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    November 27, 1884

    “Human Nature and Its Restraints” The Signs of the Times 10, 45, pp. 708, 709.

    LET any one compare the two pictures drawn by Paul, the one in Romans 1:28-31, of the iniquity of ancient heathenism, the other in 2 Timothy 3:1-8, of the iniquity of the last days, even among those who have “a form of godliness,” and he will see that they are exactly alike. In view of all the enlightenment of the present day, many wonder how it can be that men will descend to that depth of violence and iniquity which the Scriptures portray as characteristic of the last days. From a surface view of the subject, judged simply by appearances, it would seem highly improbable, if not impossible. But “all things are not what they seem;” and we must be guided, not by what appears to be, but what is.SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.1

    Human nature, unrestrained, is the same in all ages. Whether in the days of Christ, or two thousand years before, or two thousand years after; whether manifested in the inhabitants of Canaan, or in the inhabitants of the United States, it is always the same. It is for this very reason that the Bible fits men, wherever on the earth it may find them. It is a book not for one tribe only, nor for the human race. And it is the only book in the world that is. The reason for that is, that the book was given by the One who knows human nature in its very essence.SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.2

    God made man upright. He made him to remain so; he made him to be holy, and ever and forever good; he bestowed upon him powers by which all that was intended for him, and expected of him, could be accomplished. But he turned from the bright course which God set before him; he sinned, and so sold himself to do evil; and now the sublime powers which the Lord bestowed upon him to be exerted in the way of righteousness, are prostituted to evil. Faculties that would have been effectual in the accomplishment of the purposes of God concerning him, are now just as effectual in the accomplishment of the purposes of Satan. In the words of Jeremiah 23:10, his “course is evil,” and his “force is not right.” If ever, then, man shall be raised from his fallen state; if ever his lapsed powers shall be restored; if ever his “course” is to be in the way of good; if ever his “force” shall be right; if ever he shall be fitted for that position which he was created to fill; if, in short, he is ever to fulfill the purpose of his creation, it is indispensable that the tendency of every faculty be restrained, turned into the right course, and trained to follow it. The Bible meets this necessity; it meets it in every part, and satisfies it to the full. Therefore, this of itself, is proof that the Creator of man is the author of the Bible.SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.3

    Human nature, then, being the same everywhere, the only thing that makes one person to differ from another is the degree of restraint each one recognizes in his own case. If, in a person, all the restraints of the law of God are recognized, he will be a man fitted for the society and fellowship of the angels. If, on the contrary, none of these are recognized, he will be a man fit only for the society and fellowship of demons. Upon many persons, and in many ways, these restraints exert themselves unconsciously, as in the case of the infidel, who denies the authority of the existence of God, and despises his word. Yet the principles of that word are so imbedded in the society of which he is a member that he yields obedience to them, while he thinks he is defying them; but transplant him to the state of society which he advocates, where none of these principles are recognized, and none exerted, and he will run as readily in the way of iniquity as the veriest heathen that ever dwelt in the land of Canaan. And that other class of persons who call themselves “Christians,” or even “Christian ministers,” who, in their opposition to the obligations of the ten commandments, can hardly frame sentences that will sufficiently express the bitterness of their contempt for the law of God, some of these declaring that “it is dead and stinks,” others calling it an “old thunder and lightning law,” one preacher that I know of wishing that he “could thunder” his contempt for it,—only let the time come when such seed shall have borne its fruit, when society in following such teaching shall have reached that condition which would be defined in the very opposite of the ten commandments, and they will go as greedily in that evil way as did Balaam of old.SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.4

    Again, many will restrain themselves from doing evil through fear of punishment, but take away the prospect of punishment, or satisfy them that there will be none, and they will go to any length that circumstances may allow. Henry VIII., although he regarded not God, as long as he feared the pope, did not dare to divorce his wife, but when he had broken through that restraint, he cut off the heads of three wives, and only a witty speech saved the head of the fourth.SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.5

    Less than a hundred years ago, and more than two hundred and fifty years after the triumph of the Reformation, when in France the party in power, by a national act, legislated God out of existence, and declared death an eternal sleep, men deified a harlot, and terror reigned. “Then came those days when the most barbarous of all codes was administered by the most barbarous of all tribunals; when no man could greet his neighbors, or say his prayers, or dress his hair, without danger of committing a capital crime; when spies lurked in every corner; when the guillotine was long and hard at work every morning; when the jails were filled as close as the hold of a slave ship; when the gutters ran foaming with blood into the Seine... While the daily wagon loads of victims were carried to their doom through the streets of Paris, the proconsuls, whom the sovereign Committee had sent forth to the departments, reveled in an extravagance of cruelty unknown even in the capital. The knife of the deadly machine rose and fell too slow for their work of slaughter. Long rows of captives were mowed down with grape shot. Holes were made in the bottoms of crowded barges. Lyons was turned into a desert. At Arras even the cruel mercy of a speedy death was denied to the prisoners. All down the Loire, from Saumur to the sea, great flocks of crows and kites feasted on naked corpses, twined together in hideous embraces. No mercy was shown to sex or age. The number of young lads and of girls of seventeen, who were murdered by that execrable government, is to be reckoned by hundreds. Babies town from the breast were tossed from pike to pike along the Jacobin ranks. One champion of liberty had his pockets well stuffed with ears. Another swaggered about with the finger of a little child in his hat. A few months had sufficed to degrade France below the level of New Zealand.”—Macaulay, “Essay on Barere.” And all this was done in the closing years of the eighteenth century; all this was after the light of the Reformation had been permeating Europe for two hundred and seventy-two years.SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.6

    There is another course by which men reach the same state of cruelty. That is, not by denying the existence of God, but by making themselves the depositaries of what they choose to define as his will, and then holding themselves as the sole expositors and executors of that will. As in every single instance it is only their own will which is thus exalted to the supremacy, and therefore is of only human authority, the only way in which it can be enforced is by human enactment; and then instead of being simply executors, they make themselves executioners in carrying into effect their arbitrary will. Making their own will supreme, and themselves the sole interpreters of that will, even though they claim it to be the will of God, they just as veritably put themselves beyond restraint as do the men who deny God outright. Both classes reach the same point, and both commit the same enormous crimes, the one illustrated in the fearful orgies of the Reign of Terror, the other illustrated in the terrible torments of the Inquisition. So, therefore, after the above quotation descriptive of the Reign of Terror, it is not necessary to present a description of the crimes of the papacy, for, with the simple substitution of the stake for the guillotine, the same narrative is equally descriptive of the dealing of the church with heretics.SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.7

    And now at this hour of the nineteenth century, and in our own country, under the profession of National Reform, the harlot daughters of the papacy are preparing to revive the spirit and times of the mother. For when, by constitutional authority, they, after the similitude of the papacy, shall have acquired a power similar to the papal, they will be in position to commit excesses similar to those of the papacy. Human nature without restraint, in these, is as ruinous as in those. True, they would comfort us with the assurance that they will not hurt a “hair of” our “heads.” But all the authority that we have for that is their own words, which their actions contradict; for while they are repeating these assurances that they will not coerce any one, they are working most assiduously to obtain the power to coerce every one. If, having obtained that power, they do not intend to use it, even to the weight of “a hair,” why do they strive so strenuously for it? We cannot understand why they should so tenaciously fight for powers which the do not mean to exercise. To say the very least, they will then possess the privilege to oppress dissenters; and if these oppressive privileges are to be nominal, and not real; if they really do not intend to exercise them, let them forego them; they lose nothing, and then we shall have reason to believe that they mean what they say. Otherwise, as we know that it is a giant’s power which they want, so we know, by human nature as portrayed in human history, that when they get it, they will use it like a giant.SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.8

    The Scriptures confirm all that this investigation suggest. In the beginning of this article we cited Romans 1:28-31 as the description of ancient heathendom, and 2 Timothy 3:1-8 as the description of the last days of modern Christendom, and we find them exactly alike. But they are alike not only in effect; they are so in accordance with the principle that like causes produce like effects. In Romans 1:21 we read, “That, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful;” in 2 Timothy 3, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power,” “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,” “unthankful;” in Romans 1:28, “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge;” in 2 Timothy 3:8, “These also resist the truth.” And for this cause in both instances they become “reprobate.”SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.9

    It is by resistance to the truth of God that men loosen its restraints upon them, and deliver themselves up to the sway of Satan. In the last days, it is only those who “received not the love of the truth that they might be saved;” in whom Satan works “with all power and signs and lying wonders.” It is only those “who believed not the truth,” who become so deluded that they “believe a lie.” Only those are “damned” who had “pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.10

    From the beginning of the world God has left no nation without witness. Acts 14:16, 17. By a then “present truth” he has witnessed to different ages. In obedience to that truth, and in the love of it, lay the salvation of the people in each respective age. In the last days God sends a message which reaches to the end of the world, and is therefore his last message to the world. It is the Third Angel’s Message, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:9-16. The commandments of God are truth. Psalm 119:151. The faith of Jesus is the faith of him who is the truth. John 14:6. Both together embrace the whole word of God, which is truth. John 17:17. And of that people who, in obedience to the message, keep “his commandments that they may have right ... to enter in through the gates into the city”—when the glad day comes in which they shall enter in, it is said, “Open ye the gates that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.” Isaiah 26:2. So, then, the Third Angel’s Message is the embodiment of the truth of God to the last generation of men. To reject it is to reject the truth; to receive not the love of it, is to “receive not the love of the truth;” to resist it, is to “resist the truth.”SITI November 27, 1884, page 708.11

    Again, the commandments of God restrain men. “Thou shalt not” is their keynote. The faith of Jesus restrains men; “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,” exclaims Jesus. Therefore the Third Angel’s Message in holding forth the “commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” presents the summary of all those restraints which are demanded in checking and transforming the tendencies of human nature, and in leading them by the “right course,” to goodness and to God. And when the world shall deliberately reject the Third Angel’s Message, it thereby places itself beyond those restraints, and is then ready to be led captive by Satan at his will; and then it is that he works with all power in them that perish “because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.”SITI November 27, 1884, page 709.1

    By the Third Angel’s Message, the harvest of the earth will be ripened for good or for ill; for glory or for shame; to be gathered into the garner of God, or to be bound in bundles to be burned. Attentive hearkening to the message, faithful obedience to its gracious truth, in the love of it, will fit a people to step from the turmoil of this world into the sweet peace of Heaven; rejecting the message and despising its precious precepts, will plunge the world into that depth of iniquity for which the only remedy is, to be cast “into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”SITI November 27, 1884, page 709.2

    ALONZO T. JONES.

    “Notes on the International Lesson. Ecclesiastes 2:1-13” The Signs of the Times 10, 45, pp. 710, 711.
    DECEMBER—Ecclesiastes 2:1-13

    “I MADE me great works.” Solomon built “Millo and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer, ... and Beth-horon the nether, and Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land, and all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.” 1 Kings 9:15-19.SITI November 27, 1884, page 710.1

    “MILLO” was a strong fortification, or tower, that protected the city of Jerusalem on the north. It was renewed by Herod, and by him named Hippicus in honor of one of his friends; and as it stood completed by Herod, it was about one hundred feet high. It was made of white marble, each stone about thirty feet long by fifteen feet wide and seven and one-half thick.SITI November 27, 1884, page 710.2

    “THE wall of Jerusalem” began at Millo, or Hippicus, and extended clear around the city; upon it were sixty towers. As the city grew and spread beyond this wall, a second one was built in after years, and still another, so that at the final destruction of the city by the Romans, there were three very strong walls about it, the outer one having ninety towers, the middle one, forty, and the “old wall,” as before stated, having sixty, besides two other large towers corresponding to Hippicus, built also by Herod, and called respectively Phasaebes, and Mariamne.SITI November 27, 1884, page 710.3

    “HAZOR” was the principal city and stronghold of the whole of North Palestine. “Megiddo” was a fortified city which commanded one of the main passes from the north into the hill country. Gezer was also a fortified city that commanded the Mediterranean coast road of communication between Egypt and Jerusalem. The two “Beth-horon’s,” “the upper,” and “the nether,” lay on the boundary line between the tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin, and guarded a pass on the road from Gibeon to the Philistine plain. Through this pass was the main way of approach into the interior of the country Philistia on the west, and from Moab and Ammon on the East. Tadmor (Palmyra) was built in an oasis in the desert of Hamath above Syria, “two days’ journey from the Euphrates, and six long days journey from Babylon.” This was built so that he might control the great caravan trade from the East. Even the ruins of Tadmor are a wonder and an astonishment, and what magnificence must have been displayed when it stood in its splendor.SITI November 27, 1884, page 710.4

    “I BUILDED me houses.” The chief one of these was one hundred and fifty feet long, seventy-five feet broad, and forty-five feet high, and was in three stories. It had a grand porch seventy-five feet long and forty-five broad, and all the pillars and beams and floors were of the finest cedar of Lebanon, and the pillars were so many and so costly, and those in the porch were so tall, that it was called the “House of the forest of Lebanon.” 1 Kings 7:1-7. Close to this was the “Tower of David built for an armory,” on the walls of which there hung “a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.” Song of Solomon 4:4. Then there was the great Judgment Hall, lined with cedar wood, where stood the ivory throne inlaid with gold, with its six steps, and two graven lions on each step, and also a lion at each arm; the seat a golden bull, and the back ending in a half-circle. Then there was the house for Pharaoh’s daughter, and houses for all his wives and concubines. Then there were the cloisters, and reception rooms, and the magnificent banqueting hall. These all were made with walls and foundations of white stone, many of them twelve, and many fifteen feet in length. All were supported with pillars and beams of cedar and fir, decked with gold and silver, and the roofs and walls ornamented with beautiful stones set with gold and silver, after the style of the temple. Besides all these buildings in Jerusalem, he built a summer palace in Lebanon.SITI November 27, 1884, page 710.5

    “I PLANTED me vineyards; I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits.” Literally, I made me paradises, beautiful parks for pleasure grounds. There was one of these, probably the principal one, about six miles from Jerusalem, at Etham. There he would go in stately progress out of the city in the morning, dressed in snow-white raiment, riding in his chariot of state, which was made of the finest cedar, decked with gold and silver and purple, carpeted with the costliest tapestry, worked by the daughters of Jerusalem. A body-guard of sixty valiant men attended him, of the tallest and handsomest of the young men of Israel, arrayed in Tyrian purple, their long black hair, freshly sprinkled with gold-dust every day, glittering in the sun.SITI November 27, 1884, page 710.6

    “I MADE me pools of water to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees.” These were necessary to keep his parks fresh and beautiful. There were three of them, all in the side of the valley of Etham. The upper pool was 380 feet long, 236 wide at the eastern end, and 229 at the western end, and 25 deep. Below this 160 feet was the middle pool, 423 feet long, 250 broad at the eastern end, and 160 at the western, and 39 feet deep. Below this 248 feet lay the lower pool, 582 feet long, 207 broad at the eastern end, and 148 at the western, and 50 feet deep. Each pool therefore covered somewhat more than two acres. They were partly hewn out of the solid rock, and partly built of masonry. All were lined with cement, all had flights of steps from top to bottom, and all three were connected together by conduits, and by an aqueduct connected with Jerusalem, so that not only his “paradise” at Etham was watered by them, but from them also his palaces and gardens at the city were supplied.SITI November 27, 1884, page 710.7

    “I GATHERED me also silver and gold.” “And all King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver; it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.” 1 Kings 10:21. “And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones.” Verse 27. He “had at sea a navy” that went to Ophir, and once in three years came the navy bringing gold, and silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks. Verse 22. The gold that came to Solomon in a year was about $17,752,640. This with what David left to him, $2,904,000,000, amounted to $2,921,752,640, or enough to have given nearly $390 to each man, woman, and child in the whole kingdom. And all this was “Besides that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffic of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.” 1 Kings 10:15. That is, all this was beside the regular customs duties and taxes from his own kingdom. His navy brought at one voyage from Ophir $13,068,000 (2 Chronicles 8:18); at another it brought $12,196,800 (1 Kings 9:28); the queen of Sheba gave him $3,484,800 (chap. 10:10); and Hiram also gave him $3,484,800. Chap. 9:14. Surely gold was plenty.SITI November 27, 1884, page 710.8

    AFTER enjoying everything to the full, withholding not his “heart from any joy,” then he could only look on all the works that his hands had wrought and exclaim, “All was vanity and vexation of spirit”! The word translated “vanity” means “breath” or “light wind,” and its parallel is found in Isaiah 40:6 and James 1:10, 11. All vanishes, all fades away, even life itself is but a vapor, appearing but “for a little time and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14.SITI November 27, 1884, page 711.1

    FROM verse twelve it seems that after he had seen all this greatness, and glory, and folly, he turns to the contemplation of himself and the time when he walked in “wisdom,” and compares it with the years of his “madness and folly,” and as his firm decision he leaves us this apple of gold in a picture of silver:—SITI November 27, 1884, page 711.2

    THEN I saw that wisdom excelleth folly AS FAR AS LIGHT EXCELLETH DARKNESS.SITI November 27, 1884, page 711.3

    ALONZO T. JONES.

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