A CHOICE THAT IS VITAL
MR. ANDERSON had no sooner reached his stateroom than a messenger boy called with a note, and said that he had been asked to wait for a written reply.
The note was from Mrs. Slocum, one of the ladies from San Francisco, who had been so impressed by the pastor’s prayer during the service of the Tuesday previous. It read as follows:
“My Dear Mr. Anderson:
“For several day’s there has been developing an increasing desire on the part of many of the passengers to hear from you concerning the question of the Sabbath. The matter seems to us of such importance that we feel to press you once more into service. Will you address us tomorrow (Sunday) in the parlor, of course choosing such phase of the subject as you may deem best? Kindly reply by messenger.
“(Mrs.) Frances Slocum.”
In justice to Mr. Anderson, it must be said he was not one who sought opportunity to minister propaganda, nor did he believe in that most unfortunately practice termed proselyting. His was a mission of true soul winning. But one purpose actuated him; namely, to preach Christ and Him crucified. He believed thoroughly, however, in the necessity of teaching doctrine; for without that, there would be no guide to conduct, no track over which the believer could successfully direct his train of life to the kingdom of God.
The invitation extended, revealed to him real heart hunger, or, changing the figure, soil that was ready for the sowing of the seed. He therefore penned a short note of acceptance, and began to give thought to what he should say.
Little did he know that God had ordained the service to be one of the most momentous in his life.
Captain Mann’s Prayer
The hour came, and the parlor was filled. Mr. Spaulding and Mr. and Mrs. Gregory sat in the front, their faces really beaming with anticipation. Judge Kershaw occupied a commanding position, while near by were Mr. Severance, and Harold Wilson, with his Bible in his hand. Of course, Mrs. Slocum and her friends were where they could see and hear all; and strangely enough, Mr. Conan’s face was seen in the audience.
How different was the atmosphere of this service from that of a few days before! Within so brief a space of time, the grace of God had wrought mightily on hearts, yet working through the humblest of agencies. To-day there was freedom in the lives of both ministers and people, which had never before been known, because never before had they yielded to the truth, which makes and keeps free. John 8:32, 36.
To the utter astonishment of a large number present, Captain Mann opened the meeting by prayer, — a prayer such as that parlor had never heard before, and perhaps would not hear again.
“O God in heaven,” he began with trembling tone, “we indeed thank Thee at this hour that Thou hast called us to Thy side. We thank Thee for Thy goodness which has followed us all through our lives. We thank Thee for our beautiful mothers, who, while we were children, sought under Thy direction to cause our feet to walk the paths of righteousness, who taught us to pray, who taught us to love and obey Thy commandments. And surely Thou art better than mothers, for Thou madest them and gavest them to us. So we can and do trust Thee. We want to-day to have Thee take us and hold us in Thy great, strong arms. We are tired of the world and its folly. take us therefore, Saviour, and give us rest, as Thou hast promised. We yield to Thy Spirit. Now teach us.
Guide us into the very fullness of truth. Thou art guiding, and we are following. However unwilling we may have been, we are not unwilling to-day. And Blessed One, search through this company, and help, greatly help, all who are longing for perfect victory. There are some here who are learning new things, and maybe hard to receive; but help them to learn. Bring us fully out of the darkness of all erroneous belief, and give us courage to do the right no matter what the cost, that one day, at the journey’s end, we may see our mother’s again, and see Thee in glory. Grant it all because of Thy promise and because of our great need. Through the merits of Jesus, Thy Son and our Saviour, we ask it. Amen.”
There were frequent amens; and as the captain arose from his knees — for he had knelt to pray — more than one handkerchief was used to dry eyes that had been moistened by tender memories of early days.
Mr. Anderson Uses the Marked Bible
Mr. Anderson arose and was about to speak; but ere he could do so, Mrs. Slocum spoke.
“Pastor,” she said, “are you willing to use the marked bible on this occasion? Somehow the prayer has caused me to regard this meeting as a kind of mother’s meeting, and this Bible is surely a mother’s bible. This is only a bit of sentiment, it is true; yet it will prove a blessing to some.”
Harold Wilson gladly brought forward the Bible, and placed it on the speaker’s stand. Thus a mother’s voice continued to speak, a mother’s prayer to be answered. How truly do one’s works follow when God is permitted to have His way in the life!
“My friends,” said Mr. Anderson, “as you probably know, I am speaking to-day by request. There are those who are eager to know more fully of the truth of the gospel as revealed in the Sabbath of the Lord; and to help such, I will briefly set before you a few principles not before noticed. I can do no better, I think, than to answer a question that was handed in by some one last Tuesday. The question reads, ‘What do you understand by the mark of the beast in Revelation 13:17?’
“Without doubt, I must be brief; so you will gladly allow me the privilege of omitting the usual sermon style of phraseology, and treating you as a class of students, who may interrupt with questions as you desire.
“I will first call your attention to the fact that ‘the beast’ of Revelation 12, 13, and 17 is earthly power, earthly government, under the influence of Satan and controlled by the church, standing in opposition to God. It is, so far as Revelation 13 is concerned, the power of earthly government swayed by the papal church, which for ‘forty and two months’ of prophetic time (one thousand two hundred sixty literal years, reaching from 538 A. D. to 1798 A.D. ) spoke ‘great things and blasphemies,’ and to whom ‘it was given’ ‘to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.’ See verses 5-7. It was that terrible system known as ‘the man of sin,’ ‘the son of perdition,’ which took its place in the church of God, secured control of the Roman Empire, put tradition in the place of the Bible, and actually changed God’s law, substituting Sunday for the Sabbath. See 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4; Daniel 7:25; and other scriptures. All these things are matters of history, and may be read by all.
“You will see at a glance, therefore, that ‘the mark of the beast’ must be something intimately associated with the papacy, in its work of opposing God’s truth and people; for Revelation 14:9-11 distinctly states that to receive this mark puts one into direct warfare against God, and makes him a subject of wrath. The mark, then, is a terribly serious proposition; and surely inspiration must make plain to us what it is.
“So far as the mere word is concerned, ‘mark’ is equivalent to ‘seal’ or ‘sign.’ The words are used interchangeably. For instance, in Ezekiel 9:4, God tells the heavenly messenger to ‘set a mark upon the foreheads’ of the men who honor Him; while in Revelation 7:3 we find these same people ‘sealed . . .in their foreheads.’ In Romans 4:11, the words ‘sign’ and ‘seal’ stand as equivalents: ‘He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had.’ It would be perfectly proper, therefore, to speak of the mark of God; for one would be well understood as meaning the seal of God, or, if you please, the sign of God.
“To put the matter as it really is, the beast has its mark, its sign, its seal; and opposed are God’s mark, God’s sign, God’s seal. To have the mark, or sign, or seal of the beast is to die; to have the mark, or sign, or seal of God is to live, and to live forever.
The Fourth Commandment God’s Seal
“But now we come to the really interesting part of the matter. These terms — ‘mark,’ ‘sign,’ ‘seal’ — are used in the word of God with special reference to law, or legal documents. Jezebel ‘wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal.’ 1 Kings 21:8. The decree of Haman for the destruction of the Jews in the days of Esther was ‘in the name of King Ahasuerus,’ and ‘sealed with the king’s ring.’ Esther 3:12. This was the thought of the signet ring — the name ring — of the ancient times. The king’s name was in the ring; and the impress of the ring was to stamp the king’s name. In this way, documents were sealed, and thus became law. We have only to remember this to see the point we are after: God’s seal, or sign, is something connected with His law. It is the signet portion, that in which His name is found, and therefore that which gives it the force of true law.
“I need not remind you that three essential features are to be found in every law seal: first, the name of the official; second, his designated office; and third, the territory over which his authority extends. Thus the President of our country, in signing any bill or other document, must sign his name, with the title appended, ‘President of the United states.’ It is not enough that he sign only his name, for there might be other persons of the same name. Nor is it sufficient that he give only his name and office; for a person bearing his name might be president of a transit company or a literary club. No; it takes all three: 1, the name; 2, ‘President’ (office); and 3, ‘United States of America’ (territory).
“Let me now inquire if this principle is really recognized in God’s law, — the Ten Commandments.
“The first and the last five of the commandments do not mention Jehovah’s name, so we will pass them. The second, the third, and the fifth give only His name. But the fourth, the Sabbath command, brings to view His name, His office, His realm. ‘the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord [Jehovah] thy God’ — here is His name. ‘In six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is’ — here He gives His office as Creator, and the extent of His authority as heaven and earth. Jehovah, Creator of the universe — this is His official seal. The fourth commandment is the official seal of the divine law; and without it, that law would be invalid. Do you all see that this is so?”
There was no question. The truth was self-evident.
“God Himself constantly points to the fact that He is Creator of all things, as reason why we should obey. See Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:8-11; Jeremiah 10:10-12; Psalms 96:5; 33:6-9; and other texts. And if any of you are going abroad as missionaries to the heathen, remember that only the truth of the fourth commandment, coupled with a conscientious observance of it, will convince them of the supremacy of our God.”
“Kindly explain that a little further,” said Mr. Spaulding.
“Well, while the heathen believes in the greatness of his god or gods, he does not worship them as having creative power. Thus when you come to him with authoritative word that Jehovah is the Creator, that He therefore made all the things which the heathen has worshipped, he sees that even the gods themselves must bow to Jehovah’s commands. The Sabbath command thus becomes the signal for him to transfer his allegiance; and your obedience helps him to understand that God still lives, and re-creates those who yield to Him.”
The Catholic Church Approved the Change
“That is fine, brother, fine,” said Mr. Spaulding. “We missionaries may well take the lesson to heart.”
And now Mr. Conan spoke. “Mr. Anderson,” he said, “what about the mark of the beast? You are not touching that point.”
“I think, Mr. Conan,” said the minister, “I will let you answer your own question. If the Sabbath commandment is the seal of God (and it is), and if the mark, or seal, of the beast stands in opposition to it, then, logically, what must we conclude as to the character of the mark?”
“Why, logically, I should say it also is a Sabbath of some kind — that is, Sabbath opposing Sabbath,” was Mr. Conan’s reply.
“Exactly so,” said Mr. Anderson, “And that is a historical fact, as I showed you yesterday. The beast, the papacy, a combination of church and state, in the fourth century of our era, succeeded in substituting tradition for the word of God, and wickedly attacking the truth of the fourth commandment, substituting Sunday for the Sabbath. Eusebius, a bishop of that period, openly claimed that ‘all things whatsoever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath these we have transferred to the Lord’s day.’ And not very long ago, one of the leading Catholic papers of the United States made the statement that ‘the Catholic Church of its own infallible authority created
Sunday as a holy day to take the place of the Sabbath of the old law.’
‘We observe Sunday instead of Saturday,’ says a catechism that I saw yesterday, ‘because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea ( A. D. 336), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.’
“Now, as God points to His Sabbath seal as evidence of His authority, so the Church of Rome points to her Sunday mark as evidence of her authority. She proves her right to command feasts and holy days ‘by the very act’ (this from a catechism) ‘of changing the Sabbath into Sunday.’ Thus her ‘mark’ is set in boastful opposition to God’s ‘seal.’
“Summing all up, we have this: An apostate power has violated God’s law by tearing out its seal, and putting Sunday in its place. Then apostasy comes to men and demands of them that they accept the change it has made, enforcing its claims by law wherever and whenever it has sufficient influence to do so. All the Sunday laws of our own and other lands have this wretched principle behind them. And lest some of you do not know, I may say here that both the prophecies of God’s word and the plans of the present Roman church show that erelong all nations will pass laws making Sunday observance universal, and finally compelling men to keep it or die.
Read Revelation 13 complete.
Sabbath Reform Called for Now
“Many Christians have observed the Sunday in good conscience, believing they were doing the will of God; and He accepted the motive, the heart love. But now light is shining. God warns us against that apostate system comprised in the beast and his image, which exalts the false Sabbath in the place of the true, and seeks to enforce it under penalties. Thus it becomes its mark. And when men in the light of God’s message reject God’s day, and accept as their badge of allegiance the Sunday as enforced by the beast and his image, they receive the mark of the beast, against which God warns. At what stage in men’s experience men cut themselves off from God, it is not for mortals to say. Judgment rests with God.
“At this time, therefore, God is calling upon us to turn again to His law and keep it wholly. He pleads with us to restore the Sabbath to its place. See Isaiah 8:16. He counsels us to tread it underfoot no longer. Isaiah 58:13. He commands His messengers to stay the tide of human conflict until we have received its truth into our lives. Revelation 7:1-3. He sends to the whole world a great gospel message inviting men to worship Him only — Him who created all things. Revelation 14:6, 7. And finally He shows us that many will refuse to receive the Sunday mark, but, taking God fully into their lives, will keep all His commandments (Revelation 14:12), and, sealed with His seal, stand at last upon Mount Zion, in the kingdom of glory. Revelation 14:1.
On the other hand, those who reject God’s message, who swing off with the world to please that power which opposes God, and thus partake of the spirit and character of the world, will drink the wine of His wrath (Revelation 14:9-11), and suffer the awfulness of those plagues which will then depopulate the earth. Revelation 16.
“Do you wonder, my friends, that I am interested in this matter? Is it worth you while to study it? Will any here to-day even think of treating the question lightly? Which will it be with you, Rome or Christ, the Sunday or the Sabbath, the mark of the beast, or the seal of the living God.”
Mr. Spaulding almost leaped to his feet. “Brother Anderson,” he said, “may I be permitted a few words?”
As he faced the people, it was evident that he had something to say which was to mark a new era in his own life, and which would profoundly affect the lives of many others.
“And they that shall be of thee shall
build the old waste places: thou
shalt raise up the foundations of
many generations; and thou shalt
be called, The repairer of the breach,
The restorer of paths to dwell in.”