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    November 3, 1887

    “The True Standard” The Signs of the Times, 13, 42.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The apostle Paul said: “For not he who commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” 2 Corinthians 10:18. There are innumerable people who will commend themselves, and a great many who can get others to commend them; but the number who are commended by the Lord is very small. And commendation by the Lord is the only commendation that amounts to anything. Self-commendation is in itself an indication of lack of real worth, for true merit is always accompanied by humility. “If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” 1 Corinthians 8:2. Commendation from friends is often liable to be insincere, and even if it is sincere, it represents simply the judgment of those friends, who can know nothing of another’s real character. But while man can judge only from outward appearances, God looks upon the heart, and the one whom he commends is blessed indeed.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.1

    The number of whom we have any record that they were approved of God is very small. Of Enoch it is said that “he pleased God.” Of Noah it is said: “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.” The Lord himself bore this witness concerning Job: “There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.” What a degree of moral excellence must have been attained by Job, to merit such words of commendation from the Lord! The prophet Daniel was told by an angel sent direct from Heaven, “Thou art greatly beloved.” Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, are said to have been “both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” The inspired record says of Stephen that he was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost;” the same record says that Barnabas was “a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.”SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.2

    This is not the complete list of those who are commended in the Bible, yet it comprises the greater portion of such persons. Barnabas and Joseph of Arimathea are the only men to whom the epithet “good” is applied in the Bible, although the same thing is in effect said of the others to whom we have referred. We are inclined to regard these persons as almost a different order of beings from ourselves, and endowed with superior natural gifts; but such is not the case. They were all men of like passions with ourselves, and all the righteousness to which they attained was not due to greater natural endowments, but to their faith. Moreover there is not a person who will ever enter Heaven, of whom the same thing will not be said by the Lord, that is said of these worthies. When the Master returns to reward his servants with an eternal inheritance in his kingdom, he will say to each, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And all may rest assured that this commendation will not be given where it is not deserved.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.3

    What will be the standard by which God will judge of the worthiness of people for this commendation? It will be his own perfect righteousness, for he says: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.” And how may we know whether or not we are reaching out and longing for the righteousness of God? How can we know that our aspirations are not for something which would not please God? Are we left to grope in blindness after something far beyond our knowledge, in our attempt to attain to the righteousness of God? Not by any means. No man hath seen God at any time, so that no one can from personal observation judge of his character; but God has given us a law which is the transcript of his character, so that we may know what we must do in order to be approved of God. The righteousness of God is the law of God. See Isaiah 51:6, 7. That law is a perfect law, and the man who keeps it will be a perfect man.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.4

    But while no man has seen God, we have on record, for our example, the life of One who kept the law in all its fullness. Christ’s life was the law of God personified. His life was a perfect interpretation of the law. Whoever is in any doubt as to whether or not the law of God will sanction a certain action, has only to ascertain whether or not Christ ever did such a thing, or if it would be consistent with his character. Whatever is unlike Christ is contrary to the law of God.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.5

    Christ is the only one who ever lived on earth who never did an act that was contrary to the law of God; and he is the only one through whom others may attain unto like perfection. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” There is much talk in certain quarters to the effect that we are to look to Christ for instruction, and not to the law. Just as though there were antagonism between Christ and the law! Did not Christ say, “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart”? People who talk about leaving the law and accepting Christ, have very limited ideas of the character and work of Christ. They who leave the law, forsake Christ; and they who are out of Christ are far from the law. And so those who at last stand “without fault” before the throne of God, will be complete in Christ; and although the Lord himself will commend them before the assembled hosts of Heaven and earth, they will never commend themselves, but will ever say: “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood [not by absolving us from obedience to the law], and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” W.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.6

    “A Question of Principle” The Signs of the Times, 13, 42.

    E. J. Waggoner

    From Roswell, D. T., we have received the following question:-SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.7

    “Is the use of tea and coffee forbidden by your church? If so, is it Bible doctrine, or doctrine of man?”SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.8

    In answer to this we can say that the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not forbid the use of tea and coffee, nor does it either forbid or command any other practice. It has no authority to make commandments and impose restrictions. “There is one lawgiver,” and “the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is king.” Isaiah 33:22. There is none other than God that has authority to give commands. True, the parent may command his child, but only insofar as God has gone before in giving commandment; and in that case he is only in the place of God to the child. But even the parent has no right to issue commandments that originate with himself alone, and which are outside of the commands of God. So we may say truly that the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not forbid stealing, Sabbath-breaking, or murder, although it does not admit to its fellowship anybody who is addicted to any of these sins. The Lord forbids murder, Sabbath-breaking, stealing, etc., and all the church has to do is to conform to his requirements; none who disregard the requirements of God are followers of Christ.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.9

    But that we may not be misunderstood, we will state plainly the status of tea, coffee, and tobacco among Seventh-day Adventist. The use of the two former is discouraged, so that it is very rare in the denomination; but it is not considered a disciplinary offense to use them; but the use of tobacco is regarded as a disciplinary offense; none who use it could be received into the church, any more than one could who is addicted to gambling. The reasons for this will appear in this article. Which will serve to answer several questions that we have received.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.10

    In the first place, why should not the tobacco-user be received in the Christian fellowship? The Bible does not say anything about tobacco; then why should any church presume to say that its use is not consistent with pure Christianity? These questions are often asked concerning tobacco, and still more often concerning tea and coffee; but we prefer to consider tobacco first, in order to bring out a principle. The very same questions might also be asked in regard to whisky. The Bible nowhere says anything about whisky. “But,” someone will say, “it does say that drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven, and that shuts out the habitual user of whisky.” Exactly; but while the strict etymology of the word will not allow the word “drunkard” to be applied to one who does not drink, it is a fact that the use of tobacco is fully as injurious and degrading as that of whisky.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.11

    The use of tobacco is also forbidden by the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” There never was a Hindoo devotee who was more of an idolater than is the confirmed tobacco-user; or an African slave who was held in more degrading bondage. When a man will spend more for tobacco than for bread for his family; more for the vile weed by which he makes himself disgusting to all clean people, than he does for the support of the gospel, we affirm that he is an idolater, although he may profess to be a Christian. He allows his pipe or plug to come before God. And we venture this further assertion, that there is not in this whole world a devotee of the weed who does not think more of tobacco than of any other one thing, not excepting his family or his God. If that assertion be true, all will admit that the tobacco-user is an idolater; and we propose to show not only that it is true, but that it cannot by any possibility be otherwise; so that the habitual tobacco-user must necessarily be an idolater, and consequently a sinner in the sight of God.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.12

    One fact alone is sufficient to prove the assertion, and that is that the habitual tobacco-user cannot think of anything but tobacco, if he is deprived of it. The caresses of his wife, the prattle of his children, the appeals of the ambassador for Christ, even the demands of his business, or the condition of stocks,-all are alike unheeded if he has been deprived of tobacco for twenty-four hours. Not only are they unheeded, but he cannot by any possibility fix his mind upon them, no matter how hard he may try. The longing for his idol, tobacco, crowds out everything from his mind. Let him have his tobacco, and he feels all right. Men think that they do not make an idol of tobacco, because they scarcely ever think of it. When they feel a craving for it, they supply that craving almost mechanically; but the fact that when deprived of it they can think of nothing else, and that they depend upon it as a stimulus to their faculties, shows that it is before everything else; it is the god upon which they depend.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.13

    Is it possible that a man who is bound with such fetters is a Christian? We say, No. He may say, “Lord, Lord,” but he is not a Bible Christian. The Christian must seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; he must hunger and thirst after righteousness; his condition is described in the words of the psalmist: “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” Psalm 84:2. But the habitual tobacco-user seeks first his tobacco; his flesh cries out for tobacco, above everything else. If he is a professed minister of the gospel, he depends upon his cigar even for the inspiration to make a fervent prayer to write or deliver an elegant sermon; so that even in his professed service for the Lord he depends, not upon the Lord, but upon his tobacco. We say that it is the worst form of idolatry, when tobacco is depended upon to help to do the work of the Lord. And everyone who is addicted to the use of tobacco is held in the same kind of bondage. No man can have the Lord, nor even his family or his business, first in his thoughts, if he uses tobacco. The vile stuff will assert and maintain its claim to have the first place.SITI November 3, 1887, page 662.14

    Once more. The apostle Paul exhorts us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1. Certainly this includes tobacco; for all the other filthiness of which the flesh is capable cannot outrank the filthiness which comes from tobacco-using. Again we are told of those who expect to see Christ as he is, and be with him when he comes, “every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” 1 John 3:3. The Christian must be like Christ; but can anyone imagine Christ using tobacco? The very thought is abhorrent, and seems almost blasphemous. But if tobacco-using were not a sin, it would not be difficult to associate it with thoughts of Christ, for sin is the only thing that is foreign to Christ’s nature.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.1

    Finally, we have the express injunction: “Whether therefore ye, or drink, or the whatsoever ye do, to all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31. But the man who can tell how smoking or chewing tobacco glorifies God, has never been born. All these things plainly show that the use of tobacco is a sin, and utterly inconsistent with a Christian life, although the weed is never once mentioned in the Bible. The Bible nowhere says that we should draw a man out of a well if he should be so unfortunate as to fall in; but the man who should refuse to perform such an act, would once be set down as no Christian. The Bible does not say that you must help a man out of a well, but it does say that you must do to others as you would have them do to you; and that rule has a broad application.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.2

    But what about tea and coffee? Well, they are not mentioned in the Bible, any more than is tobacco; but everything that has been said about tobacco may be said about them, with the exception of the charge of filthiness. The confirmed tea or coffee drinker is as a veritable a slave as the tobacco devotee. How many thousands of women there are who cannot (at least they think they cannot, which is just the same in effect) do anything in the morning until their nerves are toned up by a drink of tea or coffee. They depend upon it as much as the whisky sot does upon his dram. Thousands of men are more morose and fretful, and unable to fix their minds upon their work unless they have their coffee. This is not because the tea or coffee is absolutely essential, any more than the whisky or tobacco, for thousands of other people do the same work, and do it better, without any narcotic war stimulant. Those who depend upon the stimulant would do better work without it, if they would break loose from the habit; but the tea, coffee, tobacco, and whisky create a fictitious want, and the user depends upon the stimulus which they give, instead of upon his own strength, or the help which he should get from God. Now we insist that this is idolatry, no matter what the stimulant. A person cannot at the same time be both bond and free. He who is the slave of appetite cannot be the servant of Christ. When a person cannot even offer an intelligent prayer for help in service or in worship, without first having the stimulus of tea or coffee, we say that the drink, and not God, is the first and even the sole dependence. And as the case of tobacco, so with tea; it demands for itself the first place, and will not allow its slave to perform any work until it has been consulted.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.3

    Again, the statement that drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of Heaven, shuts out the tea inebriate as well as the whisky sot; for although tea is extolled as “the cup which cheers, but not inebriates,” it does have intoxicating properties, and a person may as surely become drunk upon it as upon beer. But it is unnecessary to carry the argument farther. Anyone can see that a practice that is wholly unnecessary, that is enslaving, that demands the expenditure of money that should be given to the cause of God, and that thrusts itself even ahead of God, cannot be a thing that is done to the glory of God.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.4

    The question will then be asked, why the use of tea is even tolerated in the church, when the tobacco-user is excluded. Strictly speaking there is no difference; but we suppose the difference is made partly because the injury caused by tea or coffee is not so great as that caused by tobacco, and that the former are not filthy, as is the latter. It is a sort of concession made to the hardness of people’s hearts, as in the case of divorce in the days of Moses. But that the general rule, “Whether therefore ye, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” would exclude the habitual use of tea and coffee, we do not see how anybody can doubt.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.5

    In this article we have aimed simply to cover general principles. There are many questions that might be raised, and that are even suggested by this discussion, and there are exceptions, etc., which cannot be considered now. But we are confident that no questioning can shake the principle that we have brought out, and that although a practice may not be specifically mentioned in the Bible, it cannot be considered as consistent with an enlightened Christianity if it usurps the place that should be given to God. W.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.6

    “Back Page” The Signs of the Times, 13, 42.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The President has appointed Thursday, November 24, as a day of general thanksgiving.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.7

    We learn that a Seventh-day Adventist Church of thirty-four members has been organized in the Caucasus, in the southeastern part of Russia, and that about fifty are keeping the Sabbath. Thus the light is spreading. May this little company be a center from which rays of light will go to many others.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.8

    The delegates to the General Conference, who live east of Chicago, will leave that city Saturday night, November 5, and will arrive in Oakland Friday, November 11. The first meeting of the session, will be held Sunday, November 13, at 9 A.M. Further particulars have been sent to the churches in California by circular letter.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.9

    A drug clerk at Witchita, Kan., who pleaded guilty to 2,080 counts charging him with illegal sales of liquor, was fined ten dollars on each count, of $20,800 in all, besides being sentenced to seventeen years and four months’ imprisonment. At that rate it will not take long to cause liquor-sellers to believe that prohibition does prohibit.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.10

    Some time ago several hundred printers in New York struck for higher wages, at the command of the labor union. After having been out of work several weeks, with no prospect of any wages at all, the strike committee has kindly allowed the men to go to work again at the best terms they could make, providing they could get work at all. And yet people tells us that slavery is abolished in this country. Of all classes of laborers, printers ought to be too well informed to allow themselves to be driven to and from work like slaves, at the command of men to whom they are under no obligation whatever.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.11

    The Golden Gate has an anonymous correspondent who assumes to know all about Adventism, and who waxes indignant at the way that Adventists use the Bible to expose the Satanic origin of Spiritualism. But through his ignorance of the Bible, he unintentionally tells one truth in the following words: “They deny... that man has no soul or spirit.” That is so; whenever Seventh-day Adventists hear anybody claiming that man has no soul or spirit, they deny the statement. They believe in the soul, body, and spirit, because they believe the Bible. See 1 Thessalonians 5:23.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.12

    It is with pain that the Congregationalist notices an increasing tendency to disregard the sanctity of Sunday. It cites “for example” an account of “a great train load of the Grand Army which drew out of one of the Chicago stations on a Sunday morning, on its way to St. Louis;” and then says:-SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.13

    “Doubtless there was a considerable sprinkling of church members among these Sunday travelers, whose consciences were not quite at ease over what they were doing.”SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.14

    Yes “doubtless” that is so. Therefore, by all means let the civil authority of the nation come to the rescue, and entirely ease the consciences of these Sunday Christians by the enforcement of a rigid, uncompromising Sunday law, that shall compel these church members to do, as church members, what they have not conscience enough to do otherwise. Only let the civil law supply the place of conscience in all these people, then they will all serve the Lord.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.15

    The devil’s agents are doing missionary work a thousand-fold faster than are the ambassadors for Christ. As an instance we cite the statement that 1,500,000 copies of “Peek’s Bad Boy” have been sold. The American only feebly represents the case when it says: “What Canada thistles are to agriculture, this class of literature is to moral improvement.” And this book is only one of thousands that have an immense sale, all of which are nauseous with the fumes of the bottomless pit. We often hear of missionary societies that are in debt, but the devil’s missionary society always has funds on hand, for it can dispose of all its literature at full price. No matter how dull the times are, the devil’s work goes on without diminution.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.16

    The editor of the Christian Church News (Oakland) quotes from the report of our camp-meeting the statement of the Sabbath-school secretary that “sixty-one Sabbath-schools and two Sunday-schools are now in active operation in California,” and says:-SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.17

    “This language would puzzle nine-tenths of the people throughout this country, but they are right in not calling a school a Sabbath-school, in the Bible sense of the word Sabbath.”SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.18

    Quite true; but now a question arises. The “Disciples” profess to make the Bible the standard of their faith and practice, and to use Bible language. Now since “in the Bible sense of the word Sabbath” a “Sabbath-school” can be held on no other day than the seventh day of the week,-Saturday,-then they must admit that that day is the Sabbath, according to the Bible; and, if so, why do they not call it so? If they are consistent, they must call it the Sabbath, and then consistency would demand that they should keep it as such.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.19

    The following question was lately asked the Christian Union:-SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.20

    “What explanation can be made of the biblical statements in the fourth commandment and elsewhere, that God rested from the work of creation on the seventh day, as viewed in the light of the revelations of his works made by science?”SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.21

    And it was answered thus:-SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.22

    “The phrase ‘God rested’ is to be interpreted in the light of the usage of oriental literature, in which poetry, law, and philosophy were all intermingled. It is a poetic figure, to be interpreted, if at all, as indicating that the work of creation was ended, and the work of redemption, fit for the Lord’s rest day, began.”SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.23

    That is to say that the work of redemption was begun before there was any sin, and consequently before there was anybody to be redeemed! And this idea we suppose is to be interpreted in the light of the usage of occidental religious literature, in which science, theology, and nonsense are all intermingled.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.24

    In the Congregationalist of October 20, Professor Pratt, of Hartford Theological Seminary, has an excellent article on “The Selection of Hymn Tunes,” from which we clip the following:-SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.25

    “I think that there ought to be enough likeness between the musical worship of the Sunday-school and that of the church, to engage heartily and intelligently in the latter. Nowhere in the church establishment is there room for the use of foolish tunes, for adapted street melodies, for anything that ministers to a frivolous or rollicking mood. Untold injury has been done in many churches by the use of such tunes, not only to sacred music, but to music in general.”SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.26

    But exactly the opposite sentiment seems to be the prevailing one nowadays. The Sunday-schools and the Sabbath-schools and the churches seem to have accepted the idea that “the devil has the best tunes,” and have adopted tunes which, whether rightfully or not, have the devil’s mark upon them; and instead of taking them out of the devil’s hands, they have simply educated both young and old to love the devil’s music in preference to purely sacred music.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.27

    Now we don’t believe a word of the statement that “the devil has the best tunes.” He has the best tunes for his purpose, but not for the Lord’s work. Satan could not use the tunes which are charged full of reverent devotion, such as Old Hundred, Rock of Ages, Coronation, Ortonville, Ames, Dundee, Day, Boylston, Dennis, and scores of similar ones. These wouldn’t serve the devil’s purpose at all. They don’t have the jingle that he wants; there is worship in them.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.28

    It is true that the hand-organ tunes that have become so popular as “Gospel” hymns, take with the people, and awaken a great deal of enthusiasm. But the enthusiasm is of the same nature as that inspired by a lively waltz, and is not real religious fervor. It is that sort of good feeling that characterizes the members of the Salvation Army, and which the devil would fain have men believe is religious. We know that the sentiment of the age is against the standard music by which people may worship the Lord; but we think that in the matter of music, as well as in other things, it would be far better to educate the people, both young and old, to an appreciation of that which is sacred, than to pander to their natural fancy.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.29

    The Pope, last spring, sent Mgr. Ruffo to England on a mission. Mgr. Ruffo made such good use of his opportunities, and was so well received there, that on his return to Rome he reported that the prospect was very good for the complete restoration of diplomatic relations between the Papacy and the throne of Great Britain. At this the Pope was highly pleased. But now he is very much displeased, and he makes “no secret of his displeasure.” The reason of this is that Mgr. Persico, who was sent to Ireland at the same time that Ruffo was sent to England, has returned with nothing definite accomplished. The dispatch says that “the Pope hoped that a favorable result of Persico’s mission would have contributed much toward rendering easy negotiations for the renewal of diplomatic intercourse with England.” Persico did nothing of the kind, and so the Pope is “much displease.” Well, well, the infallible, the Pope, has his ups and downs, as well as all of us common folks.SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.30

    The Sunday-law movement has received a new impetus, especially in New York and Pennsylvania. The liquor traffic, under the title of the Personal Liberty League, has made a strike in the political field to secure a law under which saloons may be kept open from 2 o’clock P.M. till midnight on Sunday. This of course has stirred up the Sunday-law advocates-Protestants of all denominations heartily joining with Catholics-to renewed efforts and louder demands for the protection of the Sunday. If we did not understand the secret of the whole Sunday-law movement, it would seem to us very singular indeed that there should be such unanimous and hearty co-operation in favor of Sunday prohibition and yet such diffident and divided efforts in behalf of prohibition absolute. There is no use in trying to deny it, there are thousands of professed religionists who care little or nothing for the cause of prohibition except on Sunday. They use the Sunday prohibition as a sort of “high-license” dodge, virtually saying to the liquor traffic, “You let us have Sunday free from liquor-selling, and we will say nothing about it during the rest of the week.”SITI November 3, 1887, page 663.31

    “Judgment and Mercy” The Signs of the Times, 13, 42.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Commentary.
    (November 20.-Matthew 11:20-30.)

    “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” Verses 20-22.SITI November 3, 1887, page 666.1

    Before passing to the main subject, we may note that we have no record of any miracles that were performed in Chorazin, nor is there in the Bible any other reference to that place, except in the parallel passage in Luke. The Scripture is silent concerning those “mighty works” that were done there, and but for this incidental allusion, we would not know that any such place ever existed. This is one of the things that proves that the gospels are not fictitious tales. A writer of fiction would have referred only to Capernaum, or to some other place already mentioned as the scene of mighty miracles; he would not have brought in Chorazin without first recording some miracles wrought there. But Matthew writes as one who deals with things of common report, and that were not done in a corner.SITI November 3, 1887, page 666.2

    The question has sometimes been raised, “If Tyre and Sidon would have repented, if the works done in Bethsaida had been done in them, why were the works not done, and they thus given a chance to repent?” Dean Alford answers this question thus: “Because every act of God for the rescue of a sinner from his doom is purely and entirely of free and undeserved grace, and the proportion of such means of escape dealt out to men is ruled by the counsel of his will who is holy, just, and true, and willeth not the death of the sinner, but whose ways are past our finding out.” But there seems to be an answer that is more satisfactory. First we must remember that God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. See also 1 Timothy 2:4; Psalm 103:8; Exodus 34:6, 7. He himself says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Ezekiel 33:11. Therefore it may be set down as a fact that God never brings judgments upon people without first giving them sufficient warning, and time for repentance. Whenever the wicked are destroyed, it is their own fault, and not because God has not given them enough chance to repent. See the case of the antediluvians. Genesis 6:3; 1 Peter 3:20.SITI November 3, 1887, page 666.3

    In order fully to understand the matter, we must read also these verses, which immediately follow: “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Matthew 11:25, 26. Here the same principle is involved, but in such a way that the answer is suggested. We are not to understand that Jesus rejoiced because any had failed to receive light and knowledge, but rather because there were some to whom it could be revealed. And we are to understand that “these things” were hid from “the wise and prudent,” not because God willed that they should not know them, but because they refused to receive them; and here is the proof:-SITI November 3, 1887, page 666.4

    Paul says, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4. Here we are told that “these things” are hid only from those whose minds Satan has blinded; but Satan cannot blind the minds of any who do not willingly yield to him. See Romans 6:16. Of the Jews the Lord said: “For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Acts 28:27. See also 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12.SITI November 3, 1887, page 666.5

    These texts conclusively show that the truths of the gospel are hidden only from those who close their own eyes. When Christ said that “these things” were hid from “the wise and prudent,” he referred to those who were wise in their own conceit, and not to the truly wise. Of the heathen we are told that “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:22. They were so wise in their own estimation that they did not like to retain God in their knowledge; they felt, like modern Spiritualists, that their reason was fettered so long as they held to “the God-idea;” and so they were left to a mind void of judgment, to do all manner of iniquity.SITI November 3, 1887, page 666.6

    The “wise and prudent” are the worldly wise, of whom Paul said: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” 1 Corinthians 1:21-27.SITI November 3, 1887, page 667.1

    It is very common to hear people speak of men who “know so much that nobody can teach them anything.” It is not meant that the men are really wiser than anybody else in the world, but that they think themselves so very wise that they will not receive instruction from anybody. So with the “wise and prudent” ones of this world. They imagine themselves to be so wise that they need not listen to the teaching of Christ, and so the glorious light of the gospel is hid from their eyes. But one who doesn’t think he knows it all already may be taught. So David says: “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way.” “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” Psalm 25:8, 9, 14. The man who nurses his pride, shuts himself off from receiving the light which if received would guide him to life.SITI November 3, 1887, page 667.2

    Thus it was with the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, and with Sodom. If the mighty works that were done in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum had been done in them, they would have repented; but the mighty works could not be done in them. They themselves made it impossible for the mighty works to be done, because in their wicked pride they would not receive even the first principles of truth. It was just so in Nazareth, of which place it is said: “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:58. Nazareth was proverbial for its wickedness (John 1:46), and as soon as Jesus began to teach there, the people rejected his words. See Matthew 13:53-58; Luke 4:16-20. Before Jesus left them, however, he emphasized the point which we have noted, namely, that unbelief and hardness of heart will shut out the help that God is willing to give, by referring to the cases of the widow of Sarepta and Naaman the Syrian. There were many others as needy as these two, but they were not as willing to receive help. In the city of Sodom everybody was saturated with wickedness. They were wholly abandoned to their own depraved lust, and therefore they were so hardened that the moment the message came to them from God, they mocked and tried to kill the messenger. If their hearts had been submissive enough to listen quietly to truth, mighty works might have been done, and many might have been converted, and the city thereby saved from destruction. But the works were not done, because they would not allow them to be done.SITI November 3, 1887, page 667.3

    The Saviour closed his discourse with the following most beautiful and tender appeal: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”SITI November 3, 1887, page 667.4

    There are two yokes and two burdens. The burden of sin is indeed heavy; if it is not lost at the foot of the cross, it will sink the bearer into perdition. To all who are heavily laden with sin, Jesus says, “Come unto me, ... and I will give you rest.” There is no doubt about this. If they come, he says, “Ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Then why not go? Why carry a heavy burden, when somebody freely offers to carry it for you? In exchange he will give his own burden, which is light. The “yoke of bondage” is a galling yoke. From this Christ will set all free who will come to him, and he says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36.SITI November 3, 1887, page 667.5

    A yoke implies service. Those who are entangled in the “yoke of bondage,” are the servants of sin; they carry the heavy load. Christ’s yoke is easy, but the fact that those who come to him must take his yoke upon them, shows that those who come to Christ must engage in his service. They must be workers. But Christ’s service is not slavery. It is a pleasure to work when the yoke fits the neck. None can be followers of Christ unless they learn of him to do his work. The earlier one becomes used to work, the more efficient will he be; so the prophet says: “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Lamentations 3:27. W.SITI November 3, 1887, page 667.6

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