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    October 9, 1884

    “The Sabbath-School” The Signs of the Times, 10, 38.

    E. J. Waggoner


    1. When King Hezekiah was sick, what message came to him from the Lord? Isaiah 38:1.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.1

    2. When he received this message, what did he do? Verse 2.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.2

    3. How did he feel at the prospect of death? Verse 3.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.3

    4. In answer to his prayer, what did the Lord promise? Verse 5.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.4

    5. When he had recovered, what reason did he give for the sorrow he manifested? Verses 9, 10.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.5

    6. Of what did he say he was about to be deprived?SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.6

    7. What do you conclude from that statement?SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.7

    8. What further reason did Hezekiah give for his sorrow at the prospect of death? Verse 11.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.8

    9. Where does the Lord dwell? Psalm 11:4; 33:13, 14.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.9

    10. Then if Hezekiah had gone to Heaven, would he not have seen the Lord?SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.10

    11. What had been the character of Hezekiah? Isaiah 38:3; 2 Kings 18:1-6.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.11

    12. Then what must we conclude from his statement that if he died he should not see the Lord?SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.12

    13. To what place had Hezekiah expected to go if his life was cut short? Isaiah 38:10.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.13

    14. Was it simply his body that was about to go into the grave? Verse 17.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.14

    15. What did he give as the final reason for not desiring to die? Verse 18.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.15

    16. Who alone can praise the Lord? Verse 19.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.16

    17. How positively does David speak on this point? Psalm 150:1.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.17

    18. Why is it that men who have praised God all their lives cease to do so at death? Psalm 6:5.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.18

    19. Why do they so soon forget God? Psalm 146:3, 4.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.19

    20. If their thoughts perish, how much to the dead know? Ecclesiastes 9:5.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.20

    The texts quoted in our lesson this week are so clear that scarcely any comment is needed. The interesting story of Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery is presented to us, and certain doctoral lessons are drawn therefrom. These cannot be misunderstood by any who study the text. We would notice, in the first place, the popular fallacy that peace of mind in view of death is a sure test of piety, and a token that all is well with the departing one. We are told concerning the wicked that “there are no bands in their death; but their strength is firm” (Psalm 73:4); and in the lesson we find that righteous Hezekiah “wept sore” when he heard that he must soon die. While all good persons do not express deep sorrow, as did Hezekiah, we have no example in the Bible of one who expressed anything like joy at the prospect of death. Without exception, the Bible writers looked upon death as something to be dreaded. It is represented as an enemy; and Solomon could find no better example of cruelty than the grave: “Cruel as the grave.” Cant. 8:6. Why, then, should it not be feared?SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.21

    The modern popular ideas of death are all upset by the statements of the Bible. We are taught that death is a friend, and that “‘tis but the voice that Jesus sends to call us to his arms.” If this were true, death would indeed be a friend; but it is positively false. Hezekiah’s grief was entirely consistent with his previous upright and godly life, for, said he, “I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living.” “For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.” Instead of death being the voice of Jesus, calling his loved ones to his arms, it is the cruel weapons of Satan, with which he seeks to destroy the human race, and deprive them of all happiness and good.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.22

    “I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave; I am deprived of the residue of my years.” Isaiah 38:10. Even if it were true that good men go to Heaven as soon as they die, this language shows plainly that Hezekiah knew nothing of any such doctrine. He regarded death as the cutting off of his days, the deprivation of the residue of his years, and not a lengthening of his existence to all eternity. The language that he used is utterly inconsistent with the idea of continued existence after death.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.23

    Without doubt many whose attention is specially called to the chapter relating the story of Hezekiah’s illness and recovery, will query in regard to the sign that was given him by the Lord. We have no explanation to offer; we do not think that one is needed. There are some who think to rid the sign of the appearance of a miracle by saying that the shadow went backward on account of the extraordinary refraction of the sun’s rays. They do not seem to think that this would also require miraculous interposition. For our part, it is no more difficult to believe that God could, if necessary, move the sun itself backward, than to believe that he could cause it to stand still, or created it in the beginning. We have no sympathy with that spirit which attempts to bring the acts of an infinite God within the comprehension of a finite mind. That which is necessary for us to understand,-our duty to God and our fellows, and the blessings promised to the obedient, are clearly set forth in the word. To these things we should give earnest and reverent heed, and pray the Lord to increase our faith. E. J. W.SITI October 9, 1884, page 596.24

    “Seventh-day Keepers and the Teaching of the Apostles” The Signs of the Times, 10, 38.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The above is the heading of a short article which appeared in the Advance not long ago, and which a subscriber wishes us to notice, as it is being circulated quite extensively, and is considered by many to be a fatal blow to the teachings of Seventh-day Adventists. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to state that the “Teaching of the Apostles” does not refer to that found in the New Testament, but to a recently discovered document bearing that title. We will give the Advance’s article entire, and then proceed to make such comments as may seem necessary. We will first say, however, by way of preface, that the number of Sabbath-keeping churches, ministers, and people, as given by the Advance is too small.SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.1

    “The Seventh-day keepers in this country, composed of Adventists and Baptists, number 761 churches, 270 ministers, and 25,780 members; and they claim to be rapidly increasing. The Adventists are much larger body. The recently discovered ‘Teaching of the Twelve Apostles’ will sooner or later weaken, or annihilate, the view that the seventh day is still the sacred one of the week. Its fourteenth chapter begins thus: ‘But on the Lord’s day do ye assemble and break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions, in order that your sacrifice may be pure.’ This is a direction to observe the Lord’s supper on the Lord’s day. Was that day the seventh or the first day of the week? Much depends upon the answer. First, all must admit, according to Acts 20:7, that disciples at Troas, with the apostle Paul, assembled on the first day of the week to ‘break bread,’ to observe the Lord’s supper; and that they chose the first day of the week out of the whole seven during which they were there together.SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.2

    “Second, all admit, who know the case, that, according to Justin Martyr, a reliable witness, the Christians were accustomed to hold religious services and observe the Lord’s supper, on Sunday of each week, which was the first day, called ‘Sunday’ by Justin, because that was the Roman name, and he was addressing the Roman Emperor and Senate.SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.3

    “Two things, then, are fixed: First, that the primitive Christians of the apostolic age observed the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week; second, it is fixed by the ‘Teaching of the Twelve Apostles’ that that first day was the ‘Lord’s day.’ As a deduction, a third thing is fixed, that the apostle John, when he said he ‘was in the spirit on the Lord’s day,’ meant that it was on the first day of the week. The day bearing the sacred name of the Lord Jesus was certainly the sacred day at that time. This all agrees with a great amount of other evidence, too much to be here presented. It all tends strongly to make keepers of the seventh change their observance to the first day, and to make keepers of the first day more confident of their position than heretofore.”SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.4

    But very little mention has been made in the SIGNS concerning this so-called “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” and we will therefore state a few facts in order that our readers may know the truth of the matter, and understand just how much effect it has on the teaching of Seventh-day Adventists. We are the more anxious to do this because the “Teaching” has been widely circulated, and has received an immense amount of attention from religious journals since its discovery. Indeed its discovery has created a great furor in the religious world. The New York Independent regard it as “by all odds the most important writing, exterior to the New Testament, now in the possession of the Christian world;” and many other journals and teachers regard it as inferior to the New Testament. It is very certain that since the “Teaching” was discovered, religious journals have devoted more attention to it than they commonly do to the Bible itself.SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.5

    The document itself is a portion of a Greek manuscript that was discovered in the monastery of the Most Holy Sepulchre, in Constantinople, by Philotheos Bryennios, bishop of Nicomedia. Of course it is not claimed even by the most enthusiastic supporters of the “Teaching” that it was written by the apostles themselves. Learned men are divided in their opinion as to a date, some placing it as early as the beginning of the second century, and others claiming that it was composed no earlier than the third or fourth century. In the absence of any positive proof for a date, and to save controversy, we are willing to grant that it was written at the earliest date claimed for it, in the second century.SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.6

    The first question that will now rise in the minds of many will be, “Why should we take this document as an exponent of the belief and teaching of the apostles, rather than the writings of the apostles themselves?” And such a question would be very pertinent. It seems far more reasonable that we should go to the well authenticated writings of the apostles, to find their doctrine, than that we should appeal to the production of some unknown writer who did not even live contemporaneously with them. If I wish to become acquainted with the teachings of John Wesley, I go to his own works, instead of taking up what some anonymous writer may have said concerning his doctrine. So we should go to the New Testament to ascertain what was the “teaching” of the apostles. The whole affair looks as though there was a case to be sustained that could not be sustained by an appeal to the real teaching of the apostles.SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.7

    But before we proceed further to impeach a witness, we will hear his testimony. The fourteenth chapter entire is as follows:-SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.8

    “Coming together on the Lord’s day break bread and give thanks, confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. And let no one who has a dispute with his fellow approach with you until they be reconciled, lest your sacrifice be profane, for this is the sacrifice spoken of by the Lord: In every place and time bring to me a clean sacrifice, for I am a great king said the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.”SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.9

    It will be noticed that no clue is here given as to what day is referred to by the term “Lord’s day.” That most important matter is left out entirely. How, then, can this passage be made to do service in the Sunday cause? Easily enough; all that has to be done is to assume that the day here referred to is Sunday, and presto, the thing is accomplished, and we have “strong evidence” to prove that Sunday is the Sabbath. Concerning this assumption as made in the quotation from the Advance, we shall speak hereafter; we are at present dealing only with the “Teaching” itself.SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.10

    Thus far, then, we have found that the so-called “Teaching,” whether genuine or otherwise, affords not the slightest real testimony in favor of Sunday observance; the “evidence” has to be assumed. But this is not all. We have before us, not only the English translation of the “Teaching,” but the Greek text itself. We therefore know whereof we affirm when we say that the word for “day,” namely, hemera, does not once occur in the entire chapter. Neither is there any word corresponding to it, nor anything to indicate that the word “day” should be supplied. Why, then, was that word supplied by the translators? We leave the reader to answer that question to his own satisfaction. We have no fears, however, that any intelligent seventh-day keeper will change to the first day on the strength of so palpable and weak a forgery as this.SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.11

    When the lawyer told the judge that he could give fifty good reasons for his client’s absence from court, the first of which was that the man was dead, the judge decided that it was unnecessary to produce the other forty-nine. So we might leave the matter here, having shown that the “Teaching” cannot affect seventh-day keepers in the least, because it contains no hint concerning rest on any day of the week. But we wish to pay our respects to the document a little further, now that we are on the subject. Inasmuch, however, as it has not the slightest connection with seventh-day keepers either to uphold or to contradict their teaching and practice, we shall drop the first part of our heading, and pursue the subject farther under the simple heading, “The Teaching of the Apostles.” E. J. W.SITI October 9, 1884, page 599.12

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