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    February 1, 1883

    “The Sabbath-School. The Charge to Joshua” The Signs of the Times, 9, 5.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Notes on Lesson for Feb. 10.


    The number of times that the Lord tells Joshua to be strong and of a good courage is worthy of note. After telling him that he will be with him even as he was with Moses, and that he will not fail him, the Lord says, “Be strong and of a good courage,” chapter 1:6; then follows the assurance that he shall divide the land among the Israelites. In the next verse he says again, “Only be thou strong and very courageous.” Then follows an admonition to do according to all that was written in the law, and to meditate upon it day and night; and then exhortation is again given: “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed.”SITI February 1, 1883, page 53.1

    The Lord does not desire that his people should give way to discouragement. The same exhortation that was addressed to those who were about to enter into the earthly Canaan, is applicable to the Israel of God, who are striving for an inheritance in the heavenly Canaan. “Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed.” Why not to be discouraged? Are we not weak? and is not our enemy powerful? Would it not be presumptuous in us to feel strong and confident? Yes; it would if we depended only on our own strength; but fortunately we have also the same promise that was made to Joshua. It is this: “For the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” And he has also said, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” The Christian should ever realize this glorious truth: “The eternal God is my refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Knowing this, how can he be discouraged? The apostles exhortation is, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Ephesians 6:10.SITI February 1, 1883, page 53.2


    It is sometimes claimed that there is no such thing as holy time; that is absurd to think that one day is really any better than another; that man can make any day a holy Sabbath by resting upon it. It would be interesting to hear such ones explain Joshua 5:15. The case is similar to that of Moses at the burning bush. Joshua had seen the man standing by Jericho, and had learned that he was the “captain of the host of the Lord.” “And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” Now did the ground become holy because Joshua took off his shoes, or was it holy before? The answer is, It was holy before, for the Lord said so. Then it seems that there may be a difference between things of the same kind. There was no outward difference between the ground on which Joshua was standing and the ground in other places, yet there was a difference. One was holy, on account of the presence of the Lord, the other was not. The ground on which Joshua stood would have remained holy even if he had not removed his shoes. So it was with the Sabbath. The Lord has made it holy, and it will remain holy whether man regards it or not. The failure to discriminate between the holy and the profane is that which brings the judgments of God upon mankind.SITI February 1, 1883, page 53.3


    In this case it was well shown how dependent the people were on God. When they trusted in themselves they failed. And what was the reason that God was not among them? Because there was sin among them. And by this we can learn the necessity of the church being pure as a whole. There was only one man in the camp of Israel that hac transgressed, yet God withheld his presence from them. So a single individual in the church may, by his wrong course, defeat all the labors of those who would make advance moves. This also shows the necessity of maintaining strict church discipline. The sin of Achan was imputed to the entire camp, until the offender was searched out and punished. The record says, “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing; for Achan... took of the accursed thing.” Yet there is no evidence that anybody besides Achan was concerned in the theft, or knew of it. The Lord showed by this that he would have his people have a care for one another. We are each our brother’s keeper. The Lord has said, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and shall not suffer sin upon him.” Leviticus 19:17. When the church, then, searches out the erring one, and rebukes him, it is doing that which is absolutely necessary to its own existence. Just as a man cannot be said to be sound if one of his limbs is diseased, so the church is not pure unless each individual member is walking orderly. And each person should also consider how much responsibility attaches to his course. By a wrong course he may involve many others in his own ruin; so true it is that “none of us liveth to himself.”SITI February 1, 1883, page 53.4


    “Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.” “So the sun stood still in the midst of the heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” Some, in their eagerness to overthrow the Sabbath of the Lord, have found in this occurrence a loss of time. But there was no time lost. It was simply a lengthening of the day. If such a miracle should occur on the Sabbath, it would simply lengthen the Sabbath. Two days were not combined in one, but it was one long day. “And there was no day like that before it or after it.”SITI February 1, 1883, page 53.5

    Skeptics find an abundance of food for caviling in this miracle, as, indeed, they may in any. But the Bible student need not be troubled about it. To say that it could not occur, is in reality to deny that God is the creator of the heavens and the earth; for if God made the planets it is certain that he can control them. It is said that God instituted fixed laws by which they should be governed. Very true; but did he put those laws out of his own power? The maker of a threshing machine designs that it shall work according to a certain plan; yet he can stop the machine without altering the plan. One thing is certain: the universe did not create itself. Although the mind of man cannot conceive of its extent, nor fathom the laws by which it is governed, there must be a creator who is infinitely greater than the universe. “He taketh up the isles as a very little thing.” It is evident that the Creator can do as he pleases with what he has created. If it is asked how it is possible that such a miracle could be performed without disarranging the whole planetary system, I would reply, “I do not know; I cannot imagine; If I could, it would cease to be a miracle.” The disbelief in miracles arises from the fact that men are too proud to acknowledge that there is anything which they cannot understand. He who believes only what he can comprehend and explain, will have a very short creed. It is no shame for man to confess that he cannot by searching find out God. E. J. W.SITI February 1, 1883, page 53.6

    “Unwarranted Modesty” The Signs of the Times, 9, 5.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Sunday-school Times very justly says that it “requires character as well as courage to admit that one does not know what he is supposed to know—or what he supposes he is supposed to know.” It then gives some instances of this trait of character, and says:—SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.1

    “Yet, so rare is the courage and so rare is the character which prompts and justifies such answers as these, that it is too often a surprise when a man admits his ignorance on a point concerning which his opinion is sought. Just now there is widespread comment on President Woolsey’s frequent confessions of inability to understand all the mysteries, or to solve all the perplexities, in the Bible text on which he is commenting week by week, and in the Sunday-school Times; and it is admitted on all sides that these frank confessions are a proof of his superiority. Never be afraid to say that you do not know—when you do not know.”SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.2

    With the last sentence we heartily agree. But with all respect to President Woolsey’s superior ability-which is under question-we deny that proof of his superiority is found in his confession of inability to understand certain portions of Scripture. We refer especially to one that was made in the Times of Sept. 2, 1882, where, in commenting on Mark 13:30 he said, “This passage is surrounded with very grave difficulties, which the Sunday-school expositor had better look boldly in the face and then pass on.” The 28th and 29th verses of this chapter read thus: “Verily I say unto you, that this generation [the generation that should witness the fulfillment of the signs] shall not pass till all these things be done.” Now we hold that the preceding verse is a positive command for us to know in regard to these things; and to claim ignorance under the circumstances is not a mark of superiority. It is a sin.SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.3

    It is always well to be humble; but willing ignorance is not proof of humility. What would be thought of a Professor of mathematics who should say, “It is claimed by some that two and three are five, yet there are grave difficulties in regard to it, which the student should look boldly in the face, and then dodge; we must not be dogmatic.” Everybody would say that he was unfit for his position. When a thing is plain, it is only an act of simple manliness to speak decidedly in regard to it. So in the case under consideration. Christ’s language throughout the chapter is clear and plain. He briefly maps out the history of the world till the close of time, and gives certain signs which will immediately precede his coming. Then he says we may know that his coming is at hand. To say, then, that we do not know that it is near, is no assumption of superior wisdom, nor mark of egotism in those making the claim, but simple obedience to our Saviour’s command.SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.4

    The man in the parable, when asked why he had not on a wedding garment, was speechless. We would not care to meet our Lord with no other excuse for not being prepared than that we could not understand his directions. We very much fear that he would say, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, I will also reject thee.” In a case of this kind, it is not safe to make experiments.SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.5

    But there is another side. The same individuals who are so fearful of appearing dogmatic on the subject of Christ’s coming, seem never to be troubled with that fear in regard to another subject-the immortality of the soul. There is no doubt in their minds on that point. That the soul of man is immortal is held to be so certain that it is useless to argue it. Disbelief in that is considered synonymous with disbelief in the Bible and Christianity. And what is the ground of this positivrness? Simple inference. Nowhere in the Bible is the statement made that man is immortal, i.e., undying, excepting in Genesis 3:4; and as that statement was made by Satan, the father of lies, it must be discounted about one hundred per cent. The Bible plainly states that “God only hath immortality,” that if man obtains it he must “seek” for its; that it is the “gift of God” “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” and that it will be bestowed only on the righteous, and at the coming of Christ. Yet in the face of all this, those who are not ashamed to confess their ignorance of a thing which Christ has commanded us to know, have no hesitancy in affirming that man is naturally immortal.SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.6

    There is another point on which we would like to have our friends follow their own advice,-“Never be afraid to say that you do not know, when you do not know.” It is in respect to the Sunday. Our “orthodox” friends feel very confident that the first day of the week is the Sabbath-so confident that they want to force everybody to observe it, at least outwardly. Yet nowhere in the Bible is it stated that Sunday is the Sabbath. Nowhere is Sunday called by any other name than simply “the first day of the week.” Nowhere is it stated that Christ or his apostles or anybody else ever observed that day. On the contrary it is expressly stated that the “seventh day is the Sabbath;” that that day must be kept holy, but that the other six, including the Sunday, are “working days;” that God did the greatest part of his creative work on the first day; the disciples of Jesus did work on that day, which they would not do on the Sabbath; and that Paul used it as an ordinary traveling day. Now as it is an impossibility for one to know that which is not true, would it not be the part of modesty, to say the least, for our friends to admit that they do not know that Sunday is the Sabbath?SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.7

    We will not press the matter further. We admit that we do teach the doctrine of the second coming of the Lord with great confidence, but since the Bible alone is the ground of our confidence, we think we do well to be confident. To those who dare not speak with confidence on this point, but are very certain of the other points which we have mentioned, we quote the words of Paul. “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” E. J. W.SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.8

    “The Coming of the Lord—Why We Write About It” The Signs of the Times, 9, 2.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The following is from the Christian Herald (Disciple), of Monmouth, Oregon:-SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.9

    “The SIGNS OF THE TIMES spent a good deal of its time in writing about the second advent of Christ, and talks as though nobody except the Seventh-day Adventists believes that Christ is ever coming again to this earth. The SIGNS ought to know that when it is trying to prove the second advent of our Saviour it is wasting its paper and ink. The truth is we are caring but little about the matter, for we simply accept the fact of his coming, and as to the time, we are not in the least concerned.”SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.10

    What has the Herald been doing, that it does not want to hear about the coming of the Lord? When a child manifests indifference in regard to the return of his father, who has been absent, it is generally attributable to one of two causes: Either the child has no love for his father, and does not desire to see him; or else he has been doing that which he knows to be wrong, and fears that he will receive the punishment which he richly deserves. Which one of these reasons applies in the present instance?SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.11

    “The truth is we are caring but little about the matter,” says the Herald. Well, that is just what we spend so much of our time writing and talking about it; and inasmuch as there are thousands of persons who are in the same condition that the Herald is, we think we cannot justly be accused of wasting our time. At any rate, we do not propose to stop. In fact, we dare not stop, for we have the following urgent command laid upon us: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble.” Joel 2:1. Why all this alarm? What need is there of any unusual demonstration? Answer: “For the day of the Lord, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and a thick darkness.” Surely there is reason enough to talk about it.SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.12

    But, says the Herald, “we simply accept the fact of his coming, and as to the time we are not in the least concerned.” Therefore it thinks that nothing more need be said. Now we are very well aware that almost all bodies of professed Christians accept the fact that Christ is coming; but that is not enough. The trouble is that they are content with the mere expression of their belief that he will come sometime, but are not particular as to when he comes, or, seemingly, as to whether he comes at all. Now the command is “blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain.” It is among God’s professed followers that the alarm is to be made; those who nominally care anything about it. Is there not need enough for an alarm to be sounded, when even the “watchmen on the walls of Zion,” hold their peace, and publicly profess that they care nothing about what is coming? The command is given to these watchman. “Go through, go through the gates: prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones, lift up a standard for the people. Behold the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world. Say ye to the daughter of Zion. Behold, thy salvation; behold his reward is with him, and his work before him.” But the watchmen refuse to lift up the standard, or to clear the way so that the people may walk in the law of the Lord, and thus be prepared for his coming. And this explains why they are not caring for his coming. To the command to “ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16), they have replied, “We will not walk therein.” No wonder they do not want to hear of his coming.SITI February 1, 1883, page 55.13

    Perhaps some one will say that we are straining a point, and that these “old paths,” this “good way,” in which they have said they would not walk is not the Law of the Lord. Then read what follows: “Hear, O earth; behold I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.” Verse 19. But we will speak further on this point at another time.SITI February 1, 1883, page 56.1

    The Herald says it is not caring about the coming of the Lord. Well, we do care about it, and for these very good reasons:-SITI February 1, 1883, page 56.2

    1. We shall then be with Christ. He himself says, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there he may be also.” John 14:2, 3. Paul also says, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. There is no other way than this that we can ever go to dwell with the Lord; therefore the coming of the Lord is to us a matter of considerable importance.SITI February 1, 1883, page 56.3

    2. We shall then be made like him. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1, 2. “For our conversation [commonwealth] is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20, 21. Many persons pay a great deal of attention to the adorning of their bodies; but no amount of the earthly adorning can make them compare with Christ’s glorious body. With the hope that this promise will soon be fulfilled, we can be content even if we are ill-favored now.SITI February 1, 1883, page 56.4

    3. We shall then receive a crown. Peter exhorts those who are placed over the flock, to feed them, and says, “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, he shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not the way.” 1 Peter 5:4. And Paul also defines still more closely those who will receive this crown. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7, 8. Then it appears that we must do something more than merely to admit that Christ is coming, if we obtain the crown; we must love his appearing. But what we love we think about; and “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Paul intimates that he loved the appearing of Christ; and that fact is evident from his writings, because he speaks of that more than of any other thing. Every letter that he wrote contains more or less reference to Christ’s coming. Will the Herald say that he wasted his paper and ink? We have not said so much about it as Paul did, but we mean to do better in the future, and thus obey the command to “exhort one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.” If we love his appearing more we should talk about it more, and try to induce others to love it also; and if everybody loved it, then surely we would talk about it more than ever; it would be an ever joyous topic of conversation.SITI February 1, 1883, page 56.5

    4. At Christ’s coming we shall be made immortal. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, that at the sound of the last trump the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and the living shall be changed; that it is then that this corruptible will put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. We long for that time to come.SITI February 1, 1883, page 56.6

    Have we not good reason to care for our Lord’s coming? Here we suffer pain; we are often obliged to confess that we are sick; on account of the weakness and feebleness of our mortal bodies, we are unable to do much that we would like to do. We lose our friends, and are often obliged to mourn. But when Jesus comes all this will cease. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” “He that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly, Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus.” E. J. WSITI February 1, 1883, page 56.7

    “A Word to Missionary Workers” The Signs of the Times, 9, 5.

    E. J. Waggoner

    What would be thought of a minister of the gospel who did not pray before conducting a meeting or preaching a sermon; one who never prayed for the success of the work in which he was engaged, or who never made those under his care the subject of a special prayer? People would say of such an one that he was not very deeply interested in his work, and they would not be disappointed if it should be a failure. The successful minister not only prays for the success of his work in general, but the individual members of his congregation are the subjects of his daily secret prayer. He feels personally responsible for their salvation. Night and day they are upon his mind, and he is planning for their good; thinking how he can encourage those who believe, and how those yet unconverted may be reached in the best manner. Ii is expected that the minister of the gospel will do this; it is well known that if he does not do so, all the success that may attend his labor will be, in a measure, accidental.SITI February 1, 1883, page 56.8

    Now the same thing will apply to the missionary worker who occupies a more limited field. When a member of the Missionary Society has received the names of persons to whom to send the SIGNS and other reading matter, he should feel that those individuals are his especial charge. He should feel in a measure responsible for their salvation. So far as his influence extends, his responsibility is just as great as that of the preacher. He should engage in the work with seriousness and earnestness. He should make it a subject of prayer. It is not enough to pray for the success of the missionary work in general; each individual must be the subject of earnest prayer; not once or twice but constantly. Try to feel the same interest in each that you would if he were present in person. When the missionary worker sends off his paper, laden with messages of truth, he should feel that he is in the position of one who is delivering a sermon to a congregation. True, he is not responsible, as is the preacher, for the words of the sermon, but he can pray, as the preacher does, that God’s Spirit will accompany the word and impress it upon the hearts of those who receive. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.” “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build; except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.” The truth may be clear and plain, and may be presented in a most forcible manner, yet it will fall lifeless to the ground unless God directs it to the heart. No one should think of attempting to write a letter on the subject of religion without first asking God to direct. We should realize that it is God’s work, not our own, and we must endeavor to do it in his way. Work done in this way accomplishes double good; it will be blessed to the good of the one for whom it is done, and will strengthen the worker. But missionary work done in a listless manner, as quickly as possible, will certainly not strengthen the one who does it, and cannot be expected to accomplish much for anybody.SITI February 1, 1883, page 56.9

    We are told to pray the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth more laborers into the field. We would not have been told to pray, if praying would do no good. If the work lags, may we not conclude that this injunction has not been heeded? And even when we do pray for laborers, is it not often the case that we want somebody else to be raised up, while we do nothing? If all would pray earnestly for laborers, and then would go to work to do their part toward supplying the demand, how quickly the work might be done. Let us place ourselves in such a position that when we pray, we may say, “Here am I, send me.” Depend upon it, the Lord will find employment for us all, and that which is just suited to our capacity. E. J. W.SITI February 1, 1883, page 56.10

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