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    January 15, 1885

    “Punishment of the Wicked-Continued” The Signs of the Times, 11, 3.

    E. J. Waggoner



    1. With what does Paul say that the wicked shall be punished? 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.1

    2. When will this punishment take place?SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.2

    3. From whom does this destruction come?SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.3

    4. What does the prophet Joel say of the day of the Lord? Joel 1:15.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.4

    5. What is the agent of this destruction that comes from the Lord? 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 20:9.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.5

    6. What does the inspired writer say of the suffering of those who are thus devoured? Revelation 20:10.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.6

    7. Repeat another testimony on this point. Revelation 14:9-11.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.7

    8. What, in ancient times, was the law concerning Hebrew servants? Exodus 21:2.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.8

    9. If in the seventh year the servant refused to leave his master, what was done? Verses 5, 6.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.9

    10. After the ceremony of boring the servant’s ear had been performed, how long was he to serve his master? Ib.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.10

    11. Can this by any possibility mean that in such a case the servant was never to die?SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.11

    12. What must we understand by the expression, “he shall serve him forever”? (See note.)SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.12

    13. Then what may we understand by similar expressions concerning the torment of the wicked?SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.13

    14. What positive proof can you give that those sufferings will eventually be terminated by cessation of existence? Malachi 4:1, 3.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.14

    15. How many other texts do you remember that prove the same thing?SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.15

    “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9. The time when this vengeance will be taken on the disobedient is stated in verses 7 and 10. It is when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, and when he shall be glorified in his saints. Compare Matthew 25:31-36.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.16

    There is a quite general misunderstanding of this text in Thessalonians. We frequently hear it quoted as though it read that the wicked shall be banished from the presence of the Lord. But the text says no such thing. Further, to be banished from the presence of the Lord is an impossibility, for God is omnipresent; he fills the universe; and still further, if such a thing were possible, it would be no punishment for the wicked, but would be what they would desire. No position could be more unsatisfactory to a wicked man than to be continually in the presence of God. What the text does say of the wicked is that they “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” The destruction comes from the Lord. So we read in Joel 1:15 that the day of the Lord comes “as a destruction from the Almighty.” And Paul in another place says that the wicked shall be consumed by the spirit of his mouth, and destroyed by the brightness of his coming, thus showing how they are destroyed from, or by, the glory of his power.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.17

    From Revelation 21:9, as well as elsewhere, we learn that fire is to be the agent in the destruction of the wicked. As they compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city, fire comes down from God out of heaven, and devours them.This indicates complete extermination. Then what are we to understand when, in the next verse, we read that they “shall be tormented day and night forever and ever”? Some may answer that this applies only to the devil, who deceived them. This will not meet the difficulty, since the Scriptures do not teach that Satan is to be punished differently from the wicked, except in degree; and in Revelation 14:11 we have a statement concerning the wicked, that is similar to that in Revelation 22:10. Now since John, looking at things that are to be, as though they had been, saw that the fire devoured the wicked, and Paul says that they shall be punished with everlasting destruction, we must conclude that “forever and ever” must be limited in duration. For if the wicked are always to exist in torment, then it would necessarily follow that they will never be destroyed nor devoured.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.18

    The Bible must be its own interpreter, and we will let this text, which seems obscure, be explained by another one, which has no obscurity. Turn to Exodus 21, and read verses 2-6: “If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free; then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.” We say that there is no obscurity in this passage. The different parts of the transaction are clearly indicated, and the result is plainly stated: after having his ear bored through which an awl, the servant was to continue a bondman forever. And no one would mistake the statement, and suppose that the servant was to endure the rigors of servitude throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Certainly not. All would agree that this means simply that the servant could, under those circumstances, derive no benefit from the Sabbatic year, but that he must serve without intermission just as long as his life should last. This is all there is to it.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.19

    “But why,” says one, “do you introduce such an instance as that?” In order to show that the term “forever” does not necessarily indicate that the thing to which it is applied has no end. It may be applied to an object that is in its nature perishable, as in the case of the servant. In general this rule may be laid down: Whenever there is anything in the nature of the object spoken of that forbids the idea of its eternal existence, the term “forever” merely implies continuity of existence. God’s word forbids us to imagine that the wicked shall exist throughout eternity; so when we read that they shall be “tormented day and night forever and ever,” we are to understand that their torments will be long, and will be unintermitting until they are utterly consumed. That such a time will come is taught by the word of the Lord: “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Malachi 4:1. “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” Verse 3; Matthew 3:11, 12; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 2:8; Revelation 22:9; Romans 6:23 John 3:16, 36; and many other texts may be cited to prove the same thing, namely, that the wicked will eventually be utterly exterminated. E. J. W.SITI January 15, 1885, page 38.20

    “A Puzzled Correspondent” The Signs of the Times, 11, 3.

    E. J. Waggoner

    From a gentlemen in Medina, Ohio, who has read a few copies of the SIGNS, we have received a letter which contains objections that are common to so many, and which seems to indicate a spirit of kindness and candor on the part of the writer, so that we are constrained to print it entire. It reads as follows:-SITI January 15, 1885, page 40.1

    “DEAR BRETHREN: I have just received a copy of the SIGNS, and have read it with great pleasure and profit, though the journal is not new to me. Your views of the second advent, immortality through Christ, etc., all meet my views exactly. I do not understand the Sunday question, however, as you do. You seem to imply that if we begin on Sabbath, Dec. 5, 1884, and go back by sevens, we should arrive at the Sabbath which God gave to Moses; but as no sane man pretends to tell the year the law was given, of course we cannot tell where to stop, and hence all is guess-work. I am just as sure that to-day [Dec. 7] is the truth Sabbath, as you can be that Dec. 5 was.SITI January 15, 1885, page 40.2

    “But even if we did know this, what then? I profess to be a Christian, and hence I care no more for what Moses commanded, than I do for what Mohammed commanded. Christ is the end of the law to everyone that believeth. He who follows Christ does more honor to Moses and the law than he does who worships law only. Christ elaborated every one of the commandments in the decalogue except regarding Sunday, or the ‘Sabbath,’ and of that he speaks as though it were more for us than we for that.SITI January 15, 1885, page 40.3

    “If infidels cared nothing for Sunday, how can you make them respect Saturday? Why not change their hearts instead of their calendar?SITI January 15, 1885, page 40.4

    “Yours in Christ, W. P. R.”SITI January 15, 1885, page 40.5

    Our brother has got things sorely confused in his mind, but we will endeavor to set him straight in regard to them. In the first place, we shall inform him that since December 5 fell on Friday, we do not count that day either backward or forward, to find the Sabbath. We are Christians, not Mohammedans. He says, “I am just as sure that today [Dec. 7, the date of the letter] is the true Sabbath, as you can be that Dec. 5 was.” Granted; but unless his confidence exceeds that, he will not be likely to do much homage to the Sunday. We can say ourselves that we also are “just as sure” that Sunday, December 7, was the Sabbath as we are that Friday, December 5, was, and not one particle more so. There is just the same Bible authority for keeping Sunday that there is for keeping Friday, and that is-just none at all.SITI January 15, 1885, page 40.6

    Of one thing we are just as certain as it is possible to be of any thing, and that is that if, beginning with any Sabbath (Saturday), we should count back by sevens, we should find that we have the same seventh-day Sabbath which God commanded the Jews to keep, and upon which he rested in the beginning. It is not at all necessary that we should know the exact age of the world, nor the exact year in which the law was given. The following points establish the matter beyond all controversy: 1. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the one upon which God rested at creation. See Exodus 20:8-11; Genesis 2:2, 3. 2. It was the same day that was kept in the time of Christ, and of which he declared himself Lord (Mark 2:28), for the women who followed Jesus to the sepulcher returned and rested the Sabbath day “according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56. 3. It is not possible that the reckoning of days since that time could have been lost, for the Jews, who as a nation have kept the Sabbath quite strictly ever since the Babylonian captivity, were dispersed to every nation under the heavens, and there is not the slightest disagreement among them as to which day is the true Sabbath, no matter how widely separated they may be. Moreover, within a comparatively short time after the days of Christ, his professed followers adopted the day of the heathen festival of the sun,-the first day of the week,-professing to do it in honor of Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week; not in whatever part of the world you go, you invariably find that the so-called “Christian Sabbath” is the day following the Sabbath which to Jews observe. Thus we know that the day of the Sabbath has never been lost since the creation. On this point, Bishop E. O. Haven, of the M. E. Church, said:-SITI January 15, 1885, page 40.7

    “There is no good reason for denying that the Jewish Sabbath is the true seventh day, reckoning from the creation of man, and that the Christian Sunday is the first day of the Hebrew week, or of the genuine week.”-Pillars of Truth, p.89.SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.1

    And now that we know that we have the original seventh-day Sabbath, “what then?” Says our brother: “I profess to be a Christian, and hence I care no more for what Moses commanded than I do for what Mohammed commanded.” Well, we profess to be Christians too, yet we care, far more for Moses than we do for Mohammed, because “we know that God spake unto Moses” (see Numbers 12:6-8; Deuteronomy 34:10), and there is no evidence that God ever manifested himself in any way to Mohammed. Christ was the prophet the Lord was to raise up, like unto Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18, 19; Acts 3:22-26); and he reproved the Jews because they did not really believe the words of Moses. Indeed Christ plainly says that they could not believe on him unless they first believed the words of Moses (John 5:46, 47); and therefore if our brother really cares no more for Moses than he does for Mohammed, he has the word of Christ before for it that his profession of Christianity amounts to nothing; that without believing Moses he cannot be a Christian. We do not believe that he carefully considered what he was writing.SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.2

    But the Sabbath commandment does not rest on the authority of Moses. “And God spake all these words, saying, ... Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work,” etc. Exodus 20:1-11. “These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.” Deuteronomy 5:22. Certainly our brother cares something for what the Lord commanded, even if he has no regard for Moses.SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.3

    “Christ is the end of the law to everyone that believeth.” True; but must we therefore conclude that with every believer in Christ there must be an end of keeping the law? Let us try a case, and see if our brother will agree with us. I believe in Christ, therefore I will curse and swear, because Christ is the end of the law which says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Again, because I believe in Christ, who is the end of the law, I will shoot the next man I meet, and take his watch and purse. “No, no,” our friend will surely say, “that would not do; if you believe in Christ you must forsake sin.” Exactly; so say the Scriptures: “He that saith he abideth in him [Christ] ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 2:6. And he “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:22. Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4); so then if we profess to abide in Christ we must cease transgressing the law, or, in other words, we must keep the law. Now by what rule does our brother decide that, because Christ is the end of law, we are at liberty to violate the fourth commandment, and are not at liberty to violate the third, sixth, or eighth? “Are not your ways unequal?”SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.4

    Is the follower of Christ at liberty to break the law in any particular? Listen to the words of Jesus himself: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-19. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21.SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.5

    The follower of Christ it is not free to break the law, although Christ is the end of the law. Then in what sense is he the end of the it? In this sense that in the present state of the world Christ is the object of the law; i.e., the law, having no power of itself to make sinful man perfect, drives them to Christ, in whom they may attain all the perfection which the law requires. Paul clearly expresses the case in a few words: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:3, 4.SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.6

    “He who follows Christ does more honor to Moses and the law than he does who worships the law only.” Very true; for if any one “worships the law only,” he will make a miserable failure; “without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.” Christ’s office is to enable us to do, as well as to cleanse us from past transgressions. One cannot be a follower of Christ without keeping the law.SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.7

    “Christ elaborated every one of the commandments of the decalogue, except regarding Sunday.” Very much mixed. Christ said nothing about the second commandment, and did not elaborate the eighth, ninth, nor tenth; yet we do not feel of liberty to slight them on that account. And he certainly did not elaborate the commandment regarding Sunday, because no such commandment was in existence until the rise of the “man of sin,” many years after the time of Christ’s earthly ministry.SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.8

    “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27. These are the expressed, not implied, words of Christ. It was made for man’s use. Now if our brother wishes to know just how God designs that man shall use the Sabbath, let him read the fourth commandment, and he will find out. God made the Sabbath for man to keep holy. Will our brother keep it so, and thus use the Sabbath as God intended it should be used?SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.9

    The paragraph concerning infidels and the Sabbath will be noticed in another article. E. J. W.SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.10

    “Easy Conversion” The Signs of the Times, 11, 3.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Much ado has been made over the announcement that Mr. M. K. Schermerhorn, one of the most prominent of Unitarian preachers, has been admitted into the Episcopal Church, and this taken orders therein, and “the church” has been congratulated upon so valuable and accession. According to Mr. Schemerhorn’s own statement, however, his “conversion” does not seem to have been prompted wholly by unselfish motives. He says:-SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.11

    “As to Unitarianism, I will say that it has been a constant disappointment to me, though I always tried to make the best of it. I have seen the Unitarian cause steadily declining. Out of fifteen societies in the New York and Hudson River Conferences, for instance, six have died outright during the past twelve years. No new ones have been started, and those remaining are, with three or four exceptions, just alive, and that is all. This same is more or less true all over America and England, too. In short, I lost all hope for any permanent growth of Unitarianism long before I left Newport, and this, in part, was what (providentially, as I now feel) caused me to turn my studies and thought in the direction of the older churches and faith.”SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.12

    Even in politics such an avowal as that would not be considered a credit to any man. Much has been said, especially during the last campaign, about standing up for a principle, even though the party be in the minority; but here we find a clergyman openly announcing that he his left the church of which he was long champion, solely because he had no hope that it would ever rival other denominations, and people do not think that there is anything out of the way in his course. Well, why should they? Isn’t popularity getting to be the standard of orthodoxy? Of late the discussion between Catholics and Protestants has waxed hot, as to whether Catholicism has really made the progress that is claimed for it, as though its character were to be judged by its ability to gain converts. One of the most common objections as we hear against the Sabbath of the Lord is, “Oh, there is only a mere handful of people that keep it, anyway.” And the argument upon which Sunday advocates are willing to rest their cause is that “everybody keeps Sunday.”SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.13

    When people can pass from one church to another, or from the world to the church, so easily, what is to hinder the whole world from being “converted”? and then the millennium will be ushered in. It is natural for man to love to be on the winning side; and as soon as the church can demonstrate that she is the strongest power in the world, people without number will feel “providentially” directed to join her communion. E. J. W.SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.14

    “‘Christian Consciousness’ vs. the Bible” The Signs of the Times, 11, 3.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In a recent number of the Independent, Prof. Francis L. Patton sharply criticizes a statement by Dr. Harris, in the Andover Review, that “Christian consciousness” must be recognized as the final authority in matters of faith and practice. In the course of his article he says:-SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.15

    “Common consciousness cannot be appealed to as the criterion of religious progress without danger of jeopardizing the Protestant principle that the Bible is the rule of faith. Dr. Harris admits that what he calls the ‘obsolescent theology’ agrees as well with a word of God as it ever did, but affirms that it does not agree with the Christian consciousness. Suppose, however, that the Bible should say one thing, and Christian consciousness should say something else; or suppose that Christian consciousness should undertake to supplement the Bible. What then? It is an old charge against those who have had an objective rule of faith, that they made the word of God of none effect through their traditions, and that they taught for doctrines the commandments of men. We know how the Roman Catholic churches followed the example of the scribes and Pharisees in this respect. Is there no danger that a party will rise in the Protestant churches, committing the same error? We think that there is great danger. And when, under the influence of a zeal that lacks both knowledge and discretion, the attempt is made to force upon the conscience of men the yoke of party fanaticism and popular clamor, there is little doubt but that an earnest, but at the same time ignorant, quietism will find great use for the phrase that is under discussion, and as a phrase, catchword, appealing to the sympathies of the unthinking, that Christian consciousness may become the ‘organ’ of what some will call religious progress.”SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.16

    There is as little doubt that the state of things outlined by the professor is imminent, as there is that “Christian consciousness” is superseding the Bible, as a test in matters of religion. We see this “Christian consciousness” manifested in that form of worship which mistakes feeling for faith, whose adherents know that they are right, because their hearts tell them so!SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.17

    And especially is it manifested in those who would be enforce the observance of the Sunday because a majority of Christians had declared, by precept and example, that Sunday is the Lord’s day. The plain language of the fourth commandment is ignored by the Protestants and Catholics alike, for the custom and sentiment of “the church.” E. J. W.SITI January 15, 1885, page 41.18

    “The Work in Healdsburg” The Signs of the Times, 11, 3.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The winter term of the College opened on Monday, January 5, with 120 students in attendance. Of this number fifty-six are now enrolled in the special Bible course. Besides these, we know of several who expect to join us in a few days. All seem to be in earnest, and disposed to make the most of their present opportunities.SITI January 15, 1885, page 48.1

    The family at the Students’ Home now numbers fifty-six. This number will soon be increased. The new students readily fall in with the ways of the place, and cheerfully perform their allotted tasks of labor and study. We are certain that the benefit derived from the discipline at the “Home” is fully equal to that gained at the college proper. No parent should think of sending his child to the Healdsburg College, and not have him live at the Students’ Home. We hope that God will bless the labors of this term, and make them fruitful for good in his cause.SITI January 15, 1885, page 48.2

    E. J. W.
    Healdsburg, January 8.

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