The change of the Sabbath is a sign or mark of the authority of the Romish Church. Those who, understanding the claims of the fourth commandment, choose to observe the false sabbath in the place of the true, are thereby paying homage to that power by which alone it is commanded. The mark of the beast is the papal sabbath, which has been accepted by the world in the place of the day of God’s appointment.
There are true Christians in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion. None are condemned until they have had the light and have seen the obligation of the fourth commandment. But when the decree shall go forth enforcing the counterfeit sabbath, and the loud cry of “the third angel” shall warn men against the worship of the beast and his image, the line will be clearly drawn between the false and the true. Then those who still continue in transgression will receive the mark of the beast.
With rapid steps we are approaching this period. When Protestant churches shall unite with the secular power in sustaining a false religion, for opposing which their ancestors endured the fiercest persecution, then will the papal Sabbath be enforced by the combined authority of church and State. There will be a national apostasy, which will end only in national ruin.
Marvelous in her shrewdness and cunning is the Roman Catholic Church. She presents a fair front to the world, covering with apologies her record of horrible cruelties, and declaring that her spirit of persecution no longer exists. But she is the same as in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up at the peril of their lives to expose her iniquity; the same as when she assumed the power to control kings and princes, and claimed the prerogatives of God. She may clothe herself in Christlike garments, the better to carry forward her purposes; but she still retains the venom of the serpent, and her principles are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in churches, and in the hearts of men. Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when it crushed out human liberty, and slew the saints of the Most High.
By compromises and concessions, Protestants have tampered with and patronized popery, giving her vantage-ground which papists themselves are surprised to see and fail to understand. The Protestant world needs to be aroused to resist the advances of this most dangerous foe to civil and religious liberty.
When the State shall enforce the decrees and sustain the institutions of the church, then will Protestant America have formed an image of the Papacy. Then the true church will be assailed by persecution as were God’s people in ancient times. Almost every century furnishes instances of what human hearts, controlled by rage and malice, can do under a plea of serving God by protecting the rights of the church and State. The Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliances with worldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience. How many non-conformist ministers have suffered under the power of the Church of England! Persecution always follows a restriction of religious liberty on the part of secular governments.