Section V: Satan's Efforts To Destroy God's Government - The Dragon's Voice
Through Pagan And Papal Rome
To the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, were opened scenes of deep and thrilling interest in the experience of the church. Subjects of vast importance were presented to him in figures and symbols, that those who should turn from error to truth might become intelligent concerning the perils and conflicts before them. The history of the Christian world to the very close of time, was revealed to him. With great clearness he saw the position, dangers, conflicts, and final deliverance of the people of God. He records the closing message which is to ripen the harvest of the earth, either as sheaves for the heavenly garner, or as fagots for the fires of the last day.
John beheld in vision the redeemed people of God. He saw the triumph of those who had gained the victory over the beast and over his image. He marked the trials which they had endured for the truth’s sake. He saw their unyielding firmness in adhering to the commandments of God against the oppressive powers that sought to force them to disobedience.
Under the symbols of the great red dragon, a leopard-like beast, and a beast with lamblike horns; the earthly governments which would be especially engaged in trampling upon God’s law and persecuting His people, were presented to John. Their war is to be carried on till the close of time. The people of God, symbolized by a holy woman and her children, are represented as greatly in the minority. In the last days, only a remnant still exists. John speaks of them as those that “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
For many centuries, first through paganism and then through the Papacy, Satan exerted his powers to blot from the earth God’s faithful witnesses. Both heathen and papists were actuated by the same dragon spirit. They differed only in that the Romish apostate, making a pretense of serving God, was the more dangerous and cruel foe. Through the agency of Romanism, Satan took the world captive. The professed church of God was swept into the ranks of this delusion, and for more than a thousand years the true people of God suffered under the dragon’s ire.—Signs of the Times, Feb. 8, 1910.
The Dragon’s Voice—In Democratic America
At the time when the Papacy, robbed of its strength, was forced to desist from persecution, John beheld a new power coming up to echo the dragon’s voice, and carry forward the. same cruel and blasphemous work. This power, the last that is to wage war against the church and the law of God, is represented by a beast with lamblike horns. The beasts preceding it had risen from the sea; but this came up out of the earth, representing the peaceful rise of the nation which it symbolized—the United States.
The “two horns like a lamb” well represent the character of our own Government, as expressed in its two fundamental principles,—Republicanism and Protestantism. These principles are the secret of our power and prosperity as a nation. Those who first found an asylum on the shores of America, rejoiced that they had reached a country free from the arrogant claims of popery and the tyranny of kingly rule. They determined to establish a government upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty.
But the stern tracings of the prophetic pencil reveal a change in this peaceful scene. The beast with lamblike horns speaks with the voice of a dragon, and “exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him.” Prophecy declares that he will say to them that dwell on the earth, “that they should make an image to the beast,” and that it will cause “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Thus Protestantism is to follow in the steps of the Papacy.
It is at this time that the third angel is seen flying in the midst of heaven, proclaiming, “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.”
In marked contrast with this multitude stands a little company who will not swerve from their allegiance to God. “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” These are they of whom Isaiah speaks: “They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” The breach was made in the law of God when the Sabbath was changed by the Romish power. But the time has come for that divine institution to be restored. The breach is to be repaired, and the foundation of many generations to be raised up. And this message is the last to be given before the coming of the Lord. Immediately following its proclamation, the Son of man is seen by the prophet coming in glory to reap the harvest of the earth.—Signs of the Times, Feb. 8, 1910.
Catholics And Liberty Of Conscience
The papal church will never relinquish her claim to infallibility. All that she has done in her persecution of those who reject her dogmas, she holds to be right; and would she not repeat the same acts, should the opportunity be presented? Let the restraints now inposed by secular governments be removed, and Rome be reinstated in her former power, and there would speedily be a revival of her tyranny and persecution.
A well-known writer speaks thus of the attitude of the papal hierarchy as regards freedom of conscience, and of the perils which especially threaten the United States from the success of her policy.
“There are many who are disposed to attribute any fear of Roman Catholicism in the United States to bigotry or childishness. Such see nothing in the character and attitude of Romanism that is hostile to our free institutions, or find nothing portentous in its growth. Let us, then, first compare some of the fundamental principles of our government with those of the Catholic Church.
“The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX, in his Encyclical Letter of August I5, 1854, said: ‘The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience, are a most pestilential error—a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a state.’
The same pope, in his Encyclical Letter of December 8, 1864, anathematized ‘those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,’ also ‘all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.’
“The pacific tone of Rome in the United States does not imply a change of heart. She is tolerant where she is helpless. Says Bishop O’Conner: ‘Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world.’. . . The archbishop of St. Louis once said: ‘Heresy and unbelief are crimes; and in Christian countries, as in Italy and Spain, for instance, where all the people are Catholics, and where the Catholic religion is an essential part of the law of the land, they are punished as other crimes.’. . .
“Every cardinal, archbishop, and bishop in the Catholic Church takes an oath of allegiance to the pope, in which occur the following words: ‘Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord (the pope), or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose.’”—Great Controversy, pp. 564:565.
Illustration Of Rome’s Policy Toward Dissenters
A striking illustration of Rome’s policy toward those who disagree with her was given in the long and bloody persecution of the Waldenses, some of whom were observers of the Sabbath. Others suffered in a similar manner for their fidelity to the fourth commandment. The history of the churches of Ethiopia and Abyssinia is especially significant. Amid the gloom of the Dark Ages, the Christians of Central Africa were lost sight of and forgotten by the world, and for many centuries they enjoyed freedom in the exercise of their faith. But at last Rome learned of their existence, and the emperor of Abyssinia was soon beguiled into an acknowledgement of the pope as the vicar of Christ. Other concessions followed. An edict was issued forbidding the observance of the Sabbath under the severest penalties. But papal tyranny soon became a yoke so galling that the Abyssinians determined to break it from their necks. After a terrible struggle, the Romanists were banished from their dominions, and the ancient faith was restored. The churches rejoiced in their freedom, and they never forgot the lesson they had learned concerning the deception, the fanaticism, and the despotic power of Rome. Within their solitary realm they were content to remain, unknown to the rest of Christendom.—Great Controversy, pp. 577, 578.
Catholic Church One Vast Organization
The Roman Catholic Church, with all its ramifications throughout the world, forms one vast organization, under the control, and designed to serve the interests, of the papal see. Its millions of communicants, in every country on the globe, are instructed to hold themselves as bound in allegiance to the pope. Whatever their nationality or their government, they are to regard the authority of the church as above all other. Though they may take the oath pledging their loyalty to the state, yet back of this lies the vow of obedience to Rome, absolving them from every pledge inimical to her interests.
History testifies of her artful and persistent efforts to insinuate herself into the affairs of nations; and having gained a foothold, to further her own aims, even at the ruin of princes and people. In the year 1204, Pope Innocent III extracted from Peter II, King of Arragon,the following extraordinary oath: “I, Peter, king of Arragonians, profess and promise to be ever faithful and obedient to my lord, Pope Innocent, to his Catholic successors, and the Roman Church, and faithfully to preserve my kingdom in his obedience, defending the Catholic faith, and persecuting heretical pravity.” This is in harmony with the claims regarding the power of the Roman pontiff, that “it is lawful for him to depose emperors,” and that “he can absolve subjects from their allegiance to unrighteous rulers.”
And let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes. The principles of Gregory VII and Innocent III are still the principles of the Roman Catholic Church. And had she but the power, she would put them in practice with as much vigor now as in past centuries.—Great Controversy, pp. 580, 581.
Rome Dangerous Foe Of Religious Liberty
Protestants have tampered with and patronized popery; they have made compromises and concessions which papists themselves are surprised to see, and fail to understand. Men are closing their eyes to the real character of Romanism, and the dangers to be apprehended from her supremacy. The people need to be aroused to resist the advances of this most dangerous foe to civil and religious liberty.—Great Controversy, p. 566.
Secret Of Roman Power
A prayerful study of the Bible would show Protestants the real character of the papacy, and would cause them to abhor and to shun it; but many are so wise in their own conceit that they feel no need of humbly seeking God that they may be led into the truth. Although priding themselves on their enlightenment, they are ignorant both of the Scriptures and of the power of God. They must have some means of quieting their consciences; and they seek that which is least spiritual and humiliating. What they desire is a method of forgetting God which shall pass as a method of remembering Him. The papacy is well adapted to meet the wants of all these. It is prepared for two classes of mankind, embracing nearly the whole world,—those who would be saved by their merits, and those who would be saved in their sins. Here is the secret of its power.—Great Controversy, p. 572.
Less To Say About Rome
There is need of a much closer study of the word of God; especially should Daniel and the Revelation have attention as never before in the history of our work. We may have less to say in some lines, in regard to the Roman power and the papacy, but we should call attention to what the prophets and apostles have written under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit has so shaped matters, both in the giving of the prophecy, and in the events portrayed, as to teach that the human agent is to be kept out of sight, hid in Christ, and the Lord God of heaven and His law are to be exalted. (Letter 57, 1896.)—Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 65.
Brethren, I feel hurt when I see that so many decided thrusts are made against the Catholics. Preach the truth, but restrain the words which show a harsh spirit; for such words cannot help or enlighten anyone. The Echo [Bible Echo, our church paper in Australia] is a paper that should be circulated largely. Do not do anything that would hinder its sale. There is no reason why it should not be as a light shining in a dark place. But for Christ’s sake heed the admonitions which have been given in regard to making scathing remarks about the Catholics. Many Catholics read the Echo, and among the number there are honest souls who will accept the truth. But there is such a thing as shutting the door in their faces as they are about to enter. Put more cheering testimonies of thanksgiving into the Echo. Do not hedge up its way, and prevent it from going to all parts of the world by making it a medium for hard expressions. Satan rejoices when one word of bitterness is found on its pages. (Letter 20, 1896.)—Counsels to Writers and Editors, pp. 64, 65.