Conscientious obedience to the word of God
will be treated as rebellion. Blinded by Satan, the parent will exercise
harshness and severity toward the believing child; the master or mistress
will oppress the commandment-keeping servant. Affection will be alienated;
children will be disinherited and driven from home.
The words of Paul will be literally fulfilled: "All that will live godly
in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:12. As the
defenders of truth refuse to honor the Sunday-sabbath, some of them will
be thrust into prison, some will be exiled, some will be treated as
slaves. To human wisdom all this now seems impossible; but as the
restraining Spirit of God shall be withdrawn from men, and they shall be
under the control of Satan, who hates the divine precepts, there will be
strange developments. The heart can be very cruel when God's fear and love
are removed. As the storm approaches, a large class who have
professed faith in the third angel's message, but have not been sanctified
through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks
of the opposition.
By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to
view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they
are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing
address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive
and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former
brethren. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for
their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to
misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to
stir up the rulers against them.
In this time of persecution the faith of the Lord's servants will be
tried. They have faithfully given the warning, looking to God and to His
word alone. God's Spirit, moving upon their hearts, has constrained them
to speak. Stimulated with holy zeal, and with the divine impulse strong
upon them, they entered upon the performance of their duties without
coldly calculating the consequences of speaking to the people the word
which the Lord had given them. They have not consulted their temporal
interests, nor sought to preserve their reputation or their lives. Yet
when the storm of opposition and reproach bursts upon them, some,
overwhelmed with consternation, will be ready to exclaim: "Had we foreseen
the consequences of our words, we would have held our peace."
They are hedged in with difficulties. Satan assails them with fierce
temptations. The work which they have undertaken seems far beyond their
ability to accomplish. They are threatened with destruction. The
enthusiasm which animated them is gone; yet they cannot turn back. Then,
feeling their utter helplessness, they flee to the Mighty One for
strength. They remember that the words which they have spoken were not
theirs, but His who bade them give the warning. God put the truth into
their hearts, and they could not forbear to proclaim it.
The same trials have been experienced by men of God in ages past.
Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, Tyndale, Baxter, Wesley, urged that all doctrines
be brought to the test of the Bible and declared that they would renounce
everything which it condemned. Against these men persecution raged with
relentless fury; yet they ceased not to declare the truth. Different
periods in the history of the church have each been marked by the
development of some special truth, adapted to the necessities of God's
people at that time.
Every new truth has made its way against hatred and opposition; those who
were blessed with its light were tempted and tried. The Lord gives a
special truth for the people in an emergency. Who dare refuse to publish
it? He commands His servants to present the last invitation of mercy to
the world. They cannot remain silent, except at the peril of their souls.
Christ's ambassadors have nothing to do with consequences. They must
perform their duty and leave results with God. As the opposition
rises to a fiercer height, the servants of God are again perplexed; for it
seems to them that they have brought the crisis. But conscience and the
word of God assure them that their course is right; and although the
trials continue, they are strengthened to bear them.
The contest grows closer and sharper, but their faith and courage rise
with the emergency. Their testimony is: "We dare not tamper with God's
word, dividing His holy law; calling one portion essential and another
nonessential, to gain the favor of the world. The Lord whom we serve is
able to deliver us. Christ has conquered the powers of earth; and shall we
be afraid of a world already conquered?" Persecution in its varied
forms is the development of a principle which will exist as long as Satan
exists and Christianity has vital power. No man can serve God without
enlisting against himself the opposition of the hosts of darkness. Evil
angels will assail him, alarmed that his influence is taking the prey from
their hands. Evil men, rebuked by his example, will unite with them in
seeking to separate him from God by alluring temptations.
When these do not succeed, then a compelling power is employed to force
the conscience. But so long as Jesus remains man's intercessor in
the sanctuary above, the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is felt
by rulers and people. It still controls to some extent the laws of the
land. Were it not for these laws, the condition of the world would be much
worse than it now is. While many of our rulers are active agents of Satan,
God also has His agents among the leading men of the nation.
The enemy moves upon his servants to propose measures that would greatly
impede the work of God; but statesmen who fear the Lord are influenced by
holy angels to oppose such propositions with unanswerable arguments. Thus
a few men will hold in check a powerful current of evil. The opposition of
the enemies of truth will be restrained that the third angel's message may
do its work. When the final warning shall be given, it will arrest the
attention of these leading men through whom the Lord is now working, and
some of them will accept it, and will stand with the people of God through
the time of trouble.
The angel who unites in the proclamation of the third angel's message is
to lighten the whole earth with his glory. A work of world-wide extent and
unwonted power is here foretold. The advent movement of 1840-44 was a
glorious manifestation of the power of God; the first angel's message was
carried to every missionary station in the world, and in some countries
there was the greatest religious interest which has been witnessed in any
land since the Reformation of the sixteenth century; but these are to be
exceeded by the mighty movement under the last warning of the third angel.
The work will be similar to that of the Day of Pentecost. As the "former
rain" was given, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the opening of
the gospel, to cause the upspringing of the precious seed, so the "latter
rain" will be given at its close for the ripening of the harvest. "Then
shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is
prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the
latter and former rain unto the earth." Hosea 6:3. "Be glad then, ye
children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for He hath given you
the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the
rain, the former rain, and the latter rain." Joel 2:23. "In the last days,
saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh." "And it shall
come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be
saved." Acts 2:17, 21.
The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of
the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were
fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the
gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are
"the times of refreshing" to which the apostle Peter looked forward when
he said: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be
blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of
the Lord; and He shall send Jesus." Acts 3:19, 20.
Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy
consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from
heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be
given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and
wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works, with lying wonders,
even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Revelation 13:13.
Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand.
The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep
conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The
seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The
publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their
influence, yet many whose minds were impressed have been prevented from
fully comprehending the truth or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of
light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the
honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family
connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now.
Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies
combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the