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A CHRISTIAN MOTHER EXHORTING HER DAUGHTER TO MARTYRDOM

"Choose you this day whom ye will serve; . . . as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15.

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THE GOSPEL FOR OUR DAY

THE gospel message for this time of the judgment hour is set forth in the vision of Revelation 14:

"I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

"And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out

without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Rev. 14: 6-12.

When this message has been heralded to all nations, according to prophecy the end will come, for the next scene brought before the prophet's vision was the coming of Christ to reap the harvest of the earth:

"I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle." Verse 14.

The outline of the message given here reveals certain main features:

1. A Gospel Message

It is not a new or another gospel. There is but one gospel. This message is "the everlasting gospel" in terms that meet the situation in the time of the judgment hour. The advent movement carries the blessed message of full salvation from sin by faith in Jesus Christ.

2. A Solemn Warning

The message is God's final answer to the age-long perversions of His truth. Even the warnings uttered vibrate with the saving grace and winning power of God's love in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the vision of Daniel 8, the prophet was shown the working of apostasy in the latter times, as it "cast down the truth to the ground" and "practiced and prospered." But in answer to the question, "How long?" the great prophetic period of the 2300 years was given, at the end of which (in 1844) the judgment work in heaven was to begin. When that

work is finished, Christ's glorious appearing will end the reign · of sin and error.

And while the closing judgment work is proceeding in heaven, this message of the judgment hour lifts up on earth the standard of truths trodden underfoot, and the Lord utters His last warning against sin and apostasy. It is a terrible word that He speaks. Bengelius described it as

"that threatening pronounced which is the greatest in all the Scriptures, and which shall resound powerfully from the mouth of the third angel." -"Introduction to Apocalypse," Preface xxix (London, 1757).

The Lord is in earnest with men in this hour when the judgment, now passing on the dead, must also soon seal the ⚫ eternal destiny of all the living. Hence the message chal

lenges every soul to a decision.

Looking forward to the time when this message should be due, John Wesley wrote:

"Happy are they who make the right use of these divine messages."—"Notes on New Testament," on Revelation 14.

These warnings are part of the "everlasting gospel." Whosoever, therefore, preaches the full gospel of Christ in these last days must sound this solemn call.

3. A Call to Loyalty to God

"Fear God," is the call, "Worship Him." In the preceding vision of the thirteenth chapter, the Lord had shown the prophet the work of an ecclesiastical power, symbolized by a leopardlike beast, that was to speak great things, and' that was to persecute believers through long centuries, warring against God's truth and His sanctuary. "All the world wondered after the beast." The prophet said,

"All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb." Rev. 13:8.

While worldly influence and the voice of popular religion exalt this ecclesiastical power and give glory to it, the gospel message calis all men to worship God.

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"Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him. . . . If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark,* the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath God."

The issue, it is clear, involves the question of authority. Shall God be recognized as supreme? or shall this ecclesiastical power, whose rise and work were foretold in the prophecy, be recognized as the great authority?

The Work of the Papal Power

Any comparison between this leopard beast of Revelation 13 and the "little horn" of the fourth beast of Daniel 7, shows plainly that the same power is represented in each. The same voice is heard "speaking great things," the same persecuting spirit is shown, the same warfare against God's truth. It is the Roman Papacy, in its exaltation of human authority above the divine, that "lawless one" of Paul's prophecy, setting itself forth as God in the temple of God, treading underfoot the word and the law of the Most High, as foretold by Daniel:

The use of a mark, or sign, to designate the divinity worshiped, is common in non-Christian religions. One may see the Hindu returning from the temple with the mark of Vishnu or other deity freshly painted upon the forehead. Of the ancient usage, from which this Bible symbol of the "mark" is taken, Dr. John Potter says, in his "Antiquities of Greece:

"Slaves were not only branded with stigmata for a punishment of their offenses, but (which was the common end of these marks) to distinguish them, in case they should desert their masters; for which purpose it was common to brand their soldiers; only with this difference, that whereas slaves were commonly stigmatized in their forehead, and with the name or some peculiar character belonging to their masters, soldiers were branded in the hand, and with the name or character of their general. After the same manner, it was likewise customary to stigmatize the worshipers and votaries of some of the gods whence Lucian, speaking of the votaries of the Syrian goddess, affirms, They were all branded with certain marks, some in the palms of their hands. and others in their necks: whence it became customary for all the Assyrians thus to stigmatize themselves.' And Theodoret is of opinion that the Jews were forbidden to brand themselves with stigmata [Lev. 19: 28], because the idolaters by that ceremony used to consecrate themselves to their false ueities. "The marks used on these occasions were various. Sometimes they contained the name of the god, sometimes his particular ensign; such were the thunderbolt of Jupiter, the trident of Neptune, the ivy of Bacchus: whence Ptolemy Philopater was by some nicknamed Gallus, because his body was marked with the figures of ivy leaves. Or, lastly, they marked themselves with some mystical number, whereby the god's name was described. Thus the sun, which was signified by the number DCVIII, is said to have been represented by these two numeral letters XH (Conf. Martianus Capello). These three ways of stigmatizing are all expressed by St. John in the book of Revelation And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.'"-Vol. I, pp. 65, 66 (London, 1728).

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