THE CLEANSING OF THE SANCTUARY
2300 DAYS--DAN. 8:10-26
The True Sanctuary--The Defilement--The Base or Foundation--How "Cast Down"--Evidences of This Cited from Roman Catholic Writings-- The Cleansing will not be Accomplished Until 2300 Years After the Vision--How and Where Begun, and When Due to be Completed-- "Golden Vessels," Truths, Must be Replaced.
IN preceding chapters we saw the identity of the presumptuous, peculiar "little horn" of Dan. 7:8,11,20-26, with the "Man of Sin" of 2 Thess. 2:3, and with the "Abomination of Desolation" foretold by our Lord in Matt. 24:15; and also that the same papal power is referred to in Dan. 8:9,10,23-25. We have examined, sufficiently for our present purposes and limited space, its rise, its character, the breaking of its crushing power, and its final complete destruction, which is yet future.
We wish now to examine another prophecy which points out distinctly the one special false doctrine, or fundamental error, which led to the full rejection of that system by our Lord, and made it in his sight the desolating abomination. The prophecy now to be considered shows, further, the time at which the true Church, the consecrated class--the Sanctuary --will be cleansed of the abominable defilements introduced by Papacy.
While the preceding chapter pointed out to us certain days of waiting, and a purifying of this holy or Sanctuary class, this prophecy points out a date at which a nucleus of [C96] holy believers would get entirely free from papal defilements, errors, etc., and at which the misappropriated "golden vessels," or precious truths, would begin to be restored to this holy or Sanctuary class.
We quote Dan. 8:10-26, as follows:
"And it became great even unto [controlling] the host of heaven [the entire Church], and it caused some of the host and of the shining lights to fall to the earth, and trod them under foot. Yea, it magnified itself even up to the Prince of the host. [It assumed to itself honors and dignities, and applied to itself prophecies and titles, which belong to Christ Jesus, the true Chief or Prince or Head of the Church.] And it took away from him [Christ] the CONTINUAL SACRIFICE, and the BASE OF HIS SANCTUARY was overthrown. And the host [people] was given over to it against the continual sacrifice, through transgression; and it cast down truth to the ground, and its doings prospered.
"Then did I hear a certain holy one speaking, and a holy one said unto another, I know not to whom he was speaking: 'For how long shall be the vision, concerning the continual sacrifice and the transgression that maketh desolate, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?' And he answered, 'Until two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings [days], then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.'
"And it came to pass when I, even I, Daniel, had seen the vision, that I sought to understand it; and behold there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the [river] Ulai, which called and said, 'Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.' So he came and stood near where I stood; and when he was come, I fell upon my face, trembling, and he said unto me, 'Mark well, O son of man! because for the Time of [C97] the End is the vision.' Now as he was speaking unto me, I fell down in amazement on my face to the ground; but he touched me and set me upright, where I had been standing. And he said, 'Behold, I will make known to thee what is to come to pass to the end of these evil predictions; for it pertaineth to the appointed Time of the End.'
"The ram which thou hast seen, him with the two horns, (signifieth) the kings of Media and Persia. And the shaggy he-goat is the king of Greece; and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. But that it was broken, and that four sprung up in its stead, (signifieth that) four kingdoms will spring up out of the nation, but not with his power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have filled their measure of guilt [Compare Gen. 15:16], there will arise a king [Papacy] of an impudent [or shameless] face, and understanding deep schemes. And his power shall be strengthened [made mighty], but not with his own force. [Papacy strengthened itself by using the force of the various nations of Europe.] And he will destroy wonderfully, and do more than can be believed; and he shall destroy [or corrupt] the mighty ones and the holy [saintly] people. And by his cunning skill he shall cause deceit to prosper (him) in his power; and in his heart he shall magnify himself, and by prosperity shall he corrupt [destroy] many: he shall also stand up [as Antichrist] against the Prince of princes; and he shall be broken without hand. And [that part of] the vision concerning the evenings and mornings which hath been told [that there would be 2300, till the cleansing] is correct; but shut thou up the vision, for it will be fulfilled after many days."
We do not enter into a detailed explanation of the ram, goat, horns, etc., mentioned in these and the preceding verses believing that they have already been made clear. [C98] (See page 27) We have already seen that Rome, which is treated as a separate beast with its own horns, in chapter vii, and as the legs and feet of the image, in chapter ii, is here (chapter viii) treated as one of the horns of the Grecian "goat," which, after becoming great toward the South and toward the East, as civil or imperial Rome, underwent a change, and, becoming papal Rome, "became great even unto the host of heaven; i.e., it became an ecclesiastical power or empire, over the host or people. And this same method of treating the Roman empire as a branch or development out of one of the divisions of the Grecian empire, is followed in the historical prophecy of chapter xi.
The continual sacrifice here mentioned is generally supposed to refer to the daily or continual burnt-offerings of the Jews at Jerusalem. And this taking away of the continual sacrifice has been laid to the charge of Antiochus Epiphanes, as already narrated. The prophecy, however, passes by the typical temple or Sanctuary, and the typical burnt-offerings, and deals with the antitypical Sanctuary or Temple of God, the Christian Church (2 Cor. 6:16), and with the antitypical burnt-offering, Christ's meritorious sacrifice once for all and forever--a continual, ever-efficacious sacrifice, for the sins of the whole world.
Christ's continual sacrifice was not actually canceled or abolished by Papacy, but it was set aside by a false doctrine advanced by that system--which gradually, but in the end fully and completely, set aside the merit of Christ's sacrifice as a continual and ever-efficacious one. This false doctrine is known as the Mass, or Sacrifice of the Mass.
Protestants in general totally misunderstand this so-called sacrament. They suppose it to be merely a different form of celebrating the Lord's Last Supper, adopted by Roman Catholics. Others get the idea that it is a sort of special [C99] prayer. But these ideas are quite erroneous. The Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass is this: The death of Christ, they claim, canceled Adamic or original sin, but is not applicable for our daily shortcomings, weaknesses, sins and omissions; it is not a continual sacrifice, ever meritorious for all our sins, ever sufficient and efficacious to cover as a robe every sinner and every sin, so as to permit the contrite one to come back into union and fellowship with God. For such sins the Sacrifice of the Mass was instituted: it is esteemed by Papists as a further development of the Calvary sacrifice. Each time the Mass is offered in sacrifice it is, they claim, a fresh sacrifice of Christ, for the particular persons and sins to which the priest offering it mentally applies it.
The Christ to be thus sacrificed afresh is first "created" from wheat-bread and wine by the officiating priest. They are ordinary bread and wine until laid upon the altar, when certain words of consecration, it is claimed, change the bread and wine into the actual flesh and blood of Christ. Then they are bread and wine no longer, though they still have such an appearance. This change is called transubstantiation --change of substance. The five magical Latin words which, it is claimed, effect this change of bread and wine into actual flesh and blood, are, "Hoc est autem corpus meum." It is claimed that any priest can thus create Christ in the flesh, afresh, to be sacrificed afresh. And having thus created Christ, a bell is sounded, and priests and people fall down and worship and adore the bread and wine, which now they recognize as the very Christ. This done, the bread (the real flesh of Christ, veiled from the senses, they say) is broken. Christ is thus slain or sacrificed afresh, repeatedly, for the special sins sought by this means to be canceled.
Carrying out this absurd theory, and endeavoring to have it consistent with itself, Roman Catholic councils have [C100] issued numerous and long decrees and explanations, and wise (?) theologians have written thousands of books. In these it is taught that if a drop of the "blood" (wine) be spilled, it must be carefully preserved and burned, and the ashes buried in holy ground; and likewise the bread ("the flesh of Christ"): not a crumb of it must be lost. Provision is carefully made lest a fly should get into the "blood" (wine), or lest a mouse or dog should get a crumb of the broken "flesh" (bread). And Dr. Dens, one of their leading theologians, explains that, "A mouse or a dog eating the sacramental species, does not eat them sacramentally; yet this proves that then the body of Christ does not cease to exist under the species."* The Roman Catholic (American) Catechism states the doctrine thus:
Ans. It is a sacrament which contains the BODY and BLOOD, the SOUL and DIVINITY, of Jesus Christ, under the forms and appearances of bread and wine.
Q. Is it not bread and wine which is first put upon the altar for the celebration of the Mass?
A. Yes, it is always bread and wine till the priest pronounces the words of consecration during the Mass.
Q. What happens by these words?
A. The bread is changed into the BODY of Jesus Christ, and the wine into his BLOOD.
Q. What is this change called?
A. It is called transubstantiation, that is to say, a change of one substance into another.
Q. What is the Mass?
A. The Mass is the perpetual ["daily" or "continual"] sacrifice of the new law, in which Christ our Lord offers himself by the hands of the priest, in an unbloody manner, under the appearances of bread and wine, to his Heavenly Father, as he once offered himself on the cross in a bloody manner. [C101]
Q. What is the difference between the sacrifice of the Mass and the sacrifice of the Cross?
A. The sacrifice of the Mass is essentially the same [kind or sort of] sacrifice as that of the Cross; the only difference is in the manner of offering.
Q. What effects has the Mass as a sacrifice of propitiation [satisfaction]?
A. By it we obtain from the divine mercy, first, Graces of contrition and repentance for the forgiveness of sins; and second, Remission of temporal punishments deserved for sins.
Q. To whom are the fruits [benefits] of the Mass applied?
A. The general fruits are applied to the whole Church, both the living and the dead; the special fruits are applied, first, Chiefly to the priest who celebrates the Mass; next, To those for whom in particular he offers it up; and, thirdly, To those who assist at it with devotion [i.e., those who attend Mass as worshipers]."
The same authority says: "He who sacrifices is a priest; the sensible thing which is sacrificed is called the victim; the place where it is sacrificed is called the altar. These four-- priest, victim, altar and sacrifice--are inseparable: each one of them calls for the others."
Again, explaining the ceremony, it says of the priest:
"Then he pronounces the mysterious words of Consecration, adores, making a genuflection, and elevates the Sacred Body and the Sacred Blood above his head. At the ringing of the bell the people adore on their knees, and strike their breasts in token of repentance for their sins. The priest begs of God graciously to ACCEPT THE SACRIFICE."
We close the testimony on this subject by a brief quotation from the Canons of the Council of Trent* as follows:
Thus we see clearly that Papacy has substituted a false or sham sacrifice, in the place of the one everlasting, complete and never-to-be-repeated sacrifice of Calvary, made once for all time. Thus it was that Papacy took away from Christ's work the merit of being rightly esteemed the Continual Sacrifice, by substituting in its stead a fraud, made by its own priests. It is needless here to detail the reason why Papacy denies and sets aside the true Continual Sacrifice, and substitutes the "abomination," the Mass, in its stead; for most of our readers know that this doctrine, that the priest makes in the Mass a sacrifice for sins, without which they cannot be canceled, or their penalties escaped, is at the very foundation of all the various schemes of the Church of Rome for wringing money from the people, for all her extravagancies and luxuries. "Absolutions," "indulgences," and all the various presumed benefits, favors, privileges and immunities, for either the present or the future life, for either the living or the dead, are based upon this blasphemous doctrine of the Mass, the fundamental doctrine of the apostasy. It is by virtue of the power and authority which the sacrifice of the Mass imposes upon the priests, that their other blasphemous claims, to have and exercise the various prerogatives which belong to Christ only, are countenanced by the people.
As an evidence of the fundamental character of this error, let it be noted that, though the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland began with opposition to indulgences, it soon became a question concerning transubstantiation [C103] --the sacrifice of the Mass. The corner stone of the Reformation was, that the forgiveness of sins was effected by Christ alone, as a consequence of his sacrifice at Calvary, and not by indulgences, confessionals and Masses. In fact, this question of the Mass lay at the bottom of nearly all of Rome's persecutions. Bishop Tilotson remarks, "This [transubstantiation--the Mass] has been in the Church of Rome the great burning article; and, absurd and unreasonable as it is, more Christians have been murdered for the denial of it, than perhaps for all the other articles of their religion."
Of course, Romanists claim that the Mass was instituted by Christ and the apostles; but the earliest mention of it we have been able to find was at the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381. However, the date of the introduction of this defiling error is not particularly referred to in the prophecy, except that by reason of this fundamental error Papacy became the "Abomination of Desolation," before it was, as such, "set up" in power, which, we have seen, was in A.D. 539.
The prophecy declares, "It took away from him [Christ] the continual sacrifice," and then adds, "and the base of his Sanctuary was overthrown." The base, or foundation-truth, upon which the truly consecrated or Sanctuary class is built, is that our Lord Jesus, by the sacrifice, of himself, has redeemed all, and will save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him, without any other mediator, without priest, or bishop, or pope, and without any other sacrifice-- any other being an abomination in God's sight, as teaching by implication the insufficiency of Christ's great ransom- sacrifice. Heb. 7:25; 10:14
This doctrine of the ransom is the base of the Sanctuary or holy temple--the consecrated Church. And when this "continual" [C104] was displaced, made void or overturned by the Mass, then followed the evils predicted by the prophet. The host (nominal Christians) was given over to the error, easily led by the false system which exalted itself (in the person of its head, the pope) even to be the Prince or ruler over the host. "And it cast down the truth to the ground," together with such of the host, and of the shining lights, or teachers, as held fast to the truth, and would not unite with it in its course of transgression. And, as we have seen in preceding chapters, it prospered marvelously in its doings.
The very foundation of the true Christian faith being thus cast aside, is it any wonder that the great apostasy fell into such depths of iniquity as it did? One error led to another, until only outward forms of truth and godliness remained; and the desolating abomination seated itself in the temple of God, defiling both the Sanctuary and the host, and exalting its head as Christ's vicar or representative.
In the midst of these scenes of the success of the Abomination of Desolation, Daniel hears the saints, holy ones, ask, "For how long shall be the vision, concerning the Continual Sacrifice and the transgression which maketh desolate, to give both the Sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?" All along since the abomination was set up, there have been saints who more or less distinctly recognized its character and its defilements, and anxiously have such sought to know, crying to God, How long, O Lord! shall the truth be trodden in the mire, and error, blasphemy and abominations be allowed to prosper? How long shall Antichrist, "intoxicated with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus," and with its phenomenal success, continue to intoxicate and deceive the nations? (Rev. 17:2,6; 14:8; 18:3) And, anticipating their inquiry, and Daniel's and ours, God gave the answer in advance, through his messenger. And though the terms could not even begin to be understood [C105] before the Time of the End, yet the fixing or limiting of the time gave to others as well as to Daniel the assurance that God has full control of the situation, so that naught can happen which he cannot and will not control, and ultimately overrule for good. This answer marks, not the beginning of the cleansing work, but a period when it would be in a measure finished. It reads as follows:
"Until Two Thousand Three Hundred Days,
Then Shall the Sanctuary be Cleansed"
In the examination of this period of time the student is at once struck with the fact that literal days cannot be meant; because 2300 literal days would be less than eight years, and yet the prophecy evidently covers all the long period of the defiling of the Sanctuary and the treading down of the truth. Again, we note that it is foretold that these 2300 days will terminate sometime in the period called the "Time of the End"; for Gabriel said, "Mark well, O son of man! because for the Time of the End is the vision"; and again, "Behold, I will make known unto thee what is to come to pass to the end of these evil predictions; for it [the fulfilment] pertaineth to the appointed Time of the End."
In his explanation, Gabriel traverses the entire vision, explaining in part the various symbols, and finishes with the assurance that the 2300 days is the correct measure of it all.
Daniel, who was thinking specially of Israel, and of the fulfilment of God's promises to the fathers, perceived that all that he had heard could not occur in 2300 literal days, especially when Gabriel said to him, "But shut thou up the vision, for it will be fulfilled after many days." And though he knew not how long each symbolic day would be, he was made sick at heart by the thought of so many evils as were coming upon God's people--though he saw not the change of that name from fleshly to spiritual Israel. We read, "And [C106] I, Daniel, languished and was sick for some days"; and "I was astonished at the vision, but none could interpret it." And well it was for Daniel, and for all God's children from then to the Time of the End, that the dread significance of that vision of papal power and persecution, and of saintly suffering, was not more clearly revealed in advance. Our merciful Heavenly Father, while willing to prove his people in the furnace of affliction and persecution, in order to prepare a people for the exceeding and eternal weight of glory promised, deals with us upon the principle--"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Daniel, who was more interested in Israel than in the Persian "ram," or the Grecian "goat," knew from Jeremiah's prophecy that the seventy years of captivity in Babylon was a punishment upon Israel for sins, and so now he judged from the vision of coming persecutions (instead of exaltation and glory as he had expected) that it betokened Israel's sin and God's wrath; hence he prayed earnestly for forgiveness of Israel's sins, and for the fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers. This is told in few words in Dan. 9:2-19. Daniel saw not the scope of the divine plan as we may now behold it; nevertheless, his earnestness and faith in the promises were pleasing to God, who therefore revealed to him something more concerning this vision--an increase or further elaboration of it, in those features which specially pertained to fleshly Israel. Daniel supposed that the end of the seventy years' desolation of the land of Israel, while its people were in Babylon, was to be thus prolonged, or continued, for many (2300) days. God corrects this error by sending Gabriel to inform him that the captivity would end when the seventy years were complete, and that the city of Jerusalem and the temple would be rebuilt, though in a troublous period, etc.
It was while Daniel was praying over the vision of the 2300 days, which he misunderstood to mean a prolonging [C107] of the 70 years captivity in Babylon, that Gabriel was sent to further explain that misunderstood vision, thus (Dan. 9:21-27):
"And he talked with me and instructed me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to teach thee, that thou mayest understand. From the beginning of thy prayers the [further] declaration [of God's plan, now to be communicated] went forth, and I am come to tell it; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand this [further] matter, and have understanding of the vision [of the 2300 days]. Seventy weeks [70 x 7 = 490 days] are cut off [or set apart, fixed, or determined] upon thy people [Israel] and upon thy holy city [Jerusalem]," etc.*
So then, recognizing the symbolic seventy weeks, or 490 days, as fulfilled in years, to be the forepart of the 2300 days, and God's seal or mark of approval to that full vision, we begin there to measure, to see where the whole period will be fulfilled. Deducting from the 2300 the 490 fulfilled at the first advent, we have a remainder of 1810. Then, [C108] 1810 years (prophetic, symbolic days) must be the measure from the close of the seventy weeks to the time when the Sanctuary class will be cleansed from the various defilements of Papacy--the desolating abomination which has for so many centuries defiled the temple of God.
The death of Messiah, as shown, was in the spring of A.D. 33;* and this was the midst or middle of the last week of the seventy, the full end of which was therefore a half week, or three and a half years later--in the autumn of A.D. 36. Therefore, 1810 years from the autumn of A.D. 36, viz., the autumn of 1846, marks the end of the vision of the 2300 days, and the date when the Sanctuary was due to be cleansed.
We find, on the authority of all modern historians, that what they all term a Great Reformation had its beginning in the sixteenth century--except Roman Catholic writers, who call it the great sedition. And with this reformation the cleansing of the Sanctuary may be dated as commencing. Let us bear in mind that the Sanctuary was defiled by the bringing in of various errors with their corresponding evil tendencies, that the climax of these was reached in the introduction of the Mass, and that following in the wake of this error came the deepest degradation of the host (the masses of [C109] the church nominal), culminating in the shameless sale of "indulgences," which measurably provoked the reform movement. Though the Sanctuary class, too, was in a measure defiled, i.e., deceived into this error, the dreadful results opened their eyes to it. And, accordingly, we find that the keynote of the Great Reformation was, Justification by faith in the "continual sacrifice" of Christ that needs no repetition --as opposed to forgiveness assumed to be secured by penances and Masses, at the polluted altars of Antichrist.
This was the right place for reformation to begin: at the foundation--justification [cleansing] by faith in "the continual." Yet, notice, the prophecy does not indicate a cleansing of the host at this time, but of the Sanctuary class only. Nor was the host cleansed. They still retained the error, and do to this day; but the consecrated class, the Sanctuary, renounced the error and suffered for the truth's sake, many of them even unto death.
But this was only the beginning of the cleansing process; for this class, now awakened, soon discovered that the defiling errors had been multiplied while Papacy had practiced and prospered. Luther, the leading spirit of the reformation, did not stop with one error, but attempted to throw out many others, and nailed upon the church door at Wittenberg, Oct. 31st, 1517, ninety-five theses, all of which were objections to the doctrines of Papacy, the twenty-seventh being a denial of the claimed inherent immortality of man. These propositions having been denounced as heresy by Pope Leo X, Luther in his response (A.D. 1520) denounced in unmeasured terms the doctrines of transubstantiation, human immortality, and the claim of the pope to be "Emperor of the world, king of heaven, and God upon earth," and referred to them as "MONSTROUS OPINIONS TO BE FOUND IN THE ROMAN DUNGHILL OF DECRETALS."
But, alas! the "cleansing" work so nobly and courageously [C110] commenced was too radical to be popular, and the friends and admirers of Luther and his associates conquered in a measure, overpowering them with policy, prudence, "flatteries," and promises of help and success, provided their course were shaped according to the dictates of the wisdom of this world. (See Dan. 11:34,35.) Several of the German princes became ardent admirers of the bold reformers, who had both the understanding and the courage to attack the system before which kings had for centuries trembled. These princes aided the reformers, and their aid seemed to them to be indispensable to the success of the movement. And in return for the aid they received from the reformers recognition of their kingly rights(?).
We should remember also that the reform movement was a revolt not only against religious tyranny, but against political tyranny as well. And the two classes of reformers were brought into more or less sympathy and cooperation. Concerning this era of the Reformation, Professor Fisher* says:
Of John Calvin's time and the Genevan government-- "The civil was followed by an ecclesiastical revolution. Protestantism was legally established (1535). Calvin became the virtual law-giver of the city. It was an ecclesiastical state."
Of Scandinavia--"In Scandinavian countries monarchical power was built up by means of the reformation."
Of Denmark--"The new [Protestant] doctrine had come into the land and was spreading. The nobles who coveted the possessions of the church [Roman Catholic] espoused it." [C111]
Of Sweden--"A great political revolution occurred, which involved also a religious revolution."
Of Germany--"The threats against the Protestant princes induced them to form the League of Smalcald, for mutual defense. It was found impracticable to carry out the measures of repression against the Lutherans." "At the Diet of Augsburg in 1555, the Religious Peace was concluded. Every prince was to be allowed to choose between the Catholic religion and the Augsburg Confession [of the Reformers]; and the religion of the prince was to be that of the land over which he reigned: that is, each government was to choose the creed for its subjects."
In fact, the political circumstances of the time, combined with the fact that even the leaders of the reform were only beginning to get awake to some of the moral and a few of the doctrinal errors of Papacy, lead us to wonder at the rapid strides taken toward the right, rather than to harshly condemn them for not making the cleansing more thorough. But when the Protestant churches united with the state, progress and reform came to a standstill. Soon creeds were formed which were almost as unyielding and opposed to growth in knowledge as the decrees of Rome, though nearer to the truth than Rome's--bondages of greater latitude.
Thus, the same kind of union between church and state which had worked such injury to the truth before, in Papacy, was the snare by which the adversary impeded and obstructed the "cleansing of the sanctuary," so nobly begun. Reformation and cleansing for a time ceased, and, instead of progressing with the cleansing, the reformers gave attention to organizing themselves, and to revamping and repolishing many of the old papal dogmas, at first so loudly condemned. Thus did Satan decoy the reformers into the [C112] very "harlotry" (union of church and state) which they had denounced in the Church of Rome. And thus the deadly wound which Papacy had received was for a time healed. Rev. 13:3
But the "cleansing," thus begun and thus interrupted, must start afresh and go on; for by the end of the 2300 years the Sanctuary must be cleansed. And so it has been. The recurrence to the Bible as the only authority for faith, by which the reformation was begun, planted deeply seeds which have since sprouted time and again, and brought forth one and another reform, in spite of the fact that the leading reformers speedily attempted to hinder the spread of reform beyond their own measure, by establishing creeds and bulwarks of faith beyond which, regardless of the teachings of the Bible, none were permitted to go, without drawing down upon themselves the anathema of "heretic."
Glancing along the pathway of the Church, from Luther's day until now, we can see that, step by step, reform or cleansing has progressed; and yet the same tendency is marked at every step; for each set of reformers, as soon as they accomplished their own little item of cleansing, stopped and joined the others, in opposition to all further reform or cleansing.
Thus the Church in England, casting aside some of the grosser doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome, claimed, and still claims, that it is the only true Church, and that its bishops have apostolic succession, and hence supreme control of God's heritage. This "daughter" of Rome, leaving the "mother," took the proffered arm of England, and made the sovereign of the empire the head of that church. Yet, as with the Lutheran daughter, even this was a reform, and in the right direction--a partial cleansing. Calvin, Knox and others discovered that God's foreknowledge of transpiring events had been largely lost sight [C113] of under the papal rubbish; and, casting out the idea that the success of God's plans were made wholly dependent on the efforts of fallible men, their doctrines helped to show that the Church was not dependent on the arm of the state to win success for it by carnal weapons. These men did a great and valuable work which has since borne more good fruit than many seem to see. Nevertheless, blinded by other defiling errors not recognized as such, they were led to advocate the error that all not elected to the heavenly state were reprobated to eternal torture. Soon their doctrines became crystallized under the name Presbyterianism; and, beyond the first enunciation of the immutability of the divine decrees, little has been done by them to aid reformation or cleansing. And, like its sister sects, Presbyterianism has also done much to obstruct and hinder the cleansing work.
The Wesleys and their colaborers, oppressed by the prevalent coldness and formality of their day, endeavored to cast out some of the cold formalism naturally resulting from the union of church and state, and to show the necessity of individual holiness through personal faith in and union with Christ--teaching that the fact of being born under a so-called Christian government, and reckoned from birth a member of such state-church organization, is not Christianity. This was excellent so far, and a necessary part of the "cleansing" work; but, instead of going on toward perfection in the simplicity of the early church, Wesley, too, soon concluded that the cleansing and reforming work was completed, and proceeded with others to organize Methodism, and so to hedge it about with the creed, formulas and standards of Methodism as to effectually hinder further progress and cleansing. Unitarianism and Universalism, though likewise embodying errors, have also been attempts to cast out defiling errors, which perhaps have been proportionately as successful and as unsuccessful as others. [C114]
Those called Baptists represent another effort at cleansing the Sanctuary, by casting out another error introduced by Papacy with reference to baptism, and denying that the sprinkling of an unbelieving infant is the baptism of a believer, or that sprinkling in any manner even symbolizes any doctrine of Christ. Yet, beyond the teaching of a correct outward form or symbol, Baptists have made little progress, and now are often found standing with others as objectors to, and hinderers of, any further cleansing.
A later reform is known by the name of "The Christian Church" or "The Disciples." This sect was organized in 1827 by Alexander Campbell. The reforms they specially advocated at their organization were, Apostolic simplicity in church government; the Bible only for a creed; the equality of all members of Christ under Him as the head of all; and, consequently, the abrogation of ecclesiastical titles, such as Reverend, Doctor of Divinity, etc., as Romish, and contrary to the spirit of Christ and pure Christianity, which says: "All ye are brethren, and one is your master, even Christ." The design, and the cleansing so far as it went, were good, and have borne fruit in the minds and liberties of some in all denominations. But this denomination, like the others, has ceased to attempt further reform, and the spirit of its reform is already dead; for, while claiming the Bible as the only creed, it has stopped in the rut, and there it revolves without making progress in the truth. Claiming liberty from the creeds and shackles of human tradition, it fails to use the liberty, hence is really bound in spirit, and consequently fails to grow in grace and knowledge. Though bound by no written creed, yet by its respect for the traditions and the honor of men, as well as by self-complacency, it soon became fixed, and asleep to the work of the further cleansing of the Sanctuary, and is even retrograding from its former position. [C115]
While we have mentioned but a few of the reformers and reform movements, we must not be understood as rejecting or ignoring others. Far from it: the reform has been general, and all true, earnest Christians have had some share in the work of cleansing. The great difficulty lies in the fact that, prejudiced by early training and awed by the loud and boastful claims of error, few can see the great amount of error, and the consequent necessity for going forward with the cleansing. And these, his advantages, our great adversary, Satan, has not been slow to use in binding the saints and hindering the cleansing work.
Another reform, and in some respects the most thorough of all, had its start shortly after the last mentioned, as referred to briefly in the preceding chapter. Mr. William Miller, of Massachusetts, connected with the Baptist denomination, who was the instrument used to start this reform, brought to the attention of the Church the fact that the Bible reveals something of the time, as well as the order, of God's plan. He saw periods recorded by the prophets, accompanied by the statement that at the due time the truly wise should understand them, and he sought to be of the class described. He searched, and found some things of great interest, long lost sight of under the traditions of Rome, among others that the second coming of our Lord was for the bestowment of God's blessing of life, to believers, as the first coming was for the purchase of the world; in fact, that ransom and recovery are two parts of the one redemptive plan.
For an honest, earnest heart to realize such good news could mean no less than to proclaim it; and this he did. The uncovering of this truth led to the rejection of certain errors, and hence he did a cleansing work in all who came under its influence. For instance, since our Lord's second coming is to "set up" his Kingdom and to exalt his Church, it is evident [C116] that the claims of churches associated with earthly kingdoms (which severally claim to be the kingdoms of God, and that they therefore are now authorized to reign and rule over the world) must be mere assumptions; for, if the Kingdom of Christ has not yet been "set up," these now "set up" must have been so exalted by "the prince of this world" (Satan), and must be working largely in his interest, however ignorant of the fact their rulers may be.
Another error, to the removal of which Mr. Miller's preaching led, was the natural immortality of man. The idea had long obtained that man is inherently an immortal being; that is, that once created he can never die, and that death is merely a deceptive illusion; that man only appears to die, and does not really do so, but merely changes form and takes another step in "evolution." Mr. Miller believed like others on this subject; yet the truths to which he called attention, particularly the doctrines of the Lord's coming and the resurrection of the dead, first pointedly exposed this baneful error--which denies the resurrection by teaching that none are dead, and hence that the Lord's second coming and a resurrection of the dead are not necessary. But the critical examination of this subject we leave for a future volume of this work, in which it will be shown that immortality and everlasting life are favors, obtainable only through Christ, and neither promised nor to be granted to the wicked. Based upon and growing out of the idea of human immortality, is the Romish doctrine of purgatory, and the still more awful Protestant doctrine of eternal misery in a place of unending tortures; for they reason, If man must live forever (and if immortal, even God could not destroy him), he must live in either everlasting happiness or everlasting misery. And since, say they, he is at death remanded to his everlasting condition, the vast majority must then begin an eternity of torture, because in the few years of the present [C117] life they either failed to get a knowledge of the right way, or, obtaining the knowledge, they were, through inherited weaknesses, etc., unable to walk in it.
This great root of many blasting errors began to be torn up and cast out by the preaching of the second coming of Christ and the resurrection declared to be then due. Intelligent and thinking people began to wonder why the Lord would resurrect the dead, if they were in either heaven or hell, and their portion forever unalterably fixed. Then they began to wonder why the dead were called dead, if really alive. Then they wondered why our Lord and the apostles said nothing about the dead being still alive, but on the contrary always pointed to a resurrection as the only hope; even declaring that if there be no resurrection all have "perished." (1 Cor. 15:13-18) Then our Lord's words, promising an awakening to "all that are in their graves," began to have a meaning; and it gradually came to be seen that the dead are not alive, but that death signifies the opposite of life. And those who sought found that the Scriptures are in perfect harmony with themselves on this subject, but in direct opposition to the common traditions of today, received from Papacy.
The root of error being thus removed, the various branches soon began to wither; and soon it was seen that instead of everlasting life (in misery) being the punishment of the wicked, the reverse is the Bible statement of God's plan; that everlasting life is the reward for righteousness, and that death, a cutting off from life, is the punishment for wilful sinners.
Then came to be seen what was meant by the curse of death which came upon all the race through Adam's disobedience --that the whole race was condemned to extinction. Then, too, the veil began to lift, showing the object and value of our Redeemer's death, as the payment of the [C118] penalty upon the race, in order that there might be a resurrection, a restoring to life and its rights. Ah! then the meaning of ransom began to be appreciated, as it was seen that he who knew no sin was treated as the accursed; that, being willingly substituted in our stead, he was made a curse for us, treated as a sinner for us, and died, the just for the unjust.
Thus, finally, the great system and network of defiling error, which began with the taking away of the continual sacrifice, was removed; and, the Sanctuary being relieved or cleansed of it, the value of the "continual sacrifice" of Jesus was seen in renewed freshness and beauty and power.
When we say that the Sanctuary was cleansed of this defilement, we must remember that in Scripture a part of the Church not infrequently stands for the whole. A company, a few, had been relieved from the defiling error; and to these few, God has been adding daily of those who are fully under his leading and taught of him.
In his calculation of what would occur, Mr. Miller was far from correct--supposing that the cleansing of the Sanctuary meant a cleansing of the earth from evil, by literal fire in which the earth would be burned up. The failure of his predictions, which ensued, was a sore trial to those who under his teachings had learned to expect the Lord from heaven and the fulfilment of the prayer, "Thy kingdom come." But, though disappointed by the Bridegroom's tarrying, they were greatly blest. Their experience in searching the Scripture was valuable, and they had learned to place the Word of God above the traditions of men. They had measurably gotten free from servility to the honor and respect of men in the various denominations from which they had been cut loose, for they had been separated from their company by reason of obedience to their convictions relative to the subject of the Lord's coming. Honesty to conviction always brings some blessing: even as Paul going to Damascus, we meet the Lord on the way. [C119]
Consequently, we find that among these were some who took a more advanced stand in the cleansing or reformation work than any who preceded them. Thus A.D. 1846, the end of the 2300 days, as above shown, found an unorganized nucleus of Christians, who not only agreed with the "Disciples" regarding simplicity of church government, the discarding of all creeds but the Bible, and the abolition of all titles by its ministers, but with the "Baptists" relative to the outward form of baptism, and with Luther in regarding the Papal system as the Man of Sin, and the degenerate church the mother of harlots and abominations. These, standing aloof from any compromise or affinity with the world, taught vital piety, simple trust in the omnipotent God, and faith in his unchangeable decrees; and, in addition, while recognizing Christ as Lord of all, and now partaker of the divine nature, they were guarded against the unscriptural* as well as the unreasonable theory that Jehovah is his own Son and our Lord Jesus is his own Father; and they began to see that eternal life and immortality are not present possessions, but are to be expected only as gifts of God through Christ in the resurrection.
But though many of those who at first represented the cleansed Sanctuary thus became again entangled with the yoke of bondage, those who still kept free and followed on to know the Lord still represented his cleansed Sanctuary, and have since been owned and greatly blessed by his leading.
If the rubbish and defiling abominations were entirely removed in 1846, the time since should be a season for the setting in order of the things which remain, and for the unfolding and developing of God's glorious plan--which truths should reoccupy the places vacated by the errors removed.
This work of opening up the truth, and examining and appreciating its beauty, is properly due now, and is being accomplished. We thank God for the privilege of being engaged with others in this blessed work of bringing the golden vessels of the Lord's house (precious truths) back from the captivity of (symbolic) Babylon the Great (Ezra 1:7-11; 5:14; 6:5), and replacing them in the Sanctuary. And in this great work we offer fraternal greetings to all colaborers and members of the Anointed Body. Blessed those servants whom their Lord, when he has come, shall find giving meat in due season to the household.