FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER FOUR & FORTY– Part XII
Lest We Forget What Right Really Matters at the End
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Representative, who suddenly resigned as DNC chairwoman after a trove of emails showed party officials conspiring to sabotage the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, was quoted, saying, “the most sacred right we share as Americans [is] the right to vote.”
But according to Bible prophecy, church history of the Old World, and American history that saw its birth in the New World, the most sacred right every human being shares across the racial, cultural, political, financial, particularly religious divisions, globally, is the divinely-endowed, thus, inalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience! Have we forgotten so soon? Hopefully never, even if politicians, legislators, and clergy progressively unite in digressing towards this prophesied trajectory.
Lest we forget, a brief review of American history should be a serious reminder and anchor in the overwhelming deluge of rapidly changing norms and perceptions, and consider Thanksgiving Day as merely the gastronomic “Turkey Day,” kicking off “Black Friday” and the “get high” Holiday party/shopping season stretching on to the hedonistic celebrations of New Year’s Day. Note the following:
“The English Reformers, while renouncing the doctrines of Romanism, had retained many of its forms. Thus though the authority of and the creed of Rome were rejected, not a few of her customs and ceremonies were incorporated into the worship of the Church of England. It was claimed that these things were not matters of conscience; that though they were not commanded in Scripture, and hence were non-essential, yet not being forbidden, they were not intrinsically evil.
Their observance tended to narrow the gulf which separated the reformed churches from Rome, and it was urged that they would promote the acceptance of the Protestant faith by Romanism. [How mistaken they were! Five hundred years later, “Catholics and Lutherans Sign Joint Declaration ‘Accepting Common Path.” www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/31/catholic-lutherans-joint-declaration-pope-francis-christian-sweden.
“To the conservative and compromising, these arguments seemed conclusive. But there was another class that did not so judge. The fact that these customs, ‘tended to bridge over the chasm between Rome and the Reformation’ (Martyn, vol. 5, p. 22), was in their view a conclusive argument against retaining them.
They looked upon them as badges of the slavery from which they had been delivered and to which they had no disposition to return [Ecumenism eroded this!]. They reasoned that God has in His word established the regulations governing His worship, and that men are not at liberty to add to these or to detract from them. The very beginning of the great apostasy was in seeking to supplement the authority of God by that of the church. Rome began by enjoining what God had not forbidden, and she ended by forbidding what He had explicitly enjoined.
“Many earnestly desired to return to the purity and simplicity which characterized the primitive church. They regarded many of the established customs of the English Church as monuments of idolatry, and they could not in conscience unite in her worship. But the church being supported by the civil authority, would permit no dissent from her forms. Attendance for her service was required by law, and unauthorized assemblies for religious worship were prohibited, under penalty of imprisonment, exile, and death.
“At the opening of the seventeenth century the monarch who had just ascended the throne in England declared his determination to make the Puritans ‘conform, or . . .harry them out of the land, or else worse.’ – George Bancroft, History of the United States, pt. I, ch. 12, par. 6. Hunted, persecuted, and imprisoned, they could discern in the future no promise of better days, and many yielded to the conviction that for such as would serve God according to the dictates of their conscience, ‘England was ceasing forever to be a habitable place.’—J. G. Palfrey, History of New England, ch. 3, par. 43.
Some at last determined to seek refuge in Holland. Difficulties, losses, and imprisonment were encountered. Their purposes were thwarted, and they were betrayed into the hands of their enemies. But steadfast perseverance finally conquered, and they found shelter on the friendly shores of the Dutch Republic.
“In their flight they had left their houses, their goods, and their means of livelihood. They were strangers in a strange land, among people of different language and customs. They were forced to resort to new and untried occupations to earn their bread. Middle-aged men, who had spent their lives in tilling the soil, had now to learn mechanical trades. But they cheerfully accepted the situation and lost no time in idleness and repining.
Though often pinched in poverty, they thanked God for the blessings which were still granted them and found their joy in unmolested spiritual communion. ‘They knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to heaven, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.’ – Bancroft, pt. I, ch. 12, par. 15. [Shouldn’t these characteristics and spirit be found also among those who claim to be members of the remnant church of prophecy?]
“In the midst of exile and hardship, their love and faith waxed strong. They trusted the Lord’s promises, and He did not fail them in time of need. His angels were by their side, to encourage and support them. And when God’s hand seemed pointing them across the sea, to a land where they might found for themselves a state, and leave to their children the precious heritage of religious liberty, they went forward, without shrinking, in the path of providence. [How many Christian parents are training up their children to treasure this precious truth and soon-to-be-taken-away inalienable right?]
“God had permitted trials to come to His people to prepare them for the accomplishment of His gracious purpose toward them. The church had been brought low, that she might be exalted. God was about to display His power in their behalf, to give to the world another evidence that He will not forsake those who trust in Him. He had overruled events to cause the wrath of Satan and the plots of evil men to advance His glory and to bring His people to a place of security. Persecution and exile were opening the way to freedom.
“When first constrained to separate from the English Church, the Puritans had joined themselves together by a solemn covenant, as the Lord’s free people, ‘to walk together in all His ways made known or to be made known to them.’ – J. Brown, The Pilgrim Fathers, p. 74.
“Here was the true spirit of reform, the vital principle of Protestantism. It was this purpose that the Pilgrims departed from Holland to find a home in the New World. John Robinson, their pastor, who was providentially prevented from accompanying them, in his farewell address to the exiles said: ‘Brethren, . . . If God shall reveal anything to you by any instrument of His, be as ready to receive it as ever you were to receive any truth of my ministry; for I am very confident the Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth out of His holy Word.’- Martyn, vol. 5, p. 70.
Why so many denominations with conflicting creeds in mainstream Christianity? Refusal to follow Christ and advancing light of truth: ‘For my part, [Robinson continues] I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of the reformed churches, who are now come to a period in religion, and will at present go no farther than the instruments of their reformation. The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; . . . And the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where they were left by that great man of God, who yet saw not all things. This is a misery much to be lamented; for though they were burning and shining lights in their time, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God, but were they now living, would be as willing to embrace further light as that which they first received.’ – D. Neal, History of the Puritans, vol. I, p. 269. . . .
“It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation [not a global empire]. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. ‘Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole Judge of human faith.’– Ibid, vol. 5, p. 297.
“The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors. While the reformers rejected the creed of Rome, they were not entirely free from her spirit of intolerance. The dense darkness in which, through the long ages of her rule, popery had enveloped all Christendom, had not even yet been wholly dissipated. Said one of the leading ministers in the colony of the Massachusetts Bay: ‘It was toleration that made the world antichristian; and the church never took harm by the punishment of heretics.’ – Ibid, vol. 5, p. 335. The regulation was adopted by the colonists that only church members should have a voice in civil government. A kind of church state was formed, all the people being required to contribute to the support of the clergy, and the magistrates being authorized to suppress heresy. Thus the secular power was in the hands of the church. It was not long before these measures led to the inevitable result—persecution.
“Eleven years after the planting of the first colony, Roger Williams came to the New World. Like the early Pilgrims he came to enjoy religious freedom; but unlike them, he saw—what so few in his time had yet seen—that this freedom was the inalienable right of all, whatever might be their creed. [All the radicalized extremism, paranoia, seething hatred, and horrific violence perpetrated in the name of whatever religion is found in gross ignorance, thus failure to understand, appreciate, and embrace and espouse this principle!]. He was an earnest seeker for truth, with Robinson holding it impossible that all the light from God’s Word had yet been received. Williams ‘was the first person in modern Christendom to establish civil government on the doctrine of the liberty of conscience, the equality of opinions before the law.’ – Bancroft, pt I, ch. 15, par. 16.
“Roger Williams was respected and beloved as a faithful minister, a man of rare gifts, of unbending integrity and true benevolence; yet his steadfast denial of the right of the civil magistrate to authority over the church, and his demand for religious liberty, could not be tolerated [by you know who by now]. The application of this new doctrine, it was urged, would ‘subvert the fundamental state and government of the country.’ – Ibid, pt. I, ch. 15, par. 10. He was sentenced to banishment from the colonies, and, finally, to avoid arrest, he was forced to flee, amid the cold and storms of winter, into the unbroken forest. ‘For 14 weeks,’ he says, ‘I was sorely tossed in a bitter season, not knowing what bread or bed did mean.’ But ‘the ravens fed me in the wilderness,’ and a hollow tree often served him for a shelter.’ – Martyn, vol. 5, pp. 349, 350.
“Making his way at last, after months of change and wandering, to the shores of Narragansett Bay, he there laid the foundation of the first state of modern times that in the fullest sense recognized the rights of religious freedom.
“The fundamental principle of Roger Williams’ colony was ‘that every man should have liberty to worship God according to the light of his own conscience.’ – Ibid, vol. 5, p. 354. His little state, Rhode Island, became the asylum of the oppressed, and it increased and prospered until its foundation principles—civil and religious liberty—became the cornerstone of the American Republic.” – E. G. White, Great Controversy, 1911 ed., “The Pilgrim Fathers,” ch. 16, pp. 290-295.
Dear friends, as we try to make sense of the strange national and global developments and the uncertainties they bode with the rapid approach of the end of year 2016, let us plead to our Father in heaven, by the name and authority of Jesus Christ, for the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide, enlighten, and impress our hearts and minds more than ever before, of the momentous issue and the eternal consequence of either ignoring or valuing our sacred privileges and duties of the inalienable right of religious liberty!
(To be continued next week)