By the pen of the apostle John we learn something of the fruit of these false, deceiving prophets. "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed: for he that biddeth him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds." 2 John 7-11. The fruit of a false prophet is a false doctrine. A doctrine in opposition to the plain, simple doctrine of Christ is the principal characterizing feature of a deceiver. The doctrine of Christ is light. All who abide in the doctrine of Christ are a light in the world. Any doctrine contrary to the doctrine of Christ is darkness, and its propagator, a deceiver and an antichrist. This same apostle in his first letter, cautions us to "try the spirits [and doctrines], whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already it is in the world." 1 John 4:1-3.
We feel like it would be justice to the reader to here explain how we can confess that Christ is come in the flesh, and how we can deny that he has so come. That this does not refer to his personal coming in the flesh, as a sacrifice for sin, is evident. But few but what confess that Christ was here in the flesh as recorded in the Gospels, yet many of them are not of God. Jesus says, "We will come unto him and make our abode with him." "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" "For ye are the temple of God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." "At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you." John 14:20. That day spoken of is when the Holy Spirit would come and teach them all things. That was at Pentecost. Then they knew that Christ was in them. This then is Christ come in the flesh.
Now it is not every one either that confesses by the word of mouth that Christ dwells in them that are of God. A Scriptural confession is not by word only, but by the deed, or life. Every one who confesses by their life that Christ is come in the flesh or dwells in them must and will abide in the whole doctrine of Christ, and live just as he lived. Such a one is of God, and is a light even as Christ was a light. Whoever rejects any of the Savior's doctrine, and does not, and will not, experience and practise it in his life, the same is an antichrist, however much he may profess to be of God. Try all doctrines and spirits by the doctrine of Christ, is the infallible rule.
The Prophecy Of Paul.
"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." Acts 20:29-31. Paul saw the awful apostasy from the simple faith of Christ arising. The shadows of the dark noonday were slowly and surely creeping on. He beholds it with tears. This was not really some heathenish foreign power, but he says it should be men of their own selves arising, speaking perverse things. He saw that the leaders and overseers of the flock (see ver.28) would become greedy of worldly gain, contentious, followers after pride, filled with envy, loving preeminence, speaking things contrary to the doctrine of Christ. It had begun to work already in his day. "The mystery of iniquity doth already work." 2 Thes.2:7.
John says these false prophets "even now already are in the world." Even before the apostles had closed their labors they saw this dark power working. Year after year, decade after decade, it developed and grew. Star after star had fallen until by the middle of the third century there was "scarcely left a luminary of godliness in existence."
Paul seeing the great crisis coming, is in fear. "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Jesus. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with me.... For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." 2 Cor.11:3, 4, 13-15. Thus Paul gives warning to the Corinthians of false apostles and deceitful workers. All of this certainly is not without meaning. He foresees great danger. He earnestly exhorts the Thessalonian brethren to be not soon shaken, saying: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the workings of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders." 2 Thes.2:3-9.
This is indeed a wonderful and an awful prophecy. Surely a dark image or power called a "man of sin" and "son of perdition" shall arise and eclipse the sun (Christ) and the moon (the church) and cause the stars (the holy ministry) to fall. "There shall come a falling away first." This has direct reference to the corruption of God's professed people led by an exalted, selfish, greedy and blinded ministry. "The falling away" is translated from the Greek apostasia, and means a departure. Lexicographers define the word as meaning "an abandonment of what one has professed." In this text it means an abandonment of the true principles and doctrines of Christianity.
That "man of sin," "son of perdition," or, as in Rotherham's translation, "man of lawlessness," and "son of destruction," is what arose and obscured the sunlight. This epithet is given to Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ, in John 17:12, this "man of sin" is a betrayer of Christ and his pure doctrine. This "man of lawlessness," no doubt, has reference directly to the pope of Rome as the prime factor in the apostasy; but in its broadest sense it includes the whole of the beast religion, both Romanism and Protestantism. This "man of sin" is a manism, or a power under the government of man, and is identical with the beast power of Rev.13. This "son of destruction" "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God." He opposes or denies, and perverts the doctrines of God that are not congenial to his desires. He denies in a measure the divine authority, and forms creeds and laws for the government of God's people, thus arrogating to himself what properly belongs to God. They take upon themselves such titles as "Father," "Holy Father," "Vicegerent of the Son of God," "Doctor of Divinity," "Reverend," etc. These are titles or distinctions belonging to God only. "Call no man your Father," is the command of Jesus; and, "Be ye not called Rabbi."
Vicegerent is one acting in the place of another. The pope's claim was that God had ceased to reign and had delegated all power unto himself -- the power to forgive sins and to grant indulgences. An indulgence is an act of the Roman pontiff, wherein men by making certain vows and paying certain sums of money receive pardon of their sins. By the payment of certain amounts they can commit most any crime and their purchased indulgence absolves them from guilt.
The Price Of Pardon.
Below we will give an extract from page 263 of "The Master Key to Popery," by Anthony Gavin, formerly one of the Roman Catholic priests at Saragossa, Spain. He says: According to a book called the "Tax of the Roman Chancery," in which are contained the exact sums levied for pardon of each particular sin, we find some of the fees to be thus:
Robbing a church [USD] 2.25.
Following this we will give a few of the secret instructions of the Jesuits as revealed by Z. T. Griffin:
"A Christian (Romanist) may deliberately discard his Christian character and act like other men in those things which are not properly Christian. By the command of God it is lawful to murder the innocent, to rob and commit all lewdness because he is Lord of all things, and thus to fulfil his mandate is our duty.
"It is lawful to kill an accuser whose testimony may jeopardize our life and honor.
"If an adulterous priest, aware of his danger, having visited an adulteress is assailed by her husband, kills the man in his own defense, he is not a criminal.
"Papist children may accuse their parents of heresy, although they know their parents will be burned.
"A priest may kill those who hinder him from taking possession of any ecclesiastical office.
"Servants may secretly steal from their masters as much as they judge their labor is worth more than the wages which they receive.
"A woman may take her husband's property to supply her spiritual wants and to act like other women.
"A witness is not bound to declare the truth before a lawful judge, if his deposition will injure himself or his posterity, or if he be a priest; for a priest can not be forced to testify before a secular judge.
"Priests may kill the laity to preserve their goods, etc."
Such appears extremely shocking to a man of integrity and principle. Such laws and tolerations and the direct sale of indulgences brings a blush of shame to a moral man, and much more to the Christian. The sale of indulgences is not true of Romanism only. Throughout the realms of Protestantism there is a shameful sale of these indulgences in an indirect way. Wicked and designing men are tolerated and fellowshiped by the sect ministry because of their liberality to the church. It is true it matters not if a man does occasionally get drunk, or if he does defraud his neighbor, or commit adultery, abuse his wife, attend theaters, and such like sins, if he is a liberal contributor to their treasury, he is smiled at, welcomed and encouraged to be faithful.
While in the papacy we find such titles as "Holy Father," etc., in Protestantism we find the "D. D." and "LL. D." and "Reverend." They who assume such honorary titles set themselves up to be equal with God. The word "reverend" is from the Hebrew "yare," and means "to be feared." So man is thus setting himself up as one to be feared, when the Word of the Lord tells us to "fear not man, but fear God." "Holy and reverend is his name." God alone is to be revered, and for man to prefix such a title to his name is to sit as God the temple of God.
Popes and bishops are found in the councils and conferences framing laws and passing resolutions for the government of their membership and for the qualifications of a minister, like as if God had ceased to reign and there was no Bible and they alone were invested with power to govern and control the kingdom of heaven. The qualifications of a minister in some of the popular denominations of to-day are a certain number of years in school and a certain number of histories and commentaries mastered. The qualifications as given by Paul are almost wholly ignored. The profession of the ministry in the sect world has been dragged down to a level with the professions of the world. A young man decides to be a physician. He goes to school and learns his profession. He receives his diploma, comes out and practises what he was taught at school, and makes his living thereby. Another young man decides to be a lawyer. He studies for that profession, is admitted to the bar, practises, and makes his living thereby. Another young man decides to be a preacher. He goes to school and learns his profession. He is licensed, comes out and preaches, and makes his living thereby.
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work." This is the spirit of antichrist, of which John says, "even now already is it in the world." This antichrist, apostate spirit is a mystery. It contains a hidden mysterious power that has blinded and deceived millions of souls. Even in Paul's time it began its hidden mysterious working. The Roman Catholic sect arose and met this description of the "man of sin" as given by Paul. The Waldenses in the thirteenth century looked upon the church at Rome as the "whore of Babylon," and the "man of sin." Those blinded by the mysterious, delusive spirit of iniquity considered such language against the "holy church" as blaspheming against God. Protestantism to-day with its great bishops and reverends and D. D.'s and creeds and systems, forms and ceremonies, almost as perfectly meets the description of the "man of sin" as does the Roman hierarchy. The same hidden mysterious delusive spirit has so intoxicated its subjects that they consider such speech as blasphemy.
This "man of sin" is described as coming with signs and lying wonders. The lying wonders of this dark reign of the "son of perdition" are almost innumerable. It is said that a milkwhite dove descended from heaven with a phial of oil at the baptism of Cloris.
A Sicilian hermit had a revelation from heaven in which was revealed that the prayers of the monks of Clugny would be effectual for the deliverance of the departed spirits from the expiatory flames of a middle state. -- Mosheim's Church History.
A woman named Julian pretended she had a revelation from God in which it was disclosed to her to be the will of God that a peculiar festival should be held annually in honor of the real presence of Christ in the holy sacrament. She said that as often as she addressed herself to God or to the saints in prayer she saw a full moon with a small defect, and the spirit informed her that this defect was the want of this annual festival. This festival was established by Clement V in 1311 A.D.
The fables of the removal of the chapel of Loretto, the wandering Jew, the visions of Stockius and Sims, and St. Anthony's obliging an ass to adore the sacrament as related by Mosheim, are astonishing lying wonders and ridiculous inventions. The Protestant daughters of mystic Babylon are not free from lying wonders to this present day. The book of Mormon contains fabulous stories; the spiritualists' work is freighted with many satanic wonders, and frequently we hear of visions and revelations that when tried by the immutable Word of God are proven to be lying wonders. Our God is able to perform wonders, and of a truth, wonderful are his doings at this present time, but all that he does is in decency and in order, and contains nothing of the fabulous.
Paul says, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." 1 Tim.4:1-3. You will only have to read the history of the Roman Catholic sect, of its fabulous inventions, of its awful tyranny, its superstitions, its rites, and ceremonies, to find the fulfilment of this prophecy. It is extremely astonishing that men of intelligence would be the supporters of such a dark institution. It only shows the seductive power of demon spirits. The doctrines of devils that have been originated both in Romanism and Protestantism are almost without number, some of which we will speak of in our next chapter. The hypocritical lies that have been invented and the persecutions and contentions and quarrelings and fightings against one another can only be carried on by men whose conscience is seared by a hot iron. The Catholics abstain from eating meat on certain days and at certain times. A certain law sect, called the Seventh Day Adventist, teaches abstinence from pork. The papists forbid the marriage of the clergy. Neither is this unscriptural prohibition confined to the papacy alone, but some of her harlot daughters have patterned after her, and even gone beyond her in this respect.
In the time of this apostasy it is said by the apostle that "they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Tim.4:3, 4. Where shall we look for a fulfilment of this prophecy? Who does not know that we have now come to that time? The sound doctrine which if obeyed will make men a light in the world is not endorsed in the circle of the papacy, neither in the Protestant denominations. To-day the generality of mankind, even in professed Christianity, do not care to hear the practical truths of the gospel as we have recorded in part first of this work.
Theories and speculative opinions have taken the place of sound doctrine in the Protestant pulpit of this present day. The congregations in general have become so proud and vain in their imaginations, and so spoiled through philosophy, that they heap to themselves teachers having the wildest speculative opinions. Their itching ears have an insatiable desire for fine essays, amusing stories, and historic tales. The proud, arrogant pulpit orator of this present day makes it a study how best to calm the fears, gild the sins, and strew with flowers the iniquitous path of his passionate congregation.
Protestantism presents a most deplorable picture to those who have escaped her ruinous walls. Many a bishop and lord is bewailing his sad spiritless, powerless state, and crying, "Whither are we drifting?" Where will you have to go to-day but to Protestantism to find a fulfilment of Paul's prophecy in 2 Tim.3:1-5? "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
Paul here speaks of a religious people. They have "a form of godliness." While the "last days" and "last time" often include the whole of this gospel day, yet this prophecy particularly relates to the nearing of the end of time. Jesus says, "As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark." Mat.24:37, 38. Let us considerately review this prophecy.
"Lovers of their own selves." Such a disposition of heart will manifest itself. Such people have more concern for their own welfare than for their neighbor's. They will look out for their own best interest. In the ministry it would be manifested in seeking places of ease, luxury, honor, and wealth.
"Covetous." A desire for worldly gain, loving money. By their conversation and general manner they manifest a strong desire for wealth, resorting to festivals and fairs to gain money.
"Boasters." Placing a high estimate on their own personal worth and accomplishments. As a man recently remarked of a stained window in a meeting-house: "See that window! Is not that fine? That cost one hundred dollars. That is my window, I put that in. These others only cost seventy-five dollars. See, here are my initials."
"Proud." Studying to make a fine appearance, striving to excel in pulpit oratory, advertising the work they have done -- so many have been converted through my labors, etc. All these works are indications of a proud heart.
"Blasphemers." To speak lightly of sacred things, to ridicule any portion of God's Word. Many professors of Christianity of to-day when asked if they believe in the ordinance of feet-washing will make some such answer as, "If your feet are dirty, you ought to wash them." The doctrines of holiness and divine healing are often impiously spoken of. Jesus Christ is sometimes charged with being a freemason, and recently a man said that the Savior went to school and studied for the ministry.
"Disobedient to parents." Is there not many a young lady and young man in apostate Protestantism, trampling under their feet the commands and wishes of their parents? The "old man," or the "old woman" (as they often speak of their parents), they say, "is not going to rule me."
"Unthankful." Murmuring when reverses come; complaining if their financial undertakings are unsuccessful; dissatisfied and discontented. These are evidences of an unthankful and ungrateful heart.
"Unholy." Those who dispute the doctrine of holiness, of purity or sinless perfection. They confess that they commit sin, and their life bears evidence that their confession is true. Or should they profess holiness and yet not live a true holy life they are classed with the great dark apostasy.
"Without natural affection." Many times the love of self, the love of pleasure, the love of the world, and sin in general destroys the natural affection. Mothers in their heart regret their children were born, because it prevents their entering society as they would like. They bewail the state of pregnancy for the same reason, and resort to murderous means for the privilege of enjoying more of the pleasures of sin and the world. Children also often betray a great lack of natural affection by their treatment of parents and one another.
"Truce-breakers." Having but little regard for a promise or obligation; violating obligations and promises to God and to man.
"False accusers." Slandering those who do live and obey the whole Word of God.
"Incontinent." Those who are living in the lust of the flesh; controlled by a depraved appetite.
"Fierce." Getting angry and becoming quarrelsome; all that is the opposite of gentleness and kindness.
"Despisers of those that are good." Because a man lives a good, pure, consistent Christian life it puts a rebuke upon the hypocrite, and for this reason he despises the good man.
"Traitors." Actually denying and renouncing portions of the Holy Bible, which they profess to believe. They are traitors to God and to Christianity.
"Heady." They are unteachable. No matter what the Bible says, they know they are all right if they do indulge in things that are wrong.
"High-minded." So lifted up in themselves that the humble doctrines of the Savior are beneath their observance. These humble truths of the Bible are considered as nonessentials by the heady and high-minded.
"Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." Take more real comfort and delight in the party or festival than they do in worship. A sermon of thirty minutes is about as long as they can endure. Reading the Bible is an unpleasant task, therefore the good old book lies unused; but they can spend hours in the place of revelry.
Where do we have to look for such doings and characters as we have described? They abound in great numbers in the various denominations of to-day. Adam Clarke in his commentary in speaking of this prophecy, says: "This description the papists apply to the Protestants. The Protestants in their turn apply it to the papists. There have been both teachers and people in every age of the church and world to whom these words may be most legitimately applied. Both Catholics and Protestants have been lovers of their own selves," etc., "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." How often the sectish lords lament the deadness of their congregations, and also grow weary of their own spiritless, formal prayers and sermons.
Bishop Weaver of the United Brethren denomination uses the following language, as quoted by a holiness periodical:
"Power Versus Form.
"The pulpit ought to be a center of power. But is it? God said to Jonah, 'Preach the preaching I bid thee.' Jesus said, 'Preach the gospel.' Paul said, 'Preach the Word.' Again he said, 'We preach Christ.' Philip 'preached Jesus.' All this means the selfsame thing. Christ is the soul of the gospel as well as the substance of all doctrine. Much of the preaching, reading or talking -- whatever you please to call it -- is Christless and powerless. Of course, this is a refined age, and the people are away up, but the devil can appear as refined as a saint. Nothing suits him better than to get the preacher away from the gospel on to some fine topic and then get some one to tell him (the preacher) that he made a fine effort. The pulpit should proclaim the great, fundamental doctrines of the Bible. But does it? The people are often treated to a well-written essay or dissertation on some abstract question that does not contain an ounce of pure gospel. There is neither lightning nor thunder in it. One reason why Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ was because it was the power of God unto salvation. But it was no more the power of God unto salvation then than it is now. It is the same eternal truth, yesterday, to-day, and forever.
"In Hosea we read, 'Like people, like priest.' In Isaiah we read, 'As with the people, so with the priest.' There is a great deal of harmony between the pulpit and the pew. Everything goes along in an orderly manner. All services must be short or the people can not stand them -- short prayers, short sermons, short everything. Oftentimes the service is gone through with, and nothing in it but an out-and-out performance; no life, no spirit, no power. Protestants often speak disparagingly of the ritualistic services gone through with by the Roman Catholic church, but if you come right down to it you will find about as much spirit and power in the one as the other. The result is that scores and hundreds of men, and women, and children are being gathered into the Protestant church who have not an ounce of Christian experience. If reformation was necessary in the times of Luther and Wesley in Europe, and Otterbein and Asbury in America, it is scarcely less necessary now. But some one may say this is putting it too strong. What are the facts? Is it not a fact that the church is drifting away from the more spiritual to the social and intellectual? If the religion of Jesus Christ is what the Bible represents it to be, then the church in general is far below the standard. Where is the spiritual power that was breathed into the apostolic church? Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost was not what the people of to-day would call brilliant, but the people were pricked, not in the head, but in the heart.
"What did it? Two things. First, he preached the gospel straight. Second, the Holy Spirit quickened the Word spoken and made it powerful. What would the people do if there should be such an uproar in some of our congregations to-day? It would scare some of them half to death, and many would run for dear life. But we have the same gospel Peter had, and the same Holy Spirit to accompany the Word. What is the matter? The people do not want it that way, neither does the devil. Thousands of church people instead of praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, are asking such questions as these: Is it wrong for a Christian to dance? to go to the theater? to visit places of amusement? to play progressive euchre? etc. Why don't they ask such questions as these: Is it wrong to pray? to go to church? to take the sacrament? etc. The fact is, a man or woman filled with the Spirit of Christ knows without asking any questions whether a thing is right or wrong.
"But some may say that the writer is getting old and feeble, and has fallen far behind in the race, all of which is readily granted; but the fact remains that we have the same gospel, which is as changeless as the throne of God. If in the days of the Son of man and his inspired apostles it was necessary that a man should be 'born again,' 'born of the Spirit,' 'made a new creature,' and be 'cleansed from all sin,' it is necessary now. If there ever was a time when men were born into the kingdom of grace by the power of the Holy Ghost, it remains the same to-day. What under the heavens is the use for preachers and people to go whining around, and winking at this and that when they know it is out of harmony with the plain teaching of God's Word? It is all well enough to be nice and orderly in the house of God, but there is no substitute for the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the advocate between God and man, and the Holy Spirit is the executive officer in the holy trinity. If the church with its splendid machinery were endued with power as it might and ought to be, there is no telling what might be done in the next ten years. But what good is all this machinery, with no power to run it? What good is an engine without steam? I saw Engine 999. It was beautiful to look at. Everything was as near perfect as it could well be. But it was standing stock-still. Why? There was no steam; no power to move a wheel. That represents a good many congregations. The machinery is there, but no power to run it. In Ezekiel's vision he saw a marvelous vehicle, which moved with great rapidity. But it did not move itself. The spirit of the living creature was in the wheels; but for that it would not have moved at all. So it is with the church. If the Spirit of the living God is not in it, it will not and can not move forward. Oh, this spiritless, powerless performance called worship. How it detracts from the usefulness of the church!"
Such a description as given by Paul in the above prophecy, and by this bishop, is true of sect Babylon of to-day. Such graceless, spiritless, Christless institutions are dark enough to obscure the beautiful light of the gospel.
The Christian Advocate, the organ of Methodism, a few years ago said: "We are approaching a crisis in church life. Gradually, but surely, disregard for the Bible, for the Sabbath, for the church, and for God, is taking possession of Christians. Teachers whose reputation for scholarship gives them wide influence, give it as their opinion that the Bible is not inspired at all, except as other great books are inspired. This poison has penetrated all our churches. The virus of skepticism has entered the pulpits in our own denomination."
Who can take issue with this editor? We very heartily agree with him. If any one is disposed to doubt that the virus of skepticism has entered the Methodist pulpits, he will only have to read the account of the meeting of four hundred of the leading ministers of New York and vicinity, including Bishop Edward G. Andrews. Below we give an account of the meeting as published in the Atlanta Journal.
Methodist Ministers Question The Bible.
At a meeting of Methodist ministers last Monday morning in New York City, the validity of many of the stories of the Bible was questioned. Rev. S. P Cadman urged at that meeting that the Bible could not be accepted as the sole rule of faith any longer. He pointed out alleged discrepancies in it, and said people could find truth only at its fountain head, Christ. The other ministers applauded him.
"That the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible are no longer possible of belief among reasonable men."
This proposition, the acceptance of which will tear away the fundamental pillar of Methodist theology, was urged in all force, sincerity, and enthusiasm by the Rev. Cadman, pastor of the Metropolitan Temple, before the regular weekly meeting of the Methodist ministers of New York.
Four hundred of the leading ministers of New York and its vicinity, including Bishop Edward G. Andrews, were present when Mr. Cadman's paper was read. He was applauded when he arose to read it, and applauded again when he got through.
Mr. Cadman's paper was one of a series on Bible criticism. A paper taking practically the same ground was read before the ministers on the Monday evening before last, another paper on the subject will be read next Monday.
This bold portentous utterance, involving the most radical departure from accepted tenets of the Methodist church since its very foundation, was made before the most representative body of Methodist clergy in America. It included the vast majority of the preachers of Greater New York. It is the first announcement of an impending controversy, which may shake the Methodist church to its very foundation stones.
The acceptance of Dr. Cadman's proposition, heard with respect and applause by the New York ministers, is comparable to the adoption of a new constitution for the United States. It places the Bible on the basis of historical works on other than divine subjects; it rejects the authenticity of all parts of Holy Scripture which are repugnant to human reason.
Some of the details of the Bible that these ministers find fault with are:
That the earth was created in six days.
That Methuselah died at the age of 969 years.
That a whale swallowed Jonah, in whose belly he lay three days.
That the Red Sea was divided in order to permit the passage of the children of Israel out of Egypt.
That a snake tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.
That Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and that it obeyed him.
The tower of Babel narrative.
The turning of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt.
The story of Noah, the flood, and the ark.
That God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush.
That Aaron turned his rod into a serpent.
That Moses tapped a rock, and that water gushed forth.
That Moses drew forth his hand and that it was "leprous, white as snow."
That Elijah was translated to heaven in a chariot of fire.
That Elisha threw the mantle of Elijah across the Jordan, causing it to dry up and allow him passage.
That the earth opened and swallowed Achan and his companions.
That Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked in a fiery furnace unharmed.
That Daniel stayed unhurt in the lions' den.
Wm. S. Breakey, of New York, in a letter to the editor of the Revivalist spoke concerning the above meeting and Methodism as follows: "I enclose a clipping from the New York Herald of recent date. It needs no comment, and explains the lack of spiritual power in the M. E. church of to-day. The attitude of the listening ministers and bishop, and their approval (of a majority at least) of the sentiments expressed by the speaker and indicated by the applause shows the extent to which this so-called liberal element has permeated the M. E. church. This man is the leader of the so-called forward movement of the M. E. church in New York City, a movement consisting of short popular sermons, pleasant hours, Sunday evening concerts, lectures, united choir, and the innumerable fandangoes to entertain the people and keep the church crowded.
This is the Methodism of to-day in a leading metropolis of the country. It makes my soul -- and, I believe, the soul of every one jealous for the glory of God and the honor of the Holy Spirit and the eternal welfare of human souls being led into the ditch of eternal night by these blind, reason-exalting leaders -- cry out, 'How long, O Lord, how long,' must the followers of the life of Jesus Christ endure these things and by their silence be charged (by implication) with endorsing the present condition of things and methods of church work?"
We are often told by those who know no better, that this world is becoming more Christianized. The Bible says, "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." 2 Tim.3:13. People are more advanced in invention and education than in former years, we frankly admit. There are not the inhuman wars and barbarous massacres and bloody persecutions that once were, and by hasty external view of political governments and educational interest one may conclude that the world is growing better. But where matters are growing worse and things becoming more deceivable is to be found in "mystery Babylon the great" and her harlot daughters; namely, Catholicism and the Protestant sects. They are becoming more worldly and covetous, more proud and popularity-loving. They are denying much of the Bible, turning their meeting-houses into concert halls and opera-houses. In a village where we resided until recently the Methodist meeting-house was called by the community in general the Methodist theater.
The paper by Mr. Cadman as quoted above is a specimen of how they deny the Bible. They almost unanimously deny the unity of the Bible, divine healing, holiness and some of the ordinances. But in the decade to come you will see much more astonishing things. The sectarian world is now just setting sail upon such a sea of revelry, banqueting, money getting, lewdness, and idolatry, as we have not seen before. Her awful sins will reach unto heaven, yea, for some years past have been crying out against her, but each year growing worse. Where is the aged man or woman but who remembers the day when Methodists had a plain, unassuming, consecrated ministry? The laity went plainly and modestly dressed. They had real Holy Ghost revivals, but those days are gone. To-day she is intoxicated with the spirit of worldliness. Every effort is being put forth, every nerve strained, the power and energy of intellect used to dazzle the world by oratory, and pompous show. O God, as we behold the awful sins of sectarianism we feel in our soul like Jeremiah when he wrote his Lamentation.
"Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, ... because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city." "How is the gold become dim! how is the fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street." "The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem. For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, they have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments." "God will visit thine iniquity, he will discover thy sins."
The sins of Protestantism are sufficient cause to wring tears and prayers and fastings from every Christian heart. Who will not consecrate his time, talent, and means for the deliverance of God's beloved from their captivity?
The Prophecies Of Peter.
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." 2 Pet.2:1-3.
Here the inspired apostle foretells the coming of false teachers, who shall bring in damnable heresies. Heresy is translated from the Greek word hairesis. The word "sect" is translated from the same Greek word. The word "damnable" is from the Greek apoleia, and means destruction. So the rendering of Rotherham, "parties of destruction," and of the German, "destructive sects," corresponds with the original. Protestant teachers will readily tell you that these "false teachers" and "destructive sects" refer to the heresies that sprang up in the first few centuries of this Christian era. We admit that sects and parties arose in those primitive days. We see something of this spirit in 1 Cor.3:1-5.
But are sects damnable in one age of the world and commendable in another? We conclude that if partyism, sectarianism, schisms, divisions, and heresies were destructive and brought destruction upon their adherents in the first centuries, it will do likewise in the last centuries. Paul says, "I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions [schisms, margin] among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." 1 Cor.1:10.
Many shall follow in the pernicious ways of these heresies. Is not this true at this present time? By them the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. There is scarcely a sectarian in the universe but will speak evil of some portion of the truth. These false teachers shall with feigned words make merchandise of their followers, because of their covetousness. This is really more true of present day sectarian preachers than it was of the false teachers in the first centuries. Does not the ministry of the present day resort to the telling of amusing stories, and touching incidents, and fabulous tales to amuse and allure the people, and are they not making merchandise of them? Are they not receiving large salaries? And no matter how poor you may be you must pay your preacher or else you have no hearty welcome to membership. The preacher can sit in his easy chair with folded arms while you labor and strive for his support. He can spend his evenings in luxury and pleasure while you are tossing upon your bed thinking and planning how to clothe and feed your little ones and get money to pay your church dues; for you know full well if you do not pay you will be snubbed and rejected and finally cut off and made believe, if possible, that you are on your way to hell.
The remainder of this chapter, beginning with the twelfth verse is a vivid description of the hireling ministry of these days. For the benefit of the reader we will quote and number each verse and give brief comment.12. "But these as natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption."
They are not governed by the Bible, but as "brute beasts" follow their covetous ways, speaking evil of the holy commandments of God, which they do not understand. They are the "blind leaders of the blind."
13. "And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the daytime. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you."
The excursions of sightseeing and pleasure, the picnics and parties they count great pleasure. Characters that engage in such revelry and worldliness are spots and blemishes to Christianity. We are commanded to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. "Sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you." They will teach their young members that it is no harm to go to the party, to attend the shows and fairs, the suppers and entertainments, to play cards for amusement, and many like things; and with their own deceivings they will feast with them in such sports.
14. "Having eyes full of adultery, and that can not cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: a heart they have exercised with covetous practises; cursed children."
Their hearts are inclined to evil ways and filled with fleshly desires; loving the things of the world and often confessing, "We can not live in this world without committing sin." By their evil example and false teachings they are beguiling many unstable souls. Their covetous heart is scarcely ever satisfied.
The prophet Isaiah speaks of these prophets saying, "They are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they can not bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough." Isa.56:10, 11. This is a lazy, ease-loving greedy ministry. If they are getting [USD]500.00 a year they will want [USD]600.00. If they are receiving [USD]1,000.00 they will want [USD]1,200.00, and go wherever they can get the most. "Cursed children."
15. "Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness."
These false teachers have known a better way. The Lord showed Balaam the right way, but he was seduced by the reward offered by Balak. So with these teachers; they once knew a more righteous way, but have turned aside for the wages of unrighteousness.
16. "But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet." As Balaam was rebuked by the dumb ass, so these false teachers in their madness for worldly honor, gain and wisdom are rebuked by the humble ignorant Christians, whom they consider as dumb ignorant creatures.
17. "These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever."
Salvation is often spoken of as the "water of life." These false teachers are wells without water. Their preaching does not feed and water their flock. Their empty forms and stale essays contain no spiritual food. For this reason there is a famine throughout Babylon. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." Amos 8:11. From the pulpit we hear lectures, stories, and history, and not the pure gospel; this is the cause of this famine. "Clouds they are carried with a tempest." When there is some appearance of rain or water from these teachers, and you have hopes of hearing some of the Word of God, behold some false wind of doctrine for personal advantage carries away every sign of rain.
18. "For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lust of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error."
They preach in sublime style, and speak great words of vanity, almost incomprehensible to common people, and by touching incidents and sympathetic stories they allure, and those who were really converted are often led into error and formalism by these vain teachers.
19. "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption."
From the pulpit they speak in elegant, flowery language of Jesus and heaven, and give great promises of blessings to their hearers, while they themselves are walking in sin and under bondage to the flesh.
It is not difficult for all who are not entombed in the mystic fogs of Babylon delusion to locate the fulfilment of this prophecy. Were Peter living today and should look over the Catholic and Protestant ministry he could not pen a better description of them than he has here done.
The Prophecy Of Jude.
"Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities." Ver.8.
"But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." Ver.10-13.
"These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lust; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage." Ver.16.
We believe that comment here is unnecessary since commenting on Peter's prophecy. In verses seventeen and eighteen Jude tells us these are the mockers of Christianity that should come in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lust. Jude foresees the great dark beastly manism that was to darken the earth in the clear day, the same as was seen by the Savior, Paul, and Peter.
When quoting the twelfth verse the Spirit of the Lord referred us to the wonderful prophecy of Ezekiel: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flock? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed; but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them." Ezek.34:2-4.
These shepherds feed and clothe themselves. They are more concerned for their own personal gain than for the souls of the people. If they do not receive an ample salary they will leave the souls to perish. They are unlike Paul, who labored with his own hands for his support while he fed starving souls upon the words of life. He was a light in the world, and the covetous, greedy shepherds are creators of darkness. These prophecies are all true of the present day sectarian ministry. They are the hireling shepherds that flee when they see the wolf coming. When poverty comes, they flee to a place where they are better supported. The prophecies concerning the apostasy are more particularly against the ministry than the laity, because the ministers are the leaders, leading their followers on in darkness.
The Revelation Of John.
The prophecies of the book of Revelation have long been a mystery to the people. Occasionally some honest soul, laboring under the confusing mists of sectish night, has attempted to reveal the secret things of this book. His interpretations were so obscure and erroneous that he has only added confusion to confusion and mystery to mystery. However in the past few years as we are nearing the "time of the end," God by his Spirit has made clear these prophecies unto his humble, devoted people. Trusting in God to give the proper interpretation by his Spirit we will ask the reader to consider with us some of the prophecies of this book.
Ver.1. "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy."
"Beast" means a fleshly, human, or mannish power. "Sea" is often used to represent trouble, upheaval, and commotions. History abounds with accounts of the upheavals in the ecclesiastical heavens between bishops in the third century. Out of these contentions and strivings and confusions arose in the year 325 A.D., a beastly or mannish form of ecclesiastical government; namely, the Roman Catholic church.
The "seven heads" have by some writers been interpreted to be the seven mountains on which the city of Rome is situated. For proof of this interpretation they quote Rev.17:9. How that inanimate, literal mountains can represent heads, since the head contains the power of intellect and authority, lies beyond our comprehension.
That the ten horns are the ten kingdoms spoken of by Daniel (chap.7, ver.24) is, we consider, unquestionable. Now it may be a little obscure why the Revelator will make use of ten stately kingdoms to represent the ten horns of an ecclesiastical government. It is because this ecclesiastical government is human the same as a state government; and because the beastly Romish church was supported, and became what they were pleased to call both church and state.
The seven heads are seven supreme forms of government. These seven heads are seven mountains (not literal) and the seven mountains are seven kings. Rev.17:9, 10. History tells us there were seven distinct forms of government in the Roman empire. The first, a royal or kingly government, continued about 428 years. The second was republic in form under the administration of dictators. This form of government continued eighty and eight years. The third form of government was under the absolute control of ten magistrates called decemvirs, and are also called praetors. The duration of this form of government exceeded three hundred years. In the year 336 B.C., the third form of government came to an end by the Latins being conquered by the Romans, and the consulate government succeeded, which continued until about the year 50 B.C. The fifth form of government was under the control of three men, and therefore called a triumvirate. The triumvirate form of government came to an end before John's vision of these heads. These are the five "fallen ones." Rev.17:10. The power that then was, which was the sixth head of the beast, was the imperial power of the Caesars, which continued more than four hundred years. The seventh power was the patriciate, which continued about fifty years.
These are the seven heads and ten horns -- the seven forms of government, and the ten kingdoms out of which grew the eleventh horn which Daniel saw, or the beast which John saw. Thus we have the beast with its seven heads and ten horns.
Ver.2. "And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority."
Sins and worldliness are termed spots by the Bible. The leopard is a spotted beast, so no other animal could better represent the Romish sect with its dark spots of sin and crime. The bear makes use of the foot to deal the deadly blow upon an enemy. The papacy with its tyrannical feet has trodden down all that would dare rise against it. Great thunderings and loud roarings proceed out of the mouth of the lion in his strength and glory. So this beast fitly represents the Catholic church in her boasted strength, power, and authority.
The dragon that gave this ecclesiastical beast its authority and seat was the Roman state. In connection with this we will consider the first three verses of the twelfth chapter of Revelation. "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." Ver.1. The woman is the church. By believing or standing upon the Word a soul is brought into the church by the Spirit. Thus the church stands upon the moon (the Word of God), clothed by the sun (the Spirit). This is no disagreement with a former use we have made of the sun and moon as symbols. An object may be used to symbolize different things in different prophecies.
"And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns." Ver.3. This dragon is the same as the dragon that gave power to the beast of Rev.13:2; namely, the Roman state. The Roman empire, pagan as it was, endeavored to devour the church as is said of the dragon in Rev.12:4.
We will now return to Rev.13:3: "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast."
As we have before observed, the seven original heads were the seven principalities, or forms of government, which gave rise to the Roman empire. A head or an ecclesiastical form of government in Romanism received a wound. The world wondered after the beast. This beast religion -- manism -- the Catholic sect, was now looked upon as the church. It was considered the only way to heaven. There was no salvation outside her walls. The true church was hidden. The sun, moon and stars were eclipsed. Christ had given his authority over to the pope, so it was believed, and the Romish sect stepped into the place of the true church. Christ and his church -- the lights of the world -- were no longer seen. The pope and his church stood up in their sins and abominations, and the world looked upon them as the church. This is certainly sufficient cause for darkness at the noonday.
Ver.4. "And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
The people worshiped not only the church of Rome, but both church and state; for they were now consolidated. So the people worshiped the dragon and the beast, and boasted of their greatness.
Ver.5. "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months."
From this text there opens a wide field before us, which we will enter for a while, and then return again to the further consideration of this chapter.
The pope's claims of power to forgive sins, to be infallible, to be the vicegerent of the Son of God, to have power to deliver from purgatory, and a number of other shameful pretensions, are certainly shocking blasphemies. Power was given him forty and two months.
In Rev.12:6, the woman (the church) is described as fleeing into the wilderness prepared for her of God, there to be fed a thousand two hundred and three score days. Here we learn that the woman fled from before the dragon and was protected of God (or fed) from the dragon's power for a thousand two hundred and three score days. This is virtually the same power; namely, the Romish state and church, that continued forty and two months as spoken of above.
In Rev.11:3 we have another allusion made to the church of God at this period. "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth." A day in Scripture is used in different texts to represent different lengths of time. In some texts quoted in the introduction of this work a day is used to represent the whole of the Christian dispensation. Again it is said that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." In Rev.11:11, a day is used to represent one hundred years; and in Ezek.4:6, we learn that a day is often used to represent one year. A day in Rev.11:3 and 12:6 signifies one year. Forty and two months (as mentioned in Rev.13:5) are equal to 1260 days, allowing 30 days to the month. Here also a day signifies a year. Thus the beast supported by the dragon had power 1260 years. While this beast was in authority the woman was in obscurity, which was 1260 years. While the beast was in power and the woman in silence the two witnesses could only testify in sackcloth, which was 1260 years. These two witnesses in the church of God are the Word of God, and the Spirit of God. A sackcloth dress is one donned in a time of grief or lamentation. The Word and Spirit of God, because of the sad state of the church, were draped in mourning or sackcloth.
We have before learned that the date of the rise of the apostasy was 270 A.D. By these prophecies made plain by the Holy Spirit we clearly understand the first beast as seen in the apostasy was to continue 1260 years, which added to 270 years will bring us down to 1530 A.D. At this date we have the Lutheran reformation, when the power of Catholicism as a universal state church was broken. The world as a whole no longer looked upon that dark, ungodly institution as the only way to heaven. They saw there was salvation outside the pales of Romanism.
Now we will return to Rev.13th chapter. Ver.6. "And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven."
We have already spoken of how the papacy uttered blasphemy against God and his name, his church and his true people.
Ver.7. "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."
Catholicism numbers her slain by the thousands. If your human heart can endure the reading of a book on martyrdom and the tortures of the inquisition, you would there learn that it was the Romish sect that made war with and overcame the saints. To her was granted power over kings and nations. While the state gave her her power, she in turn rose to power and rule over the state.
Ver.8. "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names were not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
Ver.9. "If any man have an ear to hear, let him hear."
Ver.10. "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints."
All worshiped the papacy except those who were really spiritual, and those were slain. The tenth verse is a prophecy against her; as she killed with the sword, so she shall be killed with the sword (the Word of God).
Ver.11. "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth: and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon."
Here appears upon the scene another beast. A human ecclesiasticism, a manism. Protestant authors who brand the first beast as the Roman hierarchy are confounded at the appearance of this second beast. By these two beasts we understand the apostasy to be under two forms. We have no hesitancy in branding this second beast as Protestantism. In the church of God all is controlled exclusively by the Holy Spirit. There is no manism in the church of God, therefore it is not animal or beastly. All sectism is controlled largely by man, therefore is a beast power. At first Protestantism had a mild, gentle, lamb-like appearance compared with Catholicism.
The two horns are two state powers that gave support to the beast. Germany and England supported Protestantism, therefore are the two horns. The dragon spoken of in this eleventh verse is, like in the second verse and also in chapter 12:3, a state power.
This second beast "exercised all the power of the first beast before him." See ver.12. Was this not true in England, where the king was head of both church and state? Consequently we see that the second beast or man religion spoken of was authorized by a dragon or state power. In verse thirteen it is said he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth. Throughout the reign of Protestantism there has been frequent spiritual revivals and reformations. God really sent the Holy Spirit fire upon the honest efforts of men, and wonders were accomplished betimes in the name of Jesus.
In the fourteenth verse it is said that he deceived them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he did. Each reformation in the past three centuries was begun by holy men, upon whom God sent the holy fire; but others rising up subsequently, who were devoid of spirituality, built upon their foundation, and now deceive the people in making them believe that they and their sect institutions are of God because God manifested himself to their predecessors. In this verse we also learn that an image was made unto the first beast. Upon the work of each reformer a sect institution was organized, which was fashioned after the Roman Catholic sect the mother of all sects.
According to the words of the fifteenth verse these images will in some future day, which the Lord knows, find a consummation in one great image, unto which all bow and pay homage or else suffer martyrdom. To receive the mark of the beast as spoken of in verse sixteen is to receive the ceremonies and customs and doctrines peculiar to each respective sect. Any one acquainted with the customs and doctrines of the different denominations can to-day determine to what denomination a stranger belongs by his dress or manner of speech. The number six hundred sixty-six refers to the number of leading religious denominations.
We will now, briefly as possible, consider the first eight verses of the seventeenth chapter of Revelation. In verse one John speaks of seeing a great whore sitting upon many waters. In verse two he speaks of the kings of the earth becoming drunk on the wine of her fornication. This has all been true in the papacy. There is in this hierarchy an enchanting, delusive spirit that has intoxicated her subjects. This is the real secret of her power.
In Rev.17:5 the apostasy is termed "Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth." Here we see again the apostasy in two forms or generations. The mother is the first, and is identical with the first beast of Rev.13:1. The harlot daughters are the second, and are identical with the second beast of Rev.13:11. We consider it needful to enquire what is meant by the term
There is the natural world and the spiritual world. Babylon has existed under both. There are many references made to it in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament we find the origin and final doom of literal Babylon. In the Apocalypse we find the origin and final doom of spiritual Babylon, the antitype. In the days of Noah the world became very wicked and God destroyed all save Noah and his family. For a time after the flood the people were righteous and the whole earth was one language and one speech. Gen.11:1. God's people in those days all spoke the same language and understood each other, because they understood truth as it was.
"And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." Gen.11:2-4.
God's people started on a pilgrimage in the order of God, but they tarried, they ceased to "go forward." Had God's people continued on Babylon would never have been built. This has its spiritual import. When God's spiritual people cease to advance, when they get out of God's order, they will soon seek some other way to heaven.
This ancient city of Babylon grew until it became a mighty, resistless, universal empire. For a time in its history it held the people of God in captivity. The day came, however, when this mighty city passed away forever. The only dwellers among its lonely ruins are wild beasts and hissing serpents. The Babylon mentioned in Revelation is the spiritual antitype. The great tower of ancient Babel finds its antitype in mystery Babylon, the mother, and the diversified city at its feet finishes its antitype in the multiplicity of sects and creeds, where they speak a different spiritual language, as they cluster around their mother's knee. In this great apostate Babylon the true children of God have long been taken captive, but the day comes when God's own make their escape and return to spiritual Jerusalem, their native home. The Revelator beholds spiritual Babylon in a fallen condition inhabited only by foul, devilish spirits, and unclean and hateful birds. Rev.18:2.
There are many prophecies in Daniel and other chapters of Revelation relating to the dark apostasy of the noonday, which we reluctantly forbear to consider in this work, but are compelled to do so lest our volume swell to too great proportions.
In the conclusion of this chapter we desire to make a few quotations from other authors concerning mystery Babylon and her harlot daughters.
"This woman (popery) is called the mother of harlots and abominations. Who are the daughters? The Lutheran, the Presbyterian, and the Episcopalian are all branches of the Roman Catholic. Are not these demonstrated harlots and abominations in the above passage? I so decide. I could not, with the stake before me decide, otherwise. Presbyterians and Episcopalians compose a part of Babylon. They hold the distinctive principles of papacy in common with papists." -- Tennessee Baptist.
"I think Christ has a true church on earth, but its members are scattered among the various denominations, and are more or less under the influence of mystery Babylon and her daughters." -- Bible Doctrine p.249.
"Is antichrist confined to the church of Rome? The answer is readily returned in the affirmative by Protestants in general, and happy had it been for the world were that the case. But although we are fully warranted to consider that church as the mother of harlots, the truth is that by whatsoever arguments we succeed in fixing that odious charge upon her, we shall by parity of reasoning be obliged to allow other national churches to be her unchaste daughters, and for this plain reason, among others, because in their very constitution and tendency they are hostile to the nature of the kingdom of Christ." -- Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.
"The writer of the book of Revelation tells us he heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my people.' If such persons are to be found in the mother of harlots, with much less hesitancy it may be inferred that they are connected with her unchaste daughters, these national churches, which are founded upon what are called Protestant principles." -- Encyclopedia of Religion.
"If she be the mother, who are the daughters? It must be the corrupt national established churches that came out of her." -- Lorenzo Dow.