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    August 4, 1887

    “The Besetting Sin” The Signs of the Times, 13, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” The apostle here takes the figure from the running course, where the contestant before starting in the race would lay aside every superfluous thing. Nothing was retained that would in the least hinder his progress. So we must lay aside everything that would hinder our progress in the divine life. These weights are of various kinds; some we have by nature, and others we voluntarily assume. Their number is legion, comprising every sin and evil tendency common to mankind. Barnes well says that “some very light objects, in themselves considered, become material and weighty encumbrances. Even a feather or a ring-such may be the fondness for these toys-may become such a weight that those who wear them will never make much progress toward the prize.” The original signifies something that may be hooked or fasted on. Constant watchfulness, therefore, is required on the part of the runner, lest, after he has laid aside a certain weight, Satan, who is ever on the alert, may fasten it on again.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.1

    In addition to the “weights,” of which different people have different kinds, there is a constantly recurring sin, to which all are liable, and which not only hinders our progress, but effectually stops it. If we trace the connection between Hebrews 12 and the two preceding chapters, we cannot fail to see that the sin to which the apostle here refers is the sin of unbelief. Verses 90 closes with these words: “Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; of them that the leave to the saving of the soul.” The eleventh begins with a definition of faith, and a continues with notable examples of it, showing that without faith it is impossible to please God. Then, the exhortation which we are now considering. Many suppose that by “the sin which doth so easily be beset us,” the apostle means some especial sin to which have differed persons are liable, differing in different cases. So we hear of impatience as the besetting sin of one person, and covetousness as the besetting sin of another. But the apostle speaks of “the sin,” and not of the sin which so easily besets us. It is a fact that may be demonstrated, that lack of faith is the greatest source of trouble with every person, manifesting itself, of course, in many different ways. Lack of faith keeps back thousands from being Christians, and causes many professed Christians to stumble and fall by the way.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.2

    The word which is rendered “easily beset,” does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It properly means “the surrounding,” and has been defined, “easy to encircle.” Tindal renders it, “the sin that hangeth on us.” Bloomfield supposes that it means “the sin which especially winds around us and hinders our course,” with reference to the longer garment worn by the ancients, which, if not removed or fastened up, would wind around the legs of the runner, and cause him to fall. In harmony with this view is the exhortation given to “gird the loins of your mind,” meaning to have faith.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.3

    How few there are who believe with all their heart. But a belief that admits of a doubt is not faith. True faith is that condition into which not the slightest element of disbelief enters. Who has the faith of Abraham, or Noah, or Moses? We think we have faith because we assent to the most prominent doctrines of the Bible, or to what is known as the “Third Angel’s Message.” A simple belief that Jesus is the Son of God, and that all the ten commandments are still as binding as when they were given, will not save it anybody. “The devil’s believe and tremble,” their belief is not imputed to them for righteousness; they are devils still. Genuine faith in the Third Angel’s Message is evinced by a practical reception and of all the truths brought out by it. Among them may be mentioned the spirit of the prophecy. One who does not believe in this is not a believer in the message, it is one of the main points. Compare Revelation 12:17 with Revelation 19:10, etc. But this also involves a practical believe in true temperance, that is a vital part of the Third Angel’s Message. True temperance, or health reform, as it is termed, has been declared to bear the same relation to the last message that the right arm does to the body. Then if we do not believe and practice it, our faith is a crippled faith.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.4

    We may also show our lack of faith by neglecting to render to God his dues. Among nearly all denominations the tithing system is now recognized as the Bible plan of supporting those who labor in the cause of God. It is founded on the same principle as the Sabbath-the right of property. “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord;” whoever uses that time for himself takes that to which he has no right. So also “the tithe is the Lord’s,” and whoever does not return it to him is guilty of robbery. Men who would scorn to defraud their neighbors of a dime, will systematically rob God, and think there is no wrong done. The Bible bears no uncertain testimony on this point. In astonishment the prophet says, by direct inspiration from God, “Will a man rob God?” Someone will say, No; a man cannot rob God. But listen: “Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” Malachi 3:8, 9. Abraham did not do so, for he paid tithes to the Lord’s servant. Noah, in gratitude for his preservation, sacrificed not merely one-tenth, but one-seventh of his property. The neglect to honor the Lord with our substance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase (Proverbs 3:9), is a most flagrant manifestation of unbelief. God makes his care for us both temporal and spiritual, dependent on our remembering him; but if we do not thus honor him, we intimate that we have no faith in his ability or willingness to care for us, or else that we lightly esteemed his protection. W.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.5

    “Manner of Christ’s Coming” The Signs of the Times, 13, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    It is most unfortunate that the tendency nowadays is almost entirely against a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. It seems difficult for people to understand that Christ and the apostles ever spoken plain, simple language, such as one person would use in speaking to another. Whenever a passage is read, the first thought with many is, What hidden meaning is there in it? What lesson is conveyed? Any one who reads the popular Sunday-school comments will see this tendency conspicuously displayed. Now it is proper to search the Scriptures; and if there be a difficult text, it is right to find out its meaning, by comparing it with other texts; but there are some things that are so plain that any attempt at explanation only obscures the meaning. And this is the case with by far the greater part of the Bible.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.6

    It is true that there are parables, but these are readily distinguished from the direct, simple statements, and are usually either explained, or in such common use as to need no explanation. When Christ was on earth, one of the proofs of his divine mission was that the poor had the Gospel preached unto them; consequently we should expect his teaching to be such as could be understood by poor people who have not had the advantages of an education. And this is the case. The Bible is a model of simplicity; it uses the language of the common people.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.7

    We have seen how very plain and direct the statements are in the Bible concerning the second coming of Christ. No believer in the Bible pretends to deny these statements, for to do so would be to deny the Bible. But there are very many who evade these statements, and virtually deny them, by claiming that Christ’s second coming is spiritual. Some claim that Christ comes when a good man dies; and others claim that his coming is at conversion; while others still, carrying the latter idea out still further, claim that there will sometime in the future be a temporal millennium, when all men shall have been converted, and that Christ will then come and reign over his people spiritually, and that this is what is meant by the second coming of Christ.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.8

    Now the Bible is just as definite in regard to the manner of Christ’s coming, as it is in regard to the fact of his coming. It plainly says that Christ will come personally and visibly. The texts which prove this will of course furnish additional evidence that Christ will certainly come.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.9

    And first it may be well to notice Hebrews 9:28: “And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Christ is to come the second time; but if the theory that he comes at death or conversion be correct, he would already have come many thousands of times.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.10

    Again, the time of Christ’s ministry here on earth, of which we have a record in the New Testament, is conceded by all to be his first advent. But men had been converted previously to that time, and for thousands of years good men had been dying. If Christ comes at conversion or at death, he must have come millions of times before his first advent. Anyone can see the absurdity of those theories.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.11

    It is not denied that Christ has, at different times in the world’s history, met and conversed with certain of his devoted followers, or that he is ever present with his people by his Spirit; but nothing of this kind can be referred to in the texts under consideration.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.12

    It would, however, be manifestly inconsistent to refer to any one of these times as the second coming of Christ. One of them has no precedence over another. But there was one time when he was here in person, when he talked with thousands, and was seen by thousands more. At that time there was probably no nation on earth that did not know of him and his mighty works; and there has been no nation since then that has not heard of that wonderful event. Now at that time he said he was coming “again,” and Paul speaking of that first advent and its object, said that he would come the “second time.” Consistency, therefore, would demand that his second coming be also personal and visible, and no less conspicuous nor less widely known than his first. And this we are positively told shall be the case: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.” Revelation 1:7.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.13

    Again we read: “For the Son of Man shall, in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27. Those who place the second coming of Christ at death, or at conversion, must have a very faint conception of the glory of the Father. When the Lord came down on Sinai, “the whole mountain quaked greatly” (Exodus 19:18); and when the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, even Moses was not able to enter. See Exodus 40:34, 35. The glory of a single angel, at the resurrection of Jesus, caused the Roman guard to fall as dead men. Matthew 28:4. What then will be the manifestation when he comes in his own glory, and that of the Father, and all the holy angels? This glory which will attend Christ’s coming is thus described: “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.” Psalm 50:3. Paul says that when Christ comes he will be “revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8. That this glory will be seen by all is proved by Revelation 1:7 already quoted, and by the words of our Saviour in Matthew 24:27: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Any one who has seen the lightning flash across the sky in the sheets so tensely bright to that even the closed eyelids could not wholly shut out the impression, can appreciate to a faint degree the terror of that day. Of the key facts of that glory, we learn again 2 Thessalonians 2:8: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” The fire that David says shall “devour before him,” is the glory of his presence.SITI August 4, 1887, page 470.14

    Nothing further is needed to prove that the coming of the Lord will be nothing like the quiet of a death-bed scene, or the hour when an individual gives his heart to God. There are, however, a host of other texts on this point, no less strong than those already quoted. Two only will be given to show how literal and personal that coming is. The first is Acts 1:9-11: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up in heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” The second is 1 Thessalonians 4:16: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”SITI August 4, 1887, page 471.1

    These texts speak for themselves. The language is clear and plain, and anyone can understand them. And yet, who can realize the terrible scene which they foretell? The human mind cannot conceive of the awful grandeur of that hour when the Lord of heaven and earth shall be revealed. Let each one ask himself the question:-SITI August 4, 1887, page 471.2

    “How will my heart endure
    The terrors of that day,
    When the earth and heaven, before the judge,
    Astonished, shrink away!” W.
    SITI August 4, 1887, page 471.3

    “Back Page” The Signs of the Times, 13, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    We heartily agree with the following statement by the Journal and The Messenger:-SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.1

    “The Sabbath-school is the church at steady, while the service following is the church worship. Parents and children should unite in both. In the former they may separate into classes according to mental attainments, but in the latter they should be together.”SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.2

    The camp-meeting in Eureka, Cal., will be held on the same ground as last year-Cormick’s Grove, between II and I Streets. It is hoped that every Sabbath-keeper in Humboldt County will be present at this meeting, unless unnecessarily detained at home by sickness. Besides the regular religious services, instruction will be given in various parts of the work, which no one can afford to lose.SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.3

    There has been much questioning among the brethren in California, whether or not the General Conference would be held in this state this year. We are glad to be able to announce that beyond all doubt the Conference will be held in Oakland this fall. Word has been received from the General Conference Committee to this effect. We are not informed as to the time, as it has not yet been fixed. Work is being pushed forward on the Oakland house of worship, which, according to contract, will be completed by the first of November.SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.4

    We are able to announce that at the Eureka camp-meeting special attention will be given to the interests of the Sabbath-school. The State Secretary will be present for the express purpose of giving instruction in the work of keeping records, making of reports, etc., and especially of helping the teachers in the primary departments, so that they may become more efficient workers with the little ones. Every Sabbath-school officer and teacher should be present. All teachers and secretaries are requested to bring their record books to the meeting.SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.5

    Cardinal Gibbons was in Washington Sunday, July 10, and, as the Catholic Mirror reports it: “At the special request of President Cleveland his eminence called upon the former at the executive mansion. The cardinal recounted some of the features of his interesting trip abroad, to which the President listened with evident pleasure. Mr. Cleveland expressed his pleasure at the safe return of his eminence in good health, and the distinguished pair parted with cordial manifestations of mutual esteem and respect.” Yes, the influence of the Catholic vote is very respectable, and Rome is very glad to make as many visits as possible to the executive mansion, so the respect is “mutual.”SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.6

    For the first time in the history of Iowa the State penitentiary at Fort Madison is so short of convicts as to prevent the fulfillment of the prison contracts. One such fact as this is a stronger argument in favor of Prohibition than are ten thousand utterances against it of the cry that “Prohibition does not prohibit.” When Prohibition so interferes with the business of penitentiaries that they cannot fulfill contracts made on the basis of crimes committed, then that is tangible proof that Prohibition does prohibit a large per cent of crime at the very least. And in so largely prohibiting crime, it must in the very nature of things prohibit that which leads to the commission of crime, and the connection is perfectly clear that it is liquor-drinking that leads to most of the crime. Let Prohibition succeed everywhere and continue forever.SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.7

    “Intemperance Rampant” The Signs of the Times, 13, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Quite recently Mrs. Margaret Parker, of Dundee Scotland, the World’s Organizer of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, was interviewed by a reporter concerning the status of temperance in the world. As Mrs. Parker is one of the foremost temperance women in the world, and is probably possessed of the best information on that subject, the following extract from the interview will be of interest:-SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.8

    “Do you find that the temperance movement has been gaining ground in the past few years?”SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.9

    “I find that the temperance movement is winning adherents but I also find that the liquor traffic is advancing immeasurably faster. Why, I see since my last visit to America that the liquor business has fairly made leaps and bounds. Saloons and places of iniquity have sprung up by the myriads. No, I am sorry to confess that liquor has far outdistanced temperance of late years. There is a growing temperance feeling, it is true, but the opportunities for indulging in iniquity are increased by the tenfold.”SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.10

    “Do you find the same condition of affairs all over the world?”SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.11

    “Pretty much so, but more particularly in Great Britain and America. It is difficult to decide which of the two has become the greater victim. But there is one thing I do not observe and that is that liquor has a much less hold on women in America than in Great Britain. I rarely see a woman touch intoxicants here, but it is far too common, I regret to confess, among my countrywomen.”SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.12

    One would naturally wonder what comfort those who are expecting the universal triumph of good in this world could gather from the fact that although temperance is growing, intemperance is increasing tenfold. But Mrs. Parker is not at all discouraged, because she expects that the ballot will very soon be given to win, which, she says, will make everything right.SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.13

    “Don’t They Know Better?” The Signs of the Times, 13, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    On a recent Sunday Paul Boynton, the famous swimmer, gave a public exhibition by floating in a rubber suit (after his usual fashion) from Holyoke to Springfield, in the State of Massachusetts; and, as might have been expected, the thousands of idle and curious people lined the river banks to witness the spectacle, which was attended with considerable noise because of the salutes which everywhere greeted the swimmer. This circumstance a correspondent of the Congregationalist takes as a text for a sharp sermon on the sin of violating the “Sabbath,” which title he applies to Sunday.SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.14

    Of course Boynton’s exhibitions are not worth seeing; but assuming that they are wrong because given on Sunday, is simply begging the whole question; for we cannot for a moment suppose that either the editor of the Congregationalist or the correspondent who wrote the article is so ignorant of divine truth as not to know that Sunday is not the Sabbath; and that, therefore, if such an exhibition is right on any day it is not wrong on Sunday, simply because it takes place upon that day. But the sang-froid with which so-called orthodox ministers and editors insist that Sunday is the Sabbath, would be amusing were not for the innate wickedness of the deception which they are thus palming off upon the people.SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.15

    All who teach such palpable errors that Sunday is the Sabbath, should consider well the question: “Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, and whereas ye say, the Lord saith it; albeit I have not spoken?” Ezekiel 13:7. And if they are honest with themselves and with God they must answer that they have done this very thing: for “they have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord saith; and the Lord hath not sent them; and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.” Verse 6.SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.16

    “They are foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing;” for, as every intelligent Bible student knows, there is not one word in that book to justify any man in calling the first day of the week the Sabbath. The Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments know but one Sabbath, to wit, the seventh day of the week, the day just before the first day of the week, the day upon which the holy women “rested according to the commandment,” before coming to anoint the body of the Saviour. See Luke 23:56; 24:1.SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.17

    “Reckless Statements” The Signs of the Times, 13, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Some weeks ago we made the statement that Sunday-keeping and infant baptism rest upon precisely the same ground, namely, human tradition; and that no one can give any good reason for receiving the one rather than the other. For this the Baptist Flag takes us to task, and stoutly asserts, but does not at all attempt to prove, that Sunday was “established as the ‘Lord’s day’ by example of Christ and his inspired apostles;” and that “the first day of the week, Sunday, or Sabbath, was observed by the apostolic Church from the time of Christ, for hundreds of years before the rise of Popery”!SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.18

    This statement, soberly made in a religious journal, serves to show the utter recklessness of those who, right or wrong, are determined to bolster up an unscriptural practice. Even if the Flag’s first proposition were true, its second could not be; for there was no “apostolic church from the time of Christ, for hundreds of years before the rise of Popery.” This idea of stretching the apostolic church over several centuries is certainly original with our Baptist contemporary, but it is scarcely worth copywriting; it is, however, in perfect keeping with the argument (?) that Sunday was “established as the ‘Lord’s day’ by the example of Christ and his inspired apostles.”SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.19

    There is scarcely a papal abomination for which the same claim is not made, at least so far as the example of “inspired” men is concerned. This is notably true of the practice of pouring or sprinkling for baptism. The claim that affusion is apostolic is made with the utmost apparent confidence even by learned men in several of the most respectable and influential churches; and yet there is not an intelligent Baptist anywhere who does not know that there is not a shadow of truth in it. Anyone reading the Bible without bias or prejudice would certainly conclude that immersion an immersion alone is baptism; and just as surely must the candid reader conclude that the seventh day is the only divinely appointed Sabbath or Lord’s day. And to turn aside from the Scriptures and recognize the authority of tradition, even though it claim to be apostolic, is simply to open the floodgates of error; and they who do it are not really Protestants, even though be Baptists, for the fundamental principle of Protestantism is that the Bible is a sufficient role faith and practice, while Popery asserts that apostolic or church tradition is of equal authority. Sunday-keeping is not taught in the Scripture and is, therefore, not Protestant but Papal.SITI August 4, 1887, page 480.20

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