Larger font
Smaller font
Copy
Print
Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents

    December 10, 1896

    “Unlettered Learning” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learn?” John 7:15.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 785.1

    The Greek word here rendered “letters,” is the word meaning writings or scriptures. A learned man, one well acquainted with books, is commonly called “a man of letters,” or a literary man. Now there are many books, but only one that is so prominent as to be sufficiently designated by the term “the Book,” and that is the Bible; for the word Bible means simply book. So “the writings,” when used in the Bible without qualification, mean the sacred writings, or the Scriptures. The text above quoted should therefore be rendered, as it is in some versions, “How does this man know the Scriptures, never having learned?”PTUK December 10, 1896, page 785.2

    Like John the Baptist, Jesus never studied in the Jewish schools. John was “in the deserts till the day of the showing unto Israel.” Luke 1:80. So Jesus dwelt at Nazareth, subject to His parents, a humble carpenter, until He came prominently before the people at His baptism. Yet no two teachers ever aroused greater interest among the people, or attracted more attention. People flocked to hear them, and hung on their words. The officers of the law said of Jesus, “Never man spake like this man,” and the people were astonished at His teaching; “for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”PTUK December 10, 1896, page 785.3

    That Jesus had not studied in the schools of the doctors of the law,-the theological seminaries of that time,-is shown by the questions which the priests and elders put to Him as He was teaching in the temple, “By what authority doest Thou these things, and who gave Thee this authority?” Matthew 21:23. Yet He had wisdom, both in asking and in answering questions, that put to silence all the learned doctors, while His teaching was so simple that “the common people heard Him gladly,” because they could understand Him; and the ability to put deep things into simple, easily-understood language is the mark of the greatest wisdom.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 785.4

    How did Jesus get this wonderful knowledge? From the Word of God. All Jewish children were taught the Book of the Law, according to the command of the Lord by Moses. “These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shall teach them diligently unto thy children and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkedest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 5:6, 7. Many parents of course did this carelessly, and, especially in later times, mingled with their instruction many idle traditions learned from the Doctors; but those children who had faithful parents knew the Holy Scriptures from childhood. With the child Jesus this was no routine task, for He says, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God; yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8. The Holy Scriptures, studied in the humble house in Nazareth, and opened to His understanding by the Spirit of God, were the beginning and the sum of all the wisdom that Jesus had.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 785.5

    As with Jesus Himself, so with those whom He chose to accompany Him, and to send forth to preach,-they were men in humble station, not having studied in the theological schools. Their learning was derived from the Scriptures.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 786.1

    The rulers were astonished at the power and knowledge of these humble fishermen preachers, as they had been with Jesus. We are told that when the rulers “saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled, and took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13. The word ignorant is unfortunate, as applied to the apostles. “Unlearned” they certainly were, according to the fine standards of the school; but they were not ignorant. Why then do we have such a statement in the sacred record?-In reality we do not, and the occurrence of the word in our English version is an interesting illustration of the very point we are studying. Thus:-PTUK December 10, 1896, page 786.2

    The two words, “ignorant men,” in Acts 4:13 are from one Greek word, idiotai, the plural of idiotas. The reader will at once recognise in this our common word idiot, and will at once conclude that the English rendering is much more mild than the Greek text. But wait a moment. The primary and ordinary meaning of this Greek word is,-“a private person,” one of the common people. But as certain public teachers began to style themselves philosophers, and to claim for themselves a monopoly of wisdom, so that a man must have a recommendation from them-a certificate that he had “been through” the prescribed course-before he could have any standing as a scholar, it came about that all who had not such public recognition were considered ignorant. The fact that our translators adopted this secondary use of the Greek word instead of its real meaning, shows how much they were under the influence of the same spirit. The Danish and Norwegian version have “laymen” in the place of “ignorant men,” and the German has “men of inferior condition.”PTUK December 10, 1896, page 786.3

    Here is encouragement, and a lesson. The encouragement is that people in the most humble and despised walks of life may, by devoted study of the Word from a sincere desire to know and do God’s will, acquire wisdom that will astonish even the worldly wise. Deuteronomy 4:5, 6. See also Proverbs 2:1-9.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 786.4

    The lesson, is that in the church of Christ are no ranks and degrees-no class distinctions. The church, following in the steps of the schoolmen of heathen times, have made two classes,-clergy and laity,-that is the special, elect class, who have the keys of knowledge, and the people, who are to take what the clergy are pleased to dole out to them. But the Scriptures teach us that all in the primitive, true church were laymen, that is, they were simply, ordinary people, whose only distinction from others was that which the Holy Spirit gave them. Jesus, Himself an ordinary labourer, chose fishermen and sent them forth to preach, and because they were thus sent forth they are called apostles. But they were laymen, and such they would be called to-day, if they were alive and in England or America. That those who teach the Word should form a special class, distinguished from other people by title, dress, etc., was not only not contemplated by the Lord, but was directly opposed.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 786.5

    It is true that “there are diversities of gifts,” and all men have not the same work, yet all in the church our brethren, and the greatest among them is he who does the most service. Let therefore no one be puffed up in his own mind with the thought that as a preacher he is above all others in the church, and let no one be discouraged because his state is lowly. It was Tyndale’s declaration that he would “make the boy that drives the plough in England to know more of Scripture than the Pope does.” That possibility is now before every ploughboy, and he who truly improves it, although his name be unknown outside of his neighbourhood, has a place in the church infinitely higher than that of the Pope.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 786.6

    “Discontent” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Not long ago a clergyman wrote in one of the newspapers that he was now devoting himself to preaching the “Gospel of Discontent”-that is, social reform. It is a current phrase to express the line of agitation which is going on in all parts of the country. The selfishness of the rich and the inequalities and hardships of life are being inveighed against on every side, and the Gospel of Discontent finds ready acceptance. One cannot fail to notice the frequency with which newspapers are discussing the best way of getting the ideal commonwealth, and within a year or two the idea of a revolution in order to enter the promised land of equality and prosperity has found increasingly frequent expression.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 786.7

    About a hundred years ago, in France, writers were engaged in just such work. They preached the Gospel of Discontent. Conditions were bad. The poor were trodden down until they had little energy to face present injustice. The social millennium was pictured by writers and workers. At last the disciples of discontent decided to inaugurate the new era. But when once human passion was let loose, and covetousness in the masses met the covetousness of the classes, violence began, and instead of a millennium they had a massacre. The same elements are working out in nearly all lands. The Bible shows that not the least of the troubles which will cause the nations to destroy themselves will be this very social trouble. It is a good time for Christians to learn the Gospel of Contentment which Paul preached. Philippians 4:11-13.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 786.8

    “Philip II.” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The persecutor is such not because he is worse than other men naturally, but merely because he is led by evil principles, and has the power to give effect to them. A recent writer, in the Fortnightly Review, gave some fresh light on the character of Philip II. of Spain, who bears in history one of the most infamous reputations of all who have tried to crush out Protestantism. But in his whole life he was evidently of refined and gentle temperament, delighting in his family, and in turn being regarded by his own with affection. The writer says:-PTUK December 10, 1896, page 786.9

    “Truly the human heart is a hard book to decipher. The man who could gaze upon human creatures undergoing the tortures of the damned by his orders because they differ from him, has been handed down to eternal infamy-and perhaps rightly so-on the strength of his public acts. It is reasonable to ask that his tyranny and cruelty should be forgotten, because there was a soft spot even in his stony heart for those who were nearest him, that the sickening fumes of scorching human flesh should be overpowered by the scent of flowers which Philip loved, or that the shrieks of the myriad martyrs should be drowned by the song of his nightingales; but, at least, the facts I have adduced prove that he was a human creature and not a fiend, and go far to support my contention that he was conscientiously and devotedly convinced that he was acting for the best in ruthlessly crushing those whom he looked upon as the enemies of God and society.”PTUK December 10, 1896, page 786.10

    “The Promises to Israel. The Covenants of Promise” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “Wherefore remember that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:11, 12.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.1

    An idea that prevails quite extensively is that God has one covenant for Jews and another for Gentiles; that there was a time when the covenant with the Jews utterly excluded the Gentiles, but that now a new covenant has been made which concerns chiefly, if not wholly, the Gentiles; in short that the Jews are, or were, under the old covenant, and the Gentiles under the new. That this idea is a great error, may readily be seen from the passage just quoted.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.2

    As a matter of fact, Gentiles, as Gentiles, have no part whatever in God’s covenants of promise. In Christ is the yea. “For how many soever be the promises of God, in Him is the yea; wherefore also through Him is the Amen, unto the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20. The Gentiles are those who are without Christ, and so they are “strangers from the covenants of promise.” No Gentile has any part in any covenant of promise. But whosoever will may come to Christ, and may share in the promises; for Christ says, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. But when the Gentile does that, no matter what his nationality may be, he ceases to be a Gentile, and becomes a member of “the commonwealth of Israel.”PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.3

    But let it be noted also that the Jew, in the common acceptation of the term, that is, as a member of the Jewish nation, and a rejecter of Christ, has no more share in the promises of God, or the covenants of promise, than the Gentile has. That is only to say that nobody has any share in the promises, save those who accept them. Whoever is “without Christ,” whether he be called Jew or Gentile, is also “without God in the world,” and is a stranger from the covenants of promise, and an alien from the commonwealth of Israel. This the text first quoted teaches us. One must be in Christ in order to share the benefits of “the covenants of promise,” and be a member of “the commonwealth of Israel.” To be “an Israelite indeed,” therefore, is simply to be a Christian. This is as true of the men who lived in the days of Moses, as of those who lived in the days of Paul, or those who live to-day.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.4

    Some one will probably think to ask, “How about the covenant made at Sinai? Do you mean to say that it was the same as that under which Christians live, or that it was as good? Are we not told that it was faulty? and if it was faulty, how could life and salvation have come through it?”PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.5

    Very pertinent questions, and ones that are easily answered. It is an undeniable fact that grace abounded at Sinai-“the grace of God which bringeth salvation”-because Christ was there with all His fulness of grace and truth. Mercy and truth were met together there, and righteousness and peace flowed as a river. But it was not by virtue of the covenant that was made at Sinai, that mercy and peace were there. That covenant brought the people nothing, although everything was there for them to enjoy.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.6

    The comparative value of the two covenants which stand related to each other as “the first” and “the second,” the “old” and the “new,” is thus set forth in the book of Hebrews, which presents Christ as High Priest, and contrasts His priesthood with that of men. Here are some of the points of superiority of our great High Priest over earthly high priests:-PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.7

    1. “Those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him, The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 7:21.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.8

    2. They were priests but for a short time, because “they were not suffered to continue by reason of death;” therefore there was a continual change and succession. But Christ “ever liveth,” and therefore He has “an unchangeable priesthood.” Earthly priests continued to be priests as long as they lived, but they did not live long. Christ also continues to be priest as long as He lives, and He is “alive for evermore.”PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.9

    3. The Levitical priests were made priests “after the law of a carnal commandment.” Their priesthood was only outward, in the flesh. They could deal with sin only in its outward manifestations, that is, actually not at all. But Christ is High Priest “after the power of an endless life”-a life that saves to the uttermost. He ministers the law in the Spirit.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.10

    4. They were ministers only of a worldy sanctuary, which man made. Christ “is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.”PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.11

    5. They were mere sinful men, as was shown by their mortality. Christ is “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4), and so He is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” Hebrews 7:26.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 787.12

    Now “by so much was Jesus made surety of a better covenant.” 1The reader will notice that the word “covenant” is used, as in the Revision, rather than “testament,’ as in the old version. The words “covenant’ and “testament,” as found in the common version of the Bible, are both from one and the same Greek word. Much confusion has resulted because the translators have arbitrarily rendered it “covenant” in some places, and “testament” in others. The rendering should be uniform; and since the reference is to that which in the translation from the Hebrew is always called “covenant,” that word should always be used. Let it be remembered that wherever in any translation of the Bible the word “testament” is found, “covenant” is the word that should be used. The rendering “testament” is utterly indefensible and is misleading. Hebrews 7:22. The covenant of which Christ is Minister is as much better than that of which the Levitical priests were ministers, whose priesthood dated only from the making of the covenant at Sinai, as Christ and His priesthood are better than they and their priesthood. That is to say, the covenant of which Christ as High Priest is Minister, is as much better than the covenant that dates from Sinai, as Christ is better than man; as heaven is higher than earth; as the sanctuary in heaven is greater than the sanctuary on earth; as the works of God are better than the works of the flesh; as “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” is better than “the law of a carnal commandment;” as eternal life is better than a life that is but “a vapour that appeareth for a moment, and then vanisheth away;” as the oath of God is better than the word of man.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.1

    THE DIFFERENCE

    And now we may read wherein this vast difference consists: “But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in My covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 8:5-12.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.2

    The following facts must stand out very prominently to the thoughtful reader of this text:-PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.3

    1. Both covenants are only with Israel. Gentiles, as we have already seen, are “strangers from the covenants of promise.” It is always admitted and even claimed that they have nothing to do with the old covenant; but they have even less connection with the new covenant.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.4

    2. Both covenants are made with “the house of Israel;” not with a few individuals, nor with a divided nation, but “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,” that is, with all the people of Israel. The first covenant was made with the whole house of Israel, before they were divided; the second covenant will be made when God shall have taken the children of Israel from among the heathen, and made them one nation, when “they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.” Ezekiel 37:22, 26. But concerning this we shall have more further on.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.5

    3. Both covenants contain promises, and are founded upon them.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.6

    4. The “new covenant” is better than the one made at Sinai.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.7

    5. It is better, because the promises upon which it is founded are better.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.8

    6. Yet it will be seen by comparing the terms of the new with those of the old, that the end contemplated by each is the same. The old said, “If ye will obey My voice;” the new says, “I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.” Each has reference to the law of God. Both have holiness, and all the rewards of holiness, as the object. In the covenant at Sinai it was said to Israel, “Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:6. That is just what God’s own people really are, “a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” 1 Peter 2:5, 9.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.9

    But the promises of that covenant at Sinai were never realised, and for the very reason that they were faulty. The promises of that covenant all depended upon the people. They said, “All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do.” Exodus 19:8; 24:7. They promised to keep His commandments, although they had already demonstrated their inability to do anything themselves. Their promises to keep the law, like the law itself, were “weak through the flesh.” Romans 8:3. The strength of that covenant was therefore only the strength of the law, and that is death.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.10

    WHY THE COVENANT AT SINAI?

    Why, then, was that covenant made?-For the very same reason that the law was spoken from Sinai; “because of transgression.” The Lord says it was “because they continued not in My covenant.” They had lightly esteemed the “everlasting covenant” which God had made with Abraham, and therefore He made this one with them, as a witness against them.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.11

    That “everlasting covenant” with Abraham was a covenant of faith. It was everlasting, and therefore the giving of the law could not disannul it. It was confirmed by the oath of God, and therefore the law could not add anything to it. Because the law added nothing to that covenant, and yet was not against its promises, it follows that the law was contained in its promises. The covenant of God with Abraham assured to him and his seed the righteousness of the law by faith. Not by works, but by faith.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.12

    The covenant with Abraham was so ample in its scope that it embraced all nations, even “all the families of the earth.” It is that covenant, backed by the oath of God, by which we now have confidence and hope in coming to Jesus, in whom it was confirmed. It is by virtue of that covenant, and that alone, that any man receives the blessing of God, for the cross of Christ simply brings the blessing of Abraham upon us.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.13

    That covenant was wholly of faith, and that is why it assures salvation, since “by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” The history of Abraham makes very emphatic the fact that salvation is wholly of God, and not by the power of man. “Power belongeth unto God” (Psalm 62:11); and the Gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Romans 1:16. From the case of Abraham, as well as that of Isaac and of Jacob, we are made to know that only God Himself can fulfil the promises of God. They got nothing by their own wisdom or skill or power; everything was a gift from God. He led them, and He protected them.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 788.14

    This is the truth that had been made most prominent in the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt. God introduced Himself to them as “The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:15); and He charged Moses to let them know that He was about to deliver them in fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham. God spake unto Moses, and said unto him:-PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.1

    “I am JEHOVAH; and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob as God Almighty, but by My name Jehovah I was not known to them. And I have also established My covenant with them, to give them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings, wherein they sojourned. And moreover I have heard the groanings of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am Jehovah, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments; and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage; I am Jehovah.” Exodus 6:2-8, R.V.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.2

    Read now again the words of God just before the making of the covenant at Sinai:-PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.3

    “Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine; and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:4-6.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.4

    Note how God dwelt upon the fact that He Himself had done all that had been done for them. He had delivered them from the Egyptians, and He had brought them to Himself. That was the thing which they were continually forgetting, as indicated by their murmurings. They had even gone so far as to question whether the Lord was among them or not; and their murmurings always indicated the thought that they themselves could manage things better than God could. God had brought them by the mountain pass to the Red Sea, and into the desert where there was no food nor drink, and had miraculously supplied their wants in every instance, to make them understand that they could live only by His word.” Deuteronomy 8:3.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.5

    The covenant which God made with Abraham was founded on faith and trust. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto Him for righteousness.” So when God, in fulfilment of that covenant, was delivering Israel from bondage, all His dealing with them was calculated to teach them trust in Him, so that they might in truth be the children of the covenant.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.6

    THE LESSON OF TRUST

    Their response of Israel was self-confidence. Read the record of their distrust in God in Psalm cvi. He had proved them at the Red Sea, in the giving of the manna, and at the waters of Meribah. In every place they had failed to trust Him perfectly. Now he comes to prove them once more, in the giving of the law. As we have already learned, God never intended that men should try to get righteousness by the law, or that they should think such a thing possible. In the giving of the law, as shown by all the attendant circumstances, He designed that the children of Israel, and we also, should learn that the law is infinitely above the reach of all human effort, and to make it plain that, since the keeping of the commandments is essential to the salvation which He has promised, He Himself will fulfill the law in us. These are the words of God: “Hear, O My people, and I will testify unto thee; O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto Me, there shall no strange God be in thee, neither shalt thou worship any strange god.” Psalm 81:8, 9. “Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hear, and your soul shall live.” Isaiah 55:3. His word transforms the soul from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, even as it brought forth Lazarus from the tomb.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.7

    A careful reading of Exodus 19:1-6, will show that there is no intimation that another covenant was then to be made. Indeed, the evidence is to the contrary. The Lord referred to His covenant,-the covenant long before given to Abraham,-and exhorted them to keep it, and told what would be the result of their keeping it. The covenant with Abraham was, as we have seen, a covenant of faith, and they could keep it simply by keeping the faith. God did not ask them to enter into another covenant with Him, but only to accept His covenant of peace, which he had long before given to the fathers.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.8

    The proper response of the people therefore would have been, “Amen, even so, O Lord, let it be done unto us according to Thy will.” On the contrary they said, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do;” and they repeated their promise, with additional emphasis, even after they had heard the law spoken. It was the same self-confidence that led their descendants to say to Christ, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” Think of mortal men presuming to be able to do God’s work! Christ answered, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” Even so it was in the desert of Sinai, when the law was given and the covenant made.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.9

    Their assuming the responsibility of working the works of God, showed lack of appreciation of His greatness and holiness. It is only when men are ignorant of God’s righteousness, that they go about to establish their own righteousness, and refuse to submit themselves to the righteousness of God. See Romans 10:3. Their promises were good for nothing, because they had not the power to fulfill them. The covenant, therefore, which was based on those promises was utterly worthless, so far as giving them life was concerned. All that they could get from that covenant was just what they could get from themselves, and that was death. To trust in it was to make a covenant with death, and to be in agreement with the grave. Their entering into that covenant was a virtual notification to the Lord that they could get along very well without Him; that they were able to fulfill any promise He could make.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.10

    But God did not give them up, “for He said, Surely they are My people, children that will not lie; so He was their Saviour.” Isaiah 63:8. He knew that they were moved by impulse in making that promise, and that they did not realise what it meant. They had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. He had brought them out of the land of Egypt, that He might teach them to know Him, and He did not become angry with them because they were so slow to learn the lesson. He had borne with Abraham when he thought that he could work out God’s plans, and He had been very patient with Jacob when he was so ignorant as to suppose that God’s promised inheritance could be gained by sharp bargains and fraud. So now He bore with their children’s ignorance and lack of faith, in order that He might afterwards bring them to the faith.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 789.11

    THE DIVINE COMPASSION

    God meets men just where they are. He has “compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way.” Hebrews 5:2. He is always and everywhere seeking to draw all men to Himself, no matter how depraved they are; and therefore when He discerns even the faintest glimmer of a willingness or desire to serve Him, He at once nourishes it, making the most of it He can to lead the soul to greater love and more perfect knowledge. So although the children of Israel had failed in this supreme test of their trust in Him, He took advantage of their expressed willingness to serve Him, even though it was only in “their own weak way.” Because of their unbelief they could not have all that He wished them to have; but that which they did get through their lack of faith was a continual reminder of what they might have if they fully believed. Because of their ignorance of the greatness of His holiness, which ignorance was expressed by their promise to do the law, God proceeded, by the proclamation of the law, to show them the greatness of His righteousness, and the utter impossibility of their working it out.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 790.1

    “War As a Religion” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    War As a Religion .-Recent discussions in Germany on militarism and duelling have called attention to the constant use which the world is making of the name of God and religion in defending militarism. The theory that God delights in war, and that He fights on the side of the heaviest battalions, has no doubt won more souls to the eternal death to which Satan desires to consign them, companions with himself in his own inevitable fate, than any other error which he has been able to instil into the mind of man. Yet, throughout all the world, in civilised and so-called Christian nations, with enthusiasm even greater than among barbarians, men go on planning to increase the number of Satan’s victims. Every now and then one hears of the cult of the Luciferians, the professors of Satanism. There can be no more complete Satanism than this military spirit which so possesses the world. Is there nothing that will waken mankind to the realisation of this?PTUK December 10, 1896, page 790.2

    “Escape for Thy Life” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    ANCIENT BABYLON

    When the wrath of God was about to fall upon Babylon, the children of the captivity had this word of warning:-PTUK December 10, 1896, page 791.1

    “My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord. And lest your heart faint, and ye fear for the rumour that shall be heard in the land; a rumour shall both come one year, and after that in another year shall come a rumour, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler.” Jeremiah 1:45, 46.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 791.2

    JERUSALEM

    When Jerusalem had filled the cup of its iniquity by preferring its own ways to God’s ways, and the destruction was about to fall upon it, the disciples of Jesus had this warning to escape:-PTUK December 10, 1896, page 791.3

    “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out.” Luke 21:20, 21.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 791.4

    MODERN BABYLON

    The seventeenth of Revelation represents under the figure of a corrupt woman, that great religious system-“that great city”-“which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (Verse 18), plainly Rome, which from old time has been known as the city sitting on its seven hills. Verse 9. This system, together with off-shoots from it, partaking of the same spirit-represented in the symbol as the mother and her daughters-is described in the next chapter as the spiritual Babylon, which has made all nations drunken, and filled the world with evil. Rome is the true inheritor of the ancient religion of old Chaldean Babylon, and the same old principles are to this day corrupting religious life. As the day draws near when upon Rome and her corrupt daughters will fall the destruction of the last day, God’s warning that again is:-PTUK December 10, 1896, page 791.5

    “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues plates. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Revelation 18:4, 5. God faithfully sends the warning every time His judgments are about to fall in order that all who will believe Him may escape.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 791.6

    “Items of Interest” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    -At least ?144,000,000 worth of British property is always on the sea.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.1

    -Female prisoners, by way of experiment, are to be taught the art of making Oriental rugs and mate.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.2

    -Rice has been successfully grown in the Botanical Gardens, Regent’s Park, this past summer.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.3

    -A proposition to open the public library of Inverness on Sundays, has been defeated by only three votes.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.4

    -Japan is now, in population, the fifth power in the world. In numbers it exceeds Great Britain and Ireland by 7,100,000.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.5

    -Siberia is to have a new system of courts, and the old police government is to be abolished. It is expected that this will be a great reform.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.6

    -The opening of the door of a warm room in Lapland during the winter is immediately followed by a miniature snowstorm in the room, the condensed moisture falling in flakes.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.7

    -Japan is developing commercially. New lines of steamers to carry passengers and freight to and from America, Australia and Russia have been started with monthly sailings.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.8

    -Nearly four-fifths of the submarine cables of the world are in the hands of British companies, who own a length of more than 150,000 miles of cable, laid at a cost of over ?80,600,000.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.9

    -Safes, which outwardly exactly resemble iron ones, but really made of thin boards, are now supplied by various firms, and are sold to people starting in business who want to make a big show.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.10

    -The rinderpest, so destructive to the cattle of South Africa, threatens to spread to other countries. The bubonic plague, assisted by the famine, is also becoming more and more prevalent in India.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.11

    -It is said that the number of men throughout the civilised world who are capable of bearing arms, according to the physical rules fixed by the different governments for their soldiers, is one-fourth of the total population.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.12

    -India produces two crops of wheat in a year, one harvested in the spring and the other in the autumn. The autumn crop is sown in summer, but the spring crop is sown in the winter. The autumn crop in the present famine area has practically failed already, and unless rain falls during the next two months the spring crop will fail also. Of the vast population of India, numbering 300,000,000, 80 per cent. belong to the agricultural classes.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.13

    -The Lancashire Asylums Board have sanctioned the expenditure of 1,500 upon a new Roman Catholic Chapel for Rainhill Asylum, with the approval of the Lunacy Commissioners. The opponents of the scheme urged that Roman Catholics might hold service in a room devoted to other purposes as well; but Catholic members maintained that the exigencies of the Confessional and the Real Presence rendered a separate chapel absolutely necessary.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 798.14

    “Back Page” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Both Catholic and Protestant papers credit the government with the intention of devoting a million sterling to the endowment of the Catholic University in Ireland.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.1

    Several masters of Voluntary Schools in the East-end last week gave effect to their condition that such schools should be exempt from taxation by refusing to pay rates. Summonses were issued.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.2

    The annual report of the Pobiedonostseff, procurator of the Russian Synod, just published, recommends a curtailment of liberties granted to some unorthodox bodies, and suggests work for the police and gendarmes in bringing wanderers back to the Greek Church. Yet the procurator protests, as strongly as any advocate of religious legislation in the West, that he is against religious persecution, and only enforces civil laws for the good of society.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.3

    At an inquest over the body of a man whose death was caused by drunkenness, a coroner took occasion the other day to remark that he was well acquainted with the late Sir B. W. Richardson, and “felt that he had shortened his days by abstinence.” Inasmuch as Dr. Richardson had nearly completed threescore and ten years, and had lived an unusually busy and useful life, it is difficult to see how he lost much through his adherence to strict temperance principles. Certainly the coroner chose the most inopportune time and subject for preaching a sermon against total abstinence.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.4

    At a Nonconformist council last week, Dr. Parker pointed out the fatal inconsistency of Nonconformists who object to the Establishment, and who yet insist upon having religious teaching compulsory in State schools. Churchmen are consistent with their own principles, but both parties fail to see that the Christian religion can never be made a branch of politics. “If the national will has declared that religious education must be taught in State schools at the expense of the State, then,” said Dr. Parker truly, “I declare that the national will is wrong.”PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.5

    Wherever there is human nature there is caste, which is always a wicked thing, whether in India, Europe, or America, but the Indian caste system has some points of superiority over the western system, as witnessed by the following from a recently published book on “Hindu Castes and Sects,” written by a Hindu Brahman and President of the College of Pundits at Nadiya:-PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.6

    Of the several unclean castes the most important are those connected with the manufacture and sale of spiritous liquors.... All these occupy a very low position in the Hindu caste system, and although a great many of them have been in recent times become very wealthy through the encouragement given to the liquor traffic for fiscal purposes, yet their status has not improved materially. They have been, for more than half a century, struggling hard to be recognised as a clean caste.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.7

    The Russian Government has lately published a book dealing with the various sects in Russia outside the Greek Church. Seventh-day Adventists are given space, with an account of their teaching and work. It was extensively circulated at the recent exposition held in Novgorod, and our friends have already heard of one man who had been led to accept the Sabbath and other truths by reading the book. One of our Russian workers suggests that it might be well to circulate the book, as with the rigid press censorship the problem of missionary literature in Russia is a serious one.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.8

    Some may have thought that the settlement of the Manitoba school question, announced a little time ago, showed that there was really a possibility of affecting a compromise on religious education question. But now the whole controversy is reopened, and the Catholic hierarchy in Canada declares the “settlement intolerable.”PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.9

    “To Make Him King” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    To Make Him King .-When the Jews sought to take Jesus by force and make Him King, He evaded them. His kingdom was not of this world, and their momentary zeal to give Him political power sprang from their own corrupt and selfish interests. As He was true to the principles of His kingdom and preached the Gospel of loyalty to God, they ended by crucifying Him.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.10

    “The Same Thing” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Same Thing .-The great Christian Endeavour Society, which, from its rise a few years ago in America, has spread into nearly all nations, is becoming possessed of the idea that it is the Christian’s business to go into politics and thus make Christ the King of nations. The key-note now of the movement in America, representing a confederation of twenty-five denominations, is “Christian citizenship,” and they declare,PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.11

    We have a right to make and enforce human statutes that call for the observance of the laws of God.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.12

    The only possible end of any attempt by men to enforce God’s law is the crucifixion of Christ afresh.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.13

    “Above God” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Above God .-God’s law is spiritual, and so far is it above human strength that not only can no man be forced to keep it, but no man desiring to keep it can do so of himself. Only by receiving God Himself into the heart, by faith, to will and to do, can any man have the righteousness of the law fulfilled in him. And God Himself forces no one to be righteous against his will. So that this proposition, seriously made, to enact civil statutes to force men to keep God’s law (as interpreted by men) is not only an attempt to usurp the place of God, but is an effort to exalt man above God.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.14

    “The Very Image of the Papacy” The Present Truth, 12, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Very Image of the Papacy .-The exaltation of the human above God is what made the Papacy, and all the persecutions of the Papacy were but attempts to enforce what the “clergy” declared to be the will of God. And it was accomplished by the church securing control of political power. And wherever this idea of forcing men to regard religion has obtained possession of men’s minds the result has been the same. Catholics or Protestants, they have only set up their own perverse wills, and only evil has followed. Priest or presbyter, it has mattered not a whit. “We will force respect for the Sabbath” says these zealous workers, and thus they think “the Government will become in fact as well as in name, a Christian government.” The spirit is spreading into all countries. By making the Sunday the test and mark of the authority which they assume they are fulfilling the prophecy which shows that the Protestant world will make a very likeness or image of the papal beast of the Revelation 8:11-17. It is against this exaltation of the Papacy and against receiving this mark of apostasy that the final proclamation of the “everlasting Gospel” warns all the world. Revelation 14:6-12.PTUK December 10, 1896, page 800.15

    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents