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“I saw another angel come down from Heaven, having great power; and the
earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice,
saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of
devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful
bird.” “And I heard another voice from Heaven, saying, Come out of her, my
people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her
plagues.” Revelation 18:1, 2, 4.
This scripture points forward to a time when the announcement of the fall of
Babylon, as made by the second angel, Revelation 14:8 of Revelation 14, is toIllustration - Ebook GC - The Final Warning, Chapter 38 - text - background
be repeated, with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been
entering the various organizations that constitute Babylon, since that message
was first given, in the summer of 1844. A terrible condition of the religious world
is here described. With every rejection of truth, the minds of the people will
become darker, their hearts more stubborn, until they are entrenched in an infidel
hardihood. In defiance of the warnings which God has given, they will continue to
trample upon one of the precepts of the decalogue, until they are led to persecute
those who hold it sacred. Christ is set at naught in the contempt placed upon his
Word and his people. As the teachings of Spiritualism are accepted by the
churches, the restraint imposed upon the carnal heart is removed, and the
profession of religion will become a cloak to conceal the basest iniquity. A belief
in spiritual manifestations opens the door to seducing spirits, and doctrines of
devils, and thus the influence of evil angels will be felt in the churches.
Of Babylon, at the time brought to view in this prophecy, it is declared, “Her
sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”
Revelation 18:5. She has filled up the measure of her guilt, and destruction is
about to fall upon her. But God still has a people in Babylon; and before the
visitation of his judgments, these faithful ones must be called out, that they
“partake not of her sins, and receive not of her plagues.” Hence the movement
symbolized by the angel coming down from Heaven, lightening the earth with his
glory, and crying mightily with a strong voice, announcing the sins of Babylon. In
connection with his message the call is heard, “Come out of her, my people.”
These announcements, uniting with the third angel’s message, constitute the final
warning to be given to the inhabitants of the earth.
Fearful is the issue to which the world is to be brought. The powers of earth,
uniting to war against the commandments of God, will decree that all, “both small
and great, rich and poor, free and bond,” Revelation 13:16. shall conform to the
customs of the church by the observance of the false sabbath. All who refuse
compliance will be visited with civil penalties, and it will finally be declared that
they are deserving of death. On the other hand, the law of God enjoining the
Creator’s rest-day demands obedience, and threatens wrath against all who
transgress its precepts.
With the issue thus clearly brought before him, whoever shall trample upon
God’s law to obey a human enactment, receives the mark of the beast; he
accepts the sign of allegiance to the power which he chooses to obey instead of
God. The warning from Heaven is, “If any man worship 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 of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his
indignation.” Revelation 14:9, 10.
But not one is made to suffer the wrath of God until the truth has been brought
home to his mind and conscience, and has been rejected. There are many who
have never had an opportunity to hear the special truths for this time. The
obligation of the fourth commandment has never been set before them in its true
light. He who reads every heart, and tries every motive, will leave none who
desire a knowledge of the truth, to be deceived as to the issues of the
controversy. The decree is not to be urged upon the people blindly. Everyone is
to have sufficient light to make his decision intelligently.
The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty; for it is the point of truth
especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men,
then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those
who serve him not. While the observance of the false sabbath in compliance with
the law of the State, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of
allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true
Sabbath, in obedience to God’s law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator.
While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive
the mark of the beast, the other, choosing the token of allegiance to divine
authority, receive the seal of God.
Heretofore those who presented the truths of the third angel’s message have
often been regarded as mere alarmists. Their predictions that religious
intolerance would gain control in the United States, that church and State would
unite to persecute those who keep the commandments of God, have been
pronounced groundless and absurd. It has been confidently declared that this
land could never become other than what it has been, the defender of religious
freedom. But as the question of enforcing Sunday observance is widely agitated,
the event so long doubted and disbelieved is seen to be approaching, and the
third message will produce an effect which it could not have had before.
In every generation God has sent his servants to rebuke sin, both in the world
and in the church. But the people desire smooth things spoken to them, and the
pure, unvarnished truth is not acceptable. Many reformers, in entering upon their
work, determined to exercise great prudence in attacking the sins of the church
and the nation. They hoped, by the example of a pure Christian life, to lead the
people back to the doctrines of the Bible. But the Spirit of God came upon them
as it came upon Elijah, moving him to rebuke the sins of a wicked king and an
apostate people; they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the
Bible – doctrines which they had been reluctant to present. They were impelled to
zealously declare the truth, and the danger which threatened souls. The words
which the Lord gave them they uttered, fearless of consequences, and the
people were compelled to hear the warning.
Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes
for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble
instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to his
service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of his Spirit than by
the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to
go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of
Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the
church by civil authority, the inroads of Spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid
progress of the papal power – all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings
the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never
heard words like these. In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is
the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the
truth sent to her from Heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the
eager inquiry, Are these things so? the ministers present fables, prophesy
smooth things, to soothe their fears, and quiet the awakened conscience. But
since many refuse to be satisfied with the mere authority of men, and demand a
plain “Thus saith the Lord,” the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled
with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of
Satan, and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who
proclaim it.
As the controversy extends into new fields, and the minds of the people are
called to God’s down-trodden law, Satan is astir. The power attending the
message will only madden those who oppose it. The clergy will put forth almost
superhuman efforts to shut away the light, lest it should shine upon their flocks.
By every means at their command they will endeavor to suppress the discussion
of these vital questions. The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and
in this work, papists and Protestants unite. As the movement for Sunday
enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against
commandment-keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment,
and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and
advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith. But their steadfast answer
is, “Show us from the Word of God our error,” the same plea that was made by
Luther under similar circumstances. Those who are arraigned before the courts
make a strong vindication of the truth, and some who hear them are led to take
their stand to keep all the commandments of God. Thus light will be brought
before thousands who otherwise would know nothing of these truths.
Conscientious obedience to the Word of God will be treated as rebellion.
Blinded by Satan, the parent will exercise harshness and severity toward the
believing child; the master or mistress will oppress the commandment-keeping
servant. Affection will be alienated; children will be disinherited, and driven from
home. The words of Paul will be literally fulfilled, “All that will live godly in Christ
Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12. As the defenders of truth refuse
to honor the Sunday-sabbath, some of them will be thrust into prison, some will
be exiled, some will be treated as slaves. To human wisdom all this now seems
impossible; but as the restraining Spirit of God shall be withdrawn from men, and
they shall be under the control of Satan, who hates the divine precepts, there will
be strange developments. The heart can be very cruel when God’s fear and love
are removed.
As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third
angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth,
abandon their position, and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the
world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the
same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy,
popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth,
employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter
enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbath-keepers are brought before the
courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of
Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to
stir up the rulers against them.
In this time of persecution the faith of the Lord’s servants will be tried. They
have faithfully given the warning, looking to God and to his Word alone. God’s
Spirit moving upon their hearts, has constrained them to speak. Stimulated with
holy zeal, and with the divine impulse strong upon them, they entered upon the
performance of their duties without coldly calculating the consequences of
speaking to the people the word which the Lord had given them. They have not
consulted their temporal interests or sought to preserve their reputation or their
lives. Yet when the storm of opposition and reproach bursts upon them, some,
overwhelmed with consternation, will be ready to exclaim, “Had we foreseen the
consequences of our words, we would have held our peace.” They are hedged in
with difficulties. Satan assails them with fierce temptations. The work which they
have undertaken seems far beyond their ability to accomplish. They are
threatened with destruction. The enthusiasm which animated them is gone; yet
they cannot turn back. Then, feeling their utter helplessness, they flee to the
Mighty One for strength. They remember that the words which they have spoken
were not theirs, but His who bade them give the warning. God put the truth into
their hearts, and they could not forbear to proclaim it.
The same trials have been experienced by men of God in ages past. Wycliffe,
Huss, Luther, Tyndale, Baxter, Wesley, urged that all doctrines be brought to the
test of the Bible, and declared that they would renounce everything which it
condemned. Against these men, persecution raged with relentless fury; yet they
ceased not to declare the truth. Different periods in the history of the church have
each been marked by the development of some special truth, adapted to the
necessities of God’s people at that time. Every new truth has made its way
against hatred and opposition; those who were blessed with its light were
tempted and tried. The Lord gives a special truth for the people in an emergency.
Who dare refuse to publish it? He commands his servants to present the last
invitation of mercy to the world. They cannot remain silent, except at the peril of
their souls. Christ’s ambassadors have nothing to do with consequences. They
must perform their duty and leave results with God.
As the opposition rises to a fiercer height, the servants of God are again
perplexed; for it seems to them that they have brought the crisis. But conscience
and the Word of God assures them that their course is right; and although the
trials continue, they are strengthened to bear them. The contest grows closer and
sharper, but their faith and courage rise with the emergency. Their testimony is,
“We dare not tamper with God’s Word, dividing his holy law, calling one portion
essential and another non-essential, to gain the favor of the world. The Lord
whom we serve is able to deliver us. Christ has conquered the powers of earth;
and shall we be afraid of a world already conquered?”
Persecution in its varied forms is the development of a principle which will
exist as long as Satan exists, and Christianity has vital power. No man can serve
God without enlisting against himself the opposition of the hosts of darkness. Evil
angels will assail him, alarmed that his influence is taking the prey from their
hands. Evil men, rebuked by his example, will unite with them in seeking to
separate him from God by alluring temptations. When these do not succeed, then
a compelling power is employed to force the conscience.
But so long as Jesus remains man’s intercessor in the sanctuary above, the
restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is felt by rulers and people. It still controls,
to some extent, the laws of the land. Were it not for these laws, the condition of
the world would be much worse than it now is. While many of our rulers are
active agents of Satan, God also has his agents among the leading men of the
nation. The enemy moves upon his servants to propose measures that would
greatly impede the work of God; but statesmen who fear the Lord are influenced
by holy angels to oppose such propositions with unanswerable arguments. Thus
a few men will hold in check a powerful current of evil. The opposition of the
enemies of truth will be restrained that the third angel’s message may do its
work. When the final warning shall be given, it will arrest the attention of these
leading men through whom the Lord is now working, and some of them will
accept it, and will stand with the people of God through the time of trouble.
The angel who unites in the proclamation of the third angel’s message is to
lighten the whole earth with his glory. A work of world-wide extent and unwonted
power is here foretold. The Advent movement of 1840-44 was a glorious
manifestation of the power of God; the first angel’s message was carried to every
missionary station in the world, and in some countries there was the greatest
religious interest which has been witnessed in any land since the Reformation of
the sixteenth century; but these are to be far exceeded by the mighty movement
under the last warning of the third angel.
The work will be similar to that of the day of Pentecost. As the “former rain”
was given, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the opening of the gospel, to
cause the upspringing of the precious seed, so the “latter rain” will be given at its
close, for the ripening of the harvest. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to
know the Lord; his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come
unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Hosea 6:3. “Be
glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he hath given
you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain,
the former rain, and the latter rain.” Joel 2:23. “In the last days, saith God, I will
pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever
shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:17, 21. The great work
of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than
marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the
former rain at the opening of the gospel, are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain
at its close. Here are “the times of refreshing” to which the apostle Peter looked
forward when he said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins
may be blotted out (in the investigative Judgment), when the times of refreshing
shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus.” Acts 3:19,
Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy
consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from
Heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given.
Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will
follow the believers. Satan also works with lying wonders, even bringing down fire
from heaven in the sight of men. Revelation 13:13. Thus the inhabitants of the
earth will be brought to take their stand.
The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep
conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed
has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications
distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence, yet many whose
minds were impressed have been prevented from fully comprehending the truth
or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth
is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which
have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay
them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies
combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord’s side.

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