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    July 7, 1887

    “The Excellency of Christ” The Signs of the Times 13, 26, pp. 406, 407.

    GOD has not only spoken unto us by his Son, but by him also he made the worlds. It was Christ the Son of God who made all the multitude of worlds that roll in space. God made them by him. For “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” John 1:1-3. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:16. 17.SITI July 7, 1887, page 406.1

    The word “consist” here conveys the idea that all things were not only put together by him but that by him also they hold together. The same thing is told in another way by reading two texts together. Hebrews 11:3 says, “The worlds were framed [put together] by the word of God,” and Hebrews 1:3 speaks of Christ’s “upholding all things by the word of his power.” Thus the worlds were put together by by [sic.] Christ, and by him they hold together,—by him all things consist. Notice further that it was by his word that the worlds were framed, and it is by the word of his power that all things are upheld. It was by the word of Christ that the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. It was he who spake and it was done; it was he who commanded and it stood fast. It was he who weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance. It was he who measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure. It was he who said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. It was at the sound of his glorious voice that all the multitude of worlds started into space and began their wondrous orbits; and it is according to his ordinances then established that they continue this day. “God created all things by Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 3:9.SITI July 7, 1887, page 406.2

    It was to that time that he referred when, in his last night on earth, he said in his prayer, “Father, ... thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” It was to the glory of that time that he referred, when, in the same prayer, he prayed, “O Father, glorify me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” John 17:5, 24. And Paul speaks of him then as “being the brightness of his [Father’s] glory and the express image of his person.” Hebrews 1:3. Of the brightness of that glory we may form some faint idea by reading the description of him by one who saw him in his glory more than seven hundred years before he came into the world to purchase for rebels a pardon. John, in telling of the refusal of the Jews to believe on Jesus, quotes from Isaiah a prophecy which he says was fulfilled then and by them, and says that “these things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.” John 12:39-41. By comparison it is seen that John 12:40 is a quotation from Isaiah 6:10. Therefore the sixth chapter of Isaiah was said when that prophet saw Christ’s glory and spake of him.SITI July 7, 1887, page 407.1

    In that place Isaiah says: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims; each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Verses 1-3. This, says John, was Jesus whom Isaiah saw in glory—a glory so intense that the bright seraphim standing in his holy presence covered their beautiful faces with their wings. After he had returned to that glory which he had with the Father before the world was, he was seen by John, who describes him thus: “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters; ... and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” Revelation 1:14-16. That this was Jesus is certain, for he said to John, “I am he that liveth, and weas dead.”SITI July 7, 1887, page 407.2

    Well, indeed, might Paul say of him that, “Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” Hebrews 1:4, 5. Unto none of the angels did the Father say that, for none of the angels were begotten of the Father, they were all created by Christ, for we have read that whether they be “thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers,” all were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made; while the Son himself was directly begotten of the Father, and so is called his only begotten Son, saying, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Therefore it was that “when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.”SITI July 7, 1887, page 407.3

    We have seen by Isaiah, the bright seraphim worshiping him upon his throne high and lifted up, before he came to the world. And when he came into the world, an infant in Bethlehem born, he was the same person whom all the angels had worshiped before he came thus to the world, and change of place and circumstances did not in the least degree disentitle him to their worship. The Word was with God, and the Word was God, and “the Word was made flesh, and as flesh came to dwell among us, although an infant, yet he was the Lord of glory, and the word went forth, “Let all the angels of God worship him.” Accordingly we read: “She brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.... And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.... And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.”SITI July 7, 1887, page 407.4

    Again, unto the Son, God said: “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” And again the Father says to the Son, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” His years can never fail, for his “goings forth have been of old, from the days of eternity.” He is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” He is “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.” And blessed be his glorious name forever and ever.SITI July 7, 1887, page 407.5

    J.

    “The First Commandment. No. 1” The Signs of the Times 13, 26, pp. 408, 409.

    “THOU shalt have no other gods before me.” Thus reads the first commandment of the law of God, and calls every man face to face with himself and with God. God made us, he gives us life and breath and all things richly to enjoy. In him we live and move and have our being. And the fact that he has created all things is given by those already redeemed, and who dwell in his presence, as the one great reason why he is worthy to receive the honor of all. For in their worship of him they say, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11. To do the things which please God is the purpose of man’s creation, and whoever does not please God, frustrates the purpose of his creation. But all have displeased him; all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. “They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:12, 18. “We have turned every one to his own way.” Isaiah 53:6.SITI July 7, 1887, page 408.1

    God’s way is the only right way, for “thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.” Isaiah 48:17. But instead of going in this, the right way, because the way of God, all men have chosen their own way, and that way is one in which the Lord cannot delight. It is not the way of his commandments, and cannot be the way of peace. Peace, whether in this world or in any other, whether in time or in eternity, is found only in the way of the commandments of God; for these contain the whole duty of man. And therefore the Lord exclaims, “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had they peace been a a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:18.SITI July 7, 1887, page 408.2

    When men knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Here is the root of all idolatry—vanity and pride of opinion, men setting their opinions against God’s truth. And, “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” and the further they went the worse they became, and finally became so blinded by their own foolish vanity that they thought themselves wise even when descended so low as to change “the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” The descent was gradual of course. Men did not forget God in a single day or night so that the next day they made an image and worshiped it. Men did not deliberately turn right away from God, whom they knew, and go at once to making graven images. In their vanity they professed to be wiser than God. In their own eyes their knowledge surpassed the knowledge of God; consequently they glorified him not as God, but glorified themselves instead, and, as their own knowledge, in their view, surpassed his, it came to pass that they had neither room nor use for God in their calculations, and so every one turned to his own way and the natural and inevitable consequence was that they became “filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.”SITI July 7, 1887, page 408.3

    Nor are we to suppose that men at the first were any worse, or any more prone to idolatry, than they are now. They were men, that is all. The trouble was that they forsook God, and refused to be guided by him. And where men do that the result will always be the same. There is nothing in science, nor in the wisdom of this world, that will keep men from idolatry, and its consequent wickedness. It is faith in God, trust in his word, and conformity to his will—it is this alone that is the preventive of idolatry. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” is the command, which, when obeyed, is the surety against all idolatry. And whatever is allowed to draw away from God the supreme affection and trust of the soul, thereby takes the place of God in the heart, and to so yield the affection or the trust is a denial of God, and is idolatry. The affirmative form of the commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”SITI July 7, 1887, page 408.4

    Of course in this land there is not that practice of idolatry which is shown in all its gross and degrading forms, nor even such as is practiced in the worship of the heavenly bodies; neveretheless there is idolatry, and abundance of it, and some of the forms under which it is practiced we are now going to search out by the word of God. Says Job:—SITI July 7, 1887, page 408.5

    “If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; if I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much; if I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand; this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge; for I should have denied the God that is above.” Chap. 31:24-28.SITI July 7, 1887, page 408.6

    Here are several things mentioned, and to do any one of them is declared to be to deny the God that is above. 1. To allow the heart to be secretly enticed by the glory or beauty of the sun or the moon, and the mouth to kiss the hand in token of respect or homage, is to deny the God that is above. 2. To rejoice because one’s wealth is great, and because his hand has gathered much, is to deny the God that is above. 3. For a person to allow himself to make gold his hope, or to make that his confidence, is to deny the God that is above.SITI July 7, 1887, page 408.7

    No one will deny but that to do the first of these would be idolatry; none would deny but that that would be indeed to deny the God that is above; no one would deny that that would be a violation of the first commandment; none would deny that that would be sin. But for a person to do that would be no more idolatry, no more a denial of God, and no more sin, that it is to rejoice because your wealth is great, and because your hand has gathered much. It is no more idolatrous to allow the heart to be secretly enticed by the brightness of the sun or the moon, than it is to allow it to be secretly enticed by the brightness of pieces of silver or gold. Yet to-day there are multitudes who rejoice because their wealth is great and because their hand has gathered much, and so deny the God that is above. There are multitudes more who grieve because their wealth is not great, and because their hand has not gotten much, and so make gold their aim, their hope, their confidence, and so deny the God that is above. Their hope, their confidence, their trust is in riches and not in God, and so money takes the place of God—money is their god.SITI July 7, 1887, page 408.8

    But God’s charge to one class of these, those who are rich, is this: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19.SITI July 7, 1887, page 408.9

    To the other class God says: “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:9, 10. But to all who would fear God he says: “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God. 1 Timothy 6:11, 12; Mark 10:24, 25.SITI July 7, 1887, page 408.10

    “Oh!” says everyone on his own behalf, “I do not trust in riches.” Try yourself and see. Apply to yourself the test that Jesus put upon the young man, and see whether you love God or your riches most. “Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” If that were demanded of you personally to-day by the Master, how would you stand the test? Would you stand it any better than the young man did? If not, then is your trust in God or in your wealth? Luke says that when that young man heard this, “he was very sorrowful; for he was very rich.” Notice, his sorrow seems to have been graduated on the scale of his riches. He was very sorrowful, because he was very rich. Perhaps if he had simply been rich, he would only have been sorrowful, yet even in that case his trust in his riches would have denied the God who is above. While had he been poor, as Matthew the publican, or as the fishermen who plied their nets on the waters of Galilee, he doubtless would have been glad of the call of the Saviour, and would have followed instantly.SITI July 7, 1887, page 409.1

    The Saviour gave us a parable on this very subject (Luke 12:15-21) when he told of that rich man whose ground brought forth plentifully, and he had no room to bestow his fruits and goods; and he said he would pull down his barns and build greater and there bestow his goods, and then would say to himself, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” What was it that God said to him? “Thou fool.” What is it the fool says? “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Exactly. This man was saying, in effect, that there is no God. He was trusting in his riches, and denying the God that is above. “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Therefore, “take heed and beware of covetousness” for “covetousness is idolatry,” and “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”SITI July 7, 1887, page 409.2

    Nor yet do we want to run to the other extreme and unmeasuredly denounce riches, and money, and whatever bears any semblance to means. It is not in money that the evil lies. Human society cannot exist without money of some sort. There must be some circulating medium. It may be silver or gold, paper or leather, brass or copper, with some device stamped upon it. But whatever it is, it is money; and in the place where it is used, he who has the most of it will be the richest. Money is not the root of all evil. Of itself it is not an evil at all. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. It is not a sin to have money; it is a sin to love it. It is not a sin even to have much; it is a sin to love, or to trust in, what we have, whether it be little or much. It is not the rich alone who fall into temptation, and a snare, and into foolish and hurtful lusts; but it is “they that will be rich”—they who all the time have their aim at being rich, who have their eyes on that, and who tend all their efforts toward that, who lay awake nights scheming for it, who spend their lives to attain the unattainable; for “he that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase.”SITI July 7, 1887, page 409.3

    It is not a sin to be rich. Abraham, the friend of God, “was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” Genesis 13:2. Job likewise was one of the richest men of his day. Yet neither of these holy men trusted in their riches, nor rejoiced because their wealth was great. They trusted in the living God, and remembered that it was he who gave them power to get wealth. Read in the thirty-first chapter of Job, how he looked upon his wealth—always as only a means of blessing the poor, the needy, the fatherless, and the widow. The sin is not in being rich; it is in trusting in it, putting confidence in it, rejoicing in it, and being proud of it, and highminded because of it. That is to deny the God that is above. “Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God,” ... “and thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God; for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.” Deuteronomy 8:11, 17, 18. Trust not in uncertain riches, but in the living God, holding all subject to his call, ready to distribute, willing to communicate. For thou shalt love no other god but him, and him with all the heart, and all the soul, with all the mind, and with all the strength.SITI July 7, 1887, page 409.4

    J.

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