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    December 7, 1882

    “Why Are They Not Seventh-day Adventists?” The Signs of the Times, 8, 46.

    E. J. Waggoner

    This question arose not long since, after reading an article in a religious journal, in which the doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventists were characterized as “pernicious.” Of course we did not admit for a moment that the doctrines are pernicious, for in that case the above question would have been answered. The journal was an organ of the Methodist denomination, and we at once instituted a comparison between the leading points of faith held by the Adventists, and the views of the Methodists upon the same subject.SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.1

    The distinctive features of the body of Seventh-day Adventists are indicated by the name. Believing that the whole law of God is still binding, they keep the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath, the day which God sanctified in the beginning, and gave a place in the fundamental law of his government. Genesis 2:2, 3; Exodus 20:8-11; and they are looking for the second coming of the Lord, according to his promise. John 14:1-3. These are the two great truths which make Seventh-day Adventists a separate body of believers. All other points of doctrine that are held by them will be found to depend directly upon these.SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.2

    Without stopping to inquire what there is in these doctrines that is injurious, we at once turned to the Discipline of the Methodist Church to find if the Articles of Faith contained anything that would prevent a member of that church from keeping the Sabbath. Immediately our eye rested upon the following paragraph:-SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.3

    “The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament, everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard who feign that the Old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, doth not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity be received in any commonwealth; no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.”SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.4

    This is substantially the same as is found in the Creed of the Church of England, and is similar to that held by the Presbyterians and the principal Protestant denominations. Looking still farther to see just what the Methodist authorities meant by “the commandments which are called moral, we found the following comment of Dr. Clarke on Exodus 20:-SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.5

    “It is worthy of remark that there is none of these commandments, nor any part of one, which can fairly be considered as merely ceremonial. All are moral, and consequently of everlasting obligation...... Through by the incarnation and death of Christ all the ceremonial law, which referred to him and his sacrifice, is necessarily abrogated; yet as none of these ten commandments refers to any thing properly ceremonial, therefore they are not abrogated.... Though Christ is said to have fulfilled the law for us, yet it is nowhere intimated in the Scripture that he has so fulfilled these TEN LAWS as if to exempt us from the necessity and privilege of being no idolaters, swearers, Sabbath-breakers, disobedient and cruel children, murderers, adulterers, thieves, and corrupt witnesses.”SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.6

    Again, Dr. Clarke in his comments on Matthew 5:17, paraphrases the verse thus: “I am not come to make the law of none effect-to dissolve the connection which subsists between its several parts, or the obligation men are under to have their lives regulated by its moral precepts.”SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.7

    One more quotation from Dr. Clarke will suffice to show the belief of the Methodists that the law of God is still binding on all men; it is from his comments on Romans 7:13:-SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.8

    “Thus it appears that man cannot have a true notion of sin, but by means of the law of God. For this, I have already given sufficient reason in the preceding notes. And it was one design of the law to show the abominable and destructive nature of sin, as well as to be a rule of life. It would be almost impossible for a man to have that just notion of the demerits of sin, so as to produce repentance, or to see the nature and necessity of the death of Christ, if the law were not applied to his conscience by the light of the Holy Spirit; it is then alone that he sees himself to be carnal, and sold under sin; and that the law and commandment are holy, just, and good. And let it be observed that the law did not answer this end merely among the Jews, in the days of the apostles; it is just as necessary to the Gentiles, to the present hour. Nor do we find that true repentance takes place where the moral law is not preached and enforced. Those who preach only the gospel to sinners, at best, only heal the hurt of the daughter of my people but slightly. The law, therefore, is the grand instrument in the hands of a faithful minister, to alarm and awaken sinners.”SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.9

    These testimonies are sufficient, although many more might be given. They show that true Methodism teaches perfect obedience to the whole law of God. And when in that law we read, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work,” we cannot avoid the conclusion that a Methodist who is consistent with his profession of faith must be an observer of the seventh-day Sabbath; it is absolutely irresistible. A man who was well versed in the Scriptures, and also in the doctrines of the Methodist Church, having been a local preacher in that denomination for many years, one said to us, “A consistent Methodist must be a Sabbath-keeper. I have known that the seventh day is the Sabbath since I was a boy, and I have always held that we Methodists were not consistent with our profession.” Not long after that he decided to be “a consistent Methodist,” as he expressed it, but he soon found out that this involved his leaving the church, which he did. In order to fulfill the vows which he took when he joined the church, and which he had broken for many years, he had to leave the church. A strange affair, truly.SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.10

    We give one testimony from Dr. Barnes, a Presbyterian, to show that the Methodists are not alone in this dilemma. In his comments on Matthew 5:18, he says:-SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.11

    “The moral law as far such as grow out of the nature of things, and which cannot, therefore, be changed-such is the duty of loving God and his creatures. These can never be abolished, as it can never be made right to hate God, or to hate our fellow-men. Of this kind are the ten commandments, and these our Saviour has neither abolished nor superceded.”SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.12

    And now a few words as to the second point-the Second advent of Christ. Article 3 of the M. E. Church says:-SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.13

    “Christ did truly rise again from the dead, and... he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at the last day.”SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.14

    Dr. Clarke, on 1 Thessalonians 4:16, says:-SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.15

    The Lord himself!-That is, Jesus Christ shall descend from Heaven; shall, in like manner as he was seen by his disciples to ascend; i.e., in his human form; but now infinitely more glorious, for thousands of thousands shall minister unto him; and thousand times ten thousand shall stand before him; for the Son of man shall come on the throne of his glory; but who may abide the day of his coming, or stand when he appeareth?”SITI December 7, 1882, page 547.16

    Dr. Barnes on John 14:2, 3, says:-SITI December 7, 1882, page 548.1

    “‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ By his going is meant his death and ascent to Heaven. The figure is here taken from one who is on a journey, who goes before his companions to provide a place to lodge in, and to take the necessary preparations for their entertainment. It evidently means that he, by the work which he has yet to perform in Heaven, would secure their admission there, and obtain for them the blessings of eternal life. That work would consist mainly in his intercession.... ‘Ye may be also.’ This was language eminently fitted to comfort them. Though about to leave them, yet he would not always be absent. He would come again at the day of Judgment and gather all his friends to himself, and they should be ever with him.”SITI December 7, 1882, page 548.2

    See also Dr. Barnes’ notes on 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16, where unequivocal testimony is given on this subject. Indeed, there is scarcely any doctrine more universally held than that of Christ’s second coming. There is good reason for this, for there is no truth that is more prominent in the Scriptures. We do not hear it preached very often nowadays, except by a few, but we find it in the writings of all denominations. If we should quote all that has been said and written on the subject, it would fill volumes of the SIGNS. It is very evident that the majority of Protestants, if they were consistent with their profession, would be Seventh-day Adventists. That people are not a sect who are teaching some new thing, some wicked heresy, but they are those who are endeavoring to conform to the original faith. Since, then, the fundamental truths which they hold are those that are taught by the leading men in all Protestant denominations, why are not all Seventh-day Adventists?SITI December 7, 1882, page 548.3

    But it may be urged: You teach that the soul is not immortal; that it sleeps between death and the resurrection; that it receives immortality only through Christ; and that none go to heaven at death. That is true, but what is there pernicious in that? Does it not necessarily follow from a belief in the second coming of Christ? Read also the testimonies quoted above. The object of Christ’s coming is to “judge the quick and the dead;” can any hope to go to Heaven before they are judged? He has gone to prepare a place for his followers, John 14:2; would it not be presumptuous to think of going to Heaven before the place is prepared? He said that he would return again, and receive us to himself; how can we get there before he does come for us? Paul says that it is only by his returning that we are able to be for ever with him. A belief in the second coming of Christ, according to the Scriptures, necessarily involves the belief that men do not receive their reward at death. Those who hold the former and reject the latter, are inconsistent. But that all may see that we do not hold this view alone, we quote only one testimony from Dr. Barnes on 1 Thessalonians 4:14:-SITI December 7, 1882, page 548.4

    “‘Which sleep in Jesus.’ A most beautiful expression.... They do not ‘sleep’ in heathenism, or in infidelity, or in the gloom of atheism-but in the blessed hope which Jesus has imparted. They lie, as he did, in the tomb-free from pain and sorrow, and with the certainty of being raised up again. When, therefore, we think of the death of the saints, let us think of what Jesus was in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. Such is the sleep of are pious friends in the grave; such will be our own when we die.”SITI December 7, 1882, page 548.5

    It is true that Dr. Barnes says other things contrary to this point, but that does not invalidate this testimony, nor the plain declaration of Scripture. Many good men have held views utterly at variance with the Scriptures and have died in their erroneous belief. Their minds had not been drawn out to fully grasp certain points. But it does not follow that men who have the light, or have the chance to have it, can be saved on account of lack of knowledge. And so the question still remains, Why are they not Seventh-day Adventists? Why do not the churches live up to their published teachings on the law of God, and await with joy the second coming of their Redeemer? Is it because as Dr. Clarke says, that these things have not been applied to their consciences by the Holy Spirit? We will not presume to answer the question; but we will still continue to earnestly we pray that all the honest, who have not been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and all those who are resisting its leading, may be found when the Saviour returns, keeping the “commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” E. J. W.SITI December 7, 1882, page 548.6

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