The Spirit of Antichrist : No. 1
Ellet J. Waggoner
In 1 John 4:1-3 we find the following inspired warning and declaration: —
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
Again to 2 John 7 we find a similar statement: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
“Antichrist” means, “opposed to Christ.” The great antichrist, therefore, is Satan himself, for he is the instigator and abettor of everything that has ever come up in opposition to God and Christ. In Rev. 12:7-9 we find the following description of the first opposition to the Son of God, and its result: —
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:7-9).
Michael is the archangel (Jude 9), that is, the chief or prince of the angels; and the archangel is Christ, for it is the voice of the archangel that will be heard at the last great day, when the dead shall be raised (1 Thess. 4:16); and Christ declared (John 5:26-29) that his own voice would be the one that should penetrate the graves, and call forth the dead. Therefore this war in heaven was between Christ and his angels on one side, and Satan and his angels on the other side. It was the beginning of the great controversy, which has been going on till the present time. When Christ was on earth he again met the devil in person, and again vanquished him; but still the warfare is kept up; Satan still opposes Christ by seeking to blind the minds of men so that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ may not shine unto them (2 Cor. 4:3, 4); and the contest will cease only with the utter destruction of Satan and all his works.
The apostle, however, in the text first quoted, does not speak of antichrist himself, but of the “spirit of antichrist;” that is, not of Satan in person, but of the doctrines, which he disseminates in order to blind the minds of them, that believe not. This spirit of antichrist is declared to be a denial that Jesus is come in the flesh. It is commonly supposed that this refers to Roman Catholicism. This is probably because in 2 Thess. 2:3, the Papacy is spoken of as the one, “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worship.” There is no question but that Roman Catholicism is antichrist; but we propose to demonstrate that what is known as modern Spiritualism is essentially the spirit of antichrist, being the direct mouth-piece of Satan himself, and that Roman Catholicism and other forms of error, whether of greater or lesser degree, are only outgrowths of the principle which is the very heart of Spiritualism.
Our first business is to inquire what it is to deny that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. Of course the most direct method of denying that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is to deny the entire narrative contained in the gospels, to say that the whole thing is a fabrication, and that there never was such a person as Jesus Christ. But there are comparatively few in enlightened lands that deny that such a person as Jesus Christ ever lived on this earth. Many who will admit that such a person lived, and that he was a very good man, possibly the best man that ever lived, will still deny his divinity; they will not admit that he was the Son of God. Such persons do most emphatically deny that Jesus Christ is come the flesh, and are therefore deceived by the spirit of antichrist. But there is still another way in which the spirit of antichrist may be manifested, and that is by denying some essential part of the work of Christ, while still professing, to believe on him. Representatives of this class are brought to view in Matthew 7:21-23. This working of the spirit of antichrist is the most insidious of all, and is that which will wreck the greater part of those who will be lost. Let us examine it.
In the first chapter of John we have undoubted reference to Christ, under the title of “the Word.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In the fourteenth verses we read of him: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” Grace means favor. Therefore the statement is that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of favor. That is the same as saying that Christ came in the flesh as an exhibition of the favor of God to man. And in harmony with this are the words of Paul, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:13); he was “full of grace;” and so the apostle declares that the grace of God brings salvation. (Titus 2:11). Now go back again to the statement that when Christ was made flesh and dwelt among us, he was full of favor. This favor was the favor of God, for his fullness was the fullness of God (Col. 1:19; 2:9), and God was manifest in him, reconciling the world to himself. Now we read in Psalms 30:5 that “in his favor is life.” Therefore we conclude that Jesus Christ was made flesh and dwelt among us full of favor, in order to give life to men doomed to death; and this conclusion is strengthened by the statement, “In him was life; and the life was the light of man” (John 1:4).
The following texts show plainly that Christ’s sole object in coming to this earth was to give life to those who otherwise would not have had it: John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The obvious conclusion is that if he had not come, all men would have perished, and that although he has come, and none will have life except those who believe in him. And this conclusion is stated in so many words, in John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
1 John 5:10-12: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
John 10:9, 10: “I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
These texts abundantly prove that to give life was the sole object of the manifestation of Christ in the flesh. Therefore we say that to deny that he alone gives life, —to claim that without Christ man may have life—even under the most distressing conditions—is virtually to deny that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, and is consequently the spirit of antichrist. For to deny the essential part of Christ’s work, —to deny the very thing and the only thing for which he was manifested in the flesh, full of grace and truth, —is the same as denying that he ever was manifest in the flesh at all. If men may have life without Christ, then his words, “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life,” they might have responded, “We don’t need to, for we can have life, without coming to you.” And this they did say in effect.
The spirit of antichrist which is in the world is, therefore, when traced to its very simplest form, merely a denial that man is dependent upon Christ for life; it is the claim that all men will have life, whether they believe in Christ or not. This spirit is pre-eminently exemplified in modern Spiritualism. The fundamental principle of Spiritualism, and, indeed, the whole sum and substance of it, is the doctrine of the natural immortality of man. We will let Spiritualists define it in their own words. N. F. Ravlin, formerly a Baptist minister, and now one of the leading Spiritualist lecturers in California says: —
“The very central truth of Spiritualism is the power and possibility of spirit return, under certain conditions, to communicate with those in the material form.”
Mrs. E. L. Watson, a noted “inspirational” lecturer, in an address in San Francisco, in the Golden Gate of February 6, 1886, said:
“Spiritualism per se is a science; it is the demonstration of certain facts relative to the nature of man; it explains the psychical phenomena which have transpired in the past, and the mysteries which have surrounded us as spiritual beings. It demonstrates the fact of man’s continued existence after death, and enlightens us in regard to the manner of that existence.”
The standing motto of the Spiritual Magazine, for many years the leading Spiritualist publication in England, was this: —
“Spiritualism is based on the cardinal fact of spirit communion and influx; it is the effort to discover all truth relating to man’s spiritual nature, capacities, relations, duties, welfare, and destiny, and its application to a regenerative life. It recognizes a continuous divine inspiration in man. It aims, through a careful, reverent study of facts, at a knowledge of the laws and principles which govern the occult forces of the universe; of the relations of spirit to matter, and of man to God and the spiritual world. It is thus catholic and progressive, leading to true religion as at one with the highest philosophy.”
In an article entitled, “Spiritualism and Religion,” in the Golden Gate of July 9, 1887, John Weatherlee said: —
“The central idea of modern Spiritualism is the key-stone of the religious arch. That is, a continued existence.”
But the central idea of Spiritualism is diametrically opposed to the Bible, for that declares that there is no such thing as continued existence for man unless he is one of the righteous ones who shall be alive when the Lord comes, and who will be translated.
The patriarch Job said: “But man dies, and wastes away: yea, man gives up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decays and dries up; so man lies down, and rises not; till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep” (Job 14:10-12). And he adds: “His sons come to honor, and he knows it not; and they are brought low, but he perceives it not of them” (Job 14:21).
The psalmist says: “For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Ps. 6:5). Again: “The dead praise not the Lord, neither in the that go down into silence” (Ps. 115:17).. Again, still more positively: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goes forth, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Ps. 146:3, 4).
Solomon wrote: “For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”
No matter how poor or how ignorant a man may be, he is infinitely richer and knows infinitely more than a dead man. The man who has barely conscience enough to know that he is going to die, and who knows not another thing, knows far more than a dead man; for the dead know not anything, —their thoughts have perished.
The dead are represented as dwelling in the dust, asleep. Thus Isaiah 26:19: “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” And Daniel 12:2: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
All the Scripture declarations, and many more of like import—for the Bible teaches nothing different on this point—are contradicted by Spiritualism, which declares that man has a continued existence, and that there is no death. But this contradiction of the plain declaration of the Bible shows Spiritualism to be inspired by the spirit of antichrist; for the prophets spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21), and the Spirit of Christ was in them dictating all that they wrote. (1 Peter 1:10, 11).
The Signs of the Times : November 24, 1887
The Spirit of Antichrist : No. 2
The next point to be considered is what is actually involved in this claim that all men are by nature immortal. We state as a proposition, that the claim that men are by nature immortal actually implies nothing less than that they are equal with God, and independent of him. This proposition we shall now prove.
1. Immortality belongs to God alone. Paul speaks of “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Tim. 6:15,16). Christ, as the only begotten Son of God, shares this attribute with the Father: “For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). Angels are immortal, but only because God has given them immortality; men may obtain immortality, but only as the gift of God, bestowed on them through Christ, only, however, to those who seek it by patient continuance in well-doing. (Rom. 6:23; 2:7). Now for a man to claim one of the attributes of God is virtually to claim all of them. Especially is this true if the attribute claimed were immortality; for the possession of life involves everything else. To claim immortality is to claim the very highest attribute of a Deity. God’s most sacred name is Jehovah, —the One who is, —and when he would give Moses the highest possible credentials, he said, “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Ex. 3:14). So for a man to claim immortality, as his own by right is to claim for himself equality with God, or at least to claim that he is a part of God.
2. The great, and, indeed, the only reason why we should serve the Lord with all our heart, and with all our power, is because he has created us, and we live only by his favor. Said the holy angels in Heaven, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things” (Rev. 4:11). And Paul, in proving to the Athenians that God alone should be worshiped, used only the argument that “he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things,” and that “in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:25, 28). Now if it were true that we are immortal, and that our life, either present or future, is not dependent on the special favor of God, but that we shall continue to exist for ever, no matter what our character or condition, then it would be true that we would owe no allegiance to God nor to anyone else but ourselves. The claim that man is by nature immortal is virtually a claim that he is independent of God. So again we see that for men to claim immortality for themselves is to make themselves gods, or, at least, a part of God.
3. If man were immortal, like God, then, as stated above, he would be independent of God, owing no allegiance to anybody but himself; and in that case he would, necessarily, be his own lawgiver and his own judge. Each man would determine for himself what his course of action would be, and right would be for each individual whatever his nature should prompt him to do. These conclusions are self-evident, and prove the main proposition, that the claim of natural immortality for man is virtually a claim that men are gods, having all the attributes that the Bible ascribes to the one only true God. And this again shows that the spirit of antichrist inspires the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, for Christ is God. (John 1:1). Whatever dishonors either the Father or the Son dishonors the other.
Having thus briefly but positively shown that the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul is the very essence of the spirit of antichrist, we shall proceed to show (1) that modern Spiritualism, the foundation-stone of which is continued existence for man, does most positively deny both God and Christ; (2) that all teaching having natural immortality as its basis has ever been opposed to God; and (3) that the teaching that man is by nature immortal always leads directly and surely to immortality,—that it is indeed because of all the wickedness that has ever disgraced this earth. We quote first the statements of leading Spiritualist writers.
The editor of the Golden Gate, which is probably the ablest and most respectable Spiritualist journal in the United States, in his issue of November 27, 1886, said: —
“As Spiritualists repudiate the horrible doctrine of election, as taught by certain branches of the churches; as they believe in no Satanic personality, and have no use for an eternal hell in an orthodox sense, they would naturally be regarded by those who still adhere to those old traditions as outside the pale of redemption, —as indeed they are, vicariously, but not in reality; for they realize that if they ever attained happiness in this life or the next it must be through their own efforts, in response to the aspirations of their own souls.
“When a man learns that the only Satan in the universe is his own ignorance and the evil propensities and appetites engendered thereof; and when he learns that in all of God’s great plan of creation there is no one but himself to answer for his own inequities, it would seem, if he stops to think, that he would ‘seek the better way,’ and cease to do evil.”
In this passage the editor makes reference to “God’s great plan of creation,” yet he claims for man absolute independence of God, making man and not God the judge of right and wrong. Again, in the Golden Gate of July 2, 1887, we find the following editorial statement:
“The spirits also teach us that there is no atonement or remission of sin except through growth; that as we sow, so also must we reap. They have not found God, and never will, except as they find him in their own souls.”
Still more direct is a statement made by a correspondent of the Golden Gate, in the issue of September 10, 1887: —
“When the truth was made known to me that ‘God is life, love, truth, intelligence, substance, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, and there is no evil,’ I became glorified in myself as a part of that God.”
Light in the West, a spiritualist paper published in St. Louis, Mo., contained the following, August 14, 1886: —
“Man is a part of God, a spark thrown off from the Great Spirit.”
W. J. Colville is considered one of the greatest of Spiritualist lecturers. He lectures wholly by “inspiration,” and is held in as high esteem by Spiritualists as Christ is by Christians. In a lecture delivered in Oakland, Cal., June 19, 1886, he used the following language in answer to the question, “Where and what is Heaven, and where and what is hell?”
“The mind of man is the original creator both of that heaven and that hell which your own individual mind or spirit may realize; and no matter what your theological premises may be, the creed you espouse or the doctrines you favor, you cannot obliterate human conscience; and so long as you cannot obliterate human conscience, you will know hell until you are reconciled with conscience, and as soon as you are reconciled with conscience you will know heaven. There can be no heaven unless there be a perfect reconciliation between the impulses of man’s highest soul and his outward life; there can be no heaven until your individual life is guided by the divine within you, that ever points out to you the road which is the perfect way.”—Golden Gate, September 3, 1887.
In a lecture delivered by the “inspirational lecturer”; J. J. Morse, at the Spiritualist camp-meeting held in Oakland, June, 1887, the following statement was made: —
“Truth is the voice of God speaking through the human soul.”
Now take the gist of all these statements, and we find it to be that man himself is God, and that every man is a law unto himself. Recall the statement of the Spiritual Magazine, that Spiritualism “recognizes a continuous divine inspiration in man;” the utterance of the editor of the Golden Gate, that man cannot find God except as they find him in their own souls; and that of Mr. Colville, that a man is in Heaven only when he is “reconciled with conscience,” and “guided by the divine within;” and the last one quoted, namely, that “Truth is the voice of God speaking through the human soul,” and what must we conclude? Simply that Spiritualism teaches that man must follow the impulses of his own nature, and that, wherever they may lead him, he is answerable for his actions to no one but himself. To show that this conclusion is warranted, we make a few more quotations. In a Spiritualist paper called Lucifer, published at Valley Falls, Kansas, in an article entitled “Marriage and Free Love” (July 15, 1887), we find the following: —
“I acknowledge the presence of a power which we call Nature, and whatever Nature approves I encourage, and whatever Nature punishes I tried to avoid, such rewards and punishments being measured by the increase or decrease of personal happiness. It matters little to me whether moralists or reformers approve or condemn free love or marriage; the only question before me is to find out if Nature rewards one more than the other.”
Hon. J. B. Hall, in a lecture reported in the Banner of Light of the February 6, 1864, says: —
“I believe that man is amenable to no law not written upon his own nature, no matter by whom it is given. . . . By his own nature must he be tried—by his own acts he must stand or fall. True, man must give an account to God for all his deeds; but how? Solely by giving the account to his own nature—to himself.”
Now in order to know the consequences that will result from holding that man is the sole judge of his own actions, and that a man’s natural inclinations are but the voice of God, and are to be followed, we have only to ascertain what is the nature of man. Christ, who “knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man” (John 2:24, 25), spoke as follows concerning what men are by nature: —
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).
Solomon says of the heart, “out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:2). Therefore when Jesus mentioned “all these evil things,” and said that they proceed “from within, out of the heart of man,” he meant that man naturally exhibit just such traits in their lives. The apostle Paul bore witness to the same thing when he wrote: —
“There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:10-18).
This is the uniform testimony of the Scripture concerning all men, for Paul simply quoted what other inspired men had written. One more quotation will suffice to complete the picture of the natural tendencies of mankind. The man who is unrenewed by the Spirit of God is said to be “in the flesh;” and the “works of the flesh” are thus enumerated: —
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like” (Gal. 5:19-21).
This is a picture of the natural impulses of the human heart. It is a description of what will be done by all who, unrestrained, follow the leadings of their own nature. And this is not spoken of one man or of any particular set of man, but of mankind universally. The king on the throne, the beggar in the hovel, the learned scientist, and the ignorant peasant, the pious Doctor of Divinity, and the blasphemous ruffian, all have one common human nature. The natural impulses of the heart are essentially the same. A godly ancestry will often give one less of evil to contend with than another, but this does not disprove the general statements; it is simply one of the restraints that God has provided, only the restraint operates before the individual is born, instead of after.
It is true that all who believe that they are their own judges do not exhibit in their lives all the vices above enumerated; but it is only because there are certain restraints imposed upon them. But let them be in a country where the authority of God was wholly disregarded, and where all believed in the following their own impulses, and they would prove the truth of the words of the Bible.
Now let us trace our argument backwards:
The tendency of the human heart is evil, and only evil.
Spiritualism teaches that each man is to follow the leadings of his own nature, and is to be the sole judge of his own actions.
This teaching of Spiritualism is a legitimate and necessary consequence of its teaching that there is “a continuous divine inspiration in man,” and that man himself is God, or a part of God.
And the idea that man is a part of God necessarily goes hand in hand with the idea that he is possessed of an immortal, indestructible nature.
So we say that the natural tendency of the teaching that man is by nature immortal is toward unrestrained vice. When Spiritualists teach that all the god that men will find is in their own natures, they directly deify vice and crime. But Spiritualism is simply the doctrine that men have a continued existence without any break at what is called death. Therefore we repeat that the doctrine that man is by nature immortal tends directly to immortality, and to that alone. If many who believe in that doctrine do love truth and right, and do live moral and upright lives, it is only because they have not yet followed that doctrine to its legitimate, ultimate results. God grant that such may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil before it is too late.
The Signs of the Times : December 1, 1887
The Spirit of Antichrist : No. 3
We shall now proceed to show that the teaching of the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul has from the very beginning been accompanied by sin, and that it is the cause of all the sin that has ever cursed this earth.
When God placed our first parents in Eden, everything was perfect and pure. Adam and Eve were sinless. They had full liberty to enjoy the fruit of every tree that was pleasant to the sight and good for food, with the exception of one tree in the midst of the garden, which was a test of their loyalty to God. Into this garden of delight the tempter came. “Now the serpent [“which is the devil, and Satan,” Rev. 20:2] was more subtle than any beast of the field, the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1. In this question we find a covert insinuation against the justice of God. The idea is this: “Is it so, that God has said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Has God been so arbitrary as to thus curtail your happiness?” There was an attempt to make Eve feel that she was being wronged, in being deprived of the fruit of that tree, and that she was not treated with the consideration due to so noble a creature. She replied that God had said that they should not eat of the tree, nor touch it, lest they die. Satan then replied: —
“Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4, 5).
It is unfortunate for the advocates of the natural immortality of the soul that the very first announcement of it that was ever made was made by the father of lies. We have already demonstrated from the Scriptures that the teaching that man can have immortality without Christ is the spirit of antichrist, and here we find that the doctrine was introduced into the world by antichrist himself. If we study Satan’s words a little more closely we shall find that they were identical with the teachings of modern Spiritualism, and that the first Spiritualist lecture ever delivered was given by the devil in the garden of Eden, with only Eve for an audience.
When Satan affirmed that Adam and Eve were by nature immortal, by saying, “Ye shall not surely die,” he added, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” This was as much of a lie as the other, and was a companion to it, and a necessary consequence of it. Our common version does not give the full force of the original. We know not why the translators rendered it, “Ye shall be as gods,” for the Hebrew plainly reads, “Ye shall be like God, knowing good and evil.” This lets in new light on the subject. Satan recognized the fact that immortality is an attribute of Deity, and that the possessor of it must necessarily be his own judge of right and wrong. It was by this lie that Satan deceived Eve, and caused her to sin. Notice that (A) the assertion of immortality and of (B) the power of judging for themselves of right and wrong, constitutes the one deception; and bear in mind that it was this claim of natural immortality for man which “brought death into the world, and all our woe, with loss of Eden.” Therefore we have proved the proposition that the doctrine of the natural immortality of man is the cause of all the wickedness that has ever cursed our earth.
We may go back even further than this, to the time when sin first entered the universe, and we shall find that the cause of it was pride, and the claiming of attributes that belong to God alone. In Isa. 14:12-14 we read the following description of the fall of Satan: —
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
This gives in plain language the sin of Satan. He aspired to be equal with God; he coveted the position that belonged only to the divine Word, the Son of God; and there the spirit of antichrist first sprung into existence. Turn now to Ezek. 28:11-19, and read a description of Satan’s former position in Heaven, and the cause of his fall. Satan here appears with the title, “King of Tyrus.” He is so called because he is “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), and the one who actually holds the reins of power in all wicked governments, such as that of Tyre. The man who held the position of the king of Tyre is in the prophecy called “the prince of Tyrus” (Ezek. 28:1-10), because he was secondary to Satan, who controlled him. Moreover it is certain that verses 13-15 could refer to no one but one who had been in Heaven. Now read the description: —
“Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold; the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned; therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness; I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee; thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.”
Thus we learn that pride, undue regard for self, forgetfulness of the fact that no one can have anything except from God, and a desire to be equal to God, led to Satan’s fall. And this cause of his fall was exactly the same in nature as that by which he fell; and it is the identical principle by which Satan has perpetuated sin in the world until the present time.
From the fall of our first parents, every great system of error has been based upon that first great falsehood uttered by Satan. How natural that it should be so! Error is a departure from God, a failure or refusal to acknowledge Him as of Supreme Authority. But just in proportion as men fail to recognize the claims of God, they usurp the place which he should occupy. That is, to the extent that they neglect God, they follow their own ways, and thus to that extent they make themselves gods, and worship themselves. But, as we have already seen, the claim that man is immortal is also a claim that he is a god. Thus the two things go together. The doctrine of natural immortality, being a gross error, leads to the commission of the sins, which are natural to man. It was the first cause of sin. But if there should be a people who had no belief of any kind concerning man’s nature and his future condition, but who were following their own inclinations, they would soon develop the idea that they were immortal. And this would be because pride, which is always present in the natural heart, would lead man to feel there could be no being in the universe greater than himself. As Gibbon aptly expresses it (“Decline and Fall,” chap. 1.), “it must be confessed that in the sublime inquiry [concerning the nature of man], their reason had often been guided by their imagination, and their imagination had been prompted by their vanity. When they viewed with complacency the extent of their own mental powers, when they exercised the various faculties of memory, of fancy, and of judgment, in the most profound speculations, or the most important labors, and when they reflected on the desire of fame, which transported them into future ages, far beyond the bounds of death and of the grave, they were unwilling to confound themselves with the beasts of the field, or to suppose that a being for whose dignity they entertained the most sincere admiration, could be limited to a spot of earth, and to a few years of duration.” And so dead man would be deified.
The Signs of the Times : December 8, 1887
The Spirit of Antichrist : No. 4
If we examine the heathen world, we shall find that the deception by which Eve fell was the same by which they plunged into abominable idolatries. Pride, the exaltation of self to the place of Deity, results in degradation; for “pride goes before destruction,” and “when pride cometh, then cometh shame.” Paul also is authority for the statement that when one is “lifted up with pride,” he is in danger of falling “into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).
The heathenism of Plato’s day is a type of all heathenism. It was he who first systematized the so-called philosophy of the heathen. One of the cardinal points of Plato’s philosophy was the theory of the immortality of the soul, which sprang directly from the idea that the soul of man is itself supreme, and a part of God. We quote the following concerning his teaching: —
“There is no doctrine on which Plato more frequently or more strenuously insists than this, —that soul is not only superior to body, but prior to it in point of time, and that not only as it exists in the being of God, but in every order of existence. The soul of the world existed first, and then it was closed within material body. The souls, which animate the sun, moon, and stars, existed before the bodies, which they inhabited. The pre-existence of human souls is one of the arguments on which he relies to prove its immortality.”—Prof. W. S. Tyler, of Amherst College, in Schaff-Herzog Cyclopedia.
By the following quotation from Priestly’s “Heathen Philosophy,” it will be seen that this doctrine of the pre-existence of human souls, upon which Plato built his doctrine of their immortality, is in reality a claim that the soul is self-existent, or, in other words, that each soul is a god: —
“‘Every soul,’ he says (Phoedrus) ‘is immortal. That which is always in motion is from eternity, but that which is moved by another must have an end.’ Accordingly he maintained the pre-existence as well as the immortality of the soul; and in the East these two doctrines always went together, and are always ascribed to Pythagorus; the soul and the body being supposed to have only a temporary connection, to answer a particular purpose. ‘The soul existed,’ he says (Dr. Lea, lib. 10), ‘before bodies were produced, and is the chief agent in the changes and the management of the body.’ Agreeably to this doctrine, Plato maintained that all the knowledge we seem to acquire here is only the recollection of what we know in a former state.”
The heathen philosophy, therefore, was simply a deification of the human. The mind of man was made the “lord of itself and all the world beside,” a part of God, and consequently answerable only to itself. Now what was the result of this self-exaltation? The apostle Paul gives the answer. Speaking of the heathen, he says that they were without excuse, —
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves; who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever” (Rom. 1:21-25)
“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Pride, which caused the fall of Satan, was at the bottom of their degradation. To be sure they had knowledge, and made great progress in the arts, but they attributed whatever knowledge they had to their own innate superiority. They looked within for everything, and began to worship themselves, because in their conceit they couldn’t imagine anything else in the universe so worthy of worship as themselves. Thus that which they did know contributed to their folly, because they cut themselves loose from the only source of wisdom. The light that was in them became darkness, and the darkness was very great. Now read a further consequence of their claim that they possessed the attributes of Deity: —
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful; who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:28-32).
Quotations from history might be given to any extent, to show that the first chapter of Romans accurately describes the moral condition of the ancient heathen world; but historical quotes are not necessary to our present purpose. We merely wish to show that the working of the spirit of antichrist is the same in all ages of the world; that since the elevation of man to an equality with Deity, by claiming for him inherent immortality, was the cause of the moral ruin of the ancient heathen, the same thing in this age will result in the same way. Compare the quotation in the preceding paragraph with Gal. 5:19-21, and it will be seen that the two lists of sins are almost identical, and that when men became so swelled up with pride that they fancied themselves gods, and thus cut themselves loose from God, the abominable practices into which they fell were simply the outcroppings of their own human nature which they were worshiping instead of God.
But there are only too great opposing forces, —Christ and antichrist, —and when men cast off their allegiance to God, they necessarily enlist under the banner of Satan. And so while the heathen were exalting self, they were in reality worshiping the devil. It could not be otherwise. In harmony with this conclusion, are the words of Paul: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (1 Cor. 10:20). The psalmist, also, describing the apostasy of the Israelites, says that they “were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols, which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils” (Ps. 106:35-37). From Lev. 17:7 and Deut. 32:15-7, also, we learn that when the Jews forsook the Lord, and practiced heathen worship, they sacrificed to devils.
Heathenism everywhere, and in all ages of the world, is simply some form of devil worship. The ancient heathen, like modern Spiritualists, consulted with “familiar” spirits, as we learn from Deut. 18:9-12: —
“When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord; and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.”
The most noted of these places where the ancients consulted with familiar spirits were the oracles of Apollo, at Dodona, Delphi, and Trophonius, in Greece. The priests and priestesses, who conveyed the message of these oracles to the people, would in these days be called mediums, clairvoyants, etc. It is well known that the philosopher Socrates had a familiar spirit, a demon, without whose advice he would do nothing.
From the Gospel in All Lands (September, 1887) we take the following extract concerning the religion of the inhabitants of Java:
“The native Javanese . . . are Mohammedans as much as anything. In former times they were Buddhists and Brahmins. They worship their ancestors, and seem to have gathered something from every system of religion with which they have come in contact. The number of the spirits worshiped is almost without limit. In nearly every place there is a patron spirit to whose influence the good or bad fortune of the village is ascribed.”
Concerning the religion of the inhabitants of Ceylon, the same authority says: —
“Buddha has a multitude of followers among the Cingalese. But mild and moral as his doctrines are, they have failed ‘to arrest man in his career of passion and pursuit,’ and many of his so-called followers have stolid indifference to religion of any form. ‘Yet, strange to say, under the coldness there are superstitious fires whose flames overtop the icy summits of Buddhist philosophy, and excite a deeper awe in the mind of the Cingalese. Hence it demon-worship, their earliest form of religion, is still extant. Devil-priests, on every domestic occurrence, and in their calamities, are called in, and their barbarous ceremonies performed. Devil-dancers are implicitly relied upon in times of sickness, and before the patient they personate the demon which is afflicting him, and spend the night in performing fiendish rights, and in the morning exorcise the demon and go away with the rich offering, praying that the life of the sufferer may be spared. Buddhist priests connive at this worship, and even practice it, because they cannot suppress it.”
Like the Javanese, Chinese, also, as is well known, worship their ancestors, and their gods, like those of the heathen of Greece and Rome, are simply deified dead men and women, whose fame is thus perpetuated. Anybody who has been in a Chinese “Joss House,” has seen, among the images of supposed ancient heroes and sages, a “good devil” and perhaps a “bad devil,” whose favor must be gained, or whose wrath propitiated; and one can scarcely pass through a street in a Chinese village without seeing burning papers which are designed to drive the evil spirits away. And so if all the nations of heathendom were passed in review, it would be seen that the Scripture writers were correct in their statements that the heathen sacrifice to devils.
The Signs of the Times : December 15, 1887