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    August 28, 1884

    “The Sabbath-School” The Signs of the Times, 10, 33.

    E. J. Waggoner

    LESSON FOR THE PACIFIC COAST—SEPT. 20

    1. Shortly after the birth of Christ, what cruel act did Herod perform? Matthew 2:16.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.1

    2. What prophets had foretold this event, and its attendant sorrow? Verses 17, 18.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.2

    3. Where is this prophecy found? Jeremiah 31:15.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.3

    4. What did the Lord, through his prophet, say to the sorrowing mothers? Verse 16.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.4

    5. From what place is it said that the murdered children shall come? Ib.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.5

    6. What is found in Heaven, in the presence of God? Psalm 16:11.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.6

    7. Since the murdered children are now in the land of the enemy, can it be that they went to Heaven at death?SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.7

    8. Who is the enemy of the human race? 1 Peter 5:8.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.8

    9. Do all who died pass under Satan’s power? Hebrews 2:14.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.9

    10. Who has the keys of Satan’s prison house? Revelation 1:18.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.10

    11. By whom is the resurrection of the dead made possible? Acts 4:2; 1 Corinthians 15:22.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.11

    12. What has the Lord promised to do with death? Isaiah 25:8.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.12

    13. When will this thing be brought to pass? 1 Corinthians 15:54.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.13

    14. What is the change that shall take place when this same shall be brought to pass?SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.14

    15. When does this change from corruption to incorruption take place? 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.15

    16. And when is it that the trumpet sounds? 1 Thessalonians 4:16.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.16

    17. Then when is it that God’s people gain the victory over death?SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.17

    18. When will they come from the land of the enemy?SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.18

    19. Quote two Scriptures to show that both living and dead are made immortal at the same time.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.19

    Our lesson this week is introduced by an incident which is familiar to everyone having the slightest knowledge of the Bible, namely, the slaughter of the children at Bethlehem, by order of Herod, improperly called “The Great.” Whether many or few infants were slain, the act is one of unparalleled atrocity; for although it was perfectly in keeping with Herod’s character, his life having been filled with the murders, we know of no other instance on record, of a wholesale massacre of infants, in order to secure the destruction of a possible future claimant of the crown. As to the effect that this barbarous act caused, the evangelist has simply said that there was “lamentation, and weeping, and great morning.” Each mind can best picture for itself the anguish and sorrow that followed.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.20

    The point, however, to which we are directed is the fact that this was a direct fulfillment of a prophecy uttered by Jeremiah fully six hundred years before, and recorded in his 31st chapter. Many commentators have thought that Matthew merely states a striking coincidence which he had discovered between the words of Jeremiah, spoken with reference to another object, and the occurrence at the birth of Christ. But a large part of prophecy has a double meaning; that is, two similar things, while near it hand and the other far distant, maybe foretold in the same words. And so Jeremiah’s prophecy, although it had immediate reference to the Jewish captivity and restoration, took in also this and other calamities, and the final restoration of God’s people. The fact that the prophet had in view the captivity of the Jews, adds force to the argument which we draw from his words, as we shall see.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.21

    “Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Thus saith the Lord; refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.” Jeremiah 31:15, 16. Now notice: These children “were not,” that is, they were dead; they had ceased to exist. Again, the command is given, “Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears.” This is advice that we have more than once heard given to sorrowing mothers; but the reason for so doing was not the same as that given by the Lord through his prophet. Modern comforters bid the mother to cease weeping, because her child is now happy in Heaven, singing praises before the throne of God, etc. But the Lord gives as a source of comfort the fact that the children shall come again from the land of the enemy. Is Heaven the land of the enemy? No one would think of applying to it such a title as that. It is the habitation of God (Psalm 11:4; 33:13, 14), and certainly he cannot be called an enemy. The psalmist, addressing God, says: “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11. Then certainly those little ones had not gone the heaven. And if they did not go to Heaven at death, who does? for surely they had done no sin, and that there was hope for them is plainly stated by the Lord.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.22

    Where, then, did they go? To the land of the enemy, for that is the place from which they are to come again to their own border. Our first inquiry must be as to who is the enemy. Peter says: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. An adversary is “an antagonist; an enemy; a foe.” He is the enemy not only of the whole human race, but of God. “But,” some one may ask, in astonishment, “why should those innocent children go to the land of the devil? What wrong had they done?” Not so fast; let us see what the land of the enemy is. These children were dead; concerning that there is no disagreement. Now death is often spoken of as a land. Job says: “Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.” Job 10:20-22. And David says: “Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” Psalm 88:10-12. Thus we see that death is spoken of as a land, and that the devil is an enemy; let us see if we have Scripture warranted for connecting the two.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.23

    We turn to the second chapter of Hebrews, and there we read: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he Christ also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Verse 14. Death, then, is under the control of Satan, and is, therefore, the land of the enemy. All who die pass into the enemy’s land, and under the power of the enemy. And now we see the appropriateness of applying Jeremiah’s prophecy to the slaughter of the innocents as well as to the captivity of the Jews. The Israelites were taken to Babylon, the land of their enemy and conqueror. They did not desire to go, and it was not a pleasant place for them while there. (See Psalm 137.) They felt that they were in an enemy’s land. Now if death be a friend, as it is often called, there is no fitness in applying a prophecy concerning the Jews’ captivity to the murder of the children. But when we remember that death is an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), and that the adversary of the race has control of it (Hebrews 2:14), we see perfect harmony in the double application of the prophecy.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.24

    In the light of Hebrews 2:14, which says that the devil has the power of death, let us consider for a moment the theory that death ushers the good into the presence of God. The old hymn has it that death is “the voice that Jesus sends, to call us to his arms.” If that be so, then the devil is Christ’s messenger to call his children home. And in that case the devil would cease to be the adversary of mankind, for no kindlier act could be performed than to admit us to the joys of Heaven. Indeed many persons do, although unconscious of the fact, call the devil a friend; for they call death a friend; and if death be a friend, then the one who has control of it and brings it to us must also be a friend. We do not care to thus compliment the devil, and we believe that no one else will who gives the matter serious thought.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.25

    Death is Satan’s prison house. Were he allowed to have his own way, he would never release one of its captives. But Christ says: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell the grave and death.” Revelation 1:18. Satan can still shut up mortals in the grave, but he cannot hold them there. Christ has entered the strong man’s house, and having proved himself the stronger, will spoil him of his goods. It is through Christ that the resurrection of the dead comes. It is he, not Satan, that admits the righteous into the mansions prepared for them. He has promised (Isaiah 25:8) to swallow up death in victory, and this will be brought to pass, not at death, but when the trumpet sounds, and the dead in Christ are raised incorruptible, and the living are changed. If anyone thinks that death has been swallowed up in victory, let him consider whether the living have been changed to immortality. When that takes place, there will be no more sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, for then we shall ever be with the Lord. E. J. W.SITI August 28, 1884, page 518.26

    “Under the Law” The Signs of the Times, 10, 33.

    E. J. Waggoner

    There is no text that is more frequently called into service by those who teach the abolition of God’s law than Romans 6:14: “For ye are not under the law, but under grace.” It can hardly be said however that Romans 6:14 is called into the service, for the whole of the text is seldom given, neither is the context quoted by the opposers of God’s law; and we are sorry to say that many forget even to tell where the little that they do quote may be found, thus rendering it impossible for those unfamiliar with the Bible to examine the matter for themselves. We shall endeavor to set forth the exact meaning of the expression, letting the Bible be its own expositor.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.1

    Before entering upon the study of a disputed text it is always well, if possible, to have some definite statements concerning the point in question. Fortunately, on the subject of the law, the Bible is not lacking in explicit statements. We will quote a few in addition to those previously noticed in these articles. Christ said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17, 18. But all has not yet been fulfilled. The Lord, through Isaiah, said: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth.” Isaiah 65:17. This prophecy has not yet been accomplished, therefore, according to our Saviour’s words, the law has not yet passed away. And to show still more plainly the immutable nature of that law, he said: “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” Luke 16:17.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.2

    The words of Christ recorded in Matthew 7:21 bear directly on the text under consideration. It is claimed that Romans 6:14 teaches that Christians are not required to keep the law. But Christ said: “Not every one 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.” This covers all who will enter Heaven, of whatever class or nation they may be. Calling on the name of the Lord is not sufficient; only those will enter Heaven who have done the will of God. Then certainly the law is binding on Christians.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.3

    Again; as we have already seen, the law is God’s righteousness: My tongue shall speak of thy word; for all thy commandments are righteousness.” Psalm 119:172. Verse 142 reads: “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.” Here we have the two facts stated, that the law is righteousness, and that it is everlasting. In Isaiah 51:7 the Lord says: “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law.” This again shows that the law of God is righteousness; and the preceding verse says: “My righteousness shall not be abolished.” Of course not; who can suppose for a moment that God would abolish righteousness? No one would charge him with doing such a thing, yet that is just what he would be doing if he should abolish his law.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.4

    Now we are prepared to consider Romans 6:14: “Ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Who are they that are not under the law? Those who are under grace. Now Paul says, “By grace are ye saved,” Ephesians 2:5; so, then, those, and those only, who are under grace will be saved in the kingdom of God. But we have already seen from our Saviour’s words in Matthew 5:7-21, that only those are saved who do the will, or law, of God. Then it necessarily follows that they who are under grace are the very ones who keep God’s law; and therefore the apostle does not mean that we are not obliged to keep the law, when he says we are not under it but under grace.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.5

    If we examine the context, we shall find this conclusion confirmed. Going back to the previous chapter, we find the statement that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The grace of God was extensive enough to cover all sin. The apostle then continues: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Romans 6:1. The idea is, Since God’s grace is extended to all, and is exhibited the most clearly where sin is greatest, shall we continue in sin, in order that God may have an opportunity to manifest his grace toward us? “God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” To sin simply in order that God might have a chance to pardon, would be to tempt him. If such a course were pursued toward an earthly ruler, no one would expect to see a pardon granted.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.6

    We have learned, then, that those to whom God manifests his grace must not sin. And what is sin? “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. So the subjects of grace must not transgress the law. In verses 3-5 Paul introduces the subject of baptism, and says that we were baptized into Christ-planted in the likeness of his death. “We are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” This agrees exactly with what we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17, that if any man be in Christ he is a new creature. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Verse 6. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Verse 11.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.7

    In verses 12 and 13 he exhorts to shun sin and to “yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” And now we come to the fourteenth verse: “For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” If people would read the whole of this verse, it would scarcely be possible for them to conclude that “not under the law” means freedom to break it at pleasure. Let us notice. What is sin? “Sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. Now Paul says to certain ones: “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” Why not? Because “Ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Then we learn that those who are not under the law are not under the dominion of sin; and the apostle’s words are framed in such a manner as to force us to conclude that those who are under the law are under the dominion of sin. But sin, as we have learned, is the transgression of the law; therefore those who are under the law are those who sin, or break the law. It seems as though no one could fail to see this clearly. Paul’s words, then, in verse 14 amount simply to this: That those to whom God has manifested his pardoning grace will not yield themselves to break his law. But this very argument shows that the law is in full force, for if it were not, they could not put themselves under it.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.8

    The succeeding verses sustain this point: “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Verse 15. This is simply a repetition of verses 1 and 2. Let us illustrate the apostle’s meaning by a familiar occurrence. Here is a man who has stolen a horse. He has been found guilty, and sentenced to a term of years in the penitentiary. He has transgressed the law, and it has its strong hand upon him; he is under the law. It is the law that shuts him up in prison and holds him there. But before his sentence has expired, friends intercede for him and the governor pardons him. He is now a free man; the law does not hold him any longer. He is indebted, however, to the governor for his liberty. The governor was under no obligation to interfere in his case, and set him free; that was simply an act of favor, or grace. The man is therefore a subject of the governor’s grace. Now what will he do? You say that if he appreciates the favor that has been shown him, he will lead an orderly, quiet life, and will never again be guilty of violating the law. It was only with the understanding that he would do so that the governor pardoned him. Suppose, however, he should say, “Now I am a free man; the law held me for a while, but I am not now under it; I am a subject of the governor’s special favor. I can now steal horses, or do anything I please.” You say at once that if the authorities heard of his words they would have him watched, and should he be found breaking the law again, he would speedily be remanded to prison. The governor in granting him special favor did not give him license to break the law. That act of favor simply placed the man once more in the position that he was before he violated the law, except that his obligation to keep it is greatly increased. If before he was set free he had made known his determination to steal again, the governor would never have shown him any favor at all.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.9

    Nobody has any difficulty in understanding a case like the above. Well, we may apply the same principles to men in their relation to God. What we want to remember is that all men have transgressed the law, and brought themselves into condemnation and can get no help except from God. On account of Christ’s sacrifice, however, and through his intercession, God is willing to bestow his grace upon all, and thus freely justify them. But he will not save those who are satisfied to be under condemnation; they must have a desire to be free. And how may it be known who wish to become free, and who are satisfied to remain in bondage to sin? Simply by their actions. If they love sin, and are determined not to cease violating the law, no further evidence is needed. Favor shown to such would be favor thrown away. But those who groan, as did Paul, to be free from the load of guilt that rests upon them, may with safety be given their liberty, for they will not use it as a license to sin still more. E. J. W.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.10

    “Spiritualistic Theology” The Signs of the Times, 10, 33.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Two weeks ago a sermon was preached in the Calvary Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, on this subject: “Do the Dead Revisit this Earth, and Take an Interest in Earthly Affairs?” From the brief synopsis of the discourse, as it appeared in the Bulletin next day, we quote the following:-SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.11

    “He thought that there are no dead; that those who have passed away are now living in the full possession of all the faculties possessed here.... The speaker went on to say that the spirits of our departed friends and relatives were with us, always hovering near,” etc.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.12

    We hope that is not a sample of the sermons that are preached. In fact, we know it is not; for we do not think that Spiritualism has yet captured the world entirely. We wish to make one or two comments from a Bible stand-point; but first we will call attention to the inconsistency between the subject and the discourse itself. “Do the Dead Revisit this Earth?” was the subject, and one of the first statements was that there are no dead. If so, then the only possible answer to his question is, No. The subject was very inappropriate, or else the sermon was all a mistake.SITI August 28, 1884, page 520.13

    As we read the report, we could not help asking, Did the man ever read the Bible? and if so, does he believe it? Even the Revised Version, with all its changes, has not dropped the words “dead” and “death.” If there are no dead, what does the Bible mean when it says of each one of the patriarchs, “And he died”? What are we to understand when we read, “It is appointed unto man once to die” (Hebrews 9:27); “by one man seventh came into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men” (Romans 5:12); and many similar passages which speak of death? Does the “Reverend Doctor” wish us to take his “thoughts” in preference to the Bible? And if it is permitted us to believe the Bible, in what Dictionary will we find a proper definition of Bible words? For if we take Webster’s definition of Bible terms, the preacher’s suppositions are greatly at fault.SITI August 28, 1884, page 521.1

    Again, he thinks “that those who have passed away are now living in the full possession of all the faculties possessed here.” What reason has he for thinking so? When Hezekiah was sick, the Lord said to him, “Set thine house in order; for thou shall die and not live.” Isaiah 38:1. Christ says: “I am he that live with, and was dead.” Revelation 1:18. The Bible recognizes the great difference between life and death. Hezekiah saw so much difference that he wept sore at the thought that he should die and not live. Now, query: If “death” means “life,” are not the terms identical? They must be, and therefore “life” means “death,” and “living” means “dead.” Then why are we not justified in saying that there are no living? that all who are on earth are dead, and “no not anything”? Would we be any farther out of the way than the San Francisco preacher?SITI August 28, 1884, page 521.2

    The speaker thought that the dead are in possession of all their faculties. We do not. Do you want to know how we dare differ with a man who writes “D. D.” After his name? If you have a Bible, open it and turned to Ecclesiastes 9:5. Now read slowly: “For the living know that they shall die [some pretend not to]; but the dead know not anything.” Read also the tenth verse: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave wither thou goest.” We commend this verse to the preacher above mentioned, with this explanation thrown in, that when Solomon says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,” he has no reference to preaching sermons the contradicts the Bible. Read once more: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Psalm 146:3, 4. Are we not justified in different with the learned doctor? We advise our friend who is looking up these references, to read carefully the last quotation. “Put not your trust in princes,” neither in doctors of divinity, but in the word of the Lord, which abideth forever.SITI August 28, 1884, page 521.3

    Once more, “The spirits of our departed friends and relatives are with us, always hovering near.” Again we dissent. Why? Read the preceding paragraph again, and you will see. But we ask you to open your Bible once more, and turn this time to Job, and read the fourteenth chapter at your leisure. We will together read verses 19-21: “Thou destroyest the hope of man. Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away. His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.” Will someone tell us why we should not believe the words of the Bible rather than those of a man?SITI August 28, 1884, page 521.4

    It is not probable that one of those who listened to that sermon dreamed that it was a Spiritualist sermon. They would be surprised, perhaps indignant, if you should tell them so. “Why,” they might say, “Spiritualism is something horrible, but we don’t see anything bad about this.” Is it not a horrible thing to ignore and deny God’s holy word? Read Jeremiah 5:30, 31, and see what did Lord says about it. Spiritualism is simply the doctrine that there is really no death, but that the (so-called) dead may hold communication with the (so-called) living. The only terrible thing about it is that it is a square denial of the Bible, the inspired word of God, and an acceptance of the words of Satan, the father of lies, who first promulgated the doctrine. See Genesis 3:4. But a more terrible thing than this we cannot imagine. And the most frightful thing of all is that people look upon it as truth, and think that it is pleasant. What is to hinder the whole world from being swamped in this last great delusion of the archdeceiver? Nothing but the plain truth is of God’s word, repeated again and again. But, alas! with the majority even this will not avail, for “my people doth not consider.” E. J. W.SITI August 28, 1884, page 521.5

    “Eternal Life” The Signs of the Times, 10, 33.

    E. J. Waggoner

    From a study of the doctrine of the second advent, and the kindred doctrine, the resurrection, we have arrived at the necessary conclusion that if Christ were not to come there would be no hope of salvation for any of his followers. The leading place which is given to this subject in the Bible, and especially in the New Testament, is enough to convince any one of its great importance; and when we considered Christ’s words, that his second coming would be for the express purpose of taking his disciples to himself, we see why it is given so much prominence. We dare not regard our Saviour’s word so lightly as to say that his promises mean nothing; but if his followers can be with him before his second coming, then his coming in John 14:3 has no meaning whatever. So, as we said, we are driven to the conclusion that the people of God must wait for their salvation until the Lord comes.SITI August 28, 1884, page 521.6

    Our reading of the Bible has also shown us that the resurrection is a “living again,” which implies a previous cessation of life. This would teach us that there is no life between death and the resurrection; for a man cannot “live again” unless he has ceased to live. And since there is no resurrection until the Lord comes, it follows that if he were not to come there would be no life for his people. There can be no escape from this conclusion; we will verify it by the plain declarations of Scripture.SITI August 28, 1884, page 521.7

    There are no words of the Bible more familiar to the Christian, or more dear to him, than these words of Christ to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. The love of God to man is beyond all human comprehension. Even the angels, we are told (1 Peter 1:12), desire to look into and understand the mystery of the plan of salvation. But none but God himself can comprehend the love that prompted that vast scheme. To all eternity it will be the wonder of both saints and angels. Human hearts know something of love, and some can perhaps imagine the anguish they would feel if called upon to give up an only child to suffer cruel torture and an ignominious death. But the love of an infinite God must be as much greater than that felt by mortals, as God himself is greater than man. Yet he gave his only begotten Son,-the one by whom all things were made, whom the angels worship with reverence equal to that which they yield to God,-that man might have eternal life. Then certainly men do not have eternal life, or, what is the same thing, immortality, by nature.SITI August 28, 1884, page 521.8

    Men often work to no purpose, and spend time and strength for that which is wholly unnecessary; but it is not possible to imagine such a thing of God. Since he knows the end from the beginning, he knows what is necessary to be done, and what means are needed to accomplish it. Would God make such an infinite sacrifice to accomplish something entirely uncalled for? to give to man that which he already possessed? Certainly not. If left to themselves, man would never have had even a hope of eternal life.SITI August 28, 1884, page 522.1

    And right here is worth our while to consider what this wonderful thing is that was bought for us at such a price. There are few that value it as they ought. If men appreciated it, then there would be a general ascription of praise to God for his love in bringing it to us. In the first place we must remember that it is eternal life and that alone that is brought within our reach by the gift of God’s Son. So Paul says: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life to Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. Eternal life is life to all eternity-life that has no end. Now what is life? It is simply existence. Nothing else is contained in the word. The poor man who drudges for a bare subsistence, the invalid who has no waking moment that is free from pain, the beast that possesses no moral sense, the idiot who is even lower in the scale of intelligence than the brute,-all these live just as certainly as does the man who possesses health, wealth, the keenest perception, and a sense of moral obligation. We can say of one that he has a happy life, and of another that his life is miserable, even a burden, but these ideas could not be conveyed by the unqualified term “life.” When we hear that a man lives, we know that he exists, and that is all that we know. He may be ill or well, wealthy or in the depths of poverty, enjoying perfect happiness or suffering extreme anguish, yet we can know nothing of this unless we are told something more than the mere fact that he lives.SITI August 28, 1884, page 522.2

    What then is eternal life? Simply eternal existence. Then it is eternal existence that is brought within man’s reach by the sacrifice of Christ. We do not say that the redeemed will not enjoy perfect happiness, but that is not the primary thing that is given to the overcomer. The happiness of the redeemed is a secondary matter, growing out of the circumstances in which they are placed. That happiness should be the lot of men who spend an eternity in the presence of God and of Christ, where nothing can happen to annoy, is a natural consequence. Unending existence, then, is what is promised to those who believe in the Son of God.SITI August 28, 1884, page 522.3

    And now we notice that “whosoever believeth in him” shall have eternal life. What shall they have who do not believe in him? Shall it be eternal life? If it is so, that all men have immortality by nature, then what is gained by believing in Jesus? How much better off are believers than unbelievers? None at all. Is it reasonable to suppose that God would hold up to man an unending existence as an incentive for him to accept of Christ, if he were already in possession of it, and if he had it so securely that God himself could not deprive him of it? There is no one who will not say, No, to such a proposition. We repeat: If all men are by nature in possession of immortality, then the gospel holds out no inducement for man to believe in Christ.SITI August 28, 1884, page 522.4

    It cannot here be argued by those who hold that man is essentially immortal, that the unbelievers will be worse off than the believers in that they will be doomed to hopeless misery, because, as we have seen, it is life pure and simple that is held out as the prize. The text does not say that God gave his Son in order that whosoever believeth in him should not be miserable, but have happiness. We must take the text as it reads, and not attach anything to that that is not contained in it. From John 3:16 we can reach no other conclusion than that those who do not believe in Christ will not have eternal life. And this fact is plainly stated in the thirty-sixth verse of the same chapter: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.”SITI August 28, 1884, page 522.5

    Eternal life is the grand object for which man was created. This present life is a period of probation, in which we are proved, to see if we would know how to use so great a boon. If we desire eternal life earnestly enough to comply with the conditions, it will at the last day be bestowed upon us; but if we squander this life, and dishonor God, what encouragement will he have to extend our life to all eternity? He will not do it. And since those who disobey God never get beyond this probationary state, the anteroom, as it were, of life, it can be truly said of them that they do not see life. How it is that they who have Christ have eternal life (John 3:36) will be considered next week. E. J. W.SITI August 28, 1884, page 522.6

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