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    October 21, 1886

    “Abominable Prayers” The Signs of the Times, 12, 40.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In the Sunday School Times we find, in answer to a question asked by a correspondent, a little story which we think aptly illustrates the heading of this article. The incident is thus related by the Times:-SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.1

    “A story is told of a New England deacon, who was visited by a committee of the church, in view of his drinking habit. He met the visitors cordially, and said, in substance: ‘I’ve asked the Lord’s help in this thing, and I’ve left the case with him. I was afraid I was drinking too much; so I prayed that, if I was in any danger of that, the Lord would take away my love for liquor. But my liking for it holds good, and so I know the Lord approves my drinking.’”SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.2

    We think all will allow that such a prayer was little, if any, less than insult to God. The Bible declares God’s hatred of drinking habits, when it says that no drunkard shall enter the kingdom of Heaven. A drunkard is one who drinks immoderately; and this man was a drunkard, for he was drinking so much that he was getting alarmed at himself. Then why should he pray for wisdom concerning a thing that is plainly revealed? He knew he was doing wrong; he did not want to stop, and so he made conditions for the Lord, and because those conditions were such that the Lord could not comply with them, his conscience was satisfied. He had his mind made up beforehand what he should do, and might better have gone ahead without the mockery of prayer; the prayer was simply a taking of God’s name in vain, and could not be other than an abomination to the Lord.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.3

    We think no one will disagree with our conclusion on this matter; and yet there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, who are insulting the Lord in the same manner that the drinking deacon did, yet they cannot see the similarity, because the subject of their prayers is different. We have often heard people say, in substance: “I know that the ten commandments are God’s and unchangeable laws, and that the fourth commandment requires the observance of the seventh day, and of no other. I know that the Bible does not sanction the observance of Sunday. There was a time when I was considerably troubled over this matter-whether I ought not to keep the Sabbath instead of Sunday. So I prayed earnestly to the Lord that I might know my duty. I prayed that if it was wrong for me to keep Sunday, the Lord would let me know; and since then my mind has been perfectly at rest. I am in the Lord’s hands; if he wants me to keep the Sabbath, he will let the know.”SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.4

    The least that we can say is, that such a prayer, offered under such circumstances, is an insult to the Lord. It is as though a child, knowing what his father had plainly and expressly commanded him to do, should turn right around and ask for some sign by which he might know that the father meant what he said. In such a case the reader can readily imagine what that “sign” would be. So God has given us explicit commands in his word. That word is all that he has given us for a guide in this life, and it is a sufficient guide, for it is able to make us wise unto salvation. That word is for a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path. Of the law of the Lord it is said that it “is perfect, converting the soul,” and that to keep the commandments is “the whole duty of man.” These commandments are very plain, so that any child can understand them, and now for anybody to pray to the Lord to know if it is to his duty to keep them, is an insult to the one who gave them.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.5

    The one who offers such a prayer virtually says: “I don’t think the commandments of the Lord are sufficient guide for me; they may do for others, but I require something better.” Or else he says: “I don’t believe the Lord really means what he says.” In either case, he turns away from the law, and treats it with contempt. Now does God hear the prayer of such? Hear what is said: “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” Proverbs 28:9. Then if the answer to such a prayer comes in the shape of peace to the one who persists in violating the commandment, who has answered it? Not God, for “he cannot deny himself.” It must be none other it than the great adversary of the truth.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.6

    But will the Lord give any “sign” to such ones that he means what he says? Yes; numerous instances of this are given, but we will cite only one. Balaam was expressly told by the Lord not to go with the servants of Balak, to curse Israel. But he wanted to go, and so he asked the Lord if he really meant what he said. As a result, he became satisfied in his own mind that he might go, and he went. As a “sign” that the Lord meant what he said, Balaam was all but slain in the way, being saved only by his faithful beast, and was finally destroyed with the sword. Numbers 31:8; 2 Peter 2:11, 12; Jude 11.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.7

    And so all who seek for peace in a way contrary to the law of God, shall perish. “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.” Proverbs 21:16. Paul, speaking of those who deliberately turn away from the only source of truth, and try to find peace in a way that God has not appointed, says that “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.8

    Reader, do you want Satan, instead of the Lord, to answer your prayers? If not, then pray only in accordance with God’s word. Pray, as did David, “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wonderous things out of thy law.” Such a prayer, offered in sincerity, God will not fail to answer. And when the Spirit makes known to us “the deep things of God,” and we delight in the law of the Lord, we have this precious promise: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what he will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:22. Let us never in our prayers take God’s name in vain. W.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.9

    “Real Knowledge” The Signs of the Times, 12, 40.

    E. J. Waggoner

    It is a very common thing to speak of the apostles with the exception of Paul, as uneducated and ignorant men. The enemies of the Bible think to disparage their testimony in this way, and many people who reverence the Bible unintentionally work to the same end by speaking of the apostles as ignorant. Only a short time since we read a statement from a minister, in which “the uneducated Peter” was spoken of. There is just one verse in the Bible which seems to give color to this idea, and that is Acts 4:13, which says that the council heard the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men. But this is an unfortunate translation. The word rendered “ignorant” means “private,” and the meaning is that the council saw that Peter and John, being Galileans, had not studied in their schools, and they marveled that private citizens who had not sat at the feet of the rabbis, and learned their fine-spun theories, should be able to talk with such power and wisdom.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.10

    If we consider for a moment who the apostles were, we shall see that it is a mistake to regard them as ignorant men. They were Jews, and every Jew was expected to give his child a knowledge of the law. The commandment found in Deuteronomy 6:7, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up,” was scrupulously obeyed by every pious Jew. Thus Paul says that Timothy had from a child known the Scriptures. Every Jew, no matter how humble his circumstances, had a knowledge of the law.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.11

    Now think what this implied. It meant that he had a knowledge of the Jewish people, and this comprised also a history of contemporary people. He would know as much about the creation and fall and other events of that time as it is possible for anyone to know. The history of the children of Israel in Egypt would make him familiar with the Egyptian people. He would also be familiar with the Assyrians and Babylonians and Persians and the Grecians, with all of from the Jews had been intimately associated. In short, the humblest Jew must have had a pretty good knowledge of the history of the world. Not only this, but in the Old Testament he would find literature which cannot be equaled in the world. In the psalms and the prophets he would find the choicest poetry and the most sublime descriptions. The one who had made the Old Testament his daily study could not have failed to acquire a good use of language. In the colleges of the present-day young men are engaged for several years in studying the writings of the ancient Greek and Roman authors. They do not do this for the history with which those writings contain, for they could learn that in one-twentieth part of the time in their own language, but they engage in the study of the classics in order to discipline their minds, and to gain a good style of expression. All this may be gained from the study of the Bible, which, as is allowed even by infidels, contains the finest specimens of literature to be found in the world.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.12

    In addition to this knowledge, every Jew was required to give his child some trade by which he might be self-supporting; but the theoretical and the practical were combined. The apostles were not exceptions to this rule. They were practical men, able to transact business and to provide for themselves.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.13

    But all this was the least of their education. For three years and a half they had been in constant communication with Jesus. Day and night they had been with him, listening to his conversations and receiving instruction from him, and this was a schooling such as other men on earth ever enjoyed. If at the present day a young man could have as his tutor such a man as Dr. McCosh or some other learned professor, and could be with him constantly for three or four years, and could receive daily personal instruction from him, people would envy that young man as one who was having exceptional advantages. But the apostles had the greatest of all teachers, the Son of God himself,-the One of whom even his enemies said, “Never man spake like this man.” To be sure, the Pharisees spoke slightly even of him, saying, “How knoweth this man of letters, having never learned.” In their selfish bigotry they thought that their schools, which were devoted to sophistry and vain philosophy furnished the sum of wisdom. But as we read the life of Christ we find that the most crafty and subtle and learned men were no match for him. Without any hesitation he answered their most perplexing questions, and always in the choicest and most direct language.SITI October 21, 1886, page 630.14

    In this school the apostles studied for three years and a half, until they had unconsciously by themselves acquired habits of thought and speech similar to his. Then they received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which illuminated their minds and brought humbly to their remembrance all that they had previously learned. And so when they stood before the Jewish rulers, their enemies marveled that plain unassuming private citizens who had never attended the Rabbinical schools should be able to speak with such power and wisdom: “and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” In spite of their hatred to Jesus, the Pharisees knew that nowhere else could those men have received the education which they had. Surely the apostles were anything but uneducated men.SITI October 21, 1886, page 631.1

    In this we may find a lesson that will be profitable to us. People are often heard complaining of their lack of advantages. They excuse themselves from responsibilities in connection with the cause of God, because they have no education. Many think that they are excusable for not having a thorough knowledge of the word of God, because in early life they had no educational privileges. But none are exempted from not knowing the things which God has revealed. All may have true wisdom. Says the psalmist, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.” Psalm 111:10. And this means just what it says. The one who studies the word of God with an honest, humble mind, will have wisdom which will be acknowledged even by the unbelieving world. Hear what Moses said to the Israelites:-SITI October 21, 1886, page 631.2

    “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 4:5, 6.SITI October 21, 1886, page 631.3

    From this we learn that it was not piety alone that the people were to obtain from the study and practice of the word, for the world does not usually hold that in very high esteem; but in addition to piety they would have wisdom that would be acknowledged as such by worldly-wise men. We find the same thing exemplified to a high degree in the case of Solomon. When he was given his choice of what he would receive from the Lord, he said, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad;” and the Lord said: “Because thou hast asked this thing.... behold, I have done according to thy word; lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.” 1 Kings 3:9-12. He who carefully studies the Proverbs of Solomon will be convinced that the Lord fulfilled his promise. All the wisdom of the world, and more too, is condensed in that one book. There is not a thing in human affairs, no business matter of any sort, that is not wisely treated of in the book of Proverbs. The man who makes that book his daily study, and profits by what he learns, will be wise in the sight of both God and man. Thus we profit by the blessing given to Solomon.SITI October 21, 1886, page 631.4

    Leaving out the matter of inspiration,-the special illumination which the apostles had by the Spirit,-we have the same means of education that they had. We cannot see Jesus in the flesh, but we can nevertheless walk with him. In the Old Testament we have the Scriptures that the apostles had, and in the New Testament we have the words of Jesus to the apostles. If we make them our daily study, we may become imbued with their spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to all who ask for it in faith, for “the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” In Christ are hid “the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Why, then, if we have Christ, may we not have these treasures of wisdom and knowledge? We may if we search for them. We must not suppose that these treasures are to be received without our making any effort to obtain them. If treasures are hid in Christ, they can of course be found only by the one who has Christ; but since they are hid, even he must labor for them. There is no reason why the most obscure Christian should not be uninformed in all matters of which the Bible ...; and being thus informed, his judgment in temporal matters, must be improved. See 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” W.SITI October 21, 1886, page 631.5

    “From the Woodland Camp-Meeting” The Signs of the Times, 12, 40.

    E. J. Waggoner

    We have been in camp ten days, but the time has not seemed half that long. Indeed, it seems as though the meetings began no longer ago than yesterday. With had beautiful weather until today, when we have had quite heavy showers; but as the meetings to-day have been most excellent, and there has been no complaining because of the rain, we may say that we have had the very best kind of weather for our camp-meeting. As the plain testimony has been given, and confession of sin has been made, God has shown his willingness to bless in an especial manner. From the first, the meetings have increased in interest, and there have been continued and increased evidences of the presence of the Spirit of God. We have not space on this last page to give anything like a full report of the meetings, even thus far; and as we do not want to spoil the full report that will appear next week, we can only say that the camp-meeting thus far has been good, better, best; and we expect that there is better yet to come. California has never before had so good a camp-meeting. To show that we speak within bounds, we will say that Elder Haskell, who has attended hundreds of camp-meetings, says that this one is the best that he is ever attended. To the Lord be all the praise. W. Woodland, October 16.SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.1

    A later report still further vouches for the earnest spirit of the meeting but the announcement that over one hundred thousands of dollars had been pledged to various branches of the cause by Seventh-day Adventists.SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.2

    “Back Page” The Signs of the Times, 12, 40.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A reader of the SIGNS asks: “Who was the author or creator of sin? Was it Satan or God? If it was God, the Creator of all things, how does he vindicate his goodness? what motive had he for doing so?”SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.3

    Christ said Satan: “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44. Everything that is right is true, and everything that is wrong is a lie. Therefore when Christ says that Satan is the father of lies, it is the same as saying that he is the father of all evil. God had nothing to do with originating sin. It is entirely out of harmony with his nature, for he is the embodiment of goodness and truth. He cannot lie. It would be an utter impossibility for him to do an evil thing. Whatever he does is right and just (Psalm 111:7, 8), because his ways are the standard of perfection and holiness. He does not have to vindicate his acts to mortals nor give a reason for them. Neither is any mortal required to vindicate the acts of God; they vindicate themselves.SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.4

    As we have said, sin originated with Satan. It cannot be traced beyond him; but how it originated, or how it first sprung up in his heart, no one can tell, for sin is a mystery. See 2 Thessalonians 2:7. A reason can be given for whatever can be explained, for to explain a thing is to give a reason for it. Now since sin would cease to be sin if an adequate reason for its existence could be given, it is evident that the origin of sin cannot be explained further than to say that it originated in the breast of Satan.SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.5

    “I often crave to believe, and cannot,” is what a man says of himself in an exchange. We don’t believe a word of it. If a man wants to believe a thing he can. A man can make himself believe even the baldest lie ever invented. Certainly then, he ought to be able to believe truth which is supported by the most unimpeachable testimony. Such truth is that of the Bible concerning Christ and the gospel. If a man is not a believer, it is because he doesn’t want to believe, he has a greater desire for something with which the truth is incompatible. Some people want to believe and they want Heaven, but they want this earth at the same time; and they can’t have both. If a man really wants to serve the Lord, he will do it. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.6

    Says the Christian Union in answer to a correspondent:-SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.7

    “If you wish to know the ‘mode of baptism’ in the New Testament times, there is little doubt that it was ordinarily, and perhaps always, performed by immersion. Whether this is conclusive as to the mode in which it should be performed in our time, is another question.”SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.8

    Ah, yes. There is no doubt but that in the New Testament times immersion was the only baptism, but then-that doesn’t necessarily indicate that we should so consider it. But when it comes to Sunday, which the Christian Union admits was not in New Testament times considered as the Sabbath, why then-we ought to keep it anyway, out of respect for Christ and the apostles. Very strenuous that “apostolic example” should be followed when the apostles set no example, but when it is known that they certainly did do a certain thing, then do exactly contrary. Oh, for consistency!SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.9

    Esau deliberately sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. The Bible says that he “despised his birthright.” All the brilliant possibilities that were in store for a wealthy prince of the East were counted as nothing compared with a paltry meal of victuals! We say, How could he be so foolish? He was not so near death but that he could have stood it a little longer without food. While he was bargaining with Jacob, he might have been preparing food for himself. The whole Bible-reading world has doubtless been united in condemning Esau for his foolishness. Yet there are thousands and tens of thousand of Esaus in the world to-day when a man says: “I know I ought to keep the Sabbath, but my business would be ruined if I should; I can’t do it,” he is trading Heaven and all its joys for a portion of this world, which he has no assurance of holding for a minute. He virtually says that an eternity of heavenly bliss is not worth so much in his estimation as a few years of earthly trouble. He despises the heavenly inheritance. How can such a one speak lightly of Esau?SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.10

    One of the most common objections against keeping the Sabbath of the Lord is this: “If I should keep the seventh day of a week I couldn’t make a living. Well, what of it? Is this short life of so much more importance than obedience to the commandments of God? When a man deliberately decides that it is, from that moment his life is not worth the living, since the glorifying of God is all that makes this life of any value. But suppose keeping the commandments of God should involve the loss of life; thousands of men and women have found that they couldn’t “make a living” if they obeyed God, yet they chose death at the stake rather than disobedience to God. People honor the martyrs, and think that they too would have stood up boldly for the faith, and then refuse to do a simple duty for fear they may suffer some inconvenience. The same people will often suffer ten times the inconvenience from having their own way, with the prospect before them of losing the only life that is worthy of the name-eternal life. “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that if ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil-doing.” 1 Peter 3:17.SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.11

    “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” Hebrews 11:24-26. What is that? He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. How few there are who view things as Moses did? They want to enter into the joy of the Lord, and they profess to believe that the treasures of heaven are worth more than those of earth; but they can’t see anything pleasing in the prospect of suffering for Christ. But it is safe to say that those who do not see anything to be desired in suffering with Christ, have no just respect unto the recompense of the final reward. Here is a problem which may be of use in estimating the future happiness of the saints. If reproaches and sufferings for Christ bring more happiness than all things that this world contains, what must be the happiness when “God himself shall be with them, and be there God; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes closed”? If we do not suffer with Christ, we are not joint-heirs with him, and cannot be glorified with him. Romans 8:17.SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.12

    The charm of Christ’s teaching lies in its simplicity. But many theological writers seem to forget that there are people who cannot be edified by huge words and high-flown sentences, or else they think that such people are beneath their notice. As a sample of such writing, we give the following extract from a book entitled “The Transfiguration of Christ“:-SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.13

    “On the resurrection of Christ our cosmology must stand; as on Christ himself, the Logos must stand all anthropology and theology. The resurrection of the Christ of God is that all-inclusive manifestation of the Logos, which in the beginning moved in chaos toward a cosmos, and which at last through that manifestation abolishes the primeval discord of life-and-death, thus giving man his (Cosmos-Logos) cosmology.”SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.14

    We trust that there are very few people on earth who could be edified by such reading. How different from the words of Paul, that master logician: “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:6-10.SITI October 21, 1886, page 640.15

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