The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now hardly distinguishable. Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism. Papists, who boast of miracles as a certain sign of the true church, will be readily deceived by this wonder-working power; and Protestants, having cast away the shield of truth, will also be deluded. Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness without the power, and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium.
Through spiritualism, Satan appears as a benefactor of the race, healing the diseases of the people, and professing to present a new and more exalted system of religious faith; but at the same time he works as a destroyer. His temptations are leading multitudes to ruin. Intemperance dethrones reason; sensual indulgence, strife, and bloodshed follow. Satan delights in war, for it excites the worst passions of the soul and then sweeps into eternity its victims steeped in vice and blood. It is his object to incite the nations to war against one another, for he can thus divert the minds of the people from the work of preparation to stand in the day of God.
Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows. When he was suffered to afflict Job, how quickly flocks and herds, servants, houses, children, were swept away, one trouble succeeding another as in a moment. It is God that shields His creatures and hedges them in from the power of the destroyer. But the Christian world have shown contempt for the law of Jehovah; and the Lord will do just what He has declared that He would—He will withdraw His blessings from the earth and remove His protecting care from those who are rebelling against His law and teaching and forcing others to do the same. Satan has control of all whom God does not especially guard. He will favor and prosper some in order to further his own designs, and he will bring trouble upon others and lead men to believe that it is God who is afflicting them.
While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. “The earth mourneth and fadeth away,” “the haughty people … do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” Isaiah 24:4, 5.
And then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils. The class that have provoked the displeasure of Heaven will charge all their troubles upon those whose obedience to God’s commandments is a perpetual reproof to transgressors. It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath; that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced; and that those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to divine favor and temporal prosperity. Thus the accusation urged of old against the servant of God will be repeated and upon grounds equally well established: “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.” 1 Kings 18:17, 18. As the wrath of the people shall be excited by false charges, they will pursue a course toward God’s ambassadors very similar to that which apostate Israel pursued toward Elijah.
The miracle-working power manifested through spiritualism will exert its influence against those who choose to obey God rather than men. Communications from the spirits will declare that God has sent them to convince the rejecters of Sunday of their error, affirming that the laws of the land should be obeyed as the law of God. They will lament the great wickedness in the world and second the testimony of religious teachers that the degraded state of morals is caused by the desecration of Sunday. Great will be the indignation excited against all who refuse to accept their testimony.
Satan’s policy in this final conflict with God’s people is the same that he employed in the opening of the great controversy in heaven. He professed to be seeking to promote the stability of the divine government, while secretly bending every effort to secure its overthrow. And the very work which he was thus endeavoring to accomplish he charged upon the loyal angels. The same policy of deception has marked the history of the Roman Church. It has professed to act as the vicegerent of Heaven, while seeking to exalt itself above God and to change His law. Under the rule of Rome, those who suffered death for their fidelity to the gospel were denounced as evildoers; they were declared to be in league with Satan; and every possible means was employed to cover them with reproach, to cause them to appear in the eyes of the people and even to themselves as the vilest of criminals. So it will be now. While Satan seeks to destroy those who honor God’s law, he will cause them to be accused as lawbreakers, as men who are dishonoring God and bringing judgments upon the world.
God never forces the will or the conscience; but Satan’s constant resort—to gain control of those whom he cannot otherwise seduce—is compulsion by cruelty. Through fear or force he endeavors to rule the conscience and to secure homage to himself. To accomplish this, he works through both religious and secular authorities, moving them to the enforcement of human laws in defiance of the law of God.
Those who honor the Bible Sabbath will be denounced as enemies of law and order, as breaking down the moral restraints of society, causing anarchy and corruption, and calling down the judgments of God upon the earth. Their conscientious scruples will be pronounced obstinacy, stubbornness, and contempt of authority. They will be accused of disaffection toward the government. Ministers who deny the obligation of the divine law will present from the pulpit the duty of yielding obedience to the civil authorities as ordained of God. In legislative halls and courts of justice, commandment keepers will be misrepresented and condemned. A false coloring will be given to their words; the worst construction will be put upon their motives.
As the Protestant churches reject the clear, Scriptural arguments in defense of God’s law, they will long to silence those whose faith they cannot overthrow by the Bible. Though they blind their own eyes to the fact, they are now adopting a course which will lead to the persecution of those who conscientiously refuse to do what the rest of the Christian world are doing, and acknowledge the claims of the papal sabbath.
The dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth; and even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected. In the soon-coming conflict we shall see exemplified the prophet’s words: “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. GC 588.3 – GC 592.3
I saw greater distress in the land than we have yet witnessed. I heard groans and cries of distress. I saw large companies in active battle. I heard the booming of the cannon, the clash of arms, the hand to hand fight. I heard the groans and prayers of the dying. The ground was covered with the wounded and the dead. I saw desolate, despairing families, and pinching want in many dwellings. I saw that even now many families are suffering want, but this will increase. The faces of many families looked haggard, pale, and pinched with hunger. I was shown that the people of God should be closely united in the bonds of Christian fellowship and love. God alone can be our shield and strength in this time of our national calamities.
The people of God should awake. Their opportunities to spread the truth should be improved, for they will not thus last long. I was shown distress, and perplexity, and famine in the land; and Satan is now seeking to hold God’s people in a state of inactivity, to keep them from acting their part in spreading the truth, and that they may be at last weighed in the balance and found wanting.
I saw that God’s people must take warning and discern the signs of the times. The signs of Christ’s coming are too plain to be doubted; and in view of these things every one who professes the truth should be living preachers. God calls upon all to awake; preachers and people must awake. All heaven is astir. The scenes of this earth’s history are fast closing. We are amid the perils of the last days. Greater perils are before us, and yet we are not awake. This lack of activity and earnestness in the cause of God is dreadful. This death stupor is from Satan. He controls the minds of unconsecrated Sabbath-keepers, and leads them to be jealous of each other, fault-finding and censorious. It is Satan’s special work to divide hearts, that the influence, strength, and labor of God’s servants may be kept among unconsecrated Sabbath-keepers, and precious time be occupied to settle little differences which should be spent in proclaiming to unbelievers the truth.
I was shown God’s people waiting for some change to take place—a compelling power to take hold of them. But they will be disappointed. They are wrong. They must act. They must take hold of the work themselves, and earnestly cry unto God for a true knowledge of themselves. The scenes which are passing before us are of sufficient magnitude to cause us to arouse. In view of these things we must urge the truth home to the hearts of all whom we can get to listen to it. The harvest of the earth is nearly ripe.
I was shown how important that ministers be right who engage in the solemn, responsible work of proclaiming the third angel’s message. The Lord is not straightened for means or instruments to do his own work. He can speak at any time by whom he will, and his word is powerful and will accomplish the thing whereunto it is sent. But if the truth has not sanctified, and made pure and clean the hands and heart of him who ministers in holy things, he is liable to speak according to his own imperfect experience; and when he speaks of himself, according to the decisions of his own unsanctified judgment, his counsel is not then of God, but of himself. As he that is called of God is called to be holy, so he that is approved and set apart of men must give evidence of his holy calling, and show forth in his heavenly conversation and conduct that he is faithful to him who hath called him.
I saw that there were fearful woes for those who preach the truth and are not sanctified by it, and there are woes also for those who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctified to minister to them in word and doctrine. I am alarmed for the people of God who profess to believe solemn, important truth, for I know that many who now profess to believe the truth are not converted nor sanctified through the truth. Men can hear and acknowledge the whole truth, and yet know nothing of the power of godliness. All who carry the truth will not themselves be saved by the truth they preach. Said the angel, “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.”
I saw that the time has come when those who choose the Lord for their present and future portion, must trust in him alone. Every one professing godliness must have an experience of their own. The recording angel is making a faithful record of the words and acts of God’s people. Angels are watching the development of character and weighing moral worth. I saw that those who profess to believe the truth should be right themselves, and exert all their influence to enlighten and win others to the truth. Their words and works are the channel through which the pure principles of truth and holiness are conveyed to the world. They are the salt of the earth and the light thereof. I saw that in looking heaven-ward we shall see light and peace, but in looking to the world we see that every refuge must soon fail us, and every good soon pass away. There is no help for us but in God, and in this state of earth’s confusion we cannot be composed, strong, or safe, only in the strength of living faith; nor can we be in peace, only as we rest in God and wait for his salvation. Greater light shines upon us than shone upon our fathers. We cannot be accepted or honored of God in rendering the same service, or doing the same works our fathers have done. In order to be accepted and blessed of God as our fathers were, we must imitate their faithfulness and zeal,—improve our light as they improved theirs,—and do as they would have done if they had lived in our day. We must improve and walk in the light which shines upon us, otherwise our light will become darkness. God requires of us to exhibit to the world, in our character and works, that measure of the spirit, union, and oneness, which are in accordance with the sacred truths we profess, and the spirit of those prophecies that are being fulfilled in these last days. The truth which has reached our understanding, the light that has shone on the soul, will judge and condemn us, if we turn away and refuse to be led by them.
What shall I say to arouse the remnant people of God. I was shown that dreadful scenes are before us, and Satan and his angels are bringing all their powers to bear upon God’s people. He knows if they sleep a little longer he is sure of them, for their destruction is certain. I warn all who profess the name of Christ to closely examine themselves, and make full and thorough confessions of all their wrongs and let them go beforehand to judgment, that opposite their names the recording angel may write pardon. If these precious, merciful moments are not improved, you are left without excuse. If you will make no special effort to arouse, if you will not manifest zeal in repenting, these golden moments will soon pass, and you will be weighed in the balance and found wanting, and then your agonizing cries will be of no avail. “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” T07 11.1 – T07 15.1