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From the very beginning of the great controversy in Heaven, it has been
Satan’s purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this that he
entered upon his rebellion against the Creator; and though he was cast out of
Heaven, he has continued the same warfare upon the earth. To deceive men,
and thus lead them to transgress God’s law, is the object which he has
steadfastly pursued. Whether this be accomplished by casting aside the law
altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts, the result will be ultimately the
same. He that offends “in one point,” manifests contempt for the whole law; his
influence and example are on the side of transgression; he becomes “guilty ofEbook GC - The Impending Conflict - text - background
all.” James 2:10.
In seeking to cast contempt upon the divine statutes, Satan has perverted the
doctrines of the Bible, and errors have thus become incorporated into the faith of
thousands who profess to believe the Scriptures. The last great conflict between
truth and error is but the final struggle of the long-standing controversy
concerning the law of God. Upon this battle we are now entering – a battle
between the laws of men and the precepts of Jehovah, between the religion of
the Bible and the religion of fable and tradition.
The agencies which will unite against truth and righteousness in this contest
are now actively at work. God’s holy Word, which has been handed down to us at
such a cost of suffering and blood, is but little valued. The Bible is within the
reach of all, but there are few who really accept it as the guide of life. Infidelity
prevails to an alarming extent, not in the world merely, but in the church. Many
have come to deny doctrines which are the very pillars of the Christian faith. The
great facts of creation as presented by the inspired writers, the fall of man, the
atonement, and the perpetuity of the law of God, are practically rejected, either
wholly or in part, by a large share of the professedly Christian world. Thousands
who pride themselves upon their wisdom and independence regard it an
evidence of weakness to place implicit confidence in the Bible; they think it a
proof of superior talent and learning to cavil at the Scriptures, and to spiritualize
and explain away their most important truths. Many ministers are teaching their
people, and many professors and teachers are instructing their students, that the
law of God has been changed or abrogated; and those who regard its
requirements as still valid, to be literally obeyed, are thought to be deserving only
of ridicule or contempt.
In rejecting the truth, men reject its Author. In trampling upon the law of God,
they deny the authority of the Lawgiver. It is as easy to make an idol of false
doctrines and theories as to fashion an idol of wood or stone. By misrepresenting
the attributes of God, Satan leads men to conceive of him in a false character.
With many, a philosophical idol is enthroned in the place of Jehovah; while the
living God, as he is revealed in his Word, in Christ, and in the works of creation,
is worshiped by but few. Thousands deify nature, while they deny the God of
nature. Though in a different form, idolatry exists in the Christian world today as
verily as it existed among ancient Israel in the days of Elijah. The god of many
professedly wise men, of philosophers, poets, politicians, journalists; the god of
polished fashionable circles, of many colleges and universities, even of some
theological institutions – is little better than Baal, the sun-god of Phenicia.
No error accepted by the Christian world strikes more boldly against the
authority of Heaven, none is more directly opposed to the dictates of reason,
none is more pernicious in its results, than the modern doctrine, so rapidly
gaining ground, that God’s law is no longer binding upon men. Every nation has
its laws, which command respect and obedience; no government could exist
without them; and can it be conceived that the Creator of the heavens and the
earth has no law to govern the beings he has made? Suppose that prominent
ministers were publicly to teach that the statutes which govern their land and
protect the rights of its citizens were not obligatory; that they restricted the
liberties of the people, and therefore ought not to be obeyed; how long would
such men be tolerated in the pulpit? But is it a graver offense to disregard the
laws of States and nations than to trample upon those divine precepts which are
the foundation of all government?
It would be far more consistent for nations to abolish their statutes, and permit
the people to do as they please, than for the Ruler of the universe to annul his
law, and leave the world without a standard to condemn the guilty or justify the
obedient. Would we know the result of making void the law of God? The
experiment has been tried. Terrible were the scenes enacted in France when
atheism became the controlling power. It was then demonstrated to the world that
to throw off the restraints which God has imposed is to accept the rule of the
cruelest of tyrants. When the standard of righteousness is set aside, the way is
open for the prince of evil to establish his power in the earth.
Wherever the divine precepts are rejected, sin ceases to appear sinful, or
righteousness desirable. Those who refuse to submit to the government of God
are wholly unfitted to govern themselves. Through their pernicious teachings, the
spirit of insubordination is implanted in the hearts of children and youth, who are
naturally impatient of control; and a lawless, licentious state of society results.
While scoffing at the credulity of those who obey the requirements of God, the
multitudes eagerly accept the delusions of Satan. They give the rein to lust, and
practice the sins which have called down judgments upon the heathen.
Those who teach the people to lightly regard the commandments of God, sow
disobedience, to reap disobedience. Let the restraint imposed by the divine law
be wholly cast aside, and human laws would soon be disregarded. Because God
forbids dishonest practices, coveting, lying, and defrauding, men are ready to
trample upon his statutes as a hindrance to their worldly prosperity; but the
results of banishing these precepts would be such as they do not anticipate. If the
law were not binding, why should any fear to transgress? Property would no
longer be safe. Men would obtain their neighbor’s possessions by violence; and
the strongest would become richest. Life itself would not be respected. The
marriage vow would no longer stand as a sacred bulwark to protect the family.
He who had the power, would, if he desired, take his neighbor’s wife by violence.
The fifth commandment would be set aside with the fourth. Children would not
shrink from taking the life of their parents, if by so doing they could obtain the
desire of their corrupt hearts. The civilized world would become a horde of
robbers and assassins; and peace, rest, and happiness would be banished from
the earth.
Already the doctrine that men are released from obedience to God’s
requirements has weakened the force of moral obligation, and opened the
flood-gates of iniquity upon the world. Lawlessness, dissipation, and corruption
are sweeping in upon us like an overwhelming tide. In the family, Satan is at
work. His banner waves, even in professedly Christian households. There is
envy, evil surmising, hypocrisy, estrangement, emulation, strife, betrayal of
sacred trusts, indulgence of lust. The whole system of religious principles and
doctrines, which should form the foundation and frame-work of social life, seems
to be a tottering mass, ready to fall to ruin. The vilest of criminals, when thrown
into prison for their offenses, are often made the recipients of gifts and attentions,
as if they had attained an enviable distinction. Great publicity is given to their
character and crimes. The press publishes the revolting details of vice, thus
initiating others into the practice of fraud, robbery, and murder; and Satan exults
in the success of his hellish schemes. The infatuation of vice, the wanton taking
of life, the terrible increase of intemperance and iniquity of every order and
degree, should arouse all who fear God, to inquire what can be done to stay the
tide of evil.
Courts of justice are corrupt. Rulers are actuated by desire for gain, and love
of sensual pleasure. Intemperance has beclouded the faculties of many, so that
Satan has almost complete control of them. Jurists are perverted, bribed,
deluded. Drunkenness and revelry, passion, envy, dishonesty of every sort, are
represented among those who administer the laws. “Justice standeth afar off; for
truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” Isaiah 59:14.
The iniquity and spiritual darkness that prevailed under the supremacy of
Rome were the inevitable result of her suppression of the Scriptures; but where is
to be found the cause of the widespread infidelity, the rejection of the law of God,
and the consequent corruption, under the full blaze of gospel light in an age of
religious freedom? Now that Satan can no longer keep the world under his
control by withholding the Scriptures, he resorts to other means to accomplish
the same object. To destroy faith in the Bible serves his purpose as well as to
destroy the Bible itself. By introducing the belief that God’s law is not binding, he
as effectually leads men to transgress as if they were wholly ignorant of its
precepts. And now, as in former ages, he has worked through the church to
further his designs. The religious organizations of the day have refused to listen
to unpopular truths plainly brought to view in the Scriptures, and in combating
them they have adopted interpretations and taken positions which have sown
broadcast the seeds of skepticism. Clinging to the papal error of natural
immortality and man’s consciousness in death, they have rejected the only
defense against the delusions of Spiritualism. The doctrine of eternal torment has
led many to disbelieve the Bible. And as the claims of the fourth commandment
are urged upon the people, it is found that the observance of the seventh-day
Sabbath is enjoined; and as the only way to free themselves from a duty which
they are unwilling to perform, popular teachers declare that the law of God is no
longer binding. Thus they cast away the law and the Sabbath together. As the
work of Sabbath reform extends, this rejection of the divine law to avoid the
claims of the fourth commandment will become well-nigh universal. The
teachings of religious leaders have opened the door to infidelity, to Spiritualism,
and to contempt for God’s holy law, and upon these leaders rests a fearful
responsibility for the iniquity that exists in the Christian world.
Yet this very class put forth the claim that the fast-spreading corruption is
largely attributable to the desecration of the so-called “Christian Sabbath,” and
that the enforcement of Sunday observance would greatly improve the morals of
society. This claim is especially urged in America, where the doctrine of the true
Sabbath has been most widely preached. Here the temperance work, one of the
most prominent and important of moral reforms, is often combined with the
Sunday movement, and the advocates of the latter represent themselves as
laboring to promote the highest interest of society; and those who refuse to unite
with them are denounced as the enemies of temperance and reform. But the fact
that a movement to establish error is connected with a work which is in itself
good, is not an argument in favor of the error. We may disguise poison by
mingling it with wholesome food, but we do not change its nature. On the
contrary, it is rendered more dangerous, as it is more likely to be taken
unawares. It is one of Satan’s devices to combine with falsehood just enough
truth to give it plausibility. The leaders of the Sunday movement may advocate
reforms which the people need, principles which are in harmony with the Bible,
yet while there is with these a requirement which is contrary to God’s law, his
servants cannot unite with them. Nothing can justify them in setting aside the
commandments of God for the precepts of men.
Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul, and Sunday
sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former
lays the foundation of Spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with
Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their
hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of Spiritualism; they will reach over the
abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this
threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the
rights of conscience.
As Spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has
greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the
modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light.
Through the agency of Spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be
healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will
profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church,
their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.
The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now
hardly distinguishable. Church-members love what the world loves, and are
ready to join with them; and Satan determines to unite them in one body, and
thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of Spiritualism. Papists,
who boast of miracles as a certain sign of the true church, will be readily
deceived by this wonder-working power; and Protestants, having cast away the
shield of truth, will also be deluded. Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike
accept the form of godliness without the power, and they will see in this union a
grand movement for the conversion of the world, and the ushering in of the
long-expected millennium.
Through Spiritualism, Satan appears as a benefactor of the race, healing the
diseases of the people, and professing to present a new and more exalted
system of religious faith; but at the same time he works as a destroyer. His
temptations are leading multitudes to ruin. Intemperance dethrones reason;
sensual indulgence, strife, and bloodshed follow. Satan delights in war; for it
excites the worst passions of the soul, and then sweeps into eternity its victims
steeped in vice and blood. It is his object to incite the nations to war against one
another; for he can thus divert the minds of the people from the work of
preparation to stand in the day of God.
Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared
souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all
his power to control the elements as far as God allows. When he was suffered to
afflict Job, how quickly flocks and herds, servants, houses, children, were swept
away, one trouble succeeding another as in a moment. It is God that shields his
creatures, and hedges them in from the power of the destroyer. But the Christian
world have shown contempt for the law of Jehovah; and the Lord will do just what
he has declared that he would, he will withdraw his blessings from the earth, and
remove his protecting care from those who are rebelling against his law, and
teaching and forcing others to do the same. Satan has control of all whom God
does not especially guard. He will favor and prosper some, in order to further his
own designs, and he will bring trouble upon others, and lead men to believe that
it is God who is afflicting them.
While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all
their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are
reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and
calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and
terrific hail-storms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes,
in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He
sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to
the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations
are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon
both man and beast. “The earth mourneth and fadeth away,” “the haughty people
. . . do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because
they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting
covenant.” Isaiah 24:4, 5.
And then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are
causing these evils. The class that have provoked the displeasure of Heaven will
charge all their troubles upon those whose obedience to God’s commandments
is a perpetual reproof to transgressors. It will be declared that men are offending
God by the violation of the Sunday-sabbath, that this sin has brought calamities
which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced, and that
those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying
reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to
divine favor and temporal prosperity. Thus the accusation urged of old against
the servant of God will be repeated, and upon grounds equally well established.
“And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he
that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and
thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and
thou hast followed Baalim.” 1 Kings 18:17, 18. As the wrath of the people shall
be excited by false charges, they will pursue a course toward God’s
ambassadors very similar to that which apostate Israel pursued toward Elijah.
The miracle-working power manifested through Spiritualism will exert its
influence against those who choose to obey God rather than men.
Communications from the spirits will declare that God has sent them to convince
the rejecters of Sunday of their error, affirming that the laws of the land should be
obeyed as the law of God. They will lament the great wickedness in the world,
and second the testimony of religious teachers, that the degraded state of morals
is caused by the desecration of Sunday. Great will be the indignation excited
against all who refuse to accept their testimony.
Satan’s policy in this final conflict with God’s people is the same that he
employed in the opening of the great controversy in Heaven. He professed to be
seeking to promote the stability of the divine government, while secretly bending
every effort to secure its overthrow. And the very work which he was thus
endeavoring to accomplish, he charged upon the loyal angels. The same policy
of deception has marked the history of the Romish Church. It has professed to
act as the vicegerent of Heaven, while seeking to exalt itself above God, and to
change his law. Under the rule of Rome, those who suffered death for their
fidelity to the gospel were denounced as evil-doers; they were declared to be in
league with Satan; and every possible means was employed to cover them with
reproach, to cause them to appear, in the eyes of the people, and even to
themselves, as the vilest of criminals. So it will be now. While Satan seeks to
destroy those who honor God’s law he will cause them to be accused as
law-breakers, as men who are dishonoring God, and bringing judgments upon
the world.
God never forces the will or the conscience; but Satan’s constant resort to
gain control of those whom he cannot otherwise seduce – is compulsion by
cruelty. Through fear or force he endeavors to rule the conscience, and to secure
homage to himself. To accomplish this, he works through both religious and
secular authorities, moving them to the enforcement of human laws in defiance of
the law of God.
Those who honor the Bible Sabbath will be denounced as enemies of law and
order, as breaking down the moral restraints of society, causing anarchy and
corruption, and calling down the judgments of God upon the earth. Their
conscientious scruples will be pronounced obstinacy, stubbornness, and
contempt of authority. They will be accused of disaffection toward the
government. Ministers who deny the obligation of the divine law will present from
the pulpit the duty of yielding obedience to the civil authorities as ordained of
God. In legislative halls and courts of justice, commandment-keepers will be
misrepresented and condemned. A false coloring will be given to their words; the
worst construction will be put upon their motives.
As the Protestant churches reject the clear, scriptural arguments in defense of
God’s law, they will long to silence those whose faith they cannot overthrow by
the Bible. Though they blind their own eyes to the fact, they are now adopting a
course which will lead to the persecution of those who conscientiously refuse to
do what the rest of the Christian world are doing, and acknowledge the claims of
the papal Sabbath.
The dignitaries of church and State will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all
classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by
oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and
regard for truth; and even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to
secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday
observance. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no
longer be respected. In the soon-coming conflict we shall see exemplified the
prophet’s words: “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war
with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have
the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17.

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