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    September 22, 1890

    “Front Page” The Signs of the Times, 16, 37.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth aong the wise,” but “he that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul.”SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.10

    When the fearful storms, tempests, and cyclones have been pointed to as fulfilling prophecy, thereby indicating that we are in the last days, people have been wont to say, “Cyclones are peculiar to America and its prairies, and have always been prevalent through the centuries past.” But will these same wise heads tell us the same of the European cyclones? Two severe ones of late have made havoc in Switzerland and Styria. These electric storms are certainly a latter-day innovation there. The fact is, as the Bible declare, the earth is waxed old as doth a garment.SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.11

    The Lord said to Israel, “When ye make many prayers, I will not hear,” and the same may be said of the present day. Max O’Rell, the French humorist, says: “The other day I was introduced to an audience with prayer, and in that prayer the Lord was asked to allow my audience to see through my jokes.” Such is not prayer; it is flat blasphemy. Well does the Lutheran Witness says: “Such flippant abuse of prayer-so many sectarian reverends being ready to open any sort of meeting with prayer, and another ‘brother’ closing it with the benediction-and oh, what flippant praying!-is only too common.”SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.12

    It is cheering whenever we find a voice raised against the tendency which so many churches manifest, to attempt to do gospel work according to worldly methods. The New York Witness having been appealed to to decide as to the propriety of using a church edifice for popular amusements and games, and thus perhaps get them into the habit of attending religious services, decides that it is proper. From this decision the Christian Advocate strongly dissents, and says, among other things:SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.13

    “The hope of the young men that a gymnasium in the church will attract other young men to the place of worship is vain. The belief which they express, that the church cannot reach the masses without these accessories, is not sustained by past experience. These things have been tried and have failed. There is nothing so attractive to young men as young men. There is no instrument with which the church can work so effectively as the gospel. Amusements have no place in the church.”SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.14

    If we are in doubt as regards the right or wrong of a certain course, it is always safe not to pursue it. Give right and God the benefit of every doubt. To do this may seem at the time to be loss in some way, but it only seems so. The better way is always the right. Fools look only to the present. The butterfly lives only for the present; but the child of God ought to measure circumstances and decisions by their eternal results, not by their present appearance.SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.15

    “Not a Debt, But a Gift. Romans 4:1-8” The Signs of the Times, 16, 37.

    E. J. Waggoner

    If we are in doubt as regards the right or wrong of a certain course, it is always safe not to pursue it. Give right and God the benefit of every doubt. To do this may seem at the time to be loss in some way, but it only seems so. The better way is always the right. Fools look only to the present. The butterfly lives only for the present; but the child of God ought to measure circumstances and decisions by their eternal results, not by their present appearance.SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.16

    Let us take a very brief review of the first three chapters of Romans, that we may the better understand the force of the fourth, as we begin it. The first chapter, after the introduction, treats of the terrible depravity and blindness of the heathen, and how they lost the knowledge of God which they once had. It closes with the statement that they themselves know that for their deeds they deserve this condemnation to death, which God has pronounced upon them.SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.17

    In the second chapter we have all men brought into the same condemnation with the heathen. There is no room in the writings of Paul for any of the modern speculation about future probation for the heathen. They are all shown to be justly condemned to death. To this sentence the Jews would give a cordial assent; but now he declares that all who know enough to judge the heathen, thereby condemn themselves, for they show that they know better, yet they do the same things.SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.18

    Passing on through the second chapter, we find the truth stated that to every man God will render according to his deeds, whether good or evil, because he is no respecter of persons. Thus we learn that it is doing, and nothing less, that finds favor with God, and that the Gentiles, who are without the written law, really have the law, and will be judged by it at the last day. Next, the matter is brought home directly to the Jews, and they are shown to be guilty of transgressing the law, while making their boast in it; and thus he shows that in reality they are not Jews at all, for only those are Jews who keep the law. The man who has not received the outward sign of circumcision, but who keeps the righteousness of the law, is an Israelite indeed; while the man who has been circumcised, and who ma be able to trace his genealogy to Abraham, is not a Jew at all, if he does not keep the law.SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.19

    In the first nineteen verses of the third chapter the fact is emphasized that both Jews and Gentiles are in the same condemnation; all are within the sphere of the law; it speaks to all; and as a consequence, all are declared guilty before God. The conclusion from all this is that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified in the sight of God. The law is the perfect pattern of truth, therefore it must declare all men guilty and not righteous; and no one can hope to atone for his guilt by deeds of righteousness, because his best efforts come far short of the required standard, and so really add to the measure of is guilt.SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.20

    In this extremity the righteousness of God without the law, in the person of Jesus Christ, is manifested. This righteousness is just that which the law demands, and it is put upon all who believe in Christ. Without money and without price, this righteousness is freely given to all who exercise faith in his blood. This righteousness put upon the sinner, takes the place of his sins, which are removed as far as the east is from the west, and he who before was a sinner now stands justified before God, his righteousness attested to by the law, although he has not done the law. He has been justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. This removes all ground for boasting, for no man has anything by his own merits. There is one God, both of Jews and Gentiles, and he justifies both Jew and Gentile in the same way, namely, by faith, for his own sake, through the merits of Christ. Thus it is by faith, and not by works, that the law is established in the hearts and lives of men.SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.21

    And now the Jewish objector returns to the attack with a question very similar to that with which the fourth chapter opens: “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?” Romans 4:1. He has nothing to say to the charge that the Jews as a class are guilty, and cannot be saved without the aid of a power outside of and greater than themselves; but certainly Abraham, the good old father of the nation, must have gained something by his good works. Well, says the apostle, if Abraham was justified by works, he has something whereof to glory. He can boast that his own hand has wrought righteousness and salvation. But we read, “but not before God.” That is equivalent to saying, “But Abraham was not justified by works, and has nothing whereof to glory before God;” and the proof is given in verse three: “For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”SITI September 22, 1890, page 483.22

    The scripture to which the apostle refers is Genesis 15:6. God took Abraham out and told him to look at the stars and see if he could number them, and said that his seed should be as numerous. And the record is, “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Paul quotes this in the passive form, but without changing the sense. This scripture proves conclusively that Abraham was not justified by works, and therefore has nothing to boast of, as to the flesh, any more than any other man. His righteousness was not something of his own working out, but was freely given him by the Lord, because he simply believed what the Lord said.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.1

    “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” Romans 4:4. Righteousness is the thing under consideration, and so the expression, “to him that worketh,” means, to him that works to secure righteousness. It is very evident that if a man works out his own righteousness, the reward which he gets is not a gift, but the payment of a debt. If he does it all himself, he puts God under obligation to him, to give him the reward of righteousness. He can then come to the Lord and demand his dues. But no man can put God under any obligation to him. The apostle writes: “Who hath first given to him again?” Romans 11:35. The Lord himself said to Job: “Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.” Job 41:11. Whatever the Lord does for man, he does for his own sake. See Psalm 23:3; Isaiah 43:25. Therefore the statement in Romans 3:24-27 stands unshaken. Even Abraham is no exception to the truth that righteousness-conformity to the law-comes alone through faith in Christ.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.2

    “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5. “There,” says the antinomian, “I knew there was nothing at all required of us.” Not quite so fast. Remember that we have already learned from the same epistle that God “will render to every man according to his deeds.” Romans 2:6. When the Lord Jesus comes, bringing his reward with him, it will be “to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12. Works can by no means be left out of the account.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.3

    But works are of no account in securing righteousness for the remission of sins, and that is what is under consideration in this chapter, as we learn very clearly from the next three verses:-SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.4

    “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.5

    Here we learn that when the apostle speaks of one that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, having his faith counted to him for righteousness, he means the forgiveness of sins, which is accomplished, not through any good works of the sinner, but by the imparting of Christ’s righteousness to take the place of the sin. The simple process of bestowing righteousness for the remission of sins is set forth in Zechariah 3:1-5; Isaiah 61:10; Romans 3:22-25; Titus 3:3-7. E. J. W.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.6

    “Is It Personal Rights or Selfishness?” The Signs of the Times, 16, 37.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Young Men’s Era, of Chicago, in an article relative to the opening of the World’s Fair on Sunday, says:-SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.7

    “Much of the outcry against the enforcement of laws pertaining to Sabbath observance, the Bible in the public schools, etc., is based on the claim of interference with personal rights and religious convictions. Is it not about time the rights and religious convictions of the other side shall be taken into consideration? Shall there not be some assertion that the rights of the Christian people in this country, rights and privileges which we have inherited from our forefathers, and that are vouchsafed to us by the laws of the land, shall be respected?”SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.8

    This is another instance of the prevailing ignorance of what constitutes personal rights. The idea seems to obtain quite generally that the rights of different people almost always clash, and that for one class of people to have their rights, another class must yield theirs. This is a great mistake. Human rights are equal. If no man grasps more than he has a right to, every man will have all that he has a right to. Take the case of Sunday rest. It is stated that every man has a right to it. That is true, if he wants it; and it is just as true that every man has a right not to rest if he doesn’t want to. The right of choice implies the right of refusal. If a man has not the right to refuse to do a certain thing, then he has no right to choose to do it; it is then no longer a matter of right, but of compulsion, and in that case the rights of some are certain to be trampled upon.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.9

    Moreover, the right of one man to refuse to do a certain thing does not interfere with the right of another to do it. The fact that one man doesn’t observe Sunday doesn’t interfere in the least with the right of another man to keep it. The fact that one man objects to hearing the Bible read, or to having his children hear it read, does not in the least interfere with the right of another man to read it for himself, and to his children. So the opening of the fair on Sunday will not in the least degree interfere with the personal rights and religious convictions of those who regard Sunday as the Sabbath, since none will be compelled to visit it on that day. On the other hand, to refuse to have it opened on that day would seriously interfere with the right of thousands who have no conscientious scruples in regard to the day, and who cannot see the exhibition on any other day, yet who have as much right to see it as others have; and while these are being deprived of a right, those who regard Sunday religiously will not be having anything added to their rights and privileges, since the closing of the fair will not enable them to rest or go to church any better than if it were open.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.10

    In these days professed Christians have need to beware lest they confuse personal rights and selfishness, and while they deprive others of what is their right, add nothing to themselves.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.11

    “Reading the Bible” The Signs of the Times, 16, 37.

    E. J. Waggoner

    It is related of Thomas Carlyle that a gentleman at whose house he was stopping asked him to read for morning worship, when he began at the first chapter of Job and continued reading until he had completed the book, saying as he finished, “That is a wonderful poem, and to be understood needs to be read through at one sitting.” The host, as might naturally be expected, never again asked Carlyle to read the Scriptures at morning worship.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.12

    But Carlyle had the correct idea of Scripture reading-the idea that should be applied not only to the book of Job but to many other books of the Bible, although we would by no means recommend such lengthy reading at family prayers. There, a few verses are often better than even an entire chapter. But it is a great mistake, especially in reading the minor prophets and the epistles, to take them in fragments. One who, in his rigid adherence to the rule of just so many chapters a day, reads the first chapter of the epistle to the Galatians, for instance, as the last of his chapters for one day, the second, third, and fourth the next day, and the fifth and sixth the third day, loses more of the force and beauty of the epistle than can be expressed.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.13

    We do not say that one should never read in one of the epistles without reading all, but we do say that everybody ought to make it a frequent practice to read an entire book at one sitting. Never mind if it does break into your course; better break that than lose the benefit of the connection. It won’t hurt to read a little more. It is not a great thing to do. People will sit down and read in a newspaper more matter than is contained in any one of the epistles, and not think they have performed a great feat.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.14

    Read the Bible through by course as much as you please, but do not neglect reading by books, and studying by books, and you will find that you are beginning to know the Bible as never before.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.15

    “Righteousness Is Life” The Signs of the Times, 16, 37.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Paul declares in Romans 6:23. But God does not give this irrespective of character. In fact, he can give eternal life only in one way, and that is the way of righteousness. He gives life by giving righteousness. They that “receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17. Man is a sinner. Being a sinner, he is subject to death, is condemned to death. If he had never sinned, he never would have died, for death is only the result, or wages, of sin. James 1:15. Therefore when man becomes clothed, through faith in Christ, with the perfect righteousness of God, life comes with it as a consequence. “In the way of righteousness is life.” Proverbs 12:28. Christ could not be holden of death because he was righteous (Acts 2:24), and therefore those upon whom he has placed that righteousness are in possession of that life. Death cannot hold them. The gift of righteousness through grace is also the gift of life.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.16

    “Progress of Arbitration” The Signs of the Times, 16, 37.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The London Daily News, commenting on the “Universal Peace Congress” that was recently held in London, says:-SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.17

    “The agreement [for arbitration] between the States of the two Americas marks a stage in the history of civilization, from which there will be no retrogression. The inhabitants of barrak-ridden Europe may well derive some inspiration from the lesson of the New World. Arbitration has won the day among the States of the two Americas, because sixty millions of people in the great republic have been educated up to the idea.”SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.18

    This is news to us on this side of the water. The bloody revolutions now going on in the Central American States do not have much of the flavor of peace; and the men-of-war and the big guns which the United States is building do not look as though this country intended to put its trust in soft words. Never before in the history of the United States, except in time of actual war, has there been so much activity in the way of preparing ships and implements of war. The idea of arbitration has taken hold of but a very few of the sixty-four million people of this country, and with them it is only a dream that shows no signs of materializing. But the News continues:-SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.19

    “The substitution of arbitration for the stupid crime (as it ordinarily is) of war will take place in Europe with the idea of it takes hold of the European mind.”SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.20

    A very just and wise remark,-one which shows more wisdom than is generally exhibited in connection with peace congresses, where the idea seems to obtain that good resolutions will bring about the result. Nations are composed of individuals, and before peace can reign when great provocation is given, the hearts of the people must be changed, and that is a work that is not done in mass. When men are “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,” they will be peace-makers; but the word of God gives no warrant for hoping that any such universal change will be wrought. On the contrary, it says that in the last days perilous times will come, because men will be lovers of their own selves, without natural affection, truce-breakers, fierce, despisers of those that are good, and traitors. See 2 Timothy 3:1-4. Surely there is no hope for arbitration among people of that description.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.21

    There will come a time, however, when peace will reign over all the earth, and there will be no need of arbitration, because there will be nothing to arbitrate. And that time is not far distant. But it will be brought about by such a war as the earth has never yet seen, even the battle of the great day of the Lord (see Revelation 16:14; 19:11-21; Jeremiah 25:31-33); and when evil-doers shall have been cut off, and sin and sinners destroyed from the face of the earth, then “the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalm 37:11.SITI September 22, 1890, page 490.22

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