Those who honor the law of God have been accused of bringing judgments upon the world, and they will be regarded as the cause of the fearful convulsions of nature and the strife and bloodshed among men that are filling the earth with woe. The power attending the last warning has enraged the wicked; their anger is kindled against all who have received the message, and Satan will excite to still greater intensity the spirit of hatred and persecution.
When God’s presence was finally withdrawn from the Jewish nation, priests and people knew it not. Though under the control of Satan, and swayed by the most horrible and malignant passions, they still regarded themselves as the chosen of God. The ministration in the temple continued; sacrifices were offered upon its polluted altars, and daily the divine blessing was invoked upon a people guilty of the blood of God’s dear Son and seeking to slay His ministers and apostles. So when the irrevocable decision of the sanctuary has been pronounced and the destiny of the world has been forever fixed, the inhabitants of the earth will know it not. The forms of religion will be continued by a people from whom the Spirit of God has been finally withdrawn; and the satanic zeal with which the prince of evil will inspire them for the accomplishment of his malignant designs, will bear the semblance of zeal for God.
As the Sabbath has become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, and religious and secular authorities have combined to enforce the observance of the Sunday, the persistent refusal of a small minority to yield to the popular demand will make them objects of universal execration. It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. The same argument many centuries ago was brought against Christ by the “rulers of the people.” “It is expedient for us,” said the wily Caiaphas, “that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” John 11:50. This argument will appear conclusive; and a decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death. Romanism in the Old World and apostate Protestantism in the New will pursue a similar course toward those who honor all the divine precepts.
The people of God will then be plunged into those scenes of affliction and distress described by the prophet as the time of Jacob’s trouble. “Thus saith the Lord: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace…. All faces are turned into paleness. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:5-7.
Jacob’s night of anguish, when he wrestled in prayer for deliverance from the hand of Esau (Genesis 32:24-30), represents the experience of God’s people in the time of trouble. Because of the deception practiced to secure his father’s blessing, intended for Esau, Jacob had fled for his life, alarmed by his brother’s deadly threats. After remaining for many years an exile, he had set out, at God’s command, to return with his wives and children, his flocks and herds, to his native country. On reaching the borders of the land, he was filled with terror by the tidings of Esau’s approach at the head of a band of warriors, doubtless bent upon revenge. Jacob’s company, unarmed and defenseless, seemed about to fall helpless victims of violence and slaughter. And to the burden of anxiety and fear was added the crushing weight of self-reproach, for it was his own sin that had brought this danger. His only hope was in the mercy of God; his only defense must be prayer. Yet he leaves nothing undone on his own part to atone for the wrong to his brother and to avert the threatened danger. So should the followers of Christ, as they approach the time of trouble, make every exertion to place themselves in a proper light before the people, to disarm prejudice, and to avert the danger which threatens liberty of conscience.
Having sent his family away, that they may not witness his distress, Jacob remains alone to intercede with God. He confesses his sin and gratefully acknowledges the mercy of God toward him while with deep humiliation he pleads the covenant made with his fathers and the promises to himself in the night vision at Bethel and in the land of his exile. The crisis in his life has come; everything is at stake. In the darkness and solitude he continues praying and humbling himself before God. Suddenly a hand is laid upon his shoulder. He thinks that an enemy is seeking his life, and with all the energy of despair he wrestles with his assailant. As the day begins to break, the stranger puts forth his superhuman power; at his touch the strong man seems paralyzed, and he falls, a helpless, weeping suppliant, upon the neck of his mysterious antagonist. Jacob knows now that it is the Angel of the covenant with whom he has been in conflict. Though disabled and suffering the keenest pain, he does not relinquish his purpose. Long has he endured perplexity, remorse, and trouble for his sin; now he must have the assurance that it is pardoned. The divine visitant seems about to depart; but Jacob clings to Him, pleading for a blessing. The Angel urges, “Let Me go, for the day breaketh;” but the patriarch exclaims, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.” What confidence, what firmness and perseverance, are here displayed! Had this been a boastful, presumptuous claim, Jacob would have been instantly destroyed; but his was the assurance of one who confesses his weakness and unworthiness, yet trusts the mercy of a covenant-keeping God GC 614.3 – GC 616.3
The war, begun in 1898, between the kingdom of Spain and the republic of the United States is now at an end, and the laurels of victory are worn by the armies and the navy of the Western Giant. Few were the battles and brief the campaign which laid the feeble foe prostrate in the dust. Continued violation of natural law had produced internal weakness and disintegration. Spain fell an easy and helpless prey, not simply on account of the superiority of American prowess and gunnery, but because of inherent weakness, produced by her own sin.
It was altogether fitting that the long struggle which the Iberians had carried on against their own colonies for the purpose of enforcing the ideas that all men are not created equal, and that governments do not derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, should be abruptly terminated by that nation which was conceived in principles the exact reverse of these theories.
That Providence willed it so, there can be no doubt. Only the hand that was free from the stain of despotism could be used to inflict punishment upon her whose every garment was spotted with its leprosy. With the surrender of Cuba and Porto Rico, Spain relinquished the last acre of that great landfall which Christopher Columbus in 1492 brought to the united thrones of Aragon and Castile. Spain’s administration of these domains was one long series of national crime. Long ago the King of kings arraigned her at the bar above, and there and then it was justly decreed that the unjust steward should have her stewardship taken away. Instalments of the penalty have fallen due from time to time. Just now we have witnessed the last payment, that of the uttermost farthing. And in the words of Lincoln, “As was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, ‘The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'”
As the stereopticon pictures dissolve upon the sheet upon which they are thrown, and fade away from view, so in a. d. 360 the empire of the Romans began dissolving upon the great sheet of time and space upon which all nations are cast, until in a. d. 476 the last faint traces and shadowy outlines of her once great power and glory had utterly vanished. But as her fleeting specter disappeared from off the canvas, the Visigoths, in the childlike bloom of semi-barbaric virginity, may be seen in that dim twilight of time stealthily gliding in to occupy the rich peninsula which the fall of Rome had left without a tenant. Weal might have been their day; glorious with white and gold the years of the hoar hair of their national existence, the harvest of their allotted span. By their own choice alone it has brought forth only tears and woe,-first to others, and finally to themselves. They followed in the steps of Rome, they repeated her history, and as far as colonial empire is concerned, they have met her end, while their own dissolution, the last grand tableau in the tragedy, already looms in the offing of time. For as God is no respecter of persons, even so he is no respecter of nations.
Columbus sailed with the intent of finding, not the West, but the East Indies. To the day of his death he never discovered his mistake. It was his intent there to plant the monarchical tyranny of Spain. Four hundred years have passed away since then, and it is passing strange that these United States, after breaking the power of Spain in the West, are even now engaged in fastening upon that land which Columbus sought to reach, those same Spanish principles of power and tyranny which he would fain have taken there.
An Old World power has been driven from Cuba, but an Old World idea has invaded and well-nigh captured the republic of the United States,-the idea that all men are not created equal, and that governments do not derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. There have been times when the ship of state in the United States has been partially diverted from her course, and greed has used her officers for private ends and personal emoluments. But now the very foundation-stones of the fabric governmental are being undermined.
Prior to the year 1898 this government was a republic pure and simple. Its foundations were laid in principle , and not in power. It was not an empire in any sense of the word, for the foundations of an empire are laid in power , and not in principle. It was built upon that everlasting rock that right makes might . Against this the coming of floods and the blowing and beating of winds are alike powerless, for it standeth sure and falleth not forever. But empires, on the other hand, are built upon that sinking sand that might makes right. Against these the floods come, and the winds blow and beat, and they fall, and great is the fall thereof.
To-day this nation is in danger of abandoning the rock and settling upon the sand. The love of power, so prone to the human breast, is smothering priceless, eternal principle. From being a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, it is being rapidly transformed into a government of some of the people, by a few of the people, for all the people. This is imperialism as opposed to republicanism, and this is national apostasy.
Until the summer of 1898 the word “imperialism” was but little heard from the lips of Americans. Now the very atmosphere is fairly drenched with it. A perfect wave of imperialism has swept over the land, and the desire for an Imperial America, or an “Imperial Republic,” as it has been styled, sits supreme upon hundreds of scores of souls. But an imperial republic cannot exist. With equal sense and propriety one might talk about “good badness.”
What means this wild babel of tongues clamoring for subjects over which to exercise sway? What means this strange jargon, formed from an Old World monarchical vocabulary? Are men crazed with the madness sometimes begotten by victory at arms? Are men drunken with the lust of colonial empire? Are men raving in the delirium of that dread fever, earth-hunger, in which all the monarchies of the Old World are writhing? Think they in the hour of triumph over a foe, outclassed at every point, to build a tower of national greatness which will reach to the very heavens, and at the same time to lay its unrighteous foundations on the stricken forms of vassal peoples? The result will surely be as it was before in the case of the builders of Babel, there will be confusion of tongues, and the dissolution of the nation.
In his day, Abraham Lincoln said that in the days of the Fathers “our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all, and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the negro universal and eternal, it is assailed, and sneered at, and construed, and hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it.” PRUS 79.1 – PRUS 81.4