Upton Sinclair: The Profits of Religion

Book Six - The Church of the Quacks

Bible Prophecy

This far western country swarms with those fanatics who await the return of Christ, and find the Bible chronology positive evidence that he is coming on a specified day. Seldom do I give a lecture on Socialism that some eager old lady does not come up to me and point out how futile are my hopes, because the Millennium will come before the Revolution. Several times I have come on an item in the newspapers, telling of a group of people, sometimes whole villages, selling their goods and going out into the fields to shout and sing and pray. expecting the vision of the Lord and His Angels in the skies. I have in my hand a pamphlet entitled "Shekineh: The Glory of God in Israel, Facts Mathematically Foretold, the Soon Coming of Our Blessed Lord." It is earnestly, yearningly written, in that spirit of feeble-minded affectionateness which the Bible-sects seem to encourage:

Now dear reader you see that these problems tell a wonderful story which I know are the Eternal Truths of God. Jesus is soon coming. I believe that from now on we can say, next week perhaps our blessed Lord will return, Yet the time may not end till the close of the A.M. year, which will be March 20, 1897. But let us take up the sickle of God, etc. Oh, my Christian friends, live near the Blessed Christ, and gain eternal life through Jesus Our Lord!

In the public library I find another pamphlet entitled "The Our Race," which proves that the "lost ten tribes of Israel" are not the American Indians, but the Irish! And here is a publication of the "Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society," declaring:

The great pyramid in Egypt is a witness to all the events of the ages and of our day. The pyramid's downward passage under "a Draconis" symbolizes the course of Sin. Its first ascending passage symbolizes the Jewish Age. Its Grand Gallery symbolizes the Gospel Age. Its upper step symbolizes the approaching period of tribulation and anarchy, "Judgment" upon Christendom.

It is a Sunday morning, and I sit in the California sunshine revising this manuscript, when a decorous-looking young man approaches, having a sack over his shoulder. "From the Bible- students," he says politely, and hands me a little paper, "The Bible Students' Monthly: an Independent, Unsectarian Religious Newspaper, Specially devoted to the Forwarding of the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement for the Glory of God and Good of Humanity." The leading article is headed "The Fall of Babylon; Ancient Babylon a Type - Mystic Babylon the, Antitype: Why Christendom must Suffer - the Final Outcome." A note explains:

The following article is extracted from Pastor Russell's posthumous volume entitled "The Finished Mystery," the 7th in the series of his Studies in the Scriptures and published subsequently to his death. Pastor Russell held the distinction of being the most fearless and powerful writer of modern times on ecclesiastical subjects. In this posthummis volume, which is called "his last legacy to the Christians on earth," is found a thorough exposition of every verse in the entire book of Revelations and also an elucidation of the obscure prophecy of Ezekiel. The book contains 608 pages, handsomely bound in embossed cloth.

Pastor Russell used to publish a two-column sermon in some hundreds of Sunday newspapers, together with a presentment of his features - solemn, stiff, white-whiskered, set off with a "choker" and a black broadcloth coat. There are five million such faces in America, but if you have an impulse to despair for your country, remember that it produced Mark Twain and Artemus Ward, as well as Pastor Russell and the Moody and Sankey hymn-book. I quote one passage from "The Finished Mystery," in order that the reader may know what it means to "hold the distinction of being the most fearless and powerful writer of modern times on ecclesiastical subjects." Pastor Russell does not approve of the Methodists, and he quotes twelve verses of Revelation, line by line and phrase by phrase, showing how the evil course and downfall of the Wesleyan system were divinely foretold. Thus:

"But that they should be tormented five months." - In symbolic time, 150 years - 5X30=150. (Ezek. 4:6.) Wesley became the first Methodist in 1723. (Rev. 9:1..) When the Methodist denomination, with all the others, was cast off from favor in 1878 (Rev. 3,14) its powers to torment men by preaching what Presbyterians describe as "Conscious misery, eternal in duration" came to an end legally, and to a large extent actually. - Rev. 9:10.

P.S. A few months pass, and while this book is going to press, "The Finished Mystery" is suppressed by the government and several score "Bible Students" are landed in jail for sedition.

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