Satan then consulted with his angels, and they there considered what they had gained. It was true that they had kept some timid souls through fear of death, from embracing the truth; but many, even of the most timid, received the truth, and immediately their fears and timidity left them, and as they witnessed the death of their brethren, and saw their firmness and patience, they knew that God and angels assisted them to endure such sufferings, and they grew bold and fearless. And when called to yield their own lives, they maintained their faith with such patience and firmness as caused even their murderers to tremble. Satan and his angels decided that there was a more successful way to destroy souls, and more certain in the end. They saw that although they caused Christians to suffer, their steadfastness, and the bright hope that cheered them, caused the weakest to grow strong, and that the rack and the flames could not daunt them. They imitated the noble bearing of Christ when before his murderers, and many were convinced of the truth by witnessing their constancy, and the glory of God which rested upon them. Satan decided that he must come in a milder form. He had corrupted the doctrines of the Bible; and traditions which were to ruin millions were taking deep root. He restrained his hate, and decided not to urge on his subjects to such bitter persecution; but lead on the church to contend, not for the faith once delivered to the saints, but, for various traditions. As he led on the church to receive favors and honors of the world, under the false pretense of benefiting them, she began to lose favor with God. Gradually the church lost her power, as she shunned to declare the straight truths which shut out the lovers of pleasure and friends of the world.
The church is not the separate and peculiar people she was when the fires of persecution were kindled against her. How is the gold become dim? How is the most fine gold changed?
I saw that if the church had always retained her holy and peculiar character, the power of the Holy Spirit which was imparted to the disciples would be with her. The sick would be healed, devils would be rebuked and cast out, and she would be mighty, and a terror to her enemies.
I saw that a very large company professed the name of Christ, but God does not recognize them as his. He has no pleasure in them. Satan seemed to assume a religious character, and was very willing that the people should think they were Christians. He was very willing that they should believe in Jesus, his crucifixion, and his resurrection. Satan and his angels fully believed all this themselves, and trembled. But if this faith does not provoke to good works, and lead those who profess it to imitate the self-denying life of Christ, he is not disturbed; for they merely assume the Christian name, while their hearts are still carnal; and he can use them in his service better than if they made no profession. Under the name of Christian they hide their deformity. They pass along with their unsanctified natures, and their evil passions unsubdued. This gives occasion for the unbeliever to throw their imperfections in the face of Jesus Christ, to reproach him, and to cause those who do possess pure and undefiled religion to be brought into disrepute.
The ministers preach smooth things to suit carnal professors. This is just as Satan would have it. They dare not preach Jesus and the cutting truths of the Bible; for if they should, these carnal professors would not hear them. Many of them are wealthy and must be retained in the church, although they are no more fit to be there than Satan and his angels. The religion of Jesus is made to appear popular and honorable in the eyes of the world. The people are told that those who profess religion will be more honored by the world. Very widely do such teachings differ from the teachings of Christ. His doctrine and the world could not be at peace. Those who followed him had to renounce the world. These smooth things originated with Satan and his angels. They formed the plan, and nominal professors have carried it out. Hypocrites and sinners unite with the church. Pleasing fables are taught, and readily received. But if the truth should be preached in its purity, it would soon shut out hypocrites and sinners. But there is no difference between the professed followers of Christ and the world. I saw that if the false covering could be torn off from the members of the churches, there would be revealed such iniquity, vileness and corruption, that the most diffident child of God would have no hesitancy in calling them by their right name, children of their father, the Devil; for his works they do. Jesus and all the heavenly host looked with disgust upon the scene; yet God had a message for the church that was sacred and important. If received, it would make a thorough reformation in the church, revive the living testimony that would purge out hypocrites and sinners, and bring the church again into favor with God.
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