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    December 28, 1888

    “Truth and Its Importance” The Signs of the Times, 14, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    When Jesus stood before Pilate, accused as a malefactor, he vindicated his character by these simple words: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” John 18:37. Pilate, unconscious of the fact that Jesus had already given the substance of the best definition of truth, asked, “What is truth?” and immediately went out. His question, and the fact that he did not seem to expect an answer, would indicate that he did not believe in the existence of such a thing as truth.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.1

    There have always been, and are still, many, many people in the same condition as Pilate. There are many who affect to disbelieve in the existence of truth and goodness. The reason for this is plain. Their own hearts are corrupt, and they have naturally sought the association of those of like character, until they know nothing of truth. The licentious man, who has always associated with men and women of low and depraved tastes, does not believe that there is such a thing as virtue. The knave thinks all men can be bought, providing the price is fixed high enough. Pharaoh, who knew nothing by experience of real worship directed to a God who could discern the motives, did not believe that there existed any such being. Only the man whose heart is pure, or who has longings for purity of soul, can know and appreciate the truth; for it is only the man who will do God’s will who shall know of the doctrine. John 7:17.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.2

    When Jesus said that he came into the world to bear witness of the truth, and that everyone that is of the truth would hear his voice, he expressed in another form what he had already told his disciples: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6. He is the one that is holy and true, “the faithful and true witness.” One of the definitions of truth is, “Exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be.” This exactly agrees with what is revealed of Jesus. He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever,” Jehovah, “the one which is, and which was, and which is to come.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.3

    In his prayer for the disciples Jesus told what truth is, and what it will do. Said he: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” John 17:17. But Jesus is the Word of God, the one through whom alone the character, and attributes, and power of God are made known to men. The law of God, the ten commandments, is declared to be the truth, as the psalmist says: “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth;” and, “Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth.” Psalm 119:142, 151. These commandments were spoken by the voice of God upon Mount Sinai, and “he added no more,” so that they are, in an eminent degree, the truthful word of which Christ spoke in his prayer, yet it was the voice of the Son of God, the divine Word, who uttered them, so that the commandments of God are inseparably connected with our Lord Jesus Christ. They proceeded from him, being an expression of his own righteousness.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.4

    That this is so is shown still farther by the words of the prophet concerning Christ: “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable.” Isaiah 42:21. There cannot be the slightest doubt that this chapter is a prophecy of the Messiah, and the law is expressly declared to be his righteousness. So when the prophet David spoke by inspiration in Christ’s stead, he said: “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” Now take these facts, together with Christ’s words, “Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice,” and we have the most positive evidence that the keeping of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus are inseparably connected. No one can keep the commandments without faith in Jesus, and no one ever has real faith in Jesus except as he is driven to it by the terms of the violated law, and by a sincere desire to have the righteousness of the law fulfilled in him. The righteousness which is “through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9), is the only righteousness that will secure one a dwelling-place in the new earth, wherein righteousness shall dwell.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.5

    The importance of this truth is shown by what it will do for us. Christ showed in his prayer that it will sanctify us. The apostle Peter writes: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit,” etc. 1 Peter 1:22. And Christ, who declared himself to be the embodiment of the truth, said to the Jews who believed in him: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31, 32. But the same apostle who wrote, “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:8, 9.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.6

    From these texts which we have just grouped together, we learn that the law of God is the truth that makes men free, and purifies the heart, but that it is not the law in the abstract that does this, but “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” and that this is effected by “the Spirit of truth.” The law of God is called a “law of liberty,” and so it is, but only to those who obey it; and none can obey it except as they yield to the striving of the Holy Spirit, and come to Christ.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.7

    The truth which makes free is not an outward compliance with the ten commandments. The Pharisees outwardly appeared righteous unto men, yet they were in the worst kind of bondage. David says: “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” Psalm 51:6. And speaking of the man who shall abide in the holy hill of the Lord, who shall be “delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God,” he says that it is the one that “walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” Psalm 15:2. The man who does that is one with Christ, even as he was one with the Father, because Christ had the law in his heart.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.8

    The keeping of the commandments of truth is all that God requires of man. Says Solomon: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14. There can be nothing more required of man than to do this; but it cannot be done except by faith in Christ. This does not mean a passive assent to the principles of the Christian religion, but such faith as brings Christ to dwell in the heart, so that he can work in us that which is good.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.9

    The comprehensiveness of the law of truth is shown by the text last quoted. It is the whole duty of man, and by it every work, with every secret thing, shall be brought into Judgment. This shows that the commandments of God are that word of God which is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12. Keeping the commandments is something more than a form. It consists in having every act, every word, and every thought just such as they would be if Jesus were dwelling within the man, acting and speaking and thinking through him. It consists in acting and speaking in every instance just as Jesus would act or speak under the same circumstances. Surely this cannot be done unless Christ dwells in the heart.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.10

    Who, then, has outgrown the ten commandments? Are they of a lower grade of morality than is required of Christians in this age? Nay, verily. Let no one say that to exalt the law of God is to deny Christ; for in no other way can we so exalt Christ, and so appreciate the necessity of having his continual presence with us, as by exalting the breadth and holiness of the law.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.11

    But will there ever be any people on the earth who will have attained to that perfection of character? Indeed there will be. Says the prophet: “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth.” Zephaniah 3:13. When the Lord comes there will be a company who will be found complete in him,” having not their own righteousness, but that perfect righteousness of God which comes by faith of Jesus Christ. To perfect this work in the hearts of individuals, and to prepare such a company, is the work of the Third Angel’s Message. That message, therefore, is not a mass of dry theories, but is a living, practical reality.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.12

    Happy will those persons be who form the remnant of Israel, in whose hearts the righteousness of God’s law of truth is perfected. For them mansions will be prepared in that glorious city wherein there shall in nowise enter anything that defileth, “neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.” Revelation 21:27. And as they approach that great and strong city, the walls and bulwarks of which are everlasting salvation, the cry will be raised. “Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth, may enter in” (Isaiah 26:1, 2); and as the everlasting doors are lifted up, they will enter, with the King of glory at their head, and they shall henceforth have a right to the tree of life, and dwell in his presence forever. W.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.13

    “The Cause of Apostasy” The Signs of the Times, 14, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The apostle Peter, speaking of an apostasy of false teachers in the Christian church, and to be especially abundant in the last days, says of them: “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.” 2 Peter 2:18.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.14

    There is here the expression of a most important fact, and one which, if overlooked, will cause the ruin of many. That is, that the false teachers of the last days will allure believers into the acceptance of false doctrines, not by directly preaching those errors, but by the seductive influence of the lusts of the flesh. The situation as indicated by the apostle is this: Here are some who are “clean escaped from them who live in error.” They have accepted the truth concerning the Sabbath of the Lord, the nature of man, the ministration of angels, the coming of the Lord, and the inheritance of the saints, and are free from the gross errors that have been handed down to the popular churches as a legacy from the Catholic Church. And now these false teachers come around, and by acting as the devil’s agents in appealing to the lusts of the flesh, they accomplish the ruin of those souls, and cause them to deny the truth which they once held.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.15

    This proves again the truth that infidelity is not a thing of the intellect, but of the heart and life. Many men have apostatized from Christianity as a whole, and others from what is known as the Third Angel’s Message, ostensibly because they found it impossible any longer to hold to the doctrine. But if the inner life, the secret thoughts, of those men were known, it would be found in every instance that the cause of their unbelief was impurity of thought and life. The cherished lusts of the flesh will be found to be the worm at the root, which destroys the vitality of the plant, and makes it impossible to maintain its position in the soil of faith.SITI December 28, 1888, page 790.16

    It is a universal truth that, “if any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” That is, if any man has a sincere desire to have the will of God wrought in him, to deny ungodlienss, and worldly lusts, God will reveal to him in some way what is truth. And the man who has some truth, who is in that condition, will not only have no difficulty in retaining his faith, but will receive greater light of the same kind. “Light is sown for the righteous,” and “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.1

    It is a very common saying that the man who holds the Bible doctrine of the soul, and the condition of man in death, can never be a Spiritualist. That is true, providing he retains his belief in the Bible doctrine of the soul, and of the condition of man in death. But if he lets go his hold on that doctrine, he has no safeguard whatever against that great masterpiece of deception. The question, then, is, How can he continue to believe the Bible doctrine, so as to be safe from that deception? The answer, and the only answer, that can be given is that he can hold to his belief only by living a pure life, by cleansing the soul from every defilement, by being pure in heart. The man who fails to live such a life, who regards iniquity in his heart, who loves sensual pleasures, and who indulges in impure imaginings, will surely fall away from the truth, and no power can prevent him; while the man who has true charity, godliness, temperance, patience, virtue, etc., can never fall.SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.2

    Paul says that when Satan works with “all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness,” he will cause the ruin of those who “received not the love of the truth.” He does not say that those are deceived who received not the truth, but who received not the love of the truth, intimating that many who have received the truth may be led captive by the deceptions of Satan. The love of the truth is to be distinguished from love for the truth. The “love of the truth” is the love of God, the love which brought the truth to man, a portion of the same love which God has in his heart for man, in which is no trace of impurity; for “the truth” of God is nothing else but the wisdom which is from above, and that is “first pure.” The man who has not “the love of the truth,” might as well be destitute of the form of the truth. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This is a truth that applies to this present life as well as to the future. It is true that when we reach the heavenly Jerusalem, we shall see God face to face, with no evil between; but all who share that inestimable blessing must in this life have, like Moses, “endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” The soul that is as pure as the sunlight may enjoy the closest communion with God, and has a hold that will keep it when others fall around him. There shall in nowise enter into the New Jerusalem “anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abominations,” but only those who have washed their robes of character, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. W.SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.3

    “How to ‘Christianize the Masses’” The Signs of the Times, 14, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Philadelphia Times has the following pertinent remarks relative to “Christianizing the Masses,” a question which is now being generally discussed by both press and pulpit:-SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.4

    “The first and essential step toward Christianizing the masses in our centers of population is to Christianize the Christians. Until that is done, nothing else can be done that will be effective. While the churches remain pleasant and fashionable, Sunday clubs, whose sittings are sold to the highest bidders, and in which the worship is conducted in a fashionable manner, that says to the poor, “These are no places for you,” the poor will stay away. Until Christians are willing to make their religion one of self-sacrifice-willing to worship on equal terms with the masses-they will have little influence in the way of inducing them to come into the churches.... The great wall which riches and social distinction have raised between the Protestant church and the masses must be broken down, or, in spite of all, the proportion of church goers to population in our large cities will continue to decrease.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.5

    The Times is not, we believe, a religious journal, but it has stated this matter much more aptly than even many of the ministers who have but little power for good, and before they can reach the masses they must gain the experience for which David prayed. “Restore unto me the joys of thy salvation,” he cried, “and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” Truly, “the first and essential step toward Christianizing the masses, is to Christianize [convert] the Christians.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.6

    “The Book of Romans” The Signs of the Times, 14, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    With the next issue we begin a series of articles of a practical nature upon the book of Romans, designed to aid the Bible-reader to a better understanding of that portion of God’s word, that he may read and study it with more pleasure and profit. Our plan is to make each article distinct and complete in itself as far as possible, so that whoever has only a single number of the paper, may read with profit the article which it contains; and yet, from the very nature of the case, many of the articles will depend much upon what has gone before. Under the heading of each article will appear the chapter and verse of Romans which is the subject of comment, so that all who desire to do so may keep the connection of thought.SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.7

    Quite often a single sentence will furnish the basis for an entire article, and around it will be gathered other passages of Scripture relating to the same topic, so that as the thoughtful reader peruses the book of Romans each verse may teem with suggestions of deep spiritual truths. It is very true, as Chalmers says, that “people, in reading the Bible, are often not conscious of the extreme listlessness with which they pass along the familiar and oft-repeated words of Scripture, without the impression of their meaning being at all present with the thoughts,-and how, during the mechanical currency of the thoughts through their lips, the thinking power is often asleep for whole passages together.” One object of these articles will be to make this impossible to the reader of the book of Romans, by linking so many thoughts with each passage that they will involuntary come to his mind as he reads it.SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.8

    Very little heed will be given to the varying opinions of the numerous commentators, our object being to lead the mind of the reader directly to the truth contained in the sacred word, and help him to draw from it for himself some of its wealth. Questions which any who read this may wish to ask upon any portion of the epistle, will be thankfully received, and will be considered in their proper order.SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.9

    As to the time and place of the writing of this epistle, there is little doubt. When the apostle wrote it, he had never visited Rome, but was planning to do so. Romans 1:10, 11; 15:23-25. From this last text we learn that he was just about to visit Jerusalem, with the contributions which the Gentile Christians had made for the support of the poor saints in that city. Now this contribution was taken on Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem. Acts 20:2, 3; 24:17. On this trip he was accompanied by certain brethren whose names are mentioned in the first epistle to the Corinthians, some of whom undoubtedly lived there; and the letter itself commends, and was evidently delivered by, Phebe, “a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea” (Romans 16:1), the port of Corinth. The epistle to the Romans was, therefore, undoubtedly written from Corinth, about 58 A.D.SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.10

    There is probably no other epistle of Paul to which Peter’s words (2 Peter 3:16) have more special application than to the epistle to the Romans. In it there are “some things hard to be understood,” and thousands of unlearned and unstable souls have wrested them to their own destruction. But the apostle does not say that there are things in Paul’s writings that cannot be understood. That there are some things in the book of Romans, as well as in other portions of the Bible, that no man does fully understand cannot be doubted. Yet no one will wrest these things to his own destruction, unless he has previously done so to the other portions of Scripture, which are more plain. That is, the man who has a sincere desire for truth, and who reverently accepts and firmly holds to those portions of Scripture which are comparatively simple, will not be harassed by doubts as to those things which seem utterly to baffle his comprehension. Believing that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” he will know that the more obscure parts cannot conflict with any other part and so will possess his soul in patience until prayerful study, or the arising of the Day-star, shall lighten up the whole.SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.11

    That the epistle to the Romans is not a book for learned theologian alone, but that the common people may understand it, will be evident to all who think for a moment of the persons to whom it was written. It was written as a letter to the church in Rome. Although Rome was the metropolis of the world, it is not at all to be doubted that the apostle could have written to them as he did to the church in the proud and opulent city of Corinth: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” 1 Corinthians 1:26. The church in Rome was doubtless principally composed, as most of the true churches of Christ have been in all ages, of the laboring classes, those whose station in life was lowly, and who had not enjoyed the advantages of what is known as a “liberal education.” There were carpenters, and blacksmiths, and masons, and shop-keepers, and shoe-makers, and tent-makers, and gardeners, and housekeepers, among those to whom Paul wrote, and doubtless they formed the majority. Nevertheless the apostle wrote to them, expecting them to understand his letter. The apostle who wrote, “In the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19), could not write an epistle in language impossible to be understood by the common people which composed the church. Of course they needed to receive and study it in the spirit in which it was written. They needed the aid of the Spirit of God, in order to understand it. But we have the promise of the same Spirit if we but ask for it, and so we may understand it as well as they. Surely the Spirit which indicted the epistle can make it plain to those who humbly put themselves on the way of being guided by it. On this point, the following remarks by Dr. Albert Barnes, in the introduction to his comments on this epistle, are most pertinent:-SITI December 28, 1888, page 791.12

    “It cannot be denied that one reason why the epistles of Paul have been regarded as so difficult, has been an unwillingness to admit the truth of the plain doctrines which he teaches. The heart is by nature opposed to them, and comes to believe them with great reluctance. This feeling will account for no small part of the difficulties felt in regard to this epistle. There is one great maxim in interpreting the Scriptures, that can never be departed from. It is, that men can never understand them aright, until they are willing to suffer them to speak out their fair and proper meaning. When men are determined not to find certain doctrines in the Bible, nothing is more natural than that they should find difficulties in it, and complain much of its great obscurity and mystery.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.1

    “Perhaps, on the whole, there is no book of the New Testament that more demands an humble, docile, and prayerful disposition in its interpretation than this epistle. Its profound doctrines; its abstruse inquiries; and the opposition of many of those doctrines to the views of the unrenewed and unsubdued heart of man, make a spirit of docility and prayer peculiarly needful in its investigation. No man ever yet understood the reasonings and views of the apostle Paul but under the influence of elevated piety. None ever found opposition to his doctrines recede, and difficulties vanish, who did not bring the mind in an humble frame to receive all that has been revealed; and that, in a spirit of humble prayer, did not purpose to lay aside all bias, and open the heart to the full influence of the elevated truths which he inculcates. Where there is a willingness that God should reign and do all his pleasure, this epistle may be in its general character easily understood.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.2

    Olshausen, also, after giving an analysis of the epistle, says:-SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.3

    “Such being the nature of the contents of the epistle to the Romans, it may be understood why it is usually regarded as very difficult. Indeed, it may be said that where there is wanting in the reader’s own life an experience analogous to that of the apostle, it is utterly unintelligible. Everything in the epistle wears so strongly the impress of the greatest originality, liveliness and freshness of experience; the apostle casts so sure and clear a glance into the most delicate circumstances of spiritual life in the regenerate; he can with such admirable clearness resolve the particular into the general, that the reader who occupies the low and confined level of natural worldly knowledge, now feels his brain reel as he gazes at those stupendous periods of development in the universe disclosed by Paul, and now finds his vision fail as it contemplates the minute and microscopic processes which Paul unveils in the hidden depth of the soul. Where, however, analogous inward experience, and the spiritual eye sharpened thereby, come to the task, the essential purport of the epistle makes itself clear, even to the simplest mind.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.4

    We believe that both of these writers have stated the exact truth. A study of the epistle, with a prayerful, sincere desire to know and do God’s will, and to have him work his own will in the soul, will lead to a general understanding of it, and will aid in giving the spiritual experience of which it treats. But when the Spirit has performed its work so that the individual can exclaim, Oh, the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! Oh, the blessedness of the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile! he will study the epistle with an enjoyment so much more intense that it will seem as though he never before knew anything about it.SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.5

    That the Holy Spirit, which is given to guide us into all truth, may so soften our hearts as to make them easily susceptible to its influence; that we may have such a longing desire and determined purpose to do the will of God, that he may cause us to know of the doctrine; and that so we may find in this epistle that reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, which shall make us perfect, “thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” is the sincere prayer of the writer. W.SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.6

    “How It May Be Accomplished” The Signs of the Times, 14, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Interior has in its November supplement some extracts from what purport to be the Scriptures of the most ancient Egyptians, and in commenting on them it takes occasion to eulogize to some extent the Egyptians sun-god, Osiris, contrasting him with Baal and Dagon, the Asiatic conceptions of Deity. It then says:-SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.7

    “The Christian would have no difficulty in worshiping Osiris. Osiris was God. Osiris was to God what the sun shining through a murky haze is to the sun rising in unclouded splendor. His outlines and attributes, and his attitude toward man as Creator, Father, Saviour, and righteous Judge, are all there, and not so very dimly, either. The obscuring veil between Ptah-hotep and God was a good deal more transparent than that which hangs before the devotee in every Roman Catholic fane. Abraham came out of Ur into a theological sunrise. God unveiled himself, and Abraham became the apostle of the monotheistic reformation, which restored the primitive church. If we are going to allow Romanism to stand in our view as a Christian church, despite its corruptions, we will find it hard to exclude Ptah-hotep and his fellow-worshipers of Osiris. There is a shorter drop between the Jehovah of the first of Genesis and the Osiris of Egypt than there is between the Christ of the gospels and the Christ of the Vatican. If we count as Christian the worshipers of Mary, and admit that they have enough of truth to save them, we shall certainly find no difficulty in including among the elect the followers of Ptah-hotep and Zoroaster, and other sages of the ancient world who worshiped God.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.8

    It then goes on, consistently with the above, to deny that Abraham was “the sole and solitary member of the church living on earth during his time,” and claims that from all the heathen nations there was “a mighty flood pouring into the golden city.” The Interior’s position is consistent. If the Catholic Church be a Christian church, then it is certain that the worshipers of Osiris and of Apollo cannot be barred from the list. But when that is granted, it must also be claimed that it was unnecessary for the Lord to bring Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, and a mistake to deliver the Israelites from Egypt, in order that they might serve him. Straws show which way the wind blows; and the indications are that the long-dreamed-of temporal millennium, when all the world shall be converted, will be brought about by the acknowledgment of not only Catholics, but Mohammedans, Buddhists, and the most enlightened heathen nations as Christians. If the Catholic Church is to be acknowledged as Christian there is no reason why the heathen religion should not be called Christian also.SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.9

    “What of the Cities?” The Signs of the Times, 14, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “What of the Cities?” is the title of an article in the New York Observer of December 13, in which the needs of the cities, as set forth in a conference held recently in Chickering Hall, New York, is discussed at considerable length. Some of the facts brought out were the same as those presented at the Syracuse convention, referred to in these columns last week, under the title, “Iniquity Abounding,” but some are both new and startling, and relate not alone to New York, but also to other large cities in various parts of our country. “It appears,” says the Observer, “that while in the whole country one in five is a member of some evangelical church, in New York there is only one in thirteen; in Chicago, one in twenty-one; in Cincinnati, one in twenty-three; in San Francisco, one in thirty-seven.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.10

    It was to consider these and other facts of a like nature, especially as relating to New York, that the conference was convened; and the paper previously quoted says: “It was undenominational, and met to consider the gospel needs of the city. It met none too soon. We have no more burning question to meet and solve than this.” “There are great masses of humanity in our great cities that are Christless. Could all the church bells in Christendom be rung at one time, these masses would be unmoved. The present means of sowing the gospel seed is utterly inadequate. Learned divines may thunder away at these non-church goers as sternly as they please. The church goers listen and approve, but the thunderbolts never reach their intended victims. They never come where the preachers are.” “They are just as likely to come into our churches as the heathen of the Congo, and no more. They must be reached in the same way. Somebody must take the gospel to them, and preach Jesus to them, or they will live and die ignorant and indifferent, indifferent became ignorant.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.11

    Again the Observer says: “The saloon is rightly given as one of the antagonistic forces. New York has twenty saloons to one Protestant church, while San Francisco has sixty-five places for the sale of liquor, to one evangelical church. Multiply the sixty-five saloons of San Francisco by the number of hours per week they ply their business; then take the sum of hours per week in which the churches are in use, and the contrast is too painfully impressive.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.12

    Such is the condition of so-called Christian cities; and it was plainly stated in the Syracuse Convention, before referred to, that “the proportion of non-church goers is as great in the country as in the city;” and yet we are asked by some to believe that the world is rapidly growing better, that the world will soon be conquered for Christ, and the millennium ushered in! But the facts do not warrant the belief that the world is improving in morals. On the contrary, the evidences thicken on every hand which show that we are even now in the last days, when the Scriptures assure us that iniquity shall abound. Surely iniquity does abound, and on every hand the hearts of thoughtful men are “failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 792.13

    “The Sure Word Cannot Fail” The Signs of the Times, 14, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The psalmist, speaking of the heavens and the earth, says: “They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed.” Now read the following from “A Bird’s-eye View of the World,” by the eminent French geographer, Onesince Reclus, and you will see how facts sustain the prophecy:-SITI December 28, 1888, page 793.1

    “In three or four generations the year 2000 will dawn on men dismayed at the sight of exhausted continents, worn-out islands, rivers run dry, forests consumed, the world ripe, and famine at the gates. The planet will be old, but, more than that, it will be mutilated.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 793.2

    He has put the time off too long, but he shows the fact that the world is getting old and worn out. This one fact is sufficient to show that the end cannot be far off. The sure word of prophecy cannot fail. Soon the time will come when this old earth, the scene of so many bloody wars, will be renewed, and made to blossom as the rose; and then “the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 793.3

    “The Commentary. Resisting the Truth” The Signs of the Times, 14, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY.
    (Lesson 2, January 12, 1889.)

    1. When Moses and Aaron delivered their message to Pharaoh, what answer did they get?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.1

    “And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.” Exodus 5:1, 2.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.2

    2. Of what did Pharaoh accuse them?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.3

    “And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.” Verses 4, 5.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.4

    3. What additional burden was placed on the Israelites in consequence?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.5

    “And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof; for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.” Verses 6-9.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.6

    4. When Moses the second time repeated God’s promise to the Israelites, how did they receive his words?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.7

    “And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel; but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.” Exodus 6:9.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.8

    5. How did this make Moses feel about going again before Pharaoh?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.9

    “And Moses spake before the Lord, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?” Verse 12.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.10

    6. What assurance did the Lord give him?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.11

    “And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.” Exodus 7:1.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.12

    7. What was meant by this?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.13

    “Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.” Exodus 7:2.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.14

    “And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people; and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.” Exodus 4:16.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.15

    8. What was Moses told to do when Pharaoh should ask for a miracle?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.16

    “When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a miracle for you; then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.” Exodus 7:9.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.17

    9. When this miracle was performed, what did Pharaoh’s sorcerers do?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.18

    “And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents; but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.” Verses 10-12.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.19

    10. What manifestation of God’s power followed this act of the magicians?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.20

    “But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.” Verse 12, last clause.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.21

    11. What effect did the rejection of this evidence have upon Pharaoh?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.22

    “And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken.” Verse 13, see Revised Version.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.23

    12. What were Moses and Aaron told to do next?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.24

    And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.” Verse 19.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.25

    13. What was the result?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.26

    “And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.” Verses 20, 21.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.27

    14. What destroyed the effect of this miracle upon Pharaoh?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.28

    “And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said.” Verse 22.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.29

    15. What plague was next threatened, if the king should refuse to let the people go?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.30

    “And the Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me. And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs.” Exodus 8:1, 2.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.31

    16. Was this done?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.32

    “And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.” Verses 5, 6.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.33

    17. How severe was this plague?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.34

    “And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs; and the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.” “And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.” Verses 3, 4, 6.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.35

    18. What did the magicians do?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.36

    “And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.” Verse 7.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.37

    19. What request and promise did Pharaoh then make?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.38

    “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Entreat the Lord, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord.” Verse 8.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.39

    20. Why did not his magicians and sorcerers remove the plague? See note.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.40

    21. What is a magician?-“One skilled in magic; one who practices the black art; an enchanter, a necromancer; a sorcerer or sorceress.”-Webster. See also definition of “magic.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.41

    22. What is sorcery?-“Divination by the assistance or supposed assistance of evil spirits; or the power of commanding evil spirits; magic; enchantment; witchcraft.”-Webster. See also definition of “witchcraft” and “enchantment.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.42

    23. Whom did the heathen worship?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.43

    “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” 1 Corinthians 10:20.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.44

    24. Then on whose side were Pharaoh and his magicians?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.45

    25. What does the Bible say is Satan’s sole work?SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.46

    “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.47

    (Concluded next week.)

    NOTES

    If in our version the word “Jehovah” were allowed to appear wherever it does in the corresponding place in the Hebrew, the sense would often appear more clearly. “Jehovah” is the distinctive title of the one true God. Paul says, “There be gods many, and lords many; but to us there is but one God.” He is the one who made all things, and who exists by his own power. This God, Pharaoh did not know. When Moses and Aaron said, “Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, Let my people go,” he rudely exclaimed, “Who is Jehovah, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go.” If Moses had said, as our version indicates, “Thus saith the Lord,” it would not have been distinctive, for the sun-god, which Pharaoh worshiped, corresponded to the Canaanitish Baal, which means “lord.” Pharaoh knew many lords and gods, and one above all, the sun-god, which was known as “the lord;” he knew Ra, and Osiris, and Isis, and Phthah, and Set, but he did not know Jehovah, the only Lord. He might have known God, but, like the other heathen, he did not like to retain God in his knowledge. Still God gave him this opportunity to know and to recognize him; and when Pharaoh haughtily said, “I know not Jehovah,” the Lord brought judgments upon him until he was forced to confess is power.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.48

    “And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works?” The word “let” is used in its primitive sense of hindering, or causing to cease. That this is so, is shown by the next verse, where the king continues, “Behold, the people of the land now are many, and yet make them rest from their burdens.” Whatever opinion may be held as to the reason, this much is certain, that in consequence of the coming of Moses and Aaron, and what they had said, the Israelites had to some extent ceased from their work. This is still further shown by the fact that Pharaoh said of them, “They be idle” (verse 8), and to them, “Ye are idle, ye are idle” (verse 17). It was because of this that the king increased their task, compelling them to make brick without straw.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.49

    To the Jews Jesus once said, “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.” John 12:35. Nothing is more evident than that when a person turns away from the light he goes into darkness. Light and darkness are opposite conditions, so that if a man is not in the light he is in the dark. That proposition needs no argument. It was on this principle that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. Ample evidence of the superiority of God’s power over that of Satan, as exhibited through the magicians, was given to Pharaoh, but when he refused to accept it, that very rejection was a hardening of his heart. The light which, if it were accepted, would acquaint him with God, was rejected, and by thus shutting himself farther away from God, hardness of heart and blindness of mind necessarily followed. For this no one was to blame but Pharaoh himself. The Revised Version renders Exodus 7:9 thus: “And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.50

    The only reason that can be given why the magicians did not remove the plague of frogs, is that they could not. That they would gladly have done everything in their power to destroy the effect of the miracle upon the mind of Pharaoh, and to make him believe that the power that was with Moses was no greater than that with them, there is no reason to doubt. It is most reasonable, also, to conclude that as the king had called the magicians to his assistance for the purpose of withstanding Moses, he would first call upon them to remove the plague. But they could not. The fact that Pharaoh was obliged to call upon Moses and Aaron to remove the plague, was an additional humiliation, and emphasized the fact that the power that was with them was greater than the power that was with the magicians.SITI December 28, 1888, page 794.51

    “Back Page” The Signs of the Times, 14, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Advance says that this is the time when many are tempted to indulge in what are known as “questionable amusements,” such as attendance at theaters, or dance, or play cards?” the writer replies that it is a matter for one’s own conscience. So is everything a matter for one’s own conscience, but the conscience needs to be well instructed. Our reply to the question, “Can a Christian do these things?” would be, Yes, he can, but he will cease to be a Christian. If he wishes to retain his spiritual life, he must keep away.SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.1

    One of the subjects under discussion at the Baptist Congress recently held in Richmond, Va., was “Education,” which was taken up under the questions, “How Far Shall the State Educate?” and “Common versus Parochial Schools.” On the first, Professor Puryear, of Richmond College,” held that the State should educate only the children of the poor, and that only in the rudiments of knowledge; and that it could not give any religious instruction without violating the rights of conscience.” With the latter part of this view especially, we most heartily agree, and we are sorry to learn from the Independent’s correspondent, that “this very conservative view is now held by only a minority in the South.” It is the only view that will preserve religious freedom in this country.SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.2

    The best things are not always the best known. Quite recently we noticed in the account of the opening of a training school for male nurses, at Bellevue Hospital, New York, the statement that “there is no other school of its kind in America.” But we know that there is. the Medical and Surgical Sanitarium, at Battle Creek, Mich., has a training school for both male and female nurses, which has been in successful operation for about three years. Each student has a two years’ drill in practical nursing, and the vast number of patients and the variety of diseases treated at the Sanitarium, make the facilities for practical instruction unsurpassed in this country. Besides this, regular lectures are given throughout the entire course, and the students are thoroughly drilled in physiology, hygiene, and all the principles underlying the proper care of the wick, and the treatment of ordinary diseases. We had the pleasure of being present at the exercises when one class was graduated last month, and learned something of the readiness with which the students could meet emergencies. The school has not been boomed by a big endowment, but the Sanitarium nurses are already in great demand. The school has a good patronage, but there are yet scores and hundreds of young people who ought to avail themselves of its advantages.SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.3

    The apostle states in 1 Corinthians 10:20, “that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God.” The gods of the heathen were supposed by them to have once lived on this earth. Great men and mighty warriors were deified, or made gods. Such were Jupiter, and Saturn, and Mars, and Venus, and Diana, and all the multitude of false gods. So when the Bible says that the children of Israel joined themselves to Baal-peor and ate the sacrifices of the dead, it means that they ate the sacrifices offered to dead heroes, whom the idols of the heathen were made to honor. So those who paid homage to the idols, or deified dead, really worshiped devils, through whom were wrought all the wonders ascribed to these powers. Psalm 105:28, 36, 37. This is just what modern Spiritualism is doing today.SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.4

    The Catholic Home, a paper published in Chicago, referring to the movement which is getting under headway in that city, “to abolish the Sunday slavery, and to suppress Sunday crime,” says that Catholic sentiment in that city, which has lain so long dormant under flagitious outrage, is now awakening and is anxious to do battle for home and altar, and declares that new vigor will now be put into the struggle of good citizenship against anarchy. The statement that the movement is for the suppression of “Sunday crime” shows what their idea of good citizenship is. It is strange that they cannot see that such a movement, instead of being against anarchy, is in reality in favor of disregard to the laws; for by their opposition to “Sunday crime” they give tacit leave to criminals to break the laws on other days with impunity.SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.5

    The pastors and officers of thirty-three German Evangelical Churches in New York and Brooklyn, met one evening last week and formed an organization which, it is said, “may lead to important political results.” One of the leading ministers stated that its objects is “to maintain and defend the civil and religious liberty” of this country, whenever it seems to be in danger. He said that it was proposed to break the power of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. This latter they will find an impossibility, and the probabilities are that this league will simply try to substitute one ecclesiastical domination for another, or else will think to purify Catholicism by a union with it; and either plan would only make a bad matter worse. There is always danger when ministers and church people organize to effect “important political results,” no matter how good their intentions may be.SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.6

    On Sunday evening of last week a mass-meeting in the interest of city missions was held in the place of the regular services at the First Baptist Church, San Francisco, at which one of the most prominent lawyers in the city was present, and spoke as follows:-SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.7

    “We hear a great deal of heathenism in foreign lands, and recently a missionary came here and raised $75,000 for the benefit of the ignorant. We ought to send missionaries to foreign lands to raise money to teach the people in this city. There is no place under the canopy of heaven where there is so much sin, so much wickedness, crime, and riot as right here in this city of San Francisco. We need the missionaries here, and we need them badly. To-night there are 40,000 young men, and many young women, in saloons and places of a like nature because they have nowhere else to go.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.8

    This is undoubtedly true, yet we do not regard it as a reason why missionary work should not be done in foreign lands. If the gospel had to convert the entire world, then it might be well to have all the people in one country converted before beginning to evangelize those of another; but since the gospel is to be “preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations,” the more widely it can be spread at once the better. In spite of all the effort put forth, there will be millions of heathen in the United States when the end comes.SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.9

    One of the most common and most hurtful practices among those who have named the name of Christ, is that alluded to in 2 Corinthians 10:12. Says the apostle: “We dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” Christ is the great example, the only perfect pattern, and the Christians can follow others only as they follow Christ.SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.10

    Said the apostle: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” But in thus following Paul, they would really have followed Christ, and they were to follow the apostle only as he followed the Master, and thus the life of Christ, not that of his apostle, was the pattern.SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.11

    It is not enough that we should be as good as our neighbor. “Every man,” says the apostle John, “that hath this hope [the Christian hope] in him, purifieth himself,” not as his brother in the church is pure, not as his minister is pure, but “even as he [Christ] is pure.” “By beholding we become changed,” and if we behold Christ we shall at last bear his divine image; but if we behold our imperfect brethren we shall bear with us to the Judgment their imperfections, which instead of serving to excuse us, as we once fondly imagined they would, will serve only to sink us in perdition.SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.12

    The New York Tribune reports a prominent Hebrew gentleman of that city as saying that “the time is not far distant when Hebrews, as well as Christians, will worship on the first day of the week. “The Jewish press,” said he, “are working to bring about the change, and it is a reform greatly to be desired.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.13

    “Strength Instead of Weakness” The Signs of the Times, 14, 50.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Physiologists tell us that a well-set broken bone of a healthy person becomes stronger than before it was broken. The new process which unites the part is stronger than the parts united. There is a precious thought here for those struggling against special sins. That sin may be born in a man, inherited from a long list of ancestors; its power in him may be made strong by yielding to it, till by it Satan leads him captive at will. It is the man’s weak point. The disposition which leads to the commission of the sin is the weakness of his otherwise strong character. It is not the sin which weakness; it is the disposition, the underlying selfishness, from which the sin springs. Realizing this, knowing by the law and Spirit of God and our own repeated failures our own weakness, our broken character, we can come boldly to the great Physician, place our case entirely in his hands, and “out of weakness” be “made strong.” Hebrews 11:24. The weak point in our characters can through grace become our strong one. The hatred of all sin will be more fully developed when the power of the besetting sin is seen; and God’s grace will never seem so precious, nor his love so strong, as when viewed from the victor’s side of vanquished sin. Therefore “brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of his might.”SITI December 28, 1888, page 800.14

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