The terrible French Revolution of 1790 is long since gone, but it is the direct result of a two-hundred-year struggle over the Bible. History has many lessons. It we will not learn them, we may have to repeat them.
It took place two centuries ago - but it is full of meaning to us today. View the terrible experiment of a nation that began with religious persecution - and ended in vilest atheism - and death to many.
HISTORICAL DATING OF THIS CHAPTER
France was unique among the nations of Europe. After being initially tolerated, Protestantism was later thoroughly crushed out. By 1559, there were 400,000 Huguenots (French Protestants) in France. In three savage "Huguenot Wars" (1562-1570), the Catholics tried unsuccessfully to exterminate the Protestants. From 1560 onward (as they were doing elsewhere in Europe), the Jesuits led out in this work.
Catherine de 'Medici of France was told by her Jesuit confessor that her sins would be forgiven if she killed all the Protestants. On St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24, 1572, the horrible work began, and continued for two months - resulting in the death of 70,000 Protestants. Pope Gregory XIII was utterly delighted. The killing of Protestants continued to 1580. Charles IX, only 23 years old in 1572, continually heard the cries of the dying in his ears, and he sickened and died 21 months later.
With the Protestants, the nation's best workers, gone - the nation became more and more corrupt. In 1789, Louis XVI called the Estates-General to keep the country from bankruptcy. The French Revolution resulted.
In July 1789, riots began throughout the nation. The Reign of Terror continued until 1794, as over 300,000 citizens were slain. War between France and other nations was almost continuous from 1793 to 1915. The "Festival of Reason" occurred in November 1793. Voltaire said he had destroyed Christianity, but his house was later used to store French Bibles.
The suppression of the Scriptures under the dominion of Rome, the terrible results of that suppression, and the final exaltation of the word of God, are vividly portrayed by the prophetic pencil. To John, the exile on lonely Patmos, was given a view of the 1260 years during which the papal power was permitted to trample upon God's word and oppress His people. Said the angel of the Lord: "The holy city [the true Church] shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth." Revelation 11:2, 3. The periods here mentioned are the same, alike representing the time in which God's faithful witnesses remained in a state of obscurity.
The two witnesses represent the Old and New Testament Scriptures. Both are important testimonies to the origin and perpetuity of the law of God. Both are witnesses also to the plan of salvation. The types, sacrifices, and prophecies of the Old Testament point forward to a Savior to come. The Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament tell of a Savior who has come in the exact manner foretold by type and prophecy.
"These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." Revelation 11:4. Said the Psalmist. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalms 119:105.
The papal power sought to hide from the people the word of truth, and set before them false witnesses to contradict its testimony. When the Bible was proscribed by religious and secular authority; when its testimony was perverted, and every effort made that men and demons could invent to turn the minds of the people from it; when those who dared proclaim its sacred truths were hunted, betrayed, tortured, buried in dungeon cells, martyred for their faith, or compelled to flee to mountain fastnesses and to dens and caves of the earth, - then indeed did the faithful witnesses prophesy in sackcloth.
But men cannot with impunity trample upon the word of God. The Lord had declared concerning His two witnesses, "If any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed." Revelation 11:5. The meaning of this fearful denunciation is set forth in the closing chapter of the book of Revelation: "I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these thing, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Revelation 22:18, 19.
Such are the warnings which God has given to guard men against changing in any manner that which He has revealed or commanded. These solemn denunciations apply to all who by their influence lead men to lightly regard the law of God. They should cause those to fear and tremble who flippantly declare it a matter of little consequence whether we obey God's law or not. All who exalt their own opinions above the written word, all who would change the plain meaning of Scripture to suit their own convenience or for the sake of conformity to the world, are taking upon themselves a fearful responsibility. The written word, the law of God, will measure the character of every man, and condemn all whom this unerring test shall declare wanting. (continued further down)
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT - THE 1260 YEAR PROPHECY
THE PROPHECY OF DANIEL
"Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another...
And behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth... and it had ten horns.
And I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things...
I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things... Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast... And of the ten horns that there were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth speaking great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them...
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change time and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time". Daniel 7:2-3, 7-8, 16, 19-21, 25.
THE PROPHECY OF REVELATION
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea... And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast... And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two mouths". Revelation 13:1, 3, 5.
The Bible predicted that the terrible little horn power of Daniel 7 and 8 was to rule the world for 1260 years. It has been well-known for centuries that this little horn of Daniel 7 and the first beast of Revelation 13 symbolize the papacy. Also called the "man of sin" (2.Thessalonians 2:3-4) and the "antichrist" (1.John 4:3), the papacy was definitely prophesied to have this power for 1260 years. When did this predicted time span begin and when did it end? The following will give you this information:
THE AMAZING 1260 YEAR PROPHECY
Here is the amazing prophecy of the 1260 days, also called the "time and times and the dividing of time", and the "forty-two months".
A day stands for a year in Bible prophecy (Numbers 14:34, EzekIel 4:6).
A "time" in prophecy is the same as a year (Daniel 11:13, margin and Revised Version). This time-span prophecy is first mentioned in Daniel 7:25, where we are told that it is the length of time that the terrible "little horn" power was to bear rule and destroy God's people. During that time it would also try to change God's law: "And he [the little horn] shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand for a time and times and a dividing of time". Daniel 7:25.
This, in Hebrew, equals a time, 2 times and a half a time. Using the ancient reckoning of 360 days to a year, 360 + 720 + 180 = 1260. And since a day is equivalent to a year In Bible prophecy, this little horn power would rule for 1260 years. In Revelation 12:6-7 we are told that the persecution would continue for "a thousand two hundred and threescore days", which is 1260 prophetic days, or years (also note Revelation 11:3).
The God of heaven gave this important prophecy in yet a third way: The little horn of Daniel 7 and 8 is the same as the first beast of Revelation 13: "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months". Revelation 13:5 (compare Revelation 11:2). Forty-two months equals 1260 days. And Revelation also calls this time prophecy the "time, and times, and half a time" (Revelation 12:14), - just as Daniel does.
When did the little horn, symbolizing the papacy, have this rule? The decree of the emperor Justinian, in AD. 533, recognized the pope as the "head of all the holy churches" (Code of Justinian, Book 1, title 1, section 4). The overwhelming defeat of the Ostrogoths in the siege of Rome, just five years later (AD. 538) was a death blow to the third of the three horns that were uprooted (see Daniel 7:8). With the year 538, then begins the 1260 years of this prophecy of papal domination, which would extend to 1798. In that year as the Reign of Terror continued in the French Revolution and the Roman Catholic religion was set aside in France, the French army, under Berthier, entered Rome and took the pope prisoner. The date: February 10,1798. The imprisoned pope died in exile the following year in Valence, France. A great cry was heard, "Catholicism is dead". The papacy had received the "deadly wound" of Revelation 13:3. But we are told that the wound is to be healed, and that time is coming when all the world will "wonder after the beast" (Revelation 13:3).
Notwithstanding the Lord's witnesses were clothed in sackcloth, they continued to prophesy throughout the entire period of 1260 years. In the darkest times there were faithful men who loved God's word, and were jealous for His honor. To these loyal servants were given wisdom, power, and authority to declare His truth during the whole of this time.
"And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified." Revelation 11:7, 8.
These events were to take place near the close of the period in which the witnesses testified in sackcloth. Through the medium of the papacy, Satan had long controlled the powers that ruled in Church and State. The fearful results were especially apparent in those countries that rejected the light of the Reformation. There was a state of moral debasement and corruption similar to the condition of Sodom just prior to its destruction, and to the idolatry and spiritual darkness that prevailed in Egypt in the days of Moses.
In no land had the spirit of enmity against Christ and the truth been more strikingly displayed than in giddy and godless France. Nowhere had the gospel encountered more bitter and cruel opposition. In the streets of Paris, Christ had indeed been crucified in the person of His saints. The world still recalls with shuddering horror the scenes of that most cowardly and cruel onslaught, the massacres of St. Bartholomew. The king of France, urged on by Romish priests and prelates, lent his sanction to the dreadful work. The palace bell, tolling at midnight, gave the signal for the slaughter to begin. Protestants by thousands, sleeping quietly in their homes, trusting to the plighted honor of their king, were dragged forth without a warning, and murdered in cold blood.
Satan, in the person of the Roman zealots, led the van. As Christ was the invisible leader of His people from Egyptian bondage, so was Satan the unseen leader of his subjects in this horrible work of multiplying martyrs. For three days the butchery went on; more than thirty thousand perished. The result caused great joy to the hosts of darkness. The Roman pontiff, sharing in the diabolical rejoicing, proclaimed a jubilee to be observed throughout his dominions, to celebrate the event.
The same master-spirit that urged on the massacre of St. Bartholomew, led also in the scenes of the French Revolution. Satan seemed to triumph. Notwithstanding the labors of the Reformers, he had succeeded in holding vast multitudes in ignorance concerning God and His word. Now he appeared in a new guise. In France arose an atheistical power that openly declared war against the authority of Heaven. Men threw off all restraint. The law of God was trampled under foot. Those who could engage in the most Heaven-daring blasphemy and the most abominable wickedness were most highly exalted. Fornication was sanctioned by law. Profanity and corruption seemed deluging the earth. In all this, supreme homage was paid to Satan, while Christ, in His characteristics of truth, purity, and unselfish love, was crucified. The Bible was publicly burned. The Sabbath was blotted out. Romanism had enjoined image worship; now divine honors were paid to the vilest objects. The work which the papacy had begun, atheism completed. The one withheld from the people the truths of the Bible; the other taught them to reject both the Bible and its Author. The seed sown by priests and prelates was yielding its evil fruit.
Terrible indeed was the condition of infidel France. The word of truth lay dead in her streets, and those who hated the restrictions and requirements of God's law were jubilant. But transgression and rebellion were followed by the sure result. Unhappy France reaped in blood the harvest she had sown. The war against the Bible and the law of God banished peace and happiness from the hearts and homes of men. No one was secure: he who triumphed today was suspected, condemned, tomorrow. Violence and terror reigned supreme. The land was filled with crimes too horrible for pen to trace.
God's faithful witnesses were not long to remain silent. "The Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them which saw them." Revelation 11:11. The world stood aghast at the enormity of guilt which had resulted from a rejection of the Sacred Oracles, and men were glad to return once more to faith in God and His word.
Concerning the two witnesses the prophet declares further, "And they heard a great voice from Heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies beheld them." Revelation 11:12. Since the French Revolution the word of God has been honored as never before. The Bible has been translated into nearly every language spoken by men, and scattered over every part of the globe. After being, as it were, thrust down to hell, it has, in truth, been exalted to heaven.
CHAPTER SUPPLEMENT - THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER
"My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus". Philipplans 4:19.
"O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come". Psalm 65:2.
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened". Matthew 7:7-8.
"A rewarder of them that diligently seek Him". Hebrews 11:6.
"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Romans 8:32.
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God... and it shall be given him". James 1:5..
"But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering". verse 8.
"If I regard iniquity in mine heart, the Lord will not hear me". Psalm 66:18.
"He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination". Proverbs 28:9.
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you". Matthew 5:44.
"And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses". Mark 11:25.
"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God". Philippians 4:6.
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication". Ephesians 6:18. "Pray without ceasing". 1.Thessalonians 5:17. "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice". Psalm 55:17.
"The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer". 1.Peter 4:7.
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation". Matthew 26:41.
CHAPTER SUPPLEMENT - CENTURIES OF PERSECUTION
"That the church of Rome has shed more Innocent blood than any other Institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge of history... It is impossible to form a complete conception of the multitude of her victims, and it is quite certain that no powers of Imagination can adequately realize their sufferings". W.E.H. Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, Vol.2, p.32, 1910 ed. (An excellent, though lengthy, article describing in detail the right of the Roman Catholic Church to do this, will be found in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol.12, p.266.)
"For professing faith contrary to the teachings of the Church of Rome, history records the martyrdom of more than one hundred million people. A million Waldenses and Albigenses [Swiss and French Protestants] perished during a crusade proclaimed by Pope Innocent Ill in 1208. Beginning from the establishment of the Jesuits in 1540 to 1580, nine hundred thousand were destroyed. One hundred and fifty thousand perished by the Inquisition in thirty years. Within the space of thIrty-eight years after the edict of Charles V against the Protestants, fifty thousand persons were hanged, beheaded, or burned alive for heresy. Eighteen thousand more perished during the administration of the Duke of Alva in five and a halt years". Brief Bible Readings, p.16.
"The Catholic has some reason on his side when he calls for the temporal punishment of heretics, for he claims the true title of Christian for himself exclusively, and professes to be taught by the never-failing presence of the Spirit of God... It Is not more 'morally' wrong to put a man to death for heresy than for murder... [and] in many cases persecution for religious opinions is not only permissible, but highly advisable and necessary". "The Lawfulness of Persecution", in The Rambler, 4, June 1849, p.119,126 [English R.C. journal published from 1848 to 1862].
"'The church,' said [Martin] Luther,... 'has never burned a heretic'... I reply that this argument proves not the opinion, but the ignorance or impudence of Luther. Since almost infinite numbers were either burned or otherwise killed, Luther either did not know it, and was therefore ignorant, or if he was not ignorant, he is convicted of impudence and falsehood; for that heretics were often burned by the church may be proved if we adduce a few examples". Robert Bellarmine, Disputationes de Controversis Christianae Fidel (Disputations Concerning Controversies of the Christian Faith), Tom. II, cap. XXII [Bellarmine, later canonized, was a leading Jesuit leader and writer].
"The orthodox doctrine, as formulated by St. Thomas Aquinas and confirmed and elaborated by later Dominicans and by Jesuits like the Blessed Robert Bellarmine Suarez, runs as follows:
"Heresy [as defined by Rome] is the willful holding by a baptized person of doctrines which contradict an article of faith defined by the Catholic Church". P Hinschius, "Heresy", The New Schaff Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol.5, p.234-235 (1909).
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