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    August 3, 1888

    “Forgiveness Real, Not Pretended” The Signs of the Times, 14, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Last week we made some comments on an article which claimed that Paradise was that part of hades in which the souls of the righteous dead were detained until the resurrection of Christ, when it was abolished. We showed from the Scripture that hades is not and never was a half-way house to Heaven, that it is a place of unconsciousness where both righteous and wicked remain until the resurrection, and that Paradise has no connection with it, but is the dwelling-place of God, the place where the saints will be gathered when they receive their final, eternal reward. We gave all that was necessary to show the folly of the position that Paradise was an intermediate place of abode for God’s people; but there is another position taken in the article, as the basis of the one already noticed, which is so utterly opposed to divine revelation that it must have some attention. The writer says:-SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.1

    “The necessity for an intermediate place of abode for the Lord’s people, grew out of the fact that sin was not actually forgiven till the blood of Christ was actually shed.”SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.2

    We are sorry to see that this most unscriptural doctrine is being received with considerable favor of late. We wish that such would give special heed to the following texts:-SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.3

    Micah 7:18: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger forgiver, because he delighteth in mercy.” This is the language of one who knows the joy of actual forgiveness. The prophet extolled the Lord as one who did actually forgive sin.SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.4

    Exodus 34:6, 7: “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” At that time the Lord declared what then he was, and not simply what he would be at some future time.SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.5

    The Old Testament is full of promises of forgiveness. When one of the people sinner, he was to make the proper sin-offering, and the promise was, “and it shall be forgiven him.” Leviticus 4:26. So the prophet Isaiah said: “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6, 7.SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.6

    These words were as true when they were written as they are now. The people were told that if they would turn to the Lord he would “abundantly pardon” them. To say that they did not receive pardon when they turned from their sins, is to say that God held out to them a false hope; to say that the pardon was not real, is to discredit all the promises of God. The promise of pardon could not have been made any stronger.SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.7

    But we can refer to facts as well as promises. Read the following: “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:5. Here we have pardon actually granted. See also Psalm 85:2; 90:8 and Numbers 14:19, where it is expressly stated that God forgave the iniquity of the children of Israel.SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.8

    Some have thought that pardon before the death of Christ was not real but only typical, though what sort of a thing a “typical pardon” might be, they have not told us. But the pardon which David received was so real as to cause him to exclaim: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.” Psalm 32:1, 2. The forgiveness which David received was such as took away the sin so that the Lord did not any longer account him guilty. If that was not actual forgiveness, we should like to have someone tell us what more than that actual forgiveness could do for a man.SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.9

    This blessedness was Abraham’s when his faith was counted for righteousness. Abraham was the father of the faithful, for he “against hope believed in hope.” He had faith in Christ, who, it had been promised, would be descended from him, when he had no child, and when it was utterly impossible, humanly speaking, that he should ever have one. He is called the father of the faithful, because he exercised stronger faith than any other man who ever lived. But faith nowadays always brings the fullness of pardon, and Abraham’s greater faith must have brought the same thing to him. And so it did, as the Scriptures plainly declare.SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.10

    Abel likewise, by his sacrifice of faith, obtained witness that he was righteous. Hebrews 11:4. But if he was righteous, he had been cleansed from sin, for no man can be righteous before his sins are forgiven. Of Enoch we read that he walked with God. That is the same as saying that he was at peace with God; for two cannot walk together except they are agreed. But peace comes only after the faith which brings pardon. Enoch could not have walked with God, if his sins had been upon him; but if his sins were not actually forgiven, then they were actually upon him. Forgiveness must precede a righteous life; therefore to say that there was no actual forgiveness before Christ came, is the same as saying that there were no men who were actually righteous before the resurrection of Christ, but that all were hypocrites. Thus the theory of typical or pretended pardon dishonors both God and men.SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.11

    There is, however, a real difficulty in the minds of some who have no notion of denying God’s word, which declares that from the earliest ages men were actually forgiven, and were actually righteous. That difficulty is this: All the blessings that come to men, come by virtue of what is called the “second covenant,” of which Christ is mediator; but that covenant was not ratified until the death of Christ, and Paul says: “For a testament is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” Hebrews 9:17. Then how was it possible for men before the days of Christ to receive the blessing of forgiveness, which is promised only in the second covenant?SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.12

    A verse in the fourth of Romans will serve to answer this. The apostle, after telling how Abraham received the righteousness of faith, says that he believed God, “who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Verse 17. God can make a thing that is not just as real as though it actually existed. How is that? The answer is in Hebrews 6:13-18:-SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.13

    “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater; and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.”SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.14

    The promise which God made to Abraham was confirmed in Christ. His faith was counted for righteousness, by virtue of the Seed which was to come. And although God cannot lie, he confirmed his immutable promise by an oath, and so made it doubly unchangeable. So although all pardon is granted solely by virtue of the blood of Christ, after Christ had been promised it was the same as though he had actually been slain. So sure is the promise of God, that Christ is called “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;” for the promise that was made to Abraham was nothing more than the promise made to Adam.SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.15

    There is but one plan of salvation. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever,” is the center of that plan, and the grace of God through him has been equally abundant in all ages since sin entered into the world. “For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” W.SITI August 3, 1888, page 470.16

    “The Development of the Beast” The Signs of the Times, 14, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    1. What did we find in the preceding lesson was the determination of the bishops of the fourth century?-To make use of the power of the State for the furtherance of their own aims.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.1

    2. What was one of the principal aims of the Western bishops, especially the bishop of Rome?-The exaltation of Sunday.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.2

    3. What did they secure from Constantine?-An edict, in A.D. 321, in favor of Sunday-the first Sunday law that ever was.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.3

    4. What was this law?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.4

    “Let all the judges and town people, and the occupation of all trades, rest on the venerable day of the sun; but let those who are situated in the country, freely and at full liberty attend to the business of agriculture; because it often happens that no other day is so fit for sowing corn and planting vines; lest, the critical moment being let slip, men should lose the commodities granted by Heaven. Given the seventh day of March; Crispus and Constantine being coequals each of them for the second time.”-History of the Sabbath, chap. 19.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.5

    5. Who convened the council of Nice?-Constantine, A.D. 325.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.6

    6. What was one of the two principal decisions rendered by that council?-That Easter should always and everywhere be celebrated on Sunday.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.7

    7. Under what authority were its decrees published?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.8

    “The decrees of these synods were published under the imperial authority, and thus obtained a political importance.”-Neander, vol. 2, p. 133.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.9

    8. Who was bishop of Rome during twenty-one years and eleven months of Constantine’s reign?-Sylvester, January 31, 414, to December 31, 415.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.10

    9. What did he do with his “apostolic authority” shortly after the Council of Nice?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.11

    “He decreed that Sunday should be called the Lord’s day.”-History of the Sabbath, p. 450.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.12

    10. What was commanded by the Council of Laodicea, A.D. 363 to 364?-That if Christians should rest on the Sabbath, “let them be accursed from Christ;” and that they should rest on Sunday.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.13

    11. Did Constantine’s Sunday law apply to all classes?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.14

    12. Were other laws demanded by the bishops, which should be more general?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.15

    “By a law of the year 386, those older changes affected by the Emperor Constantine were more rigorously enforced, and, in general, civil transactions of every kind on Sunday were strictly forbidden. Whoever transgressed was to be considered, in fact, as guilty of sacrilege.”-Neander, vol. 2, p. 300.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.16

    13. What petition was made to the emperor by a church convention in A.D. 401?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.17

    “That the public shows might be transferred from the Christian Sunday and from feast days, to some other days of the week.”-Ib.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.18

    14. What was the object of all these State laws?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.19

    “That the day might be devoted with less interruption to the purposes of devotion.” “That the devotion of the faithful might be free from all disturbance.”-Ib., pp. 297, 301.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.20

    15. What was it that so much hindered the devotion of the “faithful” of those times?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.21

    “Owing to the prevailing passion at that time, especially in the large cities, to run after the various public shows, it so happened that when these spectacles fell on the same days which had been consecrated by the church to some religious festival, they proved a great hindrance to the devotion of Christians, though chiefly, it must be allowed, to those whose Christianity was the least an affair of the life and of the heart.”-Ib., p. 300.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.22

    16. How was their “devotion” disturbed?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.23

    “Church teachers... were, in truth, often forced to complain, that in such competitions the theater was vastly more frequented than the church.-Ib.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.24

    17. What does Neander say of all this?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.25

    “In this way, the church received help from the State for the furtherance of her ends.... But had it not been for that confusion of spiritual and secular interests, had it not been for the vast number of mere outward conversions thus brought about, she would have needed no such help.”-Ib., p. 301.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.26

    18. When the church had received the help of the State to this extent did she stop there?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.27

    No, she demanded that the civil power should be exerted to compel men to serve God as the church should dictate.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.28

    19. Which of the fathers of the church was father to this theory?-Augustine, who lived from A.D. 434 to 480.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.29

    20. What did he teach?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.30

    “It is indeed better that men should be brought to serve God by instruction than by fear of punishment or by pain. But because the former means are better, the latter must not therefore be neglected.... Many must often be brought back to their Lord, like wicked servants, by the rod of temporal suffering, before they attain to the highest grade of religious development.”-Schaff’s Church History, sec. 3; Augustine Epistle 185 and Bonfaciana, sec. 21:28.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.31

    21. What does Neander say of this?SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.32

    “It was by Augustine, then, that a theory was proposed and founded, which... contained the germ of that whole system of spiritual despotism of intolerance and persecution, which ended in the tribunals of the inquisition.”-Church History, vol. 5, p. 147.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.33

    Thus was formed the union of Church and State out of which grew the Papacy. Thus was developed “the beast,” which made war with the saints of God, and wore out the saints of the Most High.SITI August 3, 1888, page 473.34

    “Back Page” The Signs of the Times, 14, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A truth which is too often forgotten is put in the following brief form by the Christian Union: “False life in the church always has been, and still is, the prolific mother of false doctrine without it.”SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.1

    “Straws show which way the wind blows.” Among the important actions of the Pan-Presbyterian Council in London was the passing of a motion expressing fraternal sympathy with the Anglican bishops.SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.2

    We referred last week to the Pope’s protest against the proposed visit of the Emperor William to the king of Italy, and remarked that it remained to be seen whether the emperor would servilely yield to the demand of the Vatican or not. Latest advices state that the protest has proved effective. William II. King of Prussia and Emperor of united Germany, will not visit Rome, but he has gone to Canossa instead!SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.3

    In answer to a question relative to the claims of the first day of the week, the Congregationalist of June 14 quotes as reliable authority that ridiculous forgery which teaches that the hyena changes its sex every year, and which was written nobody knows when, and by nobody knows who, and calls it the “Epistle of St. Barnabas”! There is not an educated man in the world who has the slightest idea that the apostle Barnabas ever wrote that egotistical and abominable trash that is called the “Epistle of Barnabas,” yet there are but few who will not quote it in a Sunday controversy. We make no charges, but leave the reader to draw his own conclusions.SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.4

    “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” This is a part of the salutation in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Now the question is, Since the promise of life is in Christ Jesus, what will these persons do for life who are not in Christ? For them there is no promise of life. Then those who promise life to the wicked must be teaching something contrary to the doctrine of Christ. Now since it is a fact that without Christ there can be no victory over sin, it follows that they who teach that the wicked can have life without Christ, are strengthening the hands of the wicked. It is a dangerous thing to disbelieve the record that God gave of his Son; “and this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” 1 John 5:11.SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.5

    The meanest man has been discovered in the city of New York. He is a saloon keeper, and on a recent Sunday had charge of the beer counter on the barges which took over 1,500 poor people, men, women, and children, down the bay for a breath of fresh air. There was a huge task of lee-water aboard for the use of the passengers, and on the down trip they indulged freely in it. The receipts at the bar were not up to the expectations of the champion mean man; so before the excursionists return, he salted the water; and, the thirsty children cried for water, coolly told their mothers to give them a beer. For shame, that any Government or municipality should license such brutes to prey upon the community, and not only to enrich themselves by ministering to the basest appetites, but to plot to create such appetites and those who have not yet formed them.SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.6

    One of the characteristics of charity is that it “thinketh no evil.” This does not mean, as some seem to imagine, that true charity calls everything good; that when a man is holding gross error, or committing open sin, it is the part of charity to call him a good man. Christ was the embodiment of charity, yet he unsparingly denounced the wickedness of the scribes and Pharisees. But true charity does literally think no evil. That is, the man who has perfect charity has no evil thoughts; in none of his thoughts is there any taint of impurity, but all are the thoughts of God. In short, to have true, Christian charity, is to be pure in heart. This, and nothing less than this, is the result of perfect obedience to the commandments of God. It is the mark at which all should aim, and can be reached only by those who are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” who have in them the same mind that was in Christ. Charity is purity of heart, and so it will endure forever, even as those who are pure in heart shall see God and dwell in his presence forever.SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.7

    The apostle Paul says that God “hath made us able ministers of the New Testament [covenant]; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6. Even a superficial reading is sufficient to enable anyone to see that by “the letter” the apostle refers to the letter of the new covenant, and to nothing else. The new covenant is a covenant of life and peace, but if one keeps only the letter of the new covenant, and not its spirit, he will receive death instead of life.SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.8

    And right here, in this text, which some quote as opposed to the law of God, we have the most positive evidence of the existence of the law in connection with the new covenant. For “the wages of sin is death,” and “the strength of sin is the law.” Those who have merely the letter of the new covenant, and not the spirit of it, are sinners just as much as those are who wholly reject the covenant. If it were not so, there would be no death in connection with it. But sin and death invariably bear witness to the existence of the law. So the rock to which antinomians flee, is a rock which will crush them.SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.9

    Christ has “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:10. Then how say some that Socrates and Plato brought life and immortality to light? Did they teach the gospel of Christ? Were those heathen philosophers whose teachings were immoral, and whose lives were no better than their teachings-were they the forerunners of Christ and his gospel? or had they the gospel which was preached to Abraham? No; they were gross, sensual, benighted heathen. “But they taught the doctrine of immortality, even if they did not know anything of Christ.” Very true; and in that very thing lies the evidence that the doctrine of immortality which they taught is a false doctrine. For it is a fixed fact that the gospel of Christ alone reveals immortality, and therefore those who do not know Christ cannot know anything about immortality. This only would we ask our friends who accept the Platonic immortality: If men can learn immortality through Plato, what incentive have they to come to Christ? Strange that professed Christians should ever be willing to take the crown of Christ’s glory and place it on the head of a heathen philosopher.SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.10

    “There is more true honor amongst men on a wild American ranch, and amidst a semi-savage life, than in all the highest civilized society of London, as it exists.” Thus writes an English correspondent of America. And yet men think that nineteenth century civilization is good enough to take the place of religion, and that it is a sure protection against the evils that were rife in the middle ages. Such people need to be taught that wealth, and everything that clusters around it, does not change the heart, except sometimes to make it more callous. A man with great wealth and easy manners may be a greater villain than a man who has come up in the slums. Lea says that during the pontificates of Sixtus IV., Innocent VIII., and Alexander VI., A.D. 1471 through 1503, “increase of culture and of wealth seemed only to afford new attractions and enlarge opportunities for luxury and vice.” And thus it always is.SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.11

    The Rev. John Griffith, a missionary in China, writes as follows to some English friends:-SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.12

    “Some of your good people at home are beginning to think that they can do with a Christianity in which the divinity of Christ and the atonement of the cross may be classed among the debatable, non-essential dogmas of the church. The moment you have made up your minds to adopt this conclusion, as the truth of God, that very moment you may break up your missions, for we feel that a Gospel robbed of these two cardinal doctrines is no gospel at all to the heathen.”SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.13

    Neither is it any Gospel to anybody. There certainly can be no “good news” in the announcement that some man has undertaken our salvation. That which makes the gospel “good news” is the fact that the Saviour whom it announces is “Christ, the Lord.” This makes it “the power of God unto salvation.” Without this it is in no respect different from heathenism, and the man who ventures to preach a gospel which does not center around Christ as the divine Son of God, the Saviour of men, brings himself under a curse. See Galatians 1:8, 9.SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.14

    The Congregationalist says that “it is a great satisfaction to notice that the Centennial Exposition at Cincinnati, which opened July 4, and is to close October 27, is closed on Sundays.” The Congregationalist adds:-SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.15

    “An organized effort was made to induce the commissioners to take the opposite course, but those charged with responsibility adhered steadily to the view that it would be a direct violation of the law of God, and contrary to the real interests of the people, to keep the exposition open on the Sabbath.”SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.16

    And sure enough it would be, and is, a violation of the law of God to keep the exposition open on the Sabbath; but if the commissioners really thought so why do they not close on the Sabbath instead of on Sunday? The law of God says not one word about Sunday, the first day of the weed, and yet these commissioners close the exposition upon the day out of professed regard for that law, and keep it open upon the Sabbath, the seventh day, which the law of God particularly specifies as the day upon which no work shall be done! Surely this is a turning of things upside down; but who is to blame the commissioners, or religious teachers who are partial in the law?SITI August 3, 1888, page 480.17

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