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November 19, 1896
“Seeing the Invisible. No. 2” The Signs of the Times 22, 46, pp. 4, 5.
How Ritualism Denies Faith
We have read that “the Comforter,” “the Spirit of Truth,” “which is the Holy Ghost,” the world cannot receive “because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.” And further, on this it is written that “we receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” . That is to say, therefore, not only that the world cannot receive the Spirit of God because it seeth him not, but that the world sees him not because it does not believe. Instead of believing, in order that it may see, the world wants to see in order that it may believe. But to those who believe and therefore do receive him, Jesus says, “Ye know him, for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you;” and, “Ye see me;” and “I will manifest myself to him.” So that it is literally true that by faith we know God and the things of God, and see the invisible things of God.SITI November 19, 1896, page 4.2
By Faith We See
It was “by faith” that Moses endured “as seeing him who is invisible.” . It is written that “the pure in heart shall see God;” and he purifies the heart “by faith” ( ); and therefore it is by faith that men see him who is “the invisible God.” . And in order that all men may see “the invisible things of him,” and “him who is invisible,” “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” . Faith is “the gift of God.” .SITI November 19, 1896, page 4.3
It is not the gift of God in the sense that the natural faculties, as reason, might, hearing, etc., are the gifts of God, so that it should be of ourselves. It is the gift of God in the sense that it is from above and beyond ourselves, a supernatural faculty bestowed since sin entered, and acting only at the free choice of the individual himself. “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (); and the word of God is able to make things to be seen which before did not appear, and which indeed were not; so that faith, acting through the word of God, sees in very truth, and sees clearly, the invisible things of God.SITI November 19, 1896, page 4.4
How True Faith Acts
True faith, the faith that is the gift of God, the faith of which Christ is the Author, the faith of which the word of God is the channel—this faith hears the word of God and depends upon the divine power of that word itself to accomplish the thing which that word says. For when the centurion came to Jesus asking that his servant should be healed, he said to the Lord, “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” Thus he expected the word of the Lord itself to accomplish that which it said when the Lord should but speak the word. And this the Lord pronounced not only “faith” but “great faith:” even such as he had not found in Israel. And this, too, in the face of the fact that the Scripture, upon the knowledge of which Israel was greatly priding itself, had long before plainly stated this very thing, in these words: “As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please.” .SITI November 19, 1896, page 4.5
To expect the word of God to do the thing which that word says, and to depend wholly upon that word itself to do it, this the Lord Jesus pronounces faith. This is true faith. This is the faith by which men can see the invisible thing of God as certainly and as easily as by the telescope and the microscope they can see the invisible things of the natural order. This is the faith which works by love purifies the heart, so that he who is thus “pure in heart shall see God,” invisible tho he be. For this is the faith by which he who exercises it sees the invisible. This is the faith which, working through the word of God, accomplishes the new birth () by which a man is enabled to see the kingdom of God, which “except a man be born again he cannot see” at all.SITI November 19, 1896, page 4.6
This is why it is that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Faith is of God, and whatsoever it works is the work of God; while whatsoever is not of faith is not of God, but is of the world. And all that is in the world is not of the Father, but is of the world. . Whatsoever is not of faith is of the world, is of the nature of the world, and is of the way of the world, and perverts the way of God to the ways of the world, and demands that God shall accommodate himself to the world and accept a worship that is altogether of the nature and spirit of this world.SITI November 19, 1896, page 4.7
Catholicism Demands the Visible.
No stronger proof, therefore, could possibly be given, of the absolute falsity, the sheer worldliness, and the utter naturalness, of any system of religion, than that it must needs avail itself of visible representations of the object of its worship. And of all the systems of religion that are in the world, there is no one which insists more upon the visible and upon seeing the visible than does the Roman Catholic system. It is essential to that system that it shall have “a visible head.” It must needs have a visible kingdom. It must have a visible sacrifice. Professing to worship the Crucified One, the Catholic Church must have visible “crucifix” by which to do it. Professing to glory in the cross of Christ, she must have a multitude of visible crosses of her own by which to do it. There must be a visible interpreter of the Scriptures. And for all the worshipers according to that system, there must be visible representations of the object worshiped, in the shape of images and pictures. Throughout the whole system the one chief essential is the seeing of the visible.SITI November 19, 1896, page 4.8
In an encyclical of Leo XIII., “On the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin,” describing the purpose of the rosary, that is, of the beads which are used by Catholics in their prayers, he says: “The rosary is arranged not for the consideration of dogmas of faith and questions of doctrine, but rather for putting forth facts to be perceived by the eyes and treasured up in the memory.” Even tho it be recognized that the invisible exists and is to be worshiped, yet it can be comprehended and worshiped only through, and by the aid of, the visible. This is the characteristic of all heathenism and of all idolatry. And this is only to say that by this characteristic the Catholic system of religion is demonstrated to be essentially heathenish and idolatrous.SITI November 19, 1896, page 4.9
What Ritualism Signifies.
We know full well of the plea that is made in defense of the use of images, pictures, etc., in the worship of the Roman Catholic Church; that is, that “the honor which is given them is referred to the originals which they represent, so that by the images which we kiss, and before which we uncover our heads or kneel, we adore Christ and venerate his saints, whose likeness they represent;” and “the bowing before an image outside of us is no more to be reprehended than the worshiping before and internal image in our own minds; for the external image does but serve the purpose of expressing visibly that which is internal.”—Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 285, 287. But if they only saw Him whom they profess to worship, they would not need any image of him, either external or internal, nor any representation of him either visible or otherwise. They could then be true worshipers, worshiping him who is invisible, in spirit and in truth.SITI November 19, 1896, page 4.10
This plea that is made in justification of the use of images and of the visible, is in itself the greatest condemnation of the use of images and of the whole system of Roman Catholicism; for it is a confession of inability to see the invisible, and therefore a confession that the whole system is destitute of true faith and a stranger to the new birth, and altogether without God.SITI November 19, 1896, page 4.11
The Catholic system being confessedly unable to see the invisible, is clearly not of faith. And as whatsoever is not of faith is sin, it is perfectly clear that the whole Catholic system is a system of sin. And the professed Protestantism that panders to it, that compromises with it, that courts it, and that is “wheeling into line with it,” is simply like unto it. The one is “the man of sin,” “the son of perdition,” “the mystery of iniquity,” “the beast;” and the other is “the image” of it.SITI November 19, 1896, page 725.1