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THE GREAT DAY OF HIS WRATH.

Cherry Flats, Pa.
Nov. 15, 1870.

BROTHER BEEBE: - A friend has desired me to write, and request your views on Rev.6:17. “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” I know you have many requests of the kind, and it is impossible for you to comply with them all; but if you will comply with this, you will greatly oblige your unworthy brother, as well as the friend who is so anxious for your views.

As ever, your unworthy brother,
J.W. Elliott.

REPLY. We never feel more sensibly our utter inability to comprehend the deep things of God, than when called to speak or write upon what is contained in that part of the Holy Scriptures called the Apocalypse, or Revelation. We can only write to edification on any portion of the sacred volume, so far as such portion is opened to our understanding by the teaching of that Spirit by whose inspiration the scriptures were written. That Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God, and although that Spirit is a Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, yet it is the Spirit which our Redeemer says shall be in, and shall dwell with his disciples, and which shall lead them into all the truth. These remarks are, as we think, sustained by the connection of the text on which we are requested now to write.

John saw in the right hand of him who sat upon the throne a book written within and on the back side sealed with seven seals, and a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? Let heaven and earth be searched, and all that lies beneath the earth. We look, we seek in vain. No man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. The holy servant of our God was deeply moved, he wept much, until he was informed that the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Now mark what joy and ecstasy was felt when the first notes of the immortal song were sounded, when in full chorus many angels round about the throne of our Redeemer, with the four beasts, {or living creatures} and all the elders, the number of which was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, without a jarring note or a discordant sound, sang the new and everlasting song of the redeemed, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” And as their swelling joys arise, the higher, loftier notes ring out, “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” Would not our modern prelates, doctors and diviners, who profess to have reduced the mystery of that sealed book to a science, so simple and plain that it may be taught in Theological, Sabbath or Infant Schools, by graceless youths to unregenerate men and children, have charged John with folly for weeping, and the heavenly throng of the redeemed with madness, for supposing that none but the slain and risen and glorified Lamb of God had power to look upon that mystic volume, or open the seals, or make known on earth what was in it written? How presumptuously vain are the pretensions of men who claim such wisdom and ability, when even the Lamb that was slain, but now risen and exalted far above all heavens, required all the seven spirits or attributes of eternal Deity to perform the work.

But to proceed: The text on which we are called to write is the record of a fearful declaration, and more thrilling interrogative uttered in connection with the disclosures made by the opening of the sixth seal.

Great and marvelous things are disclosed by the opening of each of the seven seals. To apply them with any degree of accuracy and certainty to the periods and events in the history of the church of God to which they severally refer, we dare not attempt; but we will submit for the consideration of our brethren a few thoughts, as we may be led. As the opening of the seals in their order disclosed only the events which have and shall transpire subsequently to the organization of the church of Christ under the gospel dispensation, and as they were opened by him who is represented as a Lamb that had, at the opening of the seals, been slain, they seem to us to relate only to the conflicts and victories of Christ and his church in collision with the powers of darkness, the fearful struggles, and ultimate triumph of the church, “through the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony,” and the final overthrow and inevitable perdition of the enemies of God and truth; and this development extending from the beginning of the gospel dispensation to the end of the warfare.

When the Lamb opened the first seal, John heard, as it were, the voice of thunder, and being summoned by one of the four beasts, {or living creatures, Ezek. 1:5-14} saw a white horse, and he that sat on him had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer. In the figurative language of this vision, a horse under the control and government of his rider, denotes a kingdom; this white horse may represent the kingdom of Christ in her primitive purity, and under the exclusive government of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose ability to subdue all things unto himself is signified by his bow, and his accession to the throne of his redeemed church is indicated by the crown that was given unto him. Who thus having bent Judah for him, filled his bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made the flock the house of Judah, as his goodly horse in battle. See Zech. 9:12-17, and 10:3. Thus mounted and equipped, he went forth, conquering and to conquer; and “in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” Unto him it is said, “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O Most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre,” &c. Psa.45:3-6. By the spirit of prophecy John was permitted to see and to announce the glorious consummation of the conflict, and final triumph of the Lamb, and describe our conquering King, emerging from the sanguinary field, on the same white horse, with many crowns upon his head, and the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth forth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Rev. 19:11-16.

“And when he had opened the second seal,” “there went out another horse that was red.” Agreeing with the color of the dragon, and of the scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, on which sat the woman which was arrayed in scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations, &c. Chap. 12:3, and 17:3,4. Whether these descriptive figures were designed to represent pagan or papal anti-christ, or both, it is evident that the red horse and its rider is illustrative of the kingdom of Satan, arrayed in formidable opposition to the reigning power and glory of the great Captain of our salvation. This kingdom and king, red with the blood of slaughtered millions, has had power given him to take peace from the earth, and in its dragon form, as in that of the beast with seven heads and ten horns, and the beast that arose out of the earth with two horns, and in the image of the beast, representing, if we mistake not, the pagan, papal, and protestant anti-christs in their order, and finally those numerous humanly devised religious institutions, such as Mission, Tract, and other worldly societies, Sabbath and Theological Schools, with all the other materials of which the image is composed, and in all its multiform development has not failed to employ all the limited power allowed to fill up the allotted cup of iniquities, and fill the world with turmoil, strife and violence.

The opening of the third seal presents a black horse, denoting extreme famine. The opening of the fourth seal disclosed a pale horse, and the name of him that sat upon the pale horse was Death, and hell followed, and power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. This description probably refers to the almost indescribable horrors of what are known as the “dark ages,” or time of the Spanish Inquisition, in the progress of which all the forms of cruelty that wicked men and devils could invent were practiced upon those who were suspected or accused of opposition to any of their abominations.

The opening of the fifth seal discloses the call for a righteous retribution on the murderers of martyred saints who had thus far been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” This we should remember is figurative language. We are not to suppose the slaughtered saints are unhappy, or that the Spirit of Christ in which they have gone to glory is restless or vindictive, for they have rather prayed that the sin of their murders be not laid to their charge. But it is to be understood in the sense in which it was said to Cain, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Gen. 4:10. It signifies their guilt, and the just retribution which was held in reserve for them by the inexorable justice of that God who has said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” That justice will not delay beyond the appointed time, when the allotted cup of abomination shall be full. As it was with Jerusalem, her overthrow was delayed until her crowning wickedness was consummated in the rejection and crucifixion of the Son of God; then all the righteous blood shed from the days of Abel, was visited on that murderous and adulterous generation. And as the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, and of Jerusalem, so in regard to the man of sin, the son of perdition, whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and whose damnation slumbereth not, vengeance only awaits the consummation of their crimes.

We come now to the opening of the sixth seal. And if we are right in supposing the sealed book contained all the history of the church and kingdom of Christ, from the commencement of her conflicts down to the end of the world, we must conclude that the things disclosed by the opening of the sixth seal have special application to the period in which we now live. Commentators, as far as we have read them, agree that the earthquake and darkening of the sun and moon, relate to revolutions in the civil governments of the earth, and the gathering clouds of war with its demoralizing effects. Whether right or wrong in their interpretation, it is certain that the nations of the earth are at the present time shocked with unusual commotion, and the foundations of all civil governments are being violently shaken as by powerful volcanic eruption, and the brightest stars in the political constellation have sadly fallen, and the most ignorant and degraded, many of whom have but just emerged from vassalage and slavery, are entrusted with power, and a blackness like sackcloth of hair darkens the secular atmosphere of the nations of the world.

But we are inclined to seek for an application of these striking figures in the ecclesiastical, rather than in the political elements around us. The termination of the forty and two months, allowed to the papal beast to hold a temporal dominion over the nations of the earth, and to tread under foot the holy city, and the thousand two hundred and three score days, in which the Lord’s two witnesses should prophesy, clothed in sackcloth, having began at the same period, must be consummated simultaneously, and at the expiration of the time indicated, these two witnesses should be slain, and their dead bodies should lie unburied in the streets of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt; and after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God shall enter them, and they shall stand upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that saw them. Certainly the despoiling of the Pope of his temporal power, at the present time very clearly indicates the fulfillment of the forty-two months, or the thousand two hundred and three score days; and at the end of these times and events, we are told, “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand; and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” Rev. 11:3,4 & 1-13. A careful comparing of these prophesies with the record of the sixth seal, seems to us to indicate the present, as the time of the sixth seal. The darkness which is clearly observable in the camp of those who once stood on the old apostolic platform, as Baptist churches, and Baptist ministers, is truly as the blackness of sackcloth, and like the plague of darkness which fell on Egypt, it may be felt; while now, as then, in all the dwellings of the spiritual Hebrews there is light. While many of the ministry who once shone as stars have fallen unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. The mighty winds of doctrine which have swept over the world have shaken them from the true church of Christ, and now they are compared to clouds without water, driven by the tempest, to whom is reserved the mists of darkness forever and ever. “And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together.” The very firmament is agitated and moved, and for a time obscured from sight, as the records of a scroll are concealed from view when rolled together. And in the general consternation, the mountains and islands are moved. Earthly governments are agitated; “and the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.”

It is, we believe, generally supposed that the time is far off in the distant future when these predictions shall be fulfilled, and we are also satisfied that there is a time, perhaps not so far distant, when the terrible judgments of our God shall be signally displayed against the enemies of truth and righteousness, when Babylon shall sink like a millstone, and be found no more at all; and when the wicked shall be turned into hell with all the nations that forget God. But still we believe that at the present time these things are being disclosed by the opening of the sixth seal of the mystical book. During the gospel dispensation these prophecies must all be fulfilled. It was of the present dispensation it was written, “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Mal. 4:1. “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” Joel. 2:30,31. This prediction is applied by Peter as subsequent to the Day of Pentecost, having a primary application to the destruction of Jerusalem, and finally to the destruction of the man of sin, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, &c. II Thes. 2:8,9.

That the gospel dispensation is the day of the wrath of the Lamb, appears from the following, among many other portions of the scriptures. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God,” &c. Isa. 61:1,2. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me; for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold; therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.” Isa. 63:1-6. “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” Psa. 2:8, 9, compared with Rev. 2:27, and 12:5. Besides this array of scripture, the opening of the first seal of this book shows the Captain of our salvation seated upon the white horse, with his bow and crown, going forth conquering and to conquer, and in chapter 19:11, it is written, that he is “called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”

This great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? Negatively we are told who shall not be able to stand. The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, {or generals} and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man. All these retreat in dismay before him; they cannot endure his doctrine, his ordinances, nor his government. They desire not a knowledge of his ways. He sits in the throne of his glory, and all nations are before him. He has power over all flesh, that he may give eternal life to as many as the Father has given him, and he divideth the nations as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he says unto his sheep on his right hand, Come, ye blessed; and to the goats on his left hand, Depart, ye cursed. Retreating in terror before the majesty of his truth, they seek to hide themselves, in the dens and rocks of the mountains. Dens of the earth, holes in the ground, and the wild cliffs in the mountains, are fit emblems of the hiding of the ungodly. Their dens, which they profanely call churches, are sought by them as places of refuge, and the rocks of the mountains as hiding places, are resorted to evade the truth which indicates his presence which they dread. All the doctrines and religious institutions of men are but holes in the ground, or earthly retreats in which they vainly try to hide themselves. They imagine themselves safe in their hiding places, and vantingly boast that they have made their peace with God, that they made a covenant with death, and with hell are at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto them; for they have made lies their refuge, and under falsehood have we hid themselves. But their bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself upon it, and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. Isa. 28:15 & 20. All the men of the earth, those whose religion is of the earth, and who dwell, religiously, on the earth, including kings, captains, bond and free men, all whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, shall worship the beast, and shall perish with the beast. They shall pray to the mountains and rocks in vain; for all things are naked and open to the eye of him with whom we have to do.

But the day of his wrath is not to be understood as when applied to men. God is not subject to excitement, or varying passions; for he is immutable, of one mind, and none can turn him. His wrath is displayed in his own way. “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” Rom. 9:22. Men usually show their wrath by impatient haste for retribution; but God shows his by much long suffering. The long suffering of God once waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing. I Pet. 3:20. He suffered long with the manners of the carnal Israelites in the wilderness, and his wrath is shown in suffering his enemies now to go on with their abominations, until the cup of their iniquities shall be filled up. They are no less the subjects of his wrath when in seeming prosperity their eyes stand out with fatness and they have more than heart can wish, than they will be when they shall suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. Nor are the saints any less the objects and recipients of the saving love of God when in deep affliction, and when the waters of a full cup are wrung out to them, than when they shall awake with the his likeness in immortal glory. “Behold,” says the psalmist, “these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction.” Psa. 73:12-18.

In this view of the subject, truly we may say, The great day of his wrath is come; for when has the wicked prospered to a greater extent in their wickedness? When have they been held under less restraint? Perhaps no severer judgment can fall on saint or sinners in this world than to be left of God to pursue without restraint their own ways.

“And who shall be able to stand?” “But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.” Mal. 3:2. “The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil. He shall dwell on high; his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.” Isa. 33:14-16. None but the redeemed of the Lord shall be able to stand the fiery ordeal; to them alone is the promise given that the fire shall not kindle upon them, nor the flames consume. God has promised to bring them through the fire, and to try them as gold, and to refine them as silver; and when they are tried they shall come forth as gold. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:28,29.

Middletown, N.Y.
December 1, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe