God is a vigilant observer of the actions of the children of men. Nothing occurs in earth or heaven without the knowledge of the Creator. Nothing can happen without His permission. He on whom the fate of an empire may depend is watched over with a vigilance which knows no relaxation by Him who "giveth salvation unto kings," to whom belong "the shields of the earth." And the poor man is as tenderly watched over as the monarch upon his throne.
God is constantly at work for the good of His creatures. Satan is also constantly at work, but for evil. The prince of the power of the air is the agent of destruction, the one who causes suffering and misery. Times without number God has interposed to avert death, to keep men, women, and children in safety when Satan purposed a result wholly disastrous.
God made everything good and beautiful; but evil gained entrance into the earth, and with it came defilement and degradation. It is God's purpose to obliterate all traces of sin from His handiwork, to restore human beings to their original purity. To fulfill this purpose, God's only Son, equal with the Father, assumed human nature. He stooped to our estate that He might lift us from a fallen, degraded condition to the pure and holy condition of Adam when he came from the hand of the Creator. As soon as man joined Satan in transgression, Christ took the field to fight in his behalf. He entered the conflict, and fought successfully the battle with the prince of evil.
This world has been signally blessed by God. Human beings are the recipients of countless mercies. Providence watches over and shields them. Upon them are poured the choicest gifts in heaven's treasury. Yet notwithstanding this, men show a growing disregard for God and a growing contempt for His law and for the salvation placed within their reach by the death of the Saviour.
Men have lifted themselves up in pride and self-sufficiency, casting down the needy and oppressing the hireling in his wages. Against them have been registered covetousness, pride, and self-indulgence. They show contempt for the laws which govern God's kingdom. God has borne long with them; but in response to His amazing forbearance, men are approaching that degree of iniquity which the antediluvians reached, to perish in the waters of the flood, and which the Sodomites reached, to be destroyed by fire from heaven.
Some believe Satan's assertion that there will be a second probation. They say that even though they now resist the Spirit of God, refusing to improve their day of grace, they will be given another opportunity to gain heaven. But those who cherish this belief are under a deception which leads to ruin. When God gave Christ to our world, He gave in this one gift all the treasures of heaven. He held back nothing. He can do no more than He has done to bring men to repentance. He has no means held in reserve for their salvation.
God bears long with the rebellion and apostasy of His subjects. Even when His mercy is despised and His love scorned and derided, He bears with men until the last resource for leading them to repentance is exhausted. But there are limits to His forbearance. From those who to the end continue in obstinate rebellion, He removes His protecting care. Providence will no longer shield them from Satan's power. They will have sinned away their day of grace.
God keeps a reckoning with the nations. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice. Those who work evil toward their fellow men, saying, How doth God know? will one day be called upon to meet long-deferred vengeance. In this age a more than common contempt is shown to God. Men have reached a point in insolence and disobedience which shows that their cup of iniquity is almost full. Many have well-nigh passed the boundary of mercy. Soon God will show that He is indeed the living God. He will say to the angels, "No longer combat Satan in his efforts to destroy. Let him work out his malignity upon the children of disobedience; for the cup of their iniquity is full. They have advanced from one degree of wickedness to another, adding daily to their lawlessness. I will no longer interfere to prevent the destroyer from doing his work."
This time is right upon us. The Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the earth. When the angel of mercy folds her wings and departs, Satan will do the evil deeds he has long wished to do. Storm and tempest, war and bloodshed,--in these things he delights, and thus he gathers in his harvest. And so completely will men be deceived by him that they will declare that these calamities are the result of the desecration of the first day of the week. From the pulpits of the popular churches will be heard the statement that the world is being punished because Sunday is not honored as it should be. And it will require no great stretch of imagination for men to believe this. They are guided by the enemy, and therefore they reach conclusions which are entirely false.
Satan will bring in pleasing fables to meet the minds of all who love not the truth. With angry zeal he will accuse commandment-keepers. Furious because he cannot pervert their faith, he will vent his rage upon them. He will give to his angels the work of hardening wicked men against the truth. Knowing that he has but a short time, he will work with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. In the form of friends who have died, fallen angels will come to the children of men, just and unjust. Thus Satan will deceive those who, had they honored the law of Jehovah, would have been barricaded against temptation.
When Christ was upon this earth, He declared of the nation that rejected Him, "In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." They made void the law of God by loading it down with needless ceremonies. They tore down the Lord's standard of righteousness, blinding the eyes and hardening the hearts of the people, leading them to believe a lie in the place of truth. Were Christ upon the earth today, He would say to many professed Christians, "Ye are both ignorant of the Scriptures and of the power of God."
Satan claims the world, but there is a little company who withstand his devices, and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Satan sets himself to destroy this commandment-keeping company. But God is their tower of defense. He will raise up for them a standard against the enemy. He will be to them "as an hiding place from the wind," and "as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." He will say to them, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." RH, September 17, 1901