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    January 29, 1885

    “Punishment of the Wicked—Continued” The Signs of the Times, 11, 5.

    E. J. Waggoner



    1. What is given to those who believe on Christ? John 3:36.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.1

    2. What is to be the fate of those who believe not the Son?SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.2

    3. What does the Psalmist say will be the result to the wicked, if the Lord’s wrath is kindled only a little? Psalm 2:12.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.3

    4. Then what will be their condition if his wrath abides on them?SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.4

    5. What contrast did the wise man make between the continuance of the righteous and that of the wicked? Proverbs 10:25.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.5

    6. With what words of the Psalmist does this agree? Psalm 1:1-4.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.6

    7. What is to be done with the chaff? Matthew 3:12.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.7

    8. To what other perishable substances are sinners compared? Hosea 13:3.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.8

    9. To what is their destruction compared? Isaiah 5:24.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.9

    10. How has the beloved disciple described the fate of the wicked? Revelation 20:9.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.10

    11. In what manner will they be devoured? Nahum 1:10.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.11

    12. Into what shall the wicked consume? Psalm 37:20.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.12

    13. Of what was man formed? Genesis 2:7; 18:27.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.13

    14. After the fire of the last day, what will the wicked be? Malachi 4:3.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.14

    15. In view of this fact, what does one of the prophets say of the wicked? Obadiah 16.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.15

    16. What corroborative testimony can you give on this point? Psalm 37:9, 10.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.16

    17. Quote another text which proves that a time will come when there will be no wicked in existence in the universe. Revelation 5:13.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.17

    18. Who is the author of the doctrine that the wicked shall not die? Genesis 3:4.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.18

    19. Who is the serpent? Revelation 20:2.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.19

    20. For what purpose did the devil invent that doctrine? Ezekiel 13:22.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.20

    If the reader will only take pains to look up the references given in this lesson, he certainly will not need comments to aid his understanding of the subject. Just note the strong expressions that are used concerning the wicked: They “shall not see life.” John 3:36. They pass away as does the whirlwind. Proverbs 10:25. They are “like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Psalm 1:4. This chaff is to be burned up with a fire so intense that it cannot be extinguished. Matthew 3:12. “They shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.” Hosea 13:3. “As the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust.” Isaiah 5:24. “They shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.” Nahum 1:10. They shall consume “into smoke.” Psalm 37:20. “The day that cometh shall burn them up,” and “they shall be ashes” under the feet of the righteous. Malachi 4:1, 3. “They shall be as though they had not been.” Obadiah 16. “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.” Psalm 37:10.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.21

    One who reads these texts may well wonder how those who profess to believe the Bible implicitly can hold to the doctrine that the wicked shall exist in torment to all eternity. That doctrine squarely contradicts every one of the texts which we have quoted. Yet the contradiction is no more emphatic than was the serpent’s contradiction of the words of the Lord, when he said to the woman, “Thou shalt not surely die.” Genesis 3:4. This was the origin of the doctrine of eternal life for the wicked. It is the only doctrine held by religionists, that can be traced directly to the devil. His object in inventing this doctrine was to induce Eve to transgress the command of the Lord; and it has been for the purpose of holding men in the bondage of sin, that he has kept the doctrine prominently before all mankind ever since.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.22

    In Ezekiel 13:22 we have the testimony of the Lord on this subject. When threatening punishment upon certain evil ones, he says it is, “Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.” Let us see how this result has been accomplished.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.23

    We do not know the exact motive of the one who introduced this doctrine of eternal life for the wicked, into the Christian church. It was no doubt mainly a result of his heathen training, and without any definite motive. But so far as he had any definite idea, it was designed to deter men from sin and to frighten them into repentance. This is why all denominations have advocated it in times past. We have often heard it said by ministers, that if the doctrine of eternal torment were not preached, sinners would have no fear of the consequences of sin. Just as if the Lord did not know what he was about when he made death the penalty for sin! The Lord has said, “The wages of sin is death,” and, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die;” but these persons say, in effect: “No, no, Lord; you must not tell people that for if you do they will all keep sinning.” And so, making light of the real penalty, and ignoring the love of God as the great factor in turning men to righteousness, they presume to improve upon his word.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.24

    And so the doctrine of eternal torment was for many years taught in all its horrible enormity. People accepted it as the word of God, because the priests and ministers said that it was such. Thousands were frightened into a nominal profession of Christianity, and to the infliction of severe punishments upon themselves, thinking by so doing to avert the wrath of God. It is safe to say that no real converts were made in consequence of the propagation of this doctrine; but “the church” gained immense sums of money by the sale of “indulgences,” or releases from punishment, to poor, deluded sinners; this money was spent by the popes in self-aggrandizment and riotous living, and the devil was doubtless satisfied.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.25

    But there was always a class of people who, believing that the word of God taught this horrible doctrine, repudiated the Bible entirely. They would have nothing to do with a book which taught, as they supposed, such barbarous cruelty. And thus the doctrine has fostered infidelity. Others believed the doctrine, and settled down into stolid indifference, while others determined to have as good a time as possible while they were on earth. The terrible French Revolution, when all religion was proscribed, and God and the Bible were insulted and ignored, was a recoil from this terrible doctrine of eternal torment. And now, in our day, we find that the church itself is passing from that extreme of error, to the other extreme. Instead of being the leading topic of sermons, as formerly, the doctrine of eternal torment is seldom mentioned. On the contrary hundreds, yes thousands, of ministers who are called “orthodox,” openly hold that God will not punish anybody, or that if he does, it will only be for a time, and that then all men will be restored to his favor. Now anybody who stops to think can see that if men believe this, there is absolutely no incentive for them to change their course of life. The fear of punishment has been taken away, and if they are taught that all men will ultimately be saved, whether they now wish to be or not, they can see no necessity for believing on Christ. And so we see the object that Satan had in the beginning is attained, the wicked are strengthened in their wickedness and carnal security, by the promise of life. The safest and the best way is to hold and teach only the simple truth, and leave the results with the Author of truth. E. J. W.SITI January 29, 1885, page 70.26

    “How It Was Done, and Why” The Signs of the Times, 11, 5.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Sunday-schools of the country are now engaged in studying the book of Acts, having recently begun with the twentieth chapter, where they left off six months ago. That chapter notes a certain meeting that was held by the disciples, on the first day of the week, and it was to be expected that many lesson commentators would make as much out of it as possible, to bolster up Sunday observance. In looking over the list, we find that they are all about the same. The following from the N. Y Independent, as of Dec. 25, 1884, is a fair sample of the whole:-SITI January 29, 1885, page 72.1

    “At Troas we find the brethren assembled on a Sunday. Indeed the early churches there was an observance of the seventh day and the first day both. The observance of the seventh day has never been formally abrogated; but it died out gradually, as the converted Jew of to-day does not circumcise his children, though the command to circumcise has never been formally repealed. Among the converted Gentiles the Lord’s Day [by this term the Independent means Sunday, and not the Sabbath.] would naturally command a more general observance then the seventh day, and as Christianity ceased to make converts among the Jews, but increased among the Gentiles, the observance of the first day became general and that of the seventh was gradually discontinued.”SITI January 29, 1885, page 72.2

    In nothing else would scholars, such as the editors of the Independent, tolerate jumping at conclusions in this way. A single meeting on the first day of the week is accepted as proof that Sunday was the regular day of worship among the early Christians. If this be logic, what conclusion must we draw from the fact that, beginning with the day of Pentecost, they held meetings every day? The Sunday controversy affords proof that the keenest logicians may be led by self-interest to take leave of logic, and reason like infants. Let us notice in detail the Independent’s position on the introduction of the Sunday into the Christian church.SITI January 29, 1885, page 72.3

    1. “In the early churches there was an observance of the seventh day and the first day both.” Well, then, if we are to be guided by the practice of the early church, why do not all the churches now observe both days? Why is it that the Independent, which believes in following the example of the early church, has omitted one important item? One thing is certain: The Independent has no ground on which to condemn Seventh-day Adventists. It acknowledges that Christians generally have departed from the custom of the early church, which it regards as authoritative. For our part we make no claim to follow a certain course simply because someone did so long ago. The Scriptures are the only guide, and we can read them and understand them as well as people ever could.SITI January 29, 1885, page 72.4

    2. “The observance of the seventh day has never been formally abrogated.” But it was formally enjoined, and is therefore still binding. “Yet [the observance of the seventh day] died out gradually.” Will the Independent please tell us what constitutes sin? Is it violation of law, or violation of custom? Among certain nations the worship of the true God gradually died out, until it ceased altogether. Must we conclude that in those countries the old law which says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” is not binding? that the worship of titles is alright? Why cannot people remember that the command, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil,” is for all time, and that wrong cannot be made right, no matter how many people practice it. The New Testament bears this testimony: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. Modern and uninspired teachers would have us accept this version: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also custom; for sin is the transgression of custom.” We do not accept this new version. “The older is better.” If the law enjoining the observance of the seventh day has not been abrogated, then everyone who does not observe the seventh day is, to that extent, a sinner. With many, such action may be a sin of ignorance, but it is a sin nevertheless.SITI January 29, 1885, page 72.5

    But the Independent claims to present a parallel to the neglect of Sabbath observance. It says: “It died out gradually, as the converted Jew of to-day does not circumcise his children, though the commandment to circumcise has never been formally repealed.” If a text could be found which should say, “Sabbath-keeping is nothing,” as 1 Corinthians 7:19 says of circumcision, how readily it would be quoted. Of circumcision Paul says: “For he is a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is all word and deed flesh; but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter.” Romans 2:28, 29. If now the Independent could find a text, saying, “For he is a Sabbath-keeper, who observes the seventh day; ... but he is a Sabbath-keeper, who observes the first day,” then it would have as good ground for Sabbath desecration as it has for not practicing circumcision. The Independent well knows that there is no point of comparison between circumcision and the Sabbath. By the style of argument which it uses, every one of the precepts of the moral law may be trampled upon without sin. The Spiritualist says, “Whatever is, is right;” that is, custom and the inclination must be allowed to settle questions of right and wrong. “Oh, no, says the Independent, “You must not say so of everything; that is true only when applied to the fourth commandment.” But it will not be long before Christian people who give a custom an inclination as reasons for disregarding the Sabbath of the Lord, will find the same argument thrown back on them concerning the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments. Those who thus set at naught a portion of the law of God, are opening the flood-gates of the iniquity, and will certainly be responsible for the wickedness that follows.SITI January 29, 1885, page 73.1

    3. “Among the converted Gentiles the Lord’s Day [Sunday] would naturally command a more general observance than the seventh day.” Of course it would; and so, likewise, falsehood, and demon-worship accompanied by licentious rites would naturally command more general observance than would the pure worship of Jehovah; but that would not make such practices right. In the last part of the paragraph quoted, the Independent has let us into the true secret of the change from the seventh to the first day of the week. The first day was the heathen festival day. Around that day clustered memories of wild revels in honor of their god; in fact, all their old religious prejudices were naturally in favor of that day, and as they increased in numbers until the true disciples became only a small minority, the old customs were indeed gradually brought in. And because a horde of them chose to call themselves Christians while retaining their heathen customs, Christians of to-day think that they must follow their example. Dr. Killen, in “The Ancient Church,” p. 440, gives us another custom for which these nominally converted heathen manifested a natural fondness. He says:-SITI January 29, 1885, page 73.2

    “The code of heathen morality supplied a ready apology for falsehood, and its accommodating principles soon found too much encouragement within the pale of the church. Hence the pious frauds which were now perpetrated. Various works made their appearance with the name of some apostolic man appended to them, their fabricators thus hoping to give currency to opinions or practices which might otherwise have encountered much opposition. At the same time many evinced a disposition to supplement the silence of the written word by the aid of tradition.”SITI January 29, 1885, page 73.3

    And the successors of those persons are now numbered by the million. Tradition is now exalted far above the law of God. Why do not the churches adopt lying as a Christian ordinance? It was practiced in the early church. To be sure there is a law against lying, and it was never formally abrogated, but the converts from among the Gentiles had a natural tendency to lie, and so a strict regard for truth began gradually to die out. If it is right to keep Sunday, then it is right to lie and deceive, for both practices stand on the same foundation, namely, the custom of the majority. Verily, “The customs of the people are vain.” E. J. W.SITI January 29, 1885, page 73.4

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