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From Eden to Eden

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    CHAPTER XVI. THE COMMANDMENTS AND THE FAITH

    The Third Angel’s Message, of Revelation 14, verses 9-12, is given in words full of terror. Its closing sentences serve as a key to the interpretation of some of its other terms, therefore those will be examined first. Verse 12 reads: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” In Romans 5:1-3, we are told that tribulation works patience. The connection of this message, Revelation 13, shows that there will be a season of bitter persecution of the saints, to compel them to renounce the commandments of God for the institutions of the church which have no divine authority. This will require patience on the part of those who cling to the word of God. In this scripture, verse 12, the commandments of God are united with the faith of Jesus. The law of the Father is shown to be in harmony with the faith of the Son.FEE 205.1

    It is often claimed that the gospel has taken the place of the law; that the law was for the Jews, and the gospel is for Christians. But that is a very serious error. It has been shown in the first chapters of this book that great and important truths were given to Adam, to Abraham, and to others long in the past, which come down through all dispensations. The promises on which rests the hope of all Christians, were given to the patriarchs. But the blessings promised were for the obedient. Adam lost all by transgression; and the Lord gave the promises to Isaac because his father Abraham kept his commandments. Genesis 26:1-5. There is no truth of greater importance than the law of Jehovah—the law by which man must form his character in the sight of his Maker; the law by which every work will be brought into judgment. There will be but one judgment-day; all will be judged by Jesus Christ whom God hath appointed. Acts 17:31. All will be judged by one rule of righteousness. Jesus is mediator for those who sinned under the first covenant, as has been already noticed. Hebrews 9:15. The law did not save the patriarchs and prophets without faith in the coming Son of God, the Messiah. And faith will not save us now without obedience. James says, “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:17, 20, 26. And Jesus said: “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven.” Matthew 7:21. Paul says that the will of God is known by his law. See Romans 2:17-23. And he says, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31. Thus we find that Christ and faith in him establish the law, instead of releasing us from obedience to it.FEE 205.2

    There is a prophecy of the Saviour in Isaiah 42:21, which reads thus: “He will magnify the law, and make it honorable.” This does not mean that the law was in any way dishonorable, or that it was lacking in any element of dignity or purity. It means that the law had been dishonored by disobedience, and he would honor it and rescue it from the reproach that had been put upon it; that he would elevate it in the eyes of those who had even lost sight of its holiness and its authority. He could not do this if he set it aside, or if he set man free from the observance of it, in the least particular. The psalmist said, “The law of the Lord is perfect.” Psalm 19:7. But if the Saviour changed it in any respect, or set aside any part of it, that would have been equivalent to a declaration that it was imperfect—that it needed amending. Speaking himself, through prophecy, of the law of his Father, he said, “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8. After such expressions as these, we are prepared to hear him declare, in his celebrated sermon on the mount, that he came not to destroy the law, and that not a jot or tittle should pass from it till heaven and earth should pass away. Not the smallest fragment should perish, not the least item be changed, through any word of his. And when one asked him what he should do to inherit eternal life, he replied, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16, 17. This is in harmony with his message to the churches: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14. This he spoke of his Father’s commandments, which are given as the rule of life, but not as the means of justification to a sinner. Only the faith of Christ can cleanse from sin; but obedience to the law prevents sin.FEE 206.1

    “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20. The law is that which points out sin, and condemns sin, and by which sin is made to appear exceeding sinful. Romans 7:7, 13. Of Jesus the angel said, “He shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. He shall save them from transgressing the law of his Father, for sin is the transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4. If he set his people free from obedience to the law, then he would be a minister of sin, instead of a minister of righteousness. Galatians 2:17. Again it is said that he came to put away sins. Hebrews 9:26. If he saves his people from their sins, he must enable them to put away their sins, and to walk in obedience to his Father’s will.FEE 207.1

    But the most striking testimony that he gives, is that in which he rebukes those who make void the commandment of God by their tradition. Matthew 5:1-9. It appears that in his time there were some who thought it a mark of peculiar piety to professedly consecrate all that they had to the service of God, and thereby deprive their aged parents of the honor and care that were due unto them. But the law of God required that parents should receive the honor that was their due, and nothing but rendering this would meet the divine precept and secure the divine favor. So Saul thought that he would show great piety in saving for sacrifices that which God had told him to utterly destroy. 1 Samuel 15:1-3, 13-23. There have always been those who thought they could improve the divine requirements, and offer better service than God had ordained. But the Lord has forbidden the adding to or taking from that which he has commanded. He knows best what is fitting, and what is acceptable to him. Man tries to improve the way of God, because in so doing he flatters himself that he is worshiping God, and this pleases his conscience, and at the same time he is having his own way—something that is very dear to the carnal mind.FEE 207.2

    By the law of God we mean that law which God himself spoke on Mount Sinai, and wrote with his own finger on tables of stone. These were above all others the commandments of God, separated from all other laws, put into the ark, over which the priest made an atonement in the most holy place of the sanctuary. They do not relate to types and ceremonies, but are altogether moral, growing out of the will of God alone. Laws regarding types were made necessary by sin, and they would never have existed had not sin existed. But not one of the ten commandments was thus originated.FEE 208.1

    To one part of the law we now call special attention, because it is so generally disregarded. When it is said, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God,” it means, all the commandments, for no one can be called a keeper of the law who keeps only a part of the law. If he breaks any part of the law he is a law breaker. The first institution of which we read in Paradise, is the Sabbath of the seventh day. In Genesis 2:3 it is written:—FEE 208.2

    “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.”FEE 208.3

    To sanctify means, “to set apart to a sacred use.” Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man.” Mark 2:27. Therefore it was blessed, it was consecrated, or set apart to be sacredly used by man. But it could not be set apart for man’s use without giving man instruction to use it for sacred purposes. It was a hallowed day from the beginning. When God laid the foundation of the earth he laid the foundation of the Sabbath. When he had created the heavens and the earth, he first separated the light from the darkness, and employed six successive days in his work, and rested the seventh day; and there he established the week of seven days, the seventh of which was his rest, or Sabbath—the only rest-day of the week which he ever made.FEE 208.4

    That this was the origin of the Sabbath, and that the rest from the work of creation was the only reason for the sanctification of the Sabbath, is proved positively by the words of Jehovah himself, in the fourth commandment. It reads thus:—FEE 209.1

    “Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; 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.” Exodus 20:8-11.FEE 209.2

    The readers of the Bible will notice that the Lord always called the seventh day his Sabbath. “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” “Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep.... The seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord.” “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day.” Exodus 20:10; 31:13-17; Isaiah 58:13. The word “sabbath” means rest. The seventh day is the Lord’s Sabbath, because the Lord himself rested on that day from the work of creation. It commemorates creation, and no other work, and therefore belongs to the Creator alone.FEE 209.3

    But some have so far departed from the Scriptures of truth as to call the seventh day the Sabbath of the Jews. Surely the rest-day of the Creator cannot be a Jewish institution. True, he commanded the Jews to keep it, and so he did all the precepts of his moral law. He gave the commandment to the Jews which guards the sacredness of the marriage institution; is marriage, therefore, a Jewish institution? We find both marriage and the sanctified rest-day in the second chapter of Genesis. Both come to us from Paradise; and it is no more just to call the seventh day, the rest-day of the Creator, a Jewish Sabbath, than it would be to call marriage a Jewish rite, and to set it aside as belonging only to the Jews.FEE 209.4

    Let us contrast the Sabbath, and the honor that God put upon it, with the substitute, that the Church Fathers have given to us,—the Sunday. God rested the seventh day from the work of creation. He blessed and hallowed the seventh day. He commanded that the seventh day be kept holy. With his own hand he wrote on the tables of stone, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” He threatened severe punishments upon those who did work upon the seventh day. He promised great blessings to those who sacredly keep the seventh day. When he led the people of Israel, to whom he showed his wonders and his goodness, he gave them manna six days, and withheld it on the seventh day. The manna gathered on the sixth day remained pure and good over the seventh day. If kept over any other day it corrupted and became loathsome. For the space of forty years he wrought these miracles every week to put honor upon the seventh day. No other institution has ever received so much honor at the hands of the Lord as the seventh-day Sabbath. And no other institution has been so much abused and despised by men.FEE 210.1

    On the other hand, every reader of the Bible knows that the Lord never blessed the first day, now called Sunday. He never set it apart for any reason nor to any use. He never claimed it as his own, but gave it to man as a working-day. He never commanded anybody to keep it. He never uttered any threats against those who do not keep it; he never made any promises to those who do keep it. It is a day of man’s choosing, and not a day that God required at his hands. The first honor conferred upon the Sunday was by the pagans, who consecrated it to the honor of the sun, and gave it the name it still bears—dies solis, the day of the sun.FEE 210.2

    Melanchthon, in his “Apology of the Confession,” article 15, treating on the human ordinances of the church, classes the Sunday with them. Coleman, a historian, in the Bibliotheca Sacra, gives testimony as follows:—FEE 210.3

    “The Augsburg Confession classes the Lord’s day under the same category as Easter, Whitsunday, and the like; merely human ordinances.” Vol. 3, p. 538.FEE 210.4

    Gieseler, in his “Church History,” Vol. 3, p. 399, says that “Luther considered the keeping of Sunday merely as a human ordinance.”FEE 211.1

    The German theologian, Beyschlag of Halle, in his work, “Der Altcatholocismus,” page 53, mentions Sunday and other holidays, infant baptism, and confirmation, and says: “These we have not from the New Testament, but from the tradition of the church.” And in this testimony there is complete agreement.FEE 211.2

    The London Telegraph, an able and influential paper, recently noticed the efforts that are being made to give Sunday a better legal standing, and said:—FEE 211.3

    “Everybody knows that the seventh—not the first—day was ordained as a day of rest, and that the seventh is Saturday. The change to Sunday was made by man, and there is all the difference between the two that there must be between a divine and a merely human ordinance.... In comparatively modern times the Puritans transferred to the first day the obligations imposed on the seventh. The early change from one day to the other, however, and the application to the Sunday of Sabbatarian restrictions, were of purely human origin, and have no divine authority over the souls or consciences of men.”FEE 211.4

    Any amount of testimony like this can be produced, but it does not seem necessary, where there is not a line of proof against it. The Catholic Church has always claimed that she is the sole authority for the keeping of the Sunday as the Lord’s day, though Constantine had decreed that there should be partial rest on that day in a. d. 321. His law was for judges and towns-people, not forbidding country people to labor in their fields and vineyards.FEE 211.5

    The catechism of P. J. J. Scheffmacher will show you what the Catholic Church has to say about the change from Sabbath to Sunday:—FEE 211.6

    Question—How do you further prove that the church has the right to institute holidays?FEE 211.7

    Answer—Had the church not this right, she would not have ordained that Sunday be kept instead of the Sabbath.FEE 211.8

    Q.—How else can you answer our opponents that they may feel still more the injustice that they do us when they scoff at us for such things?FEE 211.9

    A.—We may ask them why they observe Sunday and do not refrain from flesh meats on Friday and Saturday.FEE 211.10

    Q.—But cannot our opponents say that the observance of Sunday is commanded in the Bible, which is not the case with the Friday and Saturday fasts?FEE 212.1

    A.—The Holy Scriptures mention nothing whatever of the observance of Sunday, but indeed of the Sabbath; and there is no command in the Holy Scriptures for the observance of Sunday.”FEE 212.2

    In an appeal to all Bible Christians, a Catholic author says:—FEE 212.3

    “We blame you, not for making Sunday your weekly holiday, instead of the Sabbath, but for rejecting tradition, which is the only safe and clear rule by which this observance can be justified.”FEE 212.4

    It is even so, that church tradition is the only basis for Sunday-keeping; but the words of the Saviour stand as strong to-day as in the day when he reproved the Jews for making void the commandment of God by their tradition. And it is indeed true, as the Catholics claim, that when Protestants keep Sunday without any authority but that of the church, to the neglect of a plain commandment of God, they are doing the highest homage to the principles and power of that church.FEE 212.5

    It has been clearly shown that God has pointed out that power as one that has done great injury to the truth and to the saints, and has most solemnly warned us against worshiping it, or following its ways. In Revelation 13:11-17, is a very striking prophecy of the action of the beast with two horns, which has been described, especially in the expression of verse 12. It says:—FEE 212.6

    “And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”FEE 212.7

    It is very clearly true that we worship any power when we observe the institutions of that power in preference to those of the Scripture, and especially when they make void the precept of the Most High. Here we have a prophecy that the very earth, as well as those who dwell upon it, shall be caused to worship the first beast, the papacy. There is only one institution in which the earth is made to do homage to that power, and that is the Sunday. God commanded that in seed-time and harvest the earth should rest on the Sabbath. But that church has commanded that all kinds of labor be done on the Sabbath of the Lord, and that no work shall be done on the Sunday. The earth must not be plowed nor reaped on the Sunday, but rest, and thus do homage to the authority of that power. Shall we, too, continue to honor that power, to the neglect of the commandments of God? This is the very sin that is so fearfully denounced in the last message of Revelation 14:9-12.FEE 212.8

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