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PORTENTOUS SIGNS.

Preceding the most terrible judgments which the righteous sin-avenging God has ever executed on the inhabitants of the world, signs of the approaching wrath have been given to those who feared the Lord. Before the bottles of heaven were unstopped, and the Waters poured forth to utterly deluge the world, and sweep away the guilty inhabitants thereof, God made known to Noah the near approach of that impending storm of wrath, and provided for the salvation of him and his family. But while the lowering clouds were gathering for the day of wrath, all signs and solemn warnings were utterly disregarded by the inhabitants of the world, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and swallowed them up.

Who would believe the descendants of Noah would ever to their latest generations have forgotten that terrible demonstration, or ever again disregarded the signs and solemn warnings of approaching destruction? Scarcely however had the destructive waters of the deluge become assuaged, and the bright token of peace and safety painted on the retiring cloud, and men began again to be multiplied on the earth, when, in defiance of the thunderbolts of heaven, divine protection was repudiated, and the building of a tower whose top should reach to heaven was commenced, with the evident design to defy the wrath of God, should another flood be gathered upon the earth. Their tower was designed to rise above its destructive waters, and afford safety to its builders.

When the time approached for the terrible destruction of Sodom, there came an angel from God to give the necessary warning, and to hurry Lot and his family from the impending ruin; and God also made known to Abraham what he was about to do. But all these warnings were only like idle tales, an uncalled for alarm to the devoted victims of the lowering storm of wrath. The gathering clouds of flaming wrath were unheeded by the Sodomites, until its sulfurous fire came down with sure and quick destruction on their devoted heads.

When God was about to destroy the house of Belshazzar, and wipe out the imperial power of the Chaldeans, and give the dominion to the Medes and Persians, many signs, great and portentous, foretold the coming events; but all were unheeded, until the hand-writing upon the walls of the palace surprised with consternation the sacrilegious monarch in the hour in which he was slain.

Predictions by the prophets throughout the Old Testament had long foretold the great and terrible day of the Lord, in which great wrath, more terrible judgments than the earth had ever witnessed, should overwhelm in ruin the city of Jerusalem. Signs in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, should indicate its near approach. There should be wars, and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes in various places, the sun should be darkened, and the moon turned into blood, and the stars of heaven fall. The abomination that maketh desolate should be seen standing in the consecrated city and temple. All these with many other fearful signs preceded the destruction of Jerusalem.

And all the signs which were given before the destruction of Jerusalem, if we have correctly understood the Scriptures, shall be repeated immediately before the final and everlasting overthrow of “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth.” Read carefully the signs which foreshadowed the destruction of Jerusalem; compare them with what Paul, and Peter and John have, by inspiration, told us should be the signs of the destruction of the organized ecclesiastic powers of the man of sin, the son of perdition, and mark the perfect similarity of the signs; and then look upwards to the heavens above, look downward to the trembling earth on which you stand, look at the crumbling thrones of empires, and the quaking basis of all human governments; the wars now raging, and rumors of wars impending and imminent, look which way you will, your eyes are greeted with the most appalling and fearful signs of great and fearful coming events.

It is not our design to excite, alarm or to appeal to the fears of the timid; for the apostle gave this charge to the Thessalonians in his second epistle: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 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 (II Thessalonians 2:1-4).” Whether by the approaching day of Christ the apostle referred to the time when Jerusalem should be destroyed, or to the final destruction of Mystery, Babylon the Great, is not clear to our mind; but of this we are confident, the preliminary signs which should precede the one, should also precede the other; and some of the signs spoken of in this chapter seem to us to have a very evident allusion to the developments of anti-christ as a much later period than that in which Jerusalem was destroyed.

If we may understand these instructions as applicable to the modern anti-christ, we see that the apostle would not have the saints of God prematurely agitated or troubled on the subject. The warning given in the third verse, against imposition of false alarmists, shows that various means would be used by deceivers to produce panic and excitement on the subject, for base and deceptive purposes. Still the people of God should watch the passing events, and carefully observe the signs which we are authorized to accept as coming by spirit, by word, and by letter, from the inspired apostles.

It is true that before the destruction of Jerusalem there were many anti-christs, more or less developed. (See I John 2:18.) But the same apostle informs us in the fourth chapter of the same epistle, and third verse, that the spirit that confesseth not that Christ is come in the flesh, “Is that spirit of anti-christ, whereof they had heard that it should come.” The manner of his coming we are told by Paul, “is after the working of Satan, with all signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish,” etc. Regarding as we do the premonitory signs given by Paul in II Thesselonians 2, as applicable to the final and everlasting overthrow of the present anti-christ, we will call attention to some of the signs which we are divinely warranted to regard as indications of the very near approach of her impending ruin.

First. “That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first.” This falling away must have reference to some particular apostasy from the doctrine and order of the gospel; for in every age of the church, not excepting the apostolic, there have been some departures. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to fix our mind with any degree of certainty on the particular falling away intended, were we not more definitely instructed in these words. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy: having their conscience seared with a hot iron (I Timothy 3:1-3).” And in II Timothy 3:1-7, what is in the former text called the latter times, is called the last days. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of them that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” If it be admitted that the latter times, and the last days, in the meaning of the apostle, points to the times and days immediately preceding the downfall of modem anti-christ, it will become us to enquire whether the abominations by which these times anddays are distinguished are now to be found.

Has there come a falling away? There have been, more or less, a falling away from the doctrine of the apostles and primitive order of the church of Christ, as we have already intimated, at different periods since the day of Pentecost. But within the present century, there has been a far greater apostasy from the Baptist church than any that has ever preceded it. Through the darkest ages of pagan, papal and Protestant wickedness, while the earth has been drenched with blood, the church of Christ has maintained her integrity, and in no age has the Primitive Baptist church stood more firm and erect than when suffering cruel persecution at the hands of her enemies. The organized powers of anti-christ have never broken our ranks. Though driven into the wilderness, and protected from the flood which issued from the dragon, and obscured her in sackcloth for the forty and two months, or twelve hundred and sixty years, of papal opposition, there has never been any extraordinary apostasy, or “falling away,” from the faith and order of the gospel by the Baptists until the present century. Neither the papists nor the Protestants have departed from the faith of the gospel, for they never held it. But in the separation of the New School, or Missionary Baptists, from our faith, order and communion, we have a falling away, answering in every particular to that described by the apostle. The faith and order which has characterized the Baptist church from the day of Pentecost to the present time was by them repudiated when they went out from us; for we stated to them distinctly that if they would adhere to the Scriptures as our only rule of faith and practice we would still retain them in our fellowship. But they turned away their ears from the truth, and were turned unto fables. Led away from us by seducing spirits, they went out after doctrines of devils, and were soon seen in all the regalia of anti-christ described by the apostle in I Timothy 4:1-3 and I Timothy 3:1-7. In that separation, it seems to us the let was removed, and the way opened for the more full and complete manifestation of the man of sin, the son of perdition, whose coming, or manifestation, is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. Since the great falling away, when those who are known as Missionary Baptists abandoned our faith, and united with the other branches of modern anti-christ, there have been other cases of apostasy, in which many who once stood highly esteemed in our ranks, have turned their backs upon us, and are now mingling with “heady, high-minded truce breakers.”

Secondly. Were we endued with sufficient light and ability to explain all the mystic imagery presented in the vision which John saw on Patmos, as wrapped up in the sealed book, and disclosed in the opening of the seven seals in their regular succession, by the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and to give a clear and faithful interpretation of the seven trumpets, the seven thunders, and the seven vials which were filled with the last plagues, and to show the precise time and manner of the rising of the beasts from the sea, and out of the earth, and of the making and giving life to the image of the beast, - could we fully, clearly and truthfully explain their true signification, and their bearing upon the subject under consideration, all would go to admonish us that the hour of the destruction of Mystery, Babylon the Great is near at hand.

“Her cup of wrath is ready mixed,
And she must drink the dregs;
Strong is the Lord, her sovereign Judge,
And will fulfill her plagues.”

Thirdly. The external signs of the near approach of the great and terrible day of the Lord should not be overlooked, nor underrated. At what period have we heard of so many wars, and rumors of wars? Scarcely any organized nation or government of the earth that is not shaking, and in commotion and turmoil. The prophecy of the downfall of the temporal power of the Roman Pontiff in 1866 was fulfilled. Earthly thrones are crumbling beneath their occupants. Revolutions are numerous; and nothing short of divine interposition can rescue our own beloved country from anarchy and ruin. The phenomena of the heavens surprise our astronomers. Pestilence rages with deadly effect in many parts of the world, sweeping off men and beasts. The seas have exhibited fearful commotion, and millions of the scaly tribes have died and risen to the surface. Famines are prevailing in many places, while earthquakes are literally rocking the world. The appalling accounts from our Pacific coasts tell of the swallowing up of thirty towns within the last few weeks, and extending along the coast over two thousand miles, and many thousands of the inhabitants have perished; and our latest dispatches report that severe shocks are still being felt. Quite recently, shocks have been felt in Canada, New York, Vermont, California, and in several other states. And yet it is with the great masses of the people, as it was in the days of Noah; eating and drinking incessantly, marrying and being given in marriage.

Admidst all these premonitions of impending storms of wrath, on flaming wings approaching, vice and wickedness is most frightfully increasing throughout the breadth of our land. Never have we been startled with accounts of so many horrid crimes as are reported in our daily newspapers. Men have become more and more selfish, “Lovers of their own selves.” Proud, arrogant and vain. Blasphemers, defying the thunderbolts of heaven. From the rulers in high places, and the priests at their altars, down to the most humble walks of life, such admonitions are wrought, as our guilty world has seldom, if ever before, witnessed.

If these fearful signs are not indications of the approaching destruction of modern anti-christ, they certainly portend some important judgments at hand, as “coming events cast their shadows before.”

May the voice of God be heard by all his people who may yet linger in Babylon, saying unto them, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partaker of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues (Revelation 18:4).” And may those who have not received any of the marks of the beast hear and heed the admonition recorded in Isaiah 26:20,21, “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.”

Middletown, N.Y.
November 1, 1868.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 281 – 287