Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    May 12, 1887

    “Can Inanimate Objects Talk?” The Signs of the Times, 13, 18.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “EDITOR SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Sometime last year I asked you the following questions:-SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.1

    “‘Would it not be wrong, in teaching by allegory or parable, to use one founded on a superstition or false conception of facts, without showing its falsity? Did our Saviour ever use such an allegory or parable?’SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.2

    “You replied:-SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.3

    “‘An answer to the second question would render the first unnecessary; for if Christ did make use of such a parable it would be evidence that the thing was not wrong. We have no knowledge, however, that our Saviour ever based any of his teachings on superstitions or false theories. The story of the rich man and Lazarus is not strictly a parable, but an apologue, like that found in Judges 9:7-15. An apologue is the relation of supposed actions of brutes or inanimate objects, and does not convey any wrong impression, because the hearers, knowing that the things referred to cannot do or say the things credited to them, readily understand that some moral truth is intended to be impressed by it.’SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.4

    “To this I made a brief reply at the time, but as it failed to reach you, I will by request restate some of my objections to your answer.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.5

    “In the first place, you say: ‘If Christ did make use of such a parable it would be evidence that the thing was not wrong’ as if it would be right under some circumstances to do wrong-for the teaching of false doctrine, if only by implication, is certainly wrong. This position is not a good one. But you say you have no knowledge he ever so taught. Neither have I. You call the story of the rich man and Lazarus an ‘apologue.’ Was it one to the Jews? Certainly not. They believed in the conscious existence of the soul (or spirit) after death, and this story, being based on that belief, had to them all the elements of probability-a parable-and would surely tend to confirm them in it. If this is an apologue it stands alone as such among all of Christ’s teachings. Even an apologue should have some foundation in fact as Jotham’s did in the olive, fig, vine, and bramble. W. M. B.”SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.6

    To the above we have to say: 1. We did not imply that it would ever be right to do wrong. What we did say was that Christ could not do wrong, and that therefore the fact that a certain thing was done by him, would be sufficient evidence that such act was not wrong. But in that case we should not be able to find anything in the word of God to condemn such action. In the case under consideration, however, we find no evidence that Christ ever used such a method of conveying instruction, and we do find that he could not have done such a thing, for it would have been a sort of deception.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.7

    2. Our correspondent begs the question entirely, when he says that the Jews “believed in the conscious existence of the soul after death, and this story [of the rich man and Lazarus], being based on that belief, had to them all the elements of probability.” In order to show that the story of the rich man and Lazarus had to the Jews all the elements of probability, our friend ought to prove that they believed in the immortality of the soul, which he simply assumes. There is not the slightest evidence in the Bible to show that the Jews, as a people, believed in the conscious existence of the soul after death. Without doubt many of them had become so tinctured with Grecian philosophy, from their contact with the heathen world, that they had come to believe in the existence of the soul after death; but the sacred writings of the Jews-the Old Testament-give not the slightest warrant for such a belief, and as a people the Jews still clung, outwardly at least, to the religion of their fathers. Therefore it is entirely an assumption to say that the Jews would either gain wrong ideas, or have erroneous views strengthened, by Christ’s teaching in Luke 16:19-31.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.8

    3. Our correspondent says: “Even an apologue should have some foundation in fact, as Jotham’s did in the olive, fig, vine, and bramble.” What foundation in fact did Jotham’s story of the olive, etc., have? Is it true that the trees ever went forth to anoint a king over them? and did anybody in the world ever hear an olive-tree, a fig-tree, a vine, or a bramble utter speech. No; Jotham’s story had not the slightest foundation in fact. Was it therefore calculated to deceive, and to lead the people to think that trees do really talk. Not by any means; for his hearers well knew that it is contrary to nature that inanimate things should talk; they knew that he was using an imaginary instance to illustrate his case, and they saw the point at once.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.9

    So in the case of our Saviour. To illustrate a point he put words into the mouths of dead men. But the Jews knew, both from observation and from their acquaintance with the Scriptures, that it is impossible for dead men to talk or think. They understood the point intended to be conveyed, just as well as the men of Shechem did the words of Jotham; and they were no more likely to imagine from Christ’s words that dead men can talk, than the men of Shechem were to conclude from Jotham’s words that trees can talk. For a dead man to talk would be as contrary to nature as it would be for trees.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.10

    The only way we can understand our friend’s statement that Jotham’s apologue had a foundation in fact, is to suppose that he means to say that in Jotham’s time there were such things as trees, vines, and brambles. Well, so there were such things as dead men in Christ’s time. And so the parallel between the two illustrations is perfect. Neither Jotham nor Christ taught that inanimate objects can talk, and nobody was deceived.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.11

    It is very common for people to read their own beliefs into the Bible. Because the majority of the people of the world believe that the soul of man exists after death, they take it for granted that the Jews always believed so, and that the Bible so teaches. Taken as it reads, and allowed to explain itself, the Bible bears very emphatic testimony against the pagan anomaly of a man being alive when he is dead. W.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.12

    “Women in the Church” The Signs of the Times, 13, 18.

    E. J. Waggoner

    We are asked by a subscriber in Washington Territory to explain how the usages of Seventh-day Adventists, and of many other religious bodies as well, can be harmonized with 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35, and 1 Timothy 2:11, 12. He asks: “Were these commands transient? if so, when did they cease to be binding, and by what authority?” He also asks if 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35, is correctly translated in Conybeare and Howson’s “Life and Epistles of the Apostle Paul.”SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.13

    To the last question we would reply that the Authorized Version gives the sense of the text as well as can be done, and is more nearly literal than is Conybeare and Howson’s rendering. The question on the text itself is worthy of consideration, for many good people think that the Bible forbids women to take part in public religious service. 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35, reads as follows:-SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.14

    “Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.15

    It is worthy of mention that those who are most bitterly opposed to women’s taking part in public service, are inconsistent with their own interpretation of this text. They interpret it to mean that women should never speak in public, either to preach, or to bear testimony in prayer-meeting; yet there is not a church in the land which does not have women singers, and in many of them the singing would greatly languish if it were not for the women. Now it is certain that those who sing do not “keep silence.” We do not think that this is wrong, not a violation of Paul’s injunction; we cite this instance merely for the purpose of showing the inconsistency of those who interpret Paul’s words as prohibiting speaking in meeting, but allowing singing. Now if the injunction to “keep silence” does not prohibit singing, it is reasonable to suppose that it does not prohibit speaking at proper times and in a proper manner, for simple speaking is far more nearly an approach to silence than is ordinary singing.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.16

    And this we shall find to be the case, when we consider a few other texts; for we must always let scripture explain scripture. Read the other text to which our correspondent referred, 1 Timothy 2:11, 12: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” This must certainly be considered as parallel to, and explanatory of, 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35. But there is nothing in it which would stop a woman from bearing testimony in social meeting, or even from preaching. Notice that Paul says: “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over a man,” the idea being of a women’s setting herself up as superior, and assuming authority which does not belong to her. But a simple testimony for Christ is the farthest removed from the assumption of authority, and even the preacher who usurps authority over his hearers, is out of place. The place of the preacher is not to be a lord over God’s heritage, but to act the part of an ambassador for Christ. From the two texts quoted we must conclude that Paul did not mean to prohibit women from witnessing publicly for Christ, but only to have them act with becoming modesty.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.17

    This conclusion is made positive by other texts. In 1 Corinthians 11:4, 5, 13, the same apostle says: “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head; for that is even all one as if she were shaven.” “Judge in yourselves; is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?”SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.18

    In these verses, and the context, the apostle is giving directions for the proper conducting of public worship. Now if in chapter 14 he meant to teach that women should utter no sound in public service, why did he here give directions concerning their praying and speaking in public assemblies? Certainly no directions are needed for the performance of that which is forbidden, and the fact that Paul tells how women should pray and prophesy in public meeting, shows that such action was not forbidden.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.19

    To forbid women any of the privileges of the gospel would be utterly at variance with the spirit of the gospel. Says Paul: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:27, 28. That means that in the gospel plan there is no difference made for race, condition, or sex. A woman stands before God a sinner, just the same as a man; she is responsible for her own sins, and, if saved, must be saved in exactly the same way that a man is. No Christian would think of prohibiting a person from taking part in meeting, on the ground that he is a servant, or because he is of a different nationality from the majority of the members of the church; then no Christian should prevent a person from speaking to the praise of God, because that person is a woman.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.20

    To interpret Paul’s language in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35, as meaning that women should bear no part in public worship is to do violence to the Scriptures which, being inspired, must always and everywhere be harmonious. Thus in Acts 21:8, 9, we read that Philip the evangelist “had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.” Paul speaks of Phebe, “a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea” (Romans 16:1), and in Philippians 4:3 bespeaks the care of the church for “those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other fellow-laborers.” And the mighty and eloquent Apollos was instructed in the way of God by Aquila and his wife Priscilla. Acts 18:2, 24-26.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.21

    In the Old Testament we read of “Miriam the prophetess” (Exodus 15:20) by whom the Lord spoke as well as by Moses and Aaron (Numbers 12:1, 2). We read also (Judges 4) of “Deborah, a prophetess” who judged Israel, and whose wisdom and prudence were esteemed so highly that Barak would not go to war without her counsel and her presence. Still later we read of “Huldah the prophetess” (2 Kings 22:14) to whom Josiah sent when he would inquire of the Lord concerning the book of the law which the priest had found. There is something remarkable about this case. At this time Jeremiah had been prophesying for five years, yet the king sent to Huldah instead of to him. Moreover the king’s messengers to the prophetess were, among others, a scribe of the law, and the high priest, whose lips should keep knowledge, and at whose mouth men were accustomed to seek the law. Micah 2:7. Yet it seems that on this occasion no one had the word of the Lord except this woman.SITI May 12, 1887, page 278.22

    We have considered this matter at this length not only for the satisfaction of our correspondent, but also to meet a very common infidel cavil. There are many men, and more women, of a class who seek to overthrow the divinely-established order of nature, who are accustomed to rail at the apostle Paul as a crusty old bachelor and a misogynist, because of his words to the Corinthians. Hastily assuming that he absolutely forbade women to take any part in public meetings, they think that the present liberty accorded to women is an evidence of the advance which people of the nineteenth century have made over Paul’s antiquated notions. From railing at Paul they naturally come to despise all his writings, and as a natural consequence, they lightly esteem the entire Bible.SITI May 12, 1887, page 279.1

    But Paul was not crusty, he was not a misogynist, and he was not a bachelor. He was a large-hearted, whole-souled, loving Christian, who treats of the family relation with a knowledge and tenderness not exceeded by any writer who ever lived. Instead of commanding women to say nothing in meetings for the worship of God, he encouraged them even to occupy responsible positions. What he did do was to give instruction that would keep them from being classed with the heathen women who, in their eagerness for notice, divested themselves of that modesty which always characterizes true woman, and which the gospel tends to heighten. W.SITI May 12, 1887, page 279.2

    “Back Page” The Signs of the Times, 13, 18.

    E. J. Waggoner

    This is the way that prohibition was defeated in Michigan: The Union Signal states that one of the northern precincts which has a population of 1,200 men, women, and children, returned 1,800 votes against prohibition. One ward in Detroit returned sixteen prohibition votes, when sixty men stated upon oath that they had deposited prohibition ballots in the box. Such frauds alone would be sufficient to show that the liquor traffic is of the devil.SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.1

    The Independent’s report of the revival meetings in Cleveland says: “Solo singing will cease to be a feature in these meetings. Perhaps this feature, for a time so popular will be less popular in evangelistic meetings hereafter, and there will be a return to the earlier practice of the time of Finney, Nettleton, Kirke, and Foote. It has been noticeable here that the people have called for familiar congregational hymns. The effect of this congregational singing has been marked. No solo singing could compare with it for moving power.” This will be found always to be the case. Solo singing has no rightful place in the worship of God. We love to hear a vocal artist, merely as an artist, but praise is a part of worship that cannot be done by proxy. “Praise Him, all ye people.”SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.2

    On the 28th of April, Elder A. T. Jones, of this office, accompanied by Brother M. J. Church, of Fresno, Cal., left Oakland to attend the annual National Reform Convention which was appointed to be held in Pittsburgh, Penn., May 11 and 12. The convention was first appointed to be held in Chicago, but the managers concluded that the atmosphere of Pittsburg would be more congenial. The readers of the SIGNS will be favored with a report of the proceedings and temper of the convention; but the American Sentinel, which Elder Jones specially represents, will contain the fullest reports and also reviews of the subjects discussed. The Sentinel, true to its name, intends to closely watch the work of National Reform (false so called), and those who wish to keep informed as to the growth and character of the organization which, under the guise of Christianity, aims to overthrow religious freedom in this country, should take that paper. Send your address and fifty cents to American Sentinel, 1059 Castro Street, Oakland, Cal., and receive the paper for one year.SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.3

    We often speak of Roman Catholicism in terms of condemnation. We cannot speak of it in any other terms, if we speak of it at all, because the Bible calls it “that Wicked,” the “mystery of iniquity,” the “man of sin,” the “transgression of desolation,” and has declared it to be “full of names of blasphemy,” “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” But while this is true, we would not for a moment be understood as speaking against individuals who are classed as members of that body. We speak against the system of iniquity, and not against those who are deceived by it. That God recognizes many of his people among the members of the Roman Catholic Church, and churches which are allied to her, is evident from his call, “Come out of her, my people.” There are still souls in that body who are honest at heart as Luther was; and no one should despise anyone who, as was Luther, is a zealous devotee, for he may be one of God’s people. Indeed, the servant of God is not warranted in despising any man; those who are willfully following error, are deserving of our pity. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, and living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.”SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.4

    And now comes “a new revelation” which is “vouchsafed to the saints through Joseph Smith the prophet,” which settles the question of Sunday observance, for the present, at least. The “revelation” was given at Kirtland, Ohio, April 11, 1887, and the section to which we refer reads as follows:-SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.5

    “And the Spirit sayeth further: Inasmuch as there has been much discussion in the past concerning the Sabbath of the Lord, the church is admonished that, until further revelation is received, or the quorums of the church are assembled to decide concerning the law in the church articles and covenants, the saints are to observe the first day of the week, commonly called the Lord’s day, as a day of rest; as a day of worship, as given in the covenants and commandments. And on this day they should refrain from unnecessary work; nevertheless, nothing should be permitted to go to waste on that day nor should necessary work be neglected. Be not harsh in judgment but merciful in this, as in all other things. Be not hypocrites nor of those who make a man an offender for a word.”SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.6

    Now that is something tangible. We are inclined to the opinion that the Mormons are ahead of their Gentile neighbors who are still searching around in the Bible, for some “dark saying” which by ingenious manipulation may be made to serve as an “inference” that Sunday is the day that should be observed. Positive testimony, even from questionable authority, is so much more convenient than no testimony at all from reliable authority, that first-day observers as a class will doubtless erelong take points from the Mormons. Indeed they have long since taken steps in that direction, in the manufactured testimony from the Fathers.SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.7

    The Christian at Work says:-SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.8

    “Holy Thursday was observed by the Presbyterians and Congregationalists of Brooklyn in a union service and a communion celebration in the evening. This shows that harmonious state of feeling among the non-episcopal denominations at least in this vicinity. This, we may add, is not the first service of the kind, as it is pretty sure not to be the last.”SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.9

    “Holy Thursday,” indeed! What an expression to be found in a professed Protestant paper! and what a practice for Presbyterians to be engaged in! Whence came its holiness? Oh, “his holiness”-the usurper of Christ’s place as head of the church, the representative of the “man of sin”-has at some time pronounced upon it his benediction, and since the professed Protestants have persistently clung to the Papal Sunday, they are beginning, like consistent persons, to recognize all other Popish festivals. Soon Catholicism and a dead Protestantism that has ceased to protest, will unite on a level (the Catholic level, every time), and then what “a harmonious state of feeling” there will be. No; we are sure that this will not be the last service of the kind. Professed Protestants who will, in spite of all reason, persist in observing a counterfeit Sabbath which has no authority but pagan and papal precept and practice, must sooner or later accept all other festivals appointed by the same authority. We rejoice to know that there are yet thousands who will really protest against the abominations of Rome.SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.10

    The matter of unfermented wine at communion has been much agitated of late in California. We are confident that many oppose the use of unfermented wine at communions, because they either think there can be no such thing, or else they have seen only poor samples of it. For instance, Dr. Thompson, of Berkeley, stated in a recent discussion: Professor Rising of the University has analyzed several specimens of unfermented wine, and has found that they all contained salicylic acid. He told of a young man who had been poisoned nearly to death by using wine in which salicylic acid had been placed as a preservative. He is reported as saying sarcastically that “some churches preferred salicylic acid to alcohol as a preservative agent in their wines, and he was in favor of allowing them to take their choice.” For our part we shall choose neither. Notwithstanding the sarcastic insinuation that wine can be preserved only by alcohol or by some acid which is not much to be preferred, we know that good wine contains neither the one nor the other as a preservative agent, but consists solely of unfermented grape juice, without the addition of a particle of anything else. We can verify this statement to any who doubt it. There is no excuse whatever for churches putting temptation in the way of the work, or of mocking Christ by using decomposed grape juice to represent his precious blood.SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.11

    “Only an Echo” The Signs of the Times, 13, 18.

    E. J. Waggoner

    At the annual convention of the Baptist Churches of California, recently held in Oakland, there was considerable discussion over the “new theology.” “Probation after Death” was the subject of a paper read by Dr. Frost, who styled that unscriptural theory the “great hypothesis,” and said: “The great hypothesis was first in vogue among the nations of heathendom, and there is reason to believe that probation after death is the inspiration of the prince of the power of the air, of the power of darkness. It is an echo of that first sermon preached by the serpent in Eden, from the text, ‘Thou shalt not surely die.’”SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.12

    Nobody could have stated the case more forcibly and aptly. All talk of the “larger hope” of a probation after death is simply the devil’s device to induce men to slight the gospel and become hardened in sin. It is not a new device, for, as Dr. Frost says, it was popular among the ancient heathen; it has been the strength of Roman Catholicism, but it remained for the present generation to attempt to make it appear to be a part of Protestant Christianity.SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.13

    The question that agitates the minds of those who are not willing to see Protestantism wholly paganized is, “How shall we check this growing delusion?” The answer is not difficult, and should be suggested to everyone by the statement which Dr. Frost makes as to its origin. Says he: “It is an echo of that first sermon preached by the serpent in Eden, from the text, ‘Thou shalt not surely die.’” Common sense would say, Stop the preaching from that text, and the echo will necessarily cease. There can be no echo without some noise preceding it; when the noise ceases, the echo will cease. And it is a truth that the theory of probation after death is the legitimate result of the doctrine of the indestructibility of the human soul, which doctrine was first preached by Satan, and which is being repeated by thousands of Christian ministers, who are astonished that there should be any echo. Abandon the unscriptural theory that the soul of man cannot die, and probation after death would need no one to combat it. On the other hand, so long as Christian preachers persistently hold that man is by nature immortal, the hypothesis of probation after death will find a hearing. The echo will not die out so long as that which causes it continues.SITI May 12, 1887, page 286.14

    Larger font
    Smaller font