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

    December 8, 1881

    “Enforcement of the ‘Christian Sabbath’” The Signs of the Times, 7, 46.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The fact that people are sincere and earnest in their purposes, does not prove that they are correct in their motives. Inspiration has declared, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” And then, to show that this declaration is needed as a revelation to man, the question is asked, “Who can know it?” Without the aid of God’s word and Spirit man can never know himself. It is scarcely less difficult for the heart to know itself than for the eye to see itself.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.1

    By many, sincerity is held to be as good as the truth-an acceptable substitute for the truth. But a person may be quite sincere and still quite selfish. Indeed, intensely selfish people are always sincere; but they never understand their motives. There is no evil more prevalent than self-deception. Earnest belief, or strong feeling, is, in the estimation of some, better religion than right doing, or obedience to the commandments of God.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.2

    We have no idea that they who projected the Inquisition, or that which grew up into the inquisition, had any intention to war upon human rights. They intended to advance the cause of religion and the honor of God upon the earth. Their error was that they set out to serve God by a way of human devising, contrary to the method marked out in the Scriptures. God sent them forth as ambassadors’ they chose rather to be legislators and executioners.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.3

    It is a common saying that, “History repeats itself.” The Lord, by the prophet Isaiah (chapter 66), gives us a view of the religious world near the end of time. Verse 5 says:-SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.4

    “Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified; but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” Comp. Verses 15, 16.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.5

    This indicates that another persecution shall arise before the Lord shall appear; that it will be against those who tremble at the word of God; that it will be-not against religion, but, professedly in the cause of religion; by those who affect to act for the glory of God; that, though they say, let the Lord be glorified, they are moved against those who tremble at the word of the Lord. Evidently they will hold something else-their traditions-above the word of God.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.6

    So it was in the dark ages. Persecutors were zealous for the glory of God, and tenacious of tradition; but careless of the written word. What the Doctors of the church had said was of more worth to them than what Jehovah had said. Their bitterest persecutions, even to the burning of Christians, were “Acts of Faith.” Theirs was truly and literally a burning zeal. Who were more faithful to religion than they? We doubt whether the followers of the present age will be able to excel them.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.7

    The Apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, gives a similar view of the religious world of the last days. Though they have “the form of godliness,” they will be boastful and proud, false accusers, and despisers of those that are good. We recognize no standard of goodness but that which is erected in God’s word. It is obedience to God. Where is obedience to God to be found, if not among those who keep his commandments? In Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14, we are informed that we are to keep his commandments because he will bring every work into Judgment. Of course his commandments are the rule of the Judgment, and the measure of acceptance with him. And it is known to everybody that the religious world are violently opposed to those who keep the commandments of God just as God gave them. If they can have the privilege of amending them, or putting a construction upon them which their words will never justify, then no objection will be raised. And so the most willful child will obey the order of his parents, if he is permitted to do it in his own way. But what kind of obedience is that? Can it be acceptable to God?SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.8

    They who accuse their brethren of wrong, because they adhere closely to the commandments of Jehovah, are veritably “false accusers.” In their accusations there is neither truth nor justice. While they profess to seek God’s glory, they would do well to examine their motives to see if they are not seeking to have their own way; to see if their pleasure in having the law of the land to sustain them is now somewhat increased by their consciousness that the law of God, strictly construed, is against them.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.9

    Before we examine some other scriptures which speak of these last-day persecutions, we will further trace the parallel between the position taken by these last-day religionists and their prototypes of five to ten centuries ago. We are informed by the Protestant ministry that the law under which they are not acting is not a religious law, but merely a police regulation. And that may be the position assumed by a Court. But it is not a correct statement of the case. The law of California protects the first day of the week under the name of “the Christian Sabbath.” But this phrase, in both its terms, both “Christian” and “Sabbath,” gives it a religious character. Neither Judge nor minister can deny this. And yet we are told it is only “a police regulation,” and not at all of a religious character. Never was there a more decided mixture of “church and State” than this. Never was there a more evident deception indulged or practiced than is contained in the pretext that it is only a police regulation, and does not affect the question of religion.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.10

    Again, what is the object of the ministers in their zeal to have the law enforced? Are they working in behalf of a mere “police regulation,” or in the interests of their religious predilections? The State is doing the work; this is their plea. Are they helping it on for the sake of the State, or for the church. Why do they act as pastors, in concert? Do they think any are so blind as not to discern motives in this matter?SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.11

    This excuse of a secular law or police regulation is a very flimsy one. It is known to every person who is informed upon the subject that Catholics deny that the church put to death those who feel under the ban of the inquisition. The execution was performed by the civil authorities; the church not holding itself responsible. Indeed, the recommendation of the church was often to mercy. But who is deceived thereby? Was not the church using the secular power as an instrument to carry out its religious tenets and to persecute those who chose to stand closely by the word of God rather than popular traditions? And is not history repeating itself to-day? Are not the churches combining to secure an amendment to the Constitution of the United States by which they may use the arm of civil power to compel everybody in the land to observe their so-called Christian Sabbath? What is now being done in California is only a step taken in that direction.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.12

    In this land we have been accustomed to consider ourselves exempt from the worst troubles which befell the old world, because of the entire separation of church and State in our government. We have looked upon religious persecution as almost impossible here, because we have never seriously contemplated the possibility of a union of church and State. The dungeon, the rack, and the stake, were looked for as a matter of course where the State was so far controlled by ecclesiastics as to enact penalties for the observance of non-observance of religious duties, real or supposed. But what do we see to-day? We are fast approaching this very state of things. If the American people realized the snare into which they are walking they would enter a protest which would secure the equal rights of every American citizen, and leave the question of religious ordinances where they belong, in the field of theological discussion.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.13

    To show the entire fallacy of the position assumed by the religious advocates of Sunday it is necessary to examine the Sabbath commandment, and the claims of the pseudo-Christian Sabbath. This we must do very briefly.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.14

    First, The commandment. This embraces four points, namely: (1) The requirement. (2) The prohibition. (3) The permission. (4) The reason.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.15

    1. The perceptive part of the commandment is: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Connected with this is the explanatory remark: “The Seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” This explanation is definite, and precludes all evasion. The “day of the Sabbath,” literally, or the day of the rest-the Lord’s rest-is the subject of this precept.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.16

    2. The prohibition. “In it thou shalt not do any work.” The prohibition is also explicit. In it, the day of the Lord’s rest, no work shall be done. To this day alone it refers.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.17

    3. The permission. This part, though permissive, is inseparable from the precept. “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work.” Some have taken the position that this also is perceptive. Be that as it may; no one can deny that it contains a divine grant to labor on the six days, excluding the seventh.SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.18

    But we are told that it is no infringement on our rights if we are compelled to rest also on the first day, as it does not at all interfere with our resting on the seventh day. That appears plausible, but it is very deceptive. There are thousands of honest and industrious citizens of California who are compelled to use the closest economy to make their weekly wages supply the wants of their families. Forcibly deprive them of one-sixth of their earnings and they would thereby be deprived of the necessaries of life. Many business men are barely able to keep their business in operation, who would become bankrupt if regularly deprived of one-sixth of their income. You concede our right to keep the seventh day “according to the commandment,” Luke 23:56, as our conscience compels us to do. But do you not see that by forcibly depriving us of the God-given privilege of working six days, you are driving some into a state of destitution and suffering, or to a violation of their religious convictions by compelling them to work on the seventh day to support their families? Is it possible that California has an intelligent jurist or a thinking minister who cannot see that the enforcement of this law does work hardship and injustice and even distress to a certain class who live out their religion just as they read it in the Bible? We appeal to those who are trying-honestly trying-to enforce this law, who firmly believe that they are religiously bound to keep the first day of the week. Many of you are just able to make a living for your families by economizing both your time and your resources. N ow if the law of the State compelled you to rest the seventh day, and your consciences led you to keep the first day, and this loss of time deprived your families of the comforts of life, and you were pressed to decide whether to let your families suffer, or to violate the law of the land, or to violate your religious convictions, would you believe the man, let him be judge or minister, who should tell you that the law of the State did not interfere with your religion?SITI December 8, 1881, page 546.19

    Forcible as this illustration is, it does not fully meet the case-the parallel is not complete-because for the keeping of the seventh day we have the commandment of God; for the keeping of the first day you have not. We give you the benefit of the supposition that you have never considered the subject in this light. But why have you not? Is it not because your neighbor, not yourself, has to suffer the injustice? Did it affect you as it does us, would you not very readily have made this application of it? Do you walk Christianly toward your neighbor when you subject his conscience to a test to which you would not be willing to have your own subjected? Please to put this upon a more reasonable b asis. Say at once that your convictions are more sacred than ours, notwithstanding that we have the plain reading of the decalogue to sustain us; but do not deceive yourselves (you cannot so deceive us,) by saying that this law interferes with no man’s religion. Do not present to the world the inconsistency shown by New Englanders more than a century ago, who declared it to be every man’s right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience,-with the practical proviso that his conscience did not lead him to be a Baptist or a Quaker!SITI December 8, 1881, page 547.1

    4. The reason. As there is but one commandment in all the Bible for the observance of a weekly Sabbath (the fourth commandment of the decalogue), so there is but one reason in the Bible for the institution and sanctification of the Sabbath. This is given in the following words: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” The reason and the sanctification refer to the seventh day, and to no other. This is confirmed by Genesis 2:3, “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”SITI December 8, 1881, page 547.2

    But our friends, knowing they can produce no other commandment, tell us that they keep the first day of the week in obedience to this. Will they allow us to plead that we obey the present law of California by keep the seventh day? If not, why not? If keeping the first day is obedience to the law which commands to keep the seventh day, why is not the keeping of the seventh day obedience to the law which requires to keep the first day? Or is such caviling admissible only when the law of God is in question? But, to make the fourth commandment justify the keeping of the first day, you must be able to read the commandment inse rting therein the first day instead of the seventh. Then it will tell us that God created all things in six days and rested the first day. But that is not true. He did not rest the first day. He did not bless and sanctify the first day. Now if you cannot read the first day in the commandment without making it contradict the facts on which it is based, you surely cannot enforce the first day by the commandment. Justice Morrison, (in whose decision so great delight is taken at this time), as a jurist would admit this position, as it is always admitted by the teachings of the church of his choice. It is only by Protestants that the inconsistent-yes, the absurd-claim is set up that you can enforce a certain thing by a law to which the terms of the law cannot possibly be made to apply.SITI December 8, 1881, page 547.3

    We shall resume this subject next week, and examine the claims of the so-called “Christian Sabbath.”SITI December 8, 1881, page 547.4

    “Manner of Christ’s Coming” The Signs of the Times, 7, 46.

    E. J. Waggoner

    It is most unfortunate that the tendency nowadays is almost entirely against a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. It seems difficult for people to understand that Christ and the apostles ever spoken plain, simple language, such as one person would use in speaking to another. Whenever a passage is read, the first thought with many is, What hidden meaning is there in it? What lesson is conveyed? Any one who reads the popular Sunday-school comments will see this tendency conspicuously displayed. Now it is proper to search the Scriptures; and if there be a difficult text, it is right to find out its meaning, by comparing it with other texts; but there are some things that are so plain that any attempt at explanation only obscures the meaning. And this is the case with by far the greater part of the Bible.SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.1

    It is true that there are parables, but these are readily distinguished from the direct, simple statements, and are usually either explained, or in such common use as to need no explanation. When Christ was on earth, one of the proofs of his divine mission was that the poor had the Gospel preached unto them; consequently we should expect his teaching to be such as could be understood by poor people who have not had the advantages of an education. And this is the case. The Bible is a model of simplicity; it uses the language of the common people.SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.2

    We have seen how very plain and direct the statements are in the Bible concerning the second coming of Christ. No believer in the Bible pretends to deny these statements, for to do so would be to deny the Bible. But there are very many who evade these statements, and virtually deny them, by claiming that Christ’s second coming is spiritual. Some claim that Christ comes when a good man dies; and others claim that his coming is at conversion; while others still, carrying the latter idea out still further, claim that there will sometime in the future be a temporal millennium, when all men shall have been converted, and that Christ will then come and reign over his people spiritually, and that this is what is meant by the second coming of Christ.SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.3

    Now the Bible is just as definite in regard to the manner of Christ’s coming, as it is in regard to the fact of his coming. It plainly says that Christ will come personally and visibly. The texts which prove this will of course furnish additional evidence that Christ will certainly come.SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.4

    And first it may be well to notice Hebrews 9:28: “And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Christ is to come the second time; but if the theory that he comes at death or conversion be correct, he would already have come many thousands of times.SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.5

    Again, the time of Christ’s ministry here on earth, of which we have a record in the New Testament, is conceded by all to be his first advent. But men had been converted previously to that time, and for thousands of years good men had been dying. If Christ comes at conversion or at death, he must have come millions of times before his first advent. Anyone can see the absurdity of those theories.SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.6

    It is not denied that Christ has, at different times in the world’s history, met and conversed with certain of his devoted followers, or that he is ever present with his people by his Spirit; but nothing of this kind can be referred to in the texts under consideration.SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.7

    It would, however, be manifestly inconsistent to refer to any one of these times as the second coming of Christ. One of them has no precedence over another. But there was one time when he was here in person, when he talked with thousands, and was seen by thousands more. At that time there was probably no nation on earth that did not know of him and his mighty works; and there has been no nation since then that has not heard of that wonderful event. Now at that time he said he was coming “again,” and Paul speaking of that first advent and its object, said that he would come the “second time.” Consistency, therefore, would demand that his second coming be also personal and visible, and no less conspicuous nor less widely known than his first. And this we are positively told shall be the case: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.” Revelation 1:7.SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.8

    Again we read: “For the Son of Man shall, in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27. Those who place the second coming of Christ at death, or at conversion, must have a very faint conception of the glory of the Father. When the Lord came down on Sinai, “the whole mountain quaked greatly” (Exodus 19:18); and when the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, even Moses was not able to enter. See Exodus 40:34, 35. The glory of a single angel, at the resurrection of Jesus, caused the Roman guard to fall as dead men. Matthew 28:4. What then will be the manifestation when he comes in his own glory, and that of the Father, and all the holy angels? This glory which will attend Christ’s coming is thus described: “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.” Psalm 50:3. Paul says that when Christ comes he will be “revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8. That this glory will be seen by all is proved by Revelation 1:7 already quoted, and by the words of our Saviour in Matthew 24:27: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Any one who has seen the lightning flash across the sky in the sheets so tensely bright to that even the closed eyelids could not wholly shut out the impression, can appreciate to a faint degree the terror of that day. Of the key facts of that glory, we learn again 2 Thessalonians 2:8: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” The fire that David says shall “devour before him,” is the glory of his presence.SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.9

    Nothing further is needed to prove that the coming of the Lord will be nothing like the quiet of a death-bed scene, or the hour when an individual gives his heart to God. There are, however, a host of other texts on this point, no less strong than those already quoted. Two only will be given to show how literal and personal that coming is. The first is Acts 1:9-11: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up in heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” The second is 1 Thessalonians 4:16: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.10

    These texts speak for themselves. The language is clear and plain, and anyone can understand them. And yet, who can realize the terrible scene which they foretell? The human mind cannot conceive of the awful grandeur of that hour when the Lord of heaven and earth shall be revealed. Let each one ask himself the question:-SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.11

    “How will my heart endure
    The terrors of that day,
    When the earth and heaven, before the judge,
    Astonished, shrink away!”
    SITI December 8, 1881, page 448.12

    Larger font
    Smaller font