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    April 27, 1891

    “The Working of the Mystery of Iniquity. (Concluded.)” The Signs of the Times, 17, 17.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A short time ago Union Theological Seminary, of New York City, one of the principal Presbyterian theological seminaries in this country, founded a new professorship of Biblical Theology, to which it called Rev. Charles A. Briggs, D.D., who has for a long time occupied the chair of Hebrew in the same institution. Professor Briggs is a very learned man, a natural teacher, and one who has through his natural and acquired gifts an unbounded influence over the young men with whom he comes in contact. As a theologian he occupies a high place.SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.10

    On taking the chair, Professor Briggs delivered an inaugural address, on the subject of “The Authority of the Scriptures,” and the New York Independent of January 29 contained an authorized syllabus of it, from which we extract a few leading points. The first paragraph is as follows:—SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.11

    “Divine authority is the only authority to which man can yield implicit obedience. There are historically three great fountains of divine authority: 1. The Bible. 2. The Church. 3. The Reason.”SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.12

    Here we see that the Bible is made only once source of divine authority, and the church and human reason are put on a level with it, and both are regarded as divine. Thus the way is opened for men to reject the simple statement of the Bible whenever it conflicts with human reason. The Bible is not to be the instructor and guide of reason, but reason is to be the judge of the Bible.SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.13

    Again, after speaking of the superstition of “Bibliolatry” as equal to that of Mariolatry, he says, “The divine authority is not in the style or in the words, but in the concept.” That is, the authority lies not in the Bible itself, but in what the learned teacher conceives concerning it; and since different teachers have different conceptions, we shall have many different standards of divine authority, necessarily requiring that there shall be some ultimate tribunal, as a pope or a council.SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.14

    The fourth barrier to the Bible is given as follows:—SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.15

    Inerrancy.—This confronts historical criticism. There are errors in the Scriptures which no one has been able to explain away, and the theory that they were not in the original text is sheer assumption, upon which no mind can rest with certainty. The Bible itself nowhere makes this claim. The creeds of the church nowhere sanction it. It is a ghost of modern evangelicalism to frighten children.”SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.16

    Here again we have human reason exalted above the Bible. On what grounds is it claimed that there are errors in the Bible?—On the same grounds on which Origen made the same claim, namely, that there are things in it that are not agreeable to human reason. This being admitted, it follows that the number of errors claimed to be in the Bible will differ according to different men’s conception of it. Thus again the Bible ceases to be even one source of divine authority, and fallible human reason becomes supreme.SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.17

    Finally, to pass by other things, Dr. Briggs says:—SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.18

    “The neglect of the church as a means of grace retards the rise of the Bible itself as a means of grace, and dulls our sensitiveness to the presence of God. The reason has also its rights, its place, and importance in the economy of redemption. I rejoice in the age of rationalism, with all its wonderful achievements in philosophy. I look upon it as preparing men to use their reason in the last great age of the world. It is impossible that the Bible and the church should ever exert their full power until the human reason, trained and strained to the utmost, rise to the heights of its energies and reach forth after God and his Christ. Let us remove every incumbrance out of the way of a new life; the life of God is moving Christendom; the spring-time of a new age is about to come upon us.”SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.19

    But to this “new age” the words of the wise man will most aptly apply: “Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us.” Ecclesiastes 1:10. And that time which this “new age” will be like is the Dark Ages. Like causes invariably produce like effects. The exaltation of human reason above the Bible, by ancient “Christian philosophers,” notably Origen and Clement, resulted directly in the Papacy and the destroying of the Bible; Professor Briggs stands on the same ground that they did; and just in proportion as such views become popular, will the same results follow.SITI April 27, 1891, page 123.20

    It is a sad fact that, although Professor Briggs’ views have met with a hearty protest from many religious journals, notably the Independent, those views are gaining in popularity. Professor Briggs is not the only theological professor who holds such loose views concerning the inspiration and authority of the Bible; and a very few men in places where the young men resort, who are to mould the thought of the people at large, can soon cause their loose ideas to permeate the great mass of people.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.1

    It is time for people to awake. While many are watching the progress of religious legislation, and tracing in it a likeness to the growth of the Papacy, few realize that the great danger lies primarily and chiefly in the growing disrespect to the Bible as the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice, and the tribunal to which human reason must yield. Many men who will fight to the last every semblance of religious legislation will, because of their neglect of the Bible, or disregard for it, suffer themselves unconsciously to be bound in the most cruel religious despotism. Let them cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils. “To the law, and to the testimony.” The Bible not only contains the truth, but is itself the whole truth, and the only truth that makes free. He who acknowledges its authority, who studies it prayerfully, seeking the aid of the Holy Spirit, and who hides it within his heart, esteeming it more than his necessary food, will alone know true religious liberty, and be saved from the foolish ignorance which will engulf even the most learned who trust in their own reason. E. J. W.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.2

    “Judged by the Law” The Signs of the Times, 17, 17.

    E. J. Waggoner

    [Synopsis of a discourse on the first part of Romans 2, by Elder E. J. Waggoner, at the late General Conference.]SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.3

    The first chapter of Romans, after its introduction, can be summarized as the condition of man without God, and how he gets in that condition. The cause of this condition can be stated in one word-unbeliefSITI April 27, 1891, page 130.4

    Coupled with unbelief is self-exaltation; with faith, humility. They lost God, “because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Verse 21. They attributed everything to themselves, and as self was advanced, faith in God decreased, till thy were in the darkness of idolatry.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.5

    Men, in the days of Plato, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, taught what they called moral science; Confucius taught moral precepts. But what they all lacked was to tell men how to do what they taught to be right. Even these men who taught moral science and virtue were themselves practicing the things they condemned, and coming far short of doing what they set forth as moral duty.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.6

    While those teachers tell us what to do, but fail to give us power to do it, the religion of Jesus Christ not only makes known what is right, but gives us ability to perform that which is good. Thus when Christ is not woven into the teaching, the very effort to teach morals is simply the old pagan science of morals, which is immorality.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.7

    All admit that the State should not teach Christianity; but some say we must teach morals without it. Moral science aside from Jesus Christ is immorality; it is sin.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.8

    The works of the flesh are clearly stated in the last part of chapter one. These are found in every individual that has not been converted to Christ; we denounce the heathen for doing these things, but “there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11), and he condemns those things in us just the same, and shows us that we are no better than they.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.9

    “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” Romans 2:1. Whoever knows enough to condemn the evils of the heathen is condemned himself, for he does the same things.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.10

    The first part of Romans 2:1 may be summed up in, God is no respecter of persons. He will render to every man according to his deeds. In the judgment nothing is taken into account but a man’s works. “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.11

    The character of the works shows the amount of faith in Christ. A simple profession will not do. “Thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” God does not respect our person or profession. We may call ourselves Christians, and pretend to keep the law, and pity the poor heathen, but God classes all together who fail to have good works.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.12

    “As many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” Romans 2:12. This with the verses following shows that the law is the standard by which ever man in the world will be judged.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.13

    But what is it to keep the law?—It is to keep all its precepts; our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, which was only an outward form. If we hate, it is murder (Matthew 5:22); if we have impure thoughts, it is adultery (verse 28); if we have an impure heat, we violate all the rest of the law. We may be ever so strict in outward Sabbath observance, and adhere closely to the outward obligations of all the rest of the law, but an impure heart renders every act sinful.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.14

    “When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.” Romans 2:14.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.15

    God has by various agencies placed enough light in the heart of every man to lead him to know the true God. Even nature itself reveals the God of nature. And if a man in the darkest heathenism has a desire to know the true God, he will, if necessary, send a man around the world to give him the light of truth.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.16

    So every man that is finally lost will have rejected light that, if cherished, would have led him to God.SITI April 27, 1891, page 130.17

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