The Story of the Seer of Patmos




The message to Sardis is addressed to Protestantism. The period covered by Thyatira was the era of papal persecution. This church was once the church of God, one of the candlesticks among which the Son of man was seen to walk, but when that organization prostituted itself by joining hands with the state, when, in other words, it followed the example of Balaam and worked the works of Jezebel, the oil was withheld from the candlestick, and given to those who were willing to obey God in preference to the head of the church. God regards character, not name; and the faithful few to whom the light was entrusted, were mentioned in a part of the message to Thyatira. They were the ones who knew not the works of Jezebel. Margin These became the forerunners of Protestantism. The darkness was first broken when Wycliffe, “the morning star of the Reformation,” translated the Bible into the English language. The first streaks of dawn lighted up the sky, and in the course of two hundred years, the sun had arisen in its splendor. The church came out of the wilderness, leaning on the arm of her Beloved. The twelve hundred and sixty years of darkness ended. It was like the return of spring after a severe winter. Life of every kind sprang into existence. Energy, long dormant, seemed suddenly imbued with a hitherto unknown activity. Discovery followed discovery; inventions were multiplied; men, accustomed to spending a lifetime in one village, now found the world opening before them through publications and increased facilities for travel. Every branch of science was explored, governments bestirred themselves, and the dust of the Middle Ages was shaken off. America was discovered and settled. Men knew not why it happened at such a time and under such circumstances; but God was preparing a cradle for the new-born cause of Protestantism. Germany might have nourished it; England had an opportunity to cherish it; but it was in America that the new church found congenial environments for growth: and while all nations receive the Sardis message, it is particularly applicable in the United States, or at least, the United States becomes the center for the movement therein mentioned. SSP 70.1

Sardis means “prince of joy”; and the name is most appropriate for those who received the light of the eighteenth century, and the first half of the nineteenth century. Protestantism Margin is an active, living principle, based upon eternal truths. It came as the result of the opening of the Scriptures to the common people. The doctrine of justification by faith makes every man responsible to God alone, and necessitates freedom of conscience. When it is once made known that every man is equal in the sight of God, a deathblow is struck to all tyranny in government; and with freedom of conscience, comes also a government by the people and for the people. In the days of Luther, Germany and the other countries of Europe, had an opportunity to develop this twofold nature of Protestantism. For a time it seemed that all Europe would be transformed; but gradually, there was a return to papal principles in Germany, and nearly all of the other countries, which had espoused the cause of Protestantism, followed her example. The return was largely due to the educational work of the Jesuits, who arose to counteract the teachings of the Reformers. SSP 71.1

Since the days of Wycliffe, there had been in England followers of God, walking in all the light which they had received. Upon these God placed “none other burden”; but as the light increased, Protestantism in its broadest sense, was offered to England. The history of England was, for a time, a struggle between the papacy, and Protestantism under the name of Puritanism. The Commonwealth was Puritanism in power; and it was then demonstrated that there was not yet strength enough to resist the crown of tyranny when it lay within the grasp of man. England returned allegiance to her own royal family; but so strong were the principles of Protestantism that her government Margin has been, since the days of the Commonwealth, a government by the people. It was in England that the first Anglo-Saxon branches of Protestantism had birth, and it was because of lack of freedom in the mother country, that separatists from the English church sought homes in America. SSP 72.1