Bible Studies

02-1895 General Conference Sermon by A.T. Jones

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   Now one other sentence from Parkhurst's speech that I left to the last that opens up a field that is worthy of our thinking upon and watching from this day till the end.

The questions that are most deeply agitating the public mind this year, and that will continue to agitate it probably for many years to come are not national ones but municipal. We have reached a period that may be designated the "renaissance of the City." The remarkable concentration of population at urban centers [that is,  city centers] has operated to accentuate [to put an accent upon it, to emphasize] the municipality, and to such a degree has this concentration reached and so largely are material values and intellectual energies actuating all these points that we may almost say that the real life of the nation is lived and throbs itself out at these centers and that the nation is going to be increasingly what our municipalities make it to be, determine it shall be.

The argument is this: That such vast concentration of the people into cities, so many large cities are being built up in the country, that these cities are holding such a position in the country that they shape the course of the nation, and it no longer lies among the people of the open country outside of the cities, but the way the cities go,  that is the way the nation goes, and the mold that the cities take, that itself molds the nation. Even leaving out religion altogether, the great cities of the country carry the political tide of the country, whichever way it may turn. Now you see these church leaders understand this, and therefore are working to control the cities, thus worming themselves into power there, and then through that to rule the nation.

Thus you see all the way through, every one of these statements that I have read is simply the statement over again of the system that made the papacy, and has characterized the papacy from the first step that was taken by the church in the days of Constantine until now. Anyone that has gone over that history knows that each one of these statements I have read is just exactly the same thing over again. Has anyone here who has gone over that history had any difficulty at all in seeing the image of the papacy in the situation as laid out here in the statements which I have read from their own words? No, sir. Anyone who has gone over that history cannot fail to see the image there, working the precise way, for the precise purposes that the papacy did; and the whole image stands working right before us.

Then how can anyone of us mistake the fact that the image of the beast stands full-formed, as it were, before the country today, and working with all its insinuating might--not with all the power of the law yet; it has not that fully in its hands yet, but with all its insinuating policy, and by all of these encroachments, little by little, taking possession here, working itself in there, to get control of that which controls the nation, and then mold and shape the nation.

Look at another phase in this that shows the image. Those who have read the history of the papacy and its making, the beast and its making, know that the whole contest and all the contests that the papacy had were fought out in the cities. Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Carthage, Corinth--the principal cities--were the ground-work and the theater upon which the papacy fought her battles and gained control of the Roman Empire and wormed herself in all cases. The country people--I was going to say they were a secondary consideration--but they were practically of no consideration at all. A country bishop was a very inferior order of being. A city bishop stood much higher. The gradation of the bishopric was according to the gradation of the great cities. And the bishop of the chief city, which was Rome, held the chief power; he could there, and thereby,  control more of the elements that were needed to build up the power of the papacy. And thus Rome became the seat, and its bishopric the head, of the papacy--the beast.

Now do you not see the precise likeness, going right over the same ground in this country, trying to secure control of the largest cities--New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, Cincinnati, San Francisco; all of them have this same thing working--municipal leagues and the clergy leading in it all, working to control the cities, to get these into their hands, and so to control the nation.

Are not the same principles at work here now as were at work in the original making of the beast? Is it possible for us to close our eyes to the fact, and fail to see that we are in the presence and the working of that wicked thing? And is it not high time to sound aloud the message of warning against the beast and his image, with the loudest voice that the power of God can give?

I will read one more statement. This is from the Herald and Presbyter of Cincinnati, January 3, 1895. The object,  the chief, the grand, the all over-topping object, that they propose to use this power for when they get it through the shape of these municipal governments is shown to be the enforcement of Sunday. 3 The article from which I read is entitled "Enforcement of Law."

Law is a rule of human action or conduct. Moral law is that perceptive revelation of the divine will which is of perpetual and universal obligation upon all men. It is therefore binding upon the conscience and with the Christian should not require statutory enforcement. But it has developed, in process of governing society, that all men will not obey the ten commandments, which are of universal application, and hence it has been found necessary to attach pains and penalties and provide for their enforcement by using the strong arm of the civil government.

This, as anyone can see, is the very position and teaching and argument of the papacy. We shall have occasion to read some other such things when we come to the next phase of this matter in the next lesson.

One of the ten commandments, which has the commendation of our lawmakers and which has been engrafted on the statute books of nearly every state is that which provides for the proper observance of the Sabbath. Our lawmakers thought it necessary to restrain evil doers and those who would violate the sanctity of God's holy day by special prohibitions and penalties for violation of the same. In our city the open violation of this law has been so continuous and so defiant as to awaken Christian men to a sense of their duty to the State and the Municipal Reform League was organized.

"Municipal Reform," that is, city reform, what the "Civic Federation" in Chicago and the "Society for the Prevention of Crime" in New York are pledged for. They are the same thing but are not called by the same name in all the cities. But what caused it to be organized in Cincinnati? Why, the disrespect for Sunday. What in Chicago was the chief thing? Disrespect for Sunday.

The first movement was to secure the closing of the theaters on the Sabbath. In this work the law was sufficient and the police force of the city able to enforce the law, but there was found to be one man more powerful than the law, the police force, or the elements of reform in this city, and that was the mayor. The violators of law were so numerous that if each one called for a jury it was impossible to try offenders. The courts were blocked and justice obstructed.

The League came to the relief of the Court with the law at their backs and proposed that the police be instructed to make arrests of persons found in the act of violating the Sabbath law. This would have made the law prohibitory and closed the theaters, even if offenders were not fully punished. The mayor came to the rescue of the theaters and forbade officers to make arrests till after the offense was complete and the entertainment over.

The League appealed to the Police Commissioners on the ground that the police ware not bound to obey unlawful orders. A majority of the Commissioners decided that the officers must obey all orders of the mayor,  that this was necessary to proper discipline. Now then, what are law-abiding citizens to do? They are told that Cincinnati is better governed than any city of its size in the country, and yet Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore are able to close their theaters on Sunday. There is some talk of impeachment proceedings against the mayor, while others favor petition to the governor to remove the Police Commissioners, and an appeal to the polls on the issue whether the chief magistrate of a city can place his feet on the statutes of God and man, and defy the moral sentiment of society.

So you see, this demands the enforcement of Sunday laws first. If this is not done to their satisfaction, they demand "municipal reform." The city is going to ruin, and so you must have a different element to save the city.  But what would they want to save the city for? Oh, to enforce Sunday laws, in order that Sunday may be saved,  in order that the nation may be saved. So don't you see the one great thing at the last that is aimed at in all these movements in everything is the enforcement of Sunday, and we know that that is the making of the image of the beast and the enforcement of the mark of the beast.

Therefore, from all this evidence it is perfectly plain that the country is now in the living presence--the living,  acting presence, of the image of the beast, and his endeavor to force the mark.

Now one other sentence from Parkhurst's speech that I left to the last that opens up a field that is worthy of our thinking upon and watching from this day till the end.

The questions that are most deeply agitating the public mind this year, and that will continue to agitate it probably for many years to come are not national ones but municipal. We have reached a period that may be designated the "renaissance of the City." The remarkable concentration of population at urban centers [that is,  city centers] has operated to accentuate [to put an accent upon it, to emphasize] the municipality, and to such a degree has this concentration reached and so largely are material values and intellectual energies actuating all these points that we may almost say that the real life of the nation is lived and throbs itself out at these centers and that the nation is going to be increasingly what our municipalities make it to be, determine it shall be.

The argument is this: That such vast concentration of the people into cities, so many large cities are being built up in the country, that these cities are holding such a position in the country that they shape the course of the nation, and it no longer lies among the people of the open country outside of the cities, but the way the cities go,  that is the way the nation goes, and the mold that the cities take, that itself molds the nation. Even leaving out religion altogether, the great cities of the country carry the political tide of the country, whichever way it may turn. Now you see these church leaders understand this, and therefore are working to control the cities, thus worming themselves into power there, and then through that to rule the nation.

Thus you see all the way through, every one of these statements that I have read is simply the statement over again of the system that made the papacy, and has characterized the papacy from the first step that was taken by the church in the days of Constantine until now. Anyone that has gone over that history knows that each one of these statements I have read is just exactly the same thing over again. Has anyone here who has gone over that history had any difficulty at all in seeing the image of the papacy in the situation as laid out here in the statements which I have read from their own words? No, sir. Anyone who has gone over that history cannot fail to see the image there, working the precise way, for the precise purposes that the papacy did; and the whole image stands working right before us.

Then how can anyone of us mistake the fact that the image of the beast stands full-formed, as it were, before the country today, and working with all its insinuating might--not with all the power of the law yet; it has not that fully in its hands yet, but with all its insinuating policy, and by all of these encroachments, little by little, taking possession here, working itself in there, to get control of that which controls the nation, and then mold and shape the nation.

Look at another phase in this that shows the image. Those who have read the history of the papacy and its making, the beast and its making, know that the whole contest and all the contests that the papacy had were fought out in the cities. Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Carthage, Corinth--the principal cities--were the ground-work and the theater upon which the papacy fought her battles and gained control of the Roman Empire and wormed herself in all cases. The country people--I was going to say they were a secondary consideration--but they were practically of no consideration at all. A country bishop was a very inferior order of being. A city bishop stood much higher. The gradation of the bishopric was according to the gradation of the great cities. And the bishop of the chief city, which was Rome, held the chief power; he could there, and thereby,  control more of the elements that were needed to build up the power of the papacy. And thus Rome became the seat, and its bishopric the head, of the papacy--the beast.

Now do you not see the precise likeness, going right over the same ground in this country, trying to secure control of the largest cities--New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, Cincinnati, San Francisco; all of them have this same thing working--municipal leagues and the clergy leading in it all, working to control the cities, to get these into their hands, and so to control the nation.

Are not the same principles at work here now as were at work in the original making of the beast? Is it possible for us to close our eyes to the fact, and fail to see that we are in the presence and the working of that wicked thing? And is it not high time to sound aloud the message of warning against the beast and his image, with the loudest voice that the power of God can give?

I will read one more statement. This is from the Herald and Presbyter of Cincinnati, January 3, 1895. The object,  the chief, the grand, the all over-topping object, that they propose to use this power for when they get it through the shape of these municipal governments is shown to be the enforcement of Sunday. 3 The article from which I read is entitled "Enforcement of Law."

Law is a rule of human action or conduct. Moral law is that perceptive revelation of the divine will which is of perpetual and universal obligation upon all men. It is therefore binding upon the conscience and with the Christian should not require statutory enforcement. But it has developed, in process of governing society, that all men will not obey the ten commandments, which are of universal application, and hence it has been found necessary to attach pains and penalties and provide for their enforcement by using the strong arm of the civil government.

This, as anyone can see, is the very position and teaching and argument of the papacy. We shall have occasion to read some other such things when we come to the next phase of this matter in the next lesson.

One of the ten commandments, which has the commendation of our lawmakers and which has been engrafted on the statute books of nearly every state is that which provides for the proper observance of the Sabbath. Our lawmakers thought it necessary to restrain evil doers and those who would violate the sanctity of God's holy day by special prohibitions and penalties for violation of the same. In our city the open violation of this law has been so continuous and so defiant as to awaken Christian men to a sense of their duty to the State and the Municipal Reform League was organized.

"Municipal Reform," that is, city reform, what the "Civic Federation" in Chicago and the "Society for the Prevention of Crime" in New York are pledged for. They are the same thing but are not called by the same name in all the cities. But what caused it to be organized in Cincinnati? Why, the disrespect for Sunday. What in Chicago was the chief thing? Disrespect for Sunday.

The first movement was to secure the closing of the theaters on the Sabbath. In this work the law was sufficient and the police force of the city able to enforce the law, but there was found to be one man more powerful than the law, the police force, or the elements of reform in this city, and that was the mayor. The violators of law were so numerous that if each one called for a jury it was impossible to try offenders. The courts were blocked and justice obstructed.

The League came to the relief of the Court with the law at their backs and proposed that the police be instructed to make arrests of persons found in the act of violating the Sabbath law. This would have made the law prohibitory and closed the theaters, even if offenders were not fully punished. The mayor came to the rescue of the theaters and forbade officers to make arrests till after the offense was complete and the entertainment over.

The League appealed to the Police Commissioners on the ground that the police ware not bound to obey unlawful orders. A majority of the Commissioners decided that the officers must obey all orders of the mayor,  that this was necessary to proper discipline. Now then, what are law-abiding citizens to do? They are told that Cincinnati is better governed than any city of its size in the country, and yet Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore are able to close their theaters on Sunday. There is some talk of impeachment proceedings against the mayor, while others favor petition to the governor to remove the Police Commissioners, and an appeal to the polls on the issue whether the chief magistrate of a city can place his feet on the statutes of God and man, and defy the moral sentiment of society.

So you see, this demands the enforcement of Sunday laws first. If this is not done to their satisfaction, they demand "municipal reform." The city is going to ruin, and so you must have a different element to save the city.  But what would they want to save the city for? Oh, to enforce Sunday laws, in order that Sunday may be saved,  in order that the nation may be saved. So don't you see the one great thing at the last that is aimed at in all these movements in everything is the enforcement of Sunday, and we know that that is the making of the image of the beast and the enforcement of the mark of the beast.

Therefore, from all this evidence it is perfectly plain that the country is now in the living presence--the living,  acting presence, of the image of the beast, and his endeavor to force the mark.