September 19, 1895
IN his second epistle to the church of Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul, speaking of the coming of the day of God, wrote:—
Let no man beguile you in any wise; for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God…. And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work; only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8. (R.V.)
These words of inspiration have a most important bearing upon an understanding of the nature of the times at which the world has now arrived.
It is a time of prevailing lawlessness. Revolution and riot, insurrection and anarchy, lynchings and mob violence in every form, are setting law and order at defiance throughout the world. At the same time we see rapidly developing in this country a party that claims to stand for the principle of obedience to law; the members of which are zealously working to instill this principle into the public mind in favor of certain laws, and who are ready to denounce all such as do not favor those certain laws, stigmatizing them as lawless persons, if not as anarchists and traitors.
In view of these facts it is of the highest interest and importance to investigate the career of this “lawless one” of which the prophecy speaks, that we may know how far his teaching and example may have contributed to the lawlessness of the present day.
This “mystery of lawlessness” was already working in Paul’s day, but was to be more clearly revealed as the “man of sin” who “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God.” There is a power which exists in our world to-day, the history of which is an accurate fulfillment of these words. It is the papacy.
Is it any wonder that this power is spoken of as the “mystery of lawlessness” and “the lawless one,” in view of the fact that it has actually dared to set at naught the law of the most high God? and even more than this, has claimed the power and the right to make changes in that law, and has set its own precepts and laws in the place of those spoken by Jehovah!
That the papacy has done this, is clear from her own testimony. True, she does not claim to have acted in opposition to the will of God; but her claim of divine sanction for her daring work only throws a more lurid light about the facts. Papal teaching upon this point, as published in her catechisms, is as follows:—
Q. Say the third commandment.
A. Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day.
Q. What is commanded by the third commandment?
A. To spend the Sunday in prayer and other religious duties. 353
This language is in bold contrast with that of God’s law, as spoken by him upon Mount Sinai; for the third commandment of that law is: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” The second commandment, which forbids the worship of images, is dropped—stricken out—in this papal presentation of the divine law, thus leaving the third commandment to take the place of the second, and the fourth the place of the third. Moreover the Sabbath commandment enjoins, not the observance of Sunday, but of the seventh day. We quote further:—
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. 354
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. 355
And the Protestants (in name) of to-day are following the example of the papacy in defying the law of God; teaching that the first day, instead of the seventh, is the Sabbath which men are divinely commanded to observe.
Not only do they teach this, but they have incorporated this doctrine into their civil law, so that the observance of “the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday,” is commanded upon men under civil pains and penalties.
With but one exception, all the States of the Union have such laws in their statute books; and these laws are the ones, in particular, whose enforcement is now being loudly demanded in the name of respect for law!
If there is anything in the world that deserves the name of anarchy, it is defiance of the law of Jehovah. Satan was the first one who set up his will in opposition to that of the Creator. The papacy, actuated by the same spirit of self, has done likewise, and during the long centuries of her supremacy, her false doctrine so permeated the world that the nations are drunken with it. Revelation 14:8; 17:4; 18:3. And now, under the influence of this wine of false doctrine, the Protestant nations—and most noticeably our own—are imitating “the lawless one” in her heaven-daring course.
All that is against the law of God is lawlessness, even though it may have the form and appearance of law. It is in accordance with and by the aid of those principles of natural right and justice which the Creator has implanted in men’s hearts, that all human laws are supposed to be framed; and when statutes are enacted contrary to those principles, they can have no binding obligation. On this point, Blackstone, the great law commentator, says:—
This law of nature being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this: and such of  them as are valid derive all their force, mediately or immediately, from this original.
A Sunday law is contrary both to that law which God spoke from Mount Sinai and to the law of natural rights; to the former, in that it puts Sunday in the place of God’s Sabbath—the seventh day—and to the latter, in that it invades every man’s natural right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. It is impossible, therefore, that Sunday laws should operate in the interests of peace and order, and of respect for true, or natural, law, which is unchangeable and eternal, and is synonymous with right. Alexander Hamilton said: “In a society under the form of which the stronger faction can readily united and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secure against the violence of the stronger.”—Federalist II.
Who, then, are the lawless ones to-day, and who are really working in the interests of respect for and obedience to law? Can those who adhere to the law of God,—both that which he spoke with his own voice, and that natural law of right which is stamped more or less clearly upon every mind, and from which all human law must derive its force,—can such be properly viewed as other than law-abiding people, even though that adherence should lead them contrary to some of the statutes of men?
Is it not perfectly clear that the real promoters of lawlessness and anarchy are those who, wittingly or unwittingly, follow the example of “the lawless one” in setting aside the precept of Him whose throne is in the heavens, and whose kingdom ruleth over all?
When that law is set aside, confusion and anarchy are the inevitable result. The very heavens, with their shining spheres which declare the glory of God, are governed by divine law. Let that law be withdrawn, and celestial anarchy would show itself in confusion and the wreck of worlds. All nature testifies that “the law of the Lord is perfect.” And we are resolved that our testimony shall agree with hers, by letting the divine law control our lives, as it controls her.
All the confusion, the lawlessness, the strife and anarchy which darken the face of the earth to-day, are the results of disregard of the perfect, divine law. He who teaches that the ten commandments have been abolished, or that any of those precepts have been changed, or in any other way weakens their hold upon men’s consciences, is working to keep open the evil fountain that is sending forth its flood of lawlessness upon the earth.