A Warning Rejected.

28 Jan

In preaching the doctrine of the second advent, William Miller
and his associates had labored with the sole purpose of arousing
men to a preparation for the judgment. They had sought to awaken
professors of religion to the true hope of the church, and to
their need of a deeper Christian experience; and they labored also
to awaken the unconverted to the duty of immediate repentance
and conversion to God. “They made no attempt to convert men
to a sect or party in religion. Hence they labored among all
parties and sects, without interfering with their organization or
discipline.”618
“In all my labors,” said Miller, “I never had the desire or
thought to establish any separate interest from that of existing
denominations, or to benefit one at the expense of another. I
thought to benefit all. Supposing that all Christians would rejoice
in the prospect of Christ’s coming, and that those who could
not see as I did would not love any the less those who should
embrace this doctrine, I did not conceive there would ever be any
necessity for separate meetings. My whole object was a desire to
convert souls to God, to notify the world of a coming judgment,
and to induce my fellow-men to make that preparation of heart
which will enable them to meet their God in peace. The great
majority of those who were converted under my labors united
618 Bliss, “Memoirs of Wm. Miller,” p. 328.
390 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
[376] with the various existing churches.”619
As his work tended to build up the churches, it was for a
time regarded with favor. But as ministers and religious leaders
decided against the advent doctrine, and desired to suppress all
agitation of the subject, they not only opposed it from the pulpit,
but denied their members the privilege of attending preaching
upon the second advent, or even of speaking of their hope in the
social meetings of the church. Thus the believers found themselves
in a position of great trial and perplexity. They loved their
churches, and were loath to separate from them; but as they saw
the testimony of God’s word suppressed, and their right to investigate
the prophecies denied, they felt that loyalty to God forbade
them to submit. Those who sought to shut out the testimony
of God’s word, they could not regard as constituting the church
of Christ, “the pillar and ground of the truth.” Hence they felt
themselves justified in separating from their former connection.
In the summer of 1844 about fifty thousand withdrew from the
churches.
About this time a marked change was apparent in most of the
churches throughout the United States. There had been for many
years a gradual but steadily increasing conformity to worldly
practices and customs, and a corresponding decline in real spiritual
life; but in that year there were evidences of a sudden and
marked declension in nearly all the churches of the land. While
none seemed able to suggest the cause, the fact itself was widely
noted and commented upon, by both the press and the pulpit.
At a meeting of the presbytery of Philadelphia, Mr. Barnes,
author of a commentary widely used, and pastor of one of the
leading churches in that city, “stated that he had been in the
ministry for twenty years, and never, till the last communion,
had he administered the ordinance without receiving more or
less into the church. But now there are no awakenings, no
619 Ibid.
21. A Warning Rejected. 391
conversions, not much apparent growth in grace in professors,
and none come to his study to converse about the salvation of
their souls. With the increase of business, and the brightening [377]
prospects of commerce and manufacture, there is an increase of
worldly-mindedness. Thus it is with all the denominations.”620
In the month of February of the same year, Professor Finney,
of Oberlin College, said: “We have had the fact before our minds,
that, in general, the Protestant churches of our country, as such,
were either apathetic or hostile to nearly all the moral reforms of
the age. There are partial exceptions, yet not enough to render the
fact otherwise than general. We have also another corroborated
fact: the almost universal absence of revival influence in the
churches. The spiritual apathy is almost all-pervading, and is
fearfully deep; so the religious press of the whole land testifies….
Very extensively, church-members are becoming devotees of
fashion,—join hands with the ungodly in parties of pleasure, in
dancing, in festivities, etc…. But we need not expand this painful
subject. Suffice it that the evidence thickens and rolls heavily
upon us, to show that the churches generally are becoming sadly
degenerate. They have gone very far from the Lord, and He has
withdrawn Himself from them.”
And a writer in the Religious Telescope testified: “We have
never witnessed such a general declension of religion as at the
present. Truly, the church should awake, and search into the
cause of this affliction; for as an affliction every one that loves
Zion must view it. When we call to mind how ‘few and far between’
cases of true conversion are, and the almost unparalleled
impertinence and hardness of sinners, we almost involuntarily
exclaim, ‘Has God forgotten to be gracious? or, Is the door of
mercy closed?’ ”
Such a condition never exists without cause in the church
itself. The spiritual darkness which falls upon nations, upon
620 Congregational Journal, May 23, 1844.
392 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
churches and individuals, is due, not to an arbitrary withdrawal
of the succors of divine grace on the part of God, but to neglect or
[378] rejection of divine light on the part ofmen. A striking illustration
of this truth is presented in the history of the Jewish people in the
time of Christ. By their devotion to the world and forgetfulness
of God and His word, their understanding had become darkened,
their hearts earthly and sensual. Thus they were in ignorance
concerning Messiah’s advent, and in their pride and unbelief they
rejected the Redeemer. God did not even then cut off the Jewish
nation from a knowledge of, or a participation in, the blessings
of salvation. But those who rejected the truth lost all desire for
the gift of Heaven. They had “put darkness for light, and light for
darkness,” until the light which was in them became darkness;
and how great was that darkness!
It suits the policy of Satan, that men should retain the forms
of religion, if but the spirit of vital godliness is lacking. After
their rejection of the gospel, the Jews continued zealously to
maintain their ancient rites, they rigorously preserved their national
exclusiveness, while they themselves could not but admit
that the presence of God was no longer manifest among them.
The prophecy of Daniel pointed so unmistakably to the time of
Messiah’s coming, and so directly foretold His death, that they
discouraged its study, and finally the rabbis pronounced a curse
on all who should attempt a computation of the time. In blindness
and impenitence, the people of Israel for eighteen hundred
years have stood, indifferent to the gracious offers of salvation,
unmindful of the blessings of the gospel, a solemn and fearful
warning of the danger of rejecting light from heaven.
Wherever the cause exists, the same results will follow. He
who deliberately stifles his convictions of duty because it interferes
with his inclinations, will finally lose the power to
distinguish between truth and error. The understanding becomes
darkened, the conscience callous, the heart hardened, and the
soul is separated from God. Where the message of divine truth
21. A Warning Rejected. 393
is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in
darkness; faith and love grow cold, and estrangement and [379]
dissension enter. Church-members center their interests and energies
in worldly pursuits, and sinners become hardened in their
impenitence.
The first angel’s message of Revelation 14, announcing the
hour of God’s judgment, and calling upon men to fear and worship
Him, was designed to separate the professed people of God
from the corrupting influences of the world, and to arouse them
to see their true condition of worldliness and backsliding. In this
message, God had sent to the church a warning, which, had it
been accepted, would have corrected the evils that were shutting
them away from Him. Had they received the message from
heaven, humbling their hearts before the Lord, and seeking in
sincerity a preparation to stand in His presence, the Spirit and
power of God would have been manifested among them. The
church would again have reached that blessed state of unity, faith,
and love, which existed in apostolic days, when the believers
“were of one heart and of one soul,” and “spake the word of God
with boldness,” when “the Lord added to the church daily such
as should be saved.”621
If God’s professed people would receive the light as it shines
upon them from His word, they would reach that unity for which
Christ prayed, that which the apostle describes, “the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace.” “There is,” he says, “one body, and
one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one
Lord, one faith, one baptism.”622
Such were the blessed results experienced by those who
accepted the advent message. They came from different denominations,
and their denominational barriers were hurled to the
ground; conflicting creeds were shivered to atoms; the unscriptural
hope of a temporal millennium was abandoned, false views
621 Acts 4:32, 31; 2:47.
622 Eph. 4:3-5.
394 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
of the second advent were corrected, pride and conformity to
the world were swept away; wrongs were made right; hearts
were united in the sweetest fellowship, and love and joy reigned
[380] supreme. If this doctrine did this for the few who did receive it,
it would have done the same for all, if all had received it.
But the churches generally did not accept the warning. Their
ministers, who, as “watchmen unto the house of Israel,” should
have been the first to discern the tokens of Jesus’ coming, had
failed to learn the truth, either from the testimony of the prophets
or from the signs of the times. As worldly hopes and ambitions
filled the heart, love for God and faith in His word had grown
cold; and when the advent doctrine was presented, it only aroused
their prejudice and unbelief. The fact that the message was, to
a great extent, preached by laymen, was urged as an argument
against it. As of old, the plain testimony of God’s word was
met with the inquiry, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees
believed?” And finding how difficult a task it was to refute the
arguments drawn from the prophetic periods, many discouraged
the study of the prophecies, teaching that the prophetic books
were sealed, and were not to be understood. Multitudes, trusting
implicitly to their pastors, refused to listen to the warning; and
others, though convinced of the truth, dared not confess it, lest
they should be “put out of the synagogue.” The message which
God had sent for the testing and purification of the church, revealed
all too surely how great was the number who had set their
affections on this world rather than upon Christ. The ties which
bound them to earth were stronger than the attractions heavenward.
They chose to listen to the voice of worldly wisdom, and
turned away from the heart-searching message of truth.
In refusing the warning of the first angel, they rejected the
means which Heaven had provided for their restoration. They
spurned the gracious messenger that would have corrected the
evils which separated them from God, and with greater eagerness
they turned to seek the friendship of the world. Here was the
21. A Warning Rejected. 395
cause of that fearful condition of worldliness, backsliding, and
spiritual death which existed in the churches in 1844. [381]
In Revelation 14, the first angel is followed by a second,
proclaiming, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because
she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her
fornication.”623 The term “Babylon” is derived from “Babel,”
and signifies confusion. It is employed in Scripture to designate
the various forms of false or apostate religion. In Revelation
17, Babylon is represented as a woman,—a figure which is
used in the Bible as the symbol of a church, a virtuous woman
representing a pure church, a vile woman an apostate church.
In the Bible the sacred and enduring character of the relation
that exists between Christ and His church is represented by the
union of marriage. The Lord has joined His people to Himself
by a solemn covenant, He promising to be their God, and they
pledging themselves to be His, and His alone. He declares, “I
will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto
Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness,
and in mercies.”624 And again, “I am married unto you.”625 And
Paul employs the same figure in the New Testament when he
says, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present
you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”626
The unfaithfulness of the church to Christ in permitting her
confidence and affection to be turned from Him, and allowing
the love of worldly things to occupy the soul, is likened to the
violation of the marriage vow. The sin of Israel in departing
from the Lord is presented under this figure; and the wonderful
love of God which they thus despised is touchingly portrayed: “I
sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the
Lord God, and thou becamest Mine.” “And thou wast exceeding
623 Rev. 14:8.
624 Hosea 2:19.
625 Jer. 3:14.
626 2 Cor. 11:2.
396 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown
went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect
through My comeliness, which I had put upon thee…. But thou
didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because
[382] of thy renown.” “As a wife treacherously departeth from her
husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with Me, O house of
Israel, saith the Lord;” “as a wife that committeth adultery, which
taketh strangers instead of her husband.”627
In the New Testament, language very similar is addressed to
professed Christians who seek the friendship of the world above
the favor of God. Says the apostle James: “Ye adulterers and
adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is
enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the
world is the enemy of God.”
The woman (Babylon) of Revelation 17, is described as “arrayed
in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and
precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand
full of abominations and filthiness: … and upon her forehead
was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother
of harlots.” Says the prophet, “I saw the woman drunken with
the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of
Jesus.” Babylon is further declared to be “that great city, which
reigneth over the kings of the earth.”628 The power that for so
many centuries maintained despotic sway over the monarchs of
Christendom, is Rome. The purple and scarlet color, the gold
and precious stones and pearls, vividly picture the magnificence
and more than kingly pomp affected by the haughty see of Rome.
And no other power could be so truly declared “drunken with
the blood of the saints” as that church which has so cruelly
persecuted the followers of Christ. Babylon is also charged with
the sin of unlawful connection with “the kings of the earth.” It
was by departure from the Lord, and alliance with the heathen,
627 Eze. 16:8, 13-15, 32; Jer. 3:20.
628 Rev. 17:4-6, 18.
21. A Warning Rejected. 397
that the Jewish church became a harlot; and Rome, corrupting
herself in like manner by seeking the support of worldly powers,
receives a like condemnation.
Babylon is said to be “the mother of harlots.” By her daughters
must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines and
traditions, and follow her example of sacrificing the truth and [383]
the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with
the world. The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of
Babylon, must apply to religious bodies that were once pure and
have become corrupt. Since this message follows the warning
of the judgment, it must be given in the last days; therefore it
cannot refer to the Roman Church alone, for that church has
been in a fallen condition for many centuries. Furthermore, in the
eighteenth chapter of the Revelation, the people of God are called
upon to come out of Babylon. According to this scripture, many
of God’s people must still be in Babylon. And in what religious
bodies are the greater part of the followers of Christ now to be
found? Without doubt, in the various churches professing the
Protestant faith. At the time of their rise, these churches took
a noble stand for God and the truth, and His blessing was with
them. Even the unbelieving world was constrained to acknowledge
the beneficent results that followed an acceptance of the
principles of the gospel. In the words of the prophet to Israel,
“Thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for
it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon
thee, saith the Lord God.”629 But they fell by the same desire
which was the curse and ruin of Israel,—the desire of imitating
the practices and courting the friendship of the ungodly. “Thou
didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because
of thy renown.”630
Many of the Protestant churches are following Rome’s example
of iniquitous connection with “the kings of the earth”—the
629 Eze. 16:14, 15.
630 Ibid.
398 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
state churches, by their relation to secular governments; and
other denominations, by seeking the favor of the world. And
the term “Babylon”—confusion—may be appropriately applied
to these bodies, all professing to derive their doctrines from the
Bible, yet divided into almost innumerable sects, with widely
conflicting creeds and theories.
Besides a sinful union with the world, the churches that sep-
[384] arated from Rome present other of her characteristics. A
Roman Catholic work argues that “if the Church of Rome were
ever guilty of idolatry in relation to the saints, her daughter, the
Church of England, stands guilty of the same, which has ten
churches dedicated to Mary for one dedicated to Christ.”631
And Dr. Hopkins, in “A Treatise on the Millennium,” declares:
“There is no reason to consider the antichristian spirit and
practices to be confined to that which is now called the Church of
Rome. The Protestant churches have much of antichrist in them,
and are far from being wholly reformed from … corruptions and
wickedness.”632
Concerning the separation of the Presbyterian Church from
Rome, Dr. Guthrie writes: “Three hundred years ago, our church,
with an open Bible on her banner, and this motto, ‘Search the
Scriptures,’ on her scroll, marched out from the gates of Rome.”
Then he asks the significant question, “Did they come clean out
of Babylon?”633
“The Church of England,” says Spurgeon, “seems to be eaten
through and through with sacramentarianism; but non-conformity
appears to be almost as badly riddled with philosophical
infidelity. Those of whom we thought better things are turning
aside one by one from the fundamentals of the faith. Through
and through, I believe, the very heart of England is honeycombed
631 Dr. Challoner, “The Catholic Christian Instructed,” Preface, pp. 21, 22 (ed.
1897).
632 Hopkins, Samuel, “Works,” Vol. II, p. 328 (ed. 1854).
633 Guthrie, John, “The Gospel in Ezekiel,” p. 237 (Edinburgh ed. 1857).
21. A Warning Rejected. 399
with a damnable infidelity which dares still go into the pulpit and
call itself Christian.”
What was the origin of the great apostasy? How did the church
first depart from the simplicity of the gospel? By conforming to
the practices of paganism, to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity
by the heathen. The apostle Paul declared, even in his day,
“The mystery of iniquity doth already work.”634 During the lives
of the apostles the church remained comparatively pure. But
“toward the latter end of the second century most of the churches
assumed a new form; the first simplicity disappeared, and insensibly,
as the old disciples retired to their graves, their children, [385]
along with new converts, … came forward and new-modeled
the cause.”635 To secure converts, the exalted standard of the
Christian faith was lowered, and as the result “a pagan flood,
flowing into the church, carried with it its customs, practices, and
idols.”636 As the Christian religion secured the favor and support
of secular rulers, it was nominally accepted by multitudes; but
while in appearance Christians, many “remained in substance
pagans, especially worshiping in secret their idols.”637
Has not the same process been repeated in nearly every church
calling itself Protestant? As its founders, those who possessed the
true spirit of reform, pass away, their descendants come forward
and “new-model the cause.” While blindly clinging to the creed
of their fathers and refusing to accept any truth in advance of
what they saw, the children of the reformers depart widely from
their example of humility, self-denial, and renunciation of the
world. Thus “the first simplicity disappears.” A worldly flood,
flowing into the church, “carries with it its customs, practices,
and idols.”
634 2 Thess. 2:7.
635 Robinson, Robert, “Ecclesiastical Researches,” ch. 6, par. 17 (ed. 1792, p.
51).
636 Gavezzi’s Lectures, p. 278 (ed. 1854).
637 Ibid.
400 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
Alas, to what a fearful extent is that friendship of the world
which is “enmity with God,” now cherished among the professed
followers of Christ! How widely have the popular churches
throughout Christendom departed from the Bible standard of humility,
self-denial, simplicity, and godliness! Said John Wesley,
in speaking of the right use of money: “Do not waste any part
of so precious a talent, merely in gratifying the desire of the
eye, by superfluous or expensive apparel, or by needless ornaments.
Waste no part of it in curiously adorning your houses; in
superfluous or expensive furniture; in costly pictures, painting,
gilding…. Lay out nothing to gratify the pride of life, to gain the
admiration or praise of men…. ‘So long as thou doest well unto
thyself, men will speak good of thee.’ So long as thou art ‘clothed
in purple and fine linen, and farest sumptuously every day,’ no
[386] doubt many will applaud thy elegance of taste, thy generosity
and hospitality. But do not buy their applause so dear. Rather be
content with the honor that cometh from God.”638 But in many
churches of our time, such teaching is disregarded.
A profession of religion has become popular with the world.
Rulers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, merchants, join the church
as a means of securing the respect and confidence of society, and
advancing their own worldly interests. Thus they seek to cover
all their unrighteous transactions under a profession of Christianity.
The various religious bodies, re-enforced by the wealth and
influence of these baptized worldlings, make a still higher bid for
popularity and patronage. Splendid churches, embellished in the
most extravagant manner, are erected on popular avenues. The
worshipers array themselves in costly and fashionable attire. A
high salary is paid for a talented minister to entertain and attract
the people. His sermons must not touch popular sins, but be
made smooth and pleasing for fashionable ears. Thus fashionable
sinners are enrolled on the church-records, and fashionable sins
638 Wesley’s Works, Sermon 50, “The Use of Money.”
21. A Warning Rejected. 401
are concealed under a pretense of godliness.
Commenting on the present attitude of professed Christians
toward the world, a leading secular journal says: “Insensibly
the church has yielded to the spirit of the age, and adapted its
forms of worship to modern wants.” “All things, indeed, that
help to make religion attractive, the church now employs as its
instruments.” And a writer in the New York Independent speaks
thus concerning Methodism as it is: “The line of separation
between the godly and the irreligious fades out into a kind of
penumbra, and zealous men on both sides are toiling to obliterate
all difference between their modes of action and enjoyment.”
“The popularity of religion tends vastly to increase the number
of those who would secure its benefits without squarely meeting
its duties.” [387]
Says Howard Crosby: “It is a matter of deep concern that we
find Christ’s church so little fulfilling the designs of its Lord. Just
as the ancient Jews let a familiar intercourse with the idolatrous
nations steal away their hearts from God, … so the church of
Jesus now is, by its false partnerships with an unbelieving world,
giving up the divine methods of its true life, and yielding itself
to the pernicious, though often plausible, habits of a Christless
society, using the arguments and reaching the conclusions which
are foreign to the revelation of God, and directly antagonistic to
all growth in grace.”639
In this tide of worldliness and pleasure-seeking, self-denial
and self-sacrifice for Christ’s sake are almost wholly lost. “Some
of the men and women now in active life in our churches were
educated, when children, to make sacrifices in order to be able
to give or do something for Christ.” But “if funds are wanted
now, … nobody must be called on to give. Oh, no! have a
fair, tableaux, mock trial, antiquarian supper, or something to
eat—anything to amuse the people.”
639 “The Healthy Christian: An Appeal to the Church,” pp. 141, 142 (ed. 1871).
402 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
Governor Washburn, of Wisconsin, in his annual message,
Jan. 9, 1873, declared: “Some law seems to be required to break
up the schools where gamblers are made. These are everywhere.
Even the church (unwittingly, no doubt) is sometimes found
doing the work of the devil. Gift concerts, gift enterprises and
raffles, sometimes in aid of religious or charitable objects, but
often for less worthy purposes, lotteries, prize packages, etc.,
are all devices to obtain money without value received. Nothing
is so demoralizing or intoxicating, particularly to the young, as
the acquisition of money or property without labor. Respectable
people engaging in these chance enterprises, and easing their
consciences with the reflection that the money is to go to a good
object, it is not strange that the youth of the State should so often
fall into the habits which the excitement of games of hazard is
[388] almost certain to engender.”
The spirit of worldly conformity is invading the churches
throughout Christendom. Robert Atkins, in a sermon preached
in London, draws a dark picture of the spiritual declension that
prevails in England: “The truly righteous are diminished from
the earth, and no man layeth it to heart. The professors of religion
of the present day, in every church, are lovers of the world,
conformers to the world, lovers of creature comfort, and aspirers
after respectability. They are called to suffer with Christ, but
they shrink from even reproach…. apostasy, apostasy, apostasy,
is engraven on the very front of every church; and did they know
it, and did they feel it, there might be hope; but, alas! they
cry, ‘We are rich, and increased in goods, and stand in need of
nothing.’ ”640
The great sin charged against Babylon is, that she “made all
nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” This
cup of intoxication which she presents to the world, represents
the false doctrines that she has accepted as the result of her
640 Second Advent Library, Tract No. 39.
21. A Warning Rejected. 403
unlawful connection with the great ones of the earth. Friendship
with the world corrupts her faith, and in her turn she exerts a
corrupting influence upon the world by teaching doctrines which
are opposed to the plainest statements of Holy Writ.
Rome withheld the Bible from the people, and required all
men to accept her teachings in its place. It was the work of the
Reformation to restore to men the word of God; but is it not too
true that in the churches of our time men are taught to rest their
faith upon their creed and the teachings of their church rather
than on the Scriptures? Said Charles Beecher, speaking of the
Protestant churches: “They shrink from any rude word against
creeds with the same sensitiveness with which those holy fathers
would have shrunk from a rude word against the rising veneration
of saints and martyrs which they were fostering…. The Protestant
evangelical denominations have so tied up one another’s hands,
and their own, that, between them all, a man cannot become a
preacher at all, anywhere, without accepting some book besides [389]
the Bible…. There is nothing imaginary in the statement that the
creed power is now beginning to prohibit the Bible as really as
Rome did, though in a subtler way.”641
When faithful teachers expound the word of God, there arise
men of learning, ministers professing to understand the Scriptures,
who denounce sound doctrine as heresy, and thus turn
away inquirers after truth. Were it not that the world is hopelessly
intoxicated with the wine of Babylon, multitudes would be
convicted and converted by the plain, cutting truths of the word
of God. But religious faith appears so confused and discordant,
that the people know not what to believe as truth. The sin of the
world’s impenitence lies at the door of the church.
The second angel’s message of Revelation 14 was first
preached in the summer of 1844, and it then had a more direct
application to the churches of the United States, where the
641 Sermon on “The Bible a Sufficient Creed,” delivered at Fort Wayne, Ind.,
Feb. 22, 1846.
404 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
warning of the judgment had been most widely proclaimed and
most generally rejected, and where the declension in the churches
had been most rapid. But the message of the second angel did
not reach its complete fulfilment in 1844. The churches then
experienced a moral fall, in consequence of their refusal of the
light of the advent message; but that fall was not complete. As
they have continued to reject the special truths for this time, they
have fallen lower and lower. Not yet, however, can it be said that
“Babylon is fallen, … because she made all nations drink of the
wine of the wrath of her fornication.” She has not yet made all
nations do this. The spirit of world-conforming and indifference
to the testing truths for our time, exists and has been gaining
ground in churches of the Protestant faith in all the countries
of Christendom; and these churches are included in the solemn
and terrible denunciation of the second angel. But the work of
apostasy has not yet reached its culmination.
The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satan
[390] will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with
all deceivableness of unrighteousness;” and they that “received
not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left
to receive “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”642
Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union of the
church with the world shall be fully accomplished throughout
Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change
is a progressive one, and the perfect fulfilment of Rev. 14:8 is
yet future.
Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness and alienation from
God that exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the
great body of Christ’s true followers are still to be found in their
communion. There are many of these who have never seen the
special truths for this time. Not a few are dissatisfied with their
present condition, and are longing for clearer light. They look
642 2 Thess. 2:9-11.
22. Prophecies Fulfilled. 405
in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they
are connected. As these bodies depart farther and farther from
the truth, and ally themselves more closely with the world, the
difference between the two classes will widen, and it will finally
result in separation. The time will come when those who love
God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as
are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form
of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”
Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting
the threefold warning of Rev. 14:6-12, the church will have fully
reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people
of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from
her communion. This message is the last that will ever be given
to the world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that
“believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,”643
shall be left to receive strong delusion and to believe a lie, then
the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to
receive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylon
will heed the call, “Come out of her, My people.”644

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