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    April 13, 1888

    “Historical Necessity of the Third Angel’s Message. No. 7” The Signs of the Times 14, 15, pp. 230, 231.

    ANYONE who has carefully read the preceding articles in this series, can very readily see that the following statements of Mosheim are the exact truth:—SITI April 13, 1888, page 230.1

    “None of the famous Lutheran doctors attempted to give a regular system of morality.”—Church History, cent. 16, sec. 3, part 2, chap. 1, par. 17.SITI April 13, 1888, page 230.2

    Again:—SITI April 13, 1888, page 230.3

    “The science of morals ... was for a long time neglected among the Lutherans.... Hence it happened that those who applied themselves to the business of resolving what are called cases of conscience, were holden in high esteem, and their tribunals were much frequented.”—Id., cent. 17, sec. 12, part 2, chap. 1, par. 19.SITI April 13, 1888, page 230.4

    He also gives an excellent reason for this. He says:—SITI April 13, 1888, page 230.5

    “Had not the number of adversaries with whom the Lutheran doctors had to contend given them perpetual employment in the field of controversy, and robbed them of that precious leisure which they might have consecrated to the advancement of real piety and virtue, they would certainly have been the divines of this century [the sixteenth] were educated in the school of controversy, and so trained up to spiritual war that an eminent theologian and a bold and vehement disputant were considered as synonymous terms. It could scarcely indeed be otherwise, in an age when foreign quarrels and intestine divisions of a religious nature threw all the countries of Europe into a state of agitation, and besieged the doctors of the contending churches to be perpetually in action, or at least in a posture of defense.”—Id.SITI April 13, 1888, page 230.6

    What was true of the Lutherans was also true of the Calvinists in this respect, as well as in others. The same writer says of these:—SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.1

    “The progress of morality among the Reformed [Calvinists] was obstructed by the very same means that retarded its improvement among the Lutherans. It was neglected amidst the tumult of controversy; and while every pen was drawn to maintain certain items of doctrine, few were employed in cultivating virtue, life, and manners for its objects.”—Id., cent. 16, sec. 2, part 2, chap. 2, par. 37.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.2

    This same course continued through the seventeenth century also. Says Mosheim, further:—SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.3

    “It must be acknowledged that, during the greater part of this century [the seventeenth], neither the discourses of the pulpit nor the instructions of the schools were adapted to promote among the people ... ideas of religion, or to give them a competent knowledge of the doctrines and precepts of the gospel. The eloquence of the pulpit, as some ludicrously and too justly represent it, was reduced in many places to the noisy art of bawling (during a certain space of time measured by a sand-glass) upon religious points of theology, which the orators understood very imperfectly, and which the people did not understand at all.... The ministers of the gospel had their heads full of sonorous and empty shards of trivial distinctions and metaphysical subtleties, and very illy furnished with that kind of knowledge which is adapted to touch the heart, and to reform the life.”—Id., cent. 17, sec. 2, part 2, chap. 1, par. 13.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.4

    The point in these quotations is illustrated in the necessity for the work of the Pietists, and is emphasized in the prohibition that was pronounced against that work.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.5

    There is another reason for the lack of the development of the genuine principles of morality. As shown above, in the very nature of the case, every leader in any reform was compelled to devote his sole attention to the discussion of the points which he was advancing. But the next great trouble was that when the leader died, the followers utterly refused to take a single advance step. On this Mosheim says:—SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.6

    “The doctrine of the Lutheran Church remained secure during this [the seventeenth] century; its fundamental principles received no alteration, nor had any doctor of that church, who should have assumed to renounce or invalidate any of those theological points which are contained in the symbolical books of the Lutherans, have met with toleration and indulgence.”—Id., cent. 17, sec. 2, part 2, chap. 1, par. 16.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.7

    And of the Calvinists, he says:—SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.8

    “The method ... observed by Calvin ... was followed, out of respect for his example, by almost all the divines of his communion, who looked upon him as their model and their guide.”—Id., cent. 17, sec. 3, part 2, chap. 4, par. 37.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.9

    This has been true in almost every instance. Therefore, as there has been in the course of the reformation no definite reform on the principles of morality, we lay down the proposition that if ever there is to be a clearly defined reformation upon the true principles of morality, those principles must be the one leading subject, above all others, set forth in that reform. Will anyone deny that the necessity of such a reform is as great as for any one of the ones that have been taken from the days of Luther to this day?SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.10

    We do not say that absolutely none of the principles of morality have been believed in, nor practiced; for with the wide dissemination of the Scriptures consequent upon the Reformation, it were impossible but that some rays of light should be discernible in that direction. But we do say that, until the present time, morality as a system has never had a place in the Reformation. What, then, must be the characteristic of such a reform when it shall come? We answer, As the ten commandments presuppose the moral law; as they are the sum of all duty toward God or man (Ecclesiastes 12:13); as they are the sum of all morality; when such reform shall be presented itself to the world, it must bear high and prominent upon its crest those same ten commandments, demanding obedience thereto as the sum and effort of moral obligation. Now the Third Angel’s Message does just that thing; for that message proclaims with a loud voice to every nation and kindred and tongue and people, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Therefore, by thus tracing the reformation through its course of controversy, we have proved to a demonstration, the HISTORICAL NECESSITY OF THE THIRD ANGEL’S MESSAGE.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.11

    Moreover, the truth of God is as much an exact science as any of those that are called the exact sciences, therefore no true reform can deny, or be made independent of, any principle of true reform that may have gone before. Consequently, when this reform upon the principles of morality shall have come, it will deny the truth and efficacy of no single step in the progress of the Reformation. With Luther, it will hold the Lord’s Supper as a memorial of “the Lord’s death, till he come;” with the genuine Anabaptist, it will hold the unconsciousness, the sleep, of the dead, and that we are buried by baptism into the Lord’s death; with Arminius, it will hold that the grace of God is free to all men; with Wesley, it will hold the genuine conversion of the soul, and the witness of the Holy Spirit; with the Puritan, it will hold simplicity of worship; with William Miller, it will hold, “Behold, I come quickly,” saith the Lord; with the grand result of the Reformation as a whole, it will hold the most perfect toleration of religious belief, and the inestimable boon of freedom of thought and liberty of discussion.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.12

    Now, in holding all these truths, they may be summed up in the one expression, that it will hold “the faith of Jesus.” So when this Reformation shall have presented itself to the world, equally with the ten commandments, it must bear just as high and just as prominent “the faith of Jesus;” and combined, its insignia will read, “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Now the Third Angel’s Message does just that thing. Therefore, by this course of controversy, we also demonstrate the logical necessity of the Third Angel’s Message.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.13

    Again; the very aim of the principles of the Reformation is the law of God. Take justification by faith: what is the aim of that but “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us”? Romans 8:3, 4. Take sanctification by the Holy Spirit: what is the aim of that but “unto obedience”1 1 Peter 1:2; Romans 8:7-9. Sooner or later, then, these aims must be met, and the principle of obedience to the law of God must be inculcated, which of necessity must be a reform in morality. So, then, it would appear that there is also a theo-logical necessity for the Third Angel’s Message.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.14

    The work of Christ also demands that the law of God be held up before all people, by which they must compare their lives; for the place and work of Christ in Heaven are in the most holy place, blotting out the sins of his people, from Abel onward. And that requires a comparison of their lives with the law of God. Now, if that be the work of Christ in Heaven, what can his work logically be on earth but, through his ambassadors, comparing the lives of the people of earth with the law of God? So, therefore, the Third Angel’s Message supplies this demand when, following the angel who had gone before, crying, “The hour of His Judgment is come” (Revelation 14:7), he says with a loud voice, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.15

    Several times in the course of controversy, the Sabbath of the Lord, as the basis of the acknowledgment of the sovereign rights of God and the claims of his holy law, has presented itself for recognition; but it was beaten back,—beaten back, yet not to stay. No; these appearances of the Sabbath on the sea of controversy should rather be considered (to borrow De Quincey’s splendid figure), as “one of those ambitious billows which sometimes run far ahead of their fellows in a tide steadily gaining ground, but which inevitably recede in the next moment, marking only the strength of that tendency which sooner or later is destined to fill the whole capacity of the shore.”SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.16

    And now once more the glorious Sabbath of the Lord has appeared, not to be beaten back, not to recede even to gather greater strength, but rolling in with all the impulse of a mighty tide,—irresistible, soon “to fill the whole capacity of the shore” indeed. And those who see it, or hear it, should realize, must realize, that it is the one only tide in their affairs, which, taken at the flood, will lead on, not to fortune, but to EVERLASTING LIFE AND ETERNAL GLORY.SITI April 13, 1888, page 231.17

    J.

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