THE REMNANT CHURCH SUCCEEDS THE CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS
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Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? (Song of Solomon 8:5.) IT WAS a glorious hour when the church came up out of the wilderness. She had done her work well; she had been faithful to her task. She emerged from the wilderness condition to lay the treasures of her hard-fought battles at the feet of the church of the last period, that era which the Redeemer called “the times of the Gentiles.”(Luke 21:24.) The contest had been long. It had not been a Thirty Years’ War, or a Hundred Years’ War, but a 1260-year straggle. It had been cruel for the Church in the Wilderness. Though she never had peace from battle, she always had peace in battle. The torture chamber, galley chains, burning at the stake, hard labor, and a plebeian status had been forced upon her. Yet, as victor, what had she won for humanity? Had she not won liberty, enlightenment, and the right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience?
The tendency of modem writers is to reflect upon the erroneous idea, assiduously built up by the interested parties, that the Papacy is the connecting link between the church of the apostles and the Christianity of the present time. Even among Protestants and nonreligious people there is much false reasoning. The following quotation will exemplify this. Says a modem writer: “Protestantism must never forget that its faith was communicated through Catholicism. The Roman Church remains the only link during many centuries between the modem world and the early Christian enthusiasts.” This book has sought to make it clear that the Church in the Wilderness, of the 1260-year period, is the connecting link between the apostolic church and our time. To her, we are indebted for the learning and the treasures of truth preserved throughout the Dark Ages. As to the transmission of the pure text of the Holy Bible, credit should not be given to the Papacy, which has placed tradition above the Bible, but to the faithful churches who adhered through years of darkness and superstition to the original apostolic writings and their uncorrupted translations. This volume, in some small measure, pays tribute to these unsung heroes of the past of the true Christian church.
THE WILDERNESS PERIOD ENDS
“The vision is yet for an appointed time,” said the prophet.(Habakkuk 2:3.) God works by fixed times. He allots to each period of history the prescribed task. The stars in the heavens are commissioned to mark off the years designated by the appointed prophecy. He who guides the heavens, guards the sacred oracles. The origin, growth, and spread of the true church in Great Britain, Europe, Africa, and Asia have been followed. When the 1260-year prophecy expired, God’s church laid aside her wilderness life and prophesied “again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues.”(Revelation 10:11.) It was impossible to hold back, or to miss the “appointed time.”
When the marvelous chains of prophecy were given to the prophet Daniel, the angel Gabriel distinctly singled out the close of the 1260-year time period as the hour set for the unsealing of the divine predictions. “But thou, O Daniel,” he said, “shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”(Daniel 12:4.)
What could be meant by that expression, “the time of the end”? Note, it was not the end of time. Evidently, the phrase was intended to describe a comparatively short final stretch of years between the close of the 1260- year prophecy and the end of the world. At “the time of the end” the church would be unfolding to a listening world the meaning of the symbols which had passed before the captive prophet. This in itself would indicate that the church had emerged from the wilderness. Daniel had seen a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a beast with ten horns. These were succeeded by a little horn that would wear out the saints of the Most High and would continue 1260 years. Other chains of symbols were made to pass before him. All these, the angel said, represented successions of kingdoms, and stupendous events affecting the history of the church. “The time of the end” thus signalizes the hour when no further time prophecies would begin, when all prophetic chains would be understood, when the seals were to be broken and the church would teach no longer in terms of symbols, but with the burning lessons and warning contained in the foretelling and fulfilling of the events.
Jesus, the prophet Daniel, and the apostle John laid great stress on the tribulation running through the 1260-year period. Jesus said: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”(Matthew 24:21,22.)
Note, Christ repeatedly mentioned “those days.” The fact that the imperious horn of Daniel 7:25 would be forced to terminate the oppression of the saints at the end of the 1260 years, fore-shadowed, at their close, a respite from tribulation for the oppressed. The Redeemer Himself distinctly predicted this close. This accounts for the statement of the revelator that the end of the tribulation would be marked by a deadly wound delivered to the oppressor.(Revelation 13:3.)
Before considering what is meant by “those days” in the foregoing scripture, the length of “those days” should be determined. The apostle John wrote: “The Holy City shall they tread underfoot forty and two months. And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”(Revelation 11:2,3.)
Counting, as the Bible indicates, a month to be thirty days, forty-two times thirty equals 1260.
What is meant in Matthew 24 by Christ’s expression, “great tribulation”?
There have been three periods of tribulation for the Christian church: the first, reaching into the fall of Jerusalem, during which time the Jews persecuted the Christians; the second, reaching to A.D. 325, during which period the pagans greatly afflicted the church; and the third, the 1260-year period (mentioned directly seven times in the Scriptures) when the politico-ecclesiastical power persecuted the Church in the Wilderness. A careful consideration of the many angles of the Savior’s prophecy in Matthew 24 will definitely show that by the expression “those days” and “great tribulation,” He meant the 1260-year period. In Daniel 11:31-35, prophesying of the same “great tribulation,” the prophet begins it from the time “the abomination that maketh desolate” is set up, or the Papacy was given independent dominion (verse 31), and terminates it with “the time of the end” (verse 35). When the prophet previously (Daniel 7:25) dealt with this same treading underfoot of the saints, he began the 1260-year period with the plucking up of the third of three horns which were to be plucked up. The date of this event was evidently A.D. 538. During the Dark Ages, therefore, one would not find the true church favored by princes and kings, but constantly pursued by wolves in sheep’s clothing. During those 1260 years the Church in the Wilderness did not ally herself with governments to form a state church, neither was she clothed with the robes of an imperial hierarchy. Otherwise, she could not have been singled out by the Redeemer to suffer a tribulation so deep and long that the church could not have endured it unless the days were shortened.
By the time of the famous Lateran Council held in Rome in 1215, more nations were forced into the armies of the persecutor. In the days of Claude of Turin (c. A.D. 800) and his leadership in the Church in the Wilderness, this church was fairly strong. Passing on to the tenth and eleventh centuries, one can plainly see the growing voice of dissent and the extensive increase of New Testament believers throughout Europe. All these bodies have been falsely and persistently accused of Manichaeism. It was the splendid work of the Albigenses, however, which aroused the alarm of the Papacy and led to the Lateran Council of 1215. This same year will be remembered as the date when the Magna Charta, the first step toward constitutional government, was written by the barons of England.
The growth of Bible preaching had evidently been influencing political thinking.
From 1215 on, the increasing severity of papal persecution is seen. This is followed by the spread of the Church in the Wilderness in all lands. Again the blood of the martyrs became the seed of the church. Two examples of this may be cited. The Waldenses, and the churches who believed as they did, though bearing other names, spread all over Europe. Mosheim has already been quoted to prove that, prior to the age of Luther, there lay concealed in almost every country of the Continent, especially in Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland, and Germany, many peoples in whose minds the principles maintained by the Waldenses, the Wycliffites, and the Hussites were deeply planted. Also in former chapters there has been traced the spread of the true church throughout Syria, Persia, India, central Asia, China, and Japan.
IMPORTANT DATES IN CHURCH HISTORY
Several chains of prophecy were given which run more or less parallel to the 1260-year period. Four dates stand out prominently in the latter part of the 1260-year period. In a special sense the movement mirrored in these events brought the Church in the Wilderness out from her unrecognized leadership into the foreground. These dates were: 1453, when Constantinople was conquered by the Turks; 1483, when Martin Luther was born; 1492, when Columbus discovered America; and 1491, when Ignatius Loyola was born. A consideration of the new era ushered in by each one of these events throws light upon the steps of the church as she comes forth from the wilderness.
Forty years before Columbus discovered the New World, Europe discovered the Ancient World. The locating of the Western Hemisphere was such a revolutionary event that it is easy to overlook the great discovery in 1453. The treasures disclosed to wondering humanity by the finding of America meet their counterpart in the literary wealth thrown upon Europe by the fall of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Until that time, the Greek manuscripts containing the knowledge possessed by a brilliant antiquity were confined to the Eastern Roman Empire, often called the Greek Empire. The fall of Constantinople before the armies of the Moslem Turks opened to Western Europe the empire’s libraries with their thousands of manuscripts. The nations west of Constantinople awoke from the sleep of centuries. For nearly a thousand years the ecclesiastical power of Rome had eliminated the study of Greek language and literature. “Knowledge of the Greek language died out in Western Europe,” says one whose pro-Roman leanings are well known. Italy, France, Germany, and England were stunned by the sudden revelations in history, science, literature, and philosophy which came to them. Immediately they appropriated their newly found treasures.
The greatest treasure accruing to the world by the fall of Constantinople was the recovery of multiplied manuscripts of the Greek New Testament.
The vast majority of these manuscripts were the Received Text. Having had only the Latin Bible of Rome, called the Vulgate, the western world in general lacked the exact words written by the apostles of the revelations of Jesus.
At this moment appeared the astounding scholar of the age. In erudition Erasmus of Holland has never been surpassed, in the opinion of many. He brought his gigantic intellect to bear upon the realm of classical literature.
He was ever on the wing, ransacking libraries and every nook and comer where ancient manuscripts might be found. He divided all Greek New Testament manuscripts into two classes: those which followed the Received Text, edited by Lucian; and those which followed the Vaticanus manuscript, the pride of the Vatican library. He specified the positive grounds on which he rejected the Vaticanus while receiving the other. 4 And when he brought forth his edition of the Greek New Testament, a new day dawned. This was the edition which all the Protestant churches of that period used. It became the text for Luther’s Bible in German and for Tyndale’s translation in English. Tyndale, an accomplished scholar in seven languages, had been a student of Erasmus’ Greek edition.
LUTHER AND THE REFORMATION
The next epochal date is 1483, the year of Luther’s birth. The name of Luther is almost synonymous with that of the Reformation. As a monk in his cloister cell, his spiritual struggles with God were so powerful that the waves of evangelical feelings which later swept over Europe were, to a certain extent, but the expressions of Luther’s own experience. The Reformation made vocal the longings of the people for a new heart, a heart like Christ’s, in place of their sinful heart. At first, even for some time, Luther had no thought or desire to break with the Church of Rome.
However, the ever-growing power of gospel truth was exalting the Bible above the church. The Papacy refused to surrender its claim that the church was above the Bible. The people were weary with the swarms of monks and nuns who were propagating a vast round of processions, genuflections, prayer beads, amulets, images on the walls of the churches, glorification of relics, and much ado about purgatory — all of these resembling the minutiae of the Pharisees which Jesus came to abolish.
The break came in 1517 when Luther challenged the Papacy by nailing his ninety-five theses to the church door at Wittenberg. Apparently the majority of citizens throughout Europe were members of the Church of Rome; but actually a vast spiritual work had been done in the hearts of the masses before this time. Thomas Armitage shows that in 1310, two hundred years before Luther’s theses, the Bohemian brethren constituted one-fourth of the population of Bohemia, and that they were in touch with the Waldenses who abounded in Austria, Lombardy, Bohemia, north Germany, Thuringia, Brandenburg, and Moravia. Robert Cox has cited the fact that Erasmus pointed out how strictly Bohemian Waldenses kept the seventh-day Sabbath. The Reformation was a mighty movement, much like the departure of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. It rejected the supremacy of the pope, and tore practically all of northern Europe away from the Papacy.
At first there was in it no abolition of the union of church and state; nevertheless, it did not use the state for the widespread, cruel persecutions which darkened the history of Rome. It was a movement struggling toward the light. It abolished the vast gulf which separated the clergy from the people. It acknowledged the Bible as the supreme and only authority in doctrine. It rejected purgatory, worship of saints and images, and took its stand against the orders of monks and nuns. It rejected the celibacy of the clergy. Unquestionably, it was a movement of God; and although it did not attain to the complete purity of doctrine and separation from worldliness as did the early evangelical bodies which fought the prolonged battle through the Dark Ages, to a great extent it restored primitive Christianity to northern Europe which later would pass on these great benefits to the Americas. William Muir says:
It is a serious error to think of the Reformation era, glorious and fruitful as it was, as if it were the golden age of the church, or as if everything was perfect even when it was at its best. The best is yet to be; the best for which all ages have done their work. The Reformers in general took a wrong attitude on the Ten Commandments. They respected them as a code of teaching, but not as a law of binding obligation. Most all the Reformers could be quoted, but only one statement will be given, from the English Reformer Tyndale: “As for the Saboth, a great matter, we be lords over the Saboth; and may yet change it into the Monday, or any other day, as we see need; or may make every tenth day holy day only, if we see a cause why. From the teachings of the leading evangelical Reformers it can be seen that they received from the Papacy the conviction that down through the ages Sunday never had any standing whatsoever, because the Roman Catholic Church always took the attitude that Sunday was simply a festival day like Christmas or any other holiday. The Papacy did not recognize the obligatory observance of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
Therefore, during the 1260 years, whenever the fourth commandment had its proper place, it was always the work of Sabbathkeepers of the Church in the Wilderness. We have seen the crises brought on by the powerful antagonism of the Papacy to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE DAY OF WORSHIP
It was a great moment in the agelong struggle between the Bible and tradition when, in 489 the Roman emperor in his zeal for hierarchical doctrine, closed the notable college established by the Assyrian Church at Edessa. This act resulted in the erection of a barrier between the evangelical East and the papal West. The Church of the East promptly left Edessa, which was just within the border of the Roman dominion, and moved the institution to Nisibis, a few hundred miles within the Persian Empire.
Here, near the Tigris River, a great university was established, which for a thousand years not only confirmed the Persian Christians in the Judean type of teachings as against the papal type, but also spread Greek culture and Roman civilization to the nations of the Orient. Nine years later (A.D. 498) the Assyrian Church, in council assembled, renounced all connection with the church of the Roman Empire. Many writers point out the Semitic nature of the nations in the midst of which this new college was placed.
This settled once and forever that the teachings of Semitic Abraham and his descendants, not the state religion of the West in its pagan philosophy, would color the churches of Asia. Thus, the graduates of Nisibis as they stood like prophets before the sovereigns of China and Japan would preach the Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
It was attested by the early church historians, Socrates and Sozomen, already cited, as well as by other authorities, that at this time all the churches of the world, except Rome and Alexandria, sanctified with divine services the worship of the Sabbath of the Decalogue. Wherever Sunday was also observed, it was with memorial resurrection services. The papal church, yes, even the Reformers, did not recognize Sunday as a continuation of, or a substitute for, the Sabbath. Sunday was in no way considered as having been instituted by a divine commandment, but only by a church ordinance.
THE CIVILIZATION OF THE CHURCH OF THE EAST
It has been noted how in the ninth century the civilizing education system of the Church of the East dominated the golden age of the mighty Arabian Empire — so much so that it permeated the literature of China and Japan in the east, and paved the way for the founding of universities in Europe.
When the papal armies made a temporary conquest of the city of Constantinople in 1204, many writers make plain the contrast between the high culture and civilization of the nations in which were located Eastern and Asiatic Christianity as compared to the barbarous conditions of the papal nations of Europe. Thus, Arthur P. Stanley writes:
There can be no doubt that the civilization of the Eastern Church was far higher than that of the Western. No one can read the account of the capture of Constantinople by the crusaders of the thirteenth century, without perceiving that it is the occupation of a refined and civilized capital by a horde of comparative barbarians.
The arrival of the Greek scholars in Europe in the fifteenth century was the signal for the most progressive step that Western theology has ever made. Adeney testifies to the same contrast when commenting upon the conversion of the Russian church in the eleventh century by Eastern Christianity:
The consequence was that in the course of the next century this country, which we are now accustomed to think of as the most backward of European nations, became more advanced than Germany or even France. She took a foremost place in the early part of the Middle Ages. Byzantine culture was now at its height and incomparably superior to the rude condition of the Western nations. In the middle of this same century, the thirteenth, occurred the devastating conquest of nearly all Asia by the Mongols. They also overran Russia, Poland, Bohemia, and Austria-Hungary, but were stopped on the eastern border of Germany. France, Germany, and England were saved when the grandson of the first Mongolian conqueror refused to pursue the conquest farther west. While the Mongolian armies spread in their path the devastations of war, their victorious march threw doors open through which were revealed to the eyes of an astonished Europe not only the splendid civilization of Asia, but also the widespread activities of the Church of the East. Consideration of these factors discloses the attachments of this church to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
Consideration of the great voyages which sent Columbus to the west and Vasco da Gama to the east in the early years of the sixteenth century, reveals more than the commercial motives of these expeditions.
The contributions of the Polos to geographical knowledge completely eclipsed those of all other previous travelers. They included the first extensive and reliable account of the riches and the splendors of Indo-China, the Indian archipelago, and China; and they included, too, the first actual information about Japan. So picturesque was the account, so attractive the story, so marvelous were the facts disclosed, that thousands read it with unabated interest for generations afterwards. Columbus tells us that he found it an absorbing narrative. It aroused in many a breast the desire to follow in the steps of the men whose journeyings it recounted. The religious motives in undertaking the voyages of discovery were the deepest. Now unrolls the history of how the Jesuits invaded and cruelly oppressed Abyssinia in Africa, persecuted the Church of the East in India, and plotted for dominion in China and Japan. The famous Jesuit, Francis Xavier, exploring the church problems of the Orient, called in 1545 for the establishment of the cruel and bloody Inquisition, which was set up in Goa, India, in 1560. Adeney indicates why this horrible engine was considered necessary: “In a letter written towards the end of the year 1545, Xavier begged the king of Portugal to establish the Inquisition in order to check ‘the Jewish wickedness’ that was spreading through his Eastern dominions.” 11 The “Jewish wickedness” which the Jesuits undertook to fight in the Church of the East meant, among other things, the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath. War on the Sabbath is precisely what the Jesuits made in Abyssinia, which for centuries kept the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath.
The Mongolian conquest did not injure the Church of the East. On the contrary, a number of the Mongolian princes and a larger number of Mongolian queens were members of this church. It was rather the fierce opposition of the fanatical Mohammedan conqueror, Tamerlane, a century later which brought great grief to the Assyrian Church. Nevertheless, in spite of that and in spite of the horrible work of the Jesuits, the Church of the East was strong enough in 1643 to send a director from its home base in Persia to daughter communities in southwestern India. Let it be remembered that at this very time Europe was in the convulsions of the dreadful Thirty Years’ War. This was a fierce unsuccessful effort of the Jesuits to destroy Protestantism on the Continent. From the days of Luther until 1648, when the famous Peace of Westphalia terminated the Thirty Years’ War, Protestantism could not say that it had gained a secure place under the sun. During this same period and prior to the Reformation there were strong movements in Russia, Bohemia, France, England, and Germany, seeking freedom to observe unmolested the seventh day as the Sabbath. Yet intolerance reigned in Asia and Europe. But it is gratifying to note that in the last period of the Thirty Years’ War, for the first time in the history of the world, a government granted religious freedom. This was the case of Roger Williams in Rhode Island when he made a practical application of the great teaching of Christ which called for the separation of church and state. The spread of religious freedom was bound to be followed by a latter-day message on the binding claims of the fourth commandment.
OTHER SHORTCOMINGS OF THE REFORMATION
Other unfortunate deficiencies of the Reformation might be mentioned, such as the union of church and state. Prophecy seemed to indicate, however, that full return to primitive Christianity of the Bible would not come until the church emerged from its subordinate position, or when the Church in the Wilderness became the Remnant Church.
The following words from William Muir indicate the lack of stability manifested by many believers in the Reformation prior to the days of John Wesley. He writes: “In England the masses, who were never really evangelized until John Wesley’s time, changed sides as the monarchs changed and were usually ready to shout with the biggest crowd.” 12 What was there unusual in the message of John Wesley? It was the emphasis placed by Methodism on redemption through the blood of Christ. 13 The Scriptures teach that Christ is the one and only divine sacrifice and that salvation comes through the sufficiency of His death on the cross as our substitute and surety. The substitutionary death of Christ as a divine sacrifice was not clearly emphasized by the early Reformers.
The later Moravian movement, which swept through eastern Europe and later established its missions in North America, was strong through its exaltation of the Pauline, not the papal, attitude toward Christ’s substitutionary death. It is stated that when Zinzendorf in 1722 founded Herrnhut on his estates, he preached the doctrine of salvation through the blood of Christ. 14 Now, sad to relate, many Protestants following in the steps of Rome, belittle the blood atonement and ignore the substitutionary death.
Only when the church emerged from the wilderness to become the Remnant Church was complete apostolic truth to be restored. The church would preach again with power not only the substitutionary death of Christ, but also the sacredness of the Ten Commandments, which were to be magnified by the death of Christ — especially the fourth, sanctifying the seventh day. Can we not say that in “the time of the end” the Sabbath would become a test? Thus, it is written by the revelator, “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.)
THE END OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION
The last of the four prominent dates under consideration in 1491, when Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, was born. When it seemed as if the Church of Rome were mined and crushed by the Reformation, the order of the Jesuits was formed, the most powerful and cruel of all the orders within the Papacy. It undertook first of all to capture colleges and universities, then to climb to power in the state. It succeeded in dominating certain nations and in persecuting with unspeakable cruelty that Protestantism which it was invented to destroy. As Thomas B. Macaulay writes of Jesuitic cruelty:
If Protestantism, or the semblance of Protestantism, showed itself in any quarter, it was instantly met, not by petty, teasing persecution, but by persecution of that sort which bows down and crashes all but a very few select spirits. Whoever was suspected of heresy, whatever his rank, his learning, or his reputation, knew that he must purge himself to the satisfaction of a severe and vigilant tribunal, or die by fire. Heretical books were sought out and destroyed with similar rigor. The Savior made a clear distinction between the end of the days and the end of the tribulation in the days. He said, “In those days, after that tribulation.” The days, as previously discussed, ended in 1798; but by 1772 every country in the world, even those which are called Catholic, arose in horror and demanded that the pope abolish the order of the Jesuits. Finally a pontiff was found who made a show of disbanding them, and they made a show of getting out of sight. As one present-day writer says:
Proof of the subversive influence exercised by the Jesuits, in both spiritual and civil affairs, throughout the four hundred years of their existence, is plentifully evident by the number of times they have been disbanded by the Catholic Church itself, by the Catholic people and by liberal and progressive governments in Catholic and non-Catholic countries. They have been expelled, at one time or another, (many times over in some countries) from practically every country in the world —-except the United States. Thus the 1260 years ended in 1798, but the great tribulation can be considered to have ended in 1772. The date 1798 is worthy of fuller consideration.
THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE INDIGNATION
“And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed. And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished.”(Daniel 11:35,36.)
Here a persecution against the saints is foretold which would last until “the time of the end.” It has previously been shown that “the time of the end” would begin when the 1260-year period ended, or in 1798. In the above verses is predicted the appearance upon the scene of world action of a willful king who would wreak God’s indignation upon the persecutor of His people. Since the persecutor was the Papacy, one must look elsewhere than the medieval hierarchy to locate the willful king destined to put an end to the 1260-year period and to inflict a deadly wound upon the destroyer. What power was swinging into strength, seized with a religious antagonism to the Papacy, about 1798? What other nation could fulfill these specifications better than France, the oldest daughter of the church, driven to atheism. Astonished humanity suddenly beheld break forth in France a revolution, the like of which the world had never previously seen.
It engulfed the ecclesiastical tyranny of the Papacy.
Napoleon, the product and the consummation of the French Revolution, was in Egypt when, on February 10, 1798, General Berthier took the pope prisoner, abolished the college of cardinals, and proclaimed on Capitoline Hill what had been absent from Rome for 1260 years — religious liberty!
This act struck down the head of the system which had pursued the elect flock. But in the wreaking of God’s indignation as indicated in the scriptures above, the “deadly wound” embraced more than this. A quotation from Lord Bryce will help show how the French Revolution, the willful king or kingdom, through Napoleon demolished the political regime of the Papacy.
It was his mission — a mission more beneficent in its result than in its means — to break up in Germany and Italy the abominable system of petty states, to reawaken the spirit of the people, to sweep away the relics of an effete feudalism, and leave the ground clear for the growth of newer and better forms of political life....
New kingdoms were erected, electorates created and extinguished, the lesser princes mediatized, the free cities occupied by troops and bestowed on some neighboring potentate. More than any other change, the secularization of the dominions of the prince-bishops and abbots proclaimed the fall of the old constitution, whose principals had required the existence of a spiritual alongside of the temporal aristocracy.
INQUIRY INTO THE PROPHECIES
“But thou, O Daniel,” said the angel, “shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” The Hebrew for the expression “run to and fro,” in its deepest sense, means “to study diligently and minutely,” or “to travel through.” The German Bible, as well as the French, translates this phrase thus: “Many shall search thoroughly and knowledge shall be increased.” What caused so great an increase in Bible searching that it became a study on prophetic prediction? When the delivering of the “deadly wound” to the gigantic ecclesiastical dictatorship had lifted the ban on Bible study and the termination of the wilderness condition of the true church had been so strikingly fulfilled, the question “What next?” was in the hearts of God’s people This led to a sweeping wave of inquiry into the great chains of prophecy.
At this very date a vast increase in the publication of Bibles began. Bible societies, one after another, appeared. The British and Foreign Bible Society was organized March 7, 1804. The American Bible Society came into existence May 8, 1816. Copies of the Holy Scriptures poured from printing presses by the hundreds of thousands, and have been sent out literally by carloads and shiploads. This made possible the fulfillment of the prediction that men everywhere would run to and fro through Holy Writ. In particular there was intense interest to learn how much prophecy remained yet unfulfilled.
The 1260-year period was fulfilled. But there was left another remarkable prophetic chain which extended to 1844, or forty-six years beyond the termination of the 1260 years. This was the 2300-year-day chain in Daniel 8:14, challenging special attention because it was, as the reading of the chapter shows, the subject of celestial discussion between Michael (Christ) and Gabriel.
Many pages might be written concerning Bible writers and preachers who now appeared prominently before the public, convinced by this 2300-year prophecy that they were living in the time of the end. However, mention will be made briefly of Manuel Lacunza, Edward Irving, Joseph Wolff, and William Miller.
Lacunza at the opening of the nineteenth century was a Jesuit of a monastery in South America. Becoming a convert to many of the views held by the Reformers, he diligently studied the Bible, giving special attention to prophecy. He became so aroused over the 2300-year period as indicating that the promised return of Christ was not far distant that he wrote a book on the subject. This being known, it aroused religious antagonism, and he was driven out of Chile. He continued his work in Europe, experiencing the same persecution. Remarkable to relate, while the Continent was still in the death struggle of ecclesiastical tyranny, he completed his volume entitled, La Venida del Mesias en Gloria y Majestad (The Coming of Christ in Glory and Majesty), writing under the name of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra. At approximately the same time Edward Irving began his astonishing labors along the same line in England and Scotland. He too, after his call from Scotland in 1812 to become the leading preacher in London, applied himself unceasingly to the study of prophecy. Concentrating especially upon the 2300-year time period of Daniel 8:14, he arrived at practically the same conclusion as did Lacunza. Tremendous crowds attended his lectures not only in London, but throughout the large cities of Great Britain. Auditoriums were not large enough to accommodate those who sought to hear him. 19 His fame reached the ears of Lacunza, who sent him a copy of his own book. Irving was astonished to see how God had separately led a Scotch Presbyterian and a converted South American Jesuit to recognize the commanding value of this prophecy and to conclude from it that the time of the end had come.
Another remarkable preacher of prophecy was Ezra Ben-Ezra, who, after his conversion from Judaism, took the name of Joseph Wolff. Of him D.
T. Taylor writes:
Joseph Wolff, D. D., according to his journals, between the years of 1821 and 1845, proclaimed the Lord’s speedy advent in Palestine, Egypt, on the shores of the Red Sea, Mesopotamia, the Crimea, Persia, Georgia, throughout the Ottoman Empire, in Greece, Arabia, Turkistan, Bokhara, Affghanistan, Cashmere, Hindostan, Thibet, in Holland, Scotland and Ireland, at Constantinople, Jerusalem, St. Helena, also on shipboard in the Mediterranean, and at New York City, to all denominations. He declares he has preached among Jews, Turks, Mohammedans, Parsees, Hindoos, Chaldeans, Yeseedes, Syrians, Sabeans, to pachas, sheiks, shahs, the kings of Rgantsh and Bokhara, the queen of Greece, etc., and of his extraordinary labors, the Investigator says: “No individual has, perhaps, given greater publicity to the doctrine of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, than has this well-known missionary to the world. Wherever he goes, he proclaims the approaching advent of the Messiah in glory. 20 The converted South American Jesuit, the Scotch Presbyterian, and the converted son of a rabbi were followed in the study and preaching of the same pivotal prophecy by William Miller who was an American farmer, a veteran of the War of 1812, and a converted infidel. Later he was ordained a Baptist preacher, and he stirred to their foundations the churches of America during the years 1828-1844. He has never yet been surpassed in giving to the world an original and generally correct analysis of the prophetic time periods. With respect to his claim that the world would come to an end in 1844, this was a mistaken interpretation of the event, but the accurate and substantial verification of the date still stands. Later and clearer light upon Daniel 8:14 revealed that Christ was speaking to Gabriel of the cleansing of the sanctuary, an Old Testament expression applying to the Day of Atonement, which in reality is the type of the day of judgment.(See Leviticus 16.)
THE WORLD’S UNPARALLELED PROGRESS AFTER
When the 1260-year period ended in 1798, when religious freedom had at last dawned upon the race, centuries of progress were crowded into a few short years. Up to 1798 there were no railroads, no steamboats, no telegraph, no electric lights, no reapers, automobiles, movies, airplanes, or radios. In fact, up until that time man still had about the same level of material progress as when Noah came out of the ark.
When religious freedom was granted, all this changed. The mind was free; no one was compelled to believe. As Shakespeare wrote: “And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” The mind must be free to learn from nature, books, the Bible, or society; to believe according to the dictates of conscience. When this freedom exists, material civilization increases. May all the gains made by the Church in the Wilderness be preserved! God forbid that civil or religious despotism should regain the ascendancy, reverse all that has been gained since 1798, and send us back into the Dark Ages!
The French Revolution, following upon the American Revolution, delivered to the Papacy a wound as it were unto death. For 1260 years Rome had entrenched itself almost invincibly behind two theories: one, the union of church and state; the other, the divine right of kings. It can be easily seen that if monarchs believed that they ruled by divine right, they would favor and exalt the head of that church who would perform the consecration service at their coronation. That period was called the Dark Ages. It took centuries of blood and suffering to open the eyes of men to the colossal evils inherent in these two theories of government. Edgar Quinet, Protestant historian of the French Revolution, believed that up to that event the history of France was not worth writing. When in February, 1798, religious liberty was proclaimed by the French army in Rome and the pope was taken prisoner to France, the cardinals, as they drew their cloaks over their heads and abandoned the city, exclaimed, “This is the end of religion!”
Nevertheless, the prophet predicted, “His deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” Here was a demand for eternal vigilance, lest defeated tyranny would regain its lost ground. “Democracy is character,” exclaimed an American statesman. As prosperity increased, character declined. The fathers won freedom and happiness through blood and suffering. The children turned back in their hearts to the vices and luxuries of the Old World. The Oxford Movement arose in 1833, and rapidly growing in strength and gathering these worldly desires of the next generation into an organized society, began the glorification of the Dark Ages and the belittling of modem freedoms, as well as of those who won them. The Papacy in its leading publications gives credit to Dr. J. H.
Newman, of Oxford University, who later became Cardinal Newman, and the Oxford Movement for the present world-wide Catholic revival. Of him The Catholic Encyclopedia writes: “No finer triumph of talent in the service of conscience has been put on record. From that day the Catholic religion may date its re-entrance into the national literature.” Why was it that in 1833 England believed that the Reformation was the work of God, but fifty years later it believed that the Reformation had been a rebellion, as was pointed out by the historian Froude, who was at Oxford during those years of the movement; and that whereas in 1833 the pope was looked upon as antichrist, in 1883 he was considered the successor of the apostles? The deadly wound to tyranny was being healed and those who inflicted it were being vilified. All the arts of tricky reasoning and of corrupting the records of history reappeared in the Oxford Movement. Its leaders, many of them Jesuits in disguise, began to build up a case for Romanism. This movement, assisted by gold and by disguised agents from the Continent, spread through the Church of England. It then entered the Protestant theological schools of America.
Now is being witnessed the de-Protestantization of the English-speaking world. The pope has now been made king. The “deadly wound” is reaching complete healing.
THE APPROACHING AGE
In “the time of the end” stupendous and unprecedented are the scenes through which the Remnant Church must pass. The Remnant Church will occupy a position such as was never before occupied by God’s people.
Her message will embrace all the messages of the past and bring them to final consummation. She will fix her eyes upon the soon return of Christ as the next event in this stupendous program. Of her amid the vast scenes of Christ’s return, the revelator writes: “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”(Revelation 14:12.) While those who walk in the broad way are losing their awareness of things eternal, God’s final church will be alert to things not seen. She will endure, like Moses, by seeing Him who is invisible. She will take time to follow after holiness. These believers will behold the momentous events leading up to, and constituting, the battle of Armageddon. Of the steps preparatory to this catastrophe the revelator says: “The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”(Revelation 11:18.)
Paganism is symbolized in the book of Revelation by the great red dragon.
The war which paganism made upon the early church was bitter; and the long, cruel persecutions carried on by the beast, that medieval union of church and state which succeeded to the power of paganism in the European nations, was still more bitter. But the church of the last days must endure the wrath and persecutions of the image to the beast, which is the final colossal union of church and state, or the healing of the deadly wound of the beast.(Revelation 13.) These terms are used because God uses them. And so offensive to the Eternal is the stand of the image to the beast, into whose vast apostasy flow all the deceptions of the dragon and the beast, that God proclaims to mankind in advance a special warning along this line: “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.” “I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud One sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.” (Revelation 14:9,10,14.)
This message proclaimed by the Remnant Church will take away blindness from those who are willing to see.
The most dreadful language ever used in the Scriptures is that which foretells the visitation of the seven last plagues, the last divine indignation, the untempered wrath of God: “I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.” (Revelation 15:1.)
That the seven last plagues are leveled against the beast and his image is plainly indicated. The long pent-up indignation of Jehovah in His wrath against hypocrisy finally bursts forth. The Bible says that “the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains,” asking the mountains and rocks to fall on them and to hide them, “for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17.)
From now on there will be no dull moments among the children of men.
How solemn and how unprecedented are the scenes through which the last church passes, preparing and perfecting a character which will be acceptable to the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns!
The events of earth are now being agitated by the breath of the approaching age. The world that now is, is passing; the arrival of the world to come is imminent. The principalities and powers of darkness are making a last effort to gain possession of souls. There is still power in prayer to resist the increasing darkness. Remember the pleading of the apostle Peter: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.”(2 Peter 3:11,12.)
He looks upon the graves of the righteous, then raising His hands to heaven He cries, “Awake, awake, awake, ye that sleep in the dust, and arise!” Throughout the length and breadth of the earth, the dead shall hear that voice; and they that hear shall live. And the whole earth shall ring with the tread of the exceeding great army of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. From the prison house of death they come, clothed with immortal glory, crying, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” And the living righteous and the risen saints unite their voices in a long, glad shout of victory. This consummation will truly be Truth Triumphant. “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”(Revelation 14:12.)