that baffled the skill of her clergy, herking, and her legislators, and finally plunged the nation into anarchyand ruin. But under the domination of Rome the people had lostthe Saviour’s blessed lessons of self-sacrifice and unselfish love.They had been led away from the practice of self-denial for thegood of others. The rich had found no rebuke for their oppressionof the poor, the poor no help for their servitude and degradation.The selfishness of the wealthy and powerful grew more and moreapparent and oppressive. For centuries the greed and profligacy ofthe noble resulted in grinding extortion toward the peasant. The richwronged the poor, and the poor hated the rich.


In many provinces the estates were held by the nobles, and thelaboring classes were only tenants; they were at the mercy of theirlandlords and were forced to submit to their exorbitant demands.The burden of supporting both the church and the state fell uponthe middle and lower classes, who were heavily taxed by the civilauthorities and by the clergy. “The pleasure of the nobles was considered the supreme law; the farmers and the peasants might starve,for aught their oppressors cared.... The people were compelled at every turn to consult the exclusive interest of the landlord. The lives ofthe agricultural laborers were lives of incessant work and unrelievedmisery; their complaints, if they ever dared to complain, were treatedwith insolent contempt. The courts of justice would always listento a noble as against a peasant; bribes were notoriously accepted bythe judges; and the merest caprice of the aristocracy had the force oflaw, by virtue of this system of universal corruption.

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Of the taxeswrung from the commonalty, by the secular magnates on the onehand, and the clergy on the other, not half ever found its way intothe royal or episcopal treasury; the rest was squandered in profligateself-indulgence. And the men who thus impoverished their fellowsubjects were themselves exempt from taxation, and entitled by lawor custom to all the appointments of the state. The privileged classesnumbered a hundred and fifty thousand, and for their gratificationmillions were condemned to hopeless and degrading lives.” (SeeAppendix.)

The court was given up to luxury and profligacy. There was littleconfidence existing between the people and the rulers. Suspicionfastened upon all the measures of the government as designing andselfish. For more than half a century before the time of the Revolution the throne was occupied by Louis XV, who, even in thoseevil times, was distinguished as an indolent, frivolous, and sensualmonarch. With a depraved and cruel aristocracy and an impoverished and ignorant lower class, the state financially embarrassedand the people exasperated, it needed no prophet’s eye to foresee aterrible impending outbreak. To the warnings of his counselors theking was accustomed to reply: “Try to make things go on as long asI am likely to live; after my death it may be as it will.” It was in vainthat the necessity of reform was urged. He saw the evils, but hadneither the courage nor the power to meet them. The doom awaitingFrance was but too truly pictured in his indolent and selfish answer,“After me, the deluge!”

By working upon the jealousy of the kings and the ruling classes,Rome had influenced them to keep the people in bondage, wellknowing that the state would thus be weakened, and purposing bythis means to fasten both rulers and people in her thrall. With farsighted policy she perceived that in order to enslave men effectually,the shackles must be bound upon their souls; that the surest way toprevent them from escaping their bondage was to render them incapable of freedom. A thousandfold more terrible than the physicalsuffering which resulted from her policy, was the moral degradation.Deprived of the Bible, and abandoned to the teachings of bigotryand selfishness, the people were shrouded in ignorance and superstition, and sunken in vice, so that they were wholly unfitted forself-government.


240 The Great Controversy

But the outworking of all this was widely different from whatRome had purposed. Instead of holding the masses in a blind submission to her dogmas, her work resulted in making them infidelsand revolutionists. Romanism they despised as priestcraft. Theybeheld the clergy as a party to their oppression. The only god theyknew was the god of Rome; her teaching was their only religion.They regarded her greed and cruelty as the legitimate fruit of theBible, and they would have none of it.

Rome had misrepresented the character of God and perverted Hisrequirements, and now men rejected both the Bible and its Author.She had required a blind faith in her dogmas, under the pretendedsanction of the Scriptures. In the reaction, Voltaire and his associatescast aside God’s word altogether and spread everywhere the poisonof infidelity. Rome had ground down the people under her iron heel;and now the masses, degraded and brutalized, in their recoil from hertyranny, cast off all restraint. Enraged at the glittering cheat to whichthey had so long paid homage, they rejected truth and falsehoodtogether; and mistaking license for liberty, the slaves of vice exultedin their imagined freedom.

At the opening of the Revolution, by a concession of the king,the people were granted a representation exceeding that of the nobles and the clergy combined. Thus the balance of power was intheir hands; but they were not prepared to use it with wisdom andmoderation. Eager to redress the wrongs they had suffered, theydetermined to undertake the reconstruction of society. An outragedpopulace, whose minds were filled with bitter and long-treasuredmemories of wrong, resolved to revolutionize the state of miserythat had grown unbearable and to avenge themselves upon thosewhom they regarded as the authors of their sufferings. The oppressedwrought out the lesson they had learned under tyranny and becamethe oppressors of those who had oppressed them.

Unhappy France reaped in blood the harvest she had sown. Terrible were the results of her submission to the controlling power ofRome. Where France, under the influence of Romanism, had set upthe first stake at the opening of the Reformation, there the Revolutionset up its first guillotine. On the very spot where the first martyrsto the Protestant faith were burned in the sixteenth century, the firstvictims were guillotined in the eighteenth.

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In repelling the gospel,which would have brought her healing, France had opened the doorto infidelity and ruin. When the restraints of God’s law were castaside, it was found that the laws of man were inadequate to hold incheck the powerful tides of human passion; and the nation swept onto revolt and anarchy. The war against the Bible inaugurated an erawhich stands in the world’s history as the Reign of Terror. Peace andhappiness were banished from the homes and hearts of men. No onewas secure. He who triumphed today was suspected, condemned,tomorrow. Violence and lust held undisputed sway.

King, clergy, and nobles were compelled to submit to the atrocities of an excited and maddened people. Their thirst for vengeancewas only stimulated by the execution of the king; and those whohad decreed his death soon followed him to the scaffold. A generalslaughter of all suspected of hostility to the Revolution was determined. The prisons were crowded, at one time containing more thantwo hundred thousand captives. The cities of the kingdom werefilled with scenes of horror. One party of revolutionists was againstanother party, and France became a vast field for contending masses,swayed by the fury of their passions. “In Paris one tumult succeededanother, and the citizens were divided into a medley of factions, thatseemed intent on nothing but mutual extermination.” And to add tothe general misery, the nation became involved in a prolonged anddevastating war with the great powers of Europe. “The country wasnearly bankrupt, the armies were clamoring for arrears of pay, theParisians were starving, the provinces were laid waste by brigands,and civilization was almost extinguished in anarchy and license.”

All too well the people had learned the lessons of cruelty andtorture which Rome had so diligently taught. A day of retributionat last had come. It was not now the disciples of Jesus that werethrust into dungeons and dragged to the stake. Long ago these hadperished or been driven into exile. Unsparing Rome now felt thedeadly power of those whom she had trained to delight in deedsof blood. “The example of persecution which the clergy of Francehad exhibited for so many ages, was now retorted upon them withsignal vigor. The scaffolds ran red with the blood of the priests.The galleys and the prisons, once crowded with Huguenots, werenow filled with their persecutors. Chained to the bench and toilingat the oar, the Roman Catholic clergy experienced all those woeswhich their church had so freely inflicted on the gentle heretics.” (SeeAppendix.)


“Then came those days when the most barbarous of all codeswas administered by the most barbarous of all tribunals; when noman could greet his neighbors or say his prayers ... without danger ofcommitting a capital crime; when spies lurked in every corner; whenthe guillotine was long and hard at work every morning; when thejails were filled as close as the holds of a slave ship; when the guttersran foaming with blood into the Seine.... While the daily wagonloadsof victims were carried to their doom through the streets of Paris,the proconsuls, whom the sovereign committee had sent forth to thedepartments, reveled in an extravagance of cruelty unknown even inthe capital. The knife of the deadly machine rose and fell too slowfor their work of slaughter. Long rows of captives were mowed downwith grapeshot. Holes were made in the bottom of crowded barges.Lyons was turned into a desert. At Arras even the cruel mercy of aspeedy death was denied to the prisoners. All down the Loire, fromSaumur to the sea, great flocks of crows and kites feasted on nakedcorpses, twined together in hideous embraces. No mercy was shownto sex or age. The number of young lads and of girls of seventeenwho were murdered by that execrable government, is to be reckonedby hundreds. Babies torn from the breast were tossed from pike topike along the Jacobin ranks.” (See Appendix.) In the short space often years, multitudes of human beings perished.

All this was as Satan would have it. This was what for ageshe had been working to secure. His policy is deception from firstto last, and his steadfast purpose is to bring woe and wretchednessupon men, to deface and defile the workmanship of God, to marthe divine purposes of benevolence and love, and thus cause griefin heaven. Then by his deceptive arts he blinds the minds of men,and leads them to throw back the blame of his work upon God,as if all this misery were the result of the Creator’s plan. In likemanner, when those who have been degraded and brutalized throughhis cruel power achieve their freedom, he urges them on to excessesand atrocities. Then this picture of unbridled license is pointed outby tyrants and oppressors as an illustration of the results of liberty.


242 The Great Controversy

Bible and the French Revolution 243

When error in one garb has been detected, Satan only masks it in a different disguise, and multitudes receive it as eagerly as at thefirst. When the people found Romanism to be a deception, and hecould not through this agency lead them to transgression of God’slaw, he urged them to regard all religion as a cheat, and the Bible asa fable; and, casting aside the divine statutes, they gave themselvesup to unbridled iniquity.

The fatal error which wrought such woe for the inhabitants ofFrance was the ignoring of this one great truth: that true freedomlies within the proscriptions of the law of God. “O that thou hadsthearkened to My commandments! then had thy peace been as ariver, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” “There is nopeace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” “But whoso hearkeneth untoMe shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” Isaiah48:18, 22; Proverbs 1:33.

Atheists, infidels, and apostates oppose and denounce God’s law;but the results of their influence prove that the well-being of man isbound up with his obedience of the divine statutes. Those who willnot read the lesson from the book of God are bidden to read it in thehistory of nations.

When Satan wrought through the Roman Church to lead menaway from obedience, his agency was concealed, and his work wasso disguised that the degradation and misery which resulted werenot seen to be the fruit of transgression. And his power was so farcounteracted by the working of the Spirit of God that his purposeswere prevented from reaching their full fruition. The people did nottrace the effect to its cause and discover the source of their miseries.But in the Revolution the law of God was openly set aside by theNational Council. And in the Reign of Terror which followed, theworking of cause and effect could be seen by all.

When France publicly rejected God and set aside the Bible,wicked men and spirits of darkness exulted in their attainment of theobject so long desired—a kingdom free from the restraints of thelaw of God. Because sentence against an evil work was not speedilyexecuted, therefore the heart of the sons of men was “fully set inthem to do evil.” Ecclesiastes 8:11. But the transgression of a justand righteous law must inevitably result in misery and ruin. Thoughnot visited at once with judgments, the wickedness of men wasnevertheless surely working out their doom. Centuries of apostasyand crime had been treasuring up wrath against the day of retribution;and when their iniquity was full, the despisers of God learned too late that it is a fearful thing to have worn out the divine patience.


244 The Great Controversy

The restraining Spirit of God, which imposes a check upon the cruelpower of Satan, was in a great measure removed, and he whose onlydelight is the wretchedness of men was permitted to work his will.Those who had chosen the service of rebellion were left to reap itsfruits until the land was filled with crimes too horrible for pen totrace. From devastated provinces and ruined cities a terrible cry washeard—a cry of bitterest anguish. France was shaken as if by anearthquake. Religion, law, social order, the family, the state, andthe church—all were smitten down by the impious hand that hadbeen lifted against the law of God. Truly spoke the wise man: “Thewicked shall fall by his own wickedness.” “Though a sinner do evila hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that itshall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him: butit shall not be well with the wicked.” Proverbs 11:5; Ecclesiastes8:12, 13. “They hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of theLord;” “therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and befilled with their own devices.” Proverbs 1:29, 31.

God’s faithful witnesses, slain by the blasphemous power that“ascendeth out of the bottomless pit,” were not long to remain silent.“After three days and a half the Spirit of life from God enteredinto them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell uponthem which saw them.” Revelation 11:11. It was in 1793 that thedecrees which abolished the Christian religion and set aside theBible passed the French Assembly. Three years and a half later aresolution rescinding these decrees, thus granting toleration to theScriptures, was adopted by the same body. The world stood aghastat the enormity of guilt which had resulted from a rejection of theSacred Oracles, and men recognized the necessity of faith in God andHis word as the foundation of virtue and morality. Saith the Lord:“Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whomhast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? evenagainst the Holy One of Israel,” Isaiah 37:23. “Therefore, behold, Iwill cause them to know, this once will I cause them to know Myhand and My might; and they shall know that My name is Jehovah.”Jeremiah 16:21, A.R.V.

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Concerning the two witnesses the prophet declares further: “Andthey heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come uphither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemiesbeheld them.” Revelation 11:12. Since France made war upon God’stwo witnesses, they have been honored as never before. In 1804the British and Foreign Bible Society was organized. This wasfollowed by similar organizations, with numerous branches, uponthe continent of Europe. In 1816 the American Bible Society wasfounded. When the British Society was formed, the Bible had beenprinted and circulated in fifty tongues. It has since been translatedinto many hundreds of languages and dialects. (See Appendix.)

For the fifty years preceding 1792, little attention was given tothe work of foreign missions. No new societies were formed, andthere were but few churches that made any effort for the spread ofChristianity in heathen lands. But toward the close of the eighteenthcentury a great change took place. Men became dissatisfied withthe results of rationalism and realized the necessity of divine revelation and experimental religion. From this time the work of foreignmissions attained an unprecedented growth. (See Appendix.)

The improvements in printing have given an impetus to the workof circulating the Bible. The increased facilities for communicationbetween different countries, the breaking down of ancient barriers ofprejudice and national exclusiveness, and the loss of secular powerby the pontiff of Rome have opened the way for the entrance ofthe word of God. For some years the Bible has been sold withoutrestraint in the streets of Rome, and it has now been carried to everypart of the habitable globe.

The infidel Voltaire once boastingly said: “I am weary of hearingpeople repeat that twelve men established the Christian religion. Iwill prove that one man may suffice to overthrow it.” Generationshave passed since his death. Millions have joined in the war uponthe Bible. But it is so far from being destroyed, that where therewere a hundred in Voltaire’s time, there are now ten thousand, yes,a hundred thousand copies of the book of God. In the words ofan early Reformer concerning the Christian church, “The Bible isan anvil that has worn out many hammers.” Saith the Lord: “Noweapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tonguethat shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.”Isaiah 54:17.


246 The Great Controversy

“The word of our God shall stand forever.” “All His commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done intruth and uprightness.” Isaiah 40:8; Psalm 111:7, 8. Whatever isbuilt upon the authority of man will be overthrown; but that which isfounded upon the rock of God’s immutable word shall stand forever.

Chapter 16—The Pilgrim Fathers

The English Reformers, while renouncing the doctrines of Romanism, had retained many of its forms. Thus though the authorityand the creed of Rome were rejected, not a few of her customsand ceremonies were incorporated into the worship of the Churchof England. It was claimed that these things were not matters ofconscience; that though they were not commanded in Scripture,and hence were nonessential, yet not being forbidden, they werenot intrinsically evil. Their observance tended to narrow the gulfwhich separated the reformed churches from Rome, and it was urgedthat they would promote the acceptance of the Protestant faith byRomanists.

To the conservative and compromising, these arguments seemedconclusive. But there was another class that did not so judge. Thefact that these customs “tended to bridge over the chasm betweenRome and the Reformation” (Martyn, volume 5, page 22), wasin their view a conclusive argument against retaining them. Theylooked upon them as badges of the slavery from which they hadbeen delivered and to which they had no disposition to return. Theyreasoned that God has in His word established the regulations governing His worship, and that men are not at liberty to add to theseor to detract from them. The very beginning of the great apostasywas in seeking to supplement the authority of God by that of thechurch. Rome began by enjoining what God had not forbidden, andshe ended by forbidding what He had explicitly enjoined.

Many earnestly desired to return to the purity and simplicitywhich characterized the primitive church. They regarded many ofthe established customs of the English Church as monuments ofidolatry, and they could not in conscience unite in her worship. Butthe church, being supported by the civil authority, would permit nodissent from her forms. Attendance upon her service was requiredby law, and unauthorized assemblies for religious worship wereprohibited, under penalty of imprisonment, exile, and death.



248 The Great Controversy

At the opening of the seventeenth century the monarch who hadjust ascended the throne of England declared his determination tomake the Puritans “conform, or ... harry them out of the land, or elseworse.”—George Bancroft, History of the United States of America,pt. 1, ch. 12, par. 6. Hunted, persecuted, and imprisoned, they coulddiscern in the future no promise of better days, and many yieldedto the conviction that for such as would serve God according to thedictates of their conscience, “England was ceasing forever to be ahabitable place.”—J. G. Palfrey, History of New England, ch. 3, par.43. Some at last determined to seek refuge in Holland. Difficulties,losses, and imprisonment were encountered. Their purposes werethwarted, and they were betrayed into the hands of their enemies.But steadfast perseverance finally conquered, and they found shelteron the friendly shores of the Dutch Republic.

In their flight they had left their houses, their goods, and theirmeans of livelihood. They were strangers in a strange land, among apeople of different language and customs. They were forced to resortto new and untried occupations to earn their bread. Middle-agedmen, who had spent their lives in tilling the soil, had now to learnmechanical trades. But they cheerfully accepted the situation andlost no time in idleness or repining. Though often pinched withpoverty, they thanked God for the blessings which were still grantedthem and found their joy in unmolested spiritual communion. “Theyknew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, butlifted up their eyes to heaven, their dearest country, and quieted theirspirits.”—Bancroft, pt. 1, ch. 12, par. 15.

In the midst of exile and hardship their love and faith waxedstrong. They trusted the Lord’s promises, and He did not fail themin time of need. His angels were by their side, to encourage andsupport them. And when God’s hand seemed pointing them acrossthe sea, to a land where they might found for themselves a state, andleave to their children the precious heritage of religious liberty, theywent forward, without shrinking, in the path of providence.

God had permitted trials to come upon His people to preparethem for the accomplishment of His gracious purpose toward them.The church had been brought low, that she might be exalted. Godwas about to display His power in her behalf, to give to the worldanother evidence that He will not forsake those who trust in Him.

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He had overruled events to cause the wrath of Satan and the plots ofevil men to advance His glory and to bring His people to a place ofsecurity. Persecution and exile were opening the way to freedom.

When first constrained to separate from the English Church, thePuritans had joined themselves together by a solemn covenant, as theLord’s free people, “to walk together in all His ways made knownor to be made known to them.”—J. Brown, The Pilgrim Fathers,page 74. Here was the true spirit of reform, the vital principle ofProtestantism. It was with this purpose that the Pilgrims departedfrom Holland to find a home in the New World. John Robinson,their pastor, who was providentially prevented from accompanyingthem, in his farewell address to the exiles said:

“Brethren, we are now erelong to part asunder, and the Lordknoweth whether I shall live ever to see your faces more. But whetherthe Lord hath appointed it or not, I charge you before God and Hisblessed angels to follow me no farther than I have followed Christ.If God should reveal anything to you by any other instrument of His,be as ready to receive it as ever you were to receive any truth of myministry; for I am very confident the Lord hath more truth and lightyet to break forth out of His holy word.”—Martyn 5:70.

“For my part, I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of thereformed churches, who are come to a period in religion, and willgo at present no farther than the instruments of their reformation.The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; ...and the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where they were left by thatgreat man of God, who yet saw not all things. This is a misery muchto be lamented; for though they were burning and shining lights intheir time, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God, butwere they now living, would be as willing to embrace further lightas that which they first received.”—D. Neal, History of the Puritans1:269.

“Remember your church covenant, in which you have agreed towalk in all the ways of the Lord, made or to be made known untoyou. Remember your promise and covenant with God and with oneanother, to receive whatever light and truth shall be made known toyou from His written word; but withal, take heed, I beseech you,what you receive for truth, and compare it and weigh it with otherscriptures of truth before you accept it; for it is not possible theChristian world should come so lately out of such thick antichristian darkness, and that full perfection of knowledge should break forth at once.”—Martyn, vol. 5, pp. 70, 71.


250 The Great Controversy

It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endurethe hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessingto lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation.Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yetcomprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedomwhich they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they werenot equally ready to grant to others. “Very few, even of the foremostthinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament,which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith.”—Ibid.5:297. The doctrine that God has committed to the church the rightto control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one ofthe most deeply rooted of papal errors. While the Reformers rejectedthe creed of Rome, they were not entirely free from her spirit ofintolerance. The dense darkness in which, through the long agesof her rule, popery had enveloped all Christendom, had not evenyet been wholly dissipated. Said one of the leading ministers in thecolony of Massachusetts Bay: “It was toleration that made the worldantichristian; and the church never took harm by the punishmentof heretics.”—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 335. The regulation was adopted bythe colonists that only church members should have a voice in thecivil government. A kind of state church was formed, all the peoplebeing required to contribute to the support of the clergy, and themagistrates being authorized to suppress heresy. Thus the secularpower was in the hands of the church. It was not long before thesemeasures led to the inevitable result—persecution.

Eleven years after the planting of the first colony, Roger Williamscame to the New World. Like the early Pilgrims he came to enjoyreligious freedom; but, unlike them, he saw—what so few in histime had yet seen—that this freedom was the inalienable right ofall, whatever might be their creed. He was an earnest seeker fortruth, with Robinson holding it impossible that all the light fromGod’s word had yet been received. Williams “was the first person inmodern Christendom to establish civil government on the doctrine ofthe liberty of conscience, the equality of opinions before the law.”— Bancroft, pt. 1, ch. 15, par. 16.

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He declared it to be the duty ofthe magistrate to restrain crime, but never to control the conscience.“The public or the magistrates may decide,” he said, “what is duefrom man to man; but when they attempt to prescribe a man’s dutiesto God, they are out of place, and there can be no safety; for it isclear that if the magistrate has the power, he may decree one set ofopinions or beliefs today and another tomorrow; as has been done inEngland by different kings and queens, and by different popes andcouncils in the Roman Church; so that belief would become a heapof confusion.”—Martyn, vol. 5, p. 340.

Attendance at the services of the established church was requiredunder a penalty of fine or imprisonment. “Williams reprobated thelaw; the worst statute in the English code was that which did butenforce attendance upon the parish church. To compel men to unitewith those of a different creed, he regarded as an open violation oftheir natural rights; to drag to public worship the irreligious and theunwilling, seemed only like requiring hypocrisy.... ‘No one shouldbe bound to worship, or,’ he added, ‘to maintain a worship, againsthis own consent.’ ‘What!’ exclaimed his antagonists, amazed at histenets, ‘is not the laborer worthy of his hire?’ ‘Yes,’ replied he, ‘fromthem that hire him.’”—Bancroft, pt. 1, ch. 15, par. 2.

Roger Williams was respected and beloved as a faithful minister,a man of rare gifts, of unbending integrity and true benevolence;yet his steadfast denial of the right of civil magistrates to authorityover the church, and his demand for religious liberty, could not betolerated. The application of this new doctrine, it was urged, would“subvert the fundamental state and government of the country.”—Ibid., pt. 1, ch. 15, par. 10. He was sentenced to banishment fromthe colonies, and, finally, to avoid arrest, he was forced to flee, amidthe cold and storms of winter, into the unbroken forest.

“For fourteen weeks,” he says, “I was sorely tossed in a bitterseason, not knowing what bread or bed did mean.” But “the ravensfed me in the wilderness,” and a hollow tree often served him fora shelter.—Martyn, vol. 5, pp. 349, 350. Thus he continued hispainful flight through the snow and the trackless forest, until hefound refuge with an Indian tribe whose confidence and affection hehad won while endeavoring to teach them the truths of the gospel.


252 The Great Controversy

Making his way at last, after months of change and wandering,to the shores of Narragansett Bay, he there laid the foundation ofthe first state of modern times that in the fullest sense recognizedthe right of religious freedom. The fundamental principle of RogerWilliams’s colony was “that every man should have liberty to worship God according to the light of his own conscience.”—Ibid., vol.5, p. 354. His little state, Rhode Island, became the asylum ofthe oppressed, and it increased and prospered until its foundationprinciples—civil and religious liberty—became the cornerstones ofthe American Republic.

In that grand old document which our forefathers set forth astheir bill of rights—the Declaration of Independence—they declared:“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are createdequal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit ofhappiness.” And the Constitution guarantees, in the most explicitterms, the inviolability of conscience: “No religious test shall everbe required as a qualification to any office or public trust under theUnited States.” “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

“The framers of the Constitution recognized the eternal principlethat man’s relation with his God is above human legislation, and hisrights of conscience inalienable. Reasoning was not necessary toestablish this truth; we are conscious of it in our own bosoms. It isthis consciousness which, in defiance of human laws, has sustainedso many martyrs in tortures and flames. They felt that their duty toGod was superior to human enactments, and that man could exerciseno authority over their consciences. It is an inborn principle whichnothing can eradicate.”—Congressional documents (U.S.A.), serialNo. 200, document No. 271.

As the tidings spread through the countries of Europe, of a landwhere every man might enjoy the fruit of his own labor and obey theconvictions of his own conscience, thousands flocked to the shoresof the New World. Colonies rapidly multiplied. “Massachusetts,by special law, offered free welcome and aid, at the public cost, toChristians of any nationality who might fly beyond the Atlantic ‘toescape from wars or famine, or the oppression of their persecutors.’Thus the fugitive and the downtrodden were, by statute, made theguests of the commonwealth.”—Martyn, vol. 5, p. 417. In twenty years from the first landing at Plymouth, as many thousand Pilgrims were settled in New England.

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To secure the object which they sought, “they were content toearn a bare subsistence by a life of frugality and toil. They askednothing from the soil but the reasonable returns of their own labor.No golden vision threw a deceitful halo around their path.... Theywere content with the slow but steady progress of their social polity.They patiently endured the privations of the wilderness, wateringthe tree of liberty with their tears, and with the sweat of their brow,till it took deep root in the land.”

The Bible was held as the foundation of faith, the source ofwisdom, and the charter of liberty. Its principles were diligentlytaught in the home, in the school, and in the church, and its fruitswere manifest in thrift, intelligence, purity, and temperance. Onemight be for years a dweller in the Puritan settlement, “and not seea drunkard, or hear an oath, or meet a beggar.”—Bancroft, pt. 1, ch.19, par. 25. It was demonstrated that the principles of the Bible arethe surest safeguards of national greatness. The feeble and isolatedcolonies grew to a confederation of powerful states, and the worldmarked with wonder the peace and prosperity of “a church withouta pope, and a state without a king.”

But continually increasing numbers were attracted to the shoresof America, actuated by motives widely different from those ofthe first Pilgrims. Though the primitive faith and purity exerted awidespread and molding power, yet its influence became less andless as the numbers increased of those who sought only worldlyadvantage.

The regulation adopted by the early colonists, of permittingonly members of the church to vote or to hold office in the civilgovernment, led to most pernicious results. This measure had beenaccepted as a means of preserving the purity of the state, but itresulted in the corruption of the church. A profession of religionbeing the condition of suffrage and officeholding, many, actuatedsolely by motives of worldly policy, united with the church without achange of heart. Thus the churches came to consist, to a considerableextent, of unconverted persons; and even in the ministry were thosewho not only held errors of doctrine, but who were ignorant of therenewing power of the Holy Spirit.


254 The Great Controversy

Thus again was demonstratedthe evil results, so often witnessed in the history of the church fromthe days of Constantine to the present, of attempting to build up thechurch by the aid of the state, of appealing to the secular power insupport of the gospel of Him who declared: “My kingdom is not ofthis world.” John 18:36. The union of the church with the state, bethe degree never so slight, while it may appear to bring the worldnearer to the church, does in reality but bring the church nearer tothe world.

The great principle so nobly advocated by Robinson and RogerWilliams, that truth is progressive, that Christians should stand readyto accept all the light which may shine from God’s holy word, waslost sight of by their descendants. The Protestant churches of America,—and those of Europe as well,—so highly favored in receivingthe blessings of the Reformation, failed to press forward in the pathof reform. Though a few faithful men arose, from time to time, toproclaim new truth and expose long-cherished error, the majority,like the Jews in Christ’s day or the papists in the time of Luther, werecontent to believe as their fathers had believed and to live as theyhad lived. Therefore religion again degenerated into formalism; anderrors and superstitions which would have been cast aside had thechurch continued to walk in the light of God’s word, were retainedand cherished. Thus the spirit inspired by the Reformation graduallydied out, until there was almost as great need of reform in the Protestant churches as in the Roman Church in the time of Luther. Therewas the same worldliness and spiritual stupor, a similar reverencefor the opinions of men, and substitution of human theories for theteachings of God’s word.

The wide circulation of the Bible in the early part of the nineteenth century, and the great light thus shed upon the world, wasnot followed by a corresponding advance in knowledge of revealedtruth, or in experimental religion. Satan could not, as in former ages,keep God’s word from the people; it had been placed within thereach of all; but in order still to accomplish his object, he led manyto value it but lightly. Men neglected to search the Scriptures, andthus they continued to accept false interpretations, and to cherishdoctrines which had no foundation in the Bible.

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Seeing the failure of his efforts to crush out the truth by persecution, Satan had again resorted to the plan of compromise which ledto the great apostasy and the formation of the Church of Rome. Hehad induced Christians to ally themselves, not now with pagans, butwith those who, by their devotion to the things of this world, hadproved themselves to be as truly idolaters as were the worshipers ofgraven images. And the results of this union were no less perniciousnow than in former ages; pride and extravagance were fostered underthe guise of religion, and the churches became corrupted. Satan continued to pervert the doctrines of the Bible, and traditions that wereto ruin millions were taking deep root. The church was upholdingand defending these traditions, instead of contending for “the faithwhich was once delivered unto the saints.” Thus were degraded theprinciples for which the Reformers had done and suffered so much.


Chapter 17—Heralds of the Morning

One of the most solemn and yet most glorious truths revealedin the Bible is that of Christ’s second coming to complete the greatwork of redemption. To God’s pilgrim people, so long left to sojournin “the region and shadow of death,” a precious, joy-inspiring hopeis given in the promise of His appearing, who is “the resurrectionand the life,” to “bring home again His banished.” The doctrine ofthe second advent is the very keynote of the Sacred Scriptures. Fromthe day when the first pair turned their sorrowing steps from Eden,the children of faith have waited the coming of the Promised One tobreak the destroyer’s power and bring them again to the lost Paradise.Holy men of old looked forward to the advent of the Messiah inglory, as the consummation of their hope. Enoch, only the seventhin descent from them that dwelt in Eden, he who for three centurieson earth walked with his God, was permitted to behold from afar thecoming of the Deliverer. “Behold,” he declared, “the Lord comethwith ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all.” Jude14, 15. The patriarch Job in the night of his affliction exclaimedwith unshaken trust: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that Heshall stand at the latter day upon the earth: ... in my flesh shall I seeGod: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, andnot another.” Job 19:25-27.

The coming of Christ to usher in the reign of righteousness hasinspired the most sublime and impassioned utterances of the sacredwriters. The poets and prophets of the Bible have dwelt upon it inwords glowing with celestial fire. The psalmist sang of the powerand majesty of Israel’s King: “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence....He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He mayjudge His people.” Psalm 50:2-4. “Let the heavens rejoice, and letthe earth be glad ... before the Lord: for He cometh, for He comethto judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, andthe people with His truth.” Psalm 96:11-13.



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Said the prophet Isaiah: “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust:for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out thedead.” “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shallthey arise.” “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord Godwill wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His peopleshall He take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waitedfor Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited forHim, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 26:19;25:8, 9.

And Habakkuk, rapt in holy vision, beheld His appearing. “Godcame from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glorycovered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. And Hisbrightness was as the light.” “He stood, and measured the earth: Hebeheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountainswere scattered, the perpetual hill did bow: His ways are everlasting.”“Thou didst ride upon Thine horses and Thy chariots of salvation.”“The mountains saw Thee, and they trembled: ... the deep utteredhis voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stoodstill in their habitation: at the light of Thine arrows they went, andat the shining of Thy glittering spear.” “Thou wentest forth for thesalvation of Thy people, even for salvation with Thine anointed.”Habakkuk 3:3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13.

When the Saviour was about to be separated from His disciples,He comforted them in their sorrow with the assurance that He wouldcome again: “Let not your heart be troubled.... In My Father’s houseare many mansions.... I go to prepare a place for you. And if I goand prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you untoMyself.” John 14:1-3. “The Son of man shall come in His glory, andall the holy angels with Him.” “Then shall He sit upon the throne ofHis glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations.” Matthew25:31, 32.

The angels who lingered upon Olivet after Christ’s ascensionrepeated to the disciples the promise of His return: “This sameJesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in likemanner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11. And theapostle Paul, speaking by the Spirit of Inspiration, testified: “TheLord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voiceof the Archangel, and with the trump of God.”1 Thessalonians 4:16. Says the prophet of Patmos: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.”Revelation 1:7.


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About His coming cluster the glories of that “restitution of allthings, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophetssince the world began.” Acts 3:21. Then the long-continued ruleof evil shall be broken; “the kingdoms of this world” will become“the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reignfor ever and ever.” Revelation 11:15. “The glory of the Lord shallbe revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” “The Lord God willcause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”He shall be “for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, untothe residue of His people.” Isaiah 40:5; 61:11; Isaiah 28:5.

It is then that the peaceful and long-desired kingdom of theMessiah shall be established under the whole heaven. “The Lordshall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He willmake her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of theLord.” “The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellencyof Carmel and Sharon.” “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken;neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shaltbe called My Delight, and thy land Beulah.” “As the bridegroomrejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” Isaiah51:3; 35:2; 62:4, 5, margin.

The coming of the Lord has been in all ages the hope of Histrue followers. The Saviour’s parting promise upon Olivet, that Hewould come again, lighted up the future for His disciples, fillingtheir hearts with joy and hope that sorrow could not quench nor trialsdim. Amid suffering and persecution, the “appearing of the greatGod and our Saviour Jesus Christ” was the “blessed hope.” Whenthe Thessalonian Christians were filled with grief as they buriedtheir loved ones, who had hoped to live to witness the coming of theLord, Paul, their teacher, pointed them to the resurrection, to takeplace at the Saviour’s advent. Then the dead in Christ should rise,and together with the living be caught up to meet the Lord in theair. “And so,” he said, “shall we ever be with the Lord. Whereforecomfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.

On rocky Patmos the beloved disciple hears the promise, “SurelyI come quickly,” and his longing response voices the prayer of thechurch in all her pilgrimage, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”Revelation 22:20.

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From the dungeon, the stake, the scaffold, where saints and martyrs witnessed for the truth, comes down the centuries the utteranceof their faith and hope. Being “assured of His personal resurrection,and consequently of their own at His coming, for this cause,” saysone of these Christians, “they despised death, and were found tobe above it.”—Daniel T. Taylor, The Reign of Christ on Earth: or,The Voice of the Church in All Ages, page 33. They were willingto go down to the grave, that they might “rise free.”—Ibid., page54. They looked for the “Lord to come from heaven in the cloudswith the glory of His Father,” “bringing to the just the times of thekingdom.” The Waldenses cherished the same faith.—Ibid., pages129-132. Wycliffe looked forward to the Redeemer’s appearing asthe hope of the church.—Ibid., pages 132-134.

Luther declared: “I persuade myself verily, that the day of judgment will not be absent full three hundred years. God will not,cannot, suffer this wicked world much longer.” “The great day isdrawing near in which the kingdom of abominations shall be ove thrown.”—Ibid., pages 158, 134.

“This aged world is not far from its end,” said Melanchthon.Calvin bids Christians “not to hesitate, ardently desiring the day ofChrist’s coming as of all events most auspicious;” and declares that“the whole family of the faithful will keep in view that day.” “Wemust hunger after Christ, we must seek, contemplate,” he says, “tillthe dawning of that great day, when our Lord will fully manifest theglory of His kingdom.”—Ibid., pages 158, 134.

“Has not the Lord Jesus carried up our flesh into heaven?” saidKnox, the Scotch Reformer, “and shall He not return? We knowthat He shall return, and that with expedition.” Ridley and Latimer,who laid down their lives for the truth, looked in faith for the Lord’scoming. Ridley wrote: “The world without doubt—this I do believe,and therefore I say it—draws to an end. Let us with John, the servantof God, cry in our hearts unto our Saviour Christ, Come, Lord Jesus,come.”—Ibid., pages 151, 145.


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“The thoughts of the coming of the Lord,” said Baxter, “are most sweet and joyful to me.”—Richard Baxter,Works,vol. 17, p. 555. “It is the work of faith and the character of His saints tolove His appearing and to look for that blessed hope.” “If death bethe last enemy to be destroyed at the resurrection, we may learnhow earnestly believers should long and pray for the second comingof Christ, when this full and final conquest shall be made.”—Ibid.,vol. 17, p. 500.


“This is the day that all believers should long, andhope, and wait for, as being the accomplishment of all the work oftheir redemption, and all the desires and endeavors of their souls.”“Hasten, O Lord, this blessed day!”—Ibid., vol. 17, pp. 182, 183.Such was the hope of the apostolic church, of the “church in thewilderness,” and of the Reformers.

Prophecy not only foretells the manner and object of Christ’scoming, but presents tokens by which men are to know when it isnear. Said Jesus: “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon,and in the stars.” Luke 21:25. “The sun shall be darkened, and themoon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, andthe powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall theysee the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”Mark 13:24-26. The revelator thus describes the first of the signsto precede the second advent: “There was a great earthquake; andthe sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became asblood.” Revelation 6:12.

These signs were witnessed before the opening of the nineteenth century. In fulfillment of this prophecy there occurred, in theyear 1755, the most terrible earthquake that has ever been recorded.Though commonly known as the earthquake of Lisbon, it extendedto the greater part of Europe, Africa, and America. It was felt inGreenland, in the West Indies, in the island of Madeira, in Norwayand Sweden, Great Britain and Ireland. It pervaded an extent ofnot less than four million square miles. In Africa the shock wasalmost as severe as in Europe. A great part of Algiers was destroyed;and a short distance from Morocco, a village containing eight orten thousand inhabitants was swallowed up. A vast wave sweptover the coast of Spain and Africa engulfing cities and causing greatdestruction.

It was in Spain and Portugal that the shock manifested its extremeviolence. At Cadiz the inflowing wave was said to be sixty feethigh. Mountains, “some of the largest in Portugal, were impetuouslyshaken, as it were, from their very foundations, and some of themopened at their summits, which were split and rent in a wonderful manner, huge masses of them being thrown down into the subjacent valleys. Flames are related to have issued from these mountains.”— Sir Charles Lyell,Principles of Geology,page 495.


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At Lisbon “a sound of thunder was heard underground, andimmediately afterwards a violent shock threw down the greater partof that city. In the course of about six minutes sixty thousand personsperished. The sea first retired, and laid the bar dry; it then rolledin, rising fifty feet or more above its ordinary level.” “Among otherextraordinary events related to have occurred at Lisbon during thecatastrophe, was the subsidence of a new quay, built entirely ofmarble, at an immense expense. A great concourse of people hadcollected there for safety, as a spot where they might be beyond thereach of falling ruins; but suddenly the quay sank down with allthe people on it, and not one of the dead bodies ever floated to thesurface.”—Ibid., page 495.

“The shock” of the earthquake “was instantly followed by thefall of every church and convent, almost all the large public buildings, and more than one fourth of the houses. In about two hoursafter the shock, fires broke out in different quarters, and raged withsuch violence for the space of nearly three days, that the city wascompletely desolated. The earthquake happened on a holyday, whenthe churches and convents were full of people, very few of whomescaped.”—Encyclopedia Americana, art. “Lisbon,” note (ed. 1831).“The terror of the people was beyond description. Nobody wept; itwas beyond tears. They ran hither and thither, delirious with horrorand astonishment, beating their faces and breasts, crying, ‘Misericordia! the world’s at an end!’ Mothers forgot their children, andran about loaded with crucifixed images. Unfortunately, many ran tothe churches for protection; but in vain was the sacrament exposed;in vain did the poor creatures embrace the altars; images, priests,and people were buried in one common ruin.” It has been estimatedthat ninety thousand persons lost their lives on that fatal day.


262 The Great Controversy

Twenty-five years later appeared the next sign mentioned in the prophecy—the darkening of the sun and moon. What rendered this more striking was the fact that the time of its fulfillment had been definitely pointed out. In the Saviour’s conversation with His disciples upon Olivet, after describing the long period of trial forthe church,—the 1260 years of papal persecution, concerning whichHe had promised that the tribulation should be shortened,—He thusmentioned certain events to precede His coming, and fixed the timewhen the first of these should be witnessed: “In those days, after thattribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not giveher light.” Mark 13:24. The 1260 days, or years, terminated in 1798.A quarter of a century earlier, persecution had almost wholly ceased.Following this persecution, according to the words of Christ, the sunwas to be darkened. On the 19th of May, 1780, this prophecy wasfulfilled.

“Almost, if not altogether alone, as the most mysterious and asyet unexplained phenomenon of its kind, ... stands the dark dayof May 19, 1780,—a most unaccountable darkening of the wholevisible heavens and atmosphere in New England.”—R. M. Devens,Our First Century, page 89.

An eyewitness living in Massachusetts describes the event asfollows: “In the morning the sun rose clear, but was soon overcast.The clouds became lowery, and from them, black and ominous, asthey soon appeared, lightning flashed, thunder rolled, and a little rainfell. Toward nine o’clock, the clouds became thinner, and assumeda brassy or coppery appearance, and earth, rocks, trees, buildings,water, and persons were changed by this strange, unearthly light. Afew minutes later, a heavy black cloud spread over the entire skyexcept a narrow rim at the horizon, and it was as dark as it usually isat nine o’clock on a summer evening….


“Fear, anxiety, and awe gradually filled the minds of the people.Women stood at the door, looking out upon the dark landscape; menreturned from their labor in the fields; the carpenter left his tools,the blacksmith his forge, the tradesman his counter. Schools weredismissed, and tremblingly the children fled homeward. Travelersput up at the nearest farmhouse. ‘What is coming?’ queried everylip and heart. It seemed as if a hurricane was about to dash acrossthe land, or as if it was the day of the consummation of all things.“Candles were used; and hearth fires shone as brightly as ona moonless evening in autumn.... Fowls retired to their roosts andwent to sleep, cattle gathered at the pasture bars and lowed, frogspeeped, birds sang their evening songs, and bats flew about. But thehuman knew that night had not come....

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“Dr. Nathanael Whittaker, pastor of the Tabernacle church inSalem, held religious services in the meeting-house, and preached asermon in which he maintained that the darkness was supernatural.Congregations came together in many other places. The texts forthe extemporaneous sermons were invariably those that seemed toindicate that the darkness was consonant with Scriptural prophecy....The darkness was most dense shortly after eleven o’clock.”—TheEssex Antiquarian, April, 1899, vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 53, 54. “In mostparts of the country it was so great in the daytime, that the peoplecould not tell the hour by either watch or clock, nor dine, nor managetheir domestic business, without the light of candles....

“The extent of this darkness was extraordinary. It was observedas far east as Falmouth. To the westward it reached to the farthest partof Connecticut, and to Albany. To the southward, it was observedalong the seacoasts; and to the north as far as the American settlements extend.”—William Gordon, History of the Rise, Progress, andEstablishment of the Independence of the U.S.A., vol. 3, p. 57.

The intense darkness of the day was succeeded, an hour or twobefore evening, by a partially clear sky, and the sun appeared, thoughit was still obscured by the black, heavy mist. “After sundown, theclouds came again overhead, and it grew dark very fast.” “Nor wasthe darkness of the night less uncommon and terrifying than that ofthe day; notwithstanding there was almost a full moon, no objectwas discernible but by the help of some artificial light, which, whenseen from the neighboring houses and other places at a distance,appeared through a kind of Egyptian darkness which seemed almostimpervious to the rays.”—Isaiah Thomas, Massachusetts Spy; or,American Oracle of Liberty, vol. 10, No. 472 (May 25, 1780). Saidan eyewitness of the scene: “I could not help conceiving at the time,that if every luminous body in the universe had been shrouded inimpenetrable shades, or struck out of existence, the darkness couldnot have been more complete.”—Letter by Dr. Samuel Tenney, ofExeter, New Hampshire, December, 1785 (in Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 1792, 1st series, vol. 1, p. 97). Though atnine o’clock that night the moon rose to the full, “it had not the leasteffect to dispel the deathlike shadows.” After midnight the darknessdisappeared, and the moon, when first visible, had the appearanceof blood.


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May 19, 1780, stands in history as “The Dark Day.” Since thetime of Moses no period of darkness of equal density, extent, andduration, has ever been recorded. The description of this event,as given by eyewitnesses, is but an echo of the words of the Lord,recorded by the prophet Joel, twenty-five hundred years previousto their fulfillment: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and themoon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.”Joel 2:31.

Christ had bidden His people watch for the signs of His adventand rejoice as they should behold the tokens of their coming King.“When these things begin to come to pass,” He said, “then lookup, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Hepointed His followers to the budding trees of spring, and said: “Whenthey now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves thatsummer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see thesethings come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”Luke 21:28, 30, 31.


But as the spirit of humility and devotion in the church hadgiven place to pride and formalism, love for Christ and faith inHis coming had grown cold. Absorbed in worldliness and pleasureseeking, the professed people of God were blinded to the Saviour’sinstructions concerning the signs of His appearing. The doctrine ofthe second advent had been neglected; the scriptures relating to itwere obscured by misinterpretation, until it was, to a great extent,ignored and forgotten. Especially was this the case in the churchesof America. The freedom and comfort enjoyed by all classes ofsociety, the ambitious desire for wealth and luxury, begetting anabsorbing devotion to money-making, the eager rush for popularityand power, which seemed to be within the reach of all, led men tocenter their interests and hopes on the things of this life, and to putfar in the future that solemn day when the present order of thingsshould pass away.

When the Saviour pointed out to His followers the signs of Hisreturn, He foretold the state of backsliding that would exist just priorto His second advent. There would be, as in the days of Noah, theactivity and stir of worldly business and pleasure seeking—buying,selling, planting, building, marrying, and giving in marriage—withforgetfulness of God and the future life. For those living at this time,Christ’s admonition is: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”Luke 21:34, 36.

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The condition of the church at this time is pointed out in theSaviour’s words in the Revelation: “Thou hast a name that thoulivest, and art dead.” And to those who refuse to arouse from theircareless security, the solemn warning is addressed: “If thereforethou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shaltnot know what hour I will come upon thee.” Revelation 3:1, 3.

It was needful that men should be awakened to their danger; thatthey should be roused to prepare for the solemn events connectedwith the close of probation. The prophet of God declares: “The dayof the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” Whoshall stand when He appeareth who is “of purer eyes than to beholdevil,” and cannot “look on iniquity”? Joel 2:11; Habakkuk 1:13.To them that cry, “My God, we know Thee,” yet have transgressedHis covenant, and hastened after another god, hiding iniquity intheir hearts, and loving the paths of unrighteousness—to these theday of the Lord is “darkness, and not light, even very dark, andno brightness in it.” Hosea 8:2, 1; Psalm 16:4; Amos 5:20. “Itshall come to pass at that time,” saith the Lord, “that I will searchJerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on theirlees: that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither willHe do evil.” Zephaniah 1:12. “I will punish the world for their evil,and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy ofthe proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”Isaiah 13:11. “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able todeliver them;” “their goods shall become a booty, and their houses adesolation.” Zephaniah 1:18, 13.

The prophet Jeremiah, looking forward to this fearful time, exclaimed: “I am pained at my very heart.... I cannot hold my peace,because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, thealarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried.” Jeremiah 4:19,20.


“That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a dayof wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, aday of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm.”Zephaniah 1:15, 16. “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, ... to laythe land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.”Isaiah 13:9.

In view of that great day the word of God, in the most solemnand impressive language, calls upon His people to arouse fromtheir spiritual lethargy and to seek His face with repentance andhumiliation: “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm inMy holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for theday of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.” “Sanctify a fast, calla solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation,assemble the elders, gather the children: ... let the bridegroom goforth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests,the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar.”“Turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and withweeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not yourgarments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious andmerciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” Joel 2:1, 15-17, 12,13.

To prepare a people to stand in the day of God, a great work ofreform was to be accomplished. God saw that many of His professedpeople were not building for eternity, and in His mercy He was aboutto send a message of warning to arouse them from their stupor andlead them to make ready for the coming of the Lord.

This warning is brought to view in Revelation 14. Here is athreefold message represented as proclaimed by heavenly beingsand immediately followed by the coming of the Son of man to reap“the harvest of the earth.” The first of these warnings announces theapproaching judgment. The prophet beheld an angel flying “in themidst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto themthat dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue,and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory toHim; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him thatmade heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”Revelation 14:6, 7.


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This message is declared to be a part of “the everlasting gospel.”The work of preaching the gospel has not been committed to angels,but has been entrusted to men. Holy angels have been employed indirecting this work, they have in charge the great movements forthe salvation of men; but the actual proclamation of the gospel isperformed by the servants of Christ upon the earth.

Faithful men, who were obedient to the promptings of God’sSpirit and the teachings of His word, were to proclaim this warningto the world. They were those who had taken heed to the “sure wordof prophecy,” the “light that shineth in a dark place, until the daydawn, and the daystar arise.” 2 Peter 1:19. They had been seekingthe knowledge of God more than all hid treasures, counting it “betterthan the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.”Proverbs 3:14. And the Lord revealed to them the great things of thekingdom. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; andHe will show them His covenant.” Psalm 25:14.

It was not the scholarly theologians who had an understanding ofthis truth, and engaged in its proclamation. Had these been faithfulwatchmen, diligently and prayerfully searching the Scriptures, theywould have known the time of night; the prophecies would haveopened to them the events about to take place. But they did notoccupy this position, and the message was given by humbler men.Said Jesus: “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come uponyou.” John 12:35. Those who turn away from the light which Godhas given, or who neglect to seek it when it is within their reach, areleft in darkness. But the Saviour declares: “He that followeth Meshall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12.Whoever is with singleness of purpose seeking to do God’s will,earnestly heeding the light already given, will receive greater light;to that soul some star of heavenly radiance will be sent to guide himinto all truth.

At the time of Christ’s first advent the priests and scribes of theHoly City, to whom were entrusted the oracles of God, might havediscerned the signs of the times and proclaimed the coming of thePromised One. The prophecy of Micah designated His birthplace;Daniel specified the time of His advent. Micah 5:2; Daniel 9:25.God committed these prophecies to the Jewish leaders; they werewithout excuse if they did not know and declare to the people thatthe Messiah’s coming was at hand. Their ignorance was the resultof sinful neglect.


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The Jews were building monuments for the slainprophets of God, while by their deference to the great men of earththey were paying homage to the servants of Satan. Absorbed in theirambitious strife for place and power among men, they lost sight ofthe divine honors proffered them by the King of heaven.

With profound and reverent interest the elders of Israel shouldhave been studying the place, the time, the circumstances, of thegreatest event in the world’s history—the coming of the Son of Godto accomplish the redemption of man. All the people should havebeen watching and waiting that they might be among the first towelcome the world’s Redeemer. But, lo, at Bethlehem two wearytravelers from the hills of Nazareth traverse the whole length of thenarrow street to the eastern extremity of the town, vainly seeking aplace of rest and shelter for the night. No doors are open to receivethem. In a wretched hovel prepared for cattle, they at last find refuge,and there the Saviour of the world is born.

Heavenly angels had seen the glory which the Son of God sharedwith the Father before the world was, and they had looked forwardwith intense interest to His appearing on earth as an event fraughtwith the greatest joy to all people. Angels were appointed to carrythe glad tidings to those who were prepared to receive it and whowould joyfully make it known to the inhabitants of the earth. Christhad stooped to take upon Himself man’s nature; He was to bear aninfinite weight of woe as He should make His soul an offering forsin; yet angels desired that even in His humiliation the Son of theHighest might appear before men with a dignity and glory befittingHis character. Would the great men of earth assemble at Israel’scapital to greet His coming? Would legions of angels present Himto the expectant company?

An angel visits the earth to see who are prepared to welcomeJesus. But he can discern no tokens of expectancy. He hears no voiceof praise and triumph that the period of Messiah’s coming is at hand.The angel hovers for a time over the chosen city and the templewhere the divine presence has been manifested for ages; but evenhere is the same indifference. The priests, in their pomp and pride,are offering polluted sacrifices in the temple. The Pharisees are withloud voices addressing the people or making boastful prayers at thecorners of the streets. In the palaces of kings, in the assemblies ofphilosophers, in the schools of the rabbis, all are alike unmindful of the wondrous fact which has filled all heaven with joy and praise— that the Redeemer of men is about to appear upon the earth.

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There is no evidence that Christ is expected, and no preparationfor the Prince of life. In amazement the celestial messenger is aboutto return to heaven with the shameful tidings, when he discovers agroup of shepherds who are watching their flocks by night, and, asthey gaze into the starry heavens, are contemplating the prophecyof a Messiah to come to earth, and longing for the advent of theworld’s Redeemer. Here is a company that is prepared to receivethe heavenly message. And suddenly the angel of the Lord appears,declaring the good tidings of great joy. Celestial glory floods allthe plain, an innumerable company of angels is revealed, and as ifthe joy were too great for one messenger to bring from heaven, amultitude of voices break forth in the anthem which all the nationsof the saved shall one day sing: “Glory to God in the highest, andon earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14.

Oh, what a lesson is this wonderful story of Bethlehem! How itrebukes our unbelief, our pride and self-sufficiency. How it warns usto beware, lest by our criminal indifference we also fail to discern thesigns of the times, and therefore know not the day of our visitation.

It was not alone upon the hills of Judea, not among the lowlyshepherds only, that angels found the watchers for Messiah’s coming.In the land of the heathen also were those that looked for Him;they were wise men, rich and noble, the philosophers of the East.Students of nature, the Magi had seen God in His handiwork. Fromthe Hebrew Scriptures they had learned of the Star to arise out ofJacob, and with eager desire they awaited His coming, who shouldbe not only the “Consolation of Israel,” but a “Light to lighten theGentiles,” and “for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” Luke 2:25,32; Acts 13:47. They were seekers for light, and light from thethrone of God illumined the path for their feet. While the priests andrabbis of Jerusalem, the appointed guardians and expounders of thetruth, were shrouded in darkness, the Heaven-sent star guided theseGentile strangers to the birthplace of the newborn King.


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It is “unto them that look for Him” that Christ is to “appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”Hebrews 9:28. Like the tidings of the Saviour’s birth, the message of the second adventwas not committed to the religious leaders of the people. They hadfailed to preserve their connection with God, and had refused lightfrom heaven; therefore they were not of the number described bythe apostle Paul: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that dayshould overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, andthe children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” 1Thessalonians 5:4, 5.

The watchmen upon the walls of Zion should have been thefirst to catch the tidings of the Saviour’s advent, the first to lifttheir voices to proclaim Him near, the first to warn the people toprepare for His coming. But they were at ease, dreaming of peaceand safety, while the people were asleep in their sins. Jesus saw Hischurch, like the barren fig tree, covered with pretentious leaves, yetdestitute of precious fruit. There was a boastful observance of theforms of religion, while the spirit of true humility, penitence, andfaith—which alone could render the service acceptable to God—waslacking. Instead of the graces of the Spirit there were manifestedpride, formalism, vainglory, selfishness, oppression. A backslidingchurch closed their eyes to the signs of the times. God did not forsakethem, or suffer His faithfulness to fail; but they departed from Him,and separated themselves from His love. As they refused to complywith the conditions, His promises were not fulfilled to them.

Such is the sure result of neglect to appreciate and improvethe light and privileges which God bestows. Unless the churchwill follow on in His opening providence, accepting every ray oflight, performing every duty which may be revealed, religion willinevitably degenerate into the observance of forms, and the spiritof vital godliness will disappear. This truth has been repeatedlyillustrated in the history of the church. God requires of His peopleworks of faith and obedience corresponding to the blessings andprivileges bestowed. Obedience requires a sacrifice and involves across; and this is why so many of the professed followers of Christrefused to receive the light from heaven, and, like the Jews of old,knew not the time of their visitation. Luke 19:44. Because of theirpride and unbelief the Lord passed them by and revealed His truth tothose who, like the shepherds of Bethlehem and the Eastern Magi,had given heed to all the light they had received.

Chapter 18—An American Reformer

An upright, honest-hearted farmer, who had been led to doubtthe divine authority of the Scriptures, yet who sincerely desired toknow the truth, was the man specially chosen of God to lead outin the proclamation of Christ’s second coming. Like many otherreformers, William Miller had in early life battled with poverty andhad thus learned the great lessons of energy and self-denial. Themembers of the family from which he sprang were characterized byan independent, liberty-loving spirit, by capability of endurance, andardent patriotism—traits which were also prominent in his character.His father was a captain in the army of the Revolution, and to thesacrifices which he made in the struggles and sufferings of thatstormy period may be traced the straitened circumstances of Miller’searly life.

He had a sound physical constitution, and even in childhoodgave evidence of more than ordinary intellectual strength. As hegrew older, this became more marked. His mind was active and welldeveloped, and he had a keen thirst for knowledge. Though he didnot enjoy the advantages of a collegiate education, his love of studyand a habit of careful thought and close criticism rendered him aman of sound judgment and comprehensive views. He possessedan irreproachable moral character and an enviable reputation, beinggenerally esteemed for integrity, thrift, and benevolence. By dintof energy and application he early acquired a competence, thoughhis habits of study were still maintained. He filled various civil andmilitary offices with credit, and the avenues to wealth and honorseemed wide open to him.



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His mother was a woman of sterling piety, and in childhood, he had been subject to religious impressions. In early manhood, however, he was thrown into the society of deists, whose influence was the stronger from the fact that they were mostly good citizens and men of humane and benevolent disposition. Living, as they did, in the midst of Christian institutions, their characters had been to someextent molded by their surroundings. For the excellencies whichwon them respect and confidence they were indebted to the Bible;and yet these good gifts were so perverted as to exert an influenceagainst the word of God. By association with these men, Miller wasled to adopt their sentiments. The current interpretations of Scripturepresented difficulties which seemed to him insurmountable; yet hisnew belief, while setting aside the Bible, offered nothing better totake its place, and he remained far from satisfied. He continued tohold these views, however, for about twelve years. But at the ageof thirty-four the Holy Spirit impressed his heart with a sense of hiscondition as a sinner. He found in his former belief no assuranceof happiness beyond the grave. The future was dark and gloomy.Referring afterward to his feelings at this time, he said:

“Annihilation was a cold and chilling thought, and accountabilitywas sure destruction to all. The heavens were as brass over my head,and the earth as iron under my feet. Eternity—what was it? Anddeath—why was it? The more I reasoned, the further I was fromdemonstration. The more I thought, the more scattered were myconclusions. I tried to stop thinking, but my thoughts would not becontrolled. I was truly wretched, but did not understand the cause.I murmured and complained, but knew not of whom. I knew thatthere was a wrong, but knew not how or where to find the right. Imourned, but without hope.”

In this state he continued for some months. “Suddenly,” he says,“the character of a Saviour was vividly impressed upon my mind.It seemed that there might be a being so good and compassionateas to himself atone for our transgressions, and thereby save us fromsuffering the penalty of sin. I immediately felt how lovely such abeing must be, and imagined that I could cast myself into the armsof, and trust in the mercy of, such a one. But the question arose,How can it be proved that such a being does exist? Aside from theBible, I found that I could get no evidence of the existence of such aSaviour, or even of a future state....

“I saw that the Bible did bring to view just such a Saviour as Ineeded; and I was perplexed to find how an uninspired book shoulddevelop principles so perfectly adapted to the wants of a fallen world.I was constrained to admit that the Scriptures must be a revelationfrom God. They became my delight; and in Jesus I found a friend.

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The Saviour became to me the chiefest among ten thousand; and theScriptures, which before were dark and contradictory, now becamethe lamp to my feet and light to my path. My mind became settledand satisfied. I found the Lord God to be a Rock in the midst ofthe ocean of life. The Bible now became my chief study, and I cantruly say, I searched it with great delight. I found the half was nevertold me. I wondered why I had not seen its beauty and glory before,and marveled that I could have ever rejected it. I found everythingrevealed that my heart could desire, and a remedy for every diseaseof the soul. I lost all taste for other reading, and applied my heart toget wisdom from God.”—S. Bliss, Memoirs of Wm. Miller, pages65-67.

Miller publicly professed his faith in the religion which he haddespised. But his infidel associates were not slow to bring forward allthose arguments which he himself had often urged against the divineauthority of the Scriptures. He was not then prepared to answerthem; but he reasoned that if the Bible is a revelation from God, itmust be consistent with itself; and that as it was given for man’sinstruction, it must be adapted to his understanding. He determinedto study the Scriptures for himself, and ascertain if every apparentcontradiction could not be harmonized.

Endeavoring to lay aside all preconceived opinions, and dispensing with commentaries, he compared scripture with scripture by theaid of the marginal references and the concordance. He pursued hisstudy in a regular and methodical manner; beginning with Genesis,and reading verse by verse, he proceeded no faster than the meaningof the several passages so unfolded as to leave him free from all embarrassment. When he found anything obscure, it was his custom tocompare it with every other text which seemed to have any referenceto the matter under consideration. Every word was permitted to haveits proper bearing upon the subject of the text, and if his view of itharmonized with every collateral passage, it ceased to be a difficulty.Thus whenever he met with a passage hard to be understood hefound an explanation in some other portion of the Scriptures. Ashe studied with earnest prayer for divine enlightenment, that whichhad before appeared dark to his understanding was made clear. Heexperienced the truth of the psalmist’s words: “The entrance of Thywords giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”Psalm 119:130.


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With intense interest he studied the books of Daniel and theRevelation, employing the same principles of interpretation as inthe other scriptures, and found, to his great joy, that the propheticsymbols could be understood. He saw that the prophecies, so faras they had been fulfilled, had been fulfilled literally; that all thevarious figures, metaphors, parables, similitudes, etc., were eitherexplained in their immediate connection, or the terms in which theywere expressed were defined in other scriptures, and when thusexplained, were to be literally understood. “I was thus satisfied,”he says, “that the Bible is a system of revealed truths, so clearlyand simply given that the wayfaring man, though a fool, need noterr therein.”—Bliss, page 70. Link after link of the chain of truthrewarded his efforts, as step by step he traced down the great linesof prophecy. Angels of heaven were guiding his mind and openingthe Scriptures to his understanding.

Taking the manner in which the prophecies had been fulfilled inthe past as a criterion by which to judge of the fulfillment of thosewhich were still future, he became satisfied that the popular view ofthe spiritual reign of Christ—a temporal millennium before the endof the world—was not sustained by the word of God. This doctrine,pointing to a thousand years of righteousness and peace before thepersonal coming of the Lord, put far off the terrors of the day ofGod. But, pleasing though it may be, it is contrary to the teachingsof Christ and His apostles, who declared that the wheat and the taresare to grow together until the harvest, the end of the world; that “evilmen and seducers shall wax worse and worse;” that “in the last daysperilous times shall come;” and that the kingdom of darkness shallcontinue until the advent of the Lord and shall be consumed withthe spirit of His mouth and be destroyed with the brightness of Hiscoming. Matthew 13:30, 38-41; 2 Timothy 3:13, 1; 2 Thessalonians2:8.

The doctrine of the world’s conversion and the spiritual reignof Christ was not held by the apostolic church. It was not generallyaccepted by Christians until about the beginning of the eighteenthcentury. Like every other error, its results were evil. It taught men tolook far in the future for the coming of the Lord and prevented themfrom giving heed to the signs heralding His approach. It induced a feeling of confidence and security that was not well founded and led many to neglect the preparation necessary in order to meet their Lord.

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Miller found the literal, personal coming of Christ to be plainlytaught in the Scriptures. Says Paul: “The Lord Himself shall descendfrom heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and withthe trump of God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16. And the Saviour declares:“They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven withpower and great glory.” “For as the lightning cometh out of the east,and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Sonof man be.” Matthew 24:30, 27. He is to be accompanied by all thehosts of heaven. “The Son of man shall come in His glory, and allthe holy angels with Him.” Matthew 25:31. “And He shall send Hisangels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather togetherHis elect.” Matthew 24:31.

At His coming the righteous dead will be raised, and the righteous living will be changed. “We shall not all sleep,” says Paul,“but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall beraised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptiblemust put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”1 Corinthians 15:51-53. And in his letter to the Thessalonians, afterdescribing the coming of the Lord, he says: “The dead in Christshall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caughtup together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: andso shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17.

Not until the personal advent of Christ can His people receivethe kingdom. The Saviour said: “When the Son of man shall comein His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He situpon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered allnations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherddivideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep onHis right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King sayunto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inheritthe kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”Matthew 25:31-34. We have seen by the scriptures just given thatwhen the Son of man comes, the dead are raised incorruptible andthe living are changed.


By this great change they are prepared toreceive the kingdom; for Paul says: “Flesh and blood cannot inheritthe kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” 1Corinthians 15:50. Man in his present state is mortal, corruptible;but the kingdom of God will be incorruptible, enduring forever.Therefore man in his present state cannot enter into the kingdomof God. But when Jesus comes, He confers immortality upon Hispeople; and then He calls them to inherit the kingdom of which theyhave hitherto been only heirs.

These and other scriptures clearly proved to Miller’s mind thatthe events which were generally expected to take place before thecoming of Christ, such as the universal reign of peace and the settingup of the kingdom of God upon the earth, were to be subsequent tothe second advent. Furthermore, all the signs of the times and thecondition of the world corresponded to the prophetic description ofthe last days. He was forced to the conclusion, from the study ofScripture alone, that the period allotted for the continuance of theearth in its present state was about to close.

“Another kind of evidence that vitally affected my mind,” hesays, “was the chronology of the Scriptures.... I found that predictedevents, which had been fulfilled in the past, often occurred within agiven time. The one hundred and twenty years to the flood (Genesis6:3); the seven days that were to precede it, with forty days of predicted rain (Genesis 7:4); the four hundred years of the sojourn ofAbraham’s seed (Genesis 15:13); the three days of the butler’s andbaker’s dreams (Genesis 40:12-20); the seven years of Pharaoh’s(Genesis 41:28-54); the forty years in the wilderness (Numbers14:34); the three and a half years of famine (1 Kings 17:1) [seeLuke 4:25;] ... the seventy years’ captivity (Jeremiah 25:11); Neb-uchadnezzar’s seven times (Daniel 4:13-16); and the seven weeks,threescore and two weeks, and the one week, making seventy weeks,determined upon the Jews (Daniel 9:24-27),—the events limitedby these times were all once only a matter of prophecy, and werefulfilled in accordance with the predictions.”—Bliss, pages 74, 75.


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When, therefore, he found, in his study of the Bible, various chronological periods that, according to his understanding of them, extended to the second coming of Christ, he could not but regard them as the “times before appointed,” which God had revealed untoHis servants. “The secret things,” says Moses, “belong unto theLord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto usand to our children forever;” and the Lord declares by the prophetAmos, that He “will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret untoHis servants the prophets.” Deuteronomy 29:29; Amos 3:7. Thestudents of God’s word may, then, confidently expect to find themost stupendous event to take place in human history clearly pointedout in the Scriptures of truth.

“As I was fully convinced,” says Miller, “that all Scripture givenby inspiration of God is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16); that it came notat any time by the will of man, but was written as holy men weremoved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21), and was written ‘for ourlearning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scripturesmight have hope’ (Romans 15:4), I could but regard the chronological portions of the Bible as being as much a portion of the wordof God, and as much entitled to our serious consideration, as anyother portion of the Scriptures. I therefore felt that in endeavoringto comprehend what God had in His mercy seen fit to reveal to us, Ihad no right to pass over the prophetic periods.”—Bliss, page 75.

The prophecy which seemed most clearly to reveal the time ofthe second advent was that of Daniel 8:14: “Unto two thousand andthree hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Followinghis rule of making Scripture its own interpreter, Miller learned thata day in symbolic prophecy represents a year (Numbers 14:34;Ezekiel 4:6); he saw that the period of 2300 prophetic days, or literalyears, would extend far beyond the close of the Jewish dispensation,hence it could not refer to the sanctuary of that dispensation. Milleraccepted the generally received view that in the Christian age theearth is the sanctuary, and he therefore understood that the cleansingof the sanctuary foretold in Daniel 8:14 represented the purificationof the earth by fire at the second coming of Christ. If, then, thecorrect starting point could be found for the 2300 days, he concludedthat the time of the second advent could be readily ascertained. Thuswould be revealed the time of that great consummation, the timewhen the present state, with “all its pride and power, pomp andvanity, wickedness and oppression, would come to an end;” whenthe curse would be “removed from off the earth, death be destroyed,reward be given to the servants of God, the prophets and saints, andthem who fear His name, and those be destroyed that destroy the earth.”—Bliss, page 76.


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With a new and deeper earnestness, Miller continued the examination of the prophecies, whole nights as well as days being devotedto the study of what now appeared of such stupendous importanceand all-absorbing interest. In the eighth chapter of Daniel he couldfind no clue to the starting point of the 2300 days; the angel Gabriel,though commanded to make Daniel understand the vision, gave himonly a partial explanation. As the terrible persecution to befall thechurch was unfolded to the prophet’s vision, physical strength gaveway. He could endure no more, and the angel left him for a time.Daniel “fainted, and was sick certain days.” “And I was astonishedat the vision,” he says, “but none understood it.”

Yet God had bidden His messenger: “Make this man to understand the vision.” That commission must be fulfilled. In obedienceto it, the angel, some time afterward, returned to Daniel, saying: “Iam now come forth to give thee skill and understanding;” “thereforeunderstand the matter, and consider the vision.” Daniel 8:27, 16;9:22, 23, 25-27. There was one important point in the vision ofchapter 8 which had been left unexplained, namely, that relating totime—the period of the 2300 days; therefore the angel, in resuminghis explanation, dwells chiefly upon the subject of time:

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thyHoly City.... Know therefore and understand, that from the goingforth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem untothe Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and twoweeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troubloustimes. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cutoff, but not for Himself.... And He shall confirm the covenant withmany for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause thesacrifice and the oblation to cease.”

The angel had been sent to Daniel for the express purpose ofexplaining to him the point which he had failed to understand in thevision of the eighth chapter, the statement relative to time—“untotwo thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary becleansed.” After bidding Daniel “understand the matter, and considerthe vision,” the very first words of the angel are: “Seventy weeks aredetermined upon thy people and upon thy Holy City.” The word heretranslated “determined” literally signifies “cut off.”

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Seventy weeks,representing 490 years, are declared by the angel to be cut off, asspecially pertaining to the Jews. But from what were they cut off?As the 2300 days was the only period of time mentioned in chapter8, it must be the period from which the seventy weeks were cut off;the seventy weeks must therefore be a part of the 2300 days, and thetwo periods must begin together. The seventy weeks were declaredby the angel to date from the going forth of the commandment torestore and build Jerusalem. If the date of this commandment couldbe found, then the starting point for the great period of the 2300days would be ascertained.

In the seventh chapter of Ezra the decree is found. Verses 12-26.In its completest form it was issued by Artaxerxes, king of Persia,457 B.C. But in Ezra 6:14 the house of the Lord at Jerusalem issaid to have been built “according to the commandment [“decree,”margin] of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.” Thesethree kings, in originating, reaffirming, and completing the decree,brought it to the perfection required by the prophecy to mark thebeginning of the 2300 years. Taking 457 B.C., the time when thedecree was completed, as the date of the commandment, everyspecification of the prophecy concerning the seventy weeks wasseen to have been fulfilled.

“From the going forth of the commandment to restore and tobuild Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks,and threescore and two weeks”—namely, sixty-nine weeks, or 483years. The decree of Artaxerxes went into effect in the autumn of457 B.C. From this date, 483 years extend to the autumn of A.D.27. (See Appendix.) At that time this prophecy was fulfilled. Theword “Messiah” signifies “the Anointed One.” In the autumn ofA.D. 27 Christ was baptized by John and received the anointing ofthe Spirit. The apostle Peter testifies that “God anointed Jesus ofNazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.” Acts 10:38. Andthe Saviour Himself declared: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.” Luke4:18. After His baptism He went into Galilee, “preaching the gospelof the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled.” Mark 1:14,15.


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“And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.”The “week” here brought to view is the last one of the seventy; itis the last seven years of the period allotted especially to the Jews.During this time, extending from A.D. 27 to A.D. 34, Christ, atfirst in person and afterward by His disciples, extended the gospelinvitation especially to the Jews. As the apostles went forth withthe good tidings of the kingdom, the Saviour’s direction was: “Gonot into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritansenter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”Matthew 10:5, 6.

“In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and theoblation to cease.” In A.D. 31, three and a half years after Hisbaptism, our Lord was crucified. With the great sacrifice offeredupon Calvary, ended that system of offerings which for four thousandyears had pointed forward to the Lamb of God. Type had metantitype, and all the sacrifices and oblations of the ceremonial systemwere there to cease.

The seventy weeks, or 490 years, especially allotted to the Jews,ended, as we have seen, in A.D. 34. At that time, through the actionof the Jewish Sanhedrin, the nation sealed its rejection of the gospelby the martyrdom of Stephen and the persecution of the followersof Christ. Then the message of salvation, no longer restricted tothe chosen people, was given to the world. The disciples, forcedby persecution to flee from Jerusalem, “went everywhere preachingthe word.” “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preachedChrist unto them.” Peter, divinely guided, opened the gospel to thecenturion of Caesarea, the Godfearing Cornelius; and the ardentPaul, won to the faith of Christ, was commissioned to carry the gladtidings “far hence unto the Gentiles.” Acts 8:4, 5; 22:21.

Thus far every specification of the prophecies is strikingly fulfilled, and the beginning of the seventy weeks is fixed beyond question at 457 B.C., and their expiration in A.D. 34. From this datathere is no difficulty in finding the termination of the 2300 days. Theseventy weeks—490 days—having been cut off from the 2300, therewere 1810 days remaining. After the end of 490 days, the 1810 dayswere still to be fulfilled. From A.D. 34, 1810 years extend to 1844.Consequently the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 terminate in 1844. Atthe expiration of this great prophetic period, upon the testimony ofthe angel of God, “the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” Thus the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary—which was almost universally believed to take place at the second advent—was definitely pointed out.

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Miller and his associates at first believed that the 2300 dayswould terminate in the spring of 1844, whereas the prophecy pointsto the autumn of that year. (See Appendix.) The misapprehension ofthis point brought disappointment and perplexity to those who hadfixed upon the earlier date as the time of the Lord’s coming. But thisdid not in the least affect the strength of the argument showing thatthe 2300 days terminated in the year 1844, and that the great eventrepresented by the cleansing of the sanctuary must then take place.

Entering upon the study of the Scriptures as he had done, inorder to prove that they were a revelation from God, Miller had not,at the outset, the slightest expectation of reaching the conclusion atwhich he had now arrived. He himself could hardly credit the resultsof his investigation. But the Scripture evidence was too clear andforcible to be set aside.

He had devoted two years to the study of the Bible, when, in1818, he reached the solemn conviction that in about twenty-fiveyears Christ would appear for the redemption of His people. “I neednot speak,” says Miller, “of the joy that filled my heart in view ofthe delightful prospect, nor of the ardent longings of my soul for aparticipation in the joys of the redeemed. The Bible was now to me anew book. It was indeed a feast of reason; all that was dark, mystical,or obscure to me in its teachings, had been dissipated from my mindbefore the clear light that now dawned from its sacred pages; and, oh,how bright and glorious the truth appeared! All the contradictionsand inconsistencies I had before found in the word were gone; andalthough there were many portions of which I was not satisfied Ihad a full understanding, yet so much light had emanated from it tothe illumination of my before darkened mind, that I felt a delightin studying the Scripture which I had not before supposed could bederived from its teachings.”—Bliss, pages 76, 77.


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“With the solemn conviction that such momentous events were predicted in the Scriptures to be fulfilled in so short a space of time, the question came home to me with mighty power regarding my duty to the world, in view of the evidence that had affected my ownmind.”—Ibid., page 81. He could not but feel that it was his dutyto impart to others the light which he had received. He expected toencounter opposition from the ungodly, but was confident that allChristians would rejoice in the hope of meeting the Saviour whomthey professed to love. His only fear was that in their great joy atthe prospect of glorious deliverance, so soon to be consummated,many would receive the doctrine without sufficiently examining theScriptures in demonstration of its truth. He therefore hesitated topresent it, lest he should be in error and be the means of misleadingothers. He was thus led to review the evidences in support of theconclusions at which he had arrived, and to consider carefully everydifficulty which presented itself to his mind. He found that objectionsvanished before the light of God’s word, as mist before the rays of thesun. Five years spent thus left him fully convinced of the correctnessof his position.

And now the duty of making known to others what he believedto be so clearly taught in the Scriptures, urged itself with new forceupon him. “When I was about my business,” he said, “it was continually ringing in my ears, ‘Go and tell the world of their danger.’ Thistext was constantly occurring to me: ‘When I say unto the wicked,O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warnthe wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity;but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warnthe wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from hisway, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”Ezekiel 33:8, 9. I felt that if the wicked could be effectually warned,multitudes of them would repent; and that if they were not warned,their blood might be required at my hand.”—Bliss, page 92.

He began to present his views in private as he had opportunity,praying that some minister might feel their force and devote himselfto their promulgation. But he could not banish the conviction thathe had a personal duty to perform in giving the warning. The wordswere ever recurring to his mind: “Go and tell it to the world; theirblood will I require at thy hand.” For nine years he waited, the burdenstill pressing upon his soul, until in 1831 he for the first time publiclygave the reasons of his faith.

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As Elisha was called from following his oxen in the field, to receive the mantle of consecration to the prophetic office, so wasWilliam Miller called to leave his plow and open to the peoplethe mysteries of the kingdom of God. With trembling he enteredupon his work, leading his hearers down, step by step, through theprophetic periods to the second appearing of Christ. With everyeffort he gained strength and courage as he saw the widespreadinterest excited by his words.

It was only at the solicitation of his brethren, in whose wordshe heard the call of God, that Miller consented to present his viewsin public. He was now fifty years of age, unaccustomed to publicspeaking, and burdened with a sense of unfitness for the work beforehim. But from the first his labors were blessed in a remarkablemanner to the salvation of souls. His first lecture was followed by areligious awakening in which thirteen entire families, with the exception of two persons, were converted. He was immediately urgedto speak in other places, and in nearly every place his labor resultedin a revival of the work of God. Sinners were converted, Christianswere roused to greater consecration, and deists and infidels were ledto acknowledge the truth of the Bible and the Christian religion. Thetestimony of those among whom he labored was: “A class of mindsare reached by him not within the influence of other men.”—Ibid.,page 138. His preaching was calculated to arouse the public mindto the great things of religion and to check the growing worldlinessand sensuality of the age.

In nearly every town there were scores, in some, hundreds,converted as a result of his preaching. In many places Protestantchurches of nearly all denominations were thrown open to him, andthe invitations to labor usually came from the ministers of the severalcongregations. It was his invariable rule not to labor in any place towhich he had not been invited, yet he soon found himself unable tocomply with half the requests that poured in upon him. Many whodid not accept his views as to the exact time of the second adventwere convinced of the certainty and nearness of Christ’s comingand their need of preparation. In some of the large cities his workproduced a marked impression. Liquor dealers abandoned the trafficand turned their shops into meeting rooms; gambling dens werebroken up; infidels, deists, Universalists, and even the most abandoned profligates were reformed, some of whom had not entered ahouse of worship for years.


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Prayer meetings were established by thevarious denominations, in different quarters, at almost every hour,businessmen assembling at midday for prayer and praise. Therewas no extravagant excitement, but an almost universal solemnityon the minds of the people. His work, like that of the early Reformers, tended rather to convince the understanding and arouse theconscience than merely to excite the emotions.

In 1833 Miller received a license to preach, from the BaptistChurch, of which he was a member. A large number of the ministers of his denomination also approved his work, and it was withtheir formal sanction that he continued his labors. He traveled andpreached unceasingly, though his personal labors were confinedprincipally to the New England and Middle States. For several yearshis expenses were met wholly from his own private purse, and henever afterward received enough to meet the expense of travel tothe places where he was invited. Thus his public labors, so far frombeing a pecuniary benefit, were a heavy tax upon his property, whichgradually diminished during this period of his life. He was the fatherof a large family, but as they were all frugal and industrious, his farmsufficed for their maintenance as well as his own.

In 1833, two years after Miller began to present in public theevidences of Christ’s soon coming, the last of the signs appearedwhich were promised by the Saviour as tokens of His second advent.Said Jesus: “The stars shall fall from heaven.” Matthew 24:29. AndJohn in the Revelation declared, as he beheld in vision the scenes thatshould herald the day of God: “The stars of heaven fell unto the earth,even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of amighty wind.” Revelation 6:13. This prophecy received a strikingand impressive fulfillment in the great meteoric shower of November13, 1833. That was the most extensive and wonderful display offalling stars which has ever been recorded; “the whole firmament,over all the United States, being then, for hours, in fiery commotion!No celestial phenomenon has ever occurred in this country, sinceits first settlement, which was viewed with such intense admirationby one class in the community, or with so much dread and alarm byanother.” “Its sublimity and awful beauty still linger in many minds....Never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell toward theearth; east, west, north, and south, it was the same. In a word, thewhole heavens seemed in motion.... The display, as described inProfessor Silliman’sJournal,was seen all over North America.... From two o’clock until broad daylight, the sky being perfectly serene and cloudless, an incessant play of dazzlingly brilliant luminosities was kept up in the whole heavens.”—R. M. Devens,American Progress; or, The Great Events of the Greatest Century,ch. 28, pars. 1-5.

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“No language, indeed, can come up to the splendor of that magnificent display; ... no one who did not witness it can form anadequate conception of its glory. It seemed as if the whole starryheavens had congregated at one point near the zenith, and were simultaneously shooting forth, with the velocity of lightning, to everypart of the horizon; and yet they were not exhausted—thousandsswiftly followed in the tracks of thousands, as if created for theoccasion.”—F. Reed, in the Christian Advocate and Journal, Dec.13, 1833. “A more correct picture of a fig tree casting its figs whenblown by a mighty wind, it was not possible to behold.”—“The OldCountryman,” in Portland Evening Advertiser, November 26, 1833.

In the New York Journal of Commerce of November 14, 1833,appeared a long article regarding this wonderful phenomenon, containing this statement: “No philosopher or scholar has told orrecorded an event, I suppose, like that of yesterday morning. Aprophet eighteen hundred years ago foretold it exactly, if we will beat the trouble of understanding stars falling to mean falling stars, the only sense in which it is possible to be literally true.”

Thus was displayed the last of those signs of His coming, concerning which Jesus bade His disciples: “When ye shall see all thesethings, know that it is near, even at the doors.” Matthew 24:33. Afterthese signs, John beheld, as the great event next impending, theheavens departing as a scroll, while the earth quaked, mountains andislands removed out of their places, and the wicked in terror soughtto flee from the presence of the Son of man. Revelation 6:12-17.

Many who witnessed the falling of the stars, looked upon it as aherald of the coming judgment, “an awful type, a sure forerunner, amerciful sign, of that great and dreadful day.”—“The Old Countryman,” in Portland Evening Advertiser, November 26, 1833. Thus theattention of the people was directed to the fulfillment of prophecy,and many were led to give heed to the warning of the second advent.


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In the year 1840 another remarkable fulfillment of prophecyexcited widespread interest. Two years before, Josiah Litch, oneof the leading ministers preaching the second advent, published anexposition of Revelation 9, predicting the fall of the Ottoman Empire.According to his calculations, this power was to be overthrown “inA.D. 1840, sometime in the month of August;” and only a few daysprevious to its accomplishment he wrote: “Allowing the first period,150 years, to have been exactly fulfilled before Deacozes ascendedthe throne by permission of the Turks, and that the 391 years, fifteendays, commenced at the close of the first period, it will end on the11th of August, 1840, when the Ottoman power in Constantinoplemay be expected to be broken. And this, I believe, will be found tobe the case.”—Josiah Litch, in Signs of the Times, and Expositor ofProphecy, August 1, 1840.

At the very time specified, Turkey, through her ambassadors,accepted the protection of the allied powers of Europe, and thusplaced herself under the control of Christian nations. The eventexactly fulfilled the prediction. (See Appendix.) When it becameknown, multitudes were convinced of the correctness of the principles of prophetic interpretation adopted by Miller and his associates,and a wonderful impetus was given to the advent movement. Menof learning and position united with Miller, both in preaching andin publishing his views, and from 1840 to 1844 the work rapidlyextended.

William Miller possessed strong mental powers, disciplined bythought and study; and he added to these the wisdom of heavenby connecting himself with the Source of wisdom. He was a manof sterling worth, who could not but command respect and esteemwherever integrity of character and moral excellence were valued.Uniting true kindness of heart with Christian humility and the powerof self-control, he was attentive and affable to all, ready to listento the opinions of others and to weigh their arguments. Withoutpassion or excitement he tested all theories and doctrines by theword of God, and his sound reasoning and thorough knowledge ofthe Scriptures enabled him to refute error and expose falsehood.

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Yet he did not prosecute his work without bitter opposition. As with earlier Reformers, the truths which he presented were not received with favor by popular religious teachers. As these couldnot maintain their position by the Scriptures, they were driven toresort to the sayings and doctrines of men, to the traditions of theFathers. But the word of God was the only testimony accepted bythe preachers of the advent truth. “The Bible, and the Bible only,”was their watchword. The lack of Scripture argument on the part oftheir opponents was supplied by ridicule and scoffing. Time, means,and talents were employed in maligning those whose only offensewas that they looked with joy for the return of their Lord and werestriving to live holy lives and to exhort others to prepare for Hisappearing.

Earnest were the efforts put forth to draw away the minds ofthe people from the subject of the second advent. It was made toappear a sin, something of which men should be ashamed, to studythe prophecies which relate to the coming of Christ and the end ofthe world. Thus the popular ministry undermined faith in the wordof God. Their teaching made men infidels, and many took licenseto walk after their own ungodly lusts. Then the authors of the evilcharged it all upon Adventists.

While drawing crowded houses of intelligent and attentive hearers, Miller’s name was seldom mentioned by the religious pressexcept by way of ridicule or denunciation. The careless and ungodly emboldened by the position of religious teachers, resorted toopprobrious epithets, to base and blasphemous witticisms, in theirefforts to heap contumely upon him and his work. The gray-headedman who had left a comfortable home to travel at his own expensefrom city to city, from town to town, toiling unceasingly to bear tothe world the solemn warning of the judgment near, was sneeringlydenounced as a fanatic, a liar, a speculating knave.

The ridicule, falsehood, and abuse heaped upon him called forthindignant remonstrance, even from the secular press. “To treat asubject of such overwhelming majesty and fearful consequences,”with lightness and ribaldry was declared by worldly men to be “notmerely to sport with the feelings of its propagators and advocates,”but “to make a jest of the day of judgment, to scoff at the DeityHimself, and contemn the terrors of His judgment bar.”—Bliss, page183.


The instigator of all evil sought not only to counteract the effect of the advent message, but to destroy the messenger himself. Millermade a practical application of Scripture truth to the hearts of hishearers, reproving their sins and disturbing their self-satisfaction,and his plain and cutting words aroused their enmity. The oppositionmanifested by church members toward his message emboldened thebaser classes to go to greater lengths; and enemies plotted to takehis life as he should leave the place of meeting. But holy angelswere in the throng, and one of these, in the form of a man, took thearm of this servant of the Lord and led him in safety from the angrymob. His work was not yet done, and Satan and his emissaries weredisappointed in their purpose.

Despite all opposition, the interest in the advent movement hadcontinued to increase. From scores and hundreds, the congregationshad grown to as many thousands. Large accessions had been madeto the various churches, but after a time the spirit of opposition wasmanifested even against these converts, and the churches began totake disciplinary steps with those who had embraced Miller’s views.This action called forth a response from his pen, in an address toChristians of all denominations, urging that if his doctrines werefalse, he should be shown his error from the Scriptures.

“What have we believed,” he said, “that we have not been commanded to believe by the word of God, which you yourselves allowis the rule, and only rule, of our faith and practice? What have wedone that should call down such virulent denunciations against usfrom pulpit and press, and give you just cause to exclude us [Adventists] from your churches and fellowship?” “If we are wrong,pray show us wherein consists our wrong. Show us from the wordof God that we are in error; we have had ridicule enough; thatcan never convince us that we are in the wrong; the word of Godalone can change our views. Our conclusions have been formeddeliberately and prayerfully, as we have seen the evidence in the Scriptures.”—Ibid., pages 250, 252.

From age to age the warnings which God has sent to the world byHis servants have been received with like incredulity and unbelief.When the iniquity of the antediluvians moved Him to bring a floodof waters upon the earth, He first made known to them His purpose,that they might have opportunity to turn from their evil ways. For ahundred and twenty years was sounded in their ears the warning torepent, lest the wrath of God be manifested in their destruction.


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Butthe message seemed to them an idle tale, and they believed it not.Emboldened in their wickedness they mocked the messenger of God,made light of his entreaties, and even accused him of presumption.How dare one man stand up against all the great men of the earth?If Noah’s message were true, why did not all the world see it andbelieve it? One man’s assertion against the wisdom of thousands!They would not credit the warning, nor would they seek shelter inthe ark.

Scoffers pointed to the things of nature,—to the unvarying succession of the seasons, to the blue skies that had never poured outrain, to the green fields refreshed by the soft dews of night,—andthey cried out: “Doth he not speak parables?” In contempt theydeclared the preacher of righteousness to be a wild enthusiast; andthey went on, more eager in their pursuit of pleasure, more intentupon their evil ways, than before. But their unbelief did not hinderthe predicted event. God bore long with their wickedness, givingthem ample opportunity for repentance; but at the appointed timeHis judgments were visited upon the rejecters of His mercy.

Christ declares that there will exist similar unbelief concerningHis second coming. As the people of Noah’s day “knew not untilthe Flood came, and took them all away; so,” in the words of ourSaviour, “shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew24:39. When the professed people of God are uniting with the world,living as they live, and joining with them in forbidden pleasures;when the luxury of the world becomes the luxury of the church;when the marriage bells are chiming, and all are looking forward tomany years of worldly prosperity—then, suddenly as the lightningflashes from the heavens, will come the end of their bright visionsand delusive hopes.

As God sent His servant to warn the world of the coming Flood,so He sent chosen messengers to make known the nearness of thefinal judgment. And as Noah’s contemporaries laughed to scornthe predictions of the preacher of righteousness, so in Miller’s daymany, even of the professed people of God, scoffed at the words ofwarning.


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And why were the doctrine and preaching of Christ’s second coming so unwelcome to the churches? While to the wicked the advent of the Lord brings woe and desolation, to the righteous it isfraught with joy and hope. This great truth had been the consolation of God’s faithful ones through all the ages; why had it become,like its Author, “a stone of stumbling” and “a rock of offense” toHis professed people? It was our Lord Himself who promised Hisdisciples: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,and receive you unto Myself.” John 14:3. It was the compassionateSaviour, who, anticipating the loneliness and sorrow of His followers, commissioned angels to comfort them with the assurance thatHe would come again in person, even as He went into heaven. Asthe disciples stood gazing intently upward to catch the last glimpseof Him whom they loved, their attention was arrested by the words:“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this sameJesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come inlike manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11. Hopewas kindled afresh by the angels’ message. The disciples “returnedto Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple,praising and blessing God.” Luke 24:52, 53. They were not rejoicingbecause Jesus had been separated from them and they were left tostruggle with the trials and temptations of the world, but because ofthe angels’ assurance that He would come again.


The proclamation of Christ’s coming should now be, as whenmade by the angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem, good tidings ofgreat joy. Those who really love the Saviour cannot but hail withgladness the announcement founded upon the word of God that Hein whom their hopes of eternal life are centered is coming again,not to be insulted, despised, and rejected, as at His first advent, butin power and glory, to redeem His people. It is those who do notlove the Saviour that desire Him to remain away, and there can beno more conclusive evidence that the churches have departed fromGod than the irritation and animosity excited by this Heaven-sentmessage.

Those who accepted the advent doctrine were roused to thenecessity of repentance and humiliation before God. Many had longbeen halting between Christ and the world; now they felt that it wastime to take a stand. “The things of eternity assumed to them anunwonted reality. Heaven was brought near, and they felt themselvesguilty before God.”—Bliss, page 146.

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Christians were quickened to new spiritual life. They were made to feel that time was short, thatwhat they had to do for their fellow men must be done quickly. Earthreceded, eternity seemed to open before them, and the soul, withall that pertained to its immortal weal or woe, was felt to eclipseevery temporal object. The Spirit of God rested upon them and gavepower to their earnest appeals to their brethren, as well as to sinners,to prepare for the day of God. The silent testimony of their daily lifewas a constant rebuke to formal and unconsecrated church members.These did not wish to be disturbed in their pursuit of pleasure, theirdevotion to money-making, and their ambition for worldly honor.Hence the enmity and opposition excited against the advent faithand those who proclaimed it.

As the arguments from the prophetic periods were found to beimpregnable, opposers endeavored to discourage investigation of thesubject by teaching that the prophecies were sealed. Thus Protestants followed in the steps of Romanists. While the papal churchwithholds the Bible (see Appendix) from the people, Protestantchurches claimed that an important part of the Sacred Word—andthat the part which brings to view truths specially applicable to ourtime—could not be understood.

Ministers and people declared that the prophecies of Danieland the Revelation were incomprehensible mysteries. But Christdirected His disciples to the words of the prophet Daniel concerningevents to take place in their time, and said: “Whoso readeth, let himunderstand.” Matthew 24:15. And the assertion that the Revelationis a mystery, not to be understood, is contradicted by the very titleof the book: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave untoHim, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come topass.... Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words ofthis prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: forthe time is at hand.” Revelation 1:1-3.

Says the prophet: “Blessed is he that readeth”—there are thosewho will not read; the blessing is not for them. “And they thathear”—there are some, also, who refuse to hear anything concerningthe prophecies; the blessing is not for this class. “And keep thosethings which are written therein”—many refuse to heed the warningsand instructions contained in the Revelation; none of these can claimthe blessing promised. All who ridicule the subjects of the prophecyand mock at the symbols here solemnly given, all who refuse toreform their lives and to prepare for the coming of the Son of man, will be unblessed.


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In view of the testimony of Inspiration, how dare men teachthat the Revelation is a mystery beyond the reach of human understanding? It is a mystery revealed, a book opened. The study of theRevelation directs the mind to the prophecies of Daniel, and bothpresent most important instruction, given of God to men, concerningevents to take place at the close of this world’s history.

To John were opened scenes of deep and thrilling interest in theexperience of the church. He saw the position, dangers, conflicts,and final deliverance of the people of God. He records the closingmessages which are to ripen the harvest of the earth, either as sheavesfor the heavenly garner or as fagots for the fires of destruction.Subjects of vast importance were revealed to him, especially for thelast church, that those who should turn from error to truth might beinstructed concerning the perils and conflicts before them. Noneneed be in darkness in regard to what is coming upon the earth.

Why, then, this widespread ignorance concerning an importantpart of Holy Writ? Why this general reluctance to investigate itsteachings? It is the result of a studied effort of the prince of darkness to conceal from men that which reveals his deceptions. Forthis reason, Christ the Revelator, foreseeing the warfare that wouldbe waged against the study of the Revelation, pronounced a blessing upon all who should read, hear, and observe the words of theprophecy.

Chapter 19—Light Through Darkness

The work of God in the earth presents, from age to age, a strikingsimilarity in every great reformation or religious movement. Theprinciples of God’s dealing with men are ever the same. The important movements of the present have their parallel in those of the past,and the experience of the church in former ages has lessons of greatvalue for our own time.

No truth is more clearly taught in the Bible than that God byHis Holy Spirit especially directs His servants on earth in the greatmovements for the carrying forward of the work of salvation. Menare instruments in the hand of God, employed by Him to accomplishHis purposes of grace and mercy. Each has his part to act; to eachis granted a measure of light, adapted to the necessities of his time,and sufficient to enable him to perform the work which God hasgiven him to do. But no man, however honored of Heaven, hasever attained to a full understanding of the great plan of redemption,or even to a perfect appreciation of the divine purpose in the workfor his own time. Men do not fully understand what God wouldaccomplish by the work which He gives them to do; they do notcomprehend, in all its bearings, the message which they utter in Hisname.

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out theAlmighty unto perfection?” “My thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavensare higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, andMy thoughts than your thoughts.” “I am God, and there is none likeMe, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient timesthe things that are not yet done.” Job 11:7; Isaiah 55:8, 9; 46:9, 10.

Even the prophets who were favored with the special illuminationof the Spirit did not fully comprehend the import of the revelationscommitted to them. The meaning was to be unfolded from ageto age, as the people of God should need the instruction thereincontained.



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Peter, writing of the salvation brought to light through the gospel,says: Of this salvation “the prophets have inquired and searcheddiligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ whichwas in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings ofChrist, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed,that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister.” 1 Peter1:10-12.

Yet while it was not given to the prophets to understand fullythe things revealed to them, they earnestly sought to obtain all thelight which God had been pleased to make manifest. They “inquiredand searched diligently,” “searching what, or what manner of timethe Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify.” What a lessonto the people of God in the Christian age, for whose benefit theseprophecies were given to His servants! “Unto whom it was revealed,that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister.” Witnessthose holy men of God as they “inquired and searched diligently”concerning revelations given them for generations that were yetunborn. Contrast their holy zeal with the listless unconcern withwhich the favored ones of later ages treat this gift of Heaven. What arebuke to the ease-loving, world-loving indifference which is contentto declare that the prophecies cannot be understood!

Though the finite minds of men are inadequate to enter into thecounsels of the Infinite One, or to understand fully the working outof His purposes, yet often it is because of some error or neglecton their own part that they so dimly comprehend the messages ofHeaven. Not infrequently the minds of the people, and even of God’sservants, are so blinded by human opinions, the traditions and falseteaching of men, that they are able only partially to grasp the greatthings which He has revealed in His word. Thus it was with thedisciples of Christ, even when the Saviour was with them in person.Their minds had become imbued with the popular conception of theMessiah as a temporal prince, who was to exalt Israel to the throneof the universal empire, and they could not understand the meaningof His words foretelling His sufferings and death.

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Christ Himself had sent them forth with the message: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”Mark 1:15. That message was based on the prophecyof Daniel 9. The sixty-nine weeks were declared by the angel toextend to “the Messiah the Prince,” and with high hopes and joyfulanticipations the disciples looked forward to the establishment ofMessiah’s kingdom at Jerusalem to rule over the whole earth.

They preached the message which Christ had committed to them,though they themselves misapprehended its meaning. While theirannouncement was founded on Daniel 9:25, they did not see, in thenext verse of the same chapter, that Messiah was to be cut off. Fromtheir very birth their hearts had been set upon the anticipated gloryof an earthly empire, and this blinded their understanding alike tothe specifications of the prophecy and to the words of Christ.

They performed their duty in presenting to the Jewish nation theinvitation of mercy, and then, at the very time when they expected tosee their Lord ascend the throne of David, they beheld Him seizedas a malefactor, scourged, derided, and condemned, and lifted up onthe cross of Calvary. What despair and anguish wrung the hearts ofthose disciples during the days while their Lord was sleeping in thetomb!

Christ had come at the exact time and in the manner foretold byprophecy. The testimony of Scripture had been fulfilled in everydetail of His ministry. He had preached the message of salvation, and“His word was with power.” The hearts of His hearers had witnessedthat it was of Heaven. The word and the Spirit of God attested thedivine commission of His Son.

The disciples still clung with undying affection to their belovedMaster. And yet their minds were shrouded in uncertainty and doubt.In their anguish they did not then recall the words of Christ pointingforward to His suffering and death. If Jesus of Nazareth had beenthe true Messiah, would they have been thus plunged in grief anddisappointment? This was the question that tortured their souls whilethe Saviour lay in His sepulcher during the hopeless hours of thatSabbath which intervened between His death and His resurrection.

Though the night of sorrow gathered dark about these followersof Jesus, yet were they not forsaken. Saith the prophet: “When Isit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.... He will bringme forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness.” “Yea,the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day:the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.”


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God hath spoken:“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness.” “I will bringthe blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths thatthey have not known: I will make darkness light before them, andcrooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and notforsake them.” Micah 7:8, 9; Psalm 139:12; 112:4; Isaiah 42:16.

The announcement which had been made by the disciples in thename of the Lord was in every particular correct, and the events towhich it pointed were even then taking place. “The time is fulfilled,the kingdom of God is at hand,” had been their message. At theexpiration of “the time”—the sixty-nine weeks of Daniel 9, whichwere to extend to the Messiah, “the Anointed One”—Christ hadreceived the anointing of the Spirit after His baptism by John inJordan. And the “kingdom of God” which they had declared to beat hand was established by the death of Christ. This kingdom wasnot, as they had been taught to believe, an earthly empire. Nor wasit that future, immortal kingdom which shall be set up when “thekingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under thewhole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the MostHigh;” that everlasting kingdom, in which “all dominions shall serveand obey Him.” Daniel 7:27. As used in the Bible, the expression“kingdom of God” is employed to designate both the kingdom ofgrace and the kingdom of glory. The kingdom of grace is brought toview by Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews. After pointing to Christ,the compassionate intercessor who is “touched with the feeling ofour infirmities,” the apostle says: “Let us therefore come boldlyunto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace.”Hebrews 4:15, 16. The throne of grace represents the kingdomof grace; for the existence of a throne implies the existence of akingdom. In many of His parables Christ uses the expression “thekingdom of heaven” to designate the work of divine grace upon thehearts of men.

So the throne of glory represents the kingdom of glory; and thiskingdom is referred to in the Saviour’s words: “When the Son ofman shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, thenshall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall begathered all nations.” Matthew 25:31, 32. This kingdom is yet future.It is not to be set up until the second advent of Christ.

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The kingdom of grace was instituted immediately after the fallof man, when a plan was devised for the redemption of the guiltyrace. It then existed in the purpose and by the promise of God; andthrough faith, men could become its subjects. Yet it was not actuallyestablished until the death of Christ. Even after entering upon Hisearthly mission, the Saviour, wearied with the stubbornness andingratitude of men, might have drawn back from the sacrifice ofCalvary. In Gethsemane the cup of woe trembled in His hand. Hemight even then have wiped the blood-sweat from His brow andhave left the guilty race to perish in their iniquity. Had He done this,there could have been no redemption for fallen men. But when theSaviour yielded up His life, and with His expiring breath cried out,“It is finished,” then the fulfillment of the plan of redemption wasassured. The promise of salvation made to the sinful pair in Edenwas ratified. The kingdom of grace, which had before existed by thepromise of God, was then established.

Thus the death of Christ—the very event which the discipleshad looked upon as the final destruction of their hope—was thatwhich made it forever sure. While it had brought them a crueldisappointment, it was the climax of proof that their belief had beencorrect. The event that had filled them with mourning and despairwas that which opened the door of hope to every child of Adam, andin which centered the future life and eternal happiness of all God’sfaithful ones in all the ages.

Purposes of infinite mercy were reaching their fulfillment, eventhrough the disappointment of the disciples. While their heartshad been won by the divine grace and power of His teaching, who“spake as never man spake,” yet intermingled with the pure gold oftheir love for Jesus, was the base alloy of worldly pride and selfishambitions. Even in the Passover chamber, at that solemn hour whentheir Master was already entering the shadow of Gethsemane, therewas “a strife among them, which of them should be accounted thegreatest.” Luke 22:24. Their vision was filled with the throne, thecrown, and the glory, while just before them lay the shame andagony of the garden, the judgment hall, the cross of Calvary. It wastheir pride of heart, their thirst for worldly glory, that had led themto cling so tenaciously to the false teaching of their time, and topass unheeded the Saviour’s words showing the true nature of Hiskingdom, and pointing forward to His agony and death.


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And theseerrors resulted in the trial—sharp but needful—which was permittedfor their correction. Though the disciples had mistaken the meaningof their message, and had failed to realize their expectations, yetthey had preached the warning given them of God, and the Lordwould reward their faith and honor their obedience. To them was tobe entrusted the work of heralding to all nations the glorious gospelof their risen Lord. It was to prepare them for this work that theexperience which seemed to them so bitter had been permitted.

After His resurrection Jesus appeared to His disciples on theway to Emmaus, and, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, Heexpounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerningHimself.” Luke 24:27. The hearts of the disciples were stirred.Faith was kindled. They were “begotten again into a lively hope”even before Jesus revealed Himself to them. It was His purposeto enlighten their understanding and to fasten their faith upon the“sure word of prophecy.” He wished the truth to take firm root intheir minds, not merely because it was supported by His personaltestimony, but because of the unquestionable evidence presented bythe symbols and shadows of the typical law, and by the propheciesof the Old Testament. It was needful for the followers of Christ tohave an intelligent faith, not only in their own behalf, but that theymight carry the knowledge of Christ to the world. And as the veryfirst step in imparting this knowledge, Jesus directed the disciplesto “Moses and all the prophets.” Such was the testimony given bythe risen Saviour to the value and importance of the Old TestamentScriptures.


What a change was wrought in the hearts of the disciples asthey looked once more on the loved countenance of their Master!Luke 24:32. In a more complete and perfect sense than ever beforethey had “found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets,did write.” The uncertainty, the anguish, the despair, gave place toperfect assurance, to unclouded faith. What marvel that after Hisascension they “were continually in the temple, praising and blessingGod.” The people, knowing only of the Saviour’s ignominious death,looked to see in their faces the expression of sorrow, confusion, anddefeat; but they saw there gladness and triumph. What a preparationthese disciples had received for the work before them!

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They hadpassed through the deepest trial which it was possible for them toexperience, and had seen how, when to human vision all was lost, theword of God had been triumphantly accomplished. Henceforwardwhat could daunt their faith or chill the ardor of their love? In thekeenest sorrow they had “strong consolation,” a hope which wasas “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” Hebrews 6:18,19. They had been witness to the wisdom and power of God, andthey were “persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, norprincipalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, norheight, nor depth, nor any other creature,” would be able to separatethem from “the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” “Inall these things,” they said, “we are more than conquerors throughHim that loved us.” Romans 8:38, 39, 37. “The word of the Lordendureth forever.” 1 Peter 1:25. And “who is he that condemneth? Itis Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at theright hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans8:34.

Saith the Lord: “My people shall never be ashamed.” Joel 2:26.“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”Psalm 30:5. When on His resurrection day these disciples met theSaviour, and their hearts burned within them as they listened to Hiswords; when they looked upon the head and hands and feet that hadbeen bruised for them; when, before His ascension, Jesus led themout as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands in blessing, badethem, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel,” adding, “Lo,I am with you alway” (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:20); when on theDay of Pentecost the promised Comforter descended and the powerfrom on high was given and the souls of the believers thrilled withthe conscious presence of their ascended Lord—then, even though,like His, their pathway led through sacrifice and martyrdom, wouldthey have exchanged the ministry of the gospel of His grace, withthe “crown of righteousness” to be received at His coming, for theglory of an earthly throne, which had been the hope of their earlierdiscipleship? He who is “able to do exceeding abundantly above allthat we ask or think,” had granted them, with the fellowship of Hissufferings, the communion of His joy—the joy of “bringing manysons unto glory,” joy unspeakable, an “eternal weight of glory,” towhich, says Paul, “our light affliction, which is but for a moment,” is “not worthy to be compared.”


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The experience of the disciples who preached the “gospel ofthe kingdom” at the first advent of Christ, had its counterpart inthe experience of those who proclaimed the message of His secondadvent. As the disciples went out preaching, “The time is fulfilled,the kingdom of God is at hand,” so Miller and his associates proclaimed that the longest and last prophetic period brought to view inthe Bible was about to expire, that the judgment was at hand, andthe everlasting kingdom was to be ushered in. The preaching ofthe disciples in regard to time was based on the seventy weeks ofDaniel 9. The message given by Miller and his associates announcedthe termination of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, of which the seventy weeks form a part. The preaching of each was based upon thefulfillment of a different portion of the same great prophetic period.

Like the first disciples, William Miller and his associates did not,themselves, fully comprehend the import of the message which theybore. Errors that had been long established in the church preventedthem from arriving at a correct interpretation of an important point inthe prophecy. Therefore, though they proclaimed the message whichGod had committed to them to be given to the world, yet through amisapprehension of its meaning they suffered disappointment.

In explaining Daniel 8:14, “Unto two thousand and three hundreddays; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” Miller, as has been stated,adopted the generally received view that the earth is the sanctuary,and he believed that the cleansing of the sanctuary represented thepurification of the earth by fire at the coming of the Lord. When,therefore, he found that the close of the 2300 days was definitelyforetold, he concluded that this revealed the time of the secondadvent. His error resulted from accepting the popular view as towhat constitutes the sanctuary.

In the typical system, which was a shadow of the sacrifice andpriesthood of Christ, the cleansing of the sanctuary was the last service performed by the high priest in the yearly round of ministration.It was the closing work of the atonement—a removal or putting awayof sin from Israel. It prefigured the closing work in the ministrationof our High Priest in heaven, in the removal or blotting out of thesins of His people, which are registered in the heavenly records.

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This service involves a work of investigation, a work of judgment;and it immediately precedes the coming of Christ in the clouds ofheaven with power and great glory; for when He comes, every casehas been decided. Says Jesus: “My reward is with Me, to give everyman according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12. It is thiswork of judgment, immediately preceding the second advent, thatis announced in the first angel’s message of Revelation 14:7: “FearGod, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.”

Those who proclaimed this warning gave the right message at theright time. But as the early disciples declared, “The time is fulfilled,and the kingdom of God is at hand,“ based on the prophecy of Daniel9, while they failed to perceive that the death of the Messiah wasforetold in the same scripture, so Miller and his associates preachedthe message based on Daniel 8:14 and Revelation 14:7, and failed tosee that there were still other messages brought to view in Revelation14, which were also to be given before the advent of the Lord. Asthe disciples were mistaken in regard to the kingdom to be set upat the end of the seventy weeks, so Adventists were mistaken inregard to the event to take place at the expiration of the 2300 days.In both cases there was an acceptance of, or rather an adherenceto, popular errors that blinded the mind to the truth. Both classesfulfilled the will of God in delivering the message which He desiredto be given, and both, through their own misapprehension of theirmessage, suffered disappointment.

Yet God accomplished His own beneficent purpose in permittingthe warning of the judgment to be given just as it was. The great daywas at hand, and in His providence the people were brought to thetest of a definite time, in order to reveal to them what was in theirhearts. The message was designed for the testing and purificationof the church. They were to be led to see whether their affectionswere set upon this world or upon Christ and heaven. They professedto love the Saviour; now they were to prove their love. Were theyready to renounce their worldly hopes and ambitions, and welcomewith joy the advent of their Lord? The message was designed toenable them to discern their true spiritual state; it was sent in mercyto arouse them to seek the Lord with repentance and humiliation.


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The disappointment also, though the result of their own misapprehension of the message which they gave, was to be overruled forgood. It would test the hearts of those who had professed to receivethe warning. In the face of their disappointment would they rashlygive up their experience and cast away their confidence in God’sword? or would they, in prayer and humility, seek to discern wherethey had failed to comprehend the significance of the prophecy?How many had moved from fear, or from impulse and excitement?How many were halfhearted and unbelieving? Multitudes professedto love the appearing of the Lord. When called to endure the scoffsand reproach of the world, and the test of delay and disappointment,would they renounce the faith? Because they did not immediatelyunderstand the dealings of God with them, would they cast asidetruths sustained by the clearest testimony of His word?

This test would reveal the strength of those who with real faithhad obeyed what they believed to be the teaching of the word andthe Spirit of God. It would teach them, as only such an experiencecould, the danger of accepting the theories and interpretations ofmen, instead of making the Bible its own interpreter. To the childrenof faith the perplexity and sorrow resulting from their error wouldwork the needed correction. They would be led to a closer study ofthe prophetic word. They would be taught to examine more carefullythe foundation of their faith, and to reject everything, however widelyaccepted by the Christian world, that was not founded upon theScriptures of truth.

With these believers, as with the first disciples, that which in thehour of trial seemed dark to their understanding would afterward bemade plain. When they should see the “end of the Lord” they wouldknow that, notwithstanding the trial resulting from their errors, Hispurposes of love toward them had been steadily fulfilling. Theywould learn by a blessed experience that He is “very pitiful, and oftender mercy;” that all His paths “are mercy and truth unto such askeep His covenant and His testimonies.”

Chapter 20—A Great Religious Awakening

A Great religious awakening under the proclamation of Christ’ssoon coming is foretold in the prophecy of the first angel’s messageof Revelation 14. An angel is seen flying “in the midst of heaven,having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on theearth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.”“With a loud voice” he proclaims the message: “Fear God, and giveglory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worshipHim that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains ofwaters.” Verses 6, 7.

The fact that an angel is said to be the herald of this warning issignificant. By the purity, the glory, and the power of the heavenlymessenger, divine wisdom has been pleased to represent the exaltedcharacter of the work to be accomplished by the message and thepower and glory that were to attend it. And the angel’s flight “inthe midst of heaven,” the “loud voice” with which the warning isuttered, and its promulgation to all “that dwell on the earth,”—“toevery nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,”—give evidenceof the rapidity and world-wide extent of the movement.

The message itself sheds light as to the time when this movementis to take place. It is declared to be a part of the “everlasting gospel;”and it announces the opening of the judgment. The message ofsalvation has been preached in all ages; but this message is a partof the gospel which could be proclaimed only in the last days, foronly then would it be true that the hour of judgment had come.The prophecies present a succession of events leading down to theopening of the judgment. This is especially true of the book ofDaniel. But that part of his prophecy which related to the last days,Daniel was bidden to close up and seal “to the time of the end.” Nottill we reach this time could a message concerning the judgment beproclaimed, based on the fulfillment of these prophecies. But at thetime of the end, says the prophet, “many shall run to and fro, andknowledge shall be increased.” Daniel 12:4.



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The apostle Paul warned the church not to look for the comingof Christ in his day. “That day shall not come,” he says, “exceptthere come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed.”2 Thessalonians 2:3. Not till after the great apostasy, and the longperiod of the reign of the “man of sin,” can we look for the adventof our Lord. The “man of sin,” which is also styled “the mysteryof iniquity,” “the son of perdition,” and “that wicked,” representsthe papacy, which, as foretold in prophecy, was to maintain itssupremacy for 1260 years. This period ended in 1798. The comingof Christ could not take place before that time. Paul covers with hiscaution the whole of the Christian dispensation down to the year1798. It is this side of that time that the message of Christ’s secondcoming is to be proclaimed.

No such message has ever been given in past ages. Paul, as wehave seen, did not preach it; he pointed his brethren into the thenfar-distant future for the coming of the Lord. The Reformers did notproclaim it. Martin Luther placed the judgment about three hundredyears in the future from his day. But since 1798 the book of Danielhas been unsealed, knowledge of the prophecies has increased, andmany have proclaimed the solemn message of the judgment near.

Like the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, the adventmovement appeared in different countries of Christendom at thesame time. In both Europe and America men of faith and prayer wereled to the study of the prophecies, and, tracing down the inspiredrecord, they saw convincing evidence that the end of all things wasat hand. In different lands there were isolated bodies of Christianswho, solely by the study of the Scriptures, arrived at the belief thatthe Saviour’s advent was near.

In 1821, three years after Miller had arrived at his expositionof the prophecies pointing to the time of the judgment, Dr. JosephWolff, “the missionary to the world,” began to proclaim the Lord’ssoon coming. Wolff was born in Germany, of Hebrew parentage, hisfather being a Jewish rabbi. While very young he was convincedof the truth of the Christian religion. Of an active, inquiring mind,he had been an eager listener to the conversations that took placein his father’s house as devout Hebrews daily assembled to recountthe hopes and anticipations of their people, the glory of the comingMessiah, and the restoration of Israel.

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One day hearing Jesus ofNazareth mentioned, the boy inquired who He was. “A Jew ofthe greatest talent,” was the answer; “but as He pretended to bethe Messiah, the Jewish tribunal sentenced Him to death.” “Why,”rejoined the questioner, “is Jerusalem destroyed, and why are wein captivity?” “Alas, alas!” answered his father, “because the Jewsmurdered the prophets.” The thought was at once suggested to thechild: “Perhaps Jesus was also a prophet, and the Jews killed Himwhen He was innocent.”—Travels and Adventures of the Rev. JosephWolff, vol. 1, p. 6. So strong was this feeling that, though forbiddento enter a Christian church, he would often linger outside to listen tothe preaching.

When only seven years old he was boasting to an aged Christianneighbor of the future triumph of Israel at the advent of the Messiah,when the old man said kindly: “Dear boy, I will tell you who the realMessiah was: He was Jesus of Nazareth, ... whom your ancestorshave crucified, as they did the prophets of old. Go home and readthe fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and you will be convinced that JesusChrist is the Son of God.”—Ibid., vol. 1, p. 7. Conviction at oncefastened upon him. He went home and read the scripture, wonderingto see how perfectly it had been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. Werethe words of the Christian true? The boy asked of his father anexplanation of the prophecy, but was met with a silence so stern thathe never again dared to refer to the subject. This, however, onlyincreased his desire to know more of the Christian religion.

The knowledge he sought was studiously kept from him in hisJewish home; but, when only eleven years old, he left his father’shouse and went out into the world to gain for himself an education,to choose his religion and his lifework. He found a home for a timewith kinsmen, but was soon driven from them as an apostate, andalone and penniless he had to make his own way among strangers.He went from place to place, studying diligently and maintaininghimself by teaching Hebrew. Through the influence of a Catholicinstructor he was led to accept the Romish faith and formed thepurpose of becoming a missionary to his own people. With thisobject he went, a few years later, to pursue his studies in the Collegeof the Propaganda at Rome. Here his habit of independent thoughtand candid speech brought upon him the imputation of heresy. Heopenly attacked the abuses of the church and urged the necessityof reform.


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Though at first treated with special favor by the papaldignitaries, he was after a time removed from Rome. Under thesurveillance of the church he went from place to place, until itbecame evident that he could never be brought to submit to thebondage of Romanism. He was declared to be incorrigible and wasleft at liberty to go where he pleased. He now made his way toEngland and, professing the Protestant faith, united with the EnglishChurch. After two years’ study he set out, in 1821, upon his mission.

While Wolff accepted the great truth of Christ’s first advent as“a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” he saw that theprophecies bring to view with equal clearness His second adventwith power and glory. And while he sought to lead his people toJesus of Nazareth as the Promised One, and to point them to His firstcoming in humiliation as a sacrifice for the sins of men, he taughtthem also of His second coming as a king and deliverer.

“Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah,” he said, “whose handsand feet were pierced, who was brought like a lamb to the slaughter,who was the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief, who afterthe scepter was taken from Judah, and the legislative power frombetween his feet, came the first time; shall come the second time inthe clouds of heaven, and with the trump of the Archangel” (JosephWolff, Researches and Missionary Labors, page 62) “and shall standupon the Mount of Olives; and that dominion, once consigned toAdam over the creation, and forfeited by him (Genesis 1:26; 3:17),shall be given to Jesus. He shall be king over all the earth. Thegroanings and lamentations of the creation shall cease, but songs ofpraises and thanksgivings shall be heard. ... When Jesus comes inthe glory of His Father, with the holy angels,... the dead believersshall rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:23. Thisis what we Christians call the first resurrection. Then the animalkingdom shall change its nature (Isaiah 11:6-9), and be subduedunto Jesus. Psalm 8. Universal peace shall prevail.”—Journal of theRev. Joseph Wolff, pages 378, 379. “The Lord again shall look downupon the earth, and say, ‘Behold, it is very good.’”—Ibid., page 294.

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Wolff believed the coming of the Lord to be at hand, his interpretation of the prophetic periods placing the great consummation within a very few years of the time pointed out by Miller. To those who urged from the scripture, “Of that day and hour knoweth noman,” that men are to know nothing concerning the nearness of theadvent, Wolff replied: “Did our Lord say that that day and hourshould never be known? Did He not give us signs of the times, inorder that we may know at least the approach of His coming, as oneknows the approach of the summer by the fig tree putting forth itsleaves? Matthew 24:32. Are we never to know that period, whilstHe Himself exhorteth us not only to read Daniel the prophet, butto understand it? and in that very Daniel, where it is said that thewords were shut up to the time of the end (which was the case inhis time), and that ‘many shall run to and fro’ (a Hebrew expression for observing and thinking upon the time), ‘and knowledge’(regarding that time) ‘shall be increased.’ Daniel 12:4. Besides this,our Lord does not intend to say by this, that the approach of thetime shall not be known, but that the exact ‘day and hour knowethno man.’ Enough, He does say, shall be known by the signs of thetimes, to induce us to prepare for His coming, as Noah prepared theark.”—Wolff, Researches and Missionary Labors, pages 404, 405.

Concerning the popular system of interpreting, or misinterpreting, the Scriptures, Wolff wrote: “The greater part of the Christianchurch have swerved from the plain sense of Scripture, and haveturned to the phantomizing system of the Buddhists, who believethat the future happiness of mankind will consist in moving aboutin the air, and suppose that when they are reading Jews they mustunderstand Gentiles; and when they read Jerusalem, they must understand the church; and if it is said earth, it means sky; and forcoming of the Lord they must understand the progress of the missionary societies; and going up to the mountain of the Lord’s house,signifies a grand class meeting of Methodists.”—Journal of the Rev.Joseph Wolff, page 96.

During the twenty-four years from 1821 to 1845, Wolff traveled extensively: in Africa, visiting Egypt and Abyssinia; in Asia,traversing Palestine, Syria, Persia, Bokhara, and India. He alsovisited the United States, on the journey thither preaching on theisland of Saint Helena. He arrived in New York in August, 1837;and, after speaking in that city, he preached in Philadelphia andBaltimore, and finally proceeded to Washington. Here, he says, “ona motion brought forward by the ex-President, John Quincy Adams,in one of the houses of Congress, the House unanimously grantedto me the use of the Congress Hall for a lecture, which I delivered on a Saturday, honored with the presence of all the members of Congress, and also of the bishop of Virginia, and of the clergy and citizens of Washington. The same honor was granted to me by the members of the government of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, in whose presence I delivered lectures on my researches in Asia, and also on the personal reign of Jesus Christ.”—Ibid.,pages 398, 399.


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Dr. Wolff traveled in the most barbarous countries without theprotection of any European authority, enduring many hardships andsurrounded with countless perils. He was bastinadoed and starved,sold as a slave, and three times condemned to death. He was besetby robbers, and sometimes nearly perished from thirst. Once he wasstripped of all that he possessed and left to travel hundreds of mileson foot through the mountains, the snow beating in his face and hisnaked feet benumbed by contact with the frozen ground.

When warned against going unarmed among savage and hostiletribes, he declared himself “provided with arms”—“prayer, zeal forChrist, and confidence in His help.” “I am also,” he said, “providedwith the love of God and my neighbor in my heart, and the Bible isin my hand.”—W.H.D. Adams, In Perils Oft, page 192. The Biblein Hebrew and English he carried with him wherever he went. Ofone of his later journeys he says: “I ... kept the Bible open in myhand. I felt my power was in the Book, and that its might wouldsustain me.”—Ibid., page 201.

Thus he persevered in his labors until the message of the judgment had been carried to a large part of the habitable globe. AmongJews, Turks, Parsees, Hindus, and many other nationalities and raceshe distributed the word of God in these various tongues and every-where heralded the approaching reign of the Messiah.

In his travels in Bokhara he found the doctrine of the Lord’s sooncoming held by a remote and isolated people. The Arabs of Yemen,he says, “are in possession of a book called Seera, which givesnotice of the second coming of Christ and His reign in glory; andthey expect great events to take place in the year 1840.”—Journal ofthe Rev. Joseph Wolff, page 377. “In Yemen ... I spent six days withthe children of Rechab. They drink no wine, plant no vineyard, sowno seed, and live in tents, and remember good old Jonadab, the sonof Rechab; and I found in their company children of Israel, of thetribe of Dan, ... who expect, with the children of Rechab, the speedy arrival of the Messiah in the clouds of heaven.”—Ibid.,page 389.

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A similar belief was found by another missionary to exist inTatary. A Tatar priest put the question to the missionary as to whenChrist would come the second time. When the missionary answeredthat he knew nothing about it, the priest seemed greatly surprisedat such ignorance in one who professed to be a Bible teacher, andstated his own belief, founded on prophecy, that Christ would comeabout 1844.

As early as 1826 the advent message began to be preached inEngland. The movement here did not take so definite a form as inAmerica; the exact time of the advent was not so generally taught,but the great truth of Christ’s soon coming in power and glory wasextensively proclaimed. And this not among the dissenters and nonconformists only. Mourant Brock, an English writer, states that aboutseven hundred ministers of the Church of England were engagedin preaching “this gospel of the kingdom.” The message pointingto 1844 as the time of the Lord’s coming was also given in GreatBritain. Advent publications from the United States were widelycirculated. Books and journals were republished in England. Andin 1842 Robert Winter, an Englishman by birth, who had receivedthe advent faith in America, returned to his native country to heraldthe coming of the Lord. Many united with him in the work, andthe message of the judgment was proclaimed in various parts ofEngland.

In South America, in the midst of barbarism and priestcraft,Lacunza, a Spaniard and a Jesuit, found his way to the Scripturesand thus received the truth of Christ’s speedy return. Impelled togive the warning, yet desiring to escape the censures of Rome,he published his views under the assumed name of “Rabbi Ben-Ezra,” representing himself as a converted Jew. Lacunza lived inthe eighteenth century, but it was about 1825 that his book, havingfound its way to London, was translated into the English language.Its publication served to deepen the interest already awakening inEngland in the subject of the second advent.


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In Germany the doctrine had been taught in the eighteenth century by Bengel, a minister in the Lutheran Church and a celebrated Biblical scholar and critic. Upon completing his education, Bengelhad “devoted himself to the study of theology, to which the graveand religious tone of his mind, deepened by his early training anddiscipline, naturally inclined him. Like other young men of thoughtful character, before and since, he had to struggle with doubts anddifficulties of a religious nature, and he alludes, with much feeling, to the ‘many arrows which pierced his poor heart, and madehis youth hard to bear.’” Becoming a member of the consistory ofWurttemberg, he advocated the cause of religious liberty. “Whilemaintaining the rights and privileges of the church, he was an advocate for all reasonable freedom being accorded to those who feltthemselves bound, on grounds of conscience, to withdraw from hercommunion.”—Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th ed., art. “Bengel.”The good effects of this policy are still felt in his native province.

It was while preparing a sermon from Revelation 21 for advent Sunday that the light of Christ’s second coming broke in uponBengel’s mind. The prophecies of the Revelation unfolded to hisunderstanding as never before. Overwhelmed with a sense of thestupendous importance and surpassing glory of the scenes presentedby the prophet, he was forced to turn for a time from the contemplation of the subject. In the pulpit it again presented itself to him withall its vividness and power. From that time he devoted himself tothe study of the prophecies, especially those of the Apocalypse, andsoon arrived at the belief that they pointed to the coming of Christ asnear. The date which he fixed upon as the time of the second adventwas within a very few years of that afterward held by Miller.

Bengel’s writings have been spread throughout Christendom.His views of prophecy were quite generally received in his own stateof Wurttemberg, and to some extent in other parts of Germany. Themovement continued after his death, and the advent message washeard in Germany at the same time that it was attracting attention inother lands. At an early date some of the believers went to Russiaand there formed colonies, and the faith of Christ’s soon coming isstill held by the German churches of that country.

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The light shone also in France and Switzerland. At Geneva where Farel and Calvin had spread the truth of the Reformation, Gaussen preached the message of the second advent. While a student at school, Gaussen had encountered that spirit of rationalism which pervaded all Europe during the latter part of the eighteenth and theopening of the nineteenth century; and when he entered the ministryhe was not only ignorant of true faith, but inclined to skepticism.In his youth he had become interested in the study of prophecy.After reading Rollin’s Ancient History, his attention was called tothe second chapter of Daniel, and he was struck with the wonderfulexactness with which the prophecy had been fulfilled, as seen in thehistorian’s record. Here was a testimony to the inspiration of theScriptures, which served as an anchor to him amid the perils of lateryears. He could not rest satisfied with the teachings of rationalism,and in studying the Bible and searching for clearer light he was, aftera time, led to a positive faith.

As he pursued his investigation of the prophecies he arrived atthe belief that the coming of the Lord was at hand. Impressed withthe solemnity and importance of this great truth, he desired to bringit before the people; but the popular belief that the prophecies ofDaniel are mysteries and cannot be understood was a serious obstaclein his way. He finally determined—as Farel had done before him inevangelizing Geneva—to begin with the children, through whom hehoped to interest the parents.

“I desire this to be understood,” he afterward said, speakingof his object in this undertaking, “it is not because of its smallimportance, but on the contrary because of its great value, that Iwished to present it in this familiar form, and that I addressed it tothe children. I desired to be heard, and I feared that I would not be if Iaddressed myself to the grown people first.” “I determined thereforeto go to the youngest. I gather an audience of children; if the groupenlarges, if it is seen that they listen, are pleased, interested, thatthey understand and explain the subject, I am sure to have a secondcircle soon, and in their turn, grown people will see that it is worththeir while to sit down and study. When this is done, the cause isgained.”—L. Gaussen, Daniel the Prophet, vol. 2, Preface.

The effort was successful. As he addressed the children, olderpersons came to listen. The galleries of his church were filled withattentive hearers. Among them were men of rank and learning, andstrangers and foreigners visiting Geneva; and thus the message wascarried to other parts.


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Encouraged by this success, Gaussen published his lessons, with the hope of promoting the study of the prophetic books inthe churches of the French-speaking people. “To publish instruction given to the children,” says Gaussen, “is to say to adults, whotoo often neglect such books under the false pretense that they areobscure, ‘How can they be obscure, since your children understandthem?’” “I had a great desire,” he adds, “to render a knowledge ofthe prophecies popular in our flocks, if possible.” “There is no study,indeed, which it seems to me answers the needs of the time better.”“It is by this that we are to prepare for the tribulation near at hand,and watch and wait for Jesus Christ.”

Though one of the most distinguished and beloved of preachersin the French language, Gaussen was after a time suspended fromthe ministry, his principal offense being that instead of the church’scatechism, a tame and rationalistic manual, almost destitute of positive faith, he had used the Bible in giving instruction to the youth. Heafterward became teacher in a theological school, while on Sundayhe continued his work as catechist, addressing the children and instructing them in the Scriptures. His works on prophecy also excitedmuch interest. From the professor’s chair, through the press, and inhis favorite occupation as teacher of children he continued for manyyears to exert an extensive influence and was instrumental in callingthe attention of many to the study of the prophecies which showedthat the coming of the Lord was near.

In Scandinavia also the advent message was proclaimed, anda widespread interest was kindled. Many were roused from theircareless security to confess and forsake their sins, and seek pardonin the name of Christ. But the clergy of the state church opposedthe movement, and through their influence some who preachedthe message were thrown into prison. In many places where thepreachers of the Lord’s soon coming were thus silenced, God waspleased to send the message, in a miraculous manner, through littlechildren. As they were under age, the law of the state could notrestrain them, and they were permitted to speak unmolested.

The movement was chiefly among the lower class, and it was inthe humble dwellings of the laborers that the people assembled tohear the warning. The child-preachers themselves were mostly poorcottagers. Some of them were not more than six or eight years ofage; and while their lives testified that they loved the Saviour, andwere trying to live in obedience to God’s holy requirements, theyordinarily manifested only the intelligence and ability usually seen in children of that age.

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When standing before the people, however, itwas evident that they were moved by an influence beyond their ownnatural gifts. Tone and manner changed, and with solemn powerthey gave the warning of the judgment, employing the very wordsof Scripture: “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour ofHis judgment is come.” They reproved the sins of the people, notonly condemning immorality and vice, but rebuking worldliness andbacksliding, and warning their hearers to make haste to flee fromthe wrath to come.

The people heard with trembling. The convicting Spirit of Godspoke to their hearts. Many were led to search the Scriptures withnew and deeper interest, the intemperate and immoral were reformed,others abandoned their dishonest practices, and a work was doneso marked that even ministers of the state church were forced toacknowledge that the hand of God was in the movement.

It was God’s will that the tidings of the Saviour’s coming shouldbe given in the Scandinavian countries; and when the voices ofHis servants were silenced, He put His Spirit upon the children,that the work might be accomplished. When Jesus drew near toJerusalem attended by the rejoicing multitudes that, with shouts oftriumph and the waving of palm branches, heralded Him as the Sonof David, the jealous Pharisees called upon Him to silence them; butJesus answered that all this was in fulfillment of prophecy, and ifthese should hold their peace, the very stones would cry out. Thepeople, intimidated by the threats of the priests and rulers, ceasedtheir joyful proclamation as they entered the gates of Jerusalem; butthe children in the temple courts afterward took up the refrain, and,waving their branches of palm, they cried: “Hosanna to the Son ofDavid!” Matthew 21:8-16. When the Pharisees, sorely displeased,said unto Him, “Hearest Thou what these say?” Jesus answered,“Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklingsThou hast perfected praise?” As God wrought through children at thetime of Christ’s first advent, so He wrought through them in givingthe message of His second advent. God’s word must be fulfilled,that the proclamation of the Saviour’s coming should be given to allpeoples, tongues, and nations.


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To William Miller and his colaborers it was given to preach thewarning in America. This country became the center of the greatadvent movement. It was here that the prophecy of the first angel’smessage had its most direct fulfillment. The writings of Miller andhis associates were carried to distant lands. Wherever missionarieshad penetrated in all the world, were sent the glad tidings of Christ’sspeedy return. Far and wide spread the message of the everlastinggospel: “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of Hisjudgment is come.”

The testimony of the prophecies which seemed to point to thecoming of Christ in the spring of 1844 took deep hold of the mindsof the people. As the message went from state to state, there waseverywhere awakened widespread interest. Many were convincedthat the arguments from the prophetic periods were correct, and,sacrificing their pride of opinion, they joyfully received the truth.Some ministers laid aside their sectarian views and feelings, left theirsalaries and their churches, and united in proclaiming the comingof Jesus. There were comparatively few ministers, however, whowould accept this message; therefore it was largely committed tohumble laymen. Farmers left their fields, mechanics their tools,traders their merchandise, professional men their positions; and yetthe number of workers was small in comparison with the work tobe accomplished. The condition of an ungodly church and a worldlying in wickedness, burdened the souls of the true watchmen, andthey willingly endured toil, privation, and suffering, that they mightcall men to repentance unto salvation. Though opposed by Satan,the work went steadily forward, and the advent truth was acceptedby many thousands.

Everywhere the searching testimony was heard, warning sinners,both worldlings and church members, to flee from the wrath to come.Like John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, the preachers laidthe ax at the root of the tree and urged all to bring forth fruit meetfor repentance. Their stirring appeals were in marked contrast to theassurances of peace and safety that were heard from popular pulpits;and wherever the message was given, it moved the people. Thesimple, direct testimony of the Scriptures, set home by the power ofthe Holy Spirit, brought a weight of conviction which few were ablewholly to resist. Professors of religion were roused from their falsesecurity.

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They saw their backslidings, their worldliness and unbelief,their pride and selfishness. Many sought the Lord with repentanceand humiliation. The affections that had so long clung to earthlythings they now fixed upon heaven. The Spirit of God rested uponthem, and with hearts softened and subdued they joined to sound thecry: “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgmentis come.”

Sinners inquired with weeping: “What must I do to be saved?”Those whose lives had been marked with dishonesty were anxiousto make restitution. All who found peace in Christ longed to seeothers share the blessing. The hearts of parents were turned to theirchildren, and the hearts of children to their parents. The barriers ofpride and reserve were swept away. Heartfelt confessions were made,and the members of the household labored for the salvation of thosewho were nearest and dearest. Often was heard the sound of earnestintercession. Everywhere were souls in deep anguish pleading withGod. Many wrestled all night in prayer for the assurance that theirown sins were pardoned, or for the conversion of their relatives orneighbors.

All classes flocked to the Adventist meetings. Rich and poor,high and low, were, from various causes, anxious to hear for themselves the doctrine of the second advent. The Lord held the spiritof opposition in check while His servants explained the reasons oftheir faith. Sometimes the instrument was feeble; but the Spirit ofGod gave power to His truth. The presence of holy angels was feltin these assemblies, and many were daily added to the believers. Asthe evidences of Christ’s soon coming were repeated, vast crowdslistened in breathless silence to the solemn words. Heaven and earthseemed to approach each other. The power of God was felt upon oldand young and middle-aged. Men sought their homes with praisesupon their lips, and the glad sound rang out upon the still night air.None who attended those meetings can ever forget those scenes ofdeepest interest.

The proclamation of a definite time for Christ’s coming calledforth great opposition from many of all classes, from the ministerin the pulpit down to the most reckless, Heaven-daring sinner. Thewords of prophecy were fulfilled: “There shall come in the last daysscoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is thepromise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”2 Peter 3:3, 4.


316 The Great Controversy

Many who professed to love the Saviour, declared that theyhad no opposition to the doctrine of the second advent; they merelyobjected to the definite time. But God’s all-seeing eye read theirhearts. They did not wish to hear of Christ’s coming to judge theworld in righteousness. They had been unfaithful servants, theirworks would not bear the inspection of the heart-searching God, andthey feared to meet their Lord. Like the Jews at the time of Christ’sfirst advent they were not prepared to welcome Jesus. They not onlyrefused to listen to the plain arguments from the Bible, but ridiculedthose who were looking for the Lord. Satan and his angels exulted,and flung the taunt in the face of Christ and holy angels that Hisprofessed people had so little love for Him that they did not desireHis appearing.

“No man knoweth the day nor the hour” was the argument mostoften brought forward by rejecters of the advent faith. The scriptureis: “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels ofheaven, but My Father only.” Matthew 24:36. A clear and harmonious explanation of this text was given by those who were lookingfor the Lord, and the wrong use made of it by their opponents wasclearly shown. The words were spoken by Christ in that memorableconversation with His disciples upon Olivet after He had for thelast time departed from the temple. The disciples had asked thequestion: “What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end ofthe world?” Jesus gave them signs, and said: “When ye shall seeall these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” Verses 3,33. One saying of the Saviour must not be made to destroy another.Though no man knoweth the day nor the hour of His coming, weare instructed and required to know when it is near. We are furthertaught that to disregard His warning, and refuse or neglect to knowwhen His advent is near, will be as fatal for us as it was for those wholived in the days of Noah not to know when the flood was coming.And the parable in the same chapter, contrasting the faithful and theunfaithful servant, and giving the doom of him who said in his heart,“My Lord delayeth His coming,” shows in what light Christ willregard and reward those whom He finds watching, and teaching Hiscoming, and those denying it. “Watch therefore,” He says. “Blessedis that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing.”Verses 42, 46. “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”Revelation 3:3.

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Paul speaks of a class to whom the Lord’s appearing will comeunawares. “The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destructioncometh upon them, ... and they shall not escape.” But he adds, tothose who have given heed to the Saviour’s warning: “Ye, brethren,are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Yeare all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are notof the night, nor of darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-5.

Thus it was shown that Scripture gives no warrant for men toremain in ignorance concerning the nearness of Christ’s coming.But those who desired only an excuse to reject the truth closed theirears to this explanation, and the words “No man knoweth the daynor the hour” continued to be echoed by the bold scoffer and evenby the professed minister of Christ. As the people were roused, andbegan to inquire the way of salvation, religious teachers stepped inbetween them and the truth, seeking to quiet their fears by falselyinterpreting the word of God. Unfaithful watchmen united in thework of the great deceiver, crying, Peace, peace, when God hadnot spoken peace. Like the Pharisees in Christ’s day, many refusedto enter the kingdom of heaven themselves, and those who wereentering in they hindered. The blood of these souls will be requiredat their hand.

The most humble and devoted in the churches were usuallythe first to receive the message. Those who studied the Bible forthemselves could not but see the unscriptural character of the popularviews of prophecy; and wherever the people were not controlled bythe influence of the clergy, wherever they would search the word ofGod for themselves, the advent doctrine needed only to be comparedwith the Scriptures to establish its divine authority.

Many were persecuted by their unbelieving brethren. In orderto retain their position in the church, some consented to be silent inregard to their hope; but others felt that loyalty to God forbade themthus to hide the truths which He had committed to their trust. Nota few were cut off from the fellowship of the church for no otherreason than expressing their belief in the coming of Christ. Very precious to those who bore this trial of their faith were the words of the prophet: “Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for My name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.”Isaiah 66:5.


Angels of God were watching with the deepest interest the resultof the warning. When there was a general rejection of the messageby the churches, angels turned away in sadness. But there were manywho had not yet been tested in regard to the advent truth. Many weremisled by husbands, wives, parents, or children, and were made tobelieve it a sin even to listen to such heresies as were taught by theAdventists. Angels were bidden to keep faithful watch over thesesouls, for another light was yet to shine upon them from the throneof God.

With unspeakable desire those who had received the messagewatched for the coming of their Saviour. The time when they expected to meet Him was at hand. They approached this hour witha calm solemnity. They rested in sweet communion with God, andearnest of the peace that was to be theirs in the bright hereafter. Nonewho experienced this hope and trust can forget those precious hoursof waiting. For some weeks preceding the time, worldly businesswas for the most part laid aside. The sincere believers carefullyexamined every thought and emotion of their hearts as if upon theirdeathbeds and in a few hours to close their eyes upon earthly scenes.There was no making of “ascension robes” (see Appendix); but allfelt the need of internal evidence that they were prepared to meet theSaviour; their white robes were purity of soul—characters cleansedfrom sin by the atoning blood of Christ. Would that there were stillwith the professed people of God the same spirit of heart searching,the same earnest, determined faith. Had they continued thus to humble themselves before the Lord and press their petitions at the mercyseat they would be in possession of a far richer experience than theynow have. There is too little prayer, too little real conviction of sin,and the lack of living faith leaves many destitute of the grace sorichly provided by our Redeemer.


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God designed to prove His people. His hand covered a mistake in the reckoning of the prophetic periods. Adventists did not discover the error, nor was it discovered by the most learned of theiropponents. The latter said: “Your reckoning of the prophetic periodsis correct. Some great event is about to take place; but it is not whatMr. Miller predicts; it is the conversion of the world, and not thesecond advent of Christ.” (See Appendix.)

The time of expectation passed, and Christ did not appear for thedeliverance of His people. Those who with sincere faith and lovehad looked for their Saviour, experienced a bitter disappointment.Yet the purposes of God were being accomplished; He was testingthe hearts of those who professed to be waiting for His appearing.There were among them many who had been actuated by no highermotive than fear. Their profession of faith had not affected theirhearts or their lives. When the expected event failed to take place,these persons declared that they were not disappointed; they hadnever believed that Christ would come. They were among the firstto ridicule the sorrow of the true believers.

But Jesus and all the heavenly host looked with love and sympathy upon the tried and faithful yet disappointed ones. Could the veilseparating the visible world have been swept back, angels wouldhave been seen drawing near to these steadfast souls and shieldingthem from the shafts of Satan.


Chapter 21—A Warning Rejected

In preaching the doctrine of the second advent, William Millerand his associates had labored with the sole purpose of arousingmen to a preparation for the judgment. They had sought to awakenprofessors of religion to the true hope of the church and to their needof a deeper Christian experience, and they labored also to awakenthe unconverted to the duty of immediate repentance and conversionto God. “They made no attempt to convert men to a sect or party inreligion. Hence they labored among all parties and sects, withoutinterfering with their organization or discipline.”

“In all my labors,” said Miller, “I never had the desire or thoughtto establish any separate interest from that of existing denominations,or to benefit one at the expense of another. I thought to benefit all.Supposing that all Christians would rejoice in the prospect of Christ’scoming, and that those who could not see as I did would not love anythe less those who should embrace this doctrine, I did not conceivethere would ever be any necessity for separate meetings. My wholeobject was a desire to convert souls to God, to notify the worldof a coming judgment, and to induce my fellow men to make thatpreparation of heart which will enable them to meet their God inpeace. The great majority of those who were converted under mylabors united with the various existing churches.”—Bliss, page 328.

As his work tended to build up the churches, it was for a timeregarded with favor. But as ministers and religious leaders decidedagainst the advent doctrine and desired to suppress all agitation ofthe subject, they not only opposed it from the pulpit, but deniedtheir members the privilege of attending preaching upon the secondadvent, or even of speaking of their hope in the social meetings ofthe church. Thus the believers found themselves in a position ofgreat trial and perplexity. They loved their churches and were loathto separate from them; but as they saw the testimony of God’s wordsuppressed and their right to investigate the prophecies denied theyfelt that loyalty to God forbade them to submit. Those who soughtto shut out the testimony of God’s word they could not regard as constituting the church of Christ, “the pillar and ground of the truth.” Hence they felt themselves justified in separating from their former connection. In the summer of 1844 about fifty thousand withdrew from the churches.



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About this time a marked change was apparent in most of thechurches throughout the United States. There had been for manyyears a gradual but steadily increasing conformity to worldly practices and customs, and a corresponding decline in real spiritual life;but in that year there were evidences of a sudden and marked declension in nearly all the churches of the land. While none seemed ableto suggest the cause, the fact itself was widely noted and commentedupon by both the press and the pulpit.

At a meeting of the presbytery of Philadelphia, Mr. Barnes,author of a commentary widely used and pastor of one of the leadingchurches in that city, “stated that he had been in the ministry fortwenty years, and never, till the last Communion, had he administered the ordinance without receiving more or less into the church.But now there are no awakenings, no conversions, not much apparent growth in grace in professors, and none come to his studyto converse about the salvation of their souls. With the increase ofbusiness, and the brightening prospects of commerce and manufacture, there is an increase of worldlymindedness. Thus it is with allthe denominations.”Congregational Journal, May 23, 1844.

In the month of February of the same year, Professor Finneyof Oberlin College said: “We have had the fact 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 ofthe age. There are partial exceptions, yet not enough to render thefact otherwise than general. We have also another corroborated fact:the almost universal absence of revival influence in the churches.The spiritual apathy is almost all-pervading, and is fearfully deep;so the religious press of the whole land testifies.... Very extensively,church members are becoming devotees of fashion,—join handswith the ungodly in parties of pleasure, in dancing, in festivities,etc.... But we need not expand this painful subject. Suffice it thatthe evidence thickens and rolls heavily upon us, to show that thechurches generally are becoming sadly degenerate. They have gone very far from the Lord, and He has withdrawn Himself from them.” And a writer in theReligious Telescopetestified: “We have never witnessed such a general declension of religion as at the present.


322 The Great Controversy

Truly, the church should awake, and search into the cause of thisaffliction; for as an affliction everyone that loves Zion must view it.When we call to mind how ‘few and far between’ cases of true conversion are, and the almost unparalleled impertinence and hardnessof sinners, we almost involuntarily exclaim, ‘Has God forgotten tobe gracious? or, Is the door of mercy closed?’”

Such a condition never exists without cause in the church itself.The spiritual darkness which falls upon nations, upon churches andindividuals, is due, not to an arbitrary withdrawal of the succorsof divine grace on the part of God, but to neglect or rejection ofdivine light on the part of men. A striking illustration of this truth ispresented in the history of the Jewish people in the time of Christ.By their devotion to the world and forgetfulness of God and Hisword, their understanding had become darkened, their hearts earthlyand sensual. Thus they were in ignorance concerning Messiah’sadvent, and in their pride and unbelief they rejected the Redeemer.God did not even then cut off the Jewish nation from a knowledgeof, or a participation in, the blessings of salvation. But those whorejected the truth lost all desire for the gift of Heaven. They had “putdarkness for light, and light for darkness,” until the light which wasin them became darkness; and how great was that darkness!

It suits the policy of Satan that men should retain the forms ofreligion if but the spirit of vital godliness is lacking. After theirrejection of the gospel, the Jews continued zealously to maintaintheir ancient rites, they rigorously preserved their national exclusiveness, while they themselves could not but admit that the presence ofGod was no longer manifest among them. The prophecy of Danielpointed so unmistakably to the time of Messiah’s coming, and sodirectly foretold His death, that they discouraged its study, and finally the rabbis pronounced a curse on all who should attempt acomputation of the time. In blindness and impenitence the peopleof Israel during succeeding centuries have stood, indifferent to thegracious offers of salvation, unmindful of the blessings of the gospel,a solemn and fearful warning of the danger of rejecting light from heaven.

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Wherever the cause exists, the same results will follow. He whodeliberately stifles his convictions of duty because it interferes withhis inclinations will finally lose the power to distinguish betweentruth and error. The understanding becomes darkened, the conscience callous, the heart hardened, and the soul is separated fromGod. Where the message of divine truth is spurned or slighted, therethe church will be enshrouded in darkness; faith and love grow cold,and estrangement and dissension enter. Church members centertheir interests and energies in worldly pursuits, and sinners becomehardened in their impenitence.

The first angel’s message of Revelation 14, announcing the hourof God’s judgment and calling upon men to fear and worship Him,was designed to separate the professed people of God from thecorrupting influences of the world and to arouse them to see theirtrue condition of worldliness and backsliding. In this message, Godhas sent to the church a warning, which, had it been accepted, wouldhave corrected the evils that were shutting them away from Him.Had they received the message from heaven, humbling their heartsbefore the Lord and seeking in sincerity a preparation to stand in Hispresence, the Spirit and power of God would have been manifestedamong them. The church would again have reached that blessedstate of unity, faith, and love which existed in apostolic days, whenthe believers “were of one heart and of one soul,” and “spake theword of God with boldness,” when “the Lord added to the churchdaily such as should be saved.” Acts 4:32, 31; 2:47.

If God’s professed people would receive the light as it shinesupon them from His word, they would reach that unity for whichChrist prayed, that which the apostle describes, “the unity of theSpirit in the bond of peace.” “There is,” he says, “one body, and oneSpirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord,one faith, one baptism.” Ephesians 4:3-5.

Such were the blessed results experienced by those who acceptedthe advent message. They came from different denominations, andtheir denominational barriers were hurled to the ground; conflictingcreeds were shivered to atoms; the unscriptural hope of a temporal millennium was abandoned, false views of the second adventwere 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 this 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 churches generally did not accept the warning. Theirministers, who, as watchmen “unto the house of Israel,” should havebeen the first to discern the tokens of Jesus’ coming, had failed tolearn the truth either from the testimony of the prophets or fromthe signs of the times. As worldly hopes and ambitions filled theheart, love for God and faith in His word had grown cold; and whenthe advent doctrine was presented, it only aroused their prejudiceand unbelief. The fact that the message was, to a great extent,preached by laymen, was urged as an instrument against it. As ofold, the plain testimony of God’s word was met with the inquiry:“Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed?” And findinghow difficult a task it was to refute the arguments drawn from theprophetic periods, many discouraged the study of the prophecies,teaching that the prophetic books were sealed and were not to beunderstood. Multitudes, trusting implicitly to their pastors, refusedto listen to the warning; and others, though convinced of the truth,dared not confess it, lest they should be “put out of the synagogue.”The message which God had sent for the testing and purification ofthe church revealed all too surely how great was the number whohad set their affections on this world rather than upon Christ. Theties which bound them to earth were stronger than the attractionsheavenward. They chose to listen to the voice of worldly wisdomand turned away from the heart-searching message of truth.

In refusing the warning of the first angel, they rejected the meanswhich Heaven had provided for their restoration. They spurnedthe gracious messenger that would have corrected the evils whichseparated them from God, and with greater eagerness they turnedto seek the friendship of the world. Here was the cause of thatfearful condition of worldliness, backsliding, and spiritual deathwhich existed in the churches in 1844.


324 The Great Controversy

Warning Rejected 325

InRevelation 14the first angel is followed by a second proclaiming: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”Revelation14:8. The term “Babylon” is derived from “Babel,” and signifiesconfusion. It is employed in Scripture to designate the various formsof false or apostate religion. In Revelation 17 Babylon is representedas a woman—a figure which is used in the Bible as the symbol of achurch, a virtuous woman representing a pure church, a vile womanan apostate church.

In the Bible the sacred and enduring character of the relationthat exists between Christ and His church is represented by theunion of marriage. The Lord has joined His people to Himself by asolemn covenant, He promising to be their God, and they pledgingthemselves to be His and His alone. He declares: “I will betroth theeunto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness,and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies.” Hosea2:19. And, again: “I am married unto you.” Jeremiah 3:14. AndPaul employs the same figure in the New Testament when he says:“I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as achaste virgin to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2.

The unfaithfulness of the church to Christ in permitting her confidence and affection to be turned from Him, and allowing the loveof worldly things to occupy the soul, is likened to the violation ofthe marriage vow. The sin of Israel in departing from the Lord ispresented under this figure; and the wonderful love of God whichthey thus despised is touchingly portrayed: “I sware unto thee, andentered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thoubecamest Mine.” “And thou wast exceeding beautiful and thou didstprosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through My comeliness, whichI had put upon thee.... But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, andplayedst the harlot because of thy renown.” “As a wife treacherouslydeparteth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously withMe, O house of Israel, saith the Lord;” “as a wife that committethadultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!” Ezekiel16:8, 13-15, 32; Jeremiah 3:20.

In the New Testament, language very similar is addressed toprofessed Christians who seek the friendship of the world above thefavor of God. Says the apostle James: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity withGod? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”


326 The Great Controversy

The woman (Babylon) of Revelation 17 is described as “arrayedin purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stonesand pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominationsand filthiness:...and upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery,Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots.” Says the prophet: “I sawthe woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood ofthe martyrs of Jesus.” Babylon is further declared to be “that greatcity, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” Revelation 17:4-6,18. The power that for so many centuries maintained despotic swayover the monarchs of Christendom is Rome. The purple and scarletcolor, the gold and precious stones and pearls, vividly picture themagnificence and more than kingly pomp affected by the haughty seeof Rome. And no other power could be so truly declared “drunkenwith the blood of the saints” as that church which has so cruellypersecuted the followers of Christ. Babylon is also charged withthe sin of unlawful connection with “the kings of the earth.” It wasby departure from the Lord, and alliance with the heathen, that theJewish church became a harlot; and Rome, corrupting herself in likemanner by seeking the support of worldly powers, receives a likecondemnation.

Babylon is said to be “the mother of harlots.” By her daughters must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines andtraditions, and follow her example of sacrificing the truth and theapproval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with theworld. The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of Babylon must apply to religious bodies that were once pure and havebecome corrupt. Since this message follows the warning of thejudgment, it must be given in the last days; therefore it cannot referto the Roman Church alone, for that church has been in a fallencondition for many centuries. Furthermore, in the eighteenth chapterof the Revelation the people of God are called upon to come out ofBabylon. According to this scripture, many of God’s people muststill be in Babylon. And in what religious bodies are the greater partof the followers of Christ now to be found? Without doubt, in thevarious churches professing the Protestant faith. At the time of theirrise these churches took a noble stand for God and the truth, and Hisblessing was with them.

Warning Rejected 327

Even the unbelieving world was constrainedto acknowledge the beneficent results that followed an acceptanceof the principles of the gospel. In the words of the prophet to Israel:“Thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for itwas perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saiththe Lord God.” But they fell by the same desire which was the curseand ruin of Israel—the desire of imitating the practices and courtingthe friendship of the ungodly. “Thou didst trust in thine own beauty,and playedst the harlot because of thy renown.” Ezekiel 16:14, 15.

Many of the Protestant churches are following Rome’s exampleof iniquitous connection with “the kings of the earth”—the statechurches, by their relation to secular governments; and other denominations, by seeking the favor of the world. And the term “Babylon”—confusion—may be appropriately applied to these bodies,all professing to derive their doctrines from the Bible, yet dividedinto almost innumerable sects, with widely conflicting creeds andtheories.

Besides a sinful union with the world, the churches that separatedfrom Rome present other of her characteristics.

A Roman Catholic work argues that “if the Church of Romewere ever guilty of idolatry in relation to the saints, her daughter,the Church of England, stands guilty of the same, which has tenchurches dedicated to Mary for one dedicated to Christ.”—RichardChalloner, The Catholic Christian Instructed, Preface, pages 21, 22.

And Dr. Hopkins, in “A Treatise on the Millennium,” declares:“There is no reason to consider the antichristian spirit and practicesto be confined to that which is now called the Church of Rome. TheProtestant churches have much of antichrist in them, and are farfrom being wholly reformed from ... corruptions and wickedness.”—Samuel Hopkins, Works, vol. 2, p. 328.

Concerning the separation of the Presbyterian Church fromRome, Dr. Guthrie writes: “Three hundred years ago, our church,with an open Bible on her banner, and this motto, ‘Search the Scriptures,’ on her scroll, marched out from the gates of Rome.” Then heasks the significant question: “Did they come clean out of Babylon?”—Thomas Guthrie, The Gospel in Ezekiel, page 237.


328 The Great Controversy

“The Church of England,” says Spurgeon, “seems to be eaten through and through with sacramentarianism; but nonconformityappears to be almost as badly riddled with philosophical infidelity.Those of whom we thought better things are turning aside one byone from the fundamentals of the faith. Through and through, Ibelieve, the very heart of England is honeycombed with a damnableinfidelity which dares still go into the pulpit and call itself Christian.”

What was the origin of the great apostasy? How did the churchfirst depart from the simplicity of the gospel? By conforming to thepractices of paganism, to facilitate the acceptance of Christianityby the heathen. The apostle Paul declared, even in his day, “Themystery of iniquity doth already work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7. Duringthe lives of the apostles the church remained comparatively pure.But “toward the latter end of the second century most of the churchesassumed a new form; the first simplicity disappeared, and insensibly,as the old disciples retired to their graves, their children, along withnew converts, ... came forward and new-modeled the cause.”—Robert Robinson, Ecclesiastical Researches, ch. 6, par. 17, p. 51.To secure converts, the exalted standard of the Christian faith waslowered, and as the result “a pagan flood, flowing into the church,carried with it its customs, practices, and idols.”—Gavazzi, Lectures,page 278. As the Christian religion secured the favor and support ofsecular rulers, it was nominally accepted by multitudes; but whilein appearance Christians, many “remained in substance pagans,especially worshiping in secret their idols.”—Ibid., page 278.

Has not the same process been repeated in nearly every churchcalling itself Protestant? As the founders, those who possessed thetrue spirit of reform, pass away, their descendants come forward and“new-model the cause.” While blindly clinging to the creed of theirfathers and refusing to accept any truth in advance of what they saw,the children of the reformers depart widely from their example ofhumility, self-denial, and renunciation of the world. Thus “the firstsimplicity disappears.” A worldly flood, flowing into the church,carries “with it its customs, practices, and idols.”

Alas, to what a fearful extent is that friendship of the world whichis “enmity with God,” now cherished among the professed followers of Christ! How widely have the popular churches throughoutChristendom departed from the Bible standard of humility, self-denial, simplicity, and godliness! Said John Wesley, in speaking ofthe right use of money:

Warning Rejected 329

“Do not waste any part of so precious atalent, merely in gratifying the desire of the eye, by superfluousor expensive apparel, or by needless ornaments. Waste no part ofit in curiously adorning your houses; in superfluous or expensivefurniture; in costly pictures, painting, gilding.... Lay out nothing togratify the pride of life, to gain the admiration or praise of men....‘So long as thou doest well unto thyself, men will speak good ofthee.’ So long as thou art ‘clothed in purple and fine linen,’ andfarest ‘sumptuously every day,’ no doubt many will applaud thyelegance of taste, thy generosity and hospitality. But do not buy theirapplause so dear. Rather be content with the honor that cometh fromGod.”—Wesley, Works, Sermon 50, “The Use of Money.” But inmany churches of our time such teaching is disregarded.

A profession of religion has become popular with the world.Rulers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, merchants, join the churchas a means of securing the respect and confidence of society, andadvancing their own worldly interests. Thus they seek to cover alltheir unrighteous transactions under a profession of Christianity. Thevarious religious bodies, reenforced by the wealth and influence ofthese baptized worldlings, make a still higher bid for popularity andpatronage. Splendid churches, embellished in the most extravagantmanner, are erected on popular avenues. The worshipers arraythemselves in costly and fashionable attire. A high salary is paid fora talented minister to entertain and attract the people. His sermonsmust not touch popular sins, but be made smooth and pleasing forfashionable ears. Thus fashionable sinners are enrolled on the churchrecords, and fashionable sins are concealed under a pretense ofgodliness.

Commenting on the present attitude of professed Christians toward the world, a leading secular journal says: “Insensibly thechurch has yielded to the spirit of the age, and adapted its forms ofworship to modern wants.” “All things, indeed, that help to make religion attractive, the church now employs as its instruments.” And awriter in the New York Independent speaks thus concerning Methodism as it is: “The line of separation between the godly and theirreligious fades out into a kind of penumbra, and zealous men onboth sides are toiling to obliterate all difference between their modesof action and enjoyment.” “The popularity of religion tends vastly toincrease the number of those who would secure its benefits without squarely meeting its duties.”


Says Howard Crosby: “It is a matter of deep concern that wefind Christ’s church so little fulfilling the designs of its Lord. Just asthe ancient Jews let a familiar intercourse with the idolatrous nationssteal away their hearts from God, ... so the church of Jesus now is, byits false partnerships with an unbelieving world, giving up the divinemethods of its true life, and yielding itself to the pernicious, thoughoften plausible, habits of a Christless society, using the argumentsand reaching the conclusions which are foreign to the revelation ofGod, and directly antagonistic to all growth in grace.”—The HealthyChristian: An Appeal to the Church, pages 141, 142.

In this tide of worldliness and pleasure seeking, self-denial andself-sacrifice for Christ’s sake are almost wholly lost. “Some of themen and women now in active life in our churches were educated,when children, to make sacrifices in order to be able to give or dosomething for Christ.” But “if funds are wanted now, ... nobodymust be called on to give. Oh, no! have a fair, tableau, mock trial,antiquarian supper, or something to eat—anything to amuse thepeople.”

Governor Washburn of Wisconsin in his annual message, January 9, 1873, declared: “Some law seems to be required to breakup the schools where gamblers are made. These are everywhere.Even the church (unwittingly, no doubt) is sometimes found doingthe work of the devil. Gift concerts, gift enterprises and raffles,sometimes in aid of religious or charitable objects, but often forless worthy purposes, lotteries, prize packages, etc., are all devicesto obtain money without value received. Nothing is so demoralizing or intoxicating, particularly to the young, as the acquisitionof money or property without labor. Respectable people engagingin these chance enterprises, and easing their consciences with thereflection that the money is to go to a good object, it is not strangethat the youth of the state should so often fall into the habits whichthe excitement of games of hazard is almost certain to engender.”


330 The Great Controversy

Warning Rejected 331

The spirit of worldly conformity is invading the churches throughout Christendom. Robert Atkins, in a sermon preached in London, draws a dark picture of the spiritual declension that prevails in England: “The truly righteous are diminished from theearth, and no man layeth it to heart. The professors of religion of thepresent day, in every church, are lovers of the world, conformers tothe world, lovers of creature comfort, and aspirers after respectability. They are called to suffer with Christ, but they shrink from evenreproach.... Apostasy, apostasy, apostasy, is engraven on the veryfront of every church; and did they know it, and did they feel it,there might be hope; but, alas! they cry, ‘We are rich, and increasedin goods, and stand in need of nothing.’”—Second Advent Library,tract No. 39.

The great sin charged against Babylon is that she “made allnations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Thiscup of intoxication which she presents to the world represents thefalse doctrines that she has accepted as the result of her unlawfulconnection with the great ones of the earth. Friendship with theworld corrupts her faith, and in her turn she exerts a corruptinginfluence upon the world by teaching doctrines which are opposedto the plainest statements of Holy Writ.

Rome withheld the Bible from the people and required all men toaccept her teachings in its place. It was the work of the Reformationto restore to men the word of God; but is it not too true that in thechurches of our time men are taught to rest their faith upon theircreed and the teachings of their church rather than on the Scriptures?Said Charles Beecher, speaking of the Protestant churches: “Theyshrink from any rude word against creeds with the same sensitivenesswith which those holy fathers would have shrunk from a rude wordagainst the rising veneration of saints and martyrs which they werefostering.... The Protestant evangelical denominations have so tiedup one another’s hands, and their own, that, between them all, aman cannot become a preacher at all, anywhere, without acceptingsome book besides the Bible.... There is nothing imaginary in thestatement that the creed power is now beginning to prohibit the Bibleas really as Rome did, though in a subtler way.”—Sermon on “TheBible a Sufficient Creed,” delivered at Fort Wayne, Indiana, Feb. 22,1846.


332 The Great Controversy

When faithful teachers expound the word of God, there arise men of learning, ministers professing to understand the Scriptures, who denounce sound doctrine as heresy, and thus turn away inquirers after truth. Were it not that the world is hopelessly intoxicated withthe wine of Babylon, multitudes would be convicted and convertedby the plain, cutting truths of the word of God. But religious faithappears so confused and discordant that the people know not whatto believe as truth. The sin of the world’s impenitence lies at thedoor of the church.

The second angel’s message of Revelation 14 was first preachedin the summer of 1844, and it then had a more direct applicationto the churches of the United States, where the warning of thejudgment had been most widely proclaimed and most generallyrejected, and where the declension in the churches had been mostrapid. But the message of the second angel did not reach its completefulfillment in 1844. The churches then experienced a moral fall,in consequence of their refusal of the light of the advent message;but that fall was not complete. As they have continued to reject thespecial truths for this time they have fallen lower and lower. Not yet,however, can it be said that “Babylon is fallen,... because she madeall nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Shehas not yet made all nations do this. The spirit of world conformingand indifference to the testing truths for our time exists and has beengaining ground in churches of the Protestant faith in all the countriesof Christendom; and these churches are included in the solemn andterrible denunciation of the second angel. But the work of apostasyhas not yet reached its culmination.


The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satanwill work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with alldeceivableness of unrighteousness;” and they that “received not thelove of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left to receive“strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thessalonians2:9-11. Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union ofthe church with the world shall be fully accomplished throughoutChristendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change is aprogressive one, and the perfect fulfillment of Revelation 14:8 is yetfuture.

Warning Rejected 333

Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness and alienation from Godthat exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the great body of Christ’s true followers are still to be found in their communion. There are many of these who have never seen the special truths for this time. Not a few are dissatisfied with their present conditionand are longing for clearer light. They look in vain for the imageof Christ in the churches with which they are connected. As thesebodies depart further and further from the truth, and ally themselvesmore closely with the world, the difference between the two classeswill widen, and it will finally result in separation. The time willcome when those who love God supremely can no longer remain inconnection with such as are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers ofGod; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”

Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejectingthe threefold warning of Revelation 14:6-12, the church will havefully reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and thepeople of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate fromher communion. This message is the last that will ever be given tothe world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that “believednot the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians2:12), shall be left to receive strong delusion and to believe a lie,then the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open toreceive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylonwill heed the call: “Come out of her, My people” (Revelation 18:4).


Chapter 22—Prophecies Fulfilled

When the time passed at which the Lord’s coming was first expected,—in the spring of 1844,—those who had looked in faith forHis appearing were for a season involved in doubt and uncertainty.While the world regarded them as having been utterly defeated andproved to have been cherishing a delusion, their source of consolation was still the word of God. Many continued to search theScriptures, examining anew the evidences of their faith and carefullystudying the prophecies to obtain further light. The Bible testimonyin support of their position seemed clear and conclusive. Signs whichcould not be mistaken pointed to the coming of Christ as near. Thespecial blessing of the Lord, both in the conversion of sinners andthe revival of spiritual life among Christians, had testified that themessage was of Heaven. And though the believers could not explaintheir disappointment, they felt assured that God had led them in theirpast experience.

Interwoven with prophecies which they had regarded as applyingto the time of the second advent was instruction specially adapted totheir state of uncertainty and suspense, and encouraging them to waitpatiently in the faith that what was now dark to their understandingwould in due time be made plain.

Among these prophecies was that of Habakkuk 2:1-4: “I willstand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch tosee what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I amreproved. And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision,and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. Forthe vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak,and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come,it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright inhim: but the just shall live by his faith.”



Prophecies Fulfilled 335

As early as 1842 the direction given in this prophecy to “write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it,” had suggested to Charles Fitch the preparation of a prophetic chart toillustrate the visions of Daniel and the Revelation. The publicationof this chart was regarded as a fulfillment of the command given byHabakkuk. No one, however, then noticed that an apparent delay inthe accomplishment of the vision—a tarrying time—is presented inthe same prophecy. After the disappointment, this scripture appearedvery significant: “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at theend it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because itwill surely come, it will not tarry.... The just shall live by his faith.”

A portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy also was a source of strengthand comfort to believers: “The word of the Lord came unto me,saying, Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land ofIsrael, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth? Tellthem therefore, Thus saith the Lord God.... The days are at hand,and the effect of every vision.... I will speak, and the word that Ishall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged.” “Theyof the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many daysto come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off. Thereforesay unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; There shall none of Mywords be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spokenshall be done.” Ezekiel 12:21-25, 27, 28.

The waiting ones rejoiced, believing that He who knows the endfrom the beginning had looked down through the ages and, foreseeing their disappointment, had given them words of courage andhope. Had it not been for such portions of Scripture, admonishingthem to wait with patience and to hold fast their confidence in God’sword, their faith would have failed in that trying hour.

The parable of the ten virgins of Matthew 25 also illustrates theexperience of the Adventist people. In Matthew 24, in answer tothe question of His disciples concerning the sign of His coming andof the end of the world, Christ had pointed out some of the mostimportant events in the history of the world and of the church fromHis first to His second advent; namely, the destruction of Jerusalem,the great tribulation of the church under the pagan and papal persecutions, the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling ofthe stars. After this He spoke of His coming in His kingdom, andrelated the parable describing the two classes of servants who lookfor His appearing. Chapter 25 opens with the words: “Then shallthe kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins.” Here is broughtto view the church living in the last days, the same that is pointed out in the close of chapter 24. In this parable their experience is illustrated by the incidents of an Eastern marriage.


336 The Great Controversy

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins,which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Andfive of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolishtook their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil intheir vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they allslumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold,the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”

The coming of Christ, as announced by the first angel’s message,was understood to be represented by the coming of the bridegroom.The widespread reformation under the proclamation of His sooncoming, answered to the going forth of the virgins. In this parable,as in that of Matthew 24, two classes are represented. All had takentheir lamps, the Bible, and by its light had gone forth to meet theBridegroom. But while “they that were foolish took their lamps,and took no oil with them,” “the wise took oil in their vessels withtheir lamps.” The latter class had received the grace of God, theregenerating, enlightening power of the Holy Spirit, which rendersHis word a lamp to the feet and a light to the path. In the fear of Godthey had studied the Scriptures to learn the truth, and had earnestlysought for purity of heart and life. These had a personal experience,a faith in God and in His word, which could not be overthrownby disappointment and delay. Others “took their lamps, and tookno oil with them.” They had moved from impulse. Their fears hadbeen excited by the solemn message, but they had depended uponthe faith of their brethren, satisfied with the flickering light of goodemotions, without a thorough understanding of the truth or a genuinework of grace in the heart. These had gone forth to meet the Lord,full of hope in the prospect of immediate reward; but they were notprepared for delay and disappointment. When trials came, their faithfailed, and their lights burned dim.

Prophecies Fulfilled 337

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” By the tarrying of the bridegroom is represented the passing of the time when the Lord was expected, the disappointment, and the seeming delay. In this time of uncertainty, the interest of the superficial and halfhearted soon began to waver, and their efforts to relax; butthose whose faith was based on a personal knowledge of the Biblehad a rock beneath their feet, which the waves of disappointmentcould not wash away. “They all slumbered and slept;” one class inunconcern and abandonment of their faith, the other class patientlywaiting till clearer light should be given. Yet in the night of trial thelatter seemed to lose, to some extent, their zeal and devotion. Thehalfhearted and superficial could no longer lean upon the faith oftheir brethren. Each must stand or fall for himself.

About this time, fanaticism began to appear. Some who hadprofessed to be zealous believers in the message rejected the word ofGod as the one infallible guide and, claiming to be led by the Spirit,gave themselves up to the control of their own feelings, impressions,and imaginations. There were some who manifested a blind andbigoted zeal, denouncing all who would not sanction their course.Their fanatical ideas and exercises met with no sympathy from thegreat body of Adventists; yet they served to bring reproach upon thecause of truth.

Satan was seeking by this means to oppose and destroy thework of God. The people had been greatly stirred by the adventmovement, thousands of sinners had been converted, and faithfulmen were giving themselves to the work of proclaiming the truth,even in the tarrying time. The prince of evil was losing his subjects;and in order to bring reproach upon the cause of God, he sought todeceive some who professed the faith and to drive them to extremes.Then his agents stood ready to seize upon every error, every failure,every unbecoming act, and hold it up before the people in the mostexaggerated light, to render Adventists and their faith odious. Thusthe greater the number whom he could crowd in to make a professionof faith in the second advent while his power controlled their hearts,the greater advantage would he gain by calling attention to them asrepresentatives of the whole body of believers.

Satan is “the accuser of the brethren,” and it is his spirit thatinspires men to watch for the errors and defects of the Lord’s people,and to hold them up to notice, while their good deeds are passedby without a mention. He is always active when God is at workfor the salvation of souls. When the sons of God come to presentthemselves before the Lord, Satan comes also among them. In everyrevival he is ready to bring in those who are unsanctified in heart


338 The Great Controversy

and unbalanced in mind. When these have accepted some points oftruth, and gained a place with believers, he works through them tointroduce theories that will deceive the unwary. No man is proved tobe a true Christian because he is found in company with the childrenof God, even in the house of worship and around the table of theLord. Satan is frequently there upon the most solemn occasions inthe form of those whom he can use as his agents.

The prince of evil contests every inch of ground over whichGod’s people advance in their journey toward the heavenly city. Inall the history of the church no reformation has been carried forwardwithout encountering serious obstacles. Thus it was in Paul’s day.Wherever the apostle raised up a church, there were some whoprofessed to receive the faith, but who brought in heresies, that, ifreceived, would eventually crowd out the love of the truth. Lutheralso suffered great perplexity and distress from the course of fanaticalpersons who claimed that God had spoken directly through them, andwho therefore set their own ideas and opinions above the testimonyof the Scriptures. Many who were lacking in faith and experience,but who had considerable self-sufficiency, and who loved to hearand tell some new thing, were beguiled by the pretensions of the newteachers, and they joined the agents of Satan in their work of tearingdown what God had moved Luther to build up. And the Wesleys,and others who blessed the world by their influence and their faith,encountered at every step the wiles of Satan in pushing overzealous,unbalanced, and unsanctified ones into fanaticism of every grade.

William Miller had no sympathy with those influences that ledto fanaticism. He declared, with Luther, that every spirit should betested by the word of God. “The devil,” said Miller, “has great powerover the minds of some at the present day. And how shall we knowwhat manner of spirit they are of? The Bible answers: ‘By theirfruits ye shall know them.’... There are many spirits gone out into theworld; and we are commanded to try the spirits. The spirit that doesnot cause us to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this presentworld, is not the Spirit of Christ. I am more and more convinced thatSatan has much to do in these wild movements.... Many among uswho pretend to be wholly sanctified, are following the traditions ofmen, and apparently are as ignorant of truth as others who make nosuch pretensions.”—Bliss, pages 236, 237.

Prophecies Fulfilled 339

“The spirit of error willlead us from the truth; and the Spirit of God will lead us into truth.But, say you, a man may be in an error, and think he has the truth.What then? We answer, The Spirit and word agree. If a man judgeshimself by the word of God, and finds a perfect harmony throughthe whole word, then he must believe he has the truth; but if he findsthe spirit by which he is led does not harmonize with the wholetenor of God’s law or Book, then let him walk carefully, lest he becaught in the snare of the devil.”—The Advent Herald and Signs ofthe Times Reporter,January 15, 1845. “I have often obtained moreevidence of inward piety from a kindling eye, a wet cheek, and achoked utterance, than from all the noise of Christendom.”—Bliss,page 282.

In the days of the Reformation its enemies charged all the evilsof fanaticism upon the very ones who were laboring most earnestlyagainst it. A similar course was pursued by the opposers of theadvent movement. And not content with misrepresenting and exaggerating the errors of extremists and fanatics, they circulatedunfavorable reports that had not the slightest semblance of truth.These persons were actuated by prejudice and hatred. Their peacewas disturbed by the proclamation of Christ at the door. They fearedit might be true, yet hoped it was not, and this was the secret of theirwarfare against Adventists and their faith.

The fact that a few fanatics worked their way into the ranksof Adventists is no more reason to decide that the movement wasnot of God than was the presence of fanatics and deceivers in thechurch in Paul’s or Luther’s day a sufficient excuse for condemningtheir work. Let the people of God arouse out of sleep and begin inearnest the work of repentance and reformation; let them search theScriptures to learn the truth as it is in Jesus; let them make an entireconsecration to God, and evidence will not be wanting that Satan isstill active and vigilant. With all possible deception he will manifesthis power, calling to his aid all the fallen angels of his realm.

It was not the proclamation of the second advent that causedfanaticism and division. These appeared in the summer of 1844,when Adventists were in a state of doubt and perplexity concerningtheir real position. The preaching of the first angel’s message andof the “midnight cry” tended directly to repress fanaticism and dissension. Those who participated in these solemn movements werein harmony; their hearts were filled with love for one another and for Jesus, whom they expected soon to see. The one faith, the one blessed hope, lifted them above the control of any human influence, and proved a shield against the assaults of Satan.


340 The Great Controversy

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroomcometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, andtrimmed their lamps.” Matthew 25:5-7. In the summer of 1844,midway between the time when it had been first thought that the2300 days would end, and the autumn of the same year, to which itwas afterward found that they extended, the message was proclaimedin the very words of Scripture: “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!”

That which led to this movement was the discovery that thedecree of Artaxerxes for the restoration of Jerusalem, which formedthe starting point for the period of the 2300 days, went into effectin the autumn of the year 457 B.C., and not at the beginning of theyear, as had been formerly believed. Reckoning from the autumn of457, the 2300 years terminate in the autumn of 1844. (See Appendixnote for page 329.)

Arguments drawn from the Old Testament types also pointed tothe autumn as the time when the event represented by the “cleansingof the sanctuary” must take place. This was made very clear asattention was given to the manner in which the types relating to thefirst advent of Christ had been fulfilled.

The slaying of the Passover lamb was a shadow of the deathof Christ. Says Paul: “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” 1Corinthians 5:7. The sheaf of first fruits, which at the time of thePassover was waved before the Lord, was typical of the resurrectionof Christ. Paul says, in speaking of the resurrection of the Lordand of all His people: “Christ the first fruits; afterward they that areChrist’s at His coming.” 1 Corinthians 15:23. Like the wave sheaf,which was the first ripe grain gathered before the harvest, Christ isthe first fruits of that immortal harvest of redeemed ones that at thefuture resurrection shall be gathered into the garner of God.

Prophecies Fulfilled 341

These types were fulfilled, not only as to the event, but as to the time. On the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month, the very day and month on which for fifteen long centuries the Passover lamb had been slain, Christ, having eaten the Passover with His disciples,instituted that feast which was to commemorate His own death as“the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Thatsame night He was taken by wicked hands to be crucified and slain.And as the antitype of the wave sheaf our Lord was raised from thedead on the third day, “the first fruits of them that slept,” a sampleof all the resurrected just, whose “vile body” shall be changed, and“fashioned like unto His glorious body.” Verse 20; Philippians 3:21.

In like manner the types which relate to the second advent mustbe fulfilled at the time pointed out in the symbolic service. Underthe Mosaic system the cleansing of the sanctuary, or the great Dayof Atonement, occurred on the tenth day of the seventh Jewishmonth (Leviticus 16:29-34), when the high priest, having madean atonement for all Israel, and thus removed their sins from thesanctuary, came forth and blessed the people. So it was believed thatChrist, our great High Priest, would appear to purify the earth by thedestruction of sin and sinners, and to bless His waiting people withimmortality. The tenth day of the seventh month, the great Day ofAtonement, the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary, which in theyear 1844 fell upon the twenty-second of October, was regarded asthe time of the Lord’s coming. This was in harmony with the proofsalready presented that the 2300 days would terminate in the autumn,and the conclusion seemed irresistible.

In the parable of Matthew 25 the time of waiting and slumber isfollowed by the coming of the bridegroom. This was in accordancewith the arguments just presented, both from prophecy and from thetypes. They carried strong conviction of their truthfulness; and the“midnight cry” was heralded by thousands of believers.

Like a tidal wave the movement swept over the land. From cityto city, from village to village, and into remote country places itwent, until the waiting people of God were fully aroused. Fanaticismdisappeared before this proclamation like early frost before the risingsun. Believers saw their doubt and perplexity removed, and hopeand courage animated their hearts. The work was free from thoseextremes which are ever manifested when there is human excitementwithout the controlling influence of the word and Spirit of God. Itwas similar in character to those seasons of humiliation and returningunto the Lord which among ancient Israel followed messages ofreproof from His servants. It bore the characteristics that mark thework of God in every age. There was little ecstatic joy, but rather deep searching of heart, confession of sin, and forsaking of the world. A preparation to meet the Lord was the burden of agonizing spirits. There was persevering prayer and unreserved consecration to God.


Said Miller in describing that work: “There is no great expressionof joy: that is, as it were, suppressed for a future occasion, whenall heaven and earth will rejoice together with joy unspeakable andfull of glory. There is no shouting: that, too, is reserved for theshout from heaven. The singers are silent: they are waiting to jointhe angelic hosts, the choir from heaven.... There is no clashing ofsentiments: all are of one heart and of one mind.”—Bliss, pages 270,271.

Another who participated in the movement testified: “It produced everywhere the most deep searching of heart and humiliationof soul before the God of high heaven. It caused a weaning of affections from the things of this world, a healing of controversies andanimosities, a confession of wrongs, a breaking down before God,and penitent, brokenhearted supplications to Him for pardon andacceptance. It caused self-abasement and prostration of soul, suchas we never before witnessed. As God by Joel commanded, whenthe great day of God should be at hand, it produced a rending ofhearts and not of garments, and a turning unto the Lord with fasting,and weeping, and mourning. As God said by Zechariah, a spiritof grace and supplication was poured out upon His children; theylooked to Him whom they had pierced, there was a great mourningin the land, ... and those who were looking for the Lord afflictedtheir souls before Him.”—Bliss, in Advent Shield and Review, vol. I,p. 271 (January, 1845).

Of all the great religious movements since the days of the apostles, none have been more free from human imperfection and thewiles of Satan than was that of the autumn of 1844. Even now, afterthe lapse of many years, all who shared in that movement and whohave stood firm upon the platform of truth still feel the holy influenceof that blessed work and bear witness that it was of God.


342 The Great Controversy

Prophecies Fulfilled 343

At the call, “The Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him,” the waiting ones “arose and trimmed their lamps;” they studied the word of God with an intensity of interest before unknown. Angelswere sent from heaven to arouse those who had become discouragedand prepare them to receive the message. The work did not stand inthe wisdom and learning of men, but in the power of God. It was notthe most talented, but the most humble and devoted, who were thefirst to hear and obey the call. Farmers left their crops standing in thefields, mechanics laid down their tools, and with tears and rejoicingwent out to give the warning. Those who had formerly led in thecause were among the last to join in this movement. The churches ingeneral closed their doors against this message, and a large companyof those who received it withdrew from their connection. In theprovidence of God this proclamation united with the second angel’smessage and gave power to that work.

The message, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!” was not somuch a matter of argument, though the Scripture proof was clearand conclusive. There went with it an impelling power that movedthe soul. There was no doubt, no questioning. Upon the occasionof Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem the people who wereassembled from all parts of the land to keep the feast flocked to theMount of Olives, and as they joined the throng that were escortingJesus they caught the inspiration of the hour and helped to swell theshout: “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!” Matthew21:9. In like manner did unbelievers who flocked to the Adventistmeetings—some from curiosity, some merely to ridicule—feel theconvincing power attending the message: “Behold, the Bridegroomcometh!”

At that time there was faith that brought answers to prayer—faiththat had respect to the recompense of reward. Like showers of rainupon the thirsty earth, the Spirit of grace descended upon the earnestseekers. Those who expected soon to stand face to face with theirRedeemer felt a solemn joy that was unutterable. The softening,subduing power of the Holy Spirit melted the heart as His blessingwas bestowed in rich measure upon the faithful, believing ones.

Carefully and solemnly those who received the message cameup to the time when they hoped to meet their Lord. Every morningthey felt that it was their first duty to secure the evidence of theiracceptance with God. Their hearts were closely united, and theyprayed much with and for one another. They often met together insecluded places to commune with God, and the voice of intercessionascended to heaven from the fields and groves. The assurance of the Saviour’s approval was more necessary to them than their daily food; and if a cloud darkened their minds, they did not rest until it was swept away. As they felt the witness of pardoning grace, they longed to behold Him whom their souls loved.


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But again they were destined to disappointment. The time of expectation passed, and their Saviour did not appear. With unwaveringconfidence they had looked forward to His coming, and now theyfelt as did Mary when, coming to the Saviour’s tomb and findingit empty, she exclaimed with weeping: “They have taken away myLord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” John 20:13.


A feeling of awe, a fear that the message might be true, had fora time served as a restraint upon the unbelieving world. After thepassing of the time this did not at once disappear; at first they darednot triumph over the disappointed ones; but as no tokens of God’swrath were seen, they recovered from their fears and resumed theirreproach and ridicule. A large class who had professed to believe inthe Lord’s soon coming, renounced their faith. Some who had beenvery confident were so deeply wounded in their pride that they feltlike fleeing from the world. Like Jonah, they complained of God,and chose death rather than life. Those who had based their faithupon the opinions of others, and not upon the word of God, werenow as ready again to change their views. The scoffers won theweak and cowardly to their ranks, and all these united in declaringthat there could be no more fears or expectations now. The timehad passed, the Lord had not come, and the world might remain thesame for thousands of years.

The earnest, sincere believers had given up all for Christ and hadshared His presence as never before. They had, as they believed,given their last warning to the world; and, expecting soon to bereceived into the society of their divine Master and the heavenlyangels, they had, to a great extent, withdrawn from the society ofthose who did not receive the message. With intense desire theyhad prayed: “Come, Lord Jesus, and come quickly.” But He had notcome. And now to take up again the heavy burden of life’s cares andperplexities, and to endure the taunts and sneers of a scoffing world,was a terrible trial of faith and patience.

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Yet this disappointment was not so great as was that experiencedby the disciples at the time of Christ’s first advent. When Jesusrode triumphantly into Jerusalem, His followers believed that Hewas about to ascend the throne of David and deliver Israel from heroppressors. With high hopes and joyful anticipations they vied withone another in showing honor to their King. Many spread their outergarments as a carpet in His path, or strewed before Him the leafybranches of the palm. In their enthusiastic joy they united in theglad acclaim: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” When the Pharisees,disturbed and angered by this outburst of rejoicing, wished Jesus torebuke His disciples, He replied: “If these should hold their peace,the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19:40. Prophecy mustbe fulfilled. The disciples were accomplishing the purpose of God;yet they were doomed to a bitter disappointment. But a few dayshad passed ere they witnessed the Saviour’s agonizing death, andlaid Him in the tomb. Their expectations had not been realized in asingle particular, and their hopes died with Jesus. Not till their Lordhad come forth triumphant from the grave could they perceive thatall had been foretold by prophecy, and “that Christ must needs havesuffered, and risen again from the dead.” Acts 17:3.

Five hundred years before, the Lord had declared by the prophetZechariah: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughterof Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, andhaving salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt thefoal of an ass.” Zechariah 9:9. Had the disciples realized that Christwas going to judgment and to death, they could not have fulfilledthis prophecy.

In like manner Miller and his associates fulfilled prophecy andgave a message which Inspiration had foretold should be given to theworld, but which they could not have given had they fully understoodthe prophecies pointing out their disappointment, and presentinganother message to be preached to all nations before the Lord shouldcome. The first and second angels’ messages were given at the righttime and accomplished the work which God designed to accomplishby them.


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The world had been looking on, expecting that if the time passed and Christ did not appear, the whole system of Adventism would be given up. But while many, under strong temptation, yielded theirfaith, there were some who stood firm. The fruits of the adventmovement, the spirit of humility and heart searching, of renouncingof the world and reformation of life, which had attended the work,testified that it was of God. They dared not deny that the power ofthe Holy Spirit had witnessed to the preaching of the second advent,and they could detect no error in their reckoning of the propheticperiods. The ablest of their opponents had not succeeded in overthrowing their system of prophetic interpretation. They could notconsent, without Bible evidence, to renounce positions which hadbeen reached through earnest, prayerful study of the Scriptures, byminds enlightened by the Spirit of God and hearts burning with itsliving power; positions which had withstood the most searching criticisms and the most bitter opposition of popular religious teachersand worldly-wise men, and which had stood firm against the combined forces of learning and eloquence, and the taunts and revilingsalike of the honorable and the base.


True, there had been a failure as to the expected event, but eventhis could not shake their faith in the word of God. When Jonahproclaimed in the streets of Nineveh that within forty days the citywould be overthrown, the Lord accepted the humiliation of theNinevites and extended their period of probation; yet the messageof Jonah was sent of God, and Nineveh was tested according to Hiswill. Adventists believed that in like manner God had led them togive the warning of the judgment. “It has,” they declared, “testedthe hearts of all who heard it, and awakened a love for the Lord’sappearing; or it has called forth a hatred, more or less perceivable,but known to God, of His coming. It has drawn a line, ... so thatthose who will examine their own hearts, may know on which sideof it they would have been found, had the Lord then come—whetherthey would have exclaimed, ‘Lo! this is our God, we have waitedfor Him, and He will save us;’ or whether they would have called tothe rocks and mountains to fall on them to hide them from the faceof Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.God thus, as we believe, has tested His people, has tried their faith,has proved them, and seen whether they would shrink, in the hourof trial, from the position in which He might see fit to place them;and whether they would relinquish this world and rely with implicitconfidence in the word of God.”—The Advent Herald and Signs of the Times Reporter,vol. 8, No. 14 (Nov 13, 1844).

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The feelings of those who still believed that God had led them intheir past experience are expressed in the words of William Miller:“Were I to live my life over again, with the same evidence that I thenhad, to be honest with God and man I should have to do as I havedone.” “I hope that I have cleansed my garments from the blood ofsouls. I feel that, as far as it was in my power, I have freed myselffrom all guilt in their condemnation.” “Although I have been twicedisappointed,” wrote this man of God, “I am not yet cast down ordiscouraged.... My hope in the coming of Christ is as strong as ever.I have done only what, after years of solemn consideration, I feltit my solemn duty to do. If I have erred, it has been on the side ofcharity, love to my fellow men, and conviction of duty to God.” “Onething I do know, I have preached nothing but what I believed; andGod has been with me; His power has been manifested in the work,and much good has been effected.” “Many thousands, to all humanappearance, have been made to study the Scriptures by the preachingof the time; and by that means, through faith and the sprinkling ofthe blood of Christ, have been reconciled to God.”—Bliss, pages256, 255, 277, 280, 281. “I have never courted the smiles of theproud, nor quailed when the world frowned. I shall not now purchasetheir favor, nor shall I go beyond duty to tempt their hate. I shallnever seek my life at their hands, nor shrink, I hope, from losing it,if God in His good providence so orders.”—J. White, Life of Wm.Miller, page 315.

God did not forsake His people; His Spirit still abode with thosewho did not rashly deny the light which they had received, anddenounce the advent movement. In the Epistle to the Hebrews arewords of encouragement and warning for the tried, waiting ones atthis crisis: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hathgreat recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, afterye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yeta little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soulshall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who drawback unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of thesoul.” Hebrews 10:35-39.


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That this admonition is addressed to the church in the last days isevident from the words pointing to the nearness of the Lord’s coming:“For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come and will nottarry.” And it is plainly implied that there would be a seeming delayand that the Lord would appear to tarry. The instruction here givenis especially adapted to the experience of Adventists at this time.The people here addressed were in danger of making shipwreck offaith. They had done the will of God in following the guidance ofHis Spirit and His word; yet they could not understand His purposein their past experience, nor could they discern the pathway beforethem, and they were tempted to doubt whether God had indeed beenleading them. At this time the words were applicable: “Now thejust shall live by faith.” As the bright light of the “midnight cry”had shone upon their pathway, and they had seen the propheciesunsealed and the rapidly fulfilling signs telling that the coming ofChrist was near, they had walked, as it were, by sight. But now,bowed down by disappointed hopes, they could stand only by faithin God and in His word. The scoffing world were saying: “You havebeen deceived. Give up your faith, and say that the advent movementwas of Satan.” But God’s word declared: “If any man draw back, Mysoul shall have no pleasure in him.” To renounce their faith now, anddeny the power of the Holy Spirit which had attended the message,would be drawing back toward perdition. They were encouraged tosteadfastness by the words of Paul: “Cast not away therefore yourconfidence;” “ye have need of patience,” “for yet a little while, andHe that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” Their only safecourse was to cherish the light which they had already received ofGod, hold fast to His promises, and continue to search the Scriptures,and patiently wait and watch to receive further light.

Chapter 23—What is the Sanctuary?

The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration:“Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuarybe cleansed.” Daniel 8:14. These had been familiar words to all believers in the Lord’s soon coming. By the lips of thousands was thisprophecy repeated as the watchword of their faith. All felt that uponthe events therein foretold depended their brightest expectations andmost cherished hopes. These prophetic days had been shown toterminate in the autumn of 1844. In common with the rest of theChristian world, Adventists then held that the earth, or some portionof it, was the sanctuary. They understood that the cleansing of thesanctuary was the purification of the earth by the fires of the lastgreat day, and that this would take place at the second advent. Hencethe conclusion that Christ would return to the earth in 1844.

But the appointed time had passed, and the Lord had not appeared. The believers knew that God’s word could not fail; theirinterpretation of the prophecy must be at fault; but where was themistake? Many rashly cut the knot of difficulty by denying that the2300 days ended in 1844. No reason could be given for this exceptthat Christ had not come at the time they expected Him. They arguedthat if the prophetic days had ended in 1844, Christ would then havereturned to cleanse the sanctuary by the purification of the earth byfire; and that since He had not come, the days could not have ended.

To accept this conclusion was to renounce the former reckoning of the prophetic periods. The 2300 days had been found tobegin when the commandment of Artaxerxes for the restoration andbuilding of Jerusalem went into effect, in the autumn of 457 B.C.Taking this as the starting point, there was perfect harmony in theapplication of all the events foretold in the explanation of that period in Daniel 9:25-27. Sixty-nine weeks, the first 483 of the 2300years, were to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One; and Christ’sbaptism and anointing by the Holy Spirit, A.D. 27, exactly fulfilledthe specification.



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In the midst of the seventieth week, Messiah wasto be cut off. Three and a half years after His baptism, Christ wascrucified, in the spring of A.D. 31. The seventy weeks, or 490years, were to pertain especially to the Jews. At the expiration ofthis period the nation sealed its rejection of Christ by the persecution of His disciples, and the apostles turned to the Gentiles, A.D.34. The first 490 years of the 2300 having then ended, 1810 yearswould remain. From A.D. 34, 1810 years extend to 1844. “Then,”said the angel, “shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” All the precedingspecifications of the prophecy had been unquestionably fulfilled atthe time appointed.

With this reckoning, all was clear and harmonious, except thatit was not seen that any event answering to the cleansing of thesanctuary had taken place in 1844. To deny that the days endedat that time was to involve the whole question in confusion, andto renounce positions which had been established by unmistakablefulfillments of prophecy.

But God had led His people in the great advent movement; Hispower and glory had attended the work, and He would not permit itto end in darkness and disappointment, to be reproached as a falseand fanatical excitement. He would not leave His word involvedin doubt and uncertainty. Though many abandoned their formerreckoning of the prophetic periods and denied the correctness of themovement based thereon, others were unwilling to renounce pointsof faith and experience that were sustained by the Scriptures and bythe witness of the Spirit of God. They believed that they had adoptedsound principles of interpretation in their study of the prophecies,and that it was their duty to hold fast the truths already gained, and tocontinue the same course of Biblical research. With earnest prayerthey reviewed their position and studied the Scriptures to discovertheir mistake. As they could see no error in their reckoning of theprophetic periods, they were led to examine more closely the subjectof the sanctuary.

In their investigation they learned that there is no Scripture evidence sustaining the popular view that the earth is the sanctuary;but they found in the Bible a full explanation of the subject of thesanctuary, its nature, location, and services; the testimony of thesacred writers being so clear and ample as to place the matter beyond all question.

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The apostle Paul, in the Epistle to the Hebrews,says: “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divineservice, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made;the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, thetabernacle which is called the holiest of all; which had the goldencenser, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold,wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod thatbudded, and the tables of the covenant; and over it the cherubims ofglory shadowing the mercy seat.” Hebrews 9:1-5.

The sanctuary to which Paul here refers was the tabernacle builtby Moses at the command of God as the earthly dwelling place ofthe Most High. “Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwellamong them” (Exodus 25:8), was the direction given to Moses whilein the mount with God. The Israelites were journeying throughthe wilderness, and the tabernacle was so constructed that it couldbe removed from place to place; yet it was a structure of greatmagnificence. Its walls consisted of upright boards heavily platedwith gold and set in sockets of silver, while the roof was formed ofa series of curtains, or coverings, the outer of skins, the innermostof fine linen beautifully wrought with figures of cherubim. Besidesthe outer court, which contained the altar of burnt offering, thetabernacle itself consisted of two apartments called the holy and themost holy place, separated by a rich and beautiful curtain, or veil; asimilar veil closed the entrance to the first apartment.

In the holy place was the candlestick, on the south, with its sevenlamps giving light to the sanctuary both by day and by night; on thenorth stood the table of shewbread; and before the veil separatingthe holy from the most holy was the golden altar of incense, fromwhich the cloud of fragrance, with the prayers of Israel, was dailyascending before God.

In the most holy place stood the ark, a chest of precious woodoverlaid with gold, the depository of the two tables of stone uponwhich God had inscribed the law of Ten Commandments. Above theark, and forming the cover to the sacred chest, was the mercy seat, amagnificent piece of workmanship, surmounted by two cherubim,one at each end, and all wrought of solid gold. In this apartment thedivine presence was manifested in the cloud of glory between the cherubim.


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After the settlement of the Hebrews in Canaan, the tabernaclewas replaced by the temple of Solomon, which, though a permanentstructure and upon a larger scale, observed the same proportions, andwas similarly furnished. In this form the sanctuary existed—exceptwhile it lay in ruins in Daniel’s time—until its destruction by theRomans, in A.D. 70.

This is the only sanctuary that ever existed on the earth, of whichthe Bible gives any information. This was declared by Paul to bethe sanctuary of the first covenant. But has the new covenant nosanctuary?

Turning again to the book of Hebrews, the seekers for truthfound that the existence of a second, or new-covenant sanctuary, wasimplied in the words of Paul already quoted: “Then verily the firstcovenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.” And the use of the word “also” intimates that Paul has beforemade mention of this sanctuary. Turning back to the beginning ofthe previous chapter, they read: “Now of the things which we havespoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest, who is set onthe right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a Ministerof the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched,and not man.” Hebrews 8:1, 2.

Here is revealed the sanctuary of the new covenant. The sanctuary of the first covenant was pitched by man, built by Moses; thisis pitched by the Lord, not by man. In that sanctuary the earthlypriests performed their service; in this, Christ, our great High Priest,ministers at God’s right hand. One sanctuary was on earth, the otheris in heaven.

Further, the tabernacle built by Moses was made after a pattern.The Lord directed him: “According to all that I show thee, afterthe pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instrumentsthereof, even so shall ye make it.” And again the charge was given,“Look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showedthee in the mount.” Exodus 25:9, 40. And Paul says that the firsttabernacle “was a figure for the time then present, in which wereoffered both gifts and sacrifices;” that its holy places were “patternsof things in the heavens;” that the priests who offered gifts accordingto the law served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things,” and that “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”Hebrews 9:9, 23;8:5;9:24.

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The sanctuary in heaven, in which Jesus ministers in our behalf,is the great original, of which the sanctuary built by Moses wasa copy. God placed His Spirit upon the builders of the earthlysanctuary. The artistic skill displayed in its construction was amanifestation of divine wisdom. The walls had the appearance ofmassive gold, reflecting in every direction the light of the sevenlamps of the golden candlestick. The table of shewbread and thealtar of incense glittered like burnished gold. The gorgeous curtainwhich formed the ceiling, inwrought with figures of angels in blueand purple and scarlet, added to the beauty of the scene. And beyondthe second veil was the holy Shekinah, the visible manifestation ofGod’s glory, before which none but the high priest could enter andlive.

The matchless splendor of the earthly tabernacle reflected tohuman vision the glories of that heavenly temple where Christ ourforerunner ministers for us before the throne of God. The abidingplace of the King of kings, where thousand thousands minister untoHim, and ten thousand times ten thousand stand before Him (Daniel7:10); that temple, filled with the glory of the eternal throne, whereseraphim, its shining guardians, veil their faces in adoration, couldfind, in the most magnificent structure ever reared by human hands,but a faint reflection of its vastness and glory. Yet important truthsconcerning the heavenly sanctuary and the great work there carriedforward for man’s redemption were taught by the earthly sanctuaryand its services.

The holy places of the sanctuary in heaven are represented by thetwo apartments in the sanctuary on earth. As in vision the apostleJohn was granted a view of the temple of God in heaven, he beheldthere “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.” Revelation4:5. He saw an angel “having a golden censer; and there was givenunto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of allsaints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” Revelation8:3. Here the prophet was permitted to behold the first apartment ofthe sanctuary in heaven; and he saw there the “seven lamps of fire”and “the golden altar,”


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represented by the golden candlestick andthe altar of incense in the sanctuary on earth. Again, “the templeof God was opened” (Revelation 11:19), and he looked within theinner veil, upon the holy of holies. Here he beheld “the ark of Histestament,” represented by the sacred chest constructed by Moses tocontain the law of God.

Thus those who were studying the subject found indisputableproof of the existence of a sanctuary in heaven. Moses made theearthly sanctuary after a pattern which was shown him. Paul teachesthat that pattern was the true sanctuary which is in heaven. And Johntestifies that he saw it in heaven.

In the temple in heaven, the dwelling place of God, His throne isestablished in righteousness and judgment. In the most holy place isHis law, the great rule of right by which all mankind are tested. Theark that enshrines the tables of the law is covered with the mercyseat, before which Christ pleads His blood in the sinner’s behalf.Thus is represented the union of justice and mercy in the plan ofhuman redemption. This union infinite wisdom alone could deviseand infinite power accomplish; it is a union that fills all heavenwith wonder and adoration. The cherubim of the earthly sanctuary,looking reverently down upon the mercy seat, represent the interestwith which the heavenly host contemplate the work of redemption.This is the mystery of mercy into which angels desire to look—thatGod can be just while He justifies the repenting sinner and renewsHis intercourse with the fallen race; that Christ could stoop to raiseunnumbered multitudes from the abyss of ruin and clothe them withthe spotless garments of His own righteousness to unite with angelswho have never fallen and to dwell forever in the presence of God.

The work of Christ as man’s intercessor is presented in thatbeautiful prophecy of Zechariah concerning Him “whose name isthe Branch.” Says the prophet: “He shall build the temple of theLord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His[the Father’s] throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: andthe counsel of peace shall be between Them both.” Zechariah 6:12,13.

“He shall build the temple of the Lord.” By His sacrifice andmediation Christ is both the foundation and the builder of the churchof God. The apostle Paul points to Him as “the chief Cornerstone;in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also,” he says, “are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”Ephesians 2:20-22.

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“He shall bear the glory.” To Christ belongs the glory of redemption for the fallen race. Through the eternal ages, the song of theransomed ones will be: “Unto Him that loved us, and washed usfrom our sins in His own blood, ... to Him be glory and dominionfor ever and ever.” Revelation 1:5, 6.

He “shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priestupon His throne.” Not now “upon the throne of His glory;” thekingdom of glory has not yet been ushered in. Not until His workas a mediator shall be ended will God “give unto Him the throneof His father David,” a kingdom of which “there shall be no end.”Luke 1:32, 33. As a priest, Christ is now set down with the Fatherin His throne. Revelation 3:21. Upon the throne with the eternal,self-existent One is He who “hath borne our griefs, and carried oursorrows,” who “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet withoutsin,” that He might be “able to succor them that are tempted.” “Ifany man sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” Isaiah 53:4;Hebrews 4:15; 2:18; 1 John 2:1. His intercession is that of a piercedand broken body, of a spotless life. The wounded hands, the piercedside, the marred feet, plead for fallen man, whose redemption waspurchased at such infinite cost.

“And the counsel of peace shall be between Them both.” Thelove of the Father, no less than of the Son, is the fountain of salvationfor the lost race. Said Jesus to His disciples before He went away:“I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for theFather Himself loveth you.” John 16:26, 27. God was “in Christ,reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. And inthe ministration in the sanctuary above, “the counsel of peace shallbe between Them both.” “God so loved the world, that He gaveHis only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should notperish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

(Video) Great Controversy - Cosmic Conflict

The question, What is the sanctuary? is clearly answered in theScriptures. The term “sanctuary,” as used in the Bible, refers, first,to the tabernacle built by Moses, as a pattern of heavenly things; and,secondly, to the “true tabernacle” in heaven, to which the earthlysanctuary pointed. At the death of Christ the typical service ended.


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The “true tabernacle” in heaven is the sanctuary of the new covenant.And as the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 is fulfilled in this dispensation,the sanctuary to which it refers must be the sanctuary of the newcovenant. At the termination of the 2300 days, in 1844, there hadbeen no sanctuary on earth for many centuries. Thus the prophecy,“Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuarybe cleansed,” unquestionably points to the sanctuary in heaven.

But the most important question remains to be answered: Whatis the cleansing of the sanctuary? That there was such a service inconnection with the earthly sanctuary is stated in the Old TestamentScriptures. But can there be anything in heaven to be cleansed?In Hebrews 9 the cleansing of both the earthly and the heavenlysanctuary is plainly taught. “Almost all things are by the law purgedwith blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It wastherefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens shouldbe purified with these [the blood of animals]; but the heavenly thingsthemselves with better sacrifices than these” (Hebrews 9:22, 23),even the precious blood of Christ.

The cleansing, both in the typical and in the real service, must beaccomplished with blood: in the former, with the blood of animals;in the latter, with the blood of Christ. Paul states, as the reason whythis cleansing must be performed with blood, that without sheddingof blood is no remission. Remission, or putting away of sin, is thework to be accomplished. But how could there be sin connectedwith the sanctuary, either in heaven or upon the earth? This maybe learned by reference to the symbolic service; for the priests whoofficiated on earth, served “unto the example and shadow of heavenlythings.” Hebrews 8:5.

The ministration of the earthly sanctuary consisted of two divisions; the priests ministered daily in the holy place, while once ayear the high priest performed a special work of atonement in themost holy, for the cleansing of the sanctuary. Day by day the repentant sinner brought his offering to the door of the tabernacle and,placing his hand upon the victim’s head, confessed his sins, thusin figure transferring them from himself to the innocent sacrifice.The animal was then slain. “Without shedding of blood,” says theapostle, there is no remission of sin. “The life of the flesh is inthe blood.” Leviticus 17:11. The broken law of God demanded thelife of the transgressor.

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The blood, representing the forfeited lifeof the sinner, whose guilt the victim bore, was carried by the priestinto the holy place and sprinkled before the veil, behind which wasthe ark containing the law that the sinner had transgressed. By thisceremony the sin was, through the blood, transferred in figure to thesanctuary. In some cases the blood was not taken into the holy place;but the flesh was then to be eaten by the priest, as Moses directedthe sons of Aaron, saying: “God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation.” Leviticus 10:17. Both ceremonies alikesymbolized the transfer of the sin from the penitent to the sanctuary.

Such was the work that went on, day by day, throughout the year.The sins of Israel were thus transferred to the sanctuary, and a specialwork became necessary for their removal. God commanded that anatonement be made for each of the sacred apartments. “He shallmake an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannessof the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in alltheir sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation,that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.” Anatonement was also to be made for the altar, to “cleanse it, andhallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.” Leviticus16:16, 19.

Once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, the priest enteredthe most holy place for the cleansing of the sanctuary. The workthere performed completed the yearly round of ministration. On theDay of Atonement two kids of the goats were brought to the doorof the tabernacle, and lots were cast upon them, “one lot for theLord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.” Verse 8. The goat uponwhich fell the lot for the Lord was to be slain as a sin offering forthe people. And the priest was to bring his blood within the veil andsprinkle it upon the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. The bloodwas also to be sprinkled upon the altar of incense that was beforethe veil.

“And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the livegoat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel,and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon thehead of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fitman into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all theiriniquities unto a land not inhabited.” Verses 21, 22. The scapegoatcame no more into the camp of Israel, and the man who led him away was required to wash himself and his clothing with water before returning to the camp.


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The whole ceremony was designed to impress the Israelites withthe holiness of God and His abhorrence of sin; and, further, to showthem that they could not come in contact with sin without becomingpolluted. Every man was required to afflict his soul while this workof atonement was going forward. All business was to be laid aside,and the whole congregation of Israel were to spend the day in solemn humiliation before God, with prayer, fasting, and deep searching of heart.


Important truths concerning the atonement are taught by thetypical service. A substitute was accepted in the sinner’s stead; butthe sin was not canceled by the blood of the victim. A means wasthus provided by which it was transferred to the sanctuary. By theoffering of blood the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law,confessed his guilt in transgression, and expressed his desire forpardon through faith in a Redeemer to come; but he was not yetentirely released from the condemnation of the law. On the Dayof Atonement the high priest, having taken an offering from thecongregation, went into the most holy place with the blood of thisoffering, and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat, directly over the law,to make satisfaction for its claims. Then, in his character of mediator,he took the sins upon himself and bore them from the sanctuary.Placing his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, he confessed overhim all these sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself tothe goat. The goat then bore them away, and they were regarded asforever separated from the people.

Such was the service performed “unto the example and shadowof heavenly things.” And what was done in type in the ministrationof the earthly sanctuary is done in reality in the ministration of theheavenly sanctuary. After His ascension our Saviour began His workas our high priest. Says Paul: “Christ is not entered into the holyplaces made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but intoheaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Hebrews9:24.

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The ministration of the priest throughout the year in the first apartment of the sanctuary, “within the veil” which formed the doorand separated the holy place from the outer court, represents thework of ministration upon which Christ entered at His ascension. Itwas the work of the priest in the daily ministration to present beforeGod the blood of the sin offering, also the incense which ascendedwith the prayers of Israel. So did Christ plead His blood before theFather in behalf of sinners, and present before Him also, with theprecious fragrance of His own righteousness, the prayers of penitentbelievers. Such was the work of ministration in the first apartmentof the sanctuary in heaven.

Thither the faith of Christ’s disciples followed Him as He ascended from their sight. Here their hopes centered, “which hope wehave,” said Paul, “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunneris for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever.” “Neitherby the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He enteredin once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption forus.” Hebrews 6:19, 20; 9:12.

For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued inthe first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleadedin behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptancewith the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record.As in the typical service there was a work of atonement at the closeof the year, so before Christ’s work for the redemption of men iscompleted there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin fromthe sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 daysended. At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our HighPriest entered the most holy, to perform the last division of Hissolemn work—to cleanse the sanctuary.

As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon thesin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthlysanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faithplaced upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary.And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished bythe removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actualcleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, orblotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before thiscan be accomplished, there must be an examination of the booksof record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith inChrist, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation—a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works.Revelation 22:12.


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Thus those who followed in the light of the prophetic word sawthat, instead of coming to the earth at the termination of the 2300days in 1844, Christ then entered the most holy place of the heavenlysanctuary to perform the closing work of atonement preparatory toHis coming.

It was seen, also, that while the sin offering pointed to Christas a sacrifice, and the high priest represented Christ as a mediator,the scapegoat typified Satan, the author of sin, upon whom the sinsof the truly penitent will finally be placed. When the high priest,by virtue of the blood of the sin offering, removed the sins fromthe sanctuary, he placed them upon the scapegoat. When Christ,by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people fromthe heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He willplace them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, mustbear the final penalty. The scapegoat was sent away into a land notinhabited, never to come again into the congregation of Israel. Sowill Satan be forever banished from the presence of God and Hispeople, and he will be blotted from existence in the final destructionof sin and sinners.

Chapter 24—In the Holy of Holies

The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked themystery of the disappointment of 1844. It opened to view a completesystem of truth, connected and harmonious, showing that God’shand had directed the great advent movement and revealing presentduty as it brought to light the position and work of His people.As the disciples of Jesus after the terrible night of their anguishand disappointment were “glad when they saw the Lord,” so didthose now rejoice who had looked in faith for His second coming.They had expected Him to appear in glory to give reward to Hisservants. As their hopes were disappointed, they had lost sight ofJesus, and with Mary at the sepulcher they cried: “They have takenaway my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” Nowin the holy of holies they again beheld Him, their compassionateHigh Priest, soon to appear as their king and deliverer. Light fromthe sanctuary illumined the past, the present, and the future. Theyknew that God had led them by His unerring providence. Though,like the first disciples, they themselves had failed to understand themessage which they bore, yet it had been in every respect correct.In proclaiming it they had fulfilled the purpose of God, and theirlabor had not been in vain in the Lord. Begotten “again unto a livelyhope,” they rejoiced “with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

Both the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, “Unto two thousand and threehundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” and the firstangel’s message, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour ofHis judgment is come,” pointed to Christ’s ministration in the mostholy place, to the investigative judgment, and not to the coming ofChrist for the redemption of His people and the destruction of thewicked. The mistake had not been in the reckoning of the propheticperiods, but in the event to take place at the end of the 2300 days.Through this error the believers had suffered disappointment, yet allthat was foretold by the prophecy, and all that they had any Scripturewarrant to expect, had been accomplished. At the very time whenthey were lamenting the failure of their hopes, the event had taken place which was foretold by the message, and which must be fulfilled before the Lord could appear to give reward to His servants.



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Christ had come, not to the earth, as they expected, but, asforeshadowed in the type, to the most holy place of the temple ofGod in heaven. He is represented by the prophet Daniel as comingat this time to the Ancient of Days: “I saw in the night visions, and,behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,and came”—not to the earth, but—“to the Ancient of Days, and theybrought Him near before Him.” Daniel 7:13.

This coming is foretold also by the prophet Malachi: “The Lord,whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come,saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:1. The coming of the Lord toHis temple was sudden, unexpected, to His people. They were notlooking for Him there. They expected Him to come to earth, “inflaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and thatobey not the gospel.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8.

But the people were not yet ready to meet their Lord. There wasstill a work of preparation to be accomplished for them. Light was tobe given, directing their minds to the temple of God in heaven; andas they should by faith follow their High Priest in His ministrationthere, new duties would be revealed. Another message of warningand instruction was to be given to the church.

Says the prophet: “Who may abide the day of His coming? andwho shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire,and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier ofsilver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them asgold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering inrighteousness.” Malachi 3:2, 3. Those who are living upon the earthwhen the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary aboveare to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Theirrobes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sinby the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their owndiligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. Whilethe investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sinsof penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there isto be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, amongGod’s people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages ofRevelation 14.

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When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers ofChrist will be ready for His appearing. “Then shall the offering ofJudah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days ofold, and as in former years.” Malachi 3:4. Then the church whichour Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a “gloriouschurch, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Ephesians5:27. Then she will look “forth as the morning, fair as the moon,clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” Song ofSolomon 6:10.

Besides the coming of the Lord to His temple, Malachi alsoforetells His second advent, His coming for the execution of thejudgment, in these words: “And I will come near to you to judgment;and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against theadulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppressthe hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and thatturn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not Me, saith theLord of hosts.” Malachi 3:5. Jude refers to the same scene when hesays, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints,to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodlyamong them of all their ungodly deeds.” Jude 14, 15. This coming,and the coming of the Lord to His temple, are distinct and separateevents.

The coming of Christ as our high priest to the most holy place,for the cleansing of the sanctuary, brought to view in Daniel 8:14;the coming of the Son of man to the Ancient of Days, as presentedin Daniel 7:13; and the coming of the Lord to His temple, foretoldby Malachi, are descriptions of the same event; and this is also represented by the coming of the bridegroom to the marriage, describedby Christ in the parable of the ten virgins, of Matthew 25.

In the summer and autumn of 1844 the proclamation, “Behold,the Bridegroom cometh,” was given. The two classes representedby the wise and foolish virgins were then developed—one classwho looked with joy to the Lord’s appearing, and who had beendiligently preparing to meet Him; another class that, influenced byfear and acting from impulse, had been satisfied with a theory ofthe truth, but were destitute of the grace of God.


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In the parable,when the bridegroom came, “they that were ready went in withhim to the marriage.” The coming of the bridegroom, here broughtto view, takes place before the marriage. The marriage representsthe reception by Christ of His kingdom. The Holy City, the NewJerusalem, which is the capital and representative of the kingdom, iscalled “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” Said the angel to John: “Comehither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” “He carried meaway in the spirit,” says the prophet, “and showed me that great city,the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.” Revelation21:9, 10. Clearly, then, the bride represents the Holy City, andthe virgins that go out to meet the bridegroom are a symbol of thechurch. In the Revelation the people of God are said to be theguests at the marriage supper. Revelation 19:9. If guests, theycannot be represented also as the bride. Christ, as stated by theprophet Daniel, will receive from the Ancient of Days in heaven,“dominion, and glory, and a kingdom;” He will receive the NewJerusalem, the capital of His kingdom, “prepared as a bride adornedfor her husband.” Daniel 7:14; Revelation 21:2. Having receivedthe kingdom, He will come in His glory, as King of kings and Lordof lords, for the redemption of His people, who are to “sit downwith Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob,” at His table in His kingdom(Matthew 8:11; Luke 22:30), to partake of the marriage supper ofthe Lamb.

The proclamation, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh,” in thesummer of 1844, led thousands to expect the immediate advent ofthe Lord. At the appointed time the Bridegroom came, not to theearth, as the people expected, but to the Ancient of Days in heaven,to the marriage, the reception of His kingdom. “They that wereready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”They were not to be present in person at the marriage; for it takesplace in heaven, while they are upon the earth. The followers ofChrist are to “wait for their Lord, when He will return from thewedding.” Luke 12:36. But they are to understand His work, and tofollow Him by faith as He goes in before God. It is in this sense thatthey are said to go in to the marriage.

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In the parable it was those that had oil in their vessels with their lamps that went in to the marriage. Those who, with a knowledge of the truth from the Scriptures, had also the Spirit and grace ofGod, and who, in the night of their bitter trial, had patiently waited,searching the Bible for clearer light—these saw the truth concerningthe sanctuary in heaven and the Saviour’s change in ministration,and by faith they followed Him in His work in the sanctuary above.And all who through the testimony of the Scriptures accept thesame truths, following Christ by faith as He enters in before God toperform the last work of mediation, and at its close to receive Hiskingdom—all these are represented as going in to the marriage.

In the parable of Matthew 22 the same figure of the marriage isintroduced, and the investigative judgment is clearly represented astaking place before the marriage. Previous to the wedding the kingcomes in to see the guests, to see if all are attired in the weddinggarment, the spotless robe of character washed and made white inthe blood of the Lamb. Matthew 22:11; Revelation 7:14. He who isfound wanting is cast out, but all who upon examination are seen tohave the wedding garment on are accepted of God and accountedworthy of a share in His kingdom and a seat upon His throne. Thiswork of examination of character, of determining who are preparedfor the kingdom of God, is that of the investigative judgment, theclosing work in the sanctuary above.

When the work of investigation shall be ended, when the casesof those who in all ages have professed to be followers of Christhave been examined and decided, then, and not till then, probationwill close, and the door of mercy will be shut. Thus in the oneshort sentence, “They that were ready went in with Him to themarriage: and the door was shut,” we are carried down through theSaviour’s final ministration, to the time when the great work forman’s salvation shall be completed.

In the service of the earthly sanctuary, which, as we have seen,is a figure of the service in the heavenly, when the high priest onthe Day of Atonement entered the most holy place, the ministrationin the first apartment ceased. God commanded: “There shall beno man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in tomake an atonement in the holy place, until he comes out.” Leviticus16:17. So when Christ entered the holy of holies to perform theclosing work of the atonement, He ceased His ministration in thefirst apartment. But when the ministration in the first apartmentended, the ministration in the second apartment began.


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When in thetypical service the high priest left the holy on the Day of Atonement,he went in before God to present the blood of the sin offering inbehalf of all Israel who truly repented of their sins. So Christ hadonly completed one part of His work as our intercessor, to enterupon another portion of the work, and He still pleaded His bloodbefore the Father in behalf of sinners.

This subject was not understood by Adventists in 1844. Afterthe passing of the time when the Saviour was expected, they stillbelieved His coming to be near; they held that they had reached animportant crisis and that the work of Christ as man’s intercessorbefore God had ceased. It appeared to them to be taught in theBible that man’s probation would close a short time before the actualcoming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. This seemed evidentfrom those scriptures which point to a time when men will seek,knock, and cry at the door of mercy, and it will not be opened. And itwas a question with them whether the date to which they had lookedfor the coming of Christ might not rather mark the beginning of thisperiod which was immediately to precede His coming. Having giventhe warning of the judgment near, they felt that their work for theworld was done, and they lost their burden of soul for the salvationof sinners, while the bold and blasphemous scoffing of the ungodlyseemed to them another evidence that the Spirit of God had beenwithdrawn from the rejecters of His mercy. All this confirmed themin the belief that probation had ended, or, as they then expressed it,“the door of mercy was shut.”

But clearer light came with the investigation of the sanctuaryquestion. They now saw that they were correct in believing thatthe end of the 2300 days in 1844 marked an important crisis. Butwhile it was true that that door of hope and mercy by which menhad for eighteen hundred years found access to God, was closed,another door was opened, and forgiveness of sins was offered tomen through the intercession of Christ in the most holy. One partof His ministration had closed, only to give place to another. Therewas still an “open door” to the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ wasministering in the sinner’s behalf.


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Now was seen the application of those words of Christ in the Revelation, addressed to the church at this very time: “These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David,He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no manopeneth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an opendoor, and no man can shut it.” Revelation 3:7, 8.

It is those who by faith follow Jesus in the great work of theatonement who receive the benefits of His mediation in their behalf,while those who reject the light which brings to view this workof ministration are not benefited thereby. The Jews who rejectedthe light given at Christ’s first advent, and refused to believe onHim as the Saviour of the world, could not receive pardon throughHim. When Jesus at His ascension entered by His own blood intothe heavenly sanctuary to shed upon His disciples the blessingsof His mediation, the Jews were left in total darkness to continuetheir useless sacrifices and offerings. The ministration of types andshadows had ceased. That door by which men had formerly foundaccess to God was no longer open. The Jews had refused to seekHim in the only way whereby He could then be found, through theministration in the sanctuary in heaven. Therefore they found nocommunion with God. To them the door was shut. They had noknowledge of Christ as the true sacrifice and the only mediator beforeGod; hence they could not receive the benefits of His mediation.

The condition of the unbelieving Jews illustrates the conditionof the careless and unbelieving among professed Christians, whoare willingly ignorant of the work of our merciful High Priest. Inthe typical service, when the high priest entered the most holy place,all Israel were required to gather about the sanctuary and in themost solemn manner humble their souls before God, that they mightreceive the pardon of their sins and not be cut off from the congregation. How much more essential in this antitypical Day of Atonementthat we understand the work of our High Priest and know what dutiesare required of us.

Men cannot with impunity reject the warning which God inmercy sends them. A message was sent from heaven to the world inNoah’s day, and their salvation depended upon the manner in whichthey treated that message. Because they rejected the warning, theSpirit of God was withdrawn from the sinful race, and they perishedin the waters of the Flood. In the time of Abraham, mercy ceased toplead with the guilty inhabitants of Sodom, and all but Lot with hiswife and two daughters were consumed by the fire sent down fromheaven.


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So in the days of Christ. The Son of God declared to theunbelieving Jews of that generation: “Your house is left unto youdesolate.” Matthew 23:38. Looking down to the last days, the sameInfinite Power declares, concerning those who “received not the loveof the truth, that they might be saved“: “For this cause God shallsend them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that theyall might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasurein unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. As they reject theteachings of His word, God withdraws His Spirit and leaves them tothe deceptions which they love.

But Christ still intercedes in man’s behalf, and light will be givento those who seek it. Though this was not at first understood byAdventists, it was afterward made plain as the Scriptures whichdefine their true position began to open before them.

The passing of the time in 1844 was followed by a period ofgreat trial to those who still held the advent faith. Their only relief,so far as ascertaining their true position was concerned, was the lightwhich directed their minds to the sanctuary above. Some renouncedtheir faith in their former reckoning of the prophetic periods andascribed to human or satanic agencies the powerful influence of theHoly Spirit which had attended the advent movement. Another classfirmly held that the Lord had led them in their past experience; andas they waited and watched and prayed to know the will of God theysaw that their great High Priest had entered upon another work ofministration, and, following Him by faith, they were led to see alsothe closing work of the church. They had a clearer understanding ofthe first and second angels’ messages, and were prepared to receiveand give to the world the solemn warning of the third angel ofRevelation 14.

Chapter 25—God’s Law Immutable

The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen inHis temple the ark of His testament.” Revelation 11:19. The ark ofGod’s testament is in the holy of holies, the second apartment of thesanctuary. In the ministration of the earthly tabernacle, which served“unto the example and shadow of heavenly things,” this apartmentwas opened only upon the great Day of Atonement for the cleansingof the sanctuary. Therefore the announcement that the temple of Godwas opened in heaven and the ark of His testament was seen pointsto the opening of the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuaryin 1844 as Christ entered there to perform the closing work of theatonement. Those who by faith followed their great High Priest asHe entered upon His ministry in the most holy place, beheld the arkof His testament. As they had studied the subject of the sanctuarythey had come to understand the Saviour’s change of ministration,and they saw that He was now officiating before the ark of God,pleading His blood in behalf of sinners.

The ark in the tabernacle on earth contained the two tables ofstone, upon which were inscribed the precepts of the law of God.The ark was merely a receptacle for the tables of the law, and thepresence of these divine precepts gave to it its value and sacredness.When the temple of God was opened in heaven, the ark of Histestament was seen. Within the holy of holies, in the sanctuaryin heaven, the divine law is sacredly enshrined—the law that wasspoken by God Himself amid the thunders of Sinai and written withHis own finger on the tables of stone.

The law of God in the sanctuary in heaven is the great original,of which the precepts inscribed upon the tables of stone and recordedby Moses in the Pentateuch were an unerring transcript. Those whoarrived at an understanding of this important point were thus ledto see the sacred, unchanging character of the divine law. Theysaw, as never before, the force of the Saviour’s words: “Till heavenand earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.”Matthew 5:18. The law of God, being a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, must forever endure, “as a faithful witness in heaven.” Not one command has been annulled; not a jot or tittle has been changed. Says the psalmist: “Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.” “All His commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever.”Psalm 119:89;111:7, 8.



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In the very bosom of the Decalogue is the fourth commandment,as it was first proclaimed: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep itholy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventhday is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do anywork, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thymaidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all thatin them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessedthe Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11.

The Spirit of God impressed the hearts of those students of Hisword. The conviction was urged upon them that they had ignorantlytransgressed this precept by disregarding the Creator’s rest day. Theybegan to examine the reasons for observing the first day of the weekinstead of the day which God had sanctified. They could find noevidence in the Scriptures that the fourth commandment had beenabolished, or that the Sabbath had been changed; the blessing whichfirst hallowed the seventh day had never been removed. They hadbeen honestly seeking to know and to do God’s will; now, as theysaw themselves transgressors of His law, sorrow filled their hearts,and they manifested their loyalty to God by keeping His Sabbathholy.

Many and earnest were the efforts made to overthrow their faith.None could fail to see that if the earthly sanctuary was a figureor pattern of the heavenly, the law deposited in the ark on earthwas an exact transcript of the law in the ark in heaven; and that anacceptance of the truth concerning the heavenly sanctuary involvedan acknowledgment of the claims of God’s law and the obligation ofthe Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Here was the secret of thebitter and determined opposition to the harmonious exposition of theScriptures that revealed the ministration of Christ in the heavenlysanctuary. Men sought to close the door which God had opened, andto open the door which He had closed. But “He that openeth, andno man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth,” had declared: “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.”Revelation 3:7, 8. Christ had opened the door, or ministration, of the most holy place, light was shining from that open door of the sanctuary in heaven, and the fourth commandment was shown to be included in the law which is there enshrined; what God had established, no man could overthrow.

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Those who had accepted the light concerning the mediationof Christ and the perpetuity of the law of God found that thesewere the truths presented in Revelation 14. The messages of thischapter constitute a threefold warning (see Appendix) which is toprepare the inhabitants of the earth for the Lord’s second coming.The announcement, “The hour of His judgment is come,” pointsto the closing work of Christ’s ministration for the salvation ofmen. It heralds a truth which must be proclaimed until the Saviour’sintercession shall cease and He shall return to the earth to take Hispeople to Himself. The work of judgment which began in 1844 mustcontinue until the cases of all are decided, both of the living and thedead; hence it will extend to the close of human probation. That menmay be prepared to stand in the judgment, the message commandsthem to “fear God, and give glory to Him,” “and worship Him thatmade heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”The result of an acceptance of these messages is given in the word:“Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith ofJesus.” In order to be prepared for the judgment, it is necessary thatmen should keep the law of God. That law will be the standard ofcharacter in the judgment. The apostle Paul declares: “As many ashave sinned in the law shall be judged by the law, ... in the day whenGod shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” And he saysthat “the doers of the law shall be justified.” Romans 2:12-16. Faithis essential in order to the keeping of the law of God; for “withoutfaith it is impossible to please Him.” And “whatsoever is not of faithis sin.” Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:23.

By the first angel, men are called upon to “fear God, and giveglory to Him” and to worship Him as the Creator of the heavensand the earth. In order to do this, they must obey His law. Says thewise man: “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is thewhole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13. Without obedience to Hiscommandments no worship can be pleasing to God. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”1 John 5:3;Proverbs 28:9.


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The duty to worship God is based upon the fact that He is theCreator and that to Him all other beings owe their existence. Andwherever, in the Bible, His claim to reverence and worship, abovethe gods of the heathen, is presented, there is cited the evidence ofHis creative power. “All the gods of the nations are idols: but theLord made the heavens.” Psalm 96:5. “To whom then will ye likenMe, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes onhigh, and behold who hath created these things.” “Thus saith theLord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earthand made it: ... I am the Lord; and there is none else.” Isaiah 40:25,26; 45:18. Says the psalmist: “Know ye that the Lord He is God:it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.” “O come, let usworship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”Psalm 100:3; 95:6. And the holy beings who worship God in heavenstate, as the reason why their homage is due to Him: “Thou artworthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thouhast created all things.” Revelation 4:11.

In Revelation 14, men are called upon to worship the Creator;and the prophecy brings to view a class that, as the result of thethreefold message, are keeping the commandments of God. Oneof these commandments points directly to God as the Creator. Thefourth precept declares: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lordthy God: ... for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, thesea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: whereforethe Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:10,11. Concerning the Sabbath, the Lord says, further, that it is “a sign,... that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:20.And the reason given is: “For in six days the Lord made heaven andearth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.” Exodus31:17.

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“The importance of the Sabbath as the memorial of creation is that it keeps ever present the true reason why worship is due to God”—because He is the Creator, and we are His creatures. “The Sabbath therefore lies at the very foundation of divine worship, forit teaches this great truth in the most impressive manner, and noother institution does this. The true ground of divine worship, notof that on the seventh day merely, but of all worship, is found inthe distinction between the Creator and His creatures. This greatfact can never become obsolete, and must never be forgotten.”—J.N. Andrews, History of the Sabbath, chapter 27. It was to keepthis truth ever before the minds of men, that God instituted theSabbath in Eden; and so long as the fact that He is our Creatorcontinues to be a reason why we should worship Him, so long theSabbath will continue as its sign and memorial. Had the Sabbathbeen universally kept, man’s thoughts and affections would havebeen led to the Creator as the object of reverence and worship, andthere would never have been an idolater, an atheist, or an infidel. Thekeeping of the Sabbath is a sign of loyalty to the true God, “Him thatmade heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Itfollows that the message which commands men to worship God andkeep His commandments will especially call upon them to keep thefourth commandment.

In contrast to those who keep the commandments of God andhave the faith of Jesus, the third angel points to another class, againstwhose errors a solemn and fearful warning is uttered: “If any manworship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead,or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath ofGod.” Revelation 14:9, 10. A correct interpretation of the symbolsemployed is necessary to an understanding of this message. What isrepresented by the beast, the image, the mark?

The line of prophecy in which these symbols are found beginswith Revelation 12, with the dragon that sought to destroy Christ atHis birth. The dragon is said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9); he it wasthat moved upon Herod to put the Saviour to death. But the chiefagent of Satan in making war upon Christ and His people duringthe first centuries of the Christian Era was the Roman Empire, inwhich paganism was the prevailing religion. Thus while the dragon,primarily, represents Satan, it is, in a secondary sense, a symbol ofpagan Rome.


374 The Great Controversy

In chapter 13 (verses 1-10) is described another beast, “like unto a leopard,” to which the dragon gave “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” This symbol, as most Protestants have believed,represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat andauthority once held by the ancient Roman empire. Of the leopardlikebeast it is declared: “There was given unto him a mouth speakinggreat things and blasphemies.... And he opened his mouth in blas-phemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, andthem that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make warwith the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given himover all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” This prophecy, whichis nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7,unquestionably points to the papacy.

“Power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.”And, says the prophet, “I saw one of his heads as it were woundedto death.” And again: “He that leadeth into captivity shall go intocaptivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with thesword.” The forty and two months are the same as the “time andtimes and the dividing of time,” three years and a half, or 1260 days,of Daniel 7 - - the time during which the papal power was to oppressGod’s people. This period, as stated in preceding chapters, beganwith the supremacy of the papacy, A.D. 538, and terminated in1798. At that time the pope was made captive by the French army,the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction wasfulfilled, “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity.”

At this point another symbol is introduced. Says the prophet:“I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he hadtwo horns like a lamb.” Verse 11. Both the appearance of thisbeast and the manner of its rise indicate that the nation which itrepresents is unlike those presented under the preceding symbols.The great kingdoms that have ruled the world were presented to theprophet Daniel as beasts of prey, rising when “the four winds ofthe heaven strove upon the great sea.” Daniel 7:2. In Revelation 17an angel explained that waters represent “peoples, and multitudes,and nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15. Winds are a symbol ofstrife. The four winds of heaven striving upon the great sea representthe terrible scenes of conquest and revolution by which kingdomshave attained to power.


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But the beast with lamblike horns was seen “coming up out of the earth.” Instead of overthrowing other powers to establish itself, the nation thus represented must arise in territory previouslyunoccupied and grow up gradually and peacefully. It could not, then,arise among the crowded and struggling nationalities of the OldWorld—that turbulent sea of “peoples, and multitudes, and nations,and tongues.” It must be sought in the Western Continent.

What nation of the New World was in 1798 rising into power,giving promise of strength and greatness, and attracting the attentionof the world? The application of the symbol admits of no question.One nation, and only one, meets the specifications of this prophecy;it points unmistakably to the United States of America. Again andagain the thought, almost the exact words, of the sacred writer hasbeen unconsciously employed by the orator and the historian indescribing the rise and growth of this nation. The beast was seen“coming up out of the earth;” and, according to the translators, theword here rendered “coming up” literally signifies “to grow or springup as a plant.” And, as we have seen, the nation must arise in territorypreviously unoccupied. A prominent writer, describing the rise ofthe United States, speaks of “the mystery of her coming forth fromvacancy,“ and says: “Like a silent seed we grew into empire.”—G.A. Townsend, The New World Compared With the Old, page 462. AEuropean journal in 1850 spoke of the United States as a wonderfulempire, which was “emerging,” and “amid the silence of the earthdaily adding to its power and pride.”—The Dublin Nation. EdwardEverett, in an oration on the Pilgrim founders of this nation, said:“Did they look for a retired spot, inoffensive for its obscurity, andsafe in its remoteness, where the little church of Leyden might enjoythe freedom of conscience? Behold the mighty regions over which,in peaceful conquest, ... they have borne the banners of the cross!”—Speech delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, Dec. 22, 1824, page11.

“And he had two horns like a lamb.” The lamblike horns indicateyouth, innocence, and gentleness, fitly representing the characterof the United States when presented to the prophet as “coming up”in 1798. Among the Christian exiles who first fled to America andsought an asylum from royal oppression and priestly intolerancewere many who determined to establish a government upon thebroad foundation of civil and religious liberty. Their views foundplace in the Declaration of Independence, which sets forth the greattruth that “all men are created equal” and endowed with the inalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”


376 The Great Controversy

And theConstitution guarantees to the people the right of self-government,providing that representatives elected by the popular vote shall enact and administer the laws. Freedom of religious faith was alsogranted, every man being permitted to worship God according to thedictates of his conscience. Republicanism and Protestantism becamethe fundamental principles of the nation. These principles are thesecret of its power and prosperity. The oppressed and downtroddenthroughout Christendom have turned to this land with interest andhope. Millions have sought its shores, and the United States hasrisen to a place among the most powerful nations of the earth.

But the beast with lamblike horns “spake as a dragon. And heexerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth theearth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whosedeadly wound was healed; ... saying to them that dwell on the earth,that they should make an image to the beast, which had the woundby a sword, and did live.” Revelation 13:11-14.

The lamblike horns and dragon voice of the symbol point to astriking contradiction between the professions and the practice ofthe nation thus represented. The “speaking” of the nation is theaction of its legislative and judicial authorities. By such action it willgive the lie to those liberal and peaceful principles which it has putforth as the foundation of its policy. The prediction that it will speak“as a dragon” and exercise “all the power of the first beast” plainlyforetells a development of the spirit of intolerance and persecutionthat was manifested by the nations represented by the dragon and theleopardlike beast. And the statement that the beast with two horns“causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the firstbeast” indicates that the authority of this nation is to be exercised inenforcing some observance which shall be an act of homage to thepapacy.

Such action would be directly contrary to the principles of thisgovernment, to the genius of its free institutions, to the direct andsolemn avowals of the Declaration of Independence, and to theConstitution. The founders of the nation wisely sought to guardagainst the employment of secular power on the part of the church,with its inevitable result—intolerance and persecution.

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The Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting anestablishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,”and that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification toany office or public trust under the United States.” Only in flagrantviolation of these safeguards to the nation’s liberty, can any religiousobservance be enforced by civil authority. But the inconsistencyof such action is no greater than is represented in the symbol. Itis the beast with lamblike horns—in profession pure, gentle, andharmless—that speaks as a dragon.

“Saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make animage to the beast.” Here is clearly presented a form of governmentin which the legislative power rests with the people, a most strikingevidence that the United States is the nation denoted in the prophecy.

But what is the “image to the beast”? and how is it to be formed?The image is made by the two-horned beast, and is an image tothe beast. It is also called an image of the beast. Then to learnwhat the image is like and how it is to be formed we must study thecharacteristics of the beast itself—the papacy.

When the early church became corrupted by departing from thesimplicity of the gospel and accepting heathen rites and customs,she lost the Spirit and power of God; and in order to control theconsciences of the people, she sought the support of the secularpower. The result was the papacy, a church that controlled the powerof the state and employed it to further her own ends, especially forthe punishment of “heresy.” In order for the United States to forman image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civilgovernment that the authority of the state will also be employed bythe church to accomplish her own ends.

Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines. Protestant churchesthat have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliance withworldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict libertyof conscience. An example of this is given in the long-continuedpersecution of dissenters by the Church of England. During thesixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands of nonconformistministers were forced to flee from their churches, and many, both ofpastors and people, were subjected to fine, imprisonment, torture,and martyrdom.


It was apostasy that led the early church to seek the aid of thecivil government, and this prepared the way for the developmentof the papacy—the beast. Said Paul: “There” shall “come a fallingaway, ... and that man of sin be revealed.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Soapostasy in the church will prepare the way for the image to thebeast.

The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord therewill exist a state of religious declension similar to that in the firstcenturies. “In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shallbe lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers,disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection,trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of thosethat are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures morethan lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying thepower thereof.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly,that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heedto seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. Satanwill work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and withall deceivableness of unrighteousness.” And all that “received notthe love of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left to accept“strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thessalonians2:9-11. When this state of ungodliness shall be reached, the sameresults will follow as in the first centuries.

The wide diversity of belief in the Protestant churches is regardedby many as decisive proof that no effort to secure a forced uniformitycan ever be made. But there has been for years, in churches of theProtestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a unionbased upon common points of doctrine. To secure such a union, thediscussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed—howeverimportant they might be from a Bible standpoint—must necessarilybe waived.

Charles Beecher, in a sermon in the year 1846, declared thatthe ministry of “the evangelical Protestant denominations” is “notonly formed all the way up under a tremendous pressure of merelyhuman fear, but they live, and move, and breathe in a state of thingsradically corrupt, and appealing every hour to every baser elementof their nature to hush up the truth, and bow the knee to the powerof apostasy. Was not this the way things went with Rome? Are wenot living her life over again? And what do we see just ahead? An- other general council! A world’s convention! Evangelical alliance, and universal creed!”—Sermon on “The Bible a Sufficient Creed,” delivered at Fort Wayne, Indiana, Feb. 22, 1846. When this shall be gained, then, in the effort to secure complete uniformity, it will be only a step to the resort to force.


378 The Great Controversy

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When the leading churches of the United States, uniting uponsuch points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions,then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Romanhierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters willinevitably result.

The beast with two horns “causeth [commands] all, both smalland great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in theirright hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell,save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number ofhis name.” Revelation 13:16, 17. The third angel’s warning is: “Ifany man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in hisforehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrathof God.” “The beast” mentioned in this message, whose worship isenforced by the two-horned beast, is the first, or leopardlike beastof Revelation 13—the papacy. The “image to the beast” representsthat form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed whenthe Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for theenforcement of their dogmas. The “mark of the beast” still remainsto be defined.

After the warning against the worship of the beast and his imagethe prophecy declares: “Here are they that keep the commandmentsof God, and the faith of Jesus.” Since those who keep God’s commandments are thus placed in contrast with those that worship thebeast and his image and receive his mark, it follows that the keeping of God’s law, on the one hand, and its violation, on the other,will make the distinction between the worshipers of God and theworshipers of the beast.


380 The Great Controversy

The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments. Says Daniel, of the little horn, the papacy: “He shall think to change times and the law.”Daniel 7:25, R.V. And Paul styled the same power the “man of sin,”who was to exalt himself above God. One prophecy is a complementof the other. Only by changing God’s law could the papacy exaltitself above God; whoever should understandingly keep the law asthus changed would be giving supreme honor to that power by whichthe change was made. Such an act of obedience to papal laws wouldbe a mark of allegiance to the pope in the place of God.

The papacy has attempted to change the law of God. The secondcommandment, forbidding image worship, has been dropped fromthe law, and the fourth commandment has been so changed as toauthorize the observance of the first instead of the seventh day asthe Sabbath. But papists urge, as a reason for omitting the secondcommandment, that it is unnecessary, being included in the first,and that they are giving the law exactly as God designed it to beunderstood. This cannot be the change foretold by the prophet. Anintentional, deliberate change is presented: “He shall think to changethe times and the law.” The change in the fourth commandmentexactly fulfills the prophecy. For this the only authority claimed isthat of the church. Here the papal power openly sets itself aboveGod.

While the worshipers of God will be especially distinguished bytheir regard for the fourth commandment,—since this is the sign ofHis creative power and the witness to His claim upon man’s reverence and homage,—the worshipers of the beast will be distinguishedby their efforts to tear down the Creator’s memorial, to exalt theinstitution of Rome. It was in behalf of the Sunday that popery firstasserted its arrogant claims (see Appendix); and its first resort to thepower of the state was to compel the observance of Sunday as “theLord’s day.” But the Bible points to the seventh day, and not to thefirst, as the Lord’s day. Said Christ: “The Son of man is Lord alsoof the Sabbath.” The fourth commandment declares: “The seventhday is the Sabbath of the Lord.” And by the prophet Isaiah the Lorddesignates it: “My holy day.” Mark 2:28; Isaiah 58:13.

The claim so often put forth that Christ changed the Sabbathis disproved by His own words. In His Sermon on the Mount Hesaid: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you,Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise passfrom the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall breakone of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven,”Matthew 5:17-19.

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It is a fact generally admitted by Protestants that the Scripturesgive no authority for the change of the Sabbath. This is plainlystated in publications issued by the American Tract Society and theAmerican Sunday School Union. One of these works acknowledges“the complete silence of the New Testament so far as any explicitcommand for the Sabbath [Sunday, the first day of the week] ordefinite rules for its observance are concerned.”—George Elliott,The Abiding Sabbath, page 184.

Another says: “Up to the time of Christ’s death, no changehad been made in the day;” and, “so far as the record shows, they[the apostles] did not ... give any explicit command enjoining theabandonment of the seventh-day Sabbath, and its observance onthe first day of the week.”—A. E. Waffle, The Lord’s Day, pages186-188.

Roman Catholics acknowledge that the change of the Sabbathwas made by their church, and declare that Protestants by observingthe Sunday are recognizing her power. In the Catholic Catechismof Christian Religion, in answer to a question as to the day to beobserved in obedience to the fourth commandment, this statementis made: “During the old law, Saturday was the day sanctified; butthe church, instructed by Jesus Christ, and directed by the Spirit ofGod, has substituted Sunday for Saturday; so now we sanctify thefirst, not the seventh day. Sunday means, and now is, the day of theLord.”

As the sign of the authority of the Catholic Church, papist writerscite “the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; ... because by keeping Sunday, they acknowledge thechurch’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin.”—Henry Tuberville, An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine, page58. What then is the change of the Sabbath, but the sign, or mark, ofthe authority of the Roman Church—“the mark of the beast”?


382 The Great Controversy

The Roman Church has not relinquished her claim to supremacy; and when the world and the Protestant churches accept a sabbath of her creating, while they reject the Bible Sabbath, they virtuallyadmit this assumption. They may claim the authority of traditionand of the Fathers for the change; but in so doing they ignore thevery principle which separates them from Rome—that “the Bible,and the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants.” The papist cansee that they are deceiving themselves, willingly closing their eyesto the facts in the case. As the movement for Sunday enforcementgains favor, he rejoices, feeling assured that it will eventually bringthe whole Protestant world under the banner of Rome.

Romanists declare that “the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority ofthe [Catholic] Church.”—Mgr. Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, page 213. The enforcement of Sundaykeepingon the part of Protestant churches is an enforcement of the worshipof the papacy—of the beast. Those who, understanding the claimsof the fourth commandment, choose to observe the false instead ofthe true Sabbath are thereby paying homage to that power by whichalone it is commanded. But in the very act of enforcing a religiousduty by secular power, the churches would themselves form an image to the beast; hence the enforcement of Sundaykeeping in theUnited States would be an enforcement of the worship of the beastand his image.

But Christians of past generations observed the Sunday, supposing that in so doing they were keeping the Bible Sabbath; and thereare now true Christians in every church, not excepting the RomanCatholic communion, who honestly believe that Sunday is the Sabbath of divine appointment. God accepts their sincerity of purposeand their integrity before Him. But when Sunday observance shallbe enforced by law, and the world shall be enlightened concerningthe obligation of the true Sabbath, then whoever shall transgress thecommand of God, to obey a precept which has no higher authoritythan that of Rome, will thereby honor popery above God. He is paying homage to Rome and to the power which enforces the institutionordained by Rome. He is worshiping the beast and his image. Asmen then reject the institution which God has declared to be the signof His authority, and honor in its stead that which Rome has chosenas the token of her supremacy, they will thereby accept the sign ofallegiance to Rome—“the mark of the beast.” And it is not until theissue is thus plainly set before the people, and they are brought tochoose between the commandments of God and the commandments of men, that those who continue in transgression will receive “the mark of the beast.”

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The most fearful threatening ever addressed to mortals is contained in the third angel’s message. That must be a terrible sin whichcalls down the wrath of God unmingled with mercy. Men are notto be left in darkness concerning this important matter; the warningagainst this sin is to be given to the world before the visitation ofGod’s judgments, that all may know why they are to be inflicted,and have opportunity to escape them. Prophecy declares that thefirst angel would make his announcement to “every nation, andkindred, and tongue, and people.” The warning of the third angel,which forms a part of the same threefold message, is to be no lesswidespread. It is represented in the prophecy as being proclaimedwith a loud voice, by an angel flying in the midst of heaven; and itwill command the attention of the world.

In the issue of the contest all Christendom will be divided intotwo great classes—those who keep the commandments of God andthe faith of Jesus, and those who worship the beast and his imageand receive his mark. Although church and state will unite theirpower to compel “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free andbond” (Revelation 13:16), to receive “the mark of the beast,” yet thepeople of God will not receive it. The prophet of Patmos beholds“them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image,and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the seaof glass, having the harps of God” and singing the song of Mosesand the Lamb. Revelation 15:2, 3.


Chapter 26—A Work of Reform

The work of Sabbath reform to be accomplished in the last daysis foretold in the prophecy of Isaiah: “Thus saith the Lord, Keep yejudgment, and do justice: for My salvation is near to come, and Myrighteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, andthe son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath frompolluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.” “The sons ofthe stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and tolove the name of the Lord, to be His servants, everyone that keepeththe Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of My covenant; eventhem will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in Myhouse of prayer.” Isaiah 56:1, 2, 6, 7.

These words apply in the Christian age, as shown by the context:“The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet willI gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.”Verse 8. Here is foreshadowed the gathering in of the Gentiles bythe gospel. And upon those who then honor the Sabbath, a blessingis pronounced. Thus the obligation of the fourth commandmentextends past the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, tothe time when His servants should preach to all nations the messageof glad tidings.

The Lord commands by the same prophet: “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples.” Isaiah 8:16. The seal ofGod’s law is found in the fourth commandment. This only, of allthe ten, brings to view both the name and the title of the Lawgiver.It declares Him to be the Creator of the heavens and the earth, andthus shows His claim to reverence and worship above all others.Aside from this precept, there is nothing in the Decalogue to showby whose authority the law is given. When the Sabbath was changedby the papal power, the seal was taken from the law. The disciplesof Jesus are called upon to restore it by exalting the Sabbath ofthe fourth commandment to its rightful position as the Creator’smemorial and the sign of His authority.

“To the law and to the testimony.” While conflicting doctrines and theories abound, the law of God is the one unerring rule by which all opinions, doctrines, and theories are to be tested. Says the prophet: “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”Verse 20.



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Again, the command is given: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thyvoice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, andthe house of Jacob their sins.” It is not the wicked world, but thosewhom the Lord designates as “my people,” that are to be reproved fortheir transgressions. He declares further: “Yet they seek Me daily,and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness,and forsook not the ordinance of their God.” Isaiah 58:1, 2. Here isbrought to view a class who think themselves righteous and appearto manifest great interest in the service of God; but the stern andsolemn rebuke of the Searcher of hearts proves them to be tramplingupon the divine precepts.

The prophet thus points out the ordinance which has been forsaken: “Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations;and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer ofpaths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, fromdoing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight,the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor Him, not doing thineown ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine ownwords: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.” Verses 12-14.This prophecy also applies in our time. The breach was made in thelaw of God when the Sabbath was changed by the Roman power.But the time has come for that divine institution to be restored. Thebreach is to be repaired and the foundation of many generations tobe raised up.

Hallowed by the Creator’s rest and blessing, the Sabbath waskept by Adam in his innocence in holy Eden; by Adam, fallen yetrepentant, when he was driven from his happy estate. It was keptby all the patriarchs, from Abel to righteous Noah, to Abraham, toJacob. When the chosen people were in bondage in Egypt, many, inthe midst of prevailing idolatry, lost their knowledge of God’s law;but when the Lord delivered Israel, He proclaimed His law in awfulgrandeur to the assembled multitude, that they might know His willand fear and obey Him forever.


386 The Great Controversy

From that day to the present the knowledge of God’s law has beenpreserved in the earth, and the Sabbath of the fourth commandmenthas been kept. Though the “man of sin” succeeded in tramplingunderfoot God’s holy day, yet even in the period of his supremacythere were, hidden in secret places, faithful souls who paid it honor.Since the Reformation, there have been some in every generation tomaintain its observance. Though often in the midst of reproach andpersecution, a constant testimony has been borne to the perpetuityof the law of God and the sacred obligation of the creation Sabbath.

These truths, as presented in Revelation 14 in connection with“the everlasting gospel,” will distinguish the church of Christ at thetime of His appearing. For as the result of the threefold message itis announced: “Here are they that keep the commandments of God,and the faith of Jesus.” And this message is the last to be given beforethe coming of the Lord. Immediately following its proclamationthe Son of man is seen by the prophet, coming in glory to reap theharvest of the earth.

Those who received the light concerning the sanctuary and theimmutability of the law of God were filled with joy and wonder asthey saw the beauty and harmony of the system of truth that openedto their understanding. They desired that the light which appearedto them so precious might be imparted to all Christians; and theycould not but believe that it would be joyfully accepted. But truthsthat would place them at variance with the world were not welcometo many who claimed to be followers of Christ. Obedience to thefourth commandment required a sacrifice from which the majoritydrew back.

As the claims of the Sabbath were presented, many reasonedfrom the worldling’s standpoint. Said they: “We have always keptSunday, our fathers kept it, and many good and pious men have diedhappy while keeping it. If they were right, so are we. The keeping ofthis new Sabbath would throw us out of harmony with the world, andwe would have no influence over them. What can a little companykeeping the seventh day hope to accomplish against all the worldwho are keeping Sunday?” It was by similar arguments that the Jewsendeavored to justify their rejection of Christ. Their fathers hadbeen accepted of God in presenting the sacrificial offerings, and whycould not the children find salvation in pursuing the same course?

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So, in the time of Luther, papists reasoned that true Christians haddied in the Catholic faith, and therefore that religion was sufficientfor salvation. Such reasoning would prove an effectual barrier to alladvancement in religious faith or practice.

Many urged that Sundaykeeping had been an established doctrineand a widespread custom of the church for many centuries. Againstthis argument it was shown that the Sabbath and its observancewere more ancient and widespread, even as old as the world itself,and bearing the sanction both of angels and of God. When thefoundations of the earth were laid, when the morning stars sangtogether, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, then was laid thefoundation of the Sabbath. Job 38:6, 7; Genesis 2:1-3. Well maythis institution demand our reverence; it was ordained by no humanauthority and rests upon no human traditions; it was established bythe Ancient of Days and commanded by His eternal word.

As the attention of the people was called to the subject of Sabbathreform, popular ministers perverted the word of God, placing suchinterpretations upon its testimony as would best quiet inquiringminds. And those who did not search the Scriptures for themselveswere content to accept conclusions that were in accordance withtheir desires. By argument, sophistry, the traditions of the Fathers,and the authority of the church, many endeavored to overthrow thetruth. Its advocates were driven to their Bibles to defend the validityof the fourth commandment. Humble men, armed with the wordof truth alone, withstood the attacks of men of learning, who, withsurprise and anger, found their eloquent sophistry powerless againstthe simple, straightforward reasoning of men who were versed inthe Scriptures rather than in the subtleties of the schools.

In the absence of Bible testimony in their favor, many withunwearying persistence urged—forgetting how the same reasoninghad been employed against Christ and His apostles: “Why do notour great men understand this Sabbath question? But few believeas you do. It cannot be that you are right and that all the men oflearning in the world are wrong.”


388 The Great Controversy

To refute such arguments it was needful only to cite the teachings of the Scriptures and the history of the Lord’s dealings with His people in all ages. God works through those who hear and obey His voice, those who will, if need be, speak unpalatable truths, thosewho do not fear to reprove popular sins. The reason why He doesnot oftener choose men of learning and high position to lead out inreform movements is that they trust to their creeds, theories, andtheological systems, and feel no need to be taught of God. Onlythose who have a personal connection with the Source of wisdomare able to understand or explain the Scriptures. Men who have littleof the learning of the schools are sometimes called to declare thetruth, not because they are unlearned, but because they are not tooself-sufficient to be taught of God. They learn in the school of Christ,and their humility and obedience make them great. In committingto them a knowledge of His truth, God confers upon them an honor,in comparison with which earthly honor and human greatness sinkinto insignificance.

The majority of Adventists rejected the truths concerning thesanctuary and the law of God, and many also renounced their faithin the advent movement and adopted unsound and conflicting viewsof the prophecies which applied to that work. Some were led intothe error of repeatedly fixing upon a definite time for the comingof Christ. The light which was now shining on the subject of thesanctuary should have shown them that no prophetic period extendsto the second advent; that the exact time of this advent is not foretold.But, turning from the light, they continued to set time after time forthe Lord to come, and as often they were disappointed.

When the Thessalonian church received erroneous views concerning the coming of Christ, the apostle Paul counseled them to testtheir hopes and anticipations carefully by the word of God. He citedthem to prophecies revealing the events to take place before Christshould come, and showed that they had no ground to expect Him intheir day. “Let no man deceive you by any means” (2 Thessalonians2:3), are his words of warning. Should they indulge expectationsthat were not sanctioned by the Scriptures, they would be led to amistaken course of action; disappointment would expose them to thederision of unbelievers, and they would be in danger of yielding todiscouragement and would be tempted to doubt the truths essentialfor their salvation. The apostle’s admonition to the Thessalonianscontains an important lesson for those who live in the last days.Many Adventists have felt that unless they could fix their faith upona definite time for the Lord’s coming, they could not be zealous anddiligent in the work of preparation. But as their hopes are again and again excited, only to be destroyed, their faith receives such a shock that it becomes well-nigh impossible for them to be impressed by the great truths of prophecy.

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The preaching of a definite time for the judgment, in the givingof the first message, was ordered by God. The computation of theprophetic periods on which that message was based, placing the closeof the 2300 days in the autumn of 1844, stands without impeachment.The repeated efforts to find new dates for the beginning and closeof the prophetic periods, and the unsound reasoning necessary tosustain these positions, not only lead minds away from the presenttruth, but throw contempt upon all efforts to explain the prophecies.The more frequently a definite time is set for the second advent, andthe more widely it is taught, the better it suits the purposes of Satan.After the time has passed, he excites ridicule and contempt of itsadvocates, and thus casts reproach upon the great advent movementof 1843 and 1844. Those who persist in this error will at last fix upona date too far in the future for the coming of Christ. Thus they willbe led to rest in a false security, and many will not be undeceiveduntil it is too late.

The history of ancient Israel is a striking illustration of the pastexperience of the Adventist body. God led His people in the adventmovement, even as He led the children of Israel from Egypt. Inthe great disappointment their faith was tested as was that of theHebrews at the Red Sea. Had they still trusted to the guiding handthat had been with them in their past experience, they would haveseen the salvation of God. If all who had labored unitedly in the workin 1844, had received the third angel’s message and proclaimed it inthe power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord would have wrought mightilywith their efforts. A flood of light would have been shed uponthe world. Years ago the inhabitants of the earth would have beenwarned, the closing work completed, and Christ would have comefor the redemption of His people.


390 The Great Controversy

It was not the will of God that Israel should wander forty years in the wilderness; He desired to lead them directly to the land of Canaan and establish them there, a holy, happy people. But “they could not enter in because of unbelief.”Hebrews 3:19. Because of their backsliding and apostasy they perished in the desert, and otherswere raised up to enter the Promised Land. In like manner, it was notthe will of God that the coming of Christ should be so long delayedand His people should remain so many years in this world of sin andsorrow. But unbelief separated them from God. As they refused todo the work which He had appointed them, others were raised upto proclaim the message. In mercy to the world, Jesus delays Hiscoming, that sinners may have an opportunity to hear the warningand find in Him a shelter before the wrath of God shall be pouredout.

Now as in former ages, the presentation of a truth that reprovesthe sins and errors of the times will excite opposition. “Everyonethat doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lesthis deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20. As men see that theycannot maintain their position by the Scriptures, many determine tomaintain it at all hazards, and with a malicious spirit they assail thecharacter and motives of those who stand in defense of unpopulartruth. It is the same policy which has been pursued in all ages.Elijah was declared to be a troubler in Israel, Jeremiah a traitor,Paul a polluter of the temple. From that day to this, those whowould be loyal to truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical,or schismatic. Multitudes who are too unbelieving to accept thesure word of prophecy will receive with unquestioning credulityan accusation against those who dare to reprove fashionable sins.This spirit will increase more and more. And the Bible plainlyteaches that a time is approaching when the laws of the state willso conflict with the law of God that whosoever would obey all thedivine precepts must brave reproach and punishment as an evildoer.

In view of this, what is the duty of the messenger of truth?Shall he conclude that the truth ought not to be presented, sinceoften its only effect is to arouse men to evade or resist its claims?No; he has no more reason for withholding the testimony of God’sword, because it excites opposition, than had earlier Reformers. Theconfession of faith made by saints and martyrs was recorded for thebenefit of succeeding generations. Those living examples of holinessand steadfast integrity have come down to inspire courage in thosewho are now called to stand as witnesses for God. They receivedgrace and truth, not for themselves alone, but that, through them, theknowledge of God might enlighten the earth. Has God given light toHis servants in this generation? Then they should let it shine forth to the world.

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Anciently the Lord declared to one who spoke in His name: “Thehouse of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto Me.” Nevertheless He said: “Thou shalt speak My wordsunto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.”Ezekiel 3:7; 2:7. To the servant of God at this time is the commandaddressed: “Lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show My peopletheir transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”

So far as his opportunities extend, everyone who has receivedthe light of truth is under the same solemn and fearful responsibilityas was the prophet of Israel, to whom the word of the Lord came,saying: “Son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house ofIsrael; therefore thou shalt hear the word at My mouth, and warnthem from Me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thoushalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from hisway, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will Irequire at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of hisway to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die inhis iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” Ezekiel 33:7-9.

The great obstacle both to the acceptance and to the promulgationof truth is the fact that it involves inconvenience and reproach. Thisis the only argument against the truth which its advocates havenever been able to refute. But this does not deter the true followersof Christ. These do not wait for truth to become popular. Beingconvinced of their duty, they deliberately accept the cross, with theapostle Paul counting that “our light affliction, which is but for amoment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight ofglory;” with one of old, “esteeming the reproach of Christ greaterriches than the treasures in Egypt.” 2 Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews11:26.

Whatever may be their profession, it is only those who are worldservers at heart that act from policy rather than principle in religiousthings. We should choose the right because it is right, and leaveconsequences with God. To men of principle, faith, and daring, theworld is indebted for its great reforms. By such men the work ofreform for this time must be carried forward.


392 The Great Controversy

Thus saith the Lord: “Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law; fear ye not the reproachof men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eatthem up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: butMy righteousness shall be forever, and My salvation from generationto generation.” Isaiah 51:7, 8.

Chapter 27—Modern Revivals

Wherever the word of God has been faithfully preached, resultshave followed that attested its divine origin. The Spirit of Godaccompanied the message of His servants, and the word was withpower. Sinners felt their consciences quickened. The “light whichlighteth every man that cometh into the world” illumined the secretchambers of their souls, and the hidden things of darkness weremade manifest. Deep conviction took hold upon their minds andhearts. They were convinced of sin and of righteousness and ofjudgment to come. They had a sense of the righteousness of Jehovahand felt the terror of appearing, in their guilt and uncleanness, beforethe Searcher of hearts. In anguish they cried out: “Who shall deliverme from the body of this death?” As the cross of Calvary, withits infinite sacrifice for the sins of men, was revealed, they sawthat nothing but the merits of Christ could suffice to atone for theirtransgressions; this alone could reconcile man to God. With faithand humility they accepted the Lamb of God, that taketh away thesin of the world. Through the blood of Jesus they had “remission ofsins that are past.”

These souls brought forth fruit meet for repentance. They believed and were baptized, and rose to walk in newness of life—newcreatures in Christ Jesus; not to fashion themselves according tothe former lusts, but by the faith of the Son of God to follow in Hissteps, to reflect His character, and to purify themselves even as Heis pure. The things they once hated they now loved, and the thingsthey once loved they hated. The proud and self-assertive becamemeek and lowly of heart. The vain and supercilious became seriousand unobtrusive. The profane became reverent, the drunken sober,and the profligate pure. The vain fashions of the world were laidaside. Christians sought not the “outward adorning of plaiting thehair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but ... thehidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even theornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”1 Peter 3:3, 4.



394 The Great Controversy

Revivals brought deep heart-searching and humility. They werecharacterized by solemn, earnest appeals to the sinner, by yearningcompassion for the purchase of the blood of Christ. Men and womenprayed and wrestled with God for the salvation of souls. The fruitsof such revivals were seen in souls who shrank not at self-denialand sacrifice, but rejoiced that they were counted worthy to sufferreproach and trial for the sake of Christ. Men beheld a transformationin the lives of those who had professed the name of Jesus. Thecommunity was benefited by their influence. They gathered withChrist, and sowed to the Spirit, to reap life everlasting.

It could be said of them: “Ye sorrowed to repentance.” “For godlysorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but thesorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing,that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought inyou, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea,what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, whatrevenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear inthis matter.” 2 Corinthians 7:9-11.

This is the result of the work of the Spirit of God. There is noevidence of genuine repentance unless it works reformation. If herestore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, confess his sins,and love God and his fellow men, the sinner may be sure that he hasfound peace with God. Such were the effects that in former yearsfollowed seasons of religious awakening. Judged by their fruits, theywere known to be blessed of God in the salvation of men and theuplifting of humanity.

But many of the revivals of modern times have presented amarked contrast to those manifestations of divine grace which inearlier days followed the labors of God’s servants. It is true that awidespread interest is kindled, many profess conversion, and thereare large accessions to the churches; nevertheless the results are notsuch as to warrant the belief that there has been a correspondingincrease of real spiritual life. The light which flames up for a timesoon dies out, leaving the darkness more dense than before.

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Popular revivals are too often carried by appeals to the imagination, by exciting the emotions, by gratifying the love for what is newand startling. Converts thus gained have little desire to listen to Bibletruth, little interest in the testimony of prophets and apostles. Unlessa religious service has something of a sensational character, it hasno attractions for them. A message which appeals to unimpassionedreason awakens no response. The plain warnings of God’s word,relating directly to their eternal interests, are unheeded.

With every truly converted soul the relation to God and to eternalthings will be the great topic of life. But where, in the popularchurches of today, is the spirit of consecration to God? The convertsdo not renounce their pride and love of the world. They are no morewilling to deny self, to take up the cross, and follow the meek andlowly Jesus, than before their conversion. Religion has become thesport of infidels and skeptics because so many who bear its nameare ignorant of its principles. The power of godliness has well-nighdeparted from many of the churches. Picnics, church theatricals,church fairs, fine houses, personal display, have banished thoughtsof God. Lands and goods and worldly occupations engross the mind,and things of eternal interest receive hardly a passing notice.

Notwithstanding the widespread declension of faith and piety,there are true followers of Christ in these churches. Before the finalvisitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be amongthe people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as hasnot been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power ofGod will be poured out upon His children. At that time many willseparate themselves from those churches in which the love of thisworld has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both ofministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths whichGod has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a peoplefor the Lord’s second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinderthis work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, hewill endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In thosechurches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will makeit appear that God’s special blessing is poured out; there will bemanifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudeswill exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the workis that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek toextend his influence over the Christian world.


396 The Great Controversy

In many of the revivals which have occurred during the last halfcentury, the same influences have been at work, to a greater or lessdegree, that will be manifest in the more extensive movements of thefuture. There is an emotional excitement, a mingling of the true withthe false, that is well adapted to mislead. Yet none need be deceived.In the light of God’s word it is not difficult to determine the nature ofthese movements. Wherever men neglect the testimony of the Bible,turning away from those plain, soul-testing truths which requireself-denial and renunciation of the world, there we may be surethat God’s blessing is not bestowed. And by the rule which ChristHimself has given, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew7:16), it is evident that these movements are not the work of theSpirit of God.

In the truths of His word, God has given to men a revelation ofHimself; and to all who accept them they are a shield against thedeceptions of Satan. It is a neglect of these truths that has openedthe door to the evils which are now becoming so widespread in thereligious world. The nature and the importance of the law of Godhave been, to a great extent, lost sight of. A wrong conception ofthe character, the perpetuity, and the obligation of the divine lawhas led to errors in relation to conversion and sanctification, and hasresulted in lowering the standard of piety in the church. Here is tobe found the secret of the lack of the Spirit and power of God in therevivals of our time.

There are, in the various denominations, men eminent for theirpiety, by whom this fact is acknowledged and deplored. ProfessorEdwards A. Park, in setting forth the current religious perils, ablysays: “One source of danger is the neglect of the pulpit to enforcethe divine law. In former days the pulpit was an echo of the voiceof conscience.... Our most illustrious preachers gave a wonderfulmajesty to their discourses by following the example of the Master,and giving prominence to the law, its precepts, and its threatenings.They repeated the two great maxims, that the law is a transcript ofthe divine perfections, and that a man who does not love the law doesnot love the gospel; for the law, as well as the gospel, is a mirrorreflecting the true character of God. This peril leads to another,that of underrating the evil of sin, the extent of it, the demerit ofit. In proportion to the rightfulness of the commandment is the wrongfulness of disobeying it....

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“Affiliated to the dangers already named is the danger of under estimating the justice of God. The tendency of the modern pulpit isto strain out the divine justice from the divine benevolence, to sinkbenevolence into a sentiment rather than exalt it into a principle. Thenew theological prism puts asunder what God has joined together. Isthe divine law a good or an evil? It is a good. Then justice is good;for it is a disposition to execute the law. From the habit of under-rating the divine law and justice, the extent and demerit of humandisobedience, men easily slide into the habit of underestimating thegrace which has provided an atonement for sin.” Thus the gospelloses its value and importance in the minds of men, and soon theyare ready practically to cast aside the Bible itself.

Many religious teachers assert that Christ by His death abolishedthe law, and men are henceforth free from its requirements. Thereare some who represent it as a grievous yoke, and in contrast to thebondage of the law they present the liberty to be enjoyed under thegospel.

But not so did prophets and apostles regard the holy law ofGod. Said David: “I will walk at liberty: for I seek Thy precepts.”Psalm 119:45. The apostle James, who wrote after the death ofChrist, refers to the Decalogue as “the royal law” and “the perfectlaw of liberty.” James 2:8; 1:25. And the revelator, half a centuryafter the crucifixion, pronounces a blessing upon them “that do Hiscommandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and mayenter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

The claim that Christ by His death abolished His Father’s law iswithout foundation. Had it been possible for the law to be changedor set aside, then Christ need not have died to save man from thepenalty of sin. The death of Christ, so far from abolishing the law,proves that it is immutable. The Son of God came to “magnify thelaw, and make it honorable.” Isaiah 42:21. He said: “Think not thatI am come to destroy the law;” “till heaven and earth pass, one jotor one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.” Matthew 5:17, 18.And concerning Himself He declares: “I delight to do Thy will, Omy God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8.


398 The Great Controversy

The law of God, from its very nature, is unchangeable. It is arevelation of the will and the character of its Author. God is love,and His law is love. Its two great principles are love to God andlove to man. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10.The character of God is righteousness and truth; such is the natureof His law. Says the psalmist: “Thy law is the truth:” “all Thycommandments are righteousness.” Psalm 119:142, 172. And theapostle Paul declares: “The law is holy, and the commandment holy,and just, and good.” Romans 7:12. Such a law, being an expressionof the mind and will of God, must be as enduring as its Author.

It is the work of conversion and sanctification to reconcile mento God by bringing them into accord with the principles of His law.In the beginning, man was created in the image of God. He was inperfect harmony with the nature and the law of God; the principlesof righteousness were written upon his heart. But sin alienated himfrom his Maker. He no longer reflected the divine image. His heartwas at war with the principles of God’s law. “The carnal mind isenmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neitherindeed can be.” Romans 8:7. But “God so loved the world, that Hegave His only-begotten Son,” that man might be reconciled to God.Through the merits of Christ he can be restored to harmony with hisMaker. His heart must be renewed by divine grace; he must have anew life from above. This change is the new birth, without which,says Jesus, “he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The first step in reconciliation to God is the conviction of sin.“Sin is the transgression of the law.” “By the law is the knowledgeof sin.” 1 John 3:4; Romans 3:20. In order to see his guilt, the sinnermust test his character by God’s great standard of righteousness. Itis a mirror which shows the perfection of a righteous character andenables him to discern the defects in his own.

The law reveals to man his sins, but it provides no remedy. Whileit promises life to the obedient, it declares that death is the portionof the transgressor. The gospel of Christ alone can free him from thecondemnation or the defilement of sin. He must exercise repentancetoward God, whose law has been transgressed; and faith in Christ,his atoning sacrifice. Thus he obtains “remission of sins that arepast” and becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is a childof God, having received the spirit of adoption, whereby he cries:“Abba, Father!”

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Is he now free to transgress God’s law? Says Paul: “Do we thenmake void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish thelaw.” “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”And John declares: “This is the love of God, that we keep Hiscommandments: and His commandments are not grievous.” Romans3:31; 6:2; 1 John 5:3. In the new birth the heart is brought intoharmony with God, as it is brought into accord with His law. Whenthis mighty change has taken place in the sinner, he has passedfrom death unto life, from sin unto holiness, from transgression andrebellion to obedience and loyalty. The old life of alienation fromGod has ended; the new life of reconciliation, of faith and love, hasbegun. Then “the righteousness of the law” will “be fulfilled in us,who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:4. Andthe language of the soul will be: “O how love I Thy law! it is mymeditation all the day.” Psalm 119:97.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Psalm19:7. Without the law, men have no just conception of the purity andholiness of God or of their own guilt and uncleanness. They haveno true conviction of sin and feel no need of repentance. Not seeingtheir lost condition as violators of God’s law, they do not realizetheir need of the atoning blood of Christ. The hope of salvation isaccepted without a radical change of heart or reformation of life.Thus superficial conversions abound, and multitudes are joined tothe church who have never been united to Christ.

Erroneous theories of sanctification, also, springing from neglector rejection of the divine law, have a prominent place in the religiousmovements of the day. These theories are both false in doctrineand dangerous in practical results; and the fact that they are sogenerally finding favor, renders it doubly essential that all have aclear understanding of what the Scriptures teach upon this point.

True sanctification is a Bible doctrine. The apostle Paul, in hisletter to the Thessalonian church, declares: “This is the will of God,even your sanctification.” And he prays: “The very God of peacesanctify you wholly.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:23. The Bible clearlyteaches what sanctification is and how it is to be attained. TheSaviour prayed for His disciples: “Sanctify them through Thy truth:Thy word is truth.” John 17:17. And Paul teaches that believersare to be “sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:16.


400 The Great Controversy

What isthe work of the Holy Spirit? Jesus told His disciples: “When He,the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” John16:13. And the psalmist says: “Thy law is the truth.” By the wordand the Spirit of God are opened to men the great principles ofrighteousness embodied in His law. And since the law of God is“holy, and just, and good,” a transcript of the divine perfection, itfollows that a character formed by obedience to that law will be holy.Christ is a perfect example of such a character. He says: “I have keptMy Father’s commandments.” “I do always those things that pleaseHim.” John 15:10; 8:29. The followers of Christ are to become likeHim—by the grace of God to form characters in harmony with theprinciples of His holy law. This is Bible sanctification.

This work can be accomplished only through faith in Christ, bythe power of the indwelling Spirit of God. Paul admonishes believers: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it isGod which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12, 13. The Christian will feel the promptingsof sin, but he will maintain a constant warfare against it. Here is where Christ’s help is needed. Human weakness becomes united to divine strength, and faith exclaims: “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Corinthians 15:57.


The Scriptures plainly show that the work of sanctification isprogressive. When in conversion the sinner finds peace with Godthrough the blood of the atonement, the Christian life has but justbegun. Now he is to “go on unto perfection;” to grow up “unto themeasure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Says the apostlePaul: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind,and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towardthe mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:13, 14. And Peter sets before us the steps by whichBible sanctification is to be attained: “Giving all diligence, add toyour faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; andto godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity....If ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” 2 Peter 1:5-10.

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Those who experience the sanctification of the Bible will manifest a spirit of humility. Like Moses, they have had a view of theawful majesty of holiness, and they see their own unworthiness incontrast with the purity and exalted perfection of the Infinite One.

The prophet Daniel was an example of true sanctification. Hislong life was filled up with noble service for his Master. He wasa man “greatly beloved” (Daniel 10:11) of Heaven. Yet instead ofclaiming to be pure and holy, this honored prophet identified himselfwith the really sinful of Israel as he pleaded before God in behalf ofhis people: “We do not present our supplications before Thee for ourrighteousness, but for Thy great mercies.” “We have sinned, we havedone wickedly.” He declares: “I was speaking, and praying, andconfessing my sin and the sin of my people.” And when at a latertime the Son of God appeared, to give him instruction, Daniel says:“My comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained nostrength.” Daniel 9:18, 15, 20; 10:8.

When Job heard the voice of the Lord out of the whirlwind, heexclaimed: “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6.It was when Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, and heard the cherubimcrying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,” that he cried out,“Woe is me! for I am undone.” Isaiah 6:3, 5. Paul, after he wascaught up into the third heaven and heard things which it was notpossible for a man to utter, speaks of himself as “less than the leastof all saints.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, margin; Ephesians 3:8. It wasthe beloved John, who leaned on Jesus’ breast and beheld His glory,that fell as one dead before the feet of the angel. Revelation 1:17.

There can be no self-exaltation, no boastful claim to freedomfrom sin, on the part of those who walk in the shadow of Calvary’scross. They feel that it was their sin which caused the agony thatbroke the heart of the Son of God, and this thought will lead them toself- abasement. Those who live nearest to Jesus discern most clearlythe frailty and sinfulness of humanity, and their only hope is in themerit of a crucified and risen Saviour.

The sanctification now gaining prominence in the religious worldcarries with it a spirit of self-exaltation and a disregard for the law ofGod that mark it as foreign to the religion of the Bible. Its advocatesteach that sanctification is an instantaneous work, by which, throughfaith alone, they attain to perfect holiness. “Only believe,” say they,“and the blessing is yours.” No further effort on the part of thereceiver is supposed to be required. At the same time they denythe authority of the law of God, urging that they are released from obligation to keep the commandments. But is it possible for men to be holy, in accord with the will and character of God, without coming into harmony with the principles which are an expression of His nature and will, and which show what is well pleasing to Him?


The desire for an easy religion that requires no striving, noself-denial, no divorce from the follies of the world, has made thedoctrine of faith, and faith only, a popular doctrine; but what saiththe word of God? Says the apostle James: “What doth it profit, mybrethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? canfaith save him? ... Wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith withoutworks is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, whenhe had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faithwrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? ...Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faithonly.” James 2:14-24.

The testimony of the word of God is against this ensnaring doctrine of faith without works. It is not faith that claims the favor ofHeaven without complying with the conditions upon which mercy isto be granted, it is presumption; for genuine faith has its foundationin the promises and provisions of the Scriptures.

Let none deceive themselves with the belief that they can become holy while willfully violating one of God’s requirements. Thecommission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of theSpirit and separates the soul from God. “Sin is the transgressionof the law.” And “whosoever sinneth [transgresseth the law] hathnot seen Him, neither known Him.” 1 John 3:6. Though John inhis epistles dwells so fully upon love, yet he does not hesitate toreveal the true character of that class who claim to be sanctifiedwhile living in transgression of the law of God. “He that saith, Iknow Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and thetruth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily isthe love of God perfected.” 1 John 2:4, 5. Here is the test of everyman’s profession. We cannot accord holiness to any man withoutbringing him to the measurement of God’s only standard of holinessin heaven and in earth. If men feel no weight of the moral law, ifthey belittle and make light of God’s precepts, if they break one ofthe least of these commandments, and teach men so, they shall beof no esteem in the sight of Heaven, and we may know that their claims are without foundation.


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And the claim to be without sin is, in itself, evidence that hewho makes this claim is far from holy. It is because he has no trueconception of the infinite purity and holiness of God or of what theymust become who shall be in harmony with His character; becausehe has no true conception of the purity and exalted loveliness ofJesus, and the malignity and evil of sin, that man can regard himselfas holy. The greater the distance between himself and Christ, andthe more inadequate his conceptions of the divine character andrequirements, the more righteous he appears in his own eyes.

The sanctification set forth in the Scriptures embraces the entirebeing—spirit, soul, and body. Paul prayed for the Thessalonians thattheir “whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless untothe coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Againhe writes to believers: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by themercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy,acceptable unto God.” Romans 12:1. In the time of ancient Israelevery offering brought as a sacrifice to God was carefully examined.If any defect was discovered in the animal presented, it was refused;for God had commanded that the offering be “without blemish.”So Christians are bidden to present their bodies, “a living sacrifice,holy, acceptable unto God.” In order to do this, all their powersmust be preserved in the best possible condition. Every practice thatweakens physical or mental strength unfits man for the service of hisCreator. And will God be pleased with anything less than the bestwe can offer? Said Christ: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God withall thy heart.” Those who do love God with all the heart will desireto give Him the best service of their life, and they will be constantlyseeking to bring every power of their being into harmony with thelaws that will promote their ability to do His will. They will not, bythe indulgence of appetite or passion, enfeeble or defile the offeringwhich they present to their heavenly Father.

Peter says: “Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against thesoul.” 1 Peter 2:11. Every sinful gratification tends to benumb thefaculties and deaden the mental and spiritual perceptions, and theword or the Spirit of God can make but a feeble impression upon theheart. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “Let us cleanse ourselves fromall filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”2 Corinthians 7:1. And with the fruits of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness”—he classes “temperance.”Galatians 5:22, 23.


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Notwithstanding these inspired declarations, how many professed Christians are enfeebling their powers in the pursuit of gainor the worship of fashion; how many are debasing their godlikemanhood by gluttony, by wine drinking, by forbidden pleasure. Andthe church, instead of rebuking, too often encourages the evil byappealing to appetite, to desire for gain or love of pleasure, to replenish her treasury, which love for Christ is too feeble to supply.Were Jesus to enter the churches of today and behold the feastingand unholy traffic there conducted in the name of religion, would Henot drive out those desecrators, as He banished the money-changersfrom the temple?

The apostle James declares that the wisdom from above is “firstpure.” Had he encountered those who take the precious name ofJesus upon lips defiled by tobacco, those whose breath and personare contaminated by its foul odor, and who pollute the air of heavenand force all about them to inhale the poison—had the apostle comein contact with a practice so opposed to the purity of the gospel,would he not have denounced it as “earthly, sensual, devilish”?Slaves of tobacco, claiming the blessing of entire sanctification,talk of their hope of heaven; but God’s word plainly declares that“there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth.” Revelation21:27.

“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghostwhich is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? forye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and inyour spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. He whose bodyis the