Although the following article was published in the Review in Herald in 1861, the parallels to our time are apparent. I have highlighted in yellow some text in the document that stood out to me. I would like to hear any of your comments as you read the:
IMAGE OF THE BEAST
By J. N. Loughborough, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 15&22, 1861.
Although much has been said on this subject, it may not be out of place for us again to call attention to it. The beast which is to make this image is the two horned beast of Rev. xiii, 11—18. The beast to which an image is to be made is the Papal beast, i.e. the Roman Catholic church clothed with civil authority. It is said to make an image to the first beast. The first beast is the one introduced in the preceding portion of the chapter, which receives a deadly wound. And it is after this deadly wound that the two-horned beast makes an image to the first beast. The first beast receives the civil power of the dragon. This dragon, we see by what is said of it, is the civil power which bore rule at the time of Christ's birth. This was the Pagan Rome power. In A. D. 538 the Pagan Rome power gave its seat—the seat of empire of Rome, the city of Rome—into the hands of the Catholics, with
civil authority to persecute heretics. This power it held for 1260 years, which ended in 1798. In the year 1798 when the French army under General Berthier entered Rome, and deposed the Pope, and established the Papal power, the deadly wound was inflicted on this first beast.
The two-horned beast which makes the image to this first beast is seen coming up at the time this wound is inflicted on the first beast. It has been clearly shown that the government of the United States has come up in the right time, on the right territory, and in the right manner to fulfill the specifications in regard to this two-horned beast. It comes up out of the earth. Its predecessors came up by the striving of the four winds upon the great sea [Dan. vii], the sea representing nations, &c. Rev. xvii. While the powers symbolized by the four beasts of Dan. vii have successively come up by the overthrow of the government of their predecessors, this two-horned beast "comes up," not by winds' striving, not by the justling of nation against nation, not by powers' being overthrown to establish it; but it plants itself in territory which previously was unoccupied by civil governments. Our declaration of independence having been made in 1776, in 1798, the time the deadly wound was inflicted on the first beast, this power was a lamb (youthful) power, "coming up."
The rise of our government since 1798, as expressed by an English Journalist in 1853, has not a parallel in the past history of the human race. It is also found that the government itself answers to the description of this beast. While it is lamb-like in its profession, both in its civil and ecclesiastical departments, it is dragon-like in its action. While the civil power declares in its declaration of independence that all men are entitled to liberty, by its voice, or laws, it holds about four millions of beings in slavery. The ecclesiastical power of the government, which is Protestant, claims to grant to all, toleration and freedom of faith. Yet at the same time it joins in with the voice of civil authority in enforcing slavery, while the measures by which it does so may gall the consciences of men.
Here also a series of wonders have been performed, and now even miracles are done by the beast. Spiritualism with all its satanic deceptiveness is working upon the people, and the way is being fully prepared for a saying to go forth that an image should be made to the first beast. When this image is made men are to be caused to worship it under severe penalties. It is true we do not expect the making and execution of the great decrees of the beast until after the third angel's message of Rev. xiv shall have accomplished its warning against the work of this beast. We understand, however, that steps are now being taken which will result in the making of that image. We do not understand that the making of that image will be a momentary work, but like the rise of the beast itself, will occupy a little space of time in its development. We would inquire at this time, How far developed is the image of the beast?
It may be said that the making of the image of the beast is yet future, and that there are no means of telling how it will be done. I think the best way to form our theories upon this subject would be to look at the rise of the first beast—to look at the steps which were gradually taken to bring it into action as a persecuting power. Similar steps will probably be taken to make an image to the beast that were taken to make the beast.
Some have said when an image to the beast is made it will enforce Purgatory and all the doctrines of the Papal church. That would not necessarily be the case. A power that should enforce the doctrines of the Papacy would restore the Papacy instead of making an image. An image to anything must be something that is in appearance like the thing, yet is not the thing itself. An image to the Papacy we should understand would be some other class of religionists that should take similar steps in enforcing its sentiments to those taken by the Papacy. We think it can be made clear that but five distinct steps were taken by the church before she came into the position marked in prophecy as the "beast with seven heads and ten horns." We think we can show that four of those steps have been taken by the nominal, creed-making Protestants of this time; and they are already striving to take the fifth step, which will fully constitute them the image to that beast.
The overt steps taken by the church were, first, the making of a creed. For this purpose Conventions were called, Synods and Councils convened, and the result was a great universal creed. The second step was to make that creed a rule of faith and test of fellowship. This was no sooner done than it was decided to try unruly members by the creed instead of the Bible. So for the third step, this creed became the tribunal by which men were judged. The fourth step was to brand all as heretics who did not subscribe to the creed. In the fifth step they obtained the aid of the civil law to enforce penalties on those whom they had branded as heretics. It was for some time after they had formed their creeds, that they could only threaten what they would do to heretics, but they did not punish them because no laws were passed by which they could do it.
As an illustration of this matter we would refer to Theodosius' edict which was made in the year A. D. 380. This may be found in Gibbon's Rome, chap. xxvii. After having given an account of Theodosias' baptism he says: "And, as the emperor ascended from the holy fount, still glowing with the warm feelings of regeneration, he dictated a solemn edict, which proclaimed his own faith, and prescribed the religion of his subjects. It is our pleasure (such is the imperial style) that all the nations which are governed by our clemency and moderation, should steadfastly adhere to the religion which was taught by St. Peter to the Romans, which faithful tradition has preserved, and which is now professed by the pontiff Damasus, and by Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the discipline of the apostles, and the doctrine of the gospel, let us believe the sole deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; under an equal majesty, and a pious trinity. We authorize the followers of this doctrine to assume the title of catholic Christians; and as we judge that all others are extravagant mad-men, we brand them with the infamous name of heretics and declare that their conventicles shall no longer usurp the respectable appellation of churches. Besides the condemnation of divine justice, they must expect to suffer the severe penalties which our authority, guided by heavenly wisdom, shall think proper to inflict upon them."
It was several years however before severe penalties were inflicted upon them.
"It was supposed that the error of the heretics could only proceed from the obstinate temper of their minds; and that such a temper was a fit object of censure and punishment. The anathemas of the church were fortified by a sort of civil excommunication, which separated them from their fellow citizens by a peculiar brand of infamy; and this declaration of the supreme magistrate tended to justify, or at least to excuse the insults of a fanatic populace. The sectaries were gradually disqualified for the possession of honorable or lucrative employments; and Theodosius was satisfied with his own justice, when he decreed that as the Eunomians distinguished the nature of the Son from that of the Father, they should "be incapable of making their wills, or of receiving any advantage from
testamentary donations. The guilt of the Manichaean heresy was esteemed of such magnitude that it could be expiated only by the death of the offender: and the same capital punishment was inflicted on the Andians, or Quartodicemians,* who should dare to perpetuate the atrocious crime of celebrating on an improper day the festival of Easter. Gibbon chap, xxvii.
But it seems from his next statements that even these penalties were not immediately executed. He says: "The theory of persecution was established by Theodosius....but the practice of it, in the fullest extent, was reserved for his rival and colleague Maximus, the first among the Christian princes, who shed the blood of his Christian subjects on account of their religious opinions." In these edicts the emperors were beginning a work which finally resulted in the giving of the civil power into the hands of the Papal church.
As we have before shown it is by the two-horned beast power (our own government) that an image is to be made to this first beast. Some regard it perhaps as all fancy that we should suppose any such thing will be done here. We already see four steps have been taken by the Protestant church, and a plea set up that like causes produce like results, we should conclude an "image to the beast" would be the result of taking these steps. But we have the sure word of prophecy declaring that this power will make an image and we look on the taking of these steps as a fulfillment of the prophetic testimony concerning this power.
On the first step taken by the church of Rome we would say: Nearly every prominent sect of the present time has her creed which they tell us is founded upon the Bible. Yet we find the sentiments of their creeds discordant, which shows of course that they are not all drawn from the fountain of truth. In regard to what the churches of our land have done in regard to creed-making we will make a few quotations from a sermon preached by Charles Beecher at the dedication of the Presbyterian Church at Ft. Wayne, Ind.:
"Our best, most humble, most devoted servants of Christ are fostering in their midst what will one day, not long hence, show itself to be of the spawn of the dragon. They shrink from any rude word against creeds with the same sensitiveness with "which those holy fathers would have shrunk from a rude word against the rising veneration of saints and martyrs which they were fostering."
"The creed system is now exerting upon the clergy of the Protestant churches a secret, unsuspected, but tremendous power against the Bible—a power of fear. Yes, while it professes to venerate and defend the Bible, it is virtually undermining it."
"The religious world has what is called a public sentiment of its own, and this is formed chiefly by the great evangelical denominations. Other denominations are, owing to their paucity of numbers, less perceived. By one or the other of these denominations, the first fact is, the young candidate is to be licensed; for public sentiment has settled that an unlicensed preacher is no preacher at all. He must have license, then; all his hopes center on that. But there is not one of these great evangelical denominations from which he can get license, unless he will subscribe the creed of that denomination. In other words, the Protestant evangelical denominations have so tied up one another's hands, and their own, that, between them all, a man cannot become a preacher at all, anywhere, without accepting some book besides the Bible."
Thus we see the first overt step of Rome has been taken by the Protestant sects of our land.
The second step of Rome has been taken, and these creeds are also made a test of fellowship, as appears from the further testimony in Beecher's discourse, which we quote because it displays the exact facts in the case:
"It is true, each denomination says, ‘We inflict no penalty—we only decline to receive into our ranks one who does not agree with us.' And this is so specious, it sounds so reasonable, that it might deceive the very elect; but it is the most consummate stroke of infernal craft, and doubly distilled Jesuitism.
"It is like Rome, handing over the victims of the Inquisition to the civil arm, charging it to do them no harm, and then piously lauding her own lamblike disposition. It is true, the denominations do not do the candidate any harm, they only silently leave him to his inevitable fate."
The third step of Rome is taken, and the creed is made the tribunal by which its members are tried. Did our space admit we might relate scores of instances where members have been denied a Bible trial, and when in trial by the church they have shown that their peculiar sentiments were in accordance with the Bible, they have been tried by the creed, and expelled from the society of the creed powers. A case came up in Wisconsin not many months since. A Baptist deacon, with his wife and daughters, embraced the present truth. In the winding up of the trial it seemed necessary to tell these individuals why they were set aside from the church. The clerk said, “We do not want you to think, Bro. Wright, because we expel you from the church, that we do not consider that you keep the commandments of God, for we believe you do; but your faith does not agree with the Baptist Treatise!"
That the fourth step has been taken, and those are anathematized who do not subscribe to the Orthodox creeds of this time is clear from the following testimony from Beecher concerning an unlicensed minister:
"Unlicensed, without moral affinities with the minor sects, alone, before he has formed the self-sustaining habits of a man, before he has yet tried his armor, self distrustful, generally poor, often in debt, inexperienced, he finds an invisible, intangible Power has entangled and enveloped him in complicate, writhing folds. The frown of society is upon him, public sentiment is against him—the public sentiment of good men, yea of the best and most devoted! He is whispered to be unsound, unsafe, heretical! He is called by every sectarian name most frightful to ears evangelical, right or wrong; and yet nobody does it. He is smitten; he looks here and there, behind and before; he can see nobody. And thus he is politely, and respectfully, and silently, and invisibly crushed. He is in the religious world what a broken-down candidate is in the political—dead.
“Now there never was a torture of the Inquisition more exquisitely suited to extort conformity from an agonized victim. Not the body, but the mind is on the rack. Every most noble feeling is tried to the utmost. His natural need of livelihood, his care of family and of friends, his sense of reputation, his honest ambition, his tastes, his intellectual habits, his hopes of usefulness, yea, the very inmost, sacred emotions of his devotional experience, are here taken hold of—in the dark—by an unseen, ruthless hand—and are wrung, and racked, and wrenched, to the last extreme of mental torture. And there is no eye to pity, nor arm to save. The public will not hear him. He is nobody, an outcast, a mad-man.
"This, my friends, is the penalty which good men, out of good motives, unconsciously, yet really, are proposing to the eyes of every candidate for the ministry, this intense spiritual martyrdom. During seven years it stares him in the face, during the whole forming time of his opinions. And for what?
"For daring to say, ‘I do not receive your creed as containing the system of doctrines contained in the Bible;’ and for daring to say what God has said, ‘With that Bible alone I am perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.’ For repeating and holding on upon this declaration of God, he falls a spiritual martyr. And is not that an apostasy, then, that martyrs him? And is not the Protestant church apostate? Oh! remember, the final form of the apostasy shall rise, not by Rome's aggressive march; not by the pope's long arm, outstretched to snatch our Bible; not by crosses, processions, baubles. We understand all that. Apostasy never comes on the outside. It develops. It is an apostasy that shall spring into life within us; an apostasy that shall martyr a man who believes his Bible ever so holily....That is the apostasy we have to fear, and is it not already formed?
"Accept the Bible and the book, and you may put your own private construction on both, as every one does. Accept the Bible, and put your own private construction on that—the great paw of the beast is on you. This is what I call taking the Bible out of the hands of the ministry.
"There is nothing imaginary in the statement that the creed power is now beginning to prohibit the Bible as really as Rome did, though in a subtler way. During the whole course of seven years' study, the Protestant candidate for the ministry sees before him an authorized statement, spiked down and stereotyped, of what he must find in the Bible, or be martyred. And does any one, acquainted with human nature, need be told that he studies under a tremendous pressure of motive? Is that freedom of opinion?—'the liberty wherewith Christ maketh free?' Rome would have given that. Every one of her clergy might have studied the Bible to find there the pontifical creed on pain of death. Was that liberty?"
Those who have embraced the unpopular, yet Bible doctrines of the Sabbath and near coming of the Lord, and have held fast their integrity in the midst of the rage and anathemas of a modern orthodox creed power are prepared to appreciate what we say when we tell them this is a manifestation of the fourth apostate step of modern Protestantism.
The fifth step taken by Rome was to reach forth the arm and secure the civil power. Already is the church striving for laws to enforce an almost universal tenet, Sunday-keeping, which is purely traditional, and contrary to the commandment of God relative to the Sabbath.
Several years since, Dr. Durbin, of the Christian Advocate and Journal, gave his views on this subject as follows:
"I infer therefore that the civil magistrate may not be called upon to enforce the observance of the Sabbath (Sunday) as required in the spiritual kingdom of Christ; but, when Christianity becomes the moral and spiritual life of the State, the State is bound through her magistrates to prevent the open violation of the holy Sabbath, as a measure of self-preservation. She cannot without injuring her own vitality, and incurring the divine displeasure, be recreant to her duty in this matter,"
Here is another statement which appeared in the N.Y. Evangelist in 1854 relative to this matter:
"The principle that Christianity is recognized by the State as something which essentially belongs to it, gives us, we think, the true and simple basis upon which the laws relating to the observance of the Sabbath are to be enforced. The law throws its protection round the sacredness and quiet of the first day of the week, not because it recognizes it as a sacred day in itself considered, but for other reasons."
From this it seems that they are trying to shape the matter so that laws may be passed enforcing Sunday without violating the constitution, which declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
During the last three years special efforts have been made in some parts, especially in the State of New York, to get more stringent Sunday laws. Last spring the Tribune took a stand somewhat against this Sunday legislation, whereupon some of the opposite party thought to make it a party issue. Accordingly a question was asked to the Tribune, which called out the following answer: "We answer categorically that the Lincoln party, as such, has no opinions whatever on the Sunday question." This was taken up by the Albany Atlas and Argus of Oct. 6, which retorted against them: "Lincoln don't care if the Sabbath is violated or not." Here was an attempt to make a party issue of it, but it has not yet become such. Neither do we claim that these stringent Sunday laws will be immediately passed, but we wish to show that Protestants are desirous of taking the fifth step taken by Papacy before her persecutions of God's people. And as we shall now pass to show, the legislative powers say they shall and must take the step.
Before me lies the N. Y. Observer, of Aug. 23, I860, which gives an account of a large and enthusiastic meeting which was held at Saratoga Springs, Aug. 12, the object of which was to consider the subject of taking effective measures to secure laws for the observance of Sunday. The Hon. Millard Fillmore, Ex-president of the United States, presided over the meeting:
"On his right sat Gov. Buckingham, of Connecticut, and Hon. J. W. Beekman, of New York, and on his left Gov. Morgan, of New York, and the Hon. Wm. C. Alexander, of New Jersey, representatives (with the honored chairman of the meeting) of the three great political parties which, in the apprehended shock of their collision, now threaten to rend the land asunder. Would that this spectacle of Christian co-operation could be witnessed on a still grander scale! But even on this limited field of observation it was a stirring sight to behold the champions of opposing interests of State relinquishing their weapons at the foot of the cross."
Here we see is a point, and probably the only point on which they all could unite. Of this large concourse of people he says:
"Probably no two men thought exactly alike on any other subject. Doubtless all did not agree as to the grounds on which public action should be taken, or as to the extent to which that action should be pushed. But I have no question, from the tone of the meeting and from casual remarks I overheard, that if it had been put to the vote it would have been resolved by acclamation that our American Christian Sabbath—the precious birthright of our national independence—must and shall be preserved.
"Mr. Cook proceeded to state what had been already done by the Sabbath Committee, and what they still proposed to do. Their success in silencing the Sunday newsboys, and closing the Sunday groggeries should stimulate all the friends of good order to more vigorous, more systematic, and more persistent effort in the same direction. He paid a high and deserved compliment to the New York Press for their handsome and efficient co-operation in the good cause. He stated very pointedly and distinctly the question on which this holy war is waged. It was not whether we should have a Sabbath or not; that was settled by unanimous consent. The question is, Shall we have our own Christian, American Sabbath—the Sabbath of our childhood and of our fathers, the Sabbath of rest and holy quiet—or an imported European Sabbath"! The speaker then ably contrasted the two conflicting methods of Sabbath observance, and argued vigorously against the lawless pretensions of a part of our German population. His statements were succinctly and effectively presented, and were heard with marked attention.
"Ex-president Fillmore said that he had aimed to secure the benefits of the day of rest through a long career of more than ordinary physical and mental exertion, and giving his full assent to the claims of all who desired to make it a day of worship, and to vindicate the prerogative of the civil authority. While he deemed it needful to legislate cautiously in all matters connected with public morals, and to avoid coercive measures affecting religion, the right of every citizen to a day of rest and worship could not be questioned, and laws securing that right should be enforced. He was happy to perceive that the gentlemen of the Sabbath Committee had avoided the mistakes connected with many attempts at moral reform, and their object had his entire approbation.
"We look on these testimonies as a call for an image. May we all so obey the third angel's message, so keep God's commandments that we shall be prepared to stand when the trying time of the image beast's decrees shall come.
*They always kept their Easter, like the Jewish Passover, on the fourteenth day of the first new moon, after the vernal equinox, and thus pertinaciously opposed the Roman church and Nicene synod, which had fixed Easter to a Sunday. Gibbon's note.