In this we learn the duration of the power of Protestantism and the breaking forth of the evening light. We have before proven that a day in Scripture is used to represent different lengths of time, sometimes the whole of the Christian era, sometimes a thousand years, sometimes a hundred years, and sometimes a year. In this text a day represents a century. Three days are three centuries, and a half day is a half century. After three days and a half, which are three centuries and a half, or 350 years, of the reign of Protestantism, the Spirit of life from God entered into them. This is the dawning of the evening, when the whole and entire Word of God is believed and experienced and the Holy Spirit has the same power in governing the church of God as he did in the days of the apostles. The downfall of the first beast, or Romanism, and the arising of the second beast, or Protestantism, was in the year 1530. The duration of Protestant power is 350 years, which added to 1530 brings us to the year 1880 A.D., at which time the dark noonday closes and we emerging hail with joy the peaceful glowing evening light.
Prior to the year 1880 it was, with rare exceptions, universally conceded that to gain heaven we needs must unite with some religious denomination. About this time God by his Holy Spirit gave to men everywhere (whose hearts were prepared) an intuitive knowledge that we could be saved and live a Christian life outside the walls of sectism. Just to lean upon God alone and be guided solely by his Word and Spirit, they discovered to be their blessed privilege. We are not alone in thus interpreting Rev.11:11. We will quote from other authors. "Cloudy day (Protestantism). Length of period 350 years." Rev.11:9. -- S. L. Speck in Bible Readings, p.104.
"The two witnesses [Word and Spirit] lie dead three days and a half [three and one-half centuries]. Rev.11:7-9. The church dwells in a wilderness, which is neither dark nor light. Period 350 years. Time from 1530 to 1880." -- W. G. S. in Bible Readings, p.69.
"Time of reign of second beast, from the year 1530 to 1880, making 350 years." -- H. C. Wickersham in Holiness Bible Subjects, p.178.
This same author on page 244 in quoting Rev.11:11 encloses in brackets the words: "At the end of three hundred and fifty years of Protestant sectism the true children of God come out of Babylon and are sanctified."
"The three days and a half they were to lie dead is interpreted by the Holy Spirit to mean three centuries and a half. This gives us the length of the Protestant age." -- Biblical Trace of the Church, p.143.
In the few years prior to 1880 A.D., there was a great declension in the spirituality of Protestantism. Who can deny this fact? Quite a number of the leading denominations held revivals, where was witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit. People were genuinely converted. They loved and worshiped God in quite a degree of simplicity and equality. The ministry was of a humbler class and more devoted to its charges. In the decade preceding 1880 there was a great change. This change perhaps can be no better described than is done in the following words of Mr. Foster, bishop of the Methodist denomination:
"Worldly socials, fairs, festivals, concerts, and such like, have taken the place of the religious gatherings, revival meetings, class and prayer-meetings of earlier days.... Under such worldly performance spirituality is frozen to death.... The early Methodist ministers went forth to sacrifice and suffer for Christ. They sought not places of ease and affluence, but of privation and suffering. They gloried not in their big salaries, fine parsonages, and refined congregations, but in the souls that had been won for Jesus. Oh, how changed! A hireling ministry will be a feeble, a timid truckling, a time-serving ministry, without faith, endurance, and holy power. Methodism formerly dealt in the great central truth. Now the pulpits deal largely in generalities and in popular lectures. The glorious doctrine of entire sanctification is rarely heard and seldom witnessed in the pulpits."
There is not a Methodist minister but knows the truthfulness of these statements, however much they may deny it. In the quoted texts of Scripture from Revelation 11, the ninth and tenth verses say: "And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another."
By the "dead bodies" is meant the two witnesses, the Word and Spirit. These throughout Protestantism were dead. While they professed to be led by the Spirit and to believe and practise the Word, they did neither. Thus they would not entirely and openly in words deny the power of the Holy Spirit and verity of God's Word, yet in works they did deny them. "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." Titus 1:16. These two witnesses were dead, yet they would not allow their dead bodies to be buried: they professed to receive them.
The tenth verse tells of the worldliness of sectism at the time the Spirit of life from God entered into the Word and Holy Spirit, after the 350 years or the ushering in of the evening light. They were making merry and sending gifts. Sectism is straining every nerve, and adopting most every scheme for money-getting. The fundamental object in the socials, fairs, concerts, etc., is to get money. They adopt these worldly, sensual amusements to rob men of their money. We have in possession a clipping from the New York Sun which is a fair sample of the present-day performances and merry making for money, and well explains the rejoicing, merry making and sending of gifts as mentioned in Rev.11:10. It is as follows:
"Saved The Church.
"Members Performed Many Services in Turning an Odd Penny.
"From New York Sun.
"Pittsburg, March 5. -- The church edifice of the Coraopolis Methodist church was advertised to be sold by the sheriff this week, and the members of the congregation made a heroic attempt all last week to save it. Coraopolis is a few miles below here. One vivacious young woman won a wager by riding a spirited horse without a saddle; other good sisters and brethren cleaned shoes and peddled, while some pushed wheelbarrows in which were conveyed some very staid-looking business men. The whole church community was animated by the common desire to keep the sheriff from the church-door. Luxuries were denied, and many ludicrous situations were invented until enough money was raised to secure a postponement of the sale.
"Nobody seemed in the least disconcerted over these unusual exhibitions. If any one asked Samuel Marshall, the well-known station agent, what he was doing when he was shining the boots of the ex-Burgess, he would have replied: 'Raising money for our church. Don't you want a shine?' Among the most active in the work was Mr. Marshall, and his industry in turning in the most money won for him the prize of a gold watch. The following items from his statement show some of the methods adopted:
"February 20. -- Delivered message to F. D. Stickney, 10 cents. H. S. Misseldine wanted me to stand on my head, but found I could not do this, so added up fifty columns of figures, for which I received 50 cents.
"February 21. -- Carried can of milk to restaurant of J. G. Walters, 10 cents.
"February 22. -- Delivered head of cabbage, which afterward on a 'banter' was thrown at Mr. Walters, 10 cents.
"February 23. -- Young lady paid me 5 cents to call on her; polished shoes for George Arras, 5 cents.
"February 24. -- Swept pool-room of J. E. McKee, 10 cents; delivered hardware to Mr. Boyers, [USD]2.00.
"February 26. -- Wheeled M. W. Watson from store of J. C. Walters to shop, 25 cents.
"February 27. -- Shaved Henry DeGrange, the barber, for which I charged him 10 cents.
"Mrs. Hamilton, a well-known society woman, sold bread and laundered the gentlemen's ties. She also presented a report in rhyme at the 'pledge meeting' on last Tuesday night. One item of the report was:
"First I peddled chestnuts and met with success,
"Mrs Hamilton returned about forty dollars as the result of her labors. Miss Fannie Siebold, a vivacious young woman with auburn hair and with eyes that sparkle, was visiting friends in the place. She never lost an opportunity to show her interest in the little church. Her host, curious to see if she could not be made to retract from her offers, told her he would give her fifty cents if she would ride one of his spirited horses without, a saddle.
"She was told that she might ride any fashion. Miss Siebold made all the male portion of the family promise to remain indoors, where they could not observe her during the performance. They agreed to this, but people passing along the road were surprised at the sight of a handsome young lady galloping over the fields on the flying charger in a manner that would do credit to any man.
"As a result of all the industry, [USD]208.54 was raised, the sheriff's placard was taken down from the church-door, and a thirty days' extension secured on the [USD]2,500 remaining to be paid."
The following article, recently published in a God-fearing, religious paper, contains weighty and powerful truths, and should awaken the reader to the present condition of things in this dark, seducing, and soul-deluding, sinful world.
"There has been for many years a rapid decline among the Protestant churches of the spirit of revivals and of the manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit. Not only is there great ignorance on the doctrines of the Bible, but almost universally a positive antagonism to anything like the supernatural in religious experience.
"Just as Jesus was rejected and crucified by the professed church at the close of the Jewish age, so the Holy Spirit is being despised and crucified by the professed church at the close of the Gentile age. Just as Jesus was rejected from the nice homes of Bethlehem, and had to go into a stable to find a place to be born, and where he could utter his infant cries, so the Holy Spirit to-day is utterly rejected from thousands of Protestant churches, and he has to go into rented halls, slum missions, canvas tents, and woods meetings to find a place to utter his voice through the lips of those who know and feel him. Just as there were a few who had supernatural discernment to recognize and worship the infant God, so there are now a few who discern the personality and operation of the Holy Spirit, and pour out to him their gold and frankincense and myrrh. Just as the people of Bethlehem, who had turned the unborn Savior from their door were soon made to wail by the king's order of assassination, so the thousands of nominal churches which now reject the work of the Holy Spirit from their doors will soon wail under the awful tribulation that is rapidly coming on all the earth. Oh, if the Protestant churches could only see the day of their visitation, and that the history of the way the Jews treated Jesus is being exactly repeated over and over again in the way the modern churches treat the Holy Spirit, and that the same doom that overtook the Jewish church for rejecting Christ, will speedily overtake the modern churches for rejecting the Holy Spirit!
"Another feature of the present crisis is, God is working mainly through individuals, and not so much through machinery. Thousands of individuals in Europe and America have been called of the Spirit to launch out into soul-saving work along lines of personal enterprise more than ever in past ages.
"There never was a time in the world's history when Christian men and women felt so led of God not to wait for committees nor the red tape of ecclesiastical authority, but to hurry forth under a personal call from God and do what they could with their individual means and talents for the saving of souls, the sanctifying of believers, and preparing the chosen few to meet Jesus. There never seemed a time when anything like church machinery would run to seed so quick as now. Even if an enterprise that is started definitely as a holiness work gets a few officers and committees in it, in a few days or months it gets just as churchly and high-headed and dictatorial as an old popish institution. For this reason God is utilizing individuality in his kingdom as never before.
"Another feature of the present crisis is, that God will test the faith of his waiting ones, and all those persons who are making almanacs for the Lord, and fixing dates for the fulfilling of certain prophecies, are going to be disappointed. We are living a life of faith in every particular, clear down to the last moment of his appearing in the sky. The Scriptures are very clear in setting forth two facts concerning Christ's coming. On the one hand we are told of the signs that would precede his coming, and we are told to watch those things, and they will indicate his coming as near; on the other hand we are expressly told that the day and hour of his appearing will never be made known beforehand, and our wisdom lies in not forgetting the signs on the one hand, nor in fixing dates on the other. Hence Jesus commands us to keep in the attitude of a watcher, always ready, always expecting, yet not knowing. In the parable of the ten virgins, our Savior clearly intimates that the bridegroom will tarry beyond the time that his people expected him. The picture is that of a crowd of passengers sitting in a station and waiting for a night train which is behind time, and while they are yet waiting they get drowsy and nod. The sentence, 'They all slumbered and slept,' should more properly be, they became 'drowsy and nodded.' This applies to the very elect, who will be taken into the wedding, and indicates a crisis of the trial of the faith of the sanctified ones.
"But the most significant of all things in the present crisis is the testing of true faith in all points of doctrine. There never was a time since the fall of Adam when the human race was so drenched with the muddy waters of heresy. Everything moves with lightning rapidity. The principles that lie hidden in every system of government, education, social life, and manifold forms of religion, are swiftly pushing themselves to prestige and open manifestation. Sin is not only working out every species of wickedness that can be invented, but the intellect of the so-called Christianized world is showing signs of decay in its ability to grasp sturdy Bible truth, and is largely turning from the Bible to old worn-out heathen ideas. Every doctrine of the Bible is being twisted into fanciful theories. The scriptures teaching of sin and the need of broken-hearted repentance is practically ignored by thousands of ministers and church-members. The absolute divinity of Jesus is growing weaker in the faith of many who claim to teach his gospel, and some who profess to be very orthodox say they do not pray to Jesus. The literal resurrection of the body taught by the Scriptures is caricatured and treated lightly by professed theologians, ministers, and professed Christians. The immortality of the soul and its conscious existence, either in heaven or hell, during the sleep of the body in death, is being rejected for the old heathen notion. The experience of justifying and sanctifying grace, attested by the personal Holy Spirit, is rejected by millions of church-members. Everlasting reward and punishment is laughed at as an old tradition instead of a serious doctrine of the Bible.
"It is well nigh impossible to enter a single professed Christian family in Europe or America in which some member has not a new patent on Scripture truth and holds some fanciful notion concerning the serious teachings of the Bible. I find a great many passages in which the last form of testifying for God's saints will be that of their faith in the simple plain old doctrines of God's Word. Jesus warns us that just before his coming every possible heresy and every variety of false Christ will appear to deceive the people, and that if it were possible they should deceive the very elect. And John in Revelation tells us of an era of the going forth of frogs, which are evil spirits, to seduce the people from the true faith. We are living in the frog era. In nearly every city in the land there are from one to three persons who claim to be God, or an incarnation of Christ, or the Holy Spirit. Thousands of religious people think it is too tame and uninteresting to accept all of the plain old doctrines of the Scripture, so they want something original and startling."
In the past two years the popular religious bodies, including an aristocratic ministry, have turned to worldliness at a rapid and unprecedented rate, and what will be seen of proud formalism, socialism, and rejection of divine truth in the circles of denominationalism within the next ten years would now appear incredulous.
The following poem selected from a recent religious periodical is vividly descriptive of the present-day religious denominations, commonly known as churches. However the true church of God is an entirely different institution, and just as far separated from the world, and just as bitterly hated by her as when she imprisoned, stoned and martyred her devoted followers.
The Church Walking With The World.
"The Church and the World walked far apart,
"'Nay, walk with me but a little space,'
"Half shyly the Church approached the World,
"'Your house is too plain,' said the proud old World, 'I'll build you one like mine:
"The angel of mercy flew over the Church,
"'Your preachers are all too old and plain,'
"'You give too much to the poor,' said the World;
"So the poor were turned from her door in scorn,
"The angel drew near to the mercy-seat,
To-day the proud, fashionable sectarian churches are lovingly folded in the arms of the giddy world, and in her mad, drunken, lustful craze she is crying, "On with the dance, let joy be unconfined."