The Great Controversy


Great Controversy


The Lives and Struggles of Christians through the Ages

– And the Impending Crisis

Harvestime Books

E.G. White
Plus supplementary material

Harvestime Books,  Altamont, TN 37301

Printed in the United States of America

Cover and text copyright © 1998

This book: This 1884 edition includes the complete book of 37 chapters (an edition which had no author’s introduction). Nothing the author wrote has been omitted or changed. In addition, you will find an introduction to each chapter,  indexes, and, within brackets, approximate paging notations to the 1888 and 1911 editions of this book.

Explanation of bracketed numbers on page tops: These refer to comparable paging in the standard 1888 and 1911 editions. Because of compacted size, each page in this book is equivalent to parts of two or three pages in those later editions. A double hyphen within brackets ( [--] ), on a page top, indicates the material on that page is not in the 1888 or 1911 editions.

Additional copies: For additional copies of this book at remarkably low prices in boxful quantites, write to Harvestime Books, Altamont, TN 37301.


1  The Destruction of Jerusalem  - Like a Blazing Volcano — 9

Charts: Jerusalem Taken by Titus 26 / Rebellion and Capture 27 / The Prophecy of Matthew 24 28

2 Whiter than Snow — Persecution in the First Centuries 29

Charts: The Apostasy Predicted 38 / Revelation 12: Predicting the Persecution 39

3 All the Steps Down — The Roman Church 40

Charts: The Mystery of Iniquity 51 / 48 Steps Down 52-53

4 Faithful unto Death — The Waldenses 54

Chart: Pagan Origins 69-70

5 Nearing the Daybreak — Early Reformers 71

Chart: The Great Falling Away Predicted 78

6 The Man who Shook Kingdoms — Luther’s Separation from Rome 79

Charts: Why Do God’s People Suffer? 98 / Declared to be Divine and Infallible 99

7 Here I Stand — Luther before the Diet 100

Charts: Trusting in the Lord 119 / The Only Authority 120

8 Luther Disappears — Progress of the Reformation 121

Chart: The Roman Channel of Grace 130-131

9 The Turning Point —Protest of the Princes 132

Chart: An Official Position 143

10 A Great Cloud of Witnesses — The Later Reformers 144

Chart: Salvation in Christ 158

11 Reap the Whirlwind — The Two Witnesses 159

Charts: The 1260 Year Prophecy 162 / The Amazing 1260 Year Prophecy 163 / The Importance of Prayer 166 / Centuries of Persecution 167

12 AnUpwardPath— God Honors the Humble 168

Chart: God, Our Refuge 173

13 Opening the Prophecies — William Miller 174

Chart: Supplying Our Needs 189

14 From Land to Land — The First Angel’s Message 190

Chart: Awaiting His Coming 195

15 A Warning Rejected — The Second Angel’s Message 196

Chart: Searching the Word of God 204

16 The Waiting Ones — The Tarrying Time 205

Chart: The Plan of Redemption 210

17 Go Out to Meet Him — The Midnight Cry 211

Chart: Obedience by Faith 218

18 The Tabernacle of Prophecy — The Sanctuary 219

Charts: The 2300 Year Prophecy 222-223 / The Earthly Tabernacle224-225/Christ,OurMediator–1 230

19 The Intercession of Christ — An Open and Shut Door 231

Chart:Christ,OurMediator–2 234

20 The Mark of the Beast — The Third Angel’s Message 235

Charts: The Prophecy of Revelation 13 238 / The Law of God 244/TheLawofGodasChangedbyMan 245/The Law of God in the New Testament 246 / The Seal and the Mark 247 / The Three Angels’ Message 250

21 Pathways to Eternity — The Third Message Rejected 251

Charts: The Weekly Cycle 256-257 / Catholicism Speaks 258-259 / Protestantism Speaks 260-261

22 When the Fire Goes Out — Modern Revivals 262

Chart: Healthful Living 271

23 Judgment before the End —The Investigative Judgment 272

24 Fall from Paradise —The Origin of Evil 279

Chart: The Gospel and God’s Standard 285

25 The First Prophecy —Enmity between Man and Satan 286

Chart: Resisting the Snares 291

26 In Christ We Conquer — Agency of Evil Spirits 292

Chart: Biography of Satan 296

27 Sixty-five Snares in His Toolbox —The Snares of Satan 297

28 The First Lie —The First Great Deception 308

Chart: Eternal Life Only in Christ 322

29 Satan’s Masterpiece — Spiritualism 323

Chart: Beware of Wicked Spirits 330

30 Collision Course — Aims of the Papacy 331

Charts: The Number and the Mark 345-347 / How the Sabbath Was Changed to Sunday 348-352

31 Satan’s Master Plan — The Coming Conflict 353

Chart: Faith to Overcome 363

32 Build on the Rock — The Scriptures, a Safeguard 364

Chart: The Importance of the Bible 371

33 The Final Warning — The Loud Cry 372

Charts: Keeping the Truth 379 / The Test of Loyalty 380

34 Beyond Probation — The Time of Trouble 381

Chart: Christ, Our Shelter 397

35 The Coming of the King — God’s People Delivered 398

Chart: The Second Coming of Christ 411

36 The Thousand Years — Desolation of the Earth 412

Charts: The Millennium 416 / The Biblical Millennium 417

37 An Eternity with Christ — The Controversy Ended 419

Chart: Living Forever with Christ 432

Appendix and Indexes —
Chart: Historical Timeline 434

Source Index 435

Chart Index 440

Scripture Index 441 

General Index 444

Additional Information 447

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus.”

—Revelation 12:17

“Here is the patience of the saints: Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

—Revelation 14:12

“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.”

—Revelation 15:2-3

The Destruction of JerusalemLike a Blazing Volcano  Chapter One

——————————————————————— One of the most magnificent temples in the entire world, one of the most beautiful cities: Here is the story of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, by the Romans under Titus.

It was an appalling spectacle to the Roman; what was it to the Jew? The whole summit of the hill which commanded the city, blazing like a volcano — Jerusalem, the city that a Roman general tried to spare— but was burned to the ground anyway, in spite of anything men could do to save it—because of a prophecy Jesus gave thirty- nine years earlier. ———————————————————————

“The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Luke 19:43, 44.

From the crest of Olivet, Jesus looks upon Jerusalem.


HISTORICAL DATING OF THIS AMAZING CHAPTER—Nearly 40 years after Christ predicted these events, in A.D. 66, the Jews rebelled against the Roman Empire. Cestus withdrew his troops in October A.D 67. On May 10, A.D. 70, Titus besieged the city, and it fell in August. See pages 26-27 for a map and description of this remarkable battle.

Places named in chapters 1 through 5 are listed on the first two maps on pages 440-441. Those mentioned in chapters 6 through 11 will be found on the last two (pp. 442-443) of those four map pages.

10 The Great Controversy

Fair and peaceful is the scene spread out before Him. In the midst of gardens and vineyards and green slopes studded with pilgrims’ tents, rise the terraced hills, the stately pal- aces, and massive bulwarks of Israel’s capital. The daughter of Zion seems in her pride to say, “I sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow;” as lovely now, and deeming herself as secure in Heaven’s favor, as when, ages before, the royal minstrel sung, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion,” “the city of the great King.” Psalm 48:2. In full view are the magnificent buildings of the temple. The rays of the setting sun light up the snowy whiteness of its marble walls, and gleam from golden gate and tower and pinnacle. “The perfection of beauty” it stands, the pride of the Jewish na- tion. What child of Israel could gaze upon the scene without a thrill of joy and admiration! But far other thoughts occupy the mind of Jesus. “When he was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it.” Luke 19:41. Amid the universal re- joicing of the triumphal entry, while palm branches wave, while glad hosannas awake the echoes of the hills, and thou- sands of voices declare Him king, the world’s Redeemer is overwhelmed with a sudden and mysterious sorrow. He, the Son of God, the Promised One of Israel, whose power has conquered death, and called its captives from the grave, is in tears, not of ordinary grief, but of intense, irrepressible agony.

His tears were not for Himself, though He well knew whither His feet were tending. Before Him lay Gethse- mane. Not far distant was the place of crucifixion. Upon the path which He was soon to tread must fall the horror of great darkness as He should make His soul an offering for sin. Yet it was not a contemplation of these scenes that cast the shadow upon Him in this hour of gladness. No forebodings of His own superhuman anguish clouded that unselfish spirit. He wept for the doomed thousands of Jerusalem,—because of the blindness and impenitence of those whom He came to bless and save.

The history of a thousand years of privilege and bless- ing, granted to the Jewish people, was unfolded to the eye of Jesus. The Lord had made Zion His holy habitation.

The Destruction of Jerusalem [17-20] 1 1

There prophets had unsealed their rolls and uttered their warn- ings. There priests had waved their censers, and daily of- fered the blood of slain lambs, pointing forward to the Lamb of God. There had Jehovah dwelt in visible glory, in the shekinah above the mercy-seat. There rested the base of that mystic ladder connecting earth with Heaven,—that ladder upon which angels of God descended and ascended, and which opened to the world the way into the holiest of all. Had Israel as a nation preserved her allegiance to Heaven, Jerusalem would have stood forever, the elect metropolis of God. But the history of that favored people was a record of backsliding and rebellion. They had resisted Heaven’s grace, abused their privileges, slighted their opportunities.

Amid forgetfulness and apostasy, God had dealt with Israel as a loving father deals with a rebellious son, ad- monishing, warning, correcting, still saying in the tender anguish of a parent’s soul, How can I give thee up? When remonstrance, entreaty, and rebuke had failed, God sent to His people the best gift of Heaven; nay, He poured out to them all Heaven in that one gift.

For three years the Son of God knocked at the gate of the impenitent city. He came to His vineyard seeking fruit. Israel had been as a vine transplanted from Egypt into a ge- nial soil. He dug about His vine; He pruned and cherished it. He was unwearied in His efforts to save this vine of His own planting. For three years the Lord of light and glory had gone in and out among His people. He healed the sick; He com- forted the sorrowing; He raised the dead; He spoke pardon and peace to the repentant. He gathered about Him the weak and the weary, the helpless and the desponding, and extended to all, without respect to age or character, the invitation of mercy: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

Regardless of indifference and contempt, He had steadfastly pursued His ministry of love. No frown upon His brow repelled the suppliant. Himself subjected to priva- tion and reproach, He had lived to scatter blessings in His path, to plead with men to accept the gift of life. The waves

12 The Great Controversy

of mercy, beaten back by the stubborn heart, returned in a tide of untiring love. But Israel had turned from her best friend and only helper. The pleadings of His love had been despised, His counsels spurned, His warnings ridiculed.

The hour of grace and reprieve was fast passing; the cup of God’s long-deferred wrath was almost full. The cloud of wrath that had been gathering through ages of apos- tasy and rebellion, was about to burst upon a guilty people, and He who alone could save them from their impending fate had been slighted, abused, rejected, and was soon to be crucified. When Christ should hang on Calvary’s cross, Israel’s day as a nation favored and blessed of God would be ended. The loss of even one soul is a calamity in comparison with which the gain of a world sinks into insignificance; but as Christ looked upon Jerusalem, the doom of a whole city, a whole nation, was before Him; that city, that nation which had once been the chosen of God,—His peculiar treasure.

Prophets had wept over the apostasy of Israel. Jere- miah wished that his eyes were a fountain of tears, that he might “weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of his people.” What, then, was the grief of Him whose pro- phetic glance took in, not years, but ages? He beholds the destroying angel hovering over the ancient metropolis of pa- triarchs and prophets. From the ridge of Olivet, the very spot afterward occupied by Titus and his army, He looks across the valley upon the sacred courts and porticoes, and with tear-blinded eyes He sees, in awful perspective, the walls surrounded by alien armies. He hears the tread of the hosts mustering for battle. He hears the voice of mothers and chil- dren crying for bread in the besieged city. He sees her holy and beautiful house, her palaces and towers, given to the flames, and where once they stood, only a heap of smoulder- ing ruins.

He looks down the ages, and sees the covenant people scattered in every land, like wrecks on a dessert shore. He sees in the temporal retribution about to fall upon her children, but the first draught from that cup of wrath which at the final Judgment she must drain to its dregs. Divine pity,

The Destruction of Jerusalem [20-22] 1 3

yearning love, finds utterance in the mournful words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Matthew 23:37. Oh that thou, a nation favored above every other, hadst known the time of thy visitation, and the things that belong unto thy peace! I have stayed the angel of justice, I have called thee to repentance, but all in vain. It is not merely servants, delegates, and prophets, whom thou hast refused and rejected, but the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer. If thou art destroyed, thou art alone responsible. “Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life.”

Christ saw in Jerusalem a symbol of a world hard- ened in unbelief and rebellion, and rushing on to meet the retributive judgments of God. The woes of a fallen race, pressing upon His soul, forced from His lips that ex- ceeding bitter cry. He saw the record of sin traced in human misery, in tears and blood; his heart was moved with infinite pity for the afflicted and suffering ones of earth; He yearned to relieve all. But He knew that even His hand might not turn back the incoming tide of human woe; few would seek their only source of help. He was willing to suffer and to die to bring salvation within their reach; but few would come to Him that they might have life.

The Majesty of Heaven in tears! the Son of the infinite God troubled in spirit, bowed down with anguish! The scene filled all Heaven with wonder. That scene reveals to us the exceeding sinfulness of sin; it shows how hard a task it is, even for infinite power, to save the guilty from the conse- quences of transgressing the law of God. Jesus, looking down to the last generation, saw the world inclosed in a deception similar to that which caused the destruction of Jerusalem. The great sin of the Jews was their rejection of Christ; the great sin of the Christian world would be their rejection of the law of God, the foundation of His government in Heaven and earth. The precepts of Jehovah would be despised and set at naught. Millions in bondage to sin, slaves of Satan,

14 The Great Controversy

doomed to suffer the second death, would refuse to listen to the words of truth in their day of visitation. Terrible blind- ness! strange infatuation!

Two days before the passover, when Christ had for the last time departed from the temple, after denouncing the hy- pocrisy of the Jewish rulers, He again went out with His disciples to the Mount of Olives, and seated Himself with them upon a grassy slope overlooking the city. Once more He gazed upon its walls, its towers and palaces. Once more He beheld the temple in its dazzling splendor, a diadem of beauty crowning the sacred mount.

A thousand years before had the psalmist magnified God’s favor to Israel in making her holy house His dwelling-place: “In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling-place in Zion.” Psalm 76:2. “He chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which He loved. And He built His sanctuary like high palaces.” Psalm 78:68, 69. The first temple had been erected during the most prosperous period of Israel’s history. Vast stores of treasure for this purpose had been collected by King David, and the plans for its construction were made by di- vine inspiration. Solomon, the wisest of Israel’s monarchs, had completed the work. This temple was the most mag- nificent building which the world ever saw. Yet the Lord had declared by the prophet Haggai, concerning the sec- ond temple, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former.” “I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:9, 7.

After the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, it was rebuilt about five hundred years before the birth of Christ, by a people who from a lifelong captivity had returned to a wasted and almost deserted country. There were then among them aged men who had seen the glory of Solomon’s temple, and who wept at the foundation of the new building, that it must be so inferior to the former. The feeling that prevailed is forcibly described by the prophet: “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?”

The Destruction of Jerusalem [22-24] 1 5

Haggai 2:3. Then was given the promise that the glory of this latter house should be greater than of the former.

But the second temple had not equaled the first in mag- nificence; nor was it hallowed by those visible tokens of the divine presence which pertained to the first temple. There was no manifestation of supernatural power to mark its dedi- cation. No cloud of glory was seen to fill the newly erected sanctuary. No fire from Heaven descended to consume the sacrifice upon its altar. The shekinah no longer abode be- tween the cherubim in the most holy place; the ark, the mercy- seat, and the tables of the testimony were not to be found therein. No voice sounded from Heaven to make known to the inquiring priest the will of Jehovah.

For centuries the Jews had vainly endeavored to show wherein the promise of God, given by Haggai, had been ful- filled; yet pride and unbelief blinded their minds to the true meaning of the prophet’s words. The second temple was not honored with the cloud of Jehovah’s glory, but with the liv- ing presence of One in whom dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily,—who was God Himself manifest in the flesh. The “Desire of all nations” had indeed come to His temple when the Man of Nazareth taught and healed in the sacred courts. In the presence of Christ, and in this only, did the second temple exceed the first in glory. But Israel had put from her the proffered gift of Heaven. With the humble Teacher who had that day passed out from its golden gate, the glory had forever departed from the temple. Already were fulfilled the Saviour’s words, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” Matthew 23:38.

The disciples had been filled with awe and wonder at Christ’s prediction of the overthrow of the temple, and they desired to understand more fully the meaning of His words. Wealth, labor, and architectural skill had for more than forty years been freely expended to enhance its splen- dors. Herod the Great had lavished upon it both Roman wealth and Jewish treasure, and even the emperor of the world had enriched it with his gifts. Massive blocks of white marble, of almost fabulous size, forwarded from Rome for this pur-

16 The Great Controversy

pose, formed a part of its structure; and to these the dis- ciples had called the attention of their Master, saying, “See what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” Mark 13:1.

To these words, Jesus made the solemn and starting reply, “Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2.

With the overthrow of Jerusalem the disciples associated the events of Christ’s personal coming in temporal glory to take the throne of universal empire, to punish the impenitent Jews, and to break from off the nation the Roman yoke. The Lord had told them that He would come the second time. Hence at the mention of judgments upon Jerusalem, their minds revert to that coming, and as they are gathered about the Saviour upon the Mount of Olives, they ask, “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:3.

The future was mercifully veiled from the disciples. Had they at that time fully comprehended the two awful facts,— the Redeemer’s sufferings and death and the destruction of their city and temple,—they would have been paralyzed with horror. Christ presented before them an outline of the promi- nent events to transpire before the close of time. His words were not then fully understood; but their meaning was to be unfolded as His people should need the instruction therein given. The prophecy which He uttered was twofold in its meaning: while foreshadowing the destruction of Jerusalem, it prefigured also the terrors of the last great day.

Jesus declared to the listening disciples the judgments that were to fall upon apostate Israel, and especially the retributive vengeance that would come upon them for their rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah. Unmis- takable signs would precede the awful climax. The dreaded hour would come suddenly and swiftly. And the Saviour warned His followers: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him un-

The Destruction of Jerusalem [25-27] 1 7

derstand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the moun- tains.” Matthew 24:15, 16. When the idolatrous standards of the Romans should be set up in the holy ground, which extended some furlongs outside the city walls, then the fol- lowers of Christ were to find safety in flight. When the warn- ing sign should be seen, judgment was to follow so quickly that those who would escape must make no delay. He who chanced to be upon the housetop must not go down through his house into the street; but he must speed his way from roof to roof until he reach the city wall, and be saved “so as by fire.” Those who were working in the fields or vine- yards must not take time to return for the outer gar- ment laid aside while they should be toiling in the heat of the day. They must not hesitate a moment, lest they be involved in the general destruction.

In the reign of Herod, Jerusalem had not only been greatly beautified, but by the erection of towers, walls, and fortresses, added to the natural strength of its situation, it had been ren- dered apparently impregnable. He who would at this time have foretold publicly its destruction, would, like Noah in his day, have been called a crazed alarmist. But Christ had said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35. Because of her sins, wrath had been denounced against Jerusalem, and her stubborn unbelief rendered her doom certain.

The Lord had declared by the prophet Micah: “Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us.” Micah 3:9-11.

How exactly did these words describe the corrupt and self- righteous inhabitants of Jerusalem! While claiming to rig- idly observe the law of God, they were transgressing all its principles. They hated Christ because His purity and holi- ness revealed their iniquity; and they accused Him of being

18 The Great Controversy

the cause of all the troubles which had come upon them in consequence of their sins. Though they knew Him to be sinless, they had declared that His death was necessary to their safety as a nation. “If we let him thus alone,” said the Jewish leaders, “all men will believe on Him; and the Ro- mans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” John 11:48. If Christ were sacrificed, they might once more become a strong, united people. Thus they reasoned, and they concurred in the decision of their high priest, that it would be better for one man to die than for the whole nation to perish.

Thus had the Jewish leaders “built up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.” And yet, while they slew their Saviour because He reproved their sins, such was their self- righteousness that they regarded themselves as God’s favored people, and expected the Lord to deliver them from their enemies. “Therefore,” continued the prophet, “shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.” Micah 3:12.

For forty years after the doom of Jerusalem had been pronounced by Christ Himself, the Lord delayed His judgments upon the city and the nation. Wonderful was the long-suffering of God toward the rejecters of His gospel and the murderers of His Son. The parable of the unfruitful tree represented God’s dealings with the Jewish nation. The command had gone forth. “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” (Luke 13:7) but divine mercy had spared it yet a little longer. There were still many among the Jews who were ignorant of the character and the work of Christ. And the children had not enjoyed the opportunities or received the light which their parents had spurned. Through the preach- ing of the apostles and their associates, God would cause light to shine upon them; they could see how prophecy had been fulfilled, not only in the birth and life of Christ, but in His death and resurrection. The children were not condemned for the sins of the parents; but when, with a knowledge of all the light given to their parents, the children rejected the ad-

The Destruction of Jerusalem [27-29] 1 9

ditional light granted to themselves, they became partakers of the parents’ sins, and filled up the measure of their iniq- uity.

The long-suffering of God toward Jerusalem, only con- firmed the Jews in their stubborn impenitence. In their hatred and cruelty toward the disciples of Jesus, they rejected the last offer of mercy. Then God withdrew His protection from them, and removed His restraining power from Satan and his angels, and the nation was left to the control of the leader she had chosen. Her children had spurned the grace of Christ, which would have enabled them to subdue their evil impulses, and now these became the conquerors. Satan aroused the fiercest and most debased passions of the soul. Men did not reason; they were beyond reason,—controlled by impulse and blind rage. They became Satanic in their cruelty. In the family and in the nation, alike among the highest and the lowest classes, there was suspi- cion, envy, hatred, strife, rebellion, murder. There was no safety anywhere. Friends and kindred betrayed one another. Parents slew their children, and children their parents. The rulers of the people had no power to rule themselves. Un- controlled passions made them tyrants. The Jews had ac- cepted false testimony to condemn the innocent Son of God. Now false accusations made their own lives uncertain. By their actions they had long been saying, “Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” Isaiah 30:11. Now their desire was granted. The fear of God no longer dis- turbed them. Satan was at the head of the nation, and the highest civil and religious authorities were under his sway.

The leaders of the opposing factions at times united to plunder and torture their wretched victims, and again they fell upon each other’s forces, and slaughtered without mercy. Even the sanctity of the temple could not restrain their hor- rible ferocity. The worshipers were stricken down before the altar, and the sanctuary was polluted with the bodies of the slain. Yet in their blind and blasphemous presumption the instigators of this hellish work publicly declared that they

20 The Great Controversy

had no fear that Jerusalem would be destroyed, for it was God’s own city. To establish their power more firmly, they bribed false prophets to proclaim, even when Roman legions were besieging the temple, that the people were to wait for deliverance from God. To the last, multitudes held fast to the belief that the Most High would interpose for the defeat of their adversaries. But Israel had spurned the divine pro- tection, and now she had no defense. Unhappy Jerusalem! rent by internal dissensions, the blood of her children, slain by one another’s hands, crimsoning her streets, while alien armies beat down her fortifications and slew her men of war!

All the predictions given by Christ concerning the de- struction of Jerusalem were fulfilled to the letter. The Jews experienced the truth of His words of warning, “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

Signs and wonders appeared, foreboding disaster and doom. A comet, resembling a flaming sword, for a year hung over the city. An unnatural light was seen hovering over the temple. Upon the clouds were pictured chariots mustering for battle. Mysterious voices in the temple court uttered the warning words, “Let us depart hence.” The eastern gate of the inner court, which was of brass, and so heavy that it was with difficulty shut by a score of men, and having bolts fas- tened deep into the firm pavement, was seen at midnight to be opened of its own accord.

For seven years a man continued to go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, declaring the woes that were to come upon the city. By day and by night he chanted the wild dirge, “A voice from the east; a voice from the west; a voice from the four winds; a voice against Jerusalem and the temple; a voice against the bridegroom and the bride; and a voice against all the people.” This strange being was impris- oned and scourged; but no complaint escaped his lips. To insult and abuse he answered only, “Woe to Jerusalem! woe, woe to the inhabitants thereof!” His warning cry ceased not until he was slain in the siege he had foretold.

Not one Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem. Christ had given His disciples warning, and all

The Destruction of Jerusalem [29-32] 2 1

who believed His words watched for the promised sign. Af- ter the Romans had surrounded the city, they unexpectedly withdrew their forces, at a time when everything seemed fa- vorable for an immediate attack. In the providence of God the promised signal was thus given to the waiting Christians, and without a moment’s delay they fled to a place of safety,— the refuge city Pella, in the land of Perea, beyond Jordan.

Terrible were the calamities which fell upon Jerusa- lem in the siege of the city by Titus. The last desperate assault was made at the time of the passover, when mil- lions of Jews had assembled within its walls to celebrate the national festival. Their stores of provision, which if care- fully preserved would have been sufficient to supply the in- habitants for years, had previously been destroyed through the jealousy and revenge of the contending factions, and now all the horrors of starvation were experienced. A measure of wheat was sold for a talent. Great numbers of the people would steal out at night, to appease their hunger by devour- ing herbs and wild plants growing outside the city walls, though they were often detected, and punished with torture and death. Some would gnaw the leather on their shields and sandals. The most inhuman tortures were inflicted by those in power to force from the want-stricken people the last scanty supplies which they might have concealed. And these cruel- ties were not infrequently practiced by men who were them- selves well fed, and who were merely desirous of laying up a store of provision for the future.

Thousands perished from famine and pestilence. Natu- ral affection seemed to have been utterly destroyed. Chil- dren would be seen snatching the food from the mouths of their aged parents. The question of the prophet, “Can a woman forget her sucking child?” (Isaiah 49:15) received the answer within the walls of that doomed city. “The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children; they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of My people.” Lamentations 4:10.

The Roman leaders endeavored to strike terror to the Jews, and thus cause them to surrender. Those prisoners

22 The Great Controversy

who resisted when taken, were scourged, tortured, and cru- cified before the wall of the city. Hundreds were daily put to death in this manner, and the dreadful work continued until, along the valley of Jehoshaphat and at Calvary, crosses were erected in so great numbers that there was scarcely room to move among them. So terribly was fulfilled the profane prayer uttered forty years before, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Matthew 27:25.

Titus would willingly have put an end to the fearful scene, and thus have spared Jerusalem the full measure of her doom. He was filled with horror as he saw the bodies of the dead lying in heaps in the valleys. Like one entranced, he looked from the crest of Olivet upon the mag- nificent temple, and gave command that not one stone of it be touched. Before attempting to gain possession of this stronghold, he made an earnest appeal to the Jewish leaders not to force him to defile the sacred place with blood. If they would come forth and fight in any other place, no Roman should violate the sanctity of the temple. Josephus himself, in a most eloquent appeal, entreated them to surrender, to save themselves, their city, and their place of worship. But his words were answered with bitter curses. Darts were hurled at him, their last human mediator, as he stood pleading with them. The Jews had rejected the entreaties of the Son of God, and now expostulation and entreaty only made them more determined to resist to the last. In vain were the efforts of Titus to save the temple; One greater than he had declared that not one stone was to be left upon another.

The blind obstinacy of the Jewish leaders, and the de- testable crimes perpetrated within the besieged city, ex- cited the horror and indignation of the Romans, and Titus at last decided to take the temple by storm. He deter- mined, however, that if possible it should be saved from de- struction. But his commands were disregarded. After he had retired at night to his tent, the Jews, sallying from the temple, attacked the soldiers without. In the struggle, a firebrand was flung by a soldier through an opening in the porch, and im- mediately the chambers about the holy house were in a blaze.

The Destruction of Jerusalem [32-35] 2 3

Titus rushed to the place, followed by his generals and le- gionaries, and commanded the soldiers to quench the flames. His words were unheeded. In their fury the soldiers hurled blazing brands into the chambers adjoining the temple, and then with their swords they slaughtered in great numbers those who had found shelter there. Blood flowed down the temple steps like water. Thousands upon thousands of Jews perished. Above the sound of battle were heard voices shout- ing, “Ichabod!”—the glory is departed.

The fire had not reached the holy house itself when Titus entered, and, beholding its unsurpassed splendor, he was impelled to a last effort for its preservation. But in his very presence, a soldier thrust a lighted torch between the hinges of the door, and in an instant the flames burst out within the sanctuary. As the red glare revealed the walls of the holy places, glittering with gold, a frenzy seized the sol- diers. Goaded on by a desire for plunder, and filled with rage by the resistance of the Jews, they were beyond control.

The lofty and massive structures that had crowned Mount Moriah were in flames. The temple towers sent up columns of fire and smoke. As the lurid tide rolled on, devouring everything before it, the whole summit of the hill blazed like a volcano. Mingled with the roar of the fire, the shouts of the soldiers, and the crash of falling buildings, were heard the frantic, heart-rending cries of old and young, priests and rulers. The very mountains seemed to give back the echo. The awful glare of the conflagration lighted up the surround- ing country, and the people gathered upon the hills, and gazed in terror upon the scene.

After the destruction of the temple, the whole city soon fell into the hands of the Romans. The leaders of the Jews forsook their impregnable towers, and Titus found them soli- tary. He gazed upon them with amazement, and declared that God had given them into his hands; for no engines, however powerful, could have prevailed against those stupendous battlements. Both the city and the temple were razed to their foundations, and the ground upon which the holy house had stood was “plowed as a field.” More than a million of the

24 The Great Controversy

people were slaughtered; the survivors were carried away as captives, sold as slaves, dragged to Rome to grace the conqueror’s triumph, thrown to wild beasts in the amphithe- aters, or scattered as homeless wanderers throughout the earth.

The Jews had forged their own fetters; they had loaded for themselves the cloud of vengeance. In the utter destruc- tion that befell them as a nation, and in all the woes that followed them in their dispersion, they were but reaping the harvest which their own hands had sown. Their suf- ferings are often represented as a punishment visited upon them by the direct decree of God. This is a device by which the great deceiver seeks to conceal his own work. By stub- born rejection of divine love and mercy, the Jews had caused the protection of God to be withdrawn from them, and Satan was permitted to rule them according to his will. The hor- rible cruelties enacted in the destruction of Jerusalem are a demonstration of Satan’s vindictive power over those who yield to his control.

We cannot know how much we owe to Christ for the peace and protection which we enjoy. It is the restrain- ing power of God that prevents mankind from passing fully under the control of Satan. The disobedient and unthankful have great reason for gratitude for God’s mercy and long-suffering in holding in check the cruel, malignant power of the evil one. But when men pass the limits of di- vine forbearance, that restraint is removed. God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leaves the rejecters of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warning despised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgression of the law of God, is a seed sown, which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sin- ner, and then there is left no power to control the evil pas- sions of the soul, and no protection from the malice and en- mity of Satan. The destruction of Jerusalem is a fearful and solemn warning to all who are trifling with the offers of di-

The Destruction of Jerusalem [35-38] 2 5

vine grace, and turning away the pleadings of divine mercy. Never was given a more decisive testimony to God’s hatred of sin, and to the certain punishment that will fall upon the guilty.

The Saviour’s prophecy concerning the visitation of judgments upon Jerusalem is to have another fulfillment, of which that terrible scene was but a faint shadow. The second advent of the Son of God is foretold by lips which make no mistake: “Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:30, 31. Then shall they that obey not the gospel be consumed with the spirit of His mouth, and destroyed with the brightness of His coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

Let men beware lest they neglect the lesson conveyed to them in the words of Christ. He has declared that He will come the second time, to gather His faithful ones to Him- self, and to take vengeance on them that reject His mercy. As He warned His disciples of Jerusalem’s destruction, giv- ing them a sign of the approaching ruin that they might make their escape, so He has warned His people of the day of final destruction, and given them signs of its ap- proach, that all who will may flee from the wrath to come. Those who behold the promised signs are to “know that it is near, even at the door.” “Watch ye therefore,” are His words of admonition. “If thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief.”

The world is no more ready now to credit the warn- ing than were the Jews in the days of our Saviour. Come when it may, the end will come unawares to the ungodly. When life is going on in its unvarying round; when men are absorbed in pleasure, in business, in traffic, in money-mak- ing; when religious leaders are magnifying the world’s progress and enlightenment, and the people are lulled in a false security,—then, as the midnight thief steals within the


In A.D. 66, when Florus (the Roman procurator of Judea) made mistakes, the Jews appealed to Agrippa (who earlier had listened to Paul in Acts 26:28)— and were told to forget it. It was August 66. They threw stones at him as he left the city; and for the next four years, Jerusalem was to know no peace.

Some of the Jews immediately seized parts of Jerusalem, and fighting broke out among them. The Roman garrison, in the Fortress Antonia (next to the Temple Mount), was slaughtered. Ananias the high priest and his brother, de- scendants of the Annas who condemned Christ, were slain by Jewish factions who then turned on one another.

Retaliating, Florus slew 20,000 Jews in Caesarea. Jews then attacked cit- ies throughout Judea. Finally, the dilatory Cestius Gallus, legate of Syria, de- cided to do something. Heading south with 30,000 troops, he burnt Joppa and then surrounded Jerusalem. Just as the Jewish moderates were about to hand over the city, he unexpectedly withdrew. Encouraged, the Jews set off in pursuit, and Cestius lost much equipment, all his siege engines and nearly 6,000 sol- diers. “Running and singing,” the Jews returned to Jerusalem and to a terrible fate. It was the end of October, A.D. 67.

February 68, Nero appointed his best general, Vespasian, to command the Roman armies. Heading south toward Jerusalem, he quickly took Jotapata, Joppa again, and all of Galilee, and sold 30,000 Jews into slavery. At the Jordan, he slew 15,000 Jews,—but then on June 9, Vespasian learned that Nero had com- mitted suicide. Hurrying to Rome, he became enmeshed in battles for the emper- orship, which he won in October, A.D. 69.

By that time, all Judea, except Jerusalem, was under the control of Titus, his thirty-year-old son who was now general of the armies. On May 10, A.D. 70, with 65,000 men, Titus arrived at the gates of Jerusalem. Every type of horror was experienced within its walls before Titus gained control, 139 days later.

Yet 39 years before, Christ had foretold this suffering and destruction. He had warned His followers to keep the Sabbath faithfully (Matthew 24:20) and flee when the Roman armies had arrived (verse 16). This they did, when Cestius withdrew from the city in October, A.D. 67.

Jerusalem itself had been divided into three sectors, each under its own rebel force, and each fighting the others. With the help of battering rams, banks, 75-foot towers, and hurling machines, the Romans took the Fortress Antonia by the end of July, and the Temple in August.

Three more weeks, and all Jerusalem was burned to the ground. Not knowing Christ’s prediction, Titus ordered that the city be leveled flat. Not one stone was left upon another. Over 1,100,000 Jews died during the siege. Most of those remaining were sold into slavery. The Temple treasures were taken to Rome.

28 The Great Controversy

unguarded dwelling, so shall sudden destruction come upon the careless and ungodly, “and they shall not escape.”


“I would have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate! . . And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple. And His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buldings of the Temple.

“And Jesus said unto them: See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

“And, as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and ru- mors of wars; see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kindom against king- dom, and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the begining of sorrows.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake.

“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one an- other, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved . .

“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, . . Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains . . But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.”—Matthew 23:37-38, 24:1-13, 15-16, 20.

Persecution in the First Centuries [39] 2 9

Whiter than Snow Chapter Two

— Persecution in the First Centuries

——————————————————————— Seated on the Mount of Olives, Jesus foretold to His disciples years to come. He beheld the storms about to fall upon the young church; and looking into the future, His eyes could see the fierce, wasting tempests that were to beat upon His followers in the ages of darkness that were ahead —

You are going to read the story of the whirlwind that came; the story of why it came; the story of men and women who lived through it—and died in it — ———————————————————————

When Jesus revealed to His disciples the fate of Jerusa- lem and the scenes of the second advent, He foretold also the experience of His people from the time when He should be taken from them, to His return in power and glory for their deliverance. From Olivet the Saviour be- held the storms about to fall upon the apostolic church, and, penetrating deeper into the future, His eye discerned the fierce, wasting tempests that were to beat upon His fol- lowers in the coming ages of darkness and persecution. In a few brief utterances, of awful significance, He foretold the portion which the rulers of this world would mete out to the church of God. The followers of Christ must tread the same path of humiliation, reproach, and suffering which their Master trod. The enmity that burst forth against the world’s Redeemer, would be manifested against all who should be- lieve on His name.

The history of the early church testified to the fulfillment of the Saviour’s words. The powers of earth and hell ar- rayed themselves against Christ in the person of His fol-

30 The Great Controversy

lowers. Paganism foresaw that should the gospel triumph, her temples and altars would be swept away; therefore she summoned her forces to destroy Christianity. The fires of persecution were kindled. Christians were stripped of their possessions, and driven from their homes. They “endured a great fight of afflictions.” They “had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment.” Hebrews 11:36. Great numbers sealed their testimony with their blood. Noble and slave, rich and poor, learned and ig- norant, were alike slain without mercy.

Wherever they sought refuge, the followers of Christ were hunted like beasts of prey. They were forced to seek concealment in desolate and solitary places. “Destitute, af- flicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy, they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Hebrews 11:37, 38. The subterranean excava- tions connected with the city of Rome afforded shelter for thousands. Long galleries had been tunneled through earth and rock to procure material for the vast structures of the capital, and the dark and intricate network of passages ex- tended for miles beyond the walls. In these underground re- treats, many of the followers of Christ, when suspected and


HISTORICAL DATING OF THIS REMARKABLE CHAPTER— The events in this chapter span a period of time from A.D. 64 through the mid-seventh century. But several of its most important events (during the time of Constantine) occurred between A.D. 311 to 337.

The persecutions against Christians began under the Roman emperor, Nero, about July of A.D. 64, and continued on intermit- tently for centuries. It was the Christian writer, Tertullian (197-227) who, about the year 206, wrote to the emperor, Septimius Severus, that “the blood of Christians is seed.”

In April 311, the Roman persecutions against the Christians suddenly ceased, as Constantine I, with his associates, issued an Edict of Toleration. Now that the Church had become popular, un- scriptural errors from paganism immediately began crowding into it. During Constantine’s reign (306-337), the Church became the offi- cial religion of the Roman Empire.

Persecution of Bible-believing Christians, by half-converted pa- gan church leaders, began—and continued on for centuries.

Persecution in the First Centuries [39-41] 3 1

proscribed, found a home; and here also they buried their dead. When the Lifegiver shall awaken those who have fought the good fight, many a martyr for Christ’s sake will come forth from those gloomy caverns.

Under the fiercest persecution, these witnesses for Jesus kept their faith unsullied. Though deprived of every comfort, shut away from the light of the sun, making their home in the dark but friendly bosom of the earth, they ut- tered no complaint. With words of faith, patience, and hope, they encouraged one another to endure privation and dis- tress. The loss of every earthly blessing could not force them to renounce their belief in Christ. Trials and persecutions were but steps bringing them nearer their rest and their re- ward.

They called to mind the words of their Master, that when persecuted for Christ’s sake they were to be ex- ceeding glad; for great would be their reward in Heaven; for so had the prophets been persecuted before them. Like God’s servants of old, they were “tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Hebrews 11:35. They rejoiced that they were accounted wor- thy to suffer for the truth, and songs of triumph ascended in the midst of crackling flames. Looking upward by faith, they saw Christ and angels leaning over the battlements of Heaven, gazing upon them with the deepest interest, and regarding their steadfastness with approval. A voice came down to them from the throne of God, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10.

In vain were Satan’s efforts to destroy the church of Christ by violence. The great controversy in which the dis- ciples of Jesus yielded up their lives did not cease when these faithful standard-bearers fell at their post. By defeat they conquered. God’s workmen were slain, but His work went steadily forward. The gospel continued to spread, and the number of its adherents to increase. It penetrated into re- gions that were inaccessible, even to the eagles of Rome. Said a Christian, expostulating with the heathen rulers who were urging forward the persecution: “You may torment, af-

32 The Great Controversy

flict, and vex us. Your wickedness puts our weakness to the test, but your cruelty is of no avail. It is but a stronger invita- tion to bring others to our persuasion. The more we are mowed down, the more we spring up again. The blood of the Christians is seed.”

Thousands were imprisoned and slain, but others sprung up to fill their places. And those who were martyred for their faith were secured to Christ, and accounted of Him as conquerors. They had fought the good fight, and they were to receive the crown of glory when Christ should come. The sufferings which they endured brought Christians nearer to one another and to their Redeemer. Their living example and dying testimony were a constant witness for the truth; and, where least expected, the subjects of Satan were leaving his service, and enlisting under the banner of Christ.

Satan therefore laid his plans to war more success- fully against the government of God, by planting his ban- ner in the Christian church. If the followers of Christ could be deceived, and led to displease God, then their strength, fortitude, and firmness would fail, and they would fall an easy prey.

The great adversary now endeavored to gain by arti- fice what he had failed to secure by force. Persecution ceased, and in its stead were substituted the dangerous allurements of temporal prosperity and worldly honor. Idolaters were led to receive a part of the Christian faith, while they rejected other essential truths. They professed to accept Jesus as the Son of God, and to believe in His death and resurrection; but they had no conviction of sin, and felt no need of repentance or of a change of heart. With some concessions on their part, they proposed that Christians should make concessions, that all might unite on the plat- form of belief in Christ.

Now was the church in fearful peril. Prison, torture, fire, and sword were blessings in comparison with this. Some of the Christians stood firm, declaring that they could make no compromise. Others reasoned that if they should yield or modify some features of their faith, and unite with those who

Persecution in the First Centuries [41-44] 3 3

had accepted a part of Christianity, it might be the means of their full conversion. That was a time of deep anguish to the faithful followers of Christ. Under a cloak of pretended Chris- tianity, Satan was insinuating himself into the church, to cor- rupt their faith, and turn their minds from the word of truth.

At last the larger portion of the Christian company lowered their standard, and a union was formed between Christianity and paganism. Although the worshipers of idols professed to be converted, and united with the church, they still clung to their idolatry, only changing the objects of their worship to images of Jesus, and even of Mary and the saints. The foul leaven of idolatry, thus introduced into the church, continued its baleful work. Unsound doctrines, su- perstitious rites, and idolatrous ceremonies were incorpo- rated into her faith and worship. As the followers of Christ united with idolaters, the Christian religion became corrupted, and the church lost her purity and power. There were some, however, who were not misled by these delusions. They still maintained their fidelity to the Author of truth, and worshiped God alone.

There have ever been two classes among those who profess to be followers of Christ. While one class study the Saviour’s life, and earnestly seek to correct their defects and to conform to the Pattern, the other class shun the plain, practical truths which expose their errors. Even in her best estate, the church was not composed wholly of the true, pure, and sincere. Our Saviour taught that those who willfully in- dulge in sin are not to be received into the church; yet He connected with Himself men who were faulty in character, and granted them the benefits of His teachings and example, that they might have an opportunity to see and correct their errors. Among the twelve apostles was a traitor. Judas was accepted, not because of his defects of character, but not- withstanding them. He was connected with the disciples, that, through the instructions and example of Christ, he might learn what constitutes Christian character, and thus be led to see his errors, to repent, and, by the aid of divine grace, to purity his soul “in obeying the truth.” But Judas did not walk

34 The Great Controversy

in the light so graciously permitted to shine upon him. By indulgence in sin, he invited the temptations of Satan. His evil traits of character became predominant. He yielded his mind to the control of the powers of darkness, he became angry when his faults were reproved, and thus he was led to commit the fearful crime of betraying his Master. In like manner do all who cherish evil under a profession of god- liness hate those who disturb their peace by condemning their course of sin. When a favorable opportunity is pre- sented, they will, like Judas, betray those who for their good have sought to reprove them.

The apostles encountered those in the church who pro- fessed godliness while they were secretly cherishing iniq- uity. Ananias and Sapphira acted the part of deceivers, pre- tending to make an entire sacrifice for God, when they were covetously withholding a portion for themselves. The Spirit of truth revealed to the apostles the real character of these pretenders, and the judgments of God forever rid the church of this foul blot upon its purity. This signal evidence of the discerning Spirit of Christ in the church was a terror to hypo- crites and evil-doers. They could not long remain in connec- tion with those who were, in habit and disposition, constant representatives of Christ; and as trials and persecution came upon His followers, those only who were willing to forsake all for the truth’s sake desired to become His disciples. Thus, as long as persecution continued, the church remained com- paratively pure. But as it ceased, converts were added who were less sincere and devoted, and the way was opened for Satan to obtain a foothold.

But there is no union between the Prince of light and the prince of darkness, and there can be no union be- tween their followers. When Christians consented to unite with those who were but half converted from paganism, they entered upon a path which led farther and farther from the truth. Satan exulted that he had succeeded in deceiving so large a number of the followers of Christ. He then brought his power to bear more fully upon them, and inspired them to persecute those who remained true to God. None could so

Persecution in the First Centuries [44-46] 3 5

well understand how to oppose the true Christian faith as could those who had once been its defenders; and these apos- tate Christians, uniting with their half-pagan companions, directed their warfare against the most essential features of the doctrines of Christ.

It required a desperate struggle for those who would be faithful to stand firm against the deceptions and abomi- nations which were disguised in sacerdotal garments and introduced into the church. The Bible was not accepted as the standard of faith. The doctrine of religious freedom was termed heresy, and its upholders were hated and pro- scribed.

After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few de- cided to dissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to free herself from falsehood and idola- try. They saw that separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the word of God. They dared not tolerate errors fatal to their own souls, and set an example which would imperil the faith of their children and children’s chil- dren. To secure peace and unity they were ready to make any concession consistent with fidelity to God; but they felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle. If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war.

Well would it be for the church and the world if the principles that actuated those steadfast souls were re- vived in the hearts of God’s professed people. There is an alarming indifference in regard to the doctrines which are the pillars of the Christian faith. The opinion is gaining ground, that, after all, these are not of vital importance. This degeneracy is strengthening the hands of the agents of Sa- tan, so that false theories and fatal delusions which the faith- ful in ages past imperiled their lives to resist and expose, are now regarded with favor by thousands who claim to be fol- lowers of Christ.

The early Christians were indeed a peculiar people.

Their blameless deportment and unswerving faith were a con-

36 The Great Controversy

tinual reproof that disturbed the sinner’s peace. Though few in numbers, without wealth, position, or honorary titles, they were a terror to evil-doers wherever their character and doc- trines were known. Therefore they were hated by the wicked, even as Abel was hated by the ungodly Cain. For the same reason that Cain slew Abel did those who would throw off the restraint of the Holy Spirit, put to death God’s people. It was for the same reason that the Jews rejected and crucified the Saviour,—because the purity and holiness of His character was a constant rebuke to their selfishness and corruption. From the days of Christ until now, His faithful disciples have excited the hatred and opposition of those who love and follow the ways of sin.

How, then, can the gospel be called a message of peace? When Isaiah foretold the birth of the Messiah, he ascribed to Him the title, “Prince of peace.” When angels announced to the shepherds that Christ was born, they sung above the plains of Bethlehem, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14. There is a seem- ing contradiction between these prophetic declarations and the words of Christ, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. But rightly understood, the two are in per- fect harmony. The gospel is a message of peace. Christianity is a system, which, received and obeyed, would spread peace, harmony, and happiness throughout the earth. The religion of Christ will unite in close brotherhood all who accept its teachings. It was the mission of Jesus to reconcile man to God, and thus to his fellow-man. But the world at large are under the control of Satan, Christ’s bitterest foe. The gospel presents to them principles of life which are wholly at variance with their habits and desires, and they rise in rebellion against it. They hate the purity which reveals and condemns their sins, and they persecute and destroy those who would urge upon them its just and holy claims. It is in this sense—because the exalted truths it brings, occasion hatred and strife—that the gospel is called a sword.

The mysterious providence which permits the righteous to suffer persecution at the hand of the wicked, has been a

Persecution in the First Centuries [46-48] 3 7

cause of great perplexity to many who are weak in faith. Some are even ready to cast away their confidence in God because He suffers the basest of men to prosper, while the best and purest are afflicted and tormented by their cruel power. How, it is asked, can One who is just and merciful, and who is also infinite in power, tolerate such injustice and oppression? This is a question with which we have nothing to do. God has given us sufficient evidence of His love, and we are not to doubt His goodness because we can- not understand the workings of His providence. Said the Saviour to His disciples, foreseeing the doubts that would press upon their souls in days of trial and darkness, “Re- member the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than His lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:20. Jesus suffered for us more than any of His followers can be made to suffer through the cruelty of wicked men. Those who are called to endure tor- ture and martyrdom, are but following in the steps of God’s dear Son.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise.” 2 Peter 3:9. He does not forget or neglect His children; but He permits the wicked to reveal their true character, that none who desire to do His will may be deceived con- cerning them. Again, the righteous are placed in the fur- nace of affliction, that they themselves may be purified; that their example may convince others of the reality of faith and godliness; and also that their consistent course may condemn the ungodly and unbelieving.

God permits the wicked to prosper, and to reveal their enmity against Him, that when they shall have filled up the measure of their iniquity, all may see His justice and mercy in their utter destruction. The day of His vengeance hastens, when all the transgressors of His law and the op- pressors of His people will meet the just recompense of their deeds; when every act of cruelty or oppression toward God’s faithful ones will be punished as though done to Christ Him- self.

There is another and more important question that should

38 The Great Controversy

engage the attention of the churches of to-day. The apostle Paul declares that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12. Why is it, then, that persecution seems in a great degree to slumber?—The only reason is, that the church has conformed to the world’s standard, and therefore awakens no opposition. The religion current in our day is not of the pure and holy character which marked the Christian faith in the days of Christ and His apostles. It is only because of the spirit of compromise with sin, because the great truths of the word of God are so indifferently regarded, because there is so little vital godliness in the church, that Christianity is apparently so popular with the world. Let there be a revival of the faith and power of the early church, and the spirit of perse- cution will be revived, and the fires of persecution will be rekindled.


“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, . . For I know this: that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking per- verse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch and re- member.” Acts 20:28-31.

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the begin- ning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be . . But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.”—Matthew 24:21, 20.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the Second Ad- vent of Christ] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thes- salonians 2:3-4 [Rev 12:5; 14:8; 12:17; Matt 24:4-6, 9-12].

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, . . For I know this: that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking per- verse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch and re- member.” Acts 20:28-31.


1. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman [true church] clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. 2. And she being with child [First Advent of Christ] cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 3. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon [Satan] . . 4. And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

5. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne [Ascension]. 6. And the woman [the true church] fled into the wilderness [rural areas], where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [1260 years of persecution] . . 11. And they over- came him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testi- mony; and they loved not their lives unto the death . . 12. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth he hath but a short time.

13. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [1260 years], from the face of the serpent [Satan, working through an apostate church].

15. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

17. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and [in the last days] went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

40 The Great Controversy

All the Steps Down  Chapter Three

— The Roman Church

——————————————————————— For three hundred years fierce persecution lashed at the early Christian Church, and then in A.D. 311, peace came and things changed. Constantine, the ruler of the Roman Empire, decided for political reasons to become friends with the Church—and what it brought changed all history for all time to come —

Compromise, conformity, and persecution of former breth- ren began. Gradually the Church took all the steps down. Read what they were — ———————————————————————

The apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Thes- salonians, foretold great apostasy which would result in the establishment of the papal power. He declared that the day of Christ should not come, “except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdi- tion; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” And furthermore, the apostle warns his brethren that “the mys- tery of iniquity doth already work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 7. Even at that early date he saw, creeping into the church, errors that would prepare the way for the development of the papacy.

Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, the mystery of iniquity carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Chris-

The Roman Church [49-50] 4 1

tian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she sub- stituted human theories and traditions. The nominal con- version of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth cen- tury, caused great rejoicing; and the world, arrayed in robes of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed fol- lowers of Christ.

This compromise between paganism and Christian- ity resulted in the development of the man of sin foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God.


HISTORICAL DATING OF THIS UNUSUAL CHAPTER—The primary dates in this chapter cover nine centuries—from A.D. 311 (Constantine’s Edict of Toleration) to 1229 (when the Inquisition be- gan). The papacy was firmly established by the sixth century; and, in A.D. 538, the 1260 years of papal oppression (predicted in Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 13:5-7) began.

The Second Council of Nicea (A.D. 787) finalized the establish- ment of image worship as a necessary part of Catholic worship. But it was Constantine’s decree of march 7, 321, making Sunday a public holy day, that laid the foundation for the their apostasy. The Council of Laodicea (c. 337) officially endorsed that first National Sunday Law.

Shortly afterward, candles were burned before images and prayers were made to them. Gradually the apostasy deepened.

By the Sixth Century the papacy was firmly established in power; and, in A.D. 538, the terrible 1260 years of papal oppression, pre- dicted in Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 13:5-7, began.

As though purgatory, prayers for the dead, and paid indulgences for sin were not enough, the terrible Inquisition, on an “official” ba- sis, began in order to slay Christians—and also seize the property of wealthy Catholics. Millions were to die under its stroke.

42 The Great Controversy

That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan’s power,—a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.

Satan once endeavored to form a compromise with Christ. He came to the Son of God in the wilderness of temptation, and, showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, offered to give all into His hands if He would but acknowledge the supremacy of the prince of darkness. Christ rebuked the presumptuous tempter, and forced him to depart. But Satan meets with greater success in presenting the same temptations to man. To secure worldly gains and honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of the great men of earth, and having thus rejected Christ, she was induced to yield allegiance to the representative of Sa- tan,—the bishop of Rome.

It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. More than this, the pope has arrogated the very titles of Deity. He styles himself “Lord God the Pope,” assumes infallibility, and demands that all men pay him homage. Thus the same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him through the church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage.

But those who fear and reverence God meet this Heaven- daring assumption as Christ met the solicitations of the wily foe: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” Luke 4:8. God has never given a hint in His word that He has appointed any man to be the head of the church. The doctrine of papal supremacy is directly op- posed to the teachings of the Scriptures. The pope can have no power over Christ’s church except by usurpation.

Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants the charge of heresy, and willful separation from the true church. But these accusations apply rather to themselves. They are the ones who laid down the banner of Christ, and departed from the faith once delivered to the saints.

The Roman Church [50-52] 4 3

Satan well knew that the Holy Scriptures would enable men to discern his deceptions and withstand his power. It was by the word that even the Saviour of the world has re- sisted his attacks. At every assault, Christ presented the shield of eternal truth, saying, “It is written.” To every suggestion of the adversary He opposed the wisdom and power of the word. In order for Satan to maintain his sway over men, and establish the authority of the papal usurper, he must keep them in ignorance of the Scriptures. The Bible would exalt God, and place finite men in their true position; there- fore its sacred truths must be concealed and suppressed. This logic was adopted by the Roman Church. For hundreds of years the circulation of the Bible was prohibited. The people were forbidden to read it, or to have it in their houses, and unprincipled priests and prelates interpreted its teachings to sustain their pretensions. Thus the pope came to be almost universally acknowledged as the vicegerent of God on earth, endowed with supreme authority over Church and State.

The detector of error having been removed, Satan worked according to his will. Prophecy had declared that the papacy was to “think to change times and laws.” Daniel 7:25. This work it was not slow to attempt. To afford converts from heathenism a substitute for the worship of idols, and thus to promote their nominal acceptance of Christianity, the adoration of images and relics was gradually introduced into the Christian worship. The decree of a general coun- cil finally established this system of popish idolatry. To com- plete the sacrilegious work, Rome presumed to expunge from the law of God the second commandment, forbidding image worship, and to divide the tenth commandment, in order to preserve the number.

The spirit of concession to paganism opened the way for a still further disregard of Heaven’s authority. Satan tam- pered with the fourth commandment also, and essayed to set aside the ancient Sabbath, the day which God had blessed and sanctified, and in its stead to exalt the festi- val observed by the heathen as “the venerable day of the

44 The Great Controversy

sun.” This change was not at first attempted openly. In the first centuries the true Sabbath had been kept by all Chris- tians. They were jealous for the honor of God, and, believ- ing that His law is immutable, they zealously guarded the sacredness of its precepts. But with great subtlety, Satan worked through his agents to bring about his object. That the attention of the people might be called to the Sunday, it was made a festival in honor of the resurrection of Christ. Religious services were held upon it; yet it was regarded as a day of recreation, the Sabbath being still sacredly observed.

Constantine, while still a heathen, issued a decree enjoin- ing the general observance of Sunday as a public festival throughout the Roman empire. After his conversion, he re- mained a staunch advocate of Sunday, and his pagan edict was then enforced by him in the interests of his new faith. But the honor shown this day was not as yet sufficient to prevent Christians from regarding the true Sabbath as the holy of the Lord. Another step must be taken; the false Sab- bath must be exalted to an equality with the true. A few years after the issue of Constantine’s decree, the bishop of Rome conferred on the Sunday the title of Lord’s day. Thus the people were gradually led to regard it as pos- sessing a degree of sacredness. Still the original Sabbath was kept.

The arch-deceiver had not completed his work. He was resolved to gather the Christian world under his banner, and to exercise his power through his vicegerent, the proud pon- tiff who claimed to be the representative of Christ. Through half-converted pagans, ambitious prelates, and world-lov- ing churchmen, he accomplished his purpose. Vast councils were held, from time to time, in which the dignitaries of the church were convened from all the world. In nearly every council the Sabbath which God had instituted was pressed down a little lower, while the Sunday was corre- spondingly exalted. Thus the pagan festival came finally to be honored as a divine institution, while the Bible Sab- bath was pronounced a relic of Judaism, and its observers were declared to be accursed.

The Roman Church [52-54] 4 5

The great apostate had succeeded in exalting himself “above all that is called God, or that is worshiped.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4. He had dared to change the only pre- cept of the divine law that unmistakably points all man- kind to the true and living God. In the fourth command- ment, God is revealed as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and is thereby distinguished from all false gods. It was as a memorial of the work of creation that the seventh day was sanctified as a rest-day for man. It was designed to keep the living God ever before the minds of men as the source of being and the object of reverence and worship. Satan strives to turn men from their allegiance to God, and from rendering obedience to His law; therefore he directs his efforts especially against that commandment which points to God as the Creator.

Protestants now urge that the resurrection of Christ on Sunday, made it the Christian Sabbath. But Scrip- ture evidence is lacking. No such honor was given to the day by Christ or His apostles. The observance of Sunday as a Christian institution has its origin in that “mystery of law- lessness” which, even in Paul’s day, had begun its work. Where and when did the Lord adopt this child of the pa- pacy? What valid reason can be given for a change concern- ing which the Scriptures are silent?

In the sixth century the papacy had become firmly estab- lished. Its seat of power was fixed in the imperial city, and the bishop of Rome was declared to be the head over the entire church. Paganism had given place to the papacy. The dragon had given to the beast “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Revelation 13:2. And now be- gan the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the proph- ecies of Daniel and John. Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5-7. Christians were forced to choose, either to yield their integ- rity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wear away their lives in dungeon cells, or suffer death by the rack, the fagot, or the headsman’s ax. Now were fulfilled the words of Jesus, “Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and breth- ren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they

46 The Great Controversy

cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” Luke 21:16, 17. Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the world became a vast battle-field. For hundreds of years the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity. Thus says the prophet: “The woman fled into the wilder- ness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three-score days.” Revelation 12:6.

The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened. Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salva- tion, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their mediator, and that none could approach God except through him, and, further, that he stood in the place of God to them, and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed. A deviation from his requirements was sufficient cause for the severest punishment to be visited upon the bodies and souls of the offenders. Thus the minds of the people were turned away from God to fallible, erring, and cruel men, nay more, to the prince of darkness himself, who exercised his power through them. Sin was disguised in a garb of sanctity. When the Scriptures are suppressed, and man comes to regard himself as supreme, we need look only for fraud, deception, and debasing iniquity. With the eleva- tion of human laws and traditions was manifest the cor- ruption that ever results from setting aside the law of God.

Those were days of peril for the church of Christ. The faithful standard-bearers were few indeed. Though the truth was not left without witnesses, yet at times it seemed that error and superstition would wholly prevail, and true reli- gion would be banished from the earth. The gospel was lost sight of, but the forms of religion were multiplied, and the people were burdened with rigorous exactions.

The Roman Church [54-56] 4 7

They were taught not only to look to the pope as their mediator, but to trust to works of their own to atone for sin. Long pilgrimages, acts of penance, the worship of relics, the erection of churches, shrines, and altars, the payment of large sums to the church,—these and many similar acts were enjoined to appease the wrath of God or to se- cure His favor; as if God were like men, to be angered at trifles, or pacified by gifts or acts of penance!

Notwithstanding vice prevailed, even among the leaders of the Romish Church, her influence seemed steadily to in- crease. About the close of the eighth century, papists put forth the claim that in the first ages of the church the bishops of Rome had possessed the same spiritual power which they now assumed. To establish this claim, some means must be employed to give it a show of authority; and this was readily suggested by the father of lies. Ancient writings were forged by monks. Decrees of councils before unheard of were discovered, establishing the universal supremacy of the pope from the earliest times. And a church that had re- jected the truth greedily accepted these deceptions.

The few faithful builders upon the true foundation were perplexed and hindered as the rubbish of false doctrine ob- structed the work. Like the builders upon the wall of Jerusa- lem in Nehemiah’s day, some were ready to say, “The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rub- bish, so that we are not able to build.” Nehemiah 4:10. Wea- ried with the constant struggle against persecution, fraud, iniquity, and every other obstacle that Satan could devise to hinder their progress, some who had been faithful builders became disheartened; and for the sake of peace and security for their property and their lives they turned away from the true foundation. Others, undaunted by the opposition of their enemies, fearlessly declared, “Be not ye afraid of them; re- member the Lord, which is great and terrible” (Nehemiah 4:14), and they proceeded with the work, every one with his sword girded by his side.

The same spirit of hatred and opposition to the truth has inspired the enemies of God in every age, and the

48 The Great Controversy

same vigilance and fidelity have been required in His ser- vants. The words of Christ to the first disciples are appli- cable to His followers to the close of time: “What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.” Mark 13:37.

The darkness seemed to grow more dense. Image worship became more general. Candles were burned before images, and prayers were offered to them. The most absurd and superstitious customs prevailed. The minds of men were so completely controlled by superstition that reason itself seemed to have lost her sway. While priests and bishops were themselves pleasure-loving, sensual, and corrupt, it could only be expected that the people who looked to them for guidance would be sunken in ignorance and vice.

Another step in papal assumption was taken, when, in the eleventh century, Pope Gregory VII proclaimed the perfec- tion of the Romish Church. Among the propositions which he put forth, was one declaring that the church had never erred, nor would it ever err, according to the Scriptures. But the Scripture proofs did not accompany the assertion. The proud pontiff next claimed the power to depose emper- ors, and declared that no sentence which he pronounced could be reversed by any one, but that it was his prerogative to reverse the decisions of all others.

A striking illustration of the tyrannical character of this advocate of infallibility was given in his treatment of the German king, Henry IV. For presuming to disregard the pope’s authority, this monarch was declared to be ex- communicated and dethroned. In order to make his peace with Rome, Henry crossed the Alps in midwinter that he might humble himself before the pope. Upon reaching the castle whither Gregory had withdrawn, he was conducted, without his guards, into an outer court, and there, in the se- vere cold of winter, with uncovered head and naked feet and in a miserable dress, he awaited the pope’s permission to come into his presence. Not until he had continued three days fasting and making confession did the pontiff condescend to grant him pardon. Even then it was only upon condition that the emperor should await the sanction of the pope before

The Roman Church [57-59] 4 9

resuming the insignia or exercising the power of royalty. And Gregory, elated with his triumph, boasted that it was his duty “to pull down the pride of kings.”

How striking the contrast between the overbearing pride of this haughty pontiff and the meekness and gentle- ness of Christ, who represents Himself as pleading at the door of the heart for admittance, that He may come in to bring pardon and peace, and who taught His disciples, “Who- soever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Matthew 20:27.

The advancing centuries witnessed a constant increase of error in the doctrines put forth from Rome. Even be- fore the establishment of the papacy, the teachings of hea- then philosophers had received attention and exerted an in- fluence in the church. Many who professed conversion still clung to the tenets of their pagan philosophy, and not only continued its study themselves, but urged it upon others as a means of extending their influence among the heathen. Thus were serious errors introduced into the Christian faith. Prominent among these was the belief in man’s natural immortality and his consciousness in death. This doctrine laid the foundation upon which Rome established the in- vocation of saints and the adoration of the virgin Mary. From this sprung also the heresy of eternal torment for the finally impenitent, which was early incorporated into the papal faith.

Then the way was prepared for the introduction of still another invention of paganism, which Rome named purga- tory, and employed to terrify the credulous and superstitious multitudes. By this heresy is affirmed the existence of a place of torment, in which the souls of such as have not merited eternal damnation are to suffer punishment for their sins, and from which, when freed from impurity, they are admit- ted to Heaven.

Still another fabrication was needed to enable Rome to profit the fears and the vices of her adherents. This was sup- plied by the doctrine of indulgences. Full remission of sins, past, present, and future, and release from all the pains and

50 The Great Controversy

penalties incurred, were promised to all who would enlist in the pontiff’s wars to extend his temporal dominion, to pun- ish his enemies, or to exterminate those who dared deny his spiritual supremacy. The people were also taught that by the payment of money to the church they might free them- selves from sin, and also release the souls of their deceased friends who were confined in the tormenting flames. By such means did Rome fill her coffers, and sustain the magnifi- cence, luxury, and vice of the pretended representatives of Him who had not where to lay His head.

The scriptural ordinance of the Lord’s supper had been supplanted by the idolatrous sacrifice of the mass. Papist priests pretended, by their senseless mummery, to convert the simple bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ. With blasphemous presumption, they openly claimed the power to “create their Creator.” All Christians were required, on pain of death, to avow their faith in this horrible, Heaven-insulting heresy. Those who refused were given to the flames.

In the thirteenth century was established that most terrible of all the engines of the papacy,—the Inquisi- tion. The prince of darkness wrought with the leaders of the papal hierarchy. In their secret councils, Satan and his an- gels presided, while unseen in the midst stood an angel of God, taking the fearful record of their iniquitous decrees, and writing the history of deeds too horrible to appear to human eyes. “Babylon the great” was “drunken with the blood of the saints.” The mangled forms of millions of mar- tyrs cried to God for vengeance upon that apostate pow- er.

Popery had become the world’s despot. Kings and em- perors bowed to the decrees of the Roman pontiff. The des- tinies of men, both for time and for eternity, seemed under his control. For hundreds of years the doctrines of Rome had been extensively and implicitly received, its rites reverently performed, its festivals generally observed. Its clergy were honored and liberally sustained. Never since has the Roman Church attained to greater dignity, magnificence, and power.

The Roman Church [59-60] 5 1

The noontide of the papacy was the world’s moral mid- night. The Holy Scriptures were almost unknown, not only to the people, but to the priests. Like the Pharisees of old, the papist leaders hated the light which would reveal their sins. God’s law, the standard of righteousness, having been removed, they exercised power without limit, and prac- ticed vice without restraint. Fraud, avarice, and profligacy prevailed. Men shrank from no crime by which they could gain wealth or position. The palaces of popes and prelates were scenes of the vilest debauchery. Some of the reigning pontiffs were guilty of crimes so revolting that secular rulers endeavored to depose these dignitaries of the church as mon- sters too vile to be tolerated upon the throne. For centuries there was no progress in learning, arts, or civilization. A moral and intellectual paralysis had fallen upon Chris- tendom.

In the condition of the world under the Romish power was presented a fearful and striking fulfillment of the words of the prophet Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.” “Seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.” Hosea 4:6, 1, 2. Such were the results of banishing the word of God.


“Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

“Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7.

52 The Great Controversy


1. Prayers for the dead (about A.D. 300) / 2. Making the sign of the cross (A.D. 300) / 3. Wax candles (320) / 4. Veneration of an- gels and dead saints (375) / 5. Use of images (375) / 6. Mass as a daily celebration (394) / 7. Beginning of exaltation of Mary, called “Mother of God” (Council of Ephesus, 431) / 8. Priests begin to dress differently than laymen (500) / 9. Extreme unction (526) / 10. Doctrine of purgatory (Gregory I, 593) / 11. Latin language used in worship and commanded (Gregory I, 600) / 12. Prayers to Mary, dead saints, and angels (600) / 13. Title of pope given to Boniface III (Emperor Phocas, 607) / 14. Kissing pope’s foot begins (709) / 15. Temporal power of popes conferred (Pepin king of Franks, 750) / 16. Worship of the cross, images, and relics officially required (786) / 17. Holy water begins to be used (850) / 18. Worship of St. Jo- seph (890) / 19. College of Cardinals established (927) / 20. Bap- tism of bells started (John XIII, 965) / 21. Canonization of dead saints begins (John XV, 995) / 22. Fasting on Fridays and during “Lent” begins (998) / 23. Mass is a “sacrifice” (1050) / 24. Celi- bacy of priests required (Gregory II, 1079) / 25. Rosary praying invented (Peter the Hermit, 1090) / 26. Inquisition, in operation for centuries, now made official (Council of Verona, 1184) / 27. Sale of indulgences begins (1190) / 28. Error of Transubstantiation decreed, to bring God down into a cup and wafer (Innocent III, 1215) / 29. Auricular confession of sins to priest instead of to God required (In- nocent III, 1215) / 30. Adoration of the wafer (host) decreed (Honorius III, 1220) / 31. Laymen officially forbidden to have or read the Bible; it is placed on “Index of Forbidden Books” (Council of Valencia, 1229) / 32. Protection by a piece of cloth (scapular) in- vented (Simon Stock, a British monk, 1251) / 33. Laymen forbid- den to drink the cup at Communion (Council of Constance, 1414) / 34. Purgatory proclaimed as dogma (Council of Florence, 1439) / 35. Doctrine of seven sacraments affirmed on pain of mortal sin (1439) / 36. First part of the “Ava Maria” saying is made official (1508) / 37. Jesuit order founded (Ignatius Loyola, 1534) / 38. Tra-

The Roman Church 5 3

dition (sayings of popes and councils) declared equal to Bible (Coun- cil of Trent, 1545) / 39. Apocryphal books added to Bible (Council of Trent, 1546) / 40. Creed of Pius IV ordered as official creed of church (1560) / 41. Last part of “Ave Maria” (rosary saying) pre- pared and required (Sixtus V, 1593) / 42. Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary proclaimed (Pius IX, 1854) / 43. Syllabus of Errors is proclaimed and ratified, condemning freedom of religion, speech, press, and all “unapproved” scientific discoveries (Pius X, Vatican Council I, 1864) / 44. Temporal authority of pope officially reaffirmed (1864) / 45. Absolute infallibility of pope proclaimed (Vatican I, 1870) / 46. Public schools condemned (Pius XI, 1930) / 47. Assumption of Virgin Mary (bodily ascension into heaven shortly after her death) proclaimed (Pius XII, 1950) / 48. Mary proclaimed be Mother of God (Paul VI, 1965). Two additional doctrines are now being dis- cussed, and may soon be adopted: (1) Mary as Mediatrix of man- kind. This means that God and Christ can be approached through her. (2) The dogma of Mary as the Co-redemptrix of the world. The thought here is that the redemption of mankind, from start to finish, is done through Mary, working together at each step with Christ.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the second ad- vent of Christ] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." 2 Thes- salonians 2:3-4.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, . . For I know this: that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking per- verse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch and re- member.” Acts 20:28-31.

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the begin- ning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.”—Matt 24:21, 20.

54 The Great Controversy

Faithful unto Death Chapter Four

— The Waldenses

——————————————————————— Many years ago there was a group of people who lived in the mountains of south-central Europe. They loved God and their Bibles, and as a result they were persecuted and hunted for their faith. What caused it all? How did they survive? DID they survive? How much the world owes these men, posterity will never know. You are going to read the story of a people that history tried to blot out—the story of the Waldenses — ———————————————————————

Amid the gloom that settled upon the earth during the long period of papal supremacy, the light of truth could not be wholly extinguished. In every age there were witnesses for God,—men who cherished faith in Christ as the only mediator between God and man, who led the Bible as the only rule of life, and who hallowed the true Sabbath. How much the world owes to these men, posterity will never know. They were branded as heretics, their motives im- pugned, their characters maligned, their writings suppressed, misrepresented, or mutilated. Yet they stood firm, and from age to age maintained their faith in its purity, as a sacred heritage for the generations to come.

The history of God’s faithful people for hundreds of years after Rome attained to power, is known alone to heaven. They cannot be traced in human records, except as hints of their existence are found in the censures and accusa- tions of their persecutors. It was the policy of Rome to obliterate every trace of dissent from her doctrines or decrees. Everything heretical, whether persons or writings, was destroyed. A single expression of doubt, a question as

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to the authority of papal dogmas, was enough to cost the life of rich or poor, high or low. Rome endeavored also to de- stroy every record of her cruelty toward dissenters. Papal councils decreed that books and writings containing such records should be committed to the flames. Before the in- vention of printing, books were few in number, and in a form not favorable for preservation; therefore there was little to prevent the Romanists from carrying out their purpose.

No church within the limits of Romish jurisdiction was long left undisturbed in the enjoyment of freedom of con- science. No sooner had the papacy obtained power than she stretched out her arms to crush all that refused to acknowl- edge her sway, and one after another, the churches submitted to her dominion.

In Great Britain a primitive Christianity had very early taken root. Faithful men had preached the gospel in that country with great zeal and success. Among the leading evangelists was an observer of the Bible Sabbath, and thus this truth found its way among the people for whom he la- bored. Toward the close of the sixth century, missionar- ies were sent from Rome to England to convert the bar-


HISTORICAL DATING OF THIS ASTOUNDING CHAPTER— The information about the early British Christians covers the years from before A.D. 300 through 800.

Very early, before A.D. 300, Christian missionaries came to Brit- ain with pure Bible truths. Upon being persecuted, they fled north- ward to Scotland, and thence to Ireland. Columba (521-597) from Ireland, went to Scotland and founded an island missionary station on Iona in 563. From there, missionaries were sent to many Euro- pean countries, and finally in 614 to Italy.

Roman agents arrived in A.D. 596 and won the heathen Saxons to their worldly religion. For more than a thousand years, Christians were heavily persecuted; throughout this time believers in the Bible Sabbath continued to share their faith in parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The history of the Waldenses (also called Vaudois) spans more than a millennium of persecution and bloodshed, till the mid-19th century. It was Pope Innocent VIII who, in 1487, ordered them to be “crushed as venomous serpents.”

56 The Great Controversy

barian Saxons. They induced many thousands to profess the Romish faith, and as the work progressed, the papal leaders and their converts encountered the primitive Christians. A striking contrast was presented. The latter were simple, humble, and scriptural in character, doctrine, and manners, while the former manifested the superstition, pomp, and ar- rogance of popery. The emissary of Rome demanded that these Christian churches acknowledge the supremacy of the sovereign pontiff. The Britons meekly replied that they de- sired to love all men, but that the pope was not entitled to supremacy in the church, and they could render to him only that submission which was due to every follower of Christ. Repeated attempts were made to secure their allegiance to Rome; but these humble Christians, amazed at the pride dis- played by her apostles, steadfastly replied that they knew no other master than Christ. Now the true spirit of the papacy was revealed. Said the Romish leader, “If you will not receive brethren who bring you peace, you shall receive en- emies who will bring you war. If you will not unite with us in showing the Saxons the way of life, you shall receive from them the stroke of death.” These were no idle threats. War, intrigue, and deception were employed against these wit- nesses for a Bible faith, until the churches of Britain were destroyed, or forced to submit to the authority of the pope.

In lands beyond the jurisdiction of Rome, there existed for many centuries bodies of Christians who remained almost wholly free from papal corruption. They were surrounded by heathenism, and in the lapse of ages were affected by its errors; but they continued to regard the Bible as the only rule of faith, and adhered to many of its truths. These Christians believed in the perpetuity of the law of God, and observed the Sabbath of the fourth command- ment. Churches that held to this faith and practice, existed in Central Africa and among the Armenians of Asia.

But of those who resisted the encroachments of the papal power, the Waldenses stood foremost. For centu- ries the churches of Piedmont maintained their indepen- dence; but the time came at last when Rome demanded

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their submission. After ineffectual struggles against her tyr- anny, the leaders of these churches reluctantly acknowledged the supremacy of the power to which the whole world seem- ingly bowed down to. A considerable number, however, re- fused to yield to the authority of pope or prelate. They were determined to maintain their allegiance to God, and to preserve the purity and simplicity of their faith. A separation took place. Some of the protesters crossed the Alps, and raised the standard of truth in foreign lands. Others re- tired into the more secluded valleys among the mountains, and there maintained their freedom to worship God.

The religious belief of the Waldenses was founded upon the written word of God, the true system of Christianity, and was in marked contrast to the errors of Rome. But those herdsmen and vine-dressers, in their obscure retreats, shut away from the world, had not themselves arrived at the truth in opposition to the dogmas and heresies of the apos- tate church. Theirs was not a faith newly received. Their religious belief was their inheritance from their fathers. They contended for the faith of the apostolic church, —“the faith once delivered to the saints.”

Among the leading causes that had led to the separa- tion of the true church from Rome, was the inveterate hatred of the latter toward the Bible Sabbath. As fore- told by prophecy, the papal power cast down the truth to the ground. The law of God was trampled in the dust, while the traditions and customs of men were exalted. The churches that were under the rule of the papacy were early compelled to honor the Sunday as a holy day. Amid the prevailing error and superstition, many even of the true people of God, be- came so bewildered that while they observed the Sabbath, they refrained from labor also on the Sunday. But this did not satisfy the papal leaders. They demanded not only that Sunday be hallowed, but that the Sabbath be profaned; and they denounced, in the strongest language, those who dared to show it honor. It was only by fleeing from the power of Rome that any could obey God’s law in peace.

The Waldenses were the first of all the peoples of Eu-

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rope to obtain a translation of the Scriptures. Hundreds of years before the Reformation, they possessed the en- tire Bible in manuscript in their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated, and this rendered them the special objects of hatred and persecution. They declared the Church of Rome to be the apostate Babylon of the Apocalypse, and at the peril of their lives they stood up to resist her corrup- tions. While, under the pressure of long-continued persecu- tion, some compromised their faith, little by little yielding its distinctive principles, others held fast the truth. Through ages of darkness and apostasy, there were Waldenses who denied the supremacy of Rome, who rejected image wor- ship as idolatry, and who kept the true Sabbath. Under the fiercest tempests of opposition they maintained their faith. Though gashed by the Savoyard spear, and scorched by the Romish fagot, they stood unflinchingly for God’s word and His honor. They would not yield one iota of the truth.

Behind the lofty bulwarks of the mountains,—in all ages the refuge of the persecuted and oppressed,—the Waldenses found a hiding-place. Here the lamp of truth was kept burning during the long night that descended upon Christendom. Here for a thousand years they maintained their ancient faith.

God had provided for His people a sanctuary of awful grandeur, befitting the mighty truths committed to their trust. To those faithful exiles, the mountains were an emblem of the immutable righteousness of Jehovah. They pointed their children to the heights towering above them in unchanging majesty, and spoke to them of Him with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning, whose word is as en- during as the everlasting hills. God had set fast the moun- tains, and girded them with strength; no arm but that of infi- nite power could move them out of their place. In like man- ner had He established His law, the foundation of His gov- ernment in Heaven and upon earth. The arm of man might reach his fellow-men and destroy their lives; but that arm could as readily uproot the mountains from their foundations, and hurl them into the sea, as it could change

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one precept of the law of Jehovah, or blot out one of His promises to those who do His will. In their fidelity to His law, God’s servants should be as firm as the unchanging hills.

The mountains that girded their lowly valleys were a con- stant witness of God’s creative power, and a never-failing assurance of His protecting care. Those pilgrims learned to love the silent symbols of Jehovah’s presence. They indulged no repining because of the hardships of their lot; they were never lonely amid the mountain solitudes. They thanked God that He had provided for them an asylum from the wrath and cruelty of men. They rejoiced in their freedom to worship before Him. Often when pursued by their enemies, the strength of the hills proved a sure defense. From many a lofty cliff they chanted the praise of God, and the armies of Rome could not silence their songs of thanksgiving.

Pure, simple, and fervent was the piety of these followers of Christ. The principles of truth they valued above houses and lands, friends, kindred, even life itself. These prin- ciples they earnestly sought to impress upon the hearts of the young. From earliest childhood the youth were in- structed in the Scriptures, and taught to sacredly regard the claims of the law of God. Copies of the Bible were rare; therefore its precious words were committed to memory. Many were able to repeat large portions of both the Old and the New Testament. Thoughts of God were associated alike with the sublime scenery of nature and with the humble bless- ings of daily life. Little children learned to look with grati- tude to God as the giver of every favor and every comfort.

Parents, tender and affectionate as they were, loved their children too wisely to accustom them to self-indul- gence. Before them was a life of trial and hardship, perhaps a martyr’s death. They were educated from childhood to en- dure hardness, to submit to control, and yet to think and act for themselves. Very early they were taught to bear re- sponsibilities, to be guarded in speech, and to understand the wisdom of silence. One indiscreet word let fall in the hearing of their enemies, might imperil not only the life of the speaker, but the lives of hundreds of his brethren; for as

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wolves hunting their prey did the enemies of truth pursue those who dared to claim freedom of religious faith.

The Waldenses had sacrificed their worldly prosperity for the truth’s sake, and with persevering patience they toiled for their bread. Every spot of tillable land among the moun- tains was carefully improved; the valleys and the less fertile hillsides were made to yield their increase. Economy and severe self-denial formed a part of the education which the children received as their only legacy. They were taught that God designs life to be a discipline, and that their wants could be supplied only by personal labor, by forethought, care, and faith. The process was laborious and wearisome, but it was wholesome, just what man needs in his fallen state, the school which God has provided for his training and de- velopment.

While the youth were inured to toil and hardship, the cul- ture of the intellect was not neglected. They were taught that all their powers belonged to God, and that all were to be improved and developed for His service.

The church of the Alps, in its purity and simplicity, re- sembled the church in the first centuries. The shepherds of the flock led their charge to the fountain of living waters,— the word of God. On the grassy slopes of the valleys, or in some sheltered glen among the hills, the people gathered about the servants of Christ to listen to the words of truth.

Here the youth received instruction. The Bible was their text-book. They studied and committed to memory the words of Holy Writ. A considerable portion of their time was spent, also, in reproducing copies of the Scriptures. Some manuscripts contained the whole Bible, others only brief se- lections, to which some simple explanations of the text were added by those who were able to expound the Scriptures. Thus were brought forth the treasures of truth so long con- cealed by those who sought to exalt themselves above God.

By patient, untiring labor, sometimes in the deep, dark caverns of the earth, by the light of torches, were the Sacred Scriptures written out, verse by verse, chapter by chapter. Thus the work went on, the revealed will of God shining out

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like pure gold; how much brighter, clearer, and more power- ful because of the trials undergone for its sake, only those could realize who were engaged in the work. Angels from Heaven surrounded these faithful workers.

Satan had urged on the papal bishops and prelates to bury the word of truth beneath the rubbish of error, her- esy, and superstition; but in a most wonderful manner was it preserved uncorrupted through all the ages of darkness. It bore not the stamp of man, but the impress of God. Men have been unwearied in their efforts to obscure the plain, simple meaning of the Scriptures, and to make them contradict their own testimony; but, like the ark upon the billowy deep, the word of God outrides the storms that threaten it with destruction. As the mine has rich veins of gold and silver hidden beneath the surface, so that all must dig who would discover its precious stores, so the Holy Scrip- tures have treasures of truth that are unfolded only to the earnest, humble, prayerful seeker. God designed the Bible to be a lesson-book to all mankind, in childhood, youth, and manhood, and to be studied through all time. He gave His word to men as a revelation of Himself. Every new truth discerned is a fresh disclosure of the character of its Author. The study of the Scriptures is the means divinely ordained to bring men into closer connection with their Creator, and to give them a clearer knowledge of His will. It is the medium of communication between God and man.

When the Waldensian youth had spent some time in their schools in the mountains, some of them were sent to com- plete their education in the great cities, where they could have a wider range for thought and observation than in their se- cluded homes. The youth thus sent forth were exposed to temptation, they witnessed vice, they encountered Satan’s wily agents, who urged upon them the most subtle heresies and the most dangerous deceptions. But their education from childhood had been of a character to prepare them for all this.

In the schools whither they went, they were not to make confidants of any. Their garments were so prepared as to

62 The Great Controversy

conceal their greatest treasure,—the precious manuscripts of the Scriptures. These, the fruit of months and years of toil, they carried with them, and whenever it could be done without exciting suspicion, they cautiously placed some por- tion in the way of those whose hearts seemed open to receive it. From their mother’s knee the Waldensian youth had been trained with this purpose in view; they understood their work, and faithfully performed it. Converts to the true faith were won in these institutions of learning, and frequently its prin- ciples were found to be permeating the entire school; yet the papist leaders could not, by the closest inquiry, trace the so- called corrupting heresy to its source.

The Waldenses felt that God required more of them than merely to maintain the truth in their own mountains; that a solemn responsibility rested upon them to let their light shine forth to those who were in darkness; that by the mighty power of God’s word, they were to break the bondage which Rome had imposed. It was a law among them that all who entered the ministry should, before taking charge of a church at home, serve three years in the mission- ary field. As the hands of the men of God were laid upon their heads, the youth saw before them, not the prospect of earthly wealth or glory, but possibly a martyr’s fate. The missionaries began their labors in the plains and valleys at the foot of their own mountains, going forth two and two, as Jesus sent out His disciples. These co-laborers were not al- ways together, but often met for prayer and counsel, thus strengthening each other in the faith.

To make known the nature of their mission would have insured its defeat; therefore they concealed their real charac- ter under the guise of some secular profession, most com- monly that of merchants or peddlers. They offered for sale silks, jewelry, and other valuable articles, and were received as merchants where they would have been repulsed as mis- sionaries. All the while their hearts were uplifted to God for wisdom to present a treasure more precious than gold or gems. They carried about with them portions of the Holy Scrip- tures concealed in their clothing or merchandise, and

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whenever they could do so with safety, they called the attention of the inmates of the dwelling to these manu- scripts. When they saw that an interest was awakened, they left some portion with them as a gift.

With naked feet and in coarse garments, these missionar- ies passed through great cities, and traversed provinces far removed from their native valleys. Everywhere they scat- tered the precious seed. Churches sprang up in their path, and the blood of martyrs witnessed for the truth. The day of God will reveal a rich harvest of souls garnered by the labors of these faithful men. Veiled and silent, the word of God was making its way through Christendom, and meeting a glad reception in the homes and hearts of men.

To the Waldenses the Scriptures were not merely a record of God’s dealings with men in the past, and a revelation of the responsibilities and duties of the present, but an unfold- ing of the perils and glories of the future. They believed that the end of all things was not far distant; and as they studied the Bible with prayer and tears, they were the more deeply impressed with its precious utterances, and with their duty to make known to others its saving truths. They saw the plan of salvation clearly revealed in the word of God, and they found comfort, hope, and peace in believing in Jesus. As the light illuminated their understanding and made glad their hearts, they longed to shed its beams upon those who were in the darkness of papal error.

They saw that under the guidance of pope and priests, multitudes were vainly endeavoring to obtain pardon, by af- flicting their bodies for the sin of their souls. Taught to trust their good works to save them, they were ever looking to themselves, their minds dwelling upon their sinful condition, seeing themselves exposed to the wrath of God, afflicting soul and body, yet finding no relief. Thus were conscien- tious souls bound by the doctrines of Rome. Thousands aban- doned friends and kindred, and spent their lives in convent cells. By oft-repeated fasts and cruel scourgings, by mid- night vigils, by prostration for weary hours upon the cold, damp stones of their dreary abode, by long pilgrimages, by

64 The Great Controversy

humiliating penance and fearful torture, many vainly sought to obtain peace of conscience. Oppressed with a sense of sin, and haunted with the fear of God’s avenging wrath, they suffered on, until exhausted nature gave way, and without one ray of light or hope, they sank into the tomb.

The Waldenses longed to break to those starving souls the bread of life, to open to them the messages of peace in the promises of God, and to point them to Christ as their only hope of salvation. The doctrine that good works can make satisfaction for transgression of God’s law, they held to be based upon falsehood. Reliance upon human mer- its intercepts the view of Christ’s infinite love. Jesus died as men’s sacrifice, because they can do nothing to recommend themselves to God. The merits of a crucified and risen Sav- iour are the foundation of the Christian’s faith. The union of the soul to Christ by faith is as real, as close, as that of a limb to the body, or of a branch to the vine.

The teachings of popes and priests had led men to look upon the character of God, and even of Christ, as stern, gloomy, and forbidding. The Saviour of the world was rep- resented as so far devoid of all sympathy with man in his fallen state that the mediation of priests and saints must be invoked. How those whose minds had been enlightened by the word of God longed to point these souls to Jesus as their compassionate, loving Saviour, standing with out- stretched arms, inviting all to come to Him with their burden of sin, their care and weariness. They longed to clear away the obstructions which Satan had piled up that men might not see the promises, and come directly to God, confessing their sins, and obtaining pardon and peace.

Eagerly did the Vaudois [Waldensian] missionary unfold to the inquiring mind the precious truths of the gospel. Cau- tiously he produced the carefully written portions of the word of God. It was his greatest joy to give hope to the conscien- tious, sin-stricken soul, who could see only a God of ven- geance, waiting to execute justice. With quivering lip and tearful eye did he, often on bended knees, open to his brethren the precious promises that reveal the sinner’s

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only hope. Thus the light of truth penetrated many a darkened mind, rolling back the cloud of gloom, until the Sun of Righteousness shone into the heart with healing in His beams. Some portions of Scripture were read again and again, the hearer desiring them to be often repeated, as if he would assure himself that he had heard aright. Especially was the repetition of these words eagerly desired: “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:14, 15.

Many were undeceived in regard to the claims of Rome. They saw how vain is the mediation of men or angels in behalf of the sinner. As the true light dawned upon their minds, they exclaimed with rejoicing, “Christ is my priest; His blood is my sacrifice; His altar is my confes- sional.” They cast themselves wholly upon the merits of Jesus, repeating the words, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Hebrews 11:6. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.

The assurance of a Saviour’s love seemed too much for some of these poor tempest-tossed souls to realize. So great was the relief which it brought, such a flood of light was shed upon them, that they seemed transported to Heaven. Their hand was laid confidingly in the hand of Christ; their feet were planted upon the Rock of Ages. All fear of death was banished. They could now covet the prison and the fagot if they might thereby honor the name of their Redeemer.

In secret places the word of God was thus brought forth and read, sometimes to a single soul, sometimes to a little company who were longing for light and truth. Often the entire night was spent in this manner. So great would be the wonder and admiration of the listeners that the messenger of mercy was not infrequently compelled to cease his reading until the understanding could grasp the tidings of salvation. Often would words like these be uttered: “Will God indeed

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accept my offering? Will He smile upon me? Will He pardon me?” The answer was read, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

Faith grasps the promise, and the glad response is heard,

“No more long pilgrimages to make; no more painful journeys to holy shrines. I may come to Jesus just as I am, sinful and unholy, and He will not spurn the penitential prayer. ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee.’ Mine, even mine, may be forgiven.”

A tide of sacred joy would fill the heart, and the name of Jesus would be magnified by praise and thanksgiving. Those happy souls returned to their homes to diffuse light, to re- peat to others, as well as they could, their new experience; that they had found the true and living Way. There was a strange and solemn power in the words of Scripture that spoke directly to the hearts of those who were longing for the truth. It was the voice of God, and it carried con- viction to those who heard.

The messenger of truth went on his way; but his appear- ance of humility, his sincerity, his earnestness and deep fer- vor, were subjects of frequent remark. In many instances his hearers had not asked him whence he came, or whither he went. They had been so overwhelmed, at first with surprise, and afterward with gratitude and joy, that they had not thought to question him. When they had urged him to accompany them to their homes, he had replied that he must visit the lost sheep of the flock. Could he have been an angel from Heaven? they queried.

In many cases the messenger of truth was seen no more. He had made his way to other lands, he was wearing out his life in some unknown dungeon, or perhaps his bones were whitening on the spot where he had witnessed for the truth. But the words he had left behind could not be destroyed. They were doing their work in the hearts of men: the blessed results will be fully known only in the Judgment.

The Waldensian missionaries were invading the kingdom of Satan, and the powers of darkness aroused to greater vigilance. Every effort to advance the truth was

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watched by the prince of evil, and he excited the fears of his agents. The papal leaders saw a portent of danger to their cause from the labors of those humble itinerants. If the light of truth were allowed to shine unobstructed, it would sweep away the heavy clouds of error that enveloped the people; it would direct the minds of men to God alone, and would even- tually destroy the supremacy of Rome.

The very existence of this people, holding the faith of the ancient church, was a constant testimony to Rome’s apostasy, and therefore excited the most bitter hatred and persecution. Their refusal to surrender the Scriptures was also an offense that Rome could not tolerate. She deter- mined to blot them from the earth. Now began the most terrible crusades against God’s people in their mountain homes. Inquisitors were put upon their track, and the scene of innocent Abel falling before the murderous Cain was often repeated.

Again and again were their fertile lands laid waste, their dwellings and chapels swept away, so that where once were flourishing fields and the homes of an innocent, industrious people, there remained only a desert. As the ravenous beast is rendered more furious by the taste of blood, so was the rage of the papists kindled to greater intensity by the suffer- ings of their victims. Many of these witnesses for a pure faith were pursued across the mountains, and hunted down in the valleys where they were hidden, shut in by mighty forests and pinnacles of rock.

No charge could be brought against the moral character of this proscribed class. Even their enemies declared them to be a peaceable, quiet, pious people. Their grand offense was that they would not worship God according to the will of the pope. For this crime, every humiliation, insult, and torture that men or devils could invent was heaped upon them.

When Rome at one time determined to exterminate the hated sect, a bull was issued by the pope condemning them as heretics, and delivering them to slaughter. They were not accused as idlers, or dishonest, or disorderly; but it was de-

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clared that they had an appearance of piety and sanctity that seduced “the sheep of the true fold.” Therefore the pope or- dered “that the malicious and abominable sect of malignants,” if they refuse to abjure, “be crushed like venomous snakes.” Did this haughty potentate expect to meet those words again? Did he know that they were registered in the books of Heaven, to confront him at the Judgment? “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,” said Jesus, “ye have done it unto Me.” Matthew 25:40.

This bull invited all Catholics to take up the cross against the heretics. In order to stimulate them in this cruel work, it absolved them from all ecclesiastical pains and penalties, it released all who joined the crusade from any oaths they might have taken; it legalized their title to any property which they might have illegally acquired, and promised remission of all their sins to such as should kill any heretic. It annulled all contracts made in favor of the Vaudois, ordered their domes- tics to abandon them, forbade all persons to give them any aid whatever, and empowered all persons to take possession of their property. How clearly does this document reveal the master spirit behind the scenes! It is the roar of the dragon, and not the voice of Christ, that is heard therein.

The papal leaders would not conform their characters to the great standard of God’s law, but erected a standard to suit themselves, and determined to compel all to conform to this because Rome willed it. The most horrible tragedies were enacted. Corrupt and blasphemous priests and popes were doing the work which Satan appointed them. Mercy had no place in their natures. The same spirit that crucified Christ, and that slew the apostles, the same that moved the blood-thirsty Nero against the faithful in his day, was at work to rid the earth of those who were beloved of God.

The persecutions visited for many centuries upon this God- fearing people were endured by them with a patience and constancy that honored their Redeemer. Notwithstanding the crusades against them, and the inhuman butchery to which they were subjected, they continued to send out their mis-

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sionaries to scatter the precious truth. They were hunted to the death; yet their blood watered the seed sown, and it failed not of yielding fruit. Thus the Waldenses witnessed for God, centuries before the birth of Luther. Scattered over many lands, they planted the seeds of the Reformation that began in the time of Wycliffe, grew broad and deep in the days of Luther, and is to be carried forward to the close of time by those who also are willing to suffer all things for “the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:9.


“Rites and ceremonies, of which neither Paul nor Peter ever heard, crept silently into use, and then claimed the rank of divine institutions. Officers for whom the primitive disciples could have found no place, and titles which to them would have been altogether unintelligible, began to challenge at- tention, and to be named ‘apostolic.’ ” William D. Killen, The Ancient Church, p. xvi.

“The belief in miracle-working objects, talismans, amulets, and formu- las was dear to . . Christianity, and they were received from pagan antiquity . . the vestments of the clergy and the papal title of ‘pontifix maximus’ were legacies from pagan Rome. The [Catholic] Church found that rural con- verts still revered certain springs, wells, trees, and stones; she thought it wiser to bless these to Christian use . . Pagan festivals, dear to the people, reappeared as Christian feasts, and pagan rites were transformed into Chris- tian liturgy . . The Christian calendar of saints replaced the Roman ‘fasti’ [calendar of gods]; ancient divinities dear to the people were allowed to revive under the names of ‘Christian saints’ . . Gradually the tenderest fea- tures of Astarte, Cybele, Artemis, Diana, and Isis were gathered together in the worship of Mary.” Will Durant, The Age of Faith, 1950, pp. 745-746.

“The [Catholic] Church took the pagan philosophy and made it the buckler of faith against the heathen. She took the pagan Roman Pantheon, temple of all gods, and made it sacred to all the martyrs; so it stands to this day. She took the pagan Sun day and made it the Christian Sunday. She took the pagan Easter [in honor of Ishtar] and made it the feast we celebrate during this season . . The sun was a foremost god with heathendom . . Hence the Church would seem to say, ‘Keep that old pagan name [Sunday]. It shall remain consecrated, sanctified.’ And thus the pagan Sunday, dedicated to

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Balder, became the Christian Sunday, sacred to Jesus.” William L. Gildea, “Paschale Gaudium,” in The Catholic World, 58, March, 1894, p. 809.

“It is not necessary to go into the subject which the diligence of Protes- tant writers has made familiar to most of us: the use of temples dedicated to particular saints, . . holy water; asylums [monasteries]; holydays and seasons, use of saints’ calendars, processions, . . are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the church.” John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, p. 373 (1906).

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the second ad- vent of Christ] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thes- salonians 2:3-4.

“The mighty Catholic Church was little more than the Roman Empire baptized. Rome was transformed as well as converted . . It is not a matter of great surprise, therefore, to find that from the first to the fourth century, the Church had undergone many changes.” Alexander C. Flick, Rise of the Medieval Church, pp. 148-149.

“Pictures of Christ, Mary, and the saints, had been already worshipped from the fifth century with greetings, kisses, prostration, a renewal of an- cient pagan practices. In the naive and confident conviction that Christians no longer ran any risk of idolatry, the Church not only tolerated, but pro- moted, the entrance of paganism . . A brisk trade was carried on in the seventh and beginning of the eighth century in images, especially by monks; churches and chapels were crowded with pictures and relics; the practice of heathen times was revived.” Adolph Harnack, History of Dogma, Vol. 4, pp. 318-319 (1898).

“From ancient Babylon came the cult of the virgin mother-godess, who was worshiped as the highest of gods.” S.H. Langdon, Semitic Mythology, 1931 ed.

Laing mentions several pagan practices by which the mother-goddess was worshiped by heathens, that Rome adopted into Christianity: holy water, votive offerings, elevation of sacred objects [lifting of the host], the priest’s bells, the decking of images, processions, festivals, prayers for the dead, the worship of relics and the statutes of saints. See Gordon J. Laing, Sur- vivals of Roman Religion, 1831 edition, pp. 92-95, 123-131, 238-241.

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Nearing the Daybreak  Chapter Five

— Early Reformers

——————————————————————— Once there was a time when the common people didn’t have Bibles. Think of it! Almost no Bibles anywhere. They weren’t allowed to have them. Then came a man who determined to give

the Bible to his people —
Read what happened when he did it. This is the story of a man of God—the story of John Wycliffe. It is also the story of John Huss, a man who would not give in, though prison doors beckoned and death awaited him —

So bitter had been the war waged upon the Bible, that at times there were very few copies in existence; but God had not suffered His word to be wholly destroyed. Its truths were not to be forever hidden. He could as easily un- chain the words of life as He could open prison doors and unbolt iron gates to set His servants free. In the different countries of Europe, men were moved by the Spirit of God to search for the truth as for hidden treasure. Providentially guided to the Holy Scriptures, they studied the sacred pages with intense interest. They were willing to accept the light, at any cost to themselves. Though they did not see all things clearly, they were enabled to perceive many long-buried truths. As Heaven-sent messengers they went forth, rending asunder the chains of error and superstition, and calling upon those who had been so long enslaved to arise and assert their liberty.

Except among the Waldenses, the word of God had for ages been locked up in languages known only to the learned; but the time had come for the Scriptures to be

72 The Great Controversy

translated, and given to the people of different lands in their native tongue. The world had passed its midnight. The hours of darkness were wearing away, and in many lands appeared tokens of the coming dawn.

In the fourteenth century arose in England the “morning star of the Reformation.” John Wycliffe was the her- ald of reform, not for England alone, but for all Christendom. He was the progenitor of the Puritans; his era was an oasis in the desert.

Wycliffe received a liberal education, and with him the fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom. He was noted at college for his fervent piety as well as for his remarkable talents and sound scholarship. He was educated in the civil and the canon law, and sought to become acquainted with every branch of knowledge. In his after-labors the value of this early discipline was apparent. While he could wield the sword of the Spirit, he was acquainted also with the practice of the schools. This combination of accomplishments won for him the respect of all parties. His followers saw with satisfaction that their teacher was foremost among the sages and doctors of his time. The Lord saw fit to intrust the work of reform to one whose intellectual ability would give char- acter and dignity to his labors. This silenced the voice of contempt, and prevented the adversaries of truth from at- tempting to put discredit upon his cause by ridiculing the ignorance of the advocate.

When Wycliffe had mastered the learning of the schools,


HISTORICAL DATING OF THIS CHAPTER—All the events about John Wycliffe (1328-1415) occurred between A.D. 1328 and 1415. HebecamepastorofLutterworthin1374;and,in1377,papal bulls were hurled against him. Two rival popes were elected in 1378— and the Great Schism began. Their fighting lasted until 1415. Be- tween 1382 and 1384, Wycliffe translated the Bible into English.

The events concerning John Huss and Jerome happened be- tween 1396 and 1428. He was appointed rector of the university church and the Bethlehem chapel in 1402. His denunciations of corruption began in 1405, and Prague was placed under interdict in 1412. The Council of Constance (1414-1418) burned Huss in 1415, and Jerome in 1416. The Hussite Wars lasted until 1434.

Early Reformers [79-83] 7 3

he entered upon the study of the Scriptures. Every subject to which he turned his attention he was accustomed to investi- gate thoroughly, and he pursued the same course with the Bible. Heretofore he had felt a great want, which neither his scholastic studies nor the teachings of the church could satisfy. In the Scriptures he found that which he had be- fore sought in vain. Here he saw the plan of salvation revealed, and Christ set forth as the only advocate for man. He saw that Rome had forsaken the Biblical paths for human traditions. He gave himself to the service of Christ, and determined to proclaim the truths which he had discov- ered.

He commenced with great prudence, but as he discerned more clearly the errors of the papacy, he taught more ear- nestly the doctrine of faith. His knowledge of theology, his penetrating mind, the purity of his life, and his unbending courage and integrity, won for him general confidence and esteem. He was an able and earnest teacher, and an eloquent preacher, and his daily life was a demonstration of the truths he preached. He accused the clergy of having banished the Holy Scriptures, and demanded that the authority of the Bible should be reestablished in the church. Many of the people had become dissatisfied with their former faith as they saw the iniquity that prevailed in the Roman Church, and they hailed with unconcealed joy the truths brought to view in these discussions; but the papist leaders trembled with rage when they perceived that this reformer was gain- ing an influence greater than their own.

Wycliffe was a clear thinker and a keen detector of error, and he struck boldly against many of the abuses sanctioned by the authority of Rome. Thus he brought upon himself the enmity of the pope and his supporters. Re- peated attempts were made to condemn and execute him for heresy; but God had given him favor with princes, who stood in his defense. While acting as chaplain for the king, he had taken a bold stand against the payment of the tribute claimed by the pope from the English monarch, and had declared the papal assumption of authority over secular rulers to be con-

74 The Great Controversy

trary to both reason and revelation. A few years later, he ably defended the rights of the English crown against the encroachments of the Romish power. The people and the nobility of England sided with him, and his enemies could accomplish nothing against him. Upon one occasion, when he was brought to trial before a synod of bishops, the people surrounded the building where the synod met, and, rushing in, stood between him and all harm.

About this time, strife was caused in the church by the conflicting claims of two rival popes. Each professed infallibility, and demanded obedience. Each called upon the faithful to assist him to make war upon the other, enforcing his demand by terrible anathemas against his adversaries, and promises of rewards in Heaven to his sup- porters. This occurrence greatly weakened the power of the papacy, and saved Wycliffe from further persecution.

God had preserved His servant for more important labors. Wycliffe, like his Master, preached the gospel to the poor. As a professor of theology, he presented the truth to the students under his instruction, and received the title of “The Gospel Doctor.” In his parish he addressed the people as a friend and pastor.

But the greatest work of his life was the translation of the Scriptures into the English language. This was the first complete English translation ever made. The art of printing being still unknown, it was only by slow and weari- some labor that copies of the work could be multiplied; yet this was done, and the people of England received the Bible in their own tongue. Thus the light of God’s word began to shed its bright beams athwart the darkness. A divine hand was preparing the way for the Great Reformation.

The appeal to men’s reason aroused them from their passive submission to papal dogmas. The Scriptures were re- ceived with favor by the higher classes, who alone in that age possessed a knowledge of letters. Wycliffe now taught the distinctive doctrines of Protestantism,—salvation through faith in Christ, and the sole infallibility of the Scriptures. Many priests joined him in circulating the Bible

Early Reformers [83-96] 7 5

and in preaching the gospel; and so great was the effect of these labors and of Wycliffe’s writings, that the new faith was accepted by nearly one-half of the people of England. The kingdom of darkness trembled. Mendicant friars, who swarmed in England, listened in anger and amazement to his bold, eloquent utterances. The hatred of Rome was kindled to greater intensity, and again she plotted to silence the Reformer’s voice. But the Lord covered with His shield the messenger of truth. The efforts of his enemies to stop his work and to destroy his life were alike unsuccessful, and in his sixty-first year he died in peace in the very service of the altar.

The doctrines which had been taught by Wycliffe continued for a time to spread; but soon the pitiless storm of persecution burst upon those who had dared to accept the Bible as their guide and standard. Martyrdom suc- ceeded martyrdom. The advocates of truth, proscribed and tortured, could only pour their suffering cries into the ear of the Lord of Sabaoth. The hunted reformers found shelter as best they could among the lower classes, preaching in secret places, and hiding away even in dens and caves. Many bore fearless witness to the truth in massive dungeons and Lollard towers.

The papists had failed to work their will with Wycliffe during his life, and their hatred could not be satisfied while his body rested quietly in the grave. More than forty years after his death, his bones were disinterred and publicly burned, and the ashes were thrown into a neighboring brook. “The brook,” says an old writer, “did convey his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, and they into the main ocean, and thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over.” Little did his enemies realize the significance of their malicious act.

It was through the writings of Wycliffe that John Huss of Bohemia was led to renounce many of the errors of Romanism, and to enter upon the work of reform. Like Wycliffe, Huss was a noble Christian, a man of learning

76 The Great Controversy

and of unswerving devotion to the truth. His appeals to the Scriptures and his bold denunciations of the scandalous and immoral lives of the clergy, awakened wide-spread in- terest, and thousands gladly accepted a purer faith. This ex- cited the ire of pope and prelates, priests and friars, and Huss was summoned to appear before the Council of Constance to answer to the charge of heresy.

A safe-conduct was granted him by the German emperor, and upon his arrival at Constance he was person- ally assured by the pope that no injustice should be done him. In a short time, however, he was placed under arrest, by order of the pope and cardinals, and thrust into a loathsome dungeon. Some of the nobles and people of Bohemia ad- dressed to the council earnest protests against this outrage. The emperor, who was loath to permit the violation of a safe- conduct, opposed the proceedings against him. But the en- emies of the Reformer were malignant and determined. They appealed to the emperor’s prejudices, to his fears, to his zeal for the church. They brought forward arguments of great length to prove that he was perfectly at liberty not to keep faith with a heretic; and that the council, being above the emperor, could free him from his word. Thus they prevailed.

After a long trial, in which he firmly maintained the truth, Huss was required to choose whether he would recant his doctrines or suffer death. He chose the martyr’s fate, and after seeing his books given to the flames, he was himself burned at the stake. In the presence of the assembled dignitaries of Church and State, the servant of God had ut- tered a solemn and faithful protest against the corruptions of the papal hierarchy. His execution, in shameless violation of the most solemn and public promise of protection, exhibited to the whole world the perfidious cruelty of Rome. The en- emies of truth, though they knew it not, were furthering the cause which they sought vainly to destroy.

In the gloom of his dungeon, John Huss had foreseen the triumph of the true faith. Returning, in his dreams, to the humble parish where he had preached the gospel, he saw the pope and his bishops effacing the pictures of Christ which

Early Reformers [96-119] 7 7

he had painted on the walls of his chapel. The sight caused him great distress; but the next day he was filled with joy as he beheld many artists busily engaged in replacing the fig- ures in greater numbers and brighter colors. When their work was completed, the painters exclaimed to the immense crowd surrounding them, “Now let the popes and bishops come! They shall never efface them more!” Said the Reformer, as he related his dream, “I am certain that the image of Christ will never be effaced. They have wished to destroy it, but it shall be painted in all hearts by much better preachers than myself.”

Soon after the death of Huss, his faithful friend Jerome, a man of the same fervent piety and of greater learning, was also condemned, and he met his fate in the same manner. So perished God’s faithful light-bearers. But the light of the truths which they proclaimed,—the light of their heroic example,—could not be extinguished. As well might men attempt to turn back the sun in its course, as to prevent the dawning of that day which was even then breaking upon the world.

Notwithstanding the rage of persecution, a calm, devout, earnest, patient protest against the prevailing corruption of religious faith continued to be uttered after the death of Wycliffe. Like the believers in apostolic days, many freely sacrificed their worldly possessions for the cause of Christ. Those who were permitted to dwell in their homes, gladly received their brethren who had been banished from home and kindred. When they too were driven forth, they accepted the lot of the outcast, and rejoiced that they were permitted to suffer for the truth’s sake.

Strenuous efforts were made to strengthen and extend the power of the papacy; but while the popes still claimed to be Christ’s representatives, their lives were so corrupt as to dis- gust the people. By the aid of the invention of printing, the Scriptures were more widely circulated, and many were led to see that the papal doctrines were not sustained by the word of God.

When one witness was forced to let fall the torch of

78 The Great Controversy

truth, another seized it from his hand, and with undaunted courage held it aloft. The struggle had opened that was to result in the emancipation, not only of individuals and churches, but of nations. Across the gulf of a hundred years, men stretched their hands to grasp the hands of the Lollards of the time of Wycliffe. Under Luther began the Reformation in Germany; Calvin preached the gospel in France, Zwingle in Switzerland. The world was awakened from the slumber of ages, as from land to land were sounded the magic words, “Religious Liberty.”


“That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

“I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Daniel 7:8.

“That horn . . had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.” Daniel 7:20-21.

“And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” Daniel 7:25.

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17.

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:29-30.

Also: Daniel 11:33; Matthew 24:9-12, 13, 20, 21, 22; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 12:5; 14:8.

Luther’s Separation from Rome [119-120] 7 9

The Man who Shook Kingdoms Chapter Six

— Luther’s Separation from Rome

——————————————————————— Foremost among those who were called to lead the Church into the Great Reformation was the humble, but unshakable man,

Martin Luther.
What kind of a man was he? Where did he come from? And why

did he do what he did? Martin Luther—the man who opened the Bible to a world — ———————————————————————

Foremost among those who were called to lead the church from the darkness of popery into the light of a purer faith, stood Martin Luther. Zealous, ardent, and devoted, knowing no fear but the fear of God, and acknowl- edging no foundation for religious faith but the Holy Scriptures, Luther was the man for his time; through him, God accomplished a great work for the reformation of the church and the enlightenment of the world.

Like the first heralds of the gospel, Luther sprung from the ranks of poverty. His early years were spent in the humble home of a German peasant. By daily toil as a miner, his fa- ther earned the means for his education. He intended him for a lawyer; but God designed to make him a builder in the great temple that was rising so slowly through the centuries. Hardship, privation, and severe discipline were the school in which Infinite Wisdom prepared Luther for the important mission of his life.

Luther’s father was a man of strong and active mind, and great force of character, honest, resolute, and straightforward. He was true to his convictions of duty, let the consequences be what they might. His sterling good sense led him to re-

80 The Great Controversy

gard the monastic system with distrust. He was highly dis- pleased when Luther, without his consent, entered a monas- tery; and it was two years before the father was reconciled to his son, and even then his opinions remained the same.

Luther’s parents bestowed great care upon the edu- cation and training of their children. They endeavored to instruct them in the knowledge of God and the practice of Christian virtues. The father’s prayer often ascended in the hearing of his son, that the child might remember the name of the Lord, and one day aid in the advancement of his truth. Every advantage for moral or intellectual culture which their life of toil permitted them to enjoy, was eagerly improved by these parents. Their efforts were earnest and persevering to prepare their children for a life of piety and useful- ness. With their firmness and strength of character they some- times exercised too great severity; but the Reformer him- self, though conscious that in some respects they had erred, found in their discipline more to approve than to condemn.

At school, where he was sent at an early age, Luther was treated with harshness and even violence. So great was the poverty of his parents, that for a time he was obliged to ob- tain his food by singing from door to door, and he often suf- fered from hunger. The gloomy, superstitious ideas of religion then prevailing filled him with fear. He would lie down at night with a sorrowful heart, looking forward with trembling to the dark future, and in constant terror at the thought of God as a stern, unrelenting judge, a cruel tyrant, rather than a kind heavenly Father. Yet under so many and so great discouragements, Luther pressed resolutely forward


HISTORICAL DATING OF THIS CHAPTER—Events in this chapter covers the period of time between November 10, 1483 and January 2, 1521—the first 37 years of Martin Luther’s life. He en- tered Erfert University in 1501, received his Master’s degree in 1505, traveled to Rome in 1510, received his Doctor of Theology in 1512, and began preaching. Luther nailed the 95 theses to the Castle Church door on October 31, 1517. Two years later, Tetzel died. Phillip Melanchthon arrived in 1518. Luther’s trial at Augsburg occurred in October 1518. Two years later, Pope Leo X’s bull condemned Luther.

Luther’s Separation from Rome [120-122] 8 1

toward the high standard of moral and intellectual excellence which he had determined to attain.

He thirsted for knowledge, and the earnest and practical character of his mind led him to desire the solid and useful rather than the showy and superficial. When, at the age of eighteen, he entered the University of Erfurth, his situa- tion was more favorable and his prospects brighter than in his earlier years. His parents having by thrift and industry acquired a competence, they were able to render him all needed assistance. And the influence of judicious friends had somewhat lessened the gloomy effects of his former training. He now diligently applied himself to the study of the best authors, enriching his understanding with their most weighty thoughts, and making the wisdom of the wise his own. A retentive memory, a vivid imagination, strong reasoning powers, and energetic application to study, soon won for him the foremost rank among his associates.

The fear of the Lord dwelt in the heart of Luther, enabling him to maintain his steadfastness of purpose, and leading him to deep humility before God. He had an abiding sense of his dependence upon divine aid, and he did not fail to begin each day with prayer, while his heart was continually breathing a petition for guidance and support. “To pray well,” he often said, “is the better half of study.”

While one day examining the books in the library of the university, Luther discovered a Latin Bible. He had before heard fragments of the Gospels and Epistles at public worship, and he thought that they were the whole of God’s word. Now, for the first time, he looked upon the whole Bible. With mingled awe and wonder he turned the sacred pages; with quickened pulse and throbbing heart he read for himself the words of life, pausing now and then to exclaim, “Oh, if God would give me such a book for my own!” An- gels of Heaven were by his side, and rays of light from the throne of God revealed the treasures of truth to his understanding. He had ever feared to offend God, but now the deep conviction of his condition as a sinner took hold upon him as never before.

82 The Great Controversy

An earnest desire to be free from sin and to find peace with God, led him at last to enter a cloister, and devote himself to a monastic life. Here he was required to perform the lowest drudgery, and to beg from house to house. He was at an age when respect and appreciation are most eagerly craved, and these menial offices were deeply mortifying to his natural feelings; but he patiently endured this humilia- tion, believing that it was necessary because of his sins.

Every moment that could be spared from his daily duties, he employed in study, robbing himself of sleep, and grudg- ing even the moments spent at his humble meals. Above everything else he delighted in the study of God’s word. He had found a Bible chained to the convent wall, and to this he often repaired. As his convictions of sin deepened, he sought by his own works to obtain pardon and peace. He led a most rigorous life, endeavoring to crucify the flesh by fastings, watchings, and scourgings. He shrank from no sacrifice to become holy and gain Heaven. As the result of this painful discipline, he lost strength, and suffered from fainting spasms, from the effects of which he never fully recovered. But with all his efforts, his burdened soul found no relief. He was at last driven to the verge of despair.

When it appeared to Luther that all was lost, God raised up a friend and helper for him. The pious Staupitz opened the word of God to Luther’s mind, and bade him look away from himself, cease the contemplation of infinite pun- ishment for the violation of God’s law, and look to Jesus, his sin-pardoning Saviour. “Instead of torturing yourself on account of your sins, cast yourself into the arms of your Redeemer. Trust in Him,—in the righteousness of His life,— in the atonement of His death. Listen to the Son of God. He became man to give you the assurance of divine favor. Love Him who has first loved you.” Thus spoke this messenger of mercy. His words made a deep impression upon Luther’s mind. After many a struggle with long-cherished errors, he was enabled to grasp the truth, and peace came to his troubled soul.

Luther was ordained a priest, and was called from

Luther’s Separation from Rome [122-125] 8 3

the cloister to a professorship in the University of Wittemberg. Here he applied himself to the study of the Scriptures in the original tongues. He began to lecture upon the Bible; and the book of Psalms, the Gospels, and the Epistles were opened to the understanding of crowds of de- lighted listeners. Staupitz, his friend and superior, urged him to ascend the pulpit, and preach the word of God. Luther hesitated, feeling himself unworthy to speak to the people in Christ’s stead. It was only after a long struggle that he yielded to the solicitations of his friends. Already he was mighty in the Scriptures, and the grace of God rested upon him. His eloquence captivated his hearers, the clearness and power with which he presented the truth convinced their understand- ing, and his deep fervor touched their hearts.

Luther was still a true son of the papal church, and had no thought that he would ever be anything else. In the providence of God he decided to visit Rome. He pur- sued his journey on foot, lodging at the monasteries on the way. At a convent in Italy he was filled with wonder as he saw the splendor of the apartments, the richness of the dresses, the luxury of the table, the extravagance everywhere. With painful misgivings he contrasted this scene with the self-denial and hardship of his own life. His mind was be- coming perplexed.

At last he beheld in the distance the seven-hilled city. With deep emotion he prostrated himself upon the earth, exclaim- ing, “Holy Rome, I salute thee!” He entered the city, visited the churches, listened to the marvelous tales repeated by priests and monks, and performed all the ceremonies required. Everywhere he looked upon scenes that filled him with astonishment and horror. He saw that iniquity existed among all classes of the clergy. He heard indecent jokes from prelates, and was filled with horror at their awful profanity, even during mass. As he mingled with the monks and citi- zens, he met dissipation, debauchery. Turn where he would, in the place of sanctity he found profanation. “It is incredible,” he wrote, “what sins and atrocities are committed in Rome.” “If there be a hell, Rome is built above it. It is

84 The Great Controversy

an abyss whence all sins proceed.”

An indulgence had been promised by the pope to all who should ascend on their knees what was known as Pilate’s staircase. Luther was one day performing this act, when sud- denly a voice like thunder seemed to say to him, “The just shall live by faith!” He sprung upon his feet in shame and horror, and fled from the scene of his folly. That text never lost its power upon his soul. From that time he saw more clearly than ever before the fallacy of trusting to human works for salvation, and the necessity of constant faith in the mer- its of Christ. His eyes had been opened, and were never again to be closed, to the Satanic delusions of the papacy. When he turned his face from Rome, he had turned away also in heart, and from that time the separation grew wider, until he severed all connection with the papal church.

After his return from Rome, Luther received at the Uni- versity of Wittemberg the degree of doctor of divinity. Now he was at liberty to devote himself, as never before, to the Scriptures that he loved. He had taken a solemn vow to study carefully and to preach with fidelity the word of God, not the sayings and doctrines of the popes, all the days of his life. He was no longer the mere monk or professor, but the authorized herald of the Bible. He had been called as a shepherd to feed the flock of God, that were hungering and thirsting for the truth. He firmly declared that Christians should receive no other doctrines than those which rest on the authority of the Sacred Scriptures. These words struck at the very foundation of papal supremacy. They contained the vital principle of the Reformation.

Luther saw the danger of exalting human theories above the word of God. He fearlessly attacked the speculative infi- delity of the schoolmen, and opposed the philosophy and theology which had so long held a controlling influence upon the people. He denounced such studies as not only worthless but pernicious, and sought to turn the minds of his hearers from the sophistries of philosophers and theologians to the eternal truths set forth by prophets and apostles.

Luther’s Separation from Rome [125-127] 8 5

Precious was the message which he bore to the eager crowds that hung upon his words. Never before had such teachings fallen upon their ears. The glad tidings of a Saviour’s love, the assurance of pardon and peace through His atoning blood, rejoiced their hearts, and inspired within them an immortal hope. At Wittemberg a light was kindled whose rays should extend to the uttermost parts of the earth, and which was to increase in brightness to the close of time.

But light and darkness cannot harmonize. Between truth and error there is an irrepressible conflict. To up- hold and defend the one is to attack and overthrow the other. Our Saviour Himself declared, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. Said Luther, a few years after the opening of the Reformation, “God does not con- duct, but drives me forward. I am not master of my own actions. I would gladly live in repose, but I am thrown into the midst of tumults and revolutions.” He was now about to be urged into the contest.

The Roman Church had made merchandise of the grace of God. The tables of the money-changers were set up be- side her altars, and the air resounded with the shouts of buy- ers and sellers. Under the plea of raising funds for the erection of St. Peter’s church at Rome, indulgences for sin were publicly offered for sale by the authority of the pope. By the price of crime a temple was to be built up for God’s worship,—the corner-stone laid with the wages of in- iquity. But the very means of Rome’s aggrandizement pro- voked the deadliest blow to her power and greatness. It was this that aroused the most determined and successful of the enemies of popery, and led to the battle which shook the papal throne to its foundation, and jostled the triple crown upon the pontiff’s head.

The official appointed to conduct the sale of indulgences in Germany—Tetzel by name—had been convicted of the basest offenses against society and against the law of God; but having escaped the punishment due to his crimes, he was employed to further the mercenary and unscrupulous projects of the Romish Church. With great ef-

86 The Great Controversy

frontery he repeated the most glaring falsehoods, and related marvelous tales to deceive an ignorant, credulous, and su- perstitious people. Had they possessed the word of God, they would not have been thus deceived. It was to keep them un- der the control of the papacy, that they might swell the power and wealth of her ambitious leaders, that the Bible had been withheld from them.

As Tetzel entered a town, a messenger went before him, announcing, “The grace of God and of the holy father is at your gates.” And the people welcomed the blasphemous pre- tender as if he were God Himself come down from Heaven to them. The infamous traffic was set up in the church, and Tetzel, ascending the pulpit, extolled indulgences as the most precious gift of God. He declared that by virtue of his cer- tificates of pardon, all the sins which the purchaser should afterward desire to commit would be forgiven him, and that even repentance was not indispensable. More than this, he assured his hearers that the indulgences had power to save not only the living but the dead; that the very moment the money should clink against the bottom of his chest, the soul in whose behalf it had been paid would escape from purga- tory and make its way to Heaven.

When Simon Magus offered to purchase of the apostles the power to work miracles, Peter answered him, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” Acts 8:20. But Tetzel’s offer was grasped by eager thousands. Gold and silver flowed into his treasury. A salvation that could be bought with money was more easily obtained than that which requires repen- tance, faith, and diligent effort to resist and overcome sin.

The doctrine of indulgences had been opposed by men of learning and piety in the Romish Church, and there were many who had no faith in pretensions so contrary to both reason and revelation. Yet no bishop dared lift his voice against the fraud and corruption of this iniqui- tous traffic. The minds of men were becoming disturbed and uneasy, and many eagerly inquired if God would not work through some instrumentality for the purification of His

Luther’s Separation from Rome [127-129] 8 7


Luther, though still a papist of the straitest sort, was filled with horror at the blasphemous assumptions of the indulgence-mongers. Many of his own congregation had purchased certificates of pardon, and they soon began to come to their pastor, confessing their various sins, and expecting absolution, not because they were penitent and wished to reform, but on the ground of the indulgence. Luther refused them absolution, and warned them that unless they should repent, and reform their lives, they must perish in their sins. In great perplexity they sought out Tetzel, and informed him that an Augustine monk had treated his letters with contempt. The friar was filled with rage. He uttered the most terrible curses, caused fires to be lighted in the public square, and declared that he had orders from the pope to burn the her- etics who dared oppose his most holy indulgences.

Luther now entered boldly upon his work as a cham- pion of the truth. His voice was heard from the pulpit in earnest, solemn warning. He set before the people the of- fensive character of sin, and taught them that it is impos- sible for man, by his own works, to lessen its guilt or evade its punishment. Nothing but repentance toward God and faith in Christ can save the sinner. The grace of Christ cannot be purchased; it is a free gift. He counseled the people not to buy the indulgences, but to look in faith to a crucified Re- deemer. He related his own painful experience in vainly seek- ing by humiliation and penance to secure salvation, and as- sured his hearers that it was by looking away from himself and believing in Christ that he found peace and joy.

As Tetzel continued his traffic and his impious preten- sions, Luther determined upon a more effectual protest against these crying abuses. The festival of All-Saints was an important day for Wittemberg. The costly relics of the church were then displayed, and remission of sin was granted to all who visited the church and made confession. Accord- ingly on this day the people in great numbers resorted thither. On the day preceding the festival, Luther went boldly to the church, to which crowds of worshipers were already

88 The Great Controversy

repairing, and affixed to the door ninety-five proposi- tions against the doctrine of indulgences. These theses he declared himself ready to defend against all opposers.

His propositions attracted universal attention. They were read and re-read and repeated in every direction. Great ex- citement was created in the university and in the whole city. By these theses it was shown that the power to grant the pardon of sin, and to remit its penalty, had never been com- mitted to the pope or to any other man. The whole scheme was a farce,—an artifice to extort money by playing upon the superstitions of the people,—a device of Satan to de- stroy the souls of all who should trust to its lying preten- sions. It was also clearly shown that the gospel of Christ is the most valuable treasure of the church, and that the grace of God, therein revealed, is freely bestowed upon all who seek it by repentance and faith.

Luther’s theses challenged discussion; but no one dared accept the challenge. The questions which he pro- posed had in a few days spread through all Germany, and in a few weeks they had sounded throughout Chris- tendom. Many devoted Romanists, who had seen and la- mented the terrible iniquity prevailing in the church, but had not known how to arrest its progress, read the propositions with great joy, recognizing in them the voice of God. They felt that the Lord had graciously set His hand to arrest the rapidly swelling tide of corruption that was issuing from the see of Rome. Princes and magistrates secretly rejoiced that a check was to be put upon the arrogant power from which there was no appeal.

But the sin-loving and superstitious multitudes were ter- rified as the sophistries that had soothed their fears were swept away. Crafty ecclesiastics, interrupted in their work of sanctioning crime, and seeing their gains endangered, were enraged, and rallied to uphold their pretensions. The Reformer had bitter accusers to meet. Some charged him with acting hastily and from impulse. Others accused him of presumption, declaring that he was not directed of God, but was acting from pride and forwardness. “Who does not

Luther’s Separation from Rome [129-131] 8 9

know,” he responded, “that one can seldom advance a new idea without having some appearance of pride, and without being accused of exciting quarrels? Why were Christ and all the martyrs put to death?—Because they appeared proud despisers of the wisdom of the times in which they lived, and because they brought forward new truths without hav- ing first consulted the oracles of the old opinions.”

Again he declared: “What I am doing will not be effected by the prudence of man, but by the counsel of God. If the work be of God, who shall stop it? If it be not, who shall forward it? Not my will, not theirs, not ours, but Thy will, holy Father who art in Heaven!”

Though Luther had been moved by the Spirit of God to begin his work, he was not to carry it forward with- out severe conflicts. The reproaches of his enemies, their misrepresentation of his purposes, and their unjust and mali- cious reflections upon his character and motives, came in upon him like an overwhelming flood; and they were not without effect. He had felt confident that the leaders in the church and the philosophers of the nation, would gladly unite with him in efforts for reform. Words of encouragement from those in high position had inspired him with joy and hope. Already in anticipation he had seen a brighter day dawning for the church. But encouragement had changed to reproach and condemnation. Many dignitaries, both of Church and State, were convicted of the truthfulness of his theses; but they soon saw that the acceptance of these truths would involve great changes. To enlighten and reform the people would be virtually to undermine the papal authority, to stop thousands of streams now flowing into her treasury, and thus greatly to curtail the extravagance and luxury of the Romish leaders. Furthermore, to teach the people to think and act as responsible beings, looking to Christ alone for salvation, would overthrow the pontiff’s throne, and eventu- ally destroy their own authority. For this reason they refused the knowledge tendered them of God, and arrayed themselves against Christ and the truth by their opposition to the man whom He had sent to enlighten them.

90 The Great Controversy

Luther trembled as he looked upon himself,—one man opposed to the mightiest powers of earth. He sometimes doubted whether he had indeed been led of God to set him- self against the authority of the church. “Who was I,” he writes, “to oppose the majesty of the pope, before whom the kings of the earth and the whole world trembled?” “No one can know what I suffered in those first two years, and into what dejection and even despair I was sunk.” But he was not left to become utterly disheartened. When human support failed, he looked to God alone, and learned that he could lean in perfect safety upon that all-powerful arm.

To a friend of the Reformation Luther wrote: “We cannot attain to the understanding of Scripture either by study or strength of intellect. Therefore your first duty must be to begin with prayer. Entreat the Lord to deign to grant you, in His rich mercy, rightly to understand His word. There is no other interpreter of the word but the Author of that word Himself. Even as He has said, ‘They shall be all taught of God.’ Hope nothing from your study and strength of intel- lect; but simply put your trust in God, and in the guidance of His Spirit. Believe one who has made trial of this matter.” Here is a lesson of vital importance to those who feel that God has called them to present to others the solemn truths for this time. These truths will stir the enmity of Satan, and of men who love the fables that he has devised. In the con- flict with the powers of evil, there is need of something more than intellect and human wisdom.

When enemies appealed to custom and tradition, or to the assertions and authority of the pope, Luther met them with the Bible and the Bible alone. Here were argu- ments which they could not answer; therefore the slaves of formalism and superstition clamored for his blood, as the Jews had clamored for the blood of Christ. “He is a heretic,” cried the Roman zealots; “it is a sin to allow him to live an hour longer! Away with him at once to the scaffold!” But Luther did not fall a prey to their fury. God had a work for him to do, and angels of Heaven were sent to protect him. Many, however, who had received from Luther the precious

Luther’s Separation from Rome [132-134] 9 1

light, were made the objects of Satan’s wrath, and for the truth’s sake fearlessly suffered torture and death.

Luther’s teachings attracted the attention of thought- ful minds throughout all Germany. From his sermons and writings issued beams of light which awakened and illumi- nated thousands. A living faith was taking the place of the dead formalism in which the church had so long been held. The people were daily losing confidence in the superstitions of Romanism. The barriers of prejudice were giving way. The word of God, by which Luther tested every doctrine and every claim, was like a two-edged sword, cutting its way to the hearts of the people. Everywhere there was awakening a desire for spiritual progress. Everywhere was such a hun- gering and thirsting after righteousness as had not been known for ages. The eyes of the people, so long directed to human rites and human mediators, were now turning, in peni- tence and faith, to Christ and Him crucified.

This wide-spread interest aroused still further the fears of the papal authorities. Luther received a summons to ap- pear at Rome to answer to the charge of heresy. The com- mand filled his friends with terror. They knew full well the danger that threatened him in that corrupt city, already drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. They protested against his going to Rome, and requested that he receive his examination in Germany.

This arrangement was finally effected, and the pope’s legate was appointed to hear the case. In the instructions communicated by the pontiff to this official, it was stated that Luther had already been declared a heretic. The legate was therefore charged to prosecute and reduce him to sub- mission without delay. If he should remain steadfast, and the legate should fail to gain possession of his person, he was empowered to proscribe him in all places in Germany, to put away, curse, and excommunicate all who were attached to him. And further, the pope called upon his legate, in order entirely to root out the pestilent heresy, to excommunicate all, of whatever dignity in Church or State, except the em- peror, who should neglect to seize Luther and his adherents,

92 The Great Controversy

and deliver them up to suffer the vengeance of Rome.
Here is displayed the true spirit of popery. Not a trace of Christian principle, or even of common justice, is to be seen in the whole document. Luther was at a great distance from Rome; he had had no opportunity to explain or defend his position; yet before his case had been investigated, he was summarily pronounced a heretic, and in the same day, ex- horted, accused, judged, and condemned; and all this by the self-styled holy father, the only supreme, infallible authority 
in Church or State!

Augsburg had been fixed upon as the place of trial, and the Reformer set out on foot to perform the journey thither. Serious fears were entertained in his behalf. Threats had been made openly that he would be waylaid and mur- dered on the way, and his friends begged him not to venture. They even entreated him to leave Wittemberg for a time, and find safety with those who would gladly protect him. But he would not leave the position where God had placed him. He must continue faithfully to maintain the truth, notwithstand- ing the storms that were beating upon him. His language was: “I am like Jeremiah, a man of strife and contention; but the more they increase their threatenings, the more they mul- tiply my joy. . . . They have already torn to pieces my honor and my good name. All I have left is my wretched body; let them have it; they will then shorten my life by a few hours. But as to my soul, they shall not have that. He who resolves to bear the word of Christ to the world, must expect death at every hour.”

The tidings of Luther’s arrival at Augsburg gave great satisfaction to the papal legate. The troublesome heretic who was exciting the attention of the whole world seemed now in the power of Rome, and the legate determined that he should not leave the city as he had entered. The Reformer had failed to provide himself with a safe-conduct. His friends urged him not to appear before the legate without one, and they themselves undertook to procure it from the emperor. The legate intended to force Luther, if possible, to retract, or, failing in this, to cause him to be conveyed to Rome, to

Luther’s Separation from Rome [134-137] 9 3

share the fate of Huss and Jerome. Therefore through his agents he endeavored to induce Luther to appear without a safe-conduct, trusting himself to his mercy. This the Reformer firmly declined to do. Not until he had received the docu- ment pledging him the emperor’s protection, did he appear in the presence of the papal ambassador.

As a matter of policy, the Romanists had decided to attempt to win Luther by an appearance of gentleness. The legate, in his interviews with him, professed great friend- liness; but he demanded that Luther submit implicitly to the authority of the church, and yield every point without argu- ment or question. He had not rightly estimated the character of the man with whom he had to deal. Luther, in reply, ex- pressed his regard for the church, his desire for the truth, his readiness to answer all objections to what he had taught, and to submit his doctrines to the decision of certain leading uni- versities. But at the same time he protested against the cardinal’s course in requiring him to retract without having proved him in error.

The only response was, “Recant, recant.” The Reformer showed that his position was sustained by the Scriptures, and firmly declared that he could not renounce the truth.

When the prelate saw that Luther’s reasoning was un- answerable, he lost all self-control, and in a rage cried out: “Retract, or I will send you to Rome, there to appear before the judges commissioned to take cognizance of your case. I will excommunicate you and all your partisans, and all who shall at any time countenance you, and will cast them out of the church.” And he finally declared, in a haughty and angry tone, “Retract, or return no more.”

The Reformer retired with his friends, leaving the cardi- nal and his supporters to look at one another in utter confu- sion at the unexpected result of the conference.

Luther’s efforts on this occasion were not without good results. The large assembly present had opportunity to com- pare the two men, and to judge for themselves of the spirit manifested by them, as well as of the strength and truthful- ness of their positions. How marked the contrast! The Re-

94 The Great Controversy

former, simple, humble, firm, stood up in the strength of God, having truth on his side; the pope’s representative, self-im- portant, overbearing, haughty, and unreasonable, was with- out a single argument from the Scriptures yet vehemently crying, “Retract, or be sent to Rome for punishment.”

Notwithstanding Luther had secured a safe-conduct, the Romanists were plotting to seize and imprison him. His friends urged that as it was useless for him to prolong his stay, he should return to Wittemberg without delay, and that the utmost caution should be observed in order to con- ceal his intentions. He accordingly left Augsburg before daybreak, on horseback, accompanied only by a guide fur- nished him by the magistrate. With many forebodings he secretly made his way through the dark and silent streets of the city. Enemies, vigilant and cruel, were plotting his de- struction. Would he escape the snares prepared for him? Those were moments of anxiety and earnest prayer. He reached a small gate in the wall of the city. It was opened for him, and with his guide he passed through without hindrance. Once beyond the limits, he soon left the city far behind. Sa- tan and his emissaries were defeated. The man whom they had thought in their power was gone, escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowler.

At the news of Luther’s departure, the legate was overwhelmed with surprise and anger. He had expected to re- ceive great honor for his wisdom and firmness in dealing with this disturber of the church; but his hope was disap- pointed. He gave expression to his wrath in a letter to Frederick, the elector of Saxony, bitterly denouncing Luther, and demanding that Frederick send the Reformer to Rome or banish him from Saxony.

In defense, Luther urged that the legate or the pope show him his errors from the Scriptures, and pledged himself in the most solemn manner to renounce his doctrines if they could be shown to contradict the word of God. And he ex- pressed his gratitude to God that he had been counted wor- thy to suffer in so holy a cause. These words made a deep impression upon the elector, and he resolved to stand as

Luther’s Separation from Rome [137-140] 9 5

Luther’s protector. He refused to send him to Rome, or to expel him from his territories.

The elector saw that there was a general breaking down of the moral restraints of society. A great work of reform was needed. The complicated and expensive arrangements to restrain and punish crime would be unnecessary if men but acknowledged and obeyed the requirements of God and the dictates of an enlightened conscience. He saw that Luther was laboring to secure this object, and he se- cretly rejoiced that a better influence was making itself felt in the church.

He saw also that as a professor in the university, Luther was eminently successful. From all parts of Germany, stu- dents crowded to Wittemberg to listen to his teachings. Young men, coming in sight of the city for the first time, would raise their hands toward heaven, and thank God that he had caused the light of his truth to shine forth from that place as in former ages from Jerusalem.

Luther was as yet but partially converted from the errors of Romanism. But as he compared the holy oracles with the papal decrees and constitutions, he was filled with wonder. “I am reading,” he wrote, “the decretals of the popes, and . . . I know not whether the pope is antichrist himself, or whether he is his apostle, so misrepresented and even crucified does Christ appear in them.” Yet at this time Luther was still a supporter of the Roman Church, and had no thought that he would ever separate from her commun- ion.

The Reformer’s writings and his doctrine were extend- ing to every nation in Christendom. The work spread to Switzerland and Holland. Copies of his writings found their way to France and Spain. In England his teachings were re- ceived as the word of life. To Belgium and Italy also the truth had extended. Thousands were awakening from their deathlike stupor to the joy and hope of a life of faith.

Rome became more and more exasperated by the attacks of Luther, and it was secretly declared by some of his fanati- cal opponents, that he who should take his life would be

96 The Great Controversy

without sin. One day a stranger, with a pistol concealed un- der his cloak, approached the Reformer, and inquired why he went thus alone. “I am in the hands of God,” answered Luther. “He is my help and my shield. What can men do unto me?” Upon hearing these words, the stranger turned pale, and fled away, as from the presence of the angels of Heaven.

Rome was bent upon the destruction of Luther; but God was his defense. His doctrines were heard every- where,—in convents, in cottages, in the castles of the nobles, in the universities, in the palaces of kings; and noble men were rising on every hand to sustain his efforts.

In an appeal to the emperor and nobility of Germany in behalf of the Reformation of Christianity, Luther wrote con- cerning the pope: “It is monstrous to see him who is called the vicar of Christ, displaying a magnificence unrivaled by that of any emperor. Is this to represent the poor and lowly Jesus or the humble St. Peter? The pope, say they, is the lord of the world! But Christ, whose vicar he boasts of being, said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ Can the dominions of a vicar extend beyond those of his superior?”

He wrote thus of the universities: “I fear much that the universities will be found to be great gates leading down to hell, unless they take diligent care to explain the Holy Scrip- tures, and to engrave them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Holy Scriptures are not re- garded as the rule of life. Every institution where the word of God is not diligently studied, must become corrupt.”

This appeal was rapidly circulated throughout Germany, and exerted a powerful influence upon the people. The whole nation was roused to rally around the standard of reform. Luther’s opponents, burning with a desire for revenge, urged the pope to take decisive measures against him. It was de- creed that his doctrines should be condemned immediately. Sixty days were granted the Reformer and his adher- ents, after which, if they did not recant, they were all to be excommunicated.

That was a terrible crisis for the Reformation. For centu-

Luther’s Separation from Rome [140-142] 9 7

ries Rome’s sentence of excommunication had been swiftly followed by the stroke of death. Luther was not blind to the tempest about to burst upon him; but he stood firm, trusting in Christ to be his support and shield. With a martyr’s faith and courage he wrote: “What is about to happen I know not, and I care not to know.” “Wherever the blow may reach me, I fear not. Not so much as a leaf falls without the will of our Father; how much rather will He care for us! It is a little matter to die for the Word, since His Word, that was made flesh for us, hath Himself died. If we die with Him, we shall live with Him; and, passing through that which He has passed through before us, we shall be where He is, and dwell with Him forever.”

When the papal bull reached Luther, he said: “I de- spise it, and resist it, as impious and false. It is Christ Him- self who is condemned therein.” “I glory in the prospect of suffering for the best of causes. Already I feel greater lib- erty; for I know now that the pope is antichrist, and that his throne is that of Satan himself.”

Yet the word of the pontiff of Rome still had power. Prison, torture, and sword were weapons potent to enforce submis- sion. Everything seemed to indicate that the Reformer’s work was about to close. The weak and superstitious trembled be- fore the decree of the pope, and while there was general sym- pathy for Luther, many felt that life was too dear to be risked in the cause of reform.

But Luther proceeded to publicly burn the pope’s bull, with the canon laws, the decretals, and certain writings sus- taining the papal power. By this action he boldly declared his final separation from the Roman Church. He accepted his excommunication, and proclaimed to the world that be- tween himself and the pope there must hereafter be war. The great contest was now fully entered upon. Soon after, a new bull appeared, and the excommunication which had before been threatened, was finally pronounced against the Reformer and all who should receive his doctrines.

Opposition is the lot of all whom God employs to present truths specially applicable to their time. There was a present

98 The Great Controversy

truth,—a truth at that time of special importance,—in the days of Luther; there is a present truth for the church to-day. But truth is no more desired by the majority to-day than it was by the papists who opposed Luther. There is the same disposition to accept the theories and traditions of men for the word of God as in former ages. Those who present truth for this time should not expect to be received with greater favor than were earlier reformers. The great controversy between truth and error, between Christ and Satan, is to increase in intensity to the close of this world’s history.


“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Philippians 1:29.

“Ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 10:22.

“He that findeth His life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” Matthew 10:39.

“And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” 2 Corinthians 1:7.

“Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to en- joy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Hebrews 11:25.

“For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:16.

“And if children then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” Ro- mans 8:17.

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” 2 Timothy 2:12.

“And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Acts 5:41 (9:16).

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:17.

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10.

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake.” Matthew 5:11.


“We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.” Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter, June 20, 1894.

“The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under veil of flesh.” The Catholic National, July, 1895. “We define that the Holy Apostolic See [Vatican] and the Roman Pontiff hold the primacy over the whole world.” Council of Trent, Decree, quoted in Philippe Labbe and Gabriel Cossart, The Most Holy Councils, Vol. 13, col.

“Christ entrusted His office to the chief pontiff . . but all power in heaven

and in earth has been given to Christ; . . therefore the chief pontiff, who is His vicar, will have this power.” Corpus Juris Canonici, 1555 ed., Vol. 3, Extravagantes Communes, Book 1, chap. 1, col. 29.

“Hence the Pope is crowned with a triple crown, as king of heaven and of earth and of the lower regions [infernorum; the fiery place].” Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca, “Papa” [the Pope], art. 2, 1772-1777 ed., Vol. 6, p. 29.

“For thou art the shepherd, thou art the physician, thou art the director, thou art the husbandman; finally, thou art another God on Earth.” Christo- pher Marcellus, Oration in the fifth Lateran Council, session IV (1512), in J.D. Mansi (ed.), Sacrorum Conciliorum, Vol. 32, col. 761.

“The priests are the parents of God.” St. Bernard [fifth century arch- bishop].

“O wonderful dignity of the priests! In their hands as in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, the Son of God becomes incarnate!” Augustine.

“The pope himself is the keybearer and the doorkeeper, therefore no one can appeal from the pope to God.” Augustinus Triumphus, Summa de Potestate.

“All the names which in the Scriptures are applied to Christ, by virtue of which it is established that He is over the church, all the same names are applied to the Pope.” Robert Bellarmine, On the Authority of the Councils.

“Ques. How prove you that the Church hath power to command feasts and holy days?

“Ans. By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Prot- estants allow of [by observing it], and therefore they fondly contradict them- selves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts com- manded by the same church.” Priest Henry Tuberville, An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine, p. 58.

100 The Great Controversy

Here I Stand   Chapter Seven
— Luther before the Diet

——————————————————————— Charles the Fifth seemed to be the man for his time: the newly crowned emperor of Europe. And then he met Martin Luther— and his troubles began. For it led to a battle that would last the rest of his lifetime, a battle he would ultimately lose —

Hear Martin Luther defend the Word of God before the great men of earth—though he knew it meant his death. This is a story that you will want to read for yourself — ———————————————————————

A new emperor, Charles the Fifth, had ascended the throne of Germany, and the emissaries of Rome hastened to present their congratulations, and induce the mon- arch to employ his power against the Reformation. On the other hand, the Elector of Saxony, to whom Charles was in great degree indebted for his crown, entreated him to take no step against Luther until he should have granted him a hearing. The emperor was thus placed in a position of great perplexity and embarrassment. The papists would be satis- fied with nothing short of an imperial edict sentencing Luther to death. The elector had declared firmly that neither his im- perial majesty nor any one else had yet made it appear to him that the Reformer’s writings had been refuted; therefore he requested that Doctor Luther be furnished with a safe- conduct, so that he might answer for himself before a tribu- nal of learned, pious, and impartial judges.

The attention of all parties was now directed to the assembly of the German States which convened at Worms soon after the accession of Charles to the empire. There were important political questions and interests to be con-

Luther before the Diet [145-147] 1 0 1

sidered by this national council; but these appeared of little moment when contrasted with the cause of the monk of Wittemberg.

Charles had previously directed the elector to bring Luther with him to the Diet, assuring him that the Reformer should be protected from all violence, and should be allowed a free conference with one competent to discuss the disputed points. Luther was anxious to appear before the emperor. His health was at this time much impaired; yet he wrote to the elector: “If I cannot perform the journey to Worms in good health, I will be carried there, sick as I am. For, since the emperor has summoned me, I cannot doubt that it is the call of God Him- self. If they intend to use violence against me, as they prob- ably do, for assuredly it is with no view of gaining informa- tion that they require me to appear before them, I place the matter in the Lord’s hands. He still lives and reigns who pre- served the three Israelites in the fiery furnace. If it be not His will to save me, my life is of little consequence. Let us only take care that the gospel be not exposed to the scorn of the ungodly, and let us shed our blood in its defense rather than allow them to triumph. Who shall say whether my life or my death would contribute most to the salvation of my breth- ren?” “Expect anything from me but flight or recantation. Fly I cannot; still less can I recant.”

As the news was circulated at Worms that Luther was to appear before the Diet, a general excitement was cre- ated. Aleander, the papal legate to whom his case had been specially intrusted, was alarmed and enraged. He saw that the result would be disastrous to the papal cause. To insti- tute inquiry into a case in which the pope had already pro- nounced sentence of condemnation, would be to cast con- tempt upon the authority of the sovereign pontiff. Further-


HISTORICAL DATING OF THIS CHAPTER—Charles V (1500- 1558), the new emperor, was only 21 when he convened the Diet [Coun- cil] of Worms. Meeting in November 1520, Luther appeared before it on April 17, 1521, and gave his defense the next day. After being secretly taken to the Wartburg Castle, he began translating the New Testament in December. It was published in September 1522.

102 The Great Controversy

more, he was apprehensive that the eloquent and powerful arguments of this man might turn away many of the princes from the cause of the pope. He therefore, in the most urgent manner, remonstrated with Charles against Luther’s appear- ance at Worms. He warned, entreated, and threatened, until the emperor yielded, and wrote to the elector that if Luther would not retract, he must remain at Wittemberg.

Not content with this victory, Aleander labored with all the power and cunning at his command to secure Luther’s condemnation. With a persistence worthy of a better cause, he urged the matter upon the attention of princes, prelates, and other members of the assembly, accusing the Reformer of sedition, rebellion, impiety, and blasphemy. But the vehemence and passion manifested by the legate plainly revealed that he was actuated by hatred and revenge rather than by zeal for religion. It was the prevailing sentiment of the assembly that Luther was innocent.

With redoubled zeal, Aleander urged upon the em- peror the duty of executing the papal edicts. Overcome at last by this importunity, Charles bade the legate present his case to the Diet. Rome had few advocates better fitted, by nature and education, to defend her cause. The friends of the Reformer looked forward with some anxiety to the result of Aleander’s speech.

There was no little excitement when the legate, with great dignity and pomp, appeared before the national assembly. Many called to mind the scene of our Saviour’s trial, when Annas and Caiaphas, before the judgment-seat of Pilate, demanded the death of Him “that perverted the people.”

With all the power of learning and eloquence, Aleander set himself to overthrow the truth. Charge after charge he hurled against Luther as an enemy of the Church and the State, the living and the dead, clergy and laity, councils and private Christians. “There is enough in the errors of Luther,” he declared, “to warrant the burning of a hun- dred thousand heretics.”

In conclusion, he endeavored to cast contempt upon the

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adherents of the reformed faith: “What are all these Lutherans?—A motley rabble of insolent grammarians, cor- rupt priests, dissolute monks, ignorant lawyers, and degraded nobles, with the common people whom they have misled and perverted. How greatly superior is the Catholic party in num- bers, intelligence, and power! A unanimous decree from this illustrious assembly will open the eyes of the simple, show the unwary their danger, determine the wavering, and strengthen the weak-hearted.”

With such weapons have the advocates of truth in every age been attacked. The same arguments are still urged against all who dare to present, in opposition to established errors, the plain and direct teachings of God’s word. “Who are these preachers of new doctrines?” exclaim those who desire a popular religion. “They are unlearned, few in numbers, and of the poorer class. Yet they claim to have the truth, and to be the chosen people of God. They are ignorant and deceived. How greatly superior in numbers and influence are our de- nominations! How many great and learned men are in our churches! How much more power is on our side!” These are the arguments that have a telling influence upon the world; but they are no more conclusive now than in the days of the Reformer.

The Reformation did not, as many suppose, end with Luther. It is to be continued to the close of this world’s history. Luther had a great work to do in reflecting to others the light which God had permitted to shine upon him; yet he did not receive all the light which was to be given to the world. From that time to this, new light has been continually shining upon the Scriptures, and new truths have been constantly unfolding.

The legate’s address made a deep impression upon the Diet. There was no Luther present, with the clear and convincing truths of God’s word, to vanquish the papal cham- pion. No attempt was made to defend the Reformer. There was manifest a general impulse to root out the Lutheran her- esy from the empire. Rome had enjoyed the most favorable opportunity to defend her cause. The greatest of her orators

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had spoken. All that she could say in her own vindication had been said. But the apparent victory was the signal of defeat. Henceforth the contrast between truth and error would be more clearly seen, as they should take the field in open warfare. Never from that day would Rome stand as secure as she had stood.

The majority of the assembly were ready to sacrifice Luther to the demands of the pope; but many of them saw and de- plored the existing depravity in the church, and desired a suppression of the abuses suffered by the German people in consequence of Rome’s corruption and greed of gain. The legate had presented the papal rule in the most favor- able light. Now the Lord moved upon a member of the Diet to give a true delineation of the effects of papal tyr- anny. With noble firmness, Duke George of Saxony stood up in that princely assembly, and specified with terrible ex- actness the deceptions and abominations of popery, and their dire results. In closing he said:

“These are but a few of the abuses which cry out against Rome for redress. All shame is laid aside, and one object alone incessantly pursued: money! evermore money! so that the very men whose duty it is to teach the truth, utter nothing but falsehoods, and are not only tolerated but rewarded; be- cause the greater their lies, the greater are their gains. This is the foul source from which so many corrupt streams flow out on every side. Profligacy and avarice go hand in hand. Alas! it is the scandal caused by the clergy that plunges so many poor souls into everlasting perdition. A thorough reform must be effected.”

A more able and forcible denunciation of the papal abuses could not have been made by Luther himself; and the fact that the speaker was a determined enemy of the Reformer, gave greater influence to his words.

Had the eyes of the assembly been opened, they would have beheld angels of God in the midst of them, shedding beams of light athwart the darkness of error, and opening minds and hearts to the reception of truth. It was the power of the God of truth and wisdom that controlled even the ad-

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versaries of the Reformation, and thus prepared the way for the great work about to be accomplished. Martin Luther was not present; but the voice of One greater than Luther had been heard in that assembly.

The council now demanded the Reformer’s appearance before them. Notwithstanding the entreaties, protests, and threats of Aleander, the emperor at last consented, and Luther was summoned to appear before the Diet. With the summons was issued a safe-conduct, insuring his return to a place of security. These were borne to Wittemberg by a herald, who was commissioned to conduct him to Worms.

The friends of Luther were terrified and distressed. Know- ing the prejudice and enmity against him, they feared that even his safe-conduct would not be respected, and they entreated him not to imperil his life. He replied: “The papists have little desire to see me at Worms, but they long for my condemnation and death. It matters not. Pray not for me, but for the word of God. . . . Christ will give me His Spirit to overcome these ministers of Satan. I despise them while I live; I will triumph over them by my death. They are busy at Worms about compelling me to recant. My recantation shall be this: I said formerly that the pope was Christ’s vicar; now I say that he is the adversary of the Lord, and the apostle of the devil.”

Luther was not to make his perilous journey alone. Be- sides the imperial messenger, three of his firmest friends determined to accompany him. A multitude of students and citizens, to whom the gospel was precious, bade him fare- well with weeping, as he departed. Thus the Reformer and his companions set out from Wittemberg.

On the journey they saw that the minds of the people were oppressed by gloomy forebodings. At some towns no hon- ors were proffered them. As they stopped for the night, a friendly priest expressed his fears by holding up before Luther the portrait of an Italian reformer who had suffered martyr- dom for the truth’s sake. The next day they learned that Luther’s writings had been condemned at Worms. Im-

106 The Great Controversy

perial messengers were proclaiming the emperor’s decree, and urging all men to bring the proscribed works to the mag- istrates. The herald, in alarm, asked the Reformer if he still wished to go forward. He answered, “I will go on, though I should be put under interdict in every town.”

At Erfurth, Luther was received with honor. Surrounded by admiring crowds, he entered the city where, in his earlier years, he had often begged a morsel of bread. He was urged to preach. This he had been forbidden to do; but the herald gave his consent, and the monk whose duty it once was to unclose the gates and sweep the aisles, now ascended the pulpit, while the people listened to his words as if spell- bound. The bread of life was broken to those starving souls. Christ was lifted up before them as above popes, legates, emperors, and kings. Luther made no reference to his own perilous position. He did not seek to make himself the object of thought or sympathy. In the contemplation of Christ, he had lost sight of self. He hid behind the Man of Calvary, seeking only to present Jesus as the sinner’s Redeemer.

As the Reformer proceeded on his journey, he was every- where regarded with great interest. An eager multitude thronged about him; and friendly voices warned him of the purpose of the Romanists. “You will be burned alive,” said they, “and your body reduced to ashes, as was that of John Huss.” Luther answered, “Though they should kindle a fire all the way from Worms to Wittemberg, whose flames should rise up to heaven, I would go through it in the name of the Lord, and stand before them; I would enter the jaws of this behemoth, and break his teeth, confessing the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The news of his approach to Worms created great commotion. His friends trembled for his safety; his en- emies feared for the success of their cause. Strenuous ef- forts were made to dissuade him from entering the city. The papists urged him to repair to the castle of a friendly knight, where, they declared, all difficulties could be amicably ad- justed. The advocates of truth endeavored to excite his fears by describing the dangers that threatened him. All their ef-

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forts failed. Luther, still unshaken, declared, “Though there should be as many devils at Worms as there are tiles on its roofs, I would enter.”

Upon his arrival at Worms, the crowd that flocked to the gates to welcome him was even greater than at the public entry of the emperor himself. The excitement was intense, and from the midst of the throng a shrill and plaintive voice chanted a funeral dirge, as a warning to Luther of the fate that awaited him. “God will be my defense,” said he, as he alighted from his carriage.

The emperor immediately convoked his council to con- sider what course should be pursued toward Luther. One of the bishops, a rigid papist, declared: “We have long con- sulted on this matter. Let your majesty get rid of this man at once. Did not Sigismund bring John Huss to the stake? We are under no obligation either to give or to observe the safe- conduct of a heretic.” “Not so,” said the emperor; “we must keep our promise.” It was therefore decided that the Reformer should be heard.

All the city were eager to see this remarkable man, and he had enjoyed but a few hours’ rest when noblemen, knights, priests, and citizens gathered about him. Even his enemies marked his firm, courageous bearing, the kindly and joyous expression upon his countenance, and the solemn elevation and deep earnestness that gave to his words an irresistible power. Some were convinced that a divine influence attended him; others declared, as had the Pharisees concerning Christ, “He hath a devil.”

On the following day, Luther was summoned to at- tend the Diet. An imperial officer was appointed to conduct him to the hall of audience; yet it was with difficulty that he reached the place. Every avenue was crowded with specta- tors, eager to look upon the monk who had dared resist the authority of the pope.

As he was about to enter the presence of his judges, an old general, the hero of many battles, said to him kindly, “Poor monk! poor monk! thou art now going to make a no- bler stand than I, or any other captains, have ever made in

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our most bloody battles. But if thy cause is just, and thou art sure of it, go forward in God’s name, and fear nothing! He will not forsake thee.”

At length Luther stood before the council. The em- peror occupied the throne. He was surrounded by the most illustrious personages in the empire. Never had any man appeared in the presence of a more imposing assembly than that before which Martin Luther was to answer for his faith.

The very fact of that appearance was a signal victory for the truth. That a man whom the pope had condemned should be judged by another tribunal, was virtually a denial of the pontiff’s supreme authority. The Reformer, placed under ban, and denounced from human fellowship by the pope, had been assured protection, and was granted a hearing, by the high- est dignitaries of the nation. Rome had commanded him to be silent; but he was about to speak in the presence of thou- sands from all parts of Christendom.

In the presence of that powerful and titled assembly, the lowly-born Reformer seemed awed and embarrassed. Sev- eral of the princes, observing his emotion, approached him, and one of them whispered, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” Another said, “When ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, it shall be given you, by the Spirit of your Father, what ye shall say.” Thus the words of Christ were brought by the world’s great men to strengthen His servant in the hour of trial.

Luther was conducted to a position directly in front of the emperor’s throne. A deep silence fell upon the crowded assembly. Then an imperial officer arose, and, pointing to a collection of Luther’s writings, demanded that the Reformer answer two questions,—whether he acknowl- edged them as his, and whether he proposed to retract the opinions which he had therein advanced. Luther replied that as to the first question, he acknowledged the books to be his. “As to the second,” he said, “seeing it is a question which concerns faith, the salvation of souls, and the word of God,

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which is the greatest and most precious treasure either in Heaven or earth, it would be rash and perilous for me to reply without reflection. I might affirm less than the circum- stances demand, or more than truth requires; in either case I should fall under the sentence of Christ: “Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before the Father which is in Heaven.” For this reason I entreat your impe- rial majesty, with all humility, to allow me time, that I may answer without offending against the word of God.”

In making this request, Luther moved wisely. His course convinced the assembly that he did not act from passion or impulse. Such calmness and self-command, unexpected in one who had shown himself bold and uncompromising, added to his power, and enabled him afterward to answer with a prudence, decision, wisdom, and dignity, that surprised and disappointed his adversaries, and rebuked their insolence and pride.

The next day he was to appear to render his second answer. For a time his heart sunk within him as he con- templated the forces that were combined against the truth. His faith faltered as his enemies seemed to multiply before him, and the powers of darkness to prevail. Clouds gathered about him, and seemed to separate him from God. He longed for the assurance that the Lord of hosts would be with him. In anguish of spirit he threw himself with his face upon the earth, and poured out those broken, heart-rending cries which none but God can fully un- derstand. In his helplessness, his soul fastened upon Christ, the mighty deliverer. It was not for his own safety, but for the success of the truth, that he wrestled with God; and he prevailed. He was strengthened with the assurance that he would not appear alone before the council. Peace returned to his soul, and he rejoiced that he was permitted to uphold and defend the word of God before the rulers of the nation. An all-wise providence had permitted Luther to realize his peril, that he might not trust to his own strength and wisdom, and rush presumptuously into danger. God was preparing His servant for the great work before him.

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As the time for his appearance drew near, Luther ap- proached a table on which lay the Holy Scriptures, placed his left hand upon the sacred volume, and, raising his right hand to Heaven, he vowed to adhere constantly to the gos- pel, and to confess his faith freely, even though he should be called to seal his testimony with his blood.

When he was again ushered into the presence of the Diet, his countenance bore no trace of fear or embar- rassment. Calm and peaceful, yet grandly brave and noble, he stood as God’s witness among the great ones of the earth. The imperial officer now demanded his decision as to whether he desired to retract his doctrines. Luther made his answer in a subdued and humble tone, without violence or pas- sion. His demeanor was diffident and respectful; yet he manifested a confidence and joy that surprised the as- sembly.

He stated that his published works were not all of the same character. In some he had treated of faith and good works, and even his enemies declared them not only harm- less but profitable. To retract these would be to condemn truths which all parties confessed. The second class consisted of writings exposing the corruptions and abuses of the pa- pacy. To revoke these works would strengthen the tyranny of Rome, and open a wider door to many and great impi- eties. In the third class of his books he had attacked indi- viduals who had defended existing evils. Concerning these he freely confessed that he had been more violent than was becoming. He did not claim to be free from fault; but even these books he could not revoke, for such a course would embolden the enemies of truth, and they would then take occasion to crush God’s people with still greater cruelty.

“But as I am a mere man, and not God,” he continued, “I will defend myself as did Christ, who said, ‘If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil.’ By the mercy of God, I im- plore your imperial majesty, or any one else who can, who- ever he may be, to prove to me from the writings of the proph- ets that I am in error. As soon as I shall be convinced, I will instantly retract all my errors, and will be the first to cast my

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books into the fire. What I have just said, will show that I have considered and weighed the dangers to which I am ex- posing myself; but far from being dismayed by them, I re- joice exceedingly to see the gospel this day, as of old, a cause of trouble and dissension. This is the character, the destiny, of God’s word. Said Christ, ‘I came not to send peace, but a sword.’ God is wonderful and terrible in His counsels. Let us have a care lest in our endeavors to arrest discords we be found to fight against the holy word of God, and bring down upon our heads a frightful deluge of inextricable dangers, present disaster, and everlasting desolation. . . . I might cite examples drawn from the oracles of God. I might speak of Pharaohs, of kings of Babylon or of Israel, who were never more contributing to their own ruin than when, by measures in appearance most prudent, they thought to establish their authority. God ‘removeth the mountains, and they know not.’ ”

Luther had spoken in German; he was now requested to repeat the same words in Latin. Though exhausted by the previous effort, he complied, and again delivered his speech, with the same clearness and energy as at the first. God’s providence directed in this matter. The minds of many of the princes were so blinded by error and superstition that at the first delivery they did not see the force of Luther’s reasoning; but the repetition enabled them clearly to per- ceive the points presented.

Those who stubbornly closed their eyes to the light, and determined not to be convinced of the truth, were enraged at the power of Luther’s words. As he ceased speaking, the spokesman of the Diet said angrily, “You have not an- swered the question. A clear and express reply is de- manded. Will you or will you not retract?”

The Reformer answered: “Since your most serene maj- esty and the princes require a simple answer, I will give it thus: Unless I shall be convinced by proofs from Scripture or by evident reason (for I believe neither in popes nor in councils, since they have frequently erred and contradicted themselves), I cannot choose but adhere to the word of God, which has possession of my conscience. Nor can I possibly

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nor will I ever make any recantation, since it is neither safe nor honest to act contrary to conscience. Here I take my stand; I cannot do otherwise. God be my help! Amen.”

Thus stood this righteous man, upon the sure founda- tion of the word of God. The light of Heaven illuminated his countenance. His greatness and purity of character, his peace and joy of heart, were manifest to all as he testified against the power of error, and witnessed to the superiority of that faith that overcomes the world.

The whole assembly were for a time speechless with amazement. The emperor himself and many of the princes were struck with admiration. The partisans of Rome had been worsted; their cause appeared in a most unfavorable light. They sought to maintain their power, not by appealing to the Scriptures, but by a resort to threats, Rome’s unfailing argu- ment. Said the spokesman of the Diet, “If you do not retract, the emperor and the States of the empire will proceed to con- sider how to deal with an obstinate heretic.”

Luther’s friends, who had with great joy listened to his noble defense, trembled at these words; but the doctor him- self said calmly, “May God be my helper! for I can retract nothing.”

Firm as a rock he stood, while the fiercest billows of worldly power beat harmlessly against him. The simple energy of his words, his fearless bearing, his calm, speaking eye, and the unalterable determination expressed in every word and act, made a deep impression upon the assembly. It was evident that he could not be induced, either by promises or threats, to yield to the mandate of Rome.

The papist leaders were chagrined that their power, which had caused kings and nobles to tremble, should be thus despised by a humble monk; they longed to make him feel their wrath by torturing his life away. But Luther, understanding his danger, had spoken to all with Christian dignity and calmness. His words had been free from pride, passion, and misrepresentation. He lost sight of himself, and of the great men surrounding him, and felt only that he was in the presence of One infinitely superior to popes, prelates,

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kings, and emperors. Christ had spoken through Luther’s testimony with a power and grandeur that for the time in- spired both friends and foes with awe and wonder. The Spirit of God had been present in that council, impressing the hearts of the chiefs of the empire. Several of the princes openly acknowledged the justice of Luther’s cause. Many were con- vinced of the truth; but with some the impressions received were not lasting. There was another class who did not at the time express their convictions, but who, having searched the Scriptures for themselves, at a future time declared with great boldness for the Reformation.

The elector Frederick had looked forward with anxiety to Luther’s appearance before the Diet, and with deep emotion he listened to his speech. He rejoiced at the doctor’s courage, firmness, and self-possession, and was proud of being his protector. He contrasted the parties in contest, and saw that the wisdom of popes, kings, and prelates had been brought to naught by the power of truth. The papacy had sustained a defeat which would be felt among all nations and in all ages.

As the legate perceived the effect produced by Luther’s speech, he feared, as never before, for the security of the Romish power, and resolved to employ every means at his command to effect the Reformer’s overthrow. With all the eloquence and diplomatic skill for which he was so eminently distinguished, he represented to the youthful em- peror the folly and danger of sacrificing, in the cause of an insignificant monk, the friendship and support of the power- ful see of Rome.

His words were not without effect. On the day following Luther’s answer, Charles Fifth caused a message to be presented to the Diet, announcing his determination to carry out the policy of his predecessors to maintain and protect the Catholic religion. Since Luther had refused to renounce his errors, the most vigorous measures should be employed against him and the heresies he taught. Neverthe- less, the safe-conduct granted him must be respected, and before proceedings against him could be instituted, he must

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be allowed to reach his home in safety.
“I am firmly resolved to tread in the footsteps of my an-

cestors,” wrote the monarch. He had decided that he would not step out of the path of the custom, even to walk in the ways of truth and righteousness. Because his fathers did, he would uphold the papacy, with all its cruelty and corruption. Thus he took his position, refusing to accept any light in advance of what his fathers had received, or to perform any duty that they had not performed.

He seemed to feel that a change of religious views would be inconsistent with the dignity of a king. There are many at the present day thus clinging to the customs and traditions of their fathers. When the Lord sends them additional light, they refuse to accept it, because, not having been granted to their fathers, it was not received by them. We are not placed where our fathers were; consequently our duties and respon- sibilities are not the same as theirs. We shall not be ap- proved of God in looking to the example of our fathers to determine our duty instead of searching the word of truth for ourselves. Our responsibility is greater than was that of our ancestors. We are accountable for the light which they received, and which was handed down as an inheritance for us, and we are accountable also for the additional light which is now shining upon us from the word of God.

Said Christ of the unbelieving Jews, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin.” John 15:22. The same divine power had spoken through Luther to the emperor and princes of Germany. And as the light shone forth from God’s word, His Spirit pleaded for the last time with many in that assem- bly. As Pilate, centuries before, permitted pride and popu- larity to close his heart against the world’s Redeemer; as the trembling Felix bade the messenger of truth, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will call for thee;” as the proud Agrippa confessed, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,” yet turned away from the Heaven-sent message,—so had Charles Fifth, yielding to the dictates of worldly pride and policy, decided to reject the

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light of truth.

Several of the pope’s adherents demanded that Luther’s safe-conduct should not be respected. “The Rhine,” they said, “should receive his ashes, as it received those of John Huss a century ago.” Rumors of the designs against Luther were widely circulated, causing great excitement throughout the city. The Reformer had made many friends, who, knowing the treacherous cruelty of Rome toward all that dared expose her corruptions, resolved that he should not be sacrificed. Hundreds of nobles pledged themselves to protect him. Not a few openly denounced the royal message as evincing a weak submission to the controlling power of Rome. On the gates of houses and in public places, placards were posted, some condemning and others sustaining Luther. On one of them were written merely the significant words of the wise man, “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child.” The popular enthusiasm in Luther’s favor throughout all Ger- many convinced both the emperor and the Diet that any in- justice shown him would endanger the peace of the empire, and even the stability of the throne.

Frederick of Saxony maintained a studied reserve, carefully concealing his real feelings toward the Re- former, while at the same time he guarded him with tire- less vigilance, watching all his movements and all those of his enemies. But there were many who made no attempt to conceal their sympathy. Princes, knights, gentlemen, eccle- siastics, and common people surrounded Luther’s lodgings, entering and gazing upon him as though he were more than human. Even those who believed him to be in error could not but admire that nobility of soul which led him to imperil his life rather than violate his conscience.

Earnest efforts were made to obtain Luther’s consent to a compromise with Rome. Nobles and princes repre- sented to him that if he persisted in setting up his own judg- ment against that of the church and the councils, he would soon be banished from the empire, and then would have no defense. To this appeal Luther answered: “It is impossible to preach the gospel of Christ without offense. Why, then,

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should the fear of danger separate me from the Lord and that divine word which alone is truth? No; I would rather give up my body, my blood, and my life.”

Again he was urged to submit to the judgment of the em- peror, and then he would have nothing to fear. “I consent,” said he in reply, “with all my heart, that the emperor, the princes, and even the humblest Christian, should examine and judge my writings; but on one condition, that they take God’s word for their guide. Men have nothing to do but ren- der obedience to that. My conscience is in dependence upon that word, and I am the subject of its authority.”

To another appeal he said, “I consent to forego my safe- conduct, and resign my person and my life to the emperor’s disposal; but as to the word of God—never!” He stated his willingness to submit to the decision of a general council, but only on condition that the council be required to decide according to the Scriptures. Both friends and foes were at last convinced that further effort for reconciliation would be useless.

Had the Reformer yielded a single point, Satan and his hosts would have gained the victory. But his unwavering firmness was the means of emancipating the church, and beginning a new and better era. The influence of this one man, who dared to think and act for himself in religious matters, was to affect the church and the world, not only in his own time, but in all future generations. His firmness and fidelity would strengthen all, to the close of time, who should pass through a similar experience. The power and majesty of God stood forth above the counsel of men, above the mighty power of Satan.

Luther was soon commanded by the authority of the emperor to return home, and he knew that this notice would be speedily followed by his condemnation. Threat- ening clouds overhung his path; but as he departed from Worms, his heart was filled with joy and praise. “Satan him- self,” said he, “kept the pope’s citadel; but Christ has made a wide breach in it, and the devil has been compelled to con- fess that Christ is mightier than he.” On this journey the

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Reformer received the most flattering attentions from all classes. Dignitaries of the church welcomed the monk upon whom the pope’s curse rested, and secular officers honored the man who was under the ban of the empire.

He had not been long absent from Worms, when the papists prevailed upon the emperor to issue an edict against him. In this decree Luther was denounced as “Satan himself under the semblance of a man in a monk’s hood.” It was commanded that as soon as his safe-conduct should ex- pire, measures be taken to stop his work. All persons were forbidden to harbor him, to give him food or drink, or by word or act, in public or private, to aid or abet him. He was to be seized wherever he might be, and delivered to the au- thorities. His adherents also were to be imprisoned, and their property confiscated. His writings were to be destroyed, and finally, all who should dare to act contrary to this decree were included in its condemnation. The emperor had spoken, and the Diet had given its sanction to the decree. The Romanists were jubilant. Now they considered the fate of the Reforma- tion sealed.

God had provided a way of escape for His servant in this hour of peril. A vigilant eye had followed Luther’s move- ments, and a true and noble heart had resolved upon his res- cue. It was plain that Rome would be satisfied with nothing short of his death; only by concealment could he be preserved from the jaws of the lion. God gave wisdom to Frederick of Saxony to devise a plan for the Reformer’s preserva- tion. With the co-operation of true friends, the elector’s purpose was carried out, and Luther was effectually hid- den from friends and foes. Upon his homeward journey, he was seized, separated from his attendants, and hurriedly conveyed through the forests to the castle of Wartburg, an isolated mountain fortress. Both his seizure and his concealment were so involved in mystery that even Frederick himself for a long time knew not whither he had been con- ducted. This ignorance was not without design: so long as the elector knew nothing of Luther’s whereabouts, he could reveal nothing. He satisfied himself that the Reformer was

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safe, and with this knowledge he was content.
Spring, summer, and autumn passed, and winter came, and Luther still remained a prisoner. Aleander and his parti- sans rejoiced that the light of the gospel seemed about to be extinguished. But instead of this, the Reformer was filling his lamp from the store-house of truth, to shine forth in due

time with brighter radiance.
In the friendly security of the Wartburg, Luther for a time rejoiced in his release from the heat and turmoil of battle. But he could not long find satisfaction in quiet and repose. Accustomed to a life of activity and stern conflict, he could ill endure to remain inactive. In those solitary days, the condition of the church rose up before him, and he cried in despair, “Alas! there is no one in this latter day of His anger to stand like a wall before the Lord, and save Israel!” Again, his thoughts returned to himself, and he feared being charged with cowardice in withdrawing from the contest. Then he reproached himself for his indolence and self-indulgence. Yet at the same time
he was daily accomplishing more than it seemed possible for one man to do. His pen was never idle. While his enemies flattered themselves that he was silenced, they were astonished and confused by tangible proof that he was still active. A host of tracts, issuing from his pen, circulated throughout Germany. He also performed a most important service for his countrymen by translating the New Testament into the German tongue. From his rocky Patmos he continued for nearly a whole year to proclaim the gospel, and rebuke the sins and errors of the times.

But it was not merely to preserve Luther from the wrath of his enemies, nor even to afford him a season of quiet for these important labors, that God had withdrawn His servant from the stage of public life. There were results more pre- cious than these to be secured. In the solitude and obscurity of his mountain retreat, Luther was removed from earthly supports, and shut out from human praise. He was thus saved from the pride and self-confidence that are so often caused by success. By suffering and humiliation he was prepared

Luther before the Diet [168-169] 1 1 9

again to walk safely upon the dizzy heights to which he had been so suddenly exalted.

As men rejoice in the freedom which the truth brings them, they are inclined to extol those whom God has employed to break the chains of error and superstition. Satan seeks to divert men’s thoughts and affections from God, and fix them upon human agencies; to honor the mere instrument, and to ignore the Hand that directs all the events of providence. Too often, religious leaders who are thus praised and rever- enced lose sight of their dependence upon God, and are led to trust in themselves. As a result, they seek to control the minds and consciences of the people, who are disposed to look to them for guidance instead of looking to the word of God. The work of reform is often retarded because of this spirit indulged by its supporters. From this danger, God would guard the cause of the Reformation. He desired that work to receive, not the impress of man, but of God. The eyes of men had been turned to Luther as the expounder of the truth; he was removed that all eyes might be directed to the eternal Author of truth.


“He knoweth them that trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7.
“The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself.” Psalm 4:3. “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.

“Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Psalm 2:12.
“In God I will praise His Word, in God I have put my trust; I will not

fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalm 56:4.
“Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us.”

Isaiah 25:9.
“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings.” Psalm 112:7.
“How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the chil-

dren of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.” Psalm 36:7.

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” 1 John 3:1.

120 The Great Controversy


“The true [Roman Catholic] Church can tolerate no strange churches be- sides herself.” Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIV, p. 766.

“The Roman Catholic Church . . must demand the right of freedom for herself alone.” Civilta Cattolica, April 1948 [official Jesuit newspaper, pub- lished at the Vatican].

“The pope has the right to pronounce sentence of deposition against any sovereign.” Bronson’s Review, Vol. 1, p. 48.

“We declare, say, define, and pronounce that every being should be sub- ject to the Roman Pontiff.” Pope Boniface VIII, quoted in The Catholic Encyclo- pedia, Vol. XV, p. 126.

“No Catholic may positively and unconditionally approve of the separation of church and state.” Monsignor O’Toole, Catholic University of America, 1939. “The pope is the supreme judge, even of civil laws, and is incapable of

being under any true obligation to them.” Civilta Cattolica.
“Individual liberty in reality is only a deadly anarchy.” Pope Pius XII, April 6,

“All Catholics, therefore, are bound to accept the Syllabus [of Errors, of

Pope Pius IX].” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14.
“Protestantism of every form has not, and never can have, any rights where

Catholicity is triumphant.” Bronson’s Review.
“Heretics may be not only excommunicated, but also justly put to death.”

Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIV, p. 768.
“Non-Catholic methods of worshipping God must be branded counterfeit-

ers.” Flynn, Loretto, and Simon, Living Our Faith, p. 247 [a widely used high school textbook.]

“In themselves, all forms of Protestantism are unjustified. They should not exist.” America, January 4, 1941 [R.C. journal].

“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth. It devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it, and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I consid- ered the horns,and, behold, there came up among them another little horn . . and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speak- ing great things . . I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them . . And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws, and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” Daniel 7:7-8, 21, 25.

Progress of the Reformation [185] 1 2 1

Luther Disappears  Chapter Eight

— Progress of the Reformation

——————————————————————— Emperor Charles V of Europe had decreed that Martin Luther must die. And then Luther disappeared, as it were, from the face of the earth. Who had taken him? his friends or his enemies? Had the great reformation, which he had begun, come to a sudden stop? Read how God stepped in and not only saved Luther from certain death—but through him gave the Bible to the people — ———————————————————————

Luther’s mysterious disappearance excited consternation throughout all Germany. Inquiries concerning him were heard everywhere. Even his enemies were more agi- tated by his absence than they could have been by his pres- ence. The wildest rumors were circulated, and many believed that he had been murdered. There was great lamentation, not only by his avowed friends, but by thousands who had not openly taken their stand with the Reformation. Many bound themselves by a solemn oath to avenge his death.

The Romanists saw with terror to what a pitch had risen the feeling against them. Though at first exultant at the supposed death of Luther, they now desired to hide from the wrath of the people. Those who were enraged against him when he was at large, were filled with fear now that he was in captivity. “The only way of extricating ourselves,” said one, “is to light our torches, and go searching through the earth for Luther, till we can restore him to a nation that will have him.” The edict of the emperor seemed to fall pow- erless. The papal legates were filled with indignation as they saw that it commanded far less attention than did the fate of Luther.

122 The Great Controversy

The tidings that he was safe, though a prisoner, calmed the fears of the people, while it still further aroused their enthusiasm in his favor. His writings were read with greater eagerness than ever before. Increasing numbers joined the cause of the heroic man who had, at such fearful odds, de- fended the word of God. The Reformation was constantly gaining in strength. The seed which Luther had sown sprung up everywhere. His absence accomplished a work which his presence would have failed to do. Other laborers felt a new responsibility, now that their great leader was removed. With new faith and earnestness they pressed forward to do all in their power, that the work so nobly begun might not be hin- dered.

But Satan was not idle. He now attempted what he has attempted in every other reformatory movement,—to de- ceive and destroy the people by palming off upon them a counterfeit in place of the true work. As there were false christs in the first century of the Christian church, so there arose false prophets in the sixteenth century.

A few men, deeply affected by the excitement in the religious world, imagined themselves to have received special revelations from Heaven, and claimed to have been divinely commissioned to carry forward to its completion the Reformation but feebly begun by Luther. In truth, they were undoing the very work which he had accomplished. They rejected the fundamental principle of the Refor- mation,—the word of God as the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice; and for that unerring guide they substituted the changeable, uncertain standard of their own feelings and impressions. By this act of setting aside the great detector of


HISTORICAL DATING OF THIS CHAPTER—Events in this chap- ter span 18 months from April 1521 to September 1522. Following his famous “Here I stand” speech at Worms in April 18, 1521, Luther was taken to the Wartburg Castle, but left in March 1522 because of the rise of fanatics. The fanatics came to Wittenburg in December 1521. Fanaticism resulted in the Peasants’ Revolt (1524-1525). Luther’s German New Tes- tament was published in September 1522.

Progress of the Reformation [185-188] 1 2 3

error and falsehood, the way was opened for Satan to con- trol minds as best pleased himself.

One of these prophets claimed to have been instructed by the angel Gabriel. A student who united with him abandoned his studies, declaring that he had received from God Him- self the ability to explain the Scriptures. Others who were naturally inclined to fanaticism united with them. The pro- ceedings of these enthusiasts created no little excitement. The preaching of Luther had aroused the people everywhere to feel the necessity of reform, and now some really honest persons were misled by the pretensions of the new prophets.

The leaders of the movement repaired to Wittemberg, and urged their claims upon Melancthon and his co-la- borers. Said they: “We are sent by God to teach the people. We have received special revelations from God Himself, and therefore know what is coming to pass. We are apostles and prophets, and appeal to Doctor Luther as to the truth of what we say.”

The Reformers were astonished and perplexed. This was such an element as they had never before encoun- tered, and they knew not what course to pursue. Said Melancthon: “There are indeed spirits of no ordinary kind in these men; but what spirits?” “On the one hand, let us be- ware of quenching the Spirit of God, and on the other, of being seduced by the spirit of Satan.”

The fruit of the new teaching soon became apparent.

The minds of the people were diverted from the word of God, or decidedly prejudiced against it. The schools were thrown into confusion. Students, spurning all restraint, abandoned their studies. The men who thought themselves competent to revive and control the work of the Reformation, succeeded only in bringing it to the very brink of ruin. The Romanists now regained their confidence, and exclaimed exultingly, “One more effort, and all will be ours.”

Luther at the Wartburg, hearing of what had occurred, said with deep concern, “I always expected that Satan would send us this plague.” He perceived the true character of those pretended prophets, and saw the danger that threatened the

124 The Great Controversy

cause of truth. The opposition of the pope and the emperor had not caused him so great perplexity and distress as he now experienced. From the professed friends of the Ref- ormation had risen its worst enemies. The very truths which had brought peace to his troubled heart had been made the cause of dissension in the church.

In the work of reform, Luther had been urged forward by the Spirit of God, and had been carried beyond himself. He had not purposed to take such positions as he did, or to make so radical changes. He had been but the instrument in the hands of infinite power. Yet he often trembled for the result of his work. He had once said, “If I knew that my doctrine had injured one human being, however poor and unknown,— which it could not, for it is the very gospel,—I would rather face death ten times over than retract it.”

And now a whole city, and that city Wittemberg itself, was fast sinking into confusion. The doctrines taught by Luther had not caused this evil; but throughout Germany his enemies were charging it upon him. In bitterness of soul he sometimes asked, “Can such be the end of this great work of the Reformation?” Again, as he wrestled with God in prayer, peace flowed into his heart. “The work is not mine, but Thine own,” he said; “Thou wilt not suffer it to be corrupted by superstition or fanaticism.” But the thought of remaining longer from the conflict in such a crisis, became insupport- able. He determined to return to Wittemberg.

Without delay he set out on his perilous journey. He was under the ban of the empire. Enemies were at lib- erty to take his life; friends were forbidden to aid or shelter him. The imperial government was adopting the most strin- gent measures against his adherents. But he saw that the work of the gospel was imperiled, and in the name of the Lord he went forth once more to battle for the truth.

With great caution and humility, yet with decision and firmness, he entered upon his work. “By the word,” said he, “we must refute and expel what has gained a place and influence by violence. I would not resort to force against the superstitious and unbelieving.” “Let there be no compulsion.

Progress of the Reformation [188-192] 1 2 5

I have been laboring for liberty of conscience. Liberty is the very essence of faith.” Ascending the pulpit, he with great wisdom and gentleness instructed, exhorted, and reproved, and by the power of the gospel brought back the misguided people into the way of truth.

Luther had no desire to encounter the fanatics whose course had been productive of so great evil. He knew them to be men of hasty and violent temper, who, while claiming to be especially illuminated from Heaven, would not endure the slightest contradiction, or even the kindest admonition. Arrogating to themselves supreme authority, they required every one, without a question, to acknowledge their claims. But as they demanded an interview with him, he con- sented to meet them; and so successfully did he expose their pretensions, that the impostors at once departed from Wittemberg.

The fanaticism was checked for a time; but several years later it broke out with greater violence and more terrible results. Said Luther, concerning the leaders in this movement: “To them the Holy Scriptures were but a dead letter, and they all began to cry, ‘The Spirit! the Spirit!’ But most assuredly I will not follow where their spirit leads them. May God in His mercy preserve me from a church in which there are none but saints. I wish to be in fellowship with the humble, the feeble, the sick, who know and feel their sins, and who sigh and cry continually to God from the bottom of their hearts to obtain His consolation and support.”

Thomas Munzer, the most active of the fanatics, was a man of considerable ability, which, rightly directed, would have enabled him to do good; but he had not learned the first principles of true religion. He imagined himself ordained of God to reform the world, forgetting, like many other enthu- siasts, that the reform should begin with himself. He was ambitious to obtain position and influence, and unwilling to be second, even to Luther. He charged the Reformers with establishing, by their adherence to the Bible alone, a species of popery. He considered himself called of God to remedy the evil, and held that manifestations of the Spirit were the

126 The Great Controversy

means by which this was to be accomplished, and that he who had the Spirit possessed the true faith, though he might never see the written word.

The fanatical teachers gave themselves up to be gov- erned by impressions, calling every thought of the mind the voice of God; consequently they went to great ex- tremes. Some even burned their Bibles, exclaiming, “The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” Men naturally love the marvelous, and whatever flatters their pride, and many were ready to accept Munzer’s teachings. He soon denounced all order in public worship, and declared that to obey princes was to attempt to serve both God and Belial.

The minds of the people, already beginning to throw off the yoke of the papacy, were also becoming impa- tient under the restraints of civil authority. Munzer’s revolutionary teachings, claiming divine sanction, led them to break away from all control, and give the rein to their prejudices and passions. The most terrible scenes of sedition and strife followed, and the fields of Germany were drenched with blood.

The agony of soul which Luther had so long before expe- rienced in his cell at Erfurth, now pressed upon him with redoubled power as he saw the results of fanaticism charged upon the Reformation. The papist princes declared, and many believed, that Luther’s doctrine had been the cause of the rebellion. Although this charge was without the slightest foundation, it could not but cause the Reformer great dis- tress. That the work of Heaven should be thus degraded by being classed with the basest fanaticism, seemed more than he could endure. On the other hand, the leaders in the revolt hated Luther because he had not only opposed their doc- trines and denied their claims to divine inspiration, but had pronounced them rebels against the civil authority. In retali- ation they denounced him as a base pretender. He seemed to have brought upon himself the enmity of both princes and people.

The Romanists exulted, expecting to witness the

Progress of the Reformation [192-193] 1 2 7

speedy downfall of the Reformation; and they blamed Luther, even for the errors which he had been most earnestly endeavoring to correct. The fanatical party, by falsely claim- ing to have been treated with great injustice, succeeded in gaining the sympathies of a large class of the people, and, as is usually the case with those who take the wrong side, they came to be regarded as martyrs. Thus the ones who were exerting every energy in opposition to the Reformation were pitied and lauded as the victims of cruelty and oppression. This was the work of Satan, prompted by the same spirit of rebellion which was first manifested in Heaven.

Satan is constantly seeking to deceive men, and lead them to call sin righteousness, and righteousness sin. How successful has been his work! How often are censure and reproach cast upon God’s faithful servants because they will stand fearlessly in defense of the truth! Men who are but agents of Satan are praised and flattered, and even looked upon as martyrs, while those who should be respected and sustained for their fidelity to God, are left to stand alone, under suspicion and distrust.

Counterfeit holiness, spurious sanctification, is still do- ing its work of deception. Under various forms it exhibits the same spirit as in the days of Luther, diverting minds from the Scriptures, and leading men to follow their own feelings and impressions rather than to yield obedience to the law of God. This is one of Satan’s most successful devices to cast reproach upon purity and truth.

Fearlessly did Luther defend the gospel from the at- tacks which came from every quarter. The word of God proved itself a weapon mighty in every conflict. With that word he warred against the usurped authority of the pope, and the rationalistic philosophy of the schoolmen, while he stood firm as a rock against the fanaticism that sought to ally itself with the Reformation.

Each of these opposing elements was in its own way set- ting aside the Holy Scriptures, and exalting human wisdom as the source of religious truth and knowledge. Rationalism

128 The Great Controversy

idolizes reason, and makes this the criterion for religion. Romanism, claiming for her sovereign pontiff an inspiration descended in unbroken line from the apostles, and unchange- able through all time, gives ample opportunity for every spe- cies of extravagance and corruption to be concealed under the sanctity of the apostolic commission. The inspiration claimed by Munzer and his associates proceeded from no higher source than the vagaries of the imagination, and its influence was subversive of all authority, human or divine. True Christianity receives the word of God as the great trea- sure-house of inspired truth, and the test of all inspiration.

Upon his return from the Wartburg, Luther completed his translation of the New Testament, and the gospel was soon after given to the people of Germany in their own language. This translation was received with great joy by all who loved the truth; but it was scornfully rejected by those who chose human traditions and the commandments of men.

The priests were alarmed at the thought that the com- mon people would now be able to discuss with them the precepts of God’s word, and that their own ignorance would thus be exposed. The weapons of their carnal rea- soning were powerless against the sword of the Spirit. Rome summoned all her authority to prevent the circulation of the Scriptures; but decrees, anathemas, and tortures were alike in vain. The more she condemned and prohibited the Bible, the greater was the anxiety of the people to know what it really taught. All who could read were eager to study the word of God for themselves. They carried it about with them, and read and re-read, and could not be satisfied until they had committed large portions to memory. Seeing the favor with which the New Testament was received, Luther imme- diately began the translation of the Old, and published it in parts as fast as completed.

Luther’s writings were welcomed alike in city and in hamlet. At night the teachers of the village schools read them aloud to little groups gathered at the fireside. With every effort, some souls would be convicted of the truth, and, re-

Progress of the Reformation [193-195] 1 2 9

ceiving the word with gladness, would in their turn tell the good news to others.

The words of inspiration were verified: “The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psalm 119:130. The study of the Scriptures was working a mighty change in the minds and hearts of the people. The papal rule had placed upon its subjects an iron yoke which held them in ignorance and degradation. A su- perstitious observance of forms had been scrupulously main- tained; but in all their service the heart and intellect had had little part. The preaching of Luther, setting forth the plain truths of God’s word, and then the word itself, placed in the hands of the common people, had aroused their dormant pow- ers, not only purifying and ennobling the spiritual nature, but imparting new strength and vigor to the intellect.

Persons of all ranks were to be seen with the Bible in their hands, defending the doctrines of the Reformation. The papists who had left the study of the Scriptures to the priests and monks, now called upon them to come forward and refute the new teachings. But, ignorant alike of the Scrip- tures and of the power of God, priests and friars were totally defeated by those whom they had denounced as unlearned and heretical. “Unhappily,” said a Catholic writer, “Luther had persuaded his followers that their faith ought only to be founded on the oracles of Holy Writ.” Crowds would gather to hear the truth advocated by men of little education, and even discussed by them with learned and eloquent theologians. The shameful ignorance of these great men was made apparent as their arguments were met by the simple teachings of God’s word. Women and children, artisans and soldiers, had a better knowledge of the Scriptures than had learned doctors or surpliced priests.

As the Romish clergy saw their congregations diminish- ing, they invoked the aid of the magistrates, and by every means in their power endeavored to bring back their hearers. But the people had found in the new teachings that which supplied the wants of their souls, and they turned away

130 The Great Controversy

from those who had so long fed them with the worthless husks of superstitious rites and human traditions.

When persecution was kindled against the teachers of the truth, they gave heed to the words of Christ, “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” Matthew 10:23. The light penetrated everywhere. The fugitives would find somewhere a hospitable door opened to them, and there abiding, they would preach Christ, sometimes in the church, or, if denied that privilege, in private houses or in the open air. Wherever they could obtain a hearing was a consecrated temple. The truth, proclaimed with such energy and assur- ance, spread with irresistible power.

In vain were both ecclesiastical and civil authorities invoked to crush the heresy. In vain they resorted to im- prisonment, torture, fire, and sword. Thousands of be- lievers sealed their faith with their blood, and yet the work went on. Persecution served only to extend the truth; and the fanaticism which Satan endeavored to unite with it, resulted in making more clear the contrast between the work of Satan and the work of God.


“[Mary is] the first steward in the dispensing of all graces.” Pius X, quotedinF.J.Sheed,TheologyforBeginners,p.132.

“We have no greater help, no greater hope than you. O Most Pure Virgin; help us, then. For we hope in you, we glory in you. We are your servants, do not disappoint us.” Novena Prayers in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetural Help (published by Sisters of St. Basil, with imprimatur).

“Christ has taken His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high . . and Mary as Queen stands at His right hand.” Pius X, Mary Mediatrix, in Encyclical: Ad Diem Illum.

“Mary is Our Lady and Queen because she, the new Eve, has shared intimately in the redemptive work of Christ, the new Adam, by suffering with Him and offering Him up to the Eternal Father.” Ludwig Ott, Fundamen- tals of Catholic Dogma, p. 211 (1974).

Alphonsus de Liguori wrote two books in lavish praise of Mary (The

Progress of the Reformation [195-196] 1 3 1

Glories of Mary; 1750) and Catholic priests (The Duties and Dignities of the Priest). He was rewarded with sainthood. Because he was canonized, his statements are infallible:

“With reason does an ancient writer call her ‘the only hope of sinners’; for by her help alone can we hope for the remission of sins.” De Liguori, The Glories of Mary (ed. Eugene Grimm: Redemptorist Fathers, 1931) p. 83.

“ ‘Many things,’ says Nicephorus, ‘are asked from God, and are not granted; they are asked from Mary, and are obtained.’ ” p. 137.

“If God is angry with a sinner, and Mary takes him under her protection, she withholds the avenging arm of her Son, and saves him.” p. 124.

“[Prayer of St. Ephram:] ‘O Immaculate Virgin, we are under thy protec- tion . . we beseech thee to prevent thy beloved Son, who is irritated by our sins, from abandoning us to the power of the devil.’” p. 273.

“ ‘At the commmand of Mary all obey—even God.’ St. Bernardine fears not to utter this sentence; meaning indeed, to say that God grants the prayers of Mary as if they were commands . . Since the Mother, then, should have the same power as the Son, rightly has Jesus, who is omnipotent, made Mary also omnipotent.” p. 82.

“Because men acknowledge and fear the divine Majesty, which is in Him [Christ] as God, for this reason it was necessary to assign us another advocate, to whom we might have recourse with less fear and more confi- dence, and this advocate is Mary, than whom we cannot find one more powerful with His divine majesty, or one more merciful towards ourselves . . A mediator, then, was needed with the mediator Himself.” pp. 180-182.

“Nothing whatever of that immense treasure of all graces, which the Lord brought us . . is granted to us save through Mary, so that, just as no one can come to the Father on high except through the Son, so almost in the same manner, no one can come to Christ except through His Mother.” Leo XIII, Magnae Dei Matris.

“She [Mary] remains forever associated to Him [Christ], with an al- most unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest; through Him, with Him and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest and by singular elec- tion. And her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion.” Pius XII, quoted in E.R. Carrol (ed.), Mariology, Vol. 1, p. 49 (1955).

132 The Great Controversy

The Turning Point  Chapter Nine

— Protest of the Princes

——————————————————————— One of the noblest testimonies ever uttered for the Reforma- tion was the Protest submitted by the Christian princes at the

Diet [Council] of Spires in 1529.
The entire future course of the Reformation depended on the de
cisions they there made. The combined forces of Europe were gathered to crush out the newly begun Reformation. But Christian men protested—and refused to deny their faith—or yours—

Their protest at the Diet [Council] of Spires that year has given us the name, “Protestant.” Here you will learn of your spiritual fore- fathers, the first Protestants—and of the fundamental principles of Protestantism that they have bequethed to you — ———————————————————————

One of the noblest testimonies ever uttered for the Reformation was the Protest offered by the Christian princes of Germany at the Diet of Spires. The courage, faith, and firmness of these men of God, gained for succeeding ages liberty of thought and of conscience. Their Protest gave to the reformed church the name of Protestant; its principles are the very essence of Protestantism.

A dark and threatening day had come for the Reformation. For a season religious toleration had prevailed in the empire; God’s providence had held opposing elements in check, that the gospel might obtain a firmer foothold; but Rome had now summoned her forces to crush out the truth. At Spires the papists openly manifested their hostility toward the Reformers and all who favored them. Said Melancthon, “We are the execration and the sweepings

Protest of the Princes [197-198] 1 3 3

of the earth; but Christ will look down on His poor people, and will preserve them.” The evangelical princes in atten- dance at the Diet were forbidden even to have the gospel preached in their dwellings. But the people of Spires thirsted for the word of God, and, notwithstanding the prohibition, thousands flocked to the morning and evening worship still held in the chapel of the Elector of Saxony.

This hastened the crisis. An imperial message announced to the Diet that as the resolution granting liberty of conscience had given rise to great disorders, the emperor declared it to be annulled. This arbitrary act excited the indignation and alarm of the evangelical Christians. Said one, “Christ has again fallen into the hands of Caiaphas and Pilate.” The Romanists became more vio- lent. A bigoted papist declared, “The Turks are better than the Lutherans; for the Turks observe fast-days, and the Lutherans violate them. If we must choose between the Holy Scriptures of God and the old errors of the church, we should reject the former.” Said Melancthon, “Every day, in full as- sembly, Faber casts some new stone against the Gospellers.”

Religious toleration had been legally established, and the evangelical States were resolved to oppose the in-

fringement of their rights. Luther, being still under the ban imposed by the edict of Worms, was not permitted to be

present at Spires; but his place was supplied by his co-laborers and the princes whom God had raised up to defend

his cause in this emergency. The noble Frederick of Saxony, Luther’s former protector, had been removed by death; but


HISTORICAL DATING OF THIS CHAPTER—These events span 17 months, from February 1529 to June 1530. Luther was about 47 years old by this time. On the death of Frederick in 1525, his brother John of Saxony became Luther’s protector. The first Diet [Council] of Spires (to- day called Speyer) met in summer 1526, but dared not oppose the Prot- estants because of the Turkish menace in the East. The Second Diet of Spires convened in February 1529. The majority of German princes were Catholic, and issued an ultimatum to the Protestant princes. The famous “Protest” (Protestatio) of those princes was presented to the Second Diet on April 19, 1529. In summer 1530, the Diet of Augsburg met, and the Protestant “Confession” was presented to the Diet on June 25.

134 The Great Controversy

Duke John his brother, who succeeded to the throne, had joyfully welcomed the Reformation, and while a friend of peace, he displayed great energy and courage in all matters relating to the interests of the faith.

The priests demanded that the States which had accepted the Reformation submit implicitly to Romish ju- risdiction. The Reformers, on the other hand, claimed the liberty which had previously been granted. They could not consent that Rome should again bring under her control those nations that had with so great joy received the word of God. The Diet finally decreed, that where the Reformation had not become established, the edict of Worms should be rigorously enforced; and that in the evangelical States, where there would be danger of revolt, no new reform should be introduced, there should be no preaching upon disputed points, the celebration of the mass should not be opposed, and no Roman Catholic should be permitted to embrace Lutheranism.

If this decree became a law, the Reformation could neither be extended where as yet it had not reached, nor be established on a firm foundation where it already ex- isted. Liberty of speech would be prohibited. No conver- sions would be allowed. And to these restrictions and prohi- bitions the friends of the Reformation were required at once to submit. The hopes of the world seemed about to be extin- guished. The re-establishment of the papal hierarchy would inevitably cause a revival of the ancient abuses; and an oc- casion would readily be found for completing the destruc- tion of a work that had already been shaken by fanaticism and dissension.

As the evangelical party met for consultation, one looked to another in blank dismay. From one to another passed the inquiry, “What is to be done?” Mighty issues for the world were at stake. Had these men been controlled by ambi- tion or selfishness, they might have accepted the decree. They themselves were apparently left free to maintain their faith. Ought they not to be satisfied with this? Should they throw themselves into the conflict to wrestle for liberty

Protest of the Princes [199-201] 1 3 5

of conscience in all the world? Should they expose them- selves to the vengeance of Rome?

Never were these men placed in a more trying position; but they came forth from the test with principles unsullied. As the mist that had hovered over their minds cleared away, they saw what would be the result of this decree. Should they lend their influence to restore the stake and the tor- ture? Should they oppose the advancement of truth,— oppose the Spirit of God in its work of calling men to Christ? Could they refuse obedience to the Saviour’s com- mand, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”? Mark 16:15. Ought they to consent that those who might desire to renounce error should be denied the privilege? Having entered the kingdom of Heaven themselves, should they bar the way so that others could not enter? Rather would they sacrifice their dominions, their titles, and their own lives.

“Let us reject this decree,” said the princes. “In mat- ters of conscience the majority has no power.” The depu- ties declared that Germany was indebted to the decree of toleration for the peace which she enjoyed, and that its abo- lition would fill the empire with troubles and divisions. “The Diet is incompetent,” said they, “to do more than preserve religious liberty until a council meets.” To protect liberty of conscience is the duty of the State, and this is the limit of its authority in matters of religion. Every secular government that attempts to regulate or enforce religious observances by civil authority is sacrificing the very principle for which the evangelical Christians so nobly struggled.

The papists determined to put down what they termed dar- ing obstinacy. They began by endeavoring to cause divisions among the supporters of the Reformation, and to intimidate all who had not openly declared in its favor. The princes were at last summoned before the Diet. They pleaded for delay, but in vain. Those who still refused to sacrifice liberty of conscience and the right of individual judgment well knew that their position marked them for future criticism, condem- nation, and persecution. Said one of the Reformers, “We

136 The Great Controversy

must either deny the word of God or—be burned.”

King Ferdinand, the emperor’s representative at the Diet, saw that the decree would cause serious divisions unless the princes could be induced to accept and sustain it. He there- fore tried the art of persuasion, well knowing that to employ force with such men would only render them more deter- mined. He begged them to accept the decree, assuring them that such an act would be highly gratifying to the emperor. But these faithful men acknowledged an authority above that of earthly rulers, and they answered calmly, “We will obey the emperor in everything that may contribute to maintain peace and the honor of God.”

In the presence of the Diet, the king at last announced to the elector and his friends that their only remaining course was to submit to the majority. Having thus spoken, he withdrew from the assembly, giving the Reformers no opportunity for deliberation or reply. In vain they sent messengers entreating him to return. To their remonstrances he answered only, “It is a settled affair; submission in all that remains.”

The imperial party were convinced that the Christian princes would adhere to the Holy Scriptures as superior to human doctrines and requirements; and they knew that an acceptance of this principle would eventually overthrow the papacy. But they flattered themselves that weakness was on the side of the Reformation, while strength was with the emperor and the pope. Had the Reformers made flesh their arm, they would have been as powerless as the papists sup- posed. But though weak in numbers, and at variance with Rome, they had their strength. They appealed from the decision of the Diet to the word of God, and from the emperor of Germany to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

As Ferdinand had refused to regard their conscientious convictions, the princes decided not to heed his absence, but to bring their Protest before the national council without de- lay. A solemn declaration was therefore drawn up, and presented to the Diet:

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“We protest by these presents, before God, our only Cre- ator, Preserver, Redeemer, and Saviour, and who will one day be our Judge, as well as before all men and all creatures, that we, for us and our people, neither consent nor adhere in any manner whatever to the proposed decree in anything that is contrary to God, to His word, to our right conscience, or to the salvation of our souls. . . . We cannot assert that when Almighty God calls a man to his knowledge, he dare not embrace that divine knowledge. . . . There is no true doctrine but that which conforms to the word of God. The Lord for- bids the teaching of any other faith. The Holy Scriptures, with one text explained by other and plainer texts, are, in all things necessary for the Christian, easy to be understood, and adapted to enlighten. We are therefore resolved by di- vine grace to maintain the pure preaching of God’s only word, as it is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testa- ments, without anything added thereto. This word is the only truth. It is the sure rule of all doctrine and life, and can never fail or deceive us. He who builds on this foundation shall stand against all the powers of hell, whilst all the vanities that are set up against it shall fall before the face of God.” “We therefore reject the yoke that is imposed upon us.”

A deep impression was made upon the Diet. The ma- jority were filled with amazement and alarm at the bold- ness of the protesters. The future appeared to them stormy and uncertain. Dissension, strife, and bloodshed seemed in- evitable. But the Reformers, assured of the justice of their cause, and relying upon the arm of Omnipotence, were full of courage and firmness.

The Protest denied the right of civil rulers to legislate in matters between the soul and God, and declared with prophets and apostles, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” It rejected also the arbitrary power of the church, and set forth the unerring principle that all human teaching should be in subjection to the oracles of God. The protesters had thrown off the yoke of man’s supremacy, and had exalted Christ as supreme in the church, and His word in the pulpit. The power of conscience was set above the State, and the

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authority of the Holy Scriptures above the visible church. The crown of Christ was uplifted above the pope’s tiara and the emperor’s diadem. The protesters had moreover affirmed their right to freely utter their convictions of truth. They would not only believe and obey, but teach what the word of God presents, and they denied the right of priest or magistrate to interfere. The Protest of Spires was a solemn witness against religious intolerance, and an assertion of the right of all men to worship according to the dictates of their own consciences.

The declaration had been made. It was written in the