October 10, 1895
THE AMERICAN SENTINEL has from the first opposed all movements in this country and elsewhere the success of which, through religious legislation, meant a union of Church and State.
It has opposed such movements because they were contrary to natural right and justice, contrary to the free exercise of conscience, and against the interests of both the State and the Church.
But there is another reason, and one of immeasurable weight and significance, wherefore the SENTINEL raises its voice against them; and that one is based upon those interests and that relation of the individual which are paramount to all others, namely, his eternal interests and his relation to his Creator.
That reason is stated in the plainest and most emphatic language by God himself. Let it be remembered that these movements for securing religious legislation relate almost wholly to a divine institution—the Sabbath—and that they exalt and aim to thrust upon the world by force a day which has been made a rival to the Sabbath God has appointed, and which he commands all men to keep. Therefore it is not strange that God should have spoken explicitly upon this subject, and should have uttered a most solemn warning against yielding allegiance in this matter of Sabbath observance to the power which has exalted itself against him.
That warning is given in these words: “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; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:9-11.
Let all the world hear, and tremble at these words of the most high God!
The very essence of worship is obedience. The verse following those we have quoted reads: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” The saints—those who worship God—are those who keep his commandments. Whoever does not keep God’s commandments, worships not him, but another and opposing power.
The Saviour, in his condemnation of Phariseeism, said, “In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9.
The “beast” and his “image” to which this warning message of Revelation 14 relates, are mentioned in the preceding chapter; and there are recorded some of the characteristics which identify them, and an outline of the work which they are to do. Verses 1-10 of this chapter are descriptive of “the beast.” The remainder of the chapter speaks of “another beast,” in nature like the first, though lamblike in appearance, which says “to them that dwell on the earth that they should make an image to the beast,” and causes them—as many as will yield to its power—to receive the “mark” of the beast in their right hand or in their forehead.
It scarcely need be said that this language cannot have reference to literal beasts. No literal beast could talk to people and compel them to do work, as is here described. They are symbols which prophetic scripture employs in speaking of earthly governments.
Among the characteristics of the “beast” are “seven heads and ten horns,” the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion. Verses 1, 2. A lion, a bear, and a leopard, are symbols used in the prophecy of Daniel to represent three successive universal empires,—Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Grecia. Daniel 7:9-6, 17, 23. After them arose Rome, greatest and most powerful of all, which ruled over their territory and incorporated what was theirs into itself. Hence it would not be inappropriately symbolized by a beast having some of the features of these animals.
Daniel lived at the time of the empire of Babylon; and the fourth kingdom which arose after his time was the kingdom of Rome. And even to-day there is a kingdom of Rome—a spiritual empire which arose upon the ruins of the civil empire, and still continues to wield despotic sway over untold millions of subjects.
This “beast” had seven heads and ten horns, and upon its horns were ten crowns. When the civil empire of Rome was broken up, it became divided into ten kingdoms (see Daniel 2:4-44), and this divided state continues to-day, notwithstanding the efforts of several great military leaders to weld them again into one empire. But, meanwhile, the spiritual empire of Rome grew and extended over all these nations; and though materially checked by the Reformation, continues a mighty and growing empire to-day.
One of the seven heads of “the beast” was “wounded unto death;” but “the deadly wound was healed; and all the world wondered after the beast.”
The head governs the body. The heads of “the beast” governed the empire—Rome; not, of course, at the same time, but successively, from its rise down to the present day. Since the kings, the consuls, the triumvirates, the dictators, the emperors, etc., of Rome passed away, the papal head has ruled the empire, though given a deadly wound in modern times by the loss of temporal power. In the palmy days of the papacy she wielded not only spiritual but civil power, forcing kings and emperors to do her bidding; but at last, when the Reformation had checked her influence, the sword of civil power was turned against her. In 1798, a French army entered Rome, took the pope prisoner, and carried him into exile. For a time the papacy seemed to have received her death blow. But, as the prophecy says, “the deadly wound was healed.” A new pope was soon appointed, and with marvelous vitality she rallied in a measure from the shock, and continued on her course.
And the truth is only too plain that in recent times the power of Rome has been fast increasing, her hold strengthening in nearly every civilized land—notably, alas, in our own—upon the agencies through which civil authority is exercised. How long will it be ere she is able once more to control those agencies for her own ends?
And to-day all the world looks upon her  with wonder and growing admiration, and no nation counts itself able to make war with her. Germany, the strongest nation of Europe, with the great Bismarck as its leader, has found itself unable to contend against her.
The “beast” received his power, and his seat, and great authority, from “the dragon.” The latter is identified in chapter 12 as “that old serpent, called the devil and Satan.” Verse 9. He it was who sought to devour the man child—Christ—as soon as it was born. The visible agent in this attempt was Herod, who, as the Roman governor of Judea, represented the empire under which he ruled, and back of the pagan empire, wielding its power for his own purposes, was Satan, “the prince of this world,” the real enemy with whom Christ contended.
Papal Rome was given the seat of pagan Rome—the “eternal city”—to which power and prestige still adhered; which power and prestige, as the papacy developed, rose to a height which far surpassed that exercised by her pagan predecessor.
There was given unto “the beast” “a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.” “Great” indeed, are the claims put forth by Rome: and her spiritual pretensions, such as the “infallibility” of her head, the power to forgive sins, to grant indulgences, to bind the conscience, etc., are blasphemies of the truest sort.
“It was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” Here also papal Rome stands without a rival among earthly powers, as witness the long ages of her relentless warfare upon those whom she counted heretics.
It is the “mark” of this “beast” which is sought to be enforced upon all by “another beast” arising “out of the earth.” And the papacy has a mark, a sign of her authority. She affirms that she has this, and her own words tell us what it is. Looking in her doctrinal books, we find:—
Q. How prove you that the church hath power to command feasts and holy days?
A. By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of. 372
The commands of Rome as regards her feasts and “holy days” are put forth as of binding obligation upon the consciences of men. And the mark of her asserted authority in this respect is “the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday”!
In another work we find:—
Q. Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?
A. Had she not such power she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her;—she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day,—a change for which there is no Scriptural authority. 373
The Sabbath, God’s own sign of authority, the uplifted badge of the uplifted badge of papal power!—not the true Sabbath, of course, but one of papal manufacture. And there is a method in this madness, a wisdom which is that of a mastermind. For if the papal claim of power to change the Sabbath day to Sunday be the truth, there is no reason why she should not receive the homage and worship of all men,—yes, even of the host of heaven; and he who admits the claim cannot consistently refuse the worship.
This is evident from the nature of the Sabbath institution. It is the divine memorial of creation, the “sign” of Him who has creative power. The possession of creative power distinguishes the true God from all other gods. Psalm 33:6-9; 96:5; Exodus 20:11. The Sabbath is thus the sign of the true God, and by keeping it men show that the true God has their allegiance. This he has himself declared, in these words addressed to his chosen people:—
“Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” Exodus 31:13. This statement of the purpose of the Sabbath is repeated in Ezekiel 20:12, 20.
And therefore, had the papacy such power as she claims, and of which her change of the Sabbath is her own sign, she would stand superior to God himself, since the actual change by one power of the laws or ordinances of another power, is evidence of the superiority of the former over the latter.
The seventh-day Sabbath is the appointed sign, or mark, of the power and authority of the Creator. The first-day sabbath is the acknowledged sign of papal power and authority, her change of the Sabbath being by her own testimony, entirely without scriptural warrant.
This false sign is the “mark” of “the beast,” against which is uttered the fearful warning of Revelation 14:9-11.
And now, with the light of truth before them concerning God’s Sabbath, as it is being everywhere proclaimed by Seventh-day Adventists and others, men are being forced to choose between the Sabbath of God and that of the papacy, by laws which command the observance of the first day of the week.
By those laws, when rigidly enforced, the papal sabbath,—the mark of Rome’s asserted authority and power over the conscience,—will be forced upon all who yield obedience to them; and all such will, by this obedience, acknowledge allegiance to the papacy, and become worshipers of “the beast,” and receivers of his “mark.”
When the present Sunday laws of this country, and other more oppressive ones that will be made, shall be enforced, there will be in this land a fully-developed and living “image” of the papacy, even of what she was in former days—a Church-and-State power making use of the civil arm to enforce religious dogmas under the penalties of “the law.”
This is the dark goal to which this country, spite of its Constitution and Declaration of Independence, its wise and noble forefathers, and the principles of liberty and justice bequeathed to it, is now hastening. The prophet on Patmos’ isle beheld in his vision “another beast, coming up out of the earth,” having “two horns like a lamb,” yet speaking “as a dragon.” “Time’s noblest offspring”—and his last—appeared in the field of prophetic vision to close up the drama of human history; there to do a work which belied its lamblike appearance,—even to continue the oppression and persecution of God’s people to the bitter end. He saw it exercising “all the power of the first beast before him.”
And how long will it be before we also see in dread reality this same thing? Only so long as will be necessary to set up and put in motion the machinery of religio-political design, now being manufactured on every hand, for the enforcement of Sunday observance and other ordinances of “the church.”
This nation, of lamblike aspect, the refuge for the oppressed of other lands, the chosen standing ground of “liberty enlightening the world,“—which came up not out of the agitated sea of human strife and commotion, amid the overturning of kingdoms, but “out of the earth” like a growing plant, by the settlement of a new country, is sounding a dragon voice in the ears of those who would honor God by keeping his Sabbath, and preparing to force upon them and upon all, so far as oppressive laws can do it, the “mark” of the “beast”—the papal sabbath.
It is yet to do “great wonders” and deceive “them that dwell on the earth by the means of those “miracles” which it will have power to do, for the accomplishment of its oppressive purposes. The decree is to be made that no man may buy or sell “save he that has the mark;” and finally, that as many as will not worship the image of the beast “should be killed.” Revelation 13:13-17. In what has already been done, is contained the pledge of what is yet to be.
Such is the national prospect; what is our prospect individually? What will be our attitude when the crisis comes? The “law,” with its penalty, is a powerful argument, not convincing the conscience, it is true, but sufficing to change the course of many. The question is, Will that argument prevail with you? Will you receive the “mark” in your forehead, or yield outward allegiance by withholding your right hand from labor on the man-made sabbath, as God commands to be done on his holy day? or will the voice of the dragon be drowned in your ears by the solemn and portentious warning of Heaven,—“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”?