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    October 6, 1887

    “Why Will They Say So?” The Signs of the Times, 13, 39.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The New York correspondent of the Michigan Christian Advocate recently gave an account of the funeral of Bishop Harris, in the course of which he said:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.1

    “He is not dead. God’s saints don’t die; they only change their modes and forms of life.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.2

    As soon as we read that, certain texts of Scripture came to our mind, and we jot them down for the benefit of those who may have given a hasty assent to the Advocate correspondent’s assertion.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.3

    “And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years of; and he died.” Genesis 9:29.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.4

    Noah was certainly a saint, for we read that he was “a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9); and that by his favor and obedience “condemned the world.” Hebrews 11:7. Yet the inspired declaration is that “he died.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.5

    Of Abraham we read:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.6

    “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years.” Genesis 25:8.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.7

    Of Moses, who was honored of God more than any other man that ever lived, and he was faithful in all the Lord gave him to do (see Numbers 12:6-8), the record says:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.8

    “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 34:5.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.9

    Again we read of another great and good man:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.10

    “And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, been an hundred and ten years old.” Joshua 24:29.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.11

    Samuel was one the whowas consecrated to the service of the Lord at a very early age. While yet a small child he was employed by the Lord to perform a very delicate task, and his whole life was marked by piety and strict devotion to duty. Of him the record is:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.12

    “And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah.” 1 Samuel 25:1. And again: “Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city.” 1 Samuel 28:3.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.13

    Of the prophet Elisha the simple record is:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.14

    “And Elisha died, and they buried him.” 2 Kings 13:20.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.15

    This list might be lengthened indefinitely, for of all the thousands of millions people who have lived on this earth, there have been but two of whom it could be said, “And he died.” These are the words which closed each of the biographies (with one exception) in the fifth chapter of Genesis. But we have selected only a few of whom it could not by any possibility be denied that they were saints.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.16

    Now what shall we conclude? Shall we say that the correspondent of the Advocate is correct? If we do, then we contradict the record concerning all those holy men. This we dare not do; so we shall have to conclude that the writer whom we quoted is misinformed.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.17

    But why should he be misinformed? And why should thousands of others coincide with him in his disagreement with Scripture? For there is not a doubt but that more than nine-tenths of the professed Christians of the world, including theological professors and ministers of the gospel, would never think of questioning his statement. We repeat, Why should they be misinformed? What excuse can they have for flatly contradicting the Bible? We confess that we cannot frame any excuse for them. They can read and the ability to do that is all that is required in order for one to know that both good and bad do die. Nay, it is not even necessary to be able to read, to know this fact, for observation teaches it to everyone. “For he seeth that wise men I, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.” Psalm 49:10. And there is no man so powerful that he can redeem his brother “that he should live forever, and not see corruption.” Verses 6-9.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.18

    Then why will they persist in using such language? If they were blatant infidels, denying the Bible, and even in their mad blindness denying their own existence, we should not be surprised. But it is astonishing that men who profess to love the Bible as the inspired word of God, should so squarely contradict it. The only explanation that we can give is that, not heeding the warning of the apostle, they have been spoiled “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8. Can anybody give a better explanation? W.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.19

    “A Superstitious Practice” The Signs of the Times, 13, 39.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The religion journals and teachers of the day have much to say about a slavish obedience to forms, urging that the observance of forms is utterly opposed to the spirit of the gospel. Such language is heard especially whenever anything is said about keeping the Sabbath “according to the commandment,” being “buried with Christ by baptism into death,” and sometimes even in regard to the Lord’s Supper. The keeping of the seventh day of the week, as the Lord enjoins, is said to be a Judaistic regard for mere form; and whenever it is shown that nothing but immersion is baptism, they will say that to put so much stress upon mere form savors of superstition. We notice, however, that those who thus deprecate form connection with Sabbath observance and baptism, are very zealous sticklers for Sunday observance, and for sprinkling in place of baptism. The natural conclusion is that they have no objection to forms, so long as those forms are of their own choosing.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.20

    Not only is this conclusion just, but it may also be shown that those who thus insist that the form is of no consequence, are indeed most superstitious in their observance of certain forms that are not commanded, and that they regard a mere ceremony much as the heathen regards a charm or an amulet.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.21

    That this is true of the entire Catholic world, needs no proof. It is only necessary to remind the reader of the “relics” which is claimed are possessed of such wonderful healing properties, and of the sign of the cross and the Ave Marias which alone are said to ward off all evil spirits. And instance of this superstitious trust in a mere form recently came to our notice in Oakland. A laborer was caught in the shaft of a mill, and was fatally injured. He was carried to the hospital in an unconscious condition, from which he never recovered. A priest was summoned, who administered the “sacrament” of extreme unction to the unconscious man, who died soon after. If that “sacrament” had not been administered, all Catholics would have entertained at least a doubt as to that man’s future; but having received it, the priest can assure them that he is sure of Heaven!SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.22

    Now no intelligent, candid person would dare affirm that “extreme unction” or anything else performed over a man who is really dead so far as consciousness is concerned, could have the least effect on his spiritual condition. Even Catholics themselves, when pressed, will admit that the performance of rites and ceremonies, or the repetition of prayers, is of no avail if unaccompanied by faith. And yet thousands of professed Protestants, who talk so glibly about the slavish obedience to mere form, show themselves to be as superstitious as their Catholic brethren from whom they have borrowed those forms. In proof of this, we will cite only the so-called baptism of infants.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.23

    As a matter of fact, infants are never baptized except in the Greek Church; they are only sprinkled; but if we did not know how easy it is to be inconsistent, we should wonder that people who argue against immersion, on the ground that the form is of no consequence, and that baptism is simply “the answer of a good conscience,” should be so scrupulous in regard to a mere form where it is impossible that there should be any conscience at all. Two instances will suffice to show that infant baptism is simply the result of gross superstition that is not exceeded among Roman Catholics.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.24

    In a recent note on “Children’s Day,” the editor of the Congregationalist said:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.25

    “The rite of infant baptism can be made most impressive. Last year a young man of more than twenty, witnessed this ordinance for the first time on Children’s Day. As he watched the pastor take one dear little one after another in his arms to bless them, he said, with deep emotion, ‘If my father and mother had done that when I was a baby, I might have been a different boy.’”SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.26

    If the intelligence indicated by that remark was a fair sample of the product of the brain of that “young man of more than twenty,” we should say that he was even then a proper subject for the administration of “infant baptism.” But we must remember that he simply echoed the sentiments of the church people around him, and that his remark is indorsed by the editor of the Congregationalist. Now we ask, What would have been the difference if that young man had been “baptized” when he was a baby? If that ceremony had been performed, and he had been a model youth, to what would the Congregationalist attribute his goodness? It could not be to any volition on his part, but simply to the magic charm of the few drops of water sprinkled upon him, or to the words uttered by the pastor.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.27

    But we have another case in which the element of superstition is so prominent as to be laughable. In the Advance of September 22, A. L. Frisbie, D. D., has an account of a “Sunday with the Stonies,” a tribe of Indians on their reservation near the line of the Canadian Pacific, who have been civilized by missionary effort. He tells of the crowds that flocked to church, of the good order, of the reverence during prayer, and of the enthusiasm with which they sang “Old Hundred,” and continues: “A baby was presented for baptism after the benediction. Fortunately he was asleep, so that he could not express any disapprobation of the proceeding.” And then in all seriousness he goes on to say that mothers and nurses might learn a lesson from the way in which this baby was “put up,” because he was placed in a casket shaped to the tiny form, the whole wrapped and bound, and his limbs, body, and head so snugly cased and held, that he “could not kick if he wanted to.” If he had been awake, he could not have objected to the proceeding except by yelling. “Fortunately he was asleep,” and so the beautiful ceremony was not marred.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.28

    Will anybody tell us how much more solemnity or efficacy there was in that ceremony than in the incantations of the heathen Indian “Medicine Man”? If it is said that this was done in the name of Christ, then we reply that it was simply taking the name of Christ as a charm, and differed not a particle from the act of the seven sons of Sceva. See Acts 19:13, 14. We may add, also, that the mere calling of the name of the Lord Jesus over a person, will have no more effect if done by a Christian minister than if done by a Jewish exorcist.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.29

    In the instance quoted from the Advance the climax of absurdity was reached. There was an intent without power to discern between its right hand and its left; added to this it was bound hand and foot, and then while it was asleep the minister surreptitiously sprinkled a few drops of water upon it, and, behold, it was a Christian baby! This fairly surpasses the method by which the Jesuit missionaries in California converted the Indians a century ago. It is said that the Jesuits which would mount their horses, lasso an Indian, force him into the mission building, and “baptize” him, and henceforth he was a child of the church. If sprinkling an unconscious infant is productive of any good, we cannot see what argument can be brought against the forcible “baptism” of adults. No one can fail to see that the element of faith is entirely excluded.SITI October 6, 1887, page 614.30

    But it is urged when the child is thus baptized, the parents pledge themselves to train it up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and to bring it up in the full fellowship of the church. This is not true. The parents may indeed make the pledge, but it is not the so-called baptism that seals the pledge. If it had anything whatever to do with the pledge, then the parents themselves should receive the ceremony in token thereof. Would not the pledge be just as valid if the ceremony of sprinkling was not performed? Certainly; the sprinkling of the infant can by no means affect the parents; so we see still that the act is one of conformity to a superstition. To make this still more emphatic, we have only to cite the numerous cases that are related, where the child sought the company of the vicious as soon as it arrived at years of understanding, and at an early age left home and parents for a wild career, yet after many years he was converted, because he had been sprinkled in infancy. In such a case the same virtues is attributed to the so-called baptism that the savage attributes to the spell of the sorcerer.SITI October 6, 1887, page 615.1

    But again, it will be said that in such a case the prayer of the parents fail to bring the erring one into the fold, even though he be absent from them. Very good; we know that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” and we are willing to accept that explanation and the cause of the young man’s conversion; but that explanation nullifies the theory that the sprinkling in infancy was of any virtue. Would not the prayers of the parents be just as effectual without the mockery of “baptizing” an unconscious babe? The assumption on the part of the Pedobaptists who relate such cases, is that they would not be; and so again we see that some mysterious magic charm is attributed to the ceremony performed in infancy.SITI October 6, 1887, page 615.2

    We have before us an article from the Advance of July 7, which tells of a very godless man whose wife had died, leaving two very young babes, twins. Two neighboring children became interested in the twins, and desire to have them “baptized,” but the father refused his consent. Finally, as he was about to go to the far West, he gave a grudging consent to have the ceremony performed, but said that it should not be done in a church, and that no clergyman should come into his house. The writer relates the brother’s delight at the consent gained, and says:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 615.3

    “Hurrying home, the young churchman told his sister of his success, adding, ‘And you and I must be sponsors.’ The sister, though sharing his delight and the prospect of bringing these little ones into the fold, shrink from the responsibility of a god-parent where there seemed so little opportunity to fulfill the duties of the office. ‘We can pray for them,’ was the brother’s answer.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 615.4

    Accordingly the ceremony was performed at the home of the brother and sister, and a few days later the babies were taken away, and were not heard of again until twenty years later, when the brother and sister learned that they were active church workers. The writer closes his narrative with the following moral:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 615.5

    “We who are god-parents may not always be able to use personal influence, or make direct appeal to those for whom we are to take care. But these means failing our honest effort, there remains one mighty resource: We can pray for them.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 615.6

    Of course you can; and you could pray for them just as well if they had not been sprinkled. To say that this is not so is to say the sprinkling acts as a charm.SITI October 6, 1887, page 615.7

    We have said that this anxiety for the “baptism” of infants, so that they may be sure to be saved, is a superstition. To show that this is the correct term for it, we quote Webster’s definition of superstition: “Extreme and unnecessary scruples in the observance of religious rites not commanded.” Some may claim that their scruples for infant “baptism” are not extreme or unnecessary; but we hold that the observance, to any extent, of rites not commanded, is unnecessary, and that if stress is laid on them, as though they were necessary to salvation, then it is superstition.SITI October 6, 1887, page 615.8

    We believe that baptism is necessary, for the Lord has commanded it. We would not dare tell any individual that he could be saved without it; indeed, we should tell him that he could not, if, knowing the commands and having the opportunity, he should refuse. But while it becomes us to be baptized, thus to fulfill all righteousness, we remember that “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;” that there can be no righteousness without belief, and that only “he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.” We do not decry the observance of forms, if those forms have been commanded. There is no element of superstition in humble obedience to a divine command, no matter how trivial the required act may seem. But when there is no obedience, because there is no command; when, even if there is a command, the act is done by proxy; and when there cannot by any possibility be either belief or obedience, then we say that devotion to a form is gross superstition, and can result only in evil, for no superstition is harmless. W.SITI October 6, 1887, page 615.9

    “Back Page” The Signs of the Times, 13, 39.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Tennessee camp-meeting will be held October 18-25, at Springfield.SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.1

    The Seventh-day Adventist General Conference for 1887 will convene in Oakland, Cal., November 15.SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.2

    As the California camp-meeting begins the day this number of the SIGNS goes to press, and continues eleven days, there will be no paper next week. The next number will be dated October 20.SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.3

    Wong Chin Foo has contributed an article to the North American Review, entitled, “Why Am I a Heathen?” The article is very long, but we have read it through, and are sure that it could all have been answered in one sentence, namely, “Because I don’t know any better.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.4

    Doesn’t it seem strange that almost the first thing a man does when he sets out to prove that the first day of the week is the Sabbath, is to argue that there isn’t any Sabbath at all, and that it doesn’t make any difference what day a person keeps, or whether he keeps any and all makes no difference whatever, provided he is only fully persuaded in his own mind? Can anybody wonder that Sunday is losing its hold, and that the ministers are loudly clamoring for a State or national law to compel people to keep that day?SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.5

    One Mrs. J. B. Rideout has been riding out and around, the past summer, in California; and through the columns of the Occident is telling about it. Of the size of the towns, she gives exceptionally definite information: as for instance, Cloverdale is a “thrifty little village,” and “Healdsburg is considerable larger than Cloverdale.” Of the people her estimation is equally definite, and as charitable as it is definite. Writing of Healdsburg she say:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.6

    “Here the Seventh-day Adventists have their stronghold. Disregarding the sanctities of the glorious Lord’s-day, they, like the Jews-who do not believe in the divinity of Christ-keep Saturday instead of Sunday.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.7

    How beautifully the grace of charity shines through some people, especially if they be “orthodox!”SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.8

    A meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Reform Association was held in Pittsburg, September 15. The Pittsburgh Times of the 16th give us the following notice of the meeting:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.9

    “The Executive Committee of the National Reform Association held a meeting in the afternoon and evening yesterday at the Y.M.C.A. rooms. Several reports were read and accepted and arrangements were made to continue not less than seven district secretaries in the field. It was also decided to employ a secretary to instill into the foreign population a due regard for Sunday observance. Professor McAllister, who will visit Europe next year, was empowered to use his efforts to bring about an International Congress of the friends of Christian civil government. Arrangements were also made to hold a National Reform Training School at Lakeside next summer, under the direction of Dr. McAllister.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.10

    We have no doubt that Professor McAllister will meet with a cordial reception from the officials of the national churches of Europe. But the most cordial of all receptions received there we expect will be that which will be given to him by the Pope; especially as he goes carrying the commission of Dr. Herrick Johnson, Joseph Cook, and their conferees of the Saratoga Conference, to bring to the attention of Roman Catholic authorities the matter of using the Catholic Bible in the public schools of the United States, wherever the Catholics are in the majority, and to secure “such a basis of agreement if possible.” Of course, as they are to bring this to the attention of the “Roman Catholic authorities,” the proper thing to do is to go to the Pope at once. For isn’t he the sole Catholic authority? Dr. McAllister may possibly get the Pope to send a legate to preside at the proposed International Congress.SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.11

    One of the most disgusting things we have read lately is the Christian at Work’s article on “How Do You Treat the Minister,” in which it roundly scolds those particular people who object to having the minister smoke in the house. It would have people in the invite the minister to smoke even in the guest chamber or the parlor, because the poor man needs all the solace he can get after his arduous labors! The next request will probably be for entertainers to complete the bar-room arrangements, by freely furnishing beer for the tired minister to sip between his whiffs.SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.12

    By the way, we notice in the proceedings of the California M. E. Conference, a resolution asking the General Conference to declare that one who uses tobacco shall not be eligible to the office of bishop. That seems to imply that a smoker may now occupy any position in the M. E. Church. We are glad to see that there is a growing sentiment in that church against the use of tobacco by ministers, but why is it tolerated at all? And if it is desired that bishops shall not use tobacco, why should the use of it by anyone be allowed? Ought a bishop to be better than an ordinary minister?SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.13

    The Pope is a king. He said so himself. And doesn’t that prove it? for isn’t he infallible? In view of his approaching jubilee Leo XIII. has had struck a number of medals bearing the inscription: “Pope Leo XIII., Pontifex et rex.” Now rex is Latin for king, and that inscription means Pope Leo XIII., Pontiff and king. The Roman police found some of these medals on sale in a shop in the city and promptly confiscated them. At this the Vatican makes a decided protest, and argues that the “law of guaranties” recognizes the Pope’s right to the title of the sovereign; and support this argument with the fact that Bismarck in his letter to the Pope about two years ago plainly address him as “sire.” Now in the language of courts, “sire” means “sovereign”; and as a king is a sovereign, as Bismarck called the Pope “sire,” therefore the Pope is king. Don’t you see? But in the argument there is vastly more of spiritual pride, religious despotism, and political arrogance, than there is of logic.SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.14

    The following dispatch from Chicago, dated September 24, tells the story as well as may be:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.15

    “This city has to-day, it is asserted, broken the record in divorce cases. From morning until evening five judges were at work, and over one hundred cases were disposed of. Over two hundred persons, martyrs to wedlock, wanted their matrimonial existence judicially murdered, and four hundred or five hundred sympathizing friends were on hand to witness the executions. It was the biggest day’s work the divorce mills have had in a long time. Marriage knots were shattered with more than the usual celerity of the Chicago divorce courts, and for every possible reason. One of the gray-haired judges, after the adjournment of court, shook his head and said that something was surely wrong these days. He didn’t know what the world was coming to.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.16

    Well might the judge ask what the world is coming to. We think it is fast coming to the state recently desired by the correspondent of an Eastern Spiritualist paper, when the way out of marriage should be as easy as the way in. and that will be a repetition of the times just before the flood, when “they took them wives of all which they chose.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.17

    Right in this line was a case which the dispatches relate as recently occurring in Paris. A boy scarcely fifteen years of age, stole 500 francs from his employer, and eloped with a girl of fourteen, with whom he began living in another city. Soon however, a former lover of the girl, aged thirteen, appeared on the scene, when the fifteen-year-old Lothario, thinking that his mistress was unfaithful to him, stabbed her three times, probably fatally. Isn’t it time to ask, “What is the world coming to?”SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.18

    At the celebration of the centennial of the adoption of the Constitution, at Philadelphia last month, the service was opened with a prayer by a Bishop Potter, of the Episcopal Church, and closed by a prayer and the benediction by Cardinal Gibbons. Because Cardinal Gibbons was invited too, and did, perform this part of the ceremony the Presbyterian Journal says that its “Protestant blood boils.” But if Cardinal Gibbons had not been chosen at all, and Bishop Potter had both opened and closed the ceremonies, then it is altogether likely that the “Protestant blood” of the Presbyterian Journal would not have been increased in temperature to any perceptible degree. While if the Presbyterian preacher had only been chosen in the place of Cardinal Gibbons, it is safe to say that the “Protestant blood” of the Journal would have been so perfectly cool that we might fairly conclude that it was actually reduced below the normal temperature. But the Commission had just as much right to choose Cardinal Gibbons as it had to choose Bishop Potter, or anybody else, to pray. This was a celebration of the adoption of the Constitution. The Constitution recognizes no one profession of religion above another, therefore the Commission had perfect right to choose whom they please, or to choose nobody, to pray, and nobody has any business to object. The boiling of the Protestant blood of our Presbyterian contemporary is only a tempest in a teapot. But even this small tempest shows the excellent wisdom of the makers of our Constitution, in forbidding forever the application of any religious test by the nation to its employees, and in forbidding the National Legislature to make any “law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It is a happy thing for the nation that there is no constitutional channel through which the Protestant blood of the Presbyterian Journal may pour its boiling zeal. And it will be a woful day whenever such a channel shall be created.SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.19

    Dr. McGlynn’s influence is growing. September he delivered an address, of an hour and a half, before the New York Association of Methodist ministers. There were five hundred ministers present beside others. The report further says:-SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.20

    “He presented the Henry George land theories and defended them as representing the cause of humanity. When the speaker had concluded, a resolution of thanks to Dr. McGlynn was offered for his able, eloquent, and instructive address, and wishing him God-speed in his efforts to diffuse the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. This created great confusion, and after a turbulent sceen, which one clergyman characterized as resembling a beer garden, the resolution was amended by a clause that allowed the members to reserve the right of individual opinion concerning the land theories. The resolution was then adopted.”SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.21

    With the fast-growing creed of the worldly power and political preference already displayed by Protestant preachers, we should not be surprised to see yet the Henry George land theories adopted by them, especially in the National Reform compact.SITI October 6, 1887, page 624.22

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