INFLUENCE OF THIS POWER UPON THE NATIONSThe leaven of its principles has deeply diffused itself throughout the nations of the earth. In proof of this, witness the revolutions of 1848, which shook nearly all the thrones of Europe. And what is so well calculated to develop and maintain religious freedom as Protestantism?
With the diffusion of these principles, how many are now confidently expecting a long period of prosperity and triumph for the church, - a period of emancipation to the poor enslaved nations of the earth, - the ushering in of the period when the nations shall learn war no more, and a universal spiritual kingdom shall be set up and fill the whole earth (Micah 4:1-5); and those wonders which we have briefly noticed promise to mankind a better revelation than the Scriptures of truth afford us?
The people of God indeed are looking forward to the time when the Lamb, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, shall reign in person over the whole earth. But with the mass this view has given place to the more congenial idea of a spiritual reign, and of temporal prosperity and triumph.
This view holds out to men the prospect of peace and safety (1 Thess. 5), notwithstanding the evidence has been spread out before them that the hour of God's Judgment has come, and that no better state of things can ever exist till the curse shall be removed from the earth. The warning respecting the coming storm of wrath has been most faithfully given; but by the multitude it has been rejected, thus leaving them to the deceptions that are already coming upon the earth. They dream that the earth, with all its progress and all its improvements, is far too lovely and excellent for God to destroy. Peace and safety is the delusive dream in which men indulge while the wrath of God hangs over them.
We regard the two-horned beast, then, as the symbol of a civil and religious power, differing in many respects from those which have preceded it. It is in appearance the mildest form of power that ever existed; but it is, after having deceived the world with its wonders, to exhibit all the tyranny of the first beast. If the right of private judgment be allowed by the Protestant Church, why does she expel men from her communion for no greater crime than that of attempting to obey God in something wherein his word may not be in accordance with her creed? Read Charles Beecher's work, "The Bible a Sufficient Creed. " Why are men, for no other crime than looking for Jesus Christ, expelled from the churches of those who profess to love his appearing?
ITS DECEPTIVE CHARACTER
To these and many other questions of a similar character, we can only answer, that the lamb is such only in pretension; he is dragon in character. His ostensible appearance is that of a lamb; but the power which he exercises is that of a dragon. The true kingdom of the Lamb, the King of kings, is not set up on the earth until the destruction of all the wicked powers that now bear rule. Then the Jubilee will end the bondage of the saints. God speed the right!
A further view of the two-horned beast may be obtained by comparing his history with that of the false prophet. The two-horned beast is represented as working miracles in the sight of the first beast. Rev. 13:14. The same is affirmed respecting the false prophet. Chap. 19:20.
The nations of the earth are deceived by these miracles, and caused to worship the image of the first beast, and to receive his mark. The same work is ascribed to the false prophet.
Still further, we may say that the Bible gives us the origin of the two-horned beast, but does not under that name give us his final destiny. The origin of the false prophet is not given under that name, but his destiny is clearly revealed. Rev. 19:20; 20:10.
IDENTITY OF THE TWO HORNED BEAST
Inasmuch as their work is identical, and they act their part at the same time, we cannot doubt their identity. This is positive proof that the two-horned beast is, from the time of its rise, a power contemporary with the first beast, and not the first beast in another form. What power has ever risen in the past history of the world that could answer the description of this lamb-dragon, or false prophet?
If Satan has been permitted to make use of paganism, as an instrument of oppression and deception, and also of papacy, which is Christianity in a corrupt form, why may he not make use of Protestantism also, when it becomes corrupt, as, if possible, a more efficient means of deception than either of the former?
Has not the Protestant Church acted the part of the false prophet most effectually in promising to the world a thousand years of peace and prosperity before the day of wrath? She has prophesied this out of her own heart, for God has ever spoken the reverse. 2 Tim. 3; Dan. 7; Matt. 13; 2 Thess. 2. The Protestant Churches as a body now proclaim this doctrine as expressing the great object for which they labor, - temporal prosperity and triumph in a world that has ever rejected Christ.
Mohammedanism is not this false prophet; for it is introduced in the prophecy under the symbol of locusts, and its power departed with the hour, day, month, and year of the second woe. Rev. 9. But the two-horned beast, or false prophet, acts as an accomplice of the papacy in Satan's great work of final deception, and unites in the great conflict against the King of kings. Rev. 19.
THE DRAGON VOICE OF THE BEAST CREATES AN IMAGE
The work of deception prepares the way for the dragon voice of the beast. He says "to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast which had a wound by a sword, and did live. "
And thus it would seem that the history of this symbol is in part, at least, twice presented, each time ending with its oppressive acts, first, with its power represented by horns like a lamb, and subsequently exercising all the dragonic power of the first beast; and, secondly, as a power working miracles to deceive the dwellers upon the earth; and when this deception is accomplished, it is to cause them to unite in making an image that should have power to put every one to death who would not worship it.
In noticing the prophetic history of the first beast, we called attention to the fact that the prediction respecting the time when all that dwell upon the earth whose names are not written in the book of life shall worship the beast, has never yet met its fulfillment; and we would here express the conviction that this prophecy relates to the time when the two-horned beast is to speak as a dragon, and to exercise all the power of the first beast. In that hour of strong temptation, we may expect to see all the dwellers upon the earth united in the worship of the beast.
The beast was the papacy clothed with power to put to death the saints of God. Rev. 13:5-8; Dan. 7:23-26. An image to the beast, then, must be another ecclesiastical body clothed with power and authority to put the saints to death. This can refer to nothing else but the corrupt and fallen Protestant Church.
If it be asked whence the beast receives this power, we can only answer that, by permission of God, the dragon, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, is without doubt the very being who communicates this power to the beast. The kingdoms of the world are claimed by him, and the right to give them to whom he will. Luke 4:5, 6.
Should it be objected that the world is too much enlightened to submit to such deception, or to unite in such a work of persecution, we answer that the word of God gives us this prophecy in clear language; and it is with reference to this scene of danger that the third angel utters his solemn warning.
Look at the Jewish Church, and mark how soon after they had rejected the Messiah at his first coming, they put him to a cruel death, and also slew many of his apostles and saints. They said, indeed (Matt. 23), that had they lived in the days of their fathers they would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets; but when their "hour and the power of darkness" came upon them, how completely did it show them to be under the power of Satan. Luke 22:53; John 7:30.
The rejection of the truth of God leaves men the captives of Satan, and the subjects of his deception. 2 Thess. 2:9-12. The greater the light which men reject, the greater the power of deception and of darkness which will come upon them. The advent message has been given in our own land, and by the mass rejected, and no greater, and indeed no other, light can ever be given to those who have turned away from that. The third angel gives us warning of the danger which is now before us. The warning precedes the danger, that we, by seasonable admonition, may make our escape.
Another religious power enforces the claims of the first beast and his image, and causeth the world to receive his mark. What is this mark of the beast? -It is the mark of that beast to whom the image was made - the first beast. Rev. 19:20; 16:2. But it is enforced by the two-horned beast; hence we understand it is an institution of the papacy, enforced by Protestantism.
The beast and his image unite in this thing, in opposition to the saints, who are engaged in keeping the commandments of God. Have we an institution of the papal apostasy which the civil power supports, and to which the religious world pay homage? -
We have. It is found in the weekly Sabbath, which the "man of sin" has placed in the stead of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
If we turn to the law of God, we shall find that the fourth commandment alone points out Jehovah, the first three forbid the worship of false gods, and blasphemy, and the last six pertain wholly to our duty to our fellow-men. Not one of these nine commandments point out the true God. But the Sabbath commandment points out the true God as that being who in six days created heaven and earth, and rested upon the seventh. By the observance of the sanctified rest-day of the creator, he is acknowledged as the true God, in distinction from every object upon which the eye can rest, in the heavens above or in the earth beneath. The being that created all these things is God. Such is the teaching of the fourth commandment.
But the Scriptures plainly predict that the man of sin should exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, and should "THINK TO CHANGE TIMES AND LAWS. " 2 Thess. 2; Dan. 7:25.
It is not said that he should be able to change them; but he should think to do it; or, as the Catholic version reads, "He shall think himself ABLE to change times and laws. " They are not the times and laws of men which he thinks to change, for these he might be able to change, as other powers have done; but it is an act of arrogance in which he does not succeed. The times and laws of God are doubtless intended. This apostasy began in the apostolic age (2 Thess. 2:7), and it has resulted in the perfect development of the man of sin, and of his blasphemous acts, among which we may name the change of the fourth commandment.
No one can produce any other authority for changing the Sabbath than Romish traditions.
Listen to the following cutting reproof from a Romanist:
" The word of God commandeth the seventh day to be the Sabbath of our Lord, and to be kept holy; you [Protestants] without any precept of Scripture, change it to the first day of the week, only authorized by our traditions. Divers English Puritans oppose against this point, that the observation of the first day is proved out of the Scripture, where it is said the first day of the week. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10. Have they not spun a fair thread in quoting from these places? If we should produce no better for purgatory and prayers for the dead, invocation of the saints, and the like, they might have good cause indeed to laugh us to scorn. "(See "History of the Sabbath" and "Who Changed the Sabbath?" RH)
Notwithstanding the fourth commandment in the plainest terms enjoins the observance of the sanctified rest-day of the Lord, almost all the world now wonders after the beast, and observe the pagan festival of Sunday, which the great apostasy has substituted for the holy Sabbath.
By the observance of the Sabbath, men acknowledge the great Creator as their God; but when they understandingly choose in its stead the Sabbath of the man of sin, they acknowledge him as above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, and as able to change the times and laws of God. There is no evading the point.
If we observe the Sabbath of the Lord, and that of the apostasy also, we only make the man of sin equal with God. But when we profane the Lord's Sabbath, and observe in its stead the Romish festival of Sunday, we acknowledge the papacy to be above God, and able to change his times and laws.
We speak of those who have the light of truth and act contrary to it. Those who have never yet understood that the observance of Sunday is a tradition of the fathers which makes void the fourth commandment, are not referred to. It is the bringing of this Sabbath of the apostasy to the test that will constitute it the mark of that power that should think to change times and laws.
There is no other papal institution that directly sets aside one of the ten commandments, that the whole Protestant world observes. This mark is very conspicuous in the forehead or hand, and signifies not a literal mark, but a public profession, or act, that all may see or know.
THE NUMBER 666 OF HIS NAME
The number of the name of the beast is also to be enforced as a test of submission to him. This name, which is said to be that of a man, is seen, without doubt, in the title of "Vicar of the Son of God, " which the pope has caused to be inscribed upon his mitre. It is written in Latin, and the numeral letters employed make the sum of 666. The design of this test is to cause men to acknowledge the authority of the papacy.
The manner in which the Protestant Church would enforce the Sabbath of the man of sin, had it the power, is well expressed by a distinguished clergyman.
Says Dr. Durbin.
"I infer, therefore, that the civil magistrate may not be called upon to enforce the observance of the Sabbath, as required in the spiritual kingdom of Christ; but when Christianity becomes the moral and spiritual life of the State, the State is bound, through her magistrates, to prevent the open violation of the holy Sabbath, as a measure of self-preservation. She cannot, without injuring her own vitality and incurring the divine displeasure, be recreant to her duty in this matter. (Christian Advocate and Journal)
THE WORSHIP OF THE BEAST
It is proper that we should speak with carefulness of that which relates to the events of the future. That the scene described in the conclusion of Rev. 13 pertains to the time of trouble before us, such as never was, we have no doubt. It is also evident that in the providence of God the line of separation between the worshipers of the beast and his image on the one hand, and those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus on the other, will be most distinct and visible.
The third angel's proclamation will prepare the people of God for the coming crisis; and the formation of the image and the reception of the mark will prepare all the various classes of adherents to the beast, to receive the vials of the wrath of God, the seven last plagues. The image of the beast, as we have seen, is made up of apostate religious bodies. The name of the beast, as given in verse 1, is "Blasphemy. " The mark will determine to which class each individual belongs.
We have seen the cause of danger fully laid open before us in Rev. 13. We now turn to the voice of warning as presented in chap. 14:9-11.
The warning of danger is a warning which refers directly to the scene of trouble described in Rev. 13:11-18. This warning shows that that trouble is yet to come. Its fearful character may be learned from the thrilling and dreadful import of the angel's message. The Bible nowhere else depicts such dreadful wrath. On one side stands the decree of the beast, who is to exercise all the power of the first beast before him, that all who will not worship the image and receive his mark shall be put to death; on the other hand stands the solemn warning of the third angel. Here, then is the strait before us. We can worship the beast and his image, and as the penalty, drink the wine of the wrath of God, or we can refuse, and peril our lives here, that we may obey God.
This message will draw a line between the worshipers of God and the worshipers of the beast and his image; for on either hand it reveals a dreadful penalty, and leaves no chance for half-way work. Those who disregard this warning will be found with the worshipers of the beast and his image, and will drink of the wine of the wrath of God. Those who heed this warning will obey God at the risk of their lives.
The one class is designated by the mark of the beast, the other class is seen in the patience of the saints, keeping the commandments of God. That the law of God should thus be made a great testing truth to draw a line between the subjects of the fourth and fifth kingdoms, is an idea not unworthy of the God of the Bible. That the commandments of God are the great subject of controversy between the dragon and the remnant of the seed of the woman, is plain from Rev. 12:17.
The issue of this struggle cannot be a matter of doubt; for, as in all past ages those who have had the ark of God and have kept his commandments have triumphed, even so will it be now.
What, then, is it to worship the beast? for this is a prominent part of the act against which the wrath of God without mixture of mercy is denounced, and, as we have seen, all the world are yet to unite in this act?
It is worthy of notice that at the conclusion of this dreadful warning the saints are introduced as keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Thus we may understand that the worship of the beast and his image, and the reception of his mark, is the opposite of keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. And we have seen that one of the commandments of God has been superseded by an institution of the Romish apostasy.
A remark by Prof. Bliss, bearing on this point, is worthy of lasting remembrance;
"Whenever any civil or ecclesiastical enactment conflicts with the requisitions of Jehovah, that power is worshiped which is obeyed in preference to the other. `Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey?' Rom. 6:16. " (Bliss on the Apocalypse, page 233)
We have already seen that the conflict is between the commandments of God and the requirements of the beast; and that a papal institution, which has usurped the place of one of the commandments of God, is yet to be made a test by the two-horned beast.
It is not difficult, therefore, to see how men will be made to worship the beast; for whenever they obey the requirements of the beast, in the place of the commandments of God, they worship the beast; for they acknowledge him as above the Most High. It is a remarkable fact that the pagan festival of Sunday, which the great apostasy has substituted for the Sabbath of the Bible, is now enforced by law in most of the States of the union. A papal institution which directly contradicts the fourth commandments is thus enforced by a protestant government!
But many of our State governments have already enacted that the Sabbath of the Bible (?) shall be kept on Sunday, and the judges have decided such laws to be constitutional! If the government has a right to nullify the fourth commandment, there is an end to the principle of religious liberty; for it has an equal right to nullify any or all of the others.
THE FINAL CONTEST
It may be proper that we should notice some of the most probable causes that will induce the two-horned beast to create the image, and to require the reception of the mark:-
1. The first which we should name is the work of the spirits in performing miracles, etc.
It is certain that this agency, as we have already seen, is to deceive the dwellers upon the earth, and to cause them to make the image which all must worship on pain of death. We may rest assured that this extraordinary development of Satanic power has been reserved by him to act an important part in preparing men for the seven last plagues. If our public men become mediums (and some of them are such already), and our citizens become believers in this new system of divinity, or government is hopelessly in the hands of the Devil. Such a result may be neither improbable nor distant.
2. A second cause, and one, too, which should not be lightly passed over, is this; The preaching of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
This is the cause of the conflict between the dragon and the last fragment of the church. We shall hereafter show that the commandments of God, as distinguished from the faith or testimony of Jesus, mean the ten commandments. The fourth of these commandments the dragon has attempted to change. It is because the saints are keeping all the commandments of God that the dragon makes war upon them. This prophecy (Rev. 12:17) doubtless refers to the scene described in the conclusion of Rev. 13.
Mr. Miller remarks respecting this prophecy:
"I am therefore constrained to believe this battle of the dragon's last power will be in America; and if so, it must be mainly in these United States. " (Lectures," p. 213)
It is because the commandments of God will be vindicated, and the unscriptural character of the Sunday-Sabbath exposed, that the two-horned beast will require all to receive the mark. The lack of scriptural argument has been the chief cause why men have resorted to the argument of fire and fagot to convince dissenters.
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