As the time appointed in the decree draws near, the people will conspire to root out the hated sect. It will be determined to strike in one night a decisive blow, which shall utterly silence the voice of dissent and reproof. GC It is now, in the hour of utmost extremity, that the God of Israel will interpose for the deliverance of His chosen. And the Lord shall cause His glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the lighting down of His arm, with the indignation of His anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones. Then a rainbow, shining with the glory from the throne of God, spans the heavens and seems to encircle each praying company.
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While the world regarded them as having been utterly defeated, and proved to have been cherishing a delusion, their source of consolation was still the Word of God. Many continued to search the Scriptures, examining anew the evidences of their faith, and carefully studying the prophecies to obtain further light. The Bible testimony in support of their position seemed clear and conclusive. Signs which could not be mistaken pointed to the coming of Christ as near.
The special blessing of the Lord, both in the conversion of sinners and the revival of spiritual life among Christians, had testified that the message was of Heaven. And though the believers could not explain their disappointment, they felt assured that God had led them in their past experience.
GC88 And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.
The publication of this chart was regarded as a fulfillment of the command given by Habakkuk. No one, however, then noticed that an apparent delay in the accomplishment of the vision—a tarrying time—is presented in the same prophecy. The just shall live by his faith. Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord God The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged.
Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God: There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done. In Matthew 24 , in answer to the question of his disciples concerning the sign of his coming and of the end of the world, Christ had pointed out some of the most important events in the history of the world and of the church from his first to his second advent; namely, the destruction of Jerusalem, the great tribulation of the church under the pagan and papal persecutions, the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars.
After this he spoke of his coming in his kingdom, and related the parable describing the two classes of servants who look for his appearing. In this parable their experience is illustrated by the incidents of an Eastern marriage.
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them; but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. The widespread reformation under the proclamation of his soon coming, answered to the going forth of the virgins. In this parable, as in that of Matthew 24 , two classes are represented.
All had taken their lamps, the Bible, and by its light had gone forth to meet the Bridegroom. In the fear of God they had studied the Scriptures to learn the truth, and had earnestly sought for purity of heart and life. These had a personal experience, a faith in God and in his Word, which could not be overthrown by disappointment and delay. Their fears had been excited by the solemn message, but they had depended upon the faith of their brethren, satisfied with the flickering light of good emotions, without a thorough understanding of the truth, or a genuine work of grace in the heart.
These had gone forth to meet the Lord, full of hope in the prospect of immediate reward; but they were not prepared for delay and disappointment. When trials came, their faith failed, and their lights burned dim. In this time of uncertainty, the interest of the superficial and half-hearted soon began to waver, and their efforts to relax; but those whose faith was based on a personal knowledge of the Bible had a rock beneath their feet, which the waves of disappointment could not wash away.
Yet in the night of trial the latter seemed to lose, to some extent, their zeal and devotion. The half-hearted and superficial could no longer lean upon the faith of their brethren. Each must stand or fall for himself. Some who had professed to be zealous believers in the message, rejected the Word of God as the one infallible guide, and, claiming to be led by the Spirit, gave themselves up to the control of their own feelings, impressions, and imaginations.
There were some who manifested a blind and bigoted zeal, denouncing all who would not sanction their course. Their fanatical ideas and exercises met with no sympathy from the great body of Adventists; yet they served to bring reproach upon the cause of truth. The people had been greatly stirred by the Advent movement, thousands of sinners had been converted, and faithful men were giving themselves to the work of proclaiming the truth, even in the tarrying time.
The prince of evil was losing his subjects; and in order to bring reproach upon the cause of God, he sought to deceive some who professed the faith, and to drive them to extremes. Then his agents stood ready to seize upon every error, every failure, every unbecoming act, and hold it up before the people in the most exaggerated light, to render Adventists and their faith odious. Thus the greater the number whom he could crowd in to make a profession of faith in the second advent while his power controlled their hearts, the greater advantage would he gain by calling attention to them as representatives of the whole body of believers.
He is always active when God is at work for the salvation of souls. When the sons of God come to present themselves before the Lord, Satan comes also among them. In every revival he is ready to bring in those who are unsanctified in heart and unbalanced in mind.
When these have accepted some points of truth, and gained a place with believers, he works through them to introduce theories that will deceive the unwary. No man is proved to be a true Christian because he is found in company with the children of God, even in the house of worship and around the table of the Lord. Satan is frequently there upon the most solemn occasions, in the form of those who he can use as his agents.
In all the history of the church, no reformation has been carried forward without encountering serious obstacles. Wherever the apostle raised up a church, there were some who professed to receive the faith, but who brought in heresies, that, if received, would eventually crowd out the love of the truth.
Luther also suffered great perplexity and distress from the course of fanatical persons who claimed that God had spoken directly through them, and who therefore set their own ideas and opinions above the testimony of the Scriptures. Many who were lacking in faith and experience, but who had considerable self-sufficiency, and who loved to hear and tell some new thing, were beguiled by the pretensions of the new teachers, and they joined the agents of Satan in their work of tearing down what God had moved Luther to build up.
And the Wesleys, and others who blessed the world by their influence and their faith, encountered at every step the wiles of Satan in pushing overzealous, unbalanced, and unsanctified ones into fanaticism of every grade. He declared, with Luther, that every spirit should be tested by the Word of God. And how shall we know what manner of spirit they are of?
The spirit that does not cause us to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, is not the Spirit of Christ. I am more and more convinced that Satan has much to do in these wild movements. But, say you, a man may be in error, and think he has the truth. What then? We answer, The Spirit and Word agree. A similar course was pursued by the opposers of the Advent movement.
And not content with misrepresenting and exaggerating the errors of extremists and fanatics, they circulated unfavorable reports that had not the slightest semblance of truth. These persons were actuated by prejudice and hatred. Their peace was disturbed by the proclamation of Christ at the door. They feared it might be true, yet hoped it was not, and this was the secret of their warfare against Adventists and their faith.
Let the people of God arouse out of sleep, and begin in earnest the work of repentance and reformation, let them search the Scriptures to learn the truth as it is in Jesus, let them make an entire consecration to God, and evidence will not be wanting that Satan is still active and vigilant.
With all possible deception he will manifest his power, calling to his aid all the fallen angels of his realm. These appeared in the summer of , when Adventists were in a state of doubt and perplexity concerning their real position.
Those who participated in these solemn movements were in harmony; their hearts were filled with love for one another, and for Jesus, whom they expected soon to see. The one faith, the one blessed hope, lifted them above the control of any human influence, and proved a shield against the assaults of Satan. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. Reckoning from the autumn of , the years terminate in the autumn of This was made very clear as attention was given to the manner in which the types relating to the first advent of Christ had been fulfilled.
Under the Mosaic system, the cleansing of the sanctuary, or the great day of atonement, occurred on the tenth day of the seventh Jewish month, [ Leviticus So it was believed that Christ, our great High Priest, would appear to purify the earth by the destruction of sin and sinners, and to bless his waiting people with immortality.
This was in harmony with the proofs already presented that the days would terminate in the autumn, and the conclusion seemed irresistible. This was in accordance with the arguments just presented, both from prophecy and from the types.
From city to city, from village to village, and into remote country places it went, until the waiting people of God were fully aroused. Fanaticism disappeared before this proclamation, like early frost before the rising sun. Believers saw their doubt and perplexity removed, and hope and courage animated their hearts. The work was free from those extremes which are ever manifested when there is human excitement without the controlling influence of the Word and Spirit of God.
It was similar in character to those seasons of humiliation and returning unto the Lord which among ancient Israel followed messages of reproof from his servants. It bore the characteristics that mark the work of God in every age. There was little ecstatic joy, but rather deep searching of heart, confession of sin, and forsaking of the world.
A preparation to meet the Lord was the burden of agonizing spirits. There was persevering prayer, and unreserved consecration to God. There is no shouting; that, too, is reserved for the shout from Heaven.
The singers are silent; they are waiting to join the angelic hosts, the choir from Heaven. It caused a weaning of affections from the things of this world, a healing of controversies and animosities, a confession of wrongs, a breaking down before God, and penitent, broken-hearted supplications to him for pardon and acceptance. It caused self-abasement and prostration of soul, such as we never before witnessed.
As the Lord commanded by the prophet Joel, when the great day of God should be at hand, it produced a rending of hearts and not of garments, and a turning unto the Lord with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.
As God said by Zechariah, a spirit of grace and of supplication was poured out upon his children; they looked to Him whom they had pierced, there was great mourning in the land, Even now, after the lapse of nearly half a century, all who shared in that movement and who have stood firm upon the platform of truth, still feel the holy influence of that blessed work, and bear witness that it was of God.
Angels were sent from Heaven to arouse those who had become discouraged, and prepare them to receive the message. The work did not stand in the wisdom and learning of men, but in the power of God. It was not the most talented, but the most humble and devoted, who were the first to hear and obey the call.
Farmers left their crops standing in the fields, mechanics laid down their tools, and with tears and rejoicing went out to give the warning.
Those who had formerly led in the cause were among the last to join in this movement.
The Great Controversy
While the world regarded them as having been utterly defeated, and proved to have been cherishing a delusion, their source of consolation was still the Word of God. Many continued to search the Scriptures, examining anew the evidences of their faith, and carefully studying the prophecies to obtain further light. The Bible testimony in support of their position seemed clear and conclusive. Signs which could not be mistaken pointed to the coming of Christ as near. The special blessing of the Lord, both in the conversion of sinners and the revival of spiritual life among Christians, had testified that the message was of Heaven.
The Great Controversy (1888 ed.)
Next Chapter 8—Luther Before the Diet A new emperor, Charles V, had ascended the throne of Germany, and the emissaries of Rome hastened to present their congratulations and induce the monarch to employ his power against the Reformation. On the other hand, the elector of Saxony, to whom Charles was in great degree indebted for his crown, entreated him to take no step against Luther until he should have granted him a hearing. The emperor was thus placed in a position of great perplexity and embarrassment. The papists would be satisfied with nothing short of an imperial edict sentencing Luther to death. Luther should be furnished with a safe-conduct, so that he might appear before a tribunal of learned, pious, and impartial judges. GC There were important political questions and interests to be considered by this national council; for the first time the princes of Germany were to meet their youthful monarch in deliberative assembly.