Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    August 4, 1890

    “The Penalty of the Law” The Signs of the Times, 16, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “Will you be so kind as to explain your statement, ‘When Adam fell he brought the race of mankind under the sentence of eternal death.’ (The Signs of the Times, July 7, 1890), with the fact that he did not die an eternal death? Did he suffer less than the penalty of the law? W.T.D.”SITI August 4, 1890, page 428.3

    In answer to the second question we answer, Yes; and that really answers the whole. If Adam had suffered the penalty of the law, he would have died an eternal death; for “the wages of sin is death.” This means death simple and absolute, with no hope of a resurrection. The penalty of the law has fallen upon only one being, and that was Christ. “But he did not die an eternal death.” No; he died for us, that we might be partakers of his life. His death is a part of the great mystery of the gospel, for it is impossible for us to understand how the divine Son of God, the Creator, who had life in himself, could die. But as he, who knew no sin, took our sin upon himself,-was made to be sin for us,-so he voluntarily became obedient unto that death which sin brings. He died for us, however, and not for himself; and since there was no stain of sin upon him, it was not possible that death should hold him (Acts 2:24), for it is sin alone that gives power to death. He had life enough for himself and for all the world besides; therefore when he laid down his life as a forfeit to the violated law, he could take it again. To all who accept him he imparts his own life, which has triumphed over death, and they receive the penalty of the law in him; but when the law demands the life of an unrepentant sinner, as a penalty for its violation, it takes all that he has, and there is no possibility of his living again.SITI August 4, 1890, page 428.4

    Death, then, is to the Christian in reality only an incident in his life,-a short sleep. “The sting of sin is death;” and when sin has been removed through Christ, of course death has no power to harm. The Christian only sleeps in Jesus. His life has not been taken, for, says Paul to all Christians, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3. “This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” 1 John 5:11. That which Christ has in his keeping is beyond the reach of Satan or of his agent. Therefore it is certain that the death which those die who believe in Christ (among whom we, as well as our correspondent, place Adam), is not the penalty of the law of God.SITI August 4, 1890, page 428.5

    This is made very plain by the words of Christ: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24.SITI August 4, 1890, page 428.6

    But death is common to all mankind. The righteous and the wicked both die alike, the only difference being that “the righteous hath hope in his death.” But it is certain that the death which even wicked men now die is not the death which is the wages of sin, for the wicked as well as the righteous are to have a resurrection, when they will receive according to that which they have done. Judgment is not executed upon the ungodly until the Lord comes. Jude 14, 15.SITI August 4, 1890, page 428.7

    The words of Christ, recorded in John 3:16-18, throw great light upon this whole question: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” This of itself proves that all men who are without Christ are under the sentence of death. This makes it evident that when Paul says that “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12), he refers to that death which is the wages of sin. It was because Christ saw all the world in this condemnation, that he gave himself for the world, so that all who would believe in him could be freed from condemnation. That they were condemned to perish is shown by the fact that God gave his Son to save them from perishing; and those who believe not are condemned already.SITI August 4, 1890, page 428.8

    This sentence of death was made known to Adam as soon as he was placed in the garden of Eden, as a warning against sin. When he sinned, he at once came under condemnation, doomed to suffer the threatened penalty. But right here came in the gospel. The sacrifice of Christ was just as efficacious the day that Adam sinned as it is to-day; he is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. For all practical purposes Christ was crucified as soon as Adam fell, for God “calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Christ was given at that time. The sacrifice on the part of God, to give his only begotten Son, was already made; God loved the world then just as much as he did four thousand years later.SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.1

    If it had not been that Christ was given for man’s redemption, death would have ended all for Adam, and for all the human race. But the promise of a Redeemer carried with it another probation, and so the execution of the sentence was suspended until it should be seen what use men would make of that probation. God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31); and until that time the sentence will be held in abeyance. Christ has suffered it, and all who receive him, receive the penalty in him, and his life answers for theirs. But those who reject the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God will abide on them. They will receive the penalty in themselves, and thus the course of sin will be brought to a close, and the law will be vindicated. E. J. W.SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.2

    “Sunday in California” The Signs of the Times, 16, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Here is a specimen of the mis information that is dealt out to Eastern people, concerning the status of Sunday in California. It is from a church report from Southern California to the New York Christian Advocate:-SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.3

    “California is in an anomalous position in reference to Sunday legislation. In the early days, when this country was little more than a vast mining camp, and Sabbath desecration was well-nigh universal among the inhabitants, it had enacted a good, wholesome statute, protecting Christian people in their religious services. But a few years ago an overwise governor suggested that this law was largely a “dead letter,” and so, for consistency’s sake, it was repealed. So now Sunday is simply a public holiday, being classed with the Fourth of July, New Year’s day, etc. The State laws give no protection to religious assemblages on the Lord’s day, any more than a base-ball game. Those legislators of the early days had not outgrown the influences of their Eastern Christian homes and the sacred associations of the Lord’s day; so while many of them doubtless were careless and more or less wicked, they embodied in the laws of their new State laws protecting and fostering the interests of the Christian church and the Christian home. But the sad results of bad training have caused a later race of legislators to tear down the barriers set up against vice and crime; so that, so far as the State law is concerned, all over California business may be carried on as on other days, the only disability being that notes an other documents signed and dated on that day are not legal.”SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.4

    1. The Sunday law that California formerly had, and which was repealed a little less than eight years ago, had nothing whatever to do with the protection of Christian people in their religious services. It was a Sunday law forbidding certain kinds of labor and amusement on Sunday. That is all there was to it.SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.5

    2. “An overwise governor” had nothing to do with its repeal. It was repealed because a majority of the people of California testified at the ballot-box that they wanted to rid California of a legacy handed down from the Dark Ages, when there was no other way known of making men religious but the rack and the thumb-screw. The sole issue in the campaign that year was over the Sunday law. The Republicans pledged themselves to maintain and enforce it; the Democrats in their platform declared against it. On this issue the Democrats won, and when the Legislature repealed the law, it was simply carrying out the pledge made by the Democratic party, and the instruction of the people at the polls.SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.6

    3. It is not true that “the State laws give no protection to religious assemblages on the Lord’s day, any more than to a base-ball game.” Section 302 of the Penal Code is as follows:-SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.7

    “Every person who willfully disturbs or disquiets any assemblage of people met for religious worship, by noise, profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior, or by any unnecessary noise either within the place where such meeting is held, or so near as to disturb the order and solemnity of the meeting, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.8

    Here is protection enough for anybody. In fact, if affords too much protection to suit many people, who would have it specify religious assemblages of those who observe Sunday, leaving others unprotected. There is not a State in the Union where a disturber of any religious gathering would meet with quicker punishment than in California. But there is no special law protecting base-ball games.SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.9

    4. It is true that Sunday is now simply a public holiday, being classed with the Fourth of July, New Year’s Day, etc. But surely our Sunday-law friends should be the last to complain, since they cite the Fourth of July and other holidays as precedents for making Sunday a holiday.SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.10

    5. But it is not true that sad results are seen because of the repeal of the Sunday law. The day is observed as strictly as it ever was, and public morals are as good as in any State which has a rigid Sunday law. California has nothing of which to boast in the way of morals; but what it needs is more gospel instead of more law. E. J. W.SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.11

    “The Golden Rule Ignored” The Signs of the Times, 16, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In the following from an article in the New Englander and Yale Review, on “Legal Protection for Sunday Rest,” by W. W. Atterbury, D.D., we have a very fair sample of an error into which those who argue for Sunday laws are continually running; namely, that of imagining that what is done solely out of regard for the day is done for the benefit of the people:-SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.12

    “We may advance a step farther, to another ground upon which the Sunday laws rest. The chief and highest use to which the weekly rest is put, by the American people generally, is its religious use. And so the law recognizes and protects the right of undisturbed worship, to which the day is devoted. There is a right of worship as well as of non-worship. When the great majority of a people set apart one day for that purpose, it is just and right that their laws should recognize that fact, and, so far as may be needful to this end, protect them, both from being robbed of its opportunity of worship, and being disturbed in its enjoyment. Though it be granted that the law transcends its sphere in a free government when it compels the religious observance of the day, it by no means follows that it transcends its proper sphere when, not enforcing the religious observance of the day, it protects those who may choose so to use it. A Christian people have a right to the undisturbed enjoyment of their day of worship. In a Mohammedan country, the law might justly protect from wanton disturbance the day then set apart for religious use; or in a Jewish State, the law would protect the Jewish Sabbath. In a Christian country, the law rightfully protects from disturbance the Lord’s day; and this not because Christianity is the true religion, but because it is the religion of the people.”SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.13

    Now according to this, all that is desired is that the people shall be protected in their right to worship on Sunday; yet what is asked for is not a law to protect the people, but a law to protect the day-to keep people from doing any labor on it. But, as a matter of fact, there are in every State laws that are amply sufficient to protect all people in their right to assemble for religious worship. Anybody ought to be able to see that it is not necessary to compel everybody to rest on Sunday, in order to secure to a portion of the people the right to rest and worship on that day. The fact that five hundred people go to the woods for a picnic or to the sea-shore on Sunday, does not prevent one hundred other people from going to church and quietly worshiping on that day.SITI August 4, 1890, page 434.14

    Another fault with the paragraph above quoted, and a very serious fault it is too, is the utter failure to comprehend the principles of true liberty, on which the American government was founded. The Declaration of Independence holds that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed; not of a majority simply, but of all. It holds that all men are created equal, that is, in regard to the rights with which the Creator has endowed them, and which government should preserve for them. Governments are for the purpose of protecting the rights of all, and not simply of the majority. Any law which does not equally respect the rights of all is an unjust law.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.1

    When evil things are done by wholesale, they somehow seem to command respect; the human mind seems to be overawed by anything that is large. Thus, a million-dollar defaulter can find ready access to the “best society,” while the petty larcenist is looked upon with contempt. It is well to keep in mind that that which is evil in detail is proportionately evil in mass. If a dozen persons were together in a social party, and ten of them should combine to have everything their way, ignoring the rights and wishes of the other two, it would be called gross selfishness. And that is just what it is when the government is asked to make laws that not only ignore but trample upon the rights of the minority.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.2

    Dr. Atterbury says, “In a Mohammedan country, the law might justly protect from wanton disturbance the day there set apart for religious use.” In the first place, a day cannot be disturbed, and therefore has no need of being protected from disturbance. But the people who wish to observe the day may be disturbed, and they not only may be, but ought to be, protected from wanton disturbance. But would the doctor think it right and just for the Mohammedan government to give its Mohammedan subjects full liberty to disturb its comparatively few Christian subjects in their worship on the day which they hold sacred?-Of course not. And he and everybody else knows full well that to protect Christians in their right to worship undisturbed on the day which they religiously observe, would not in the least interfere with the protection guaranteed to Mohammedans in their worship on the day which they devote to religious purposes.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.3

    “Or in a Jewish State, the law would protect the Jewish Sabbath.” In a Jewish State or in a “Christian State” the law has no business to know anything except the welfare of all of its citizens. If the majority of the citizens of any country were Jews, the laws, if they were just, would afford as much protection to the Christian as to the Jew. So the laws of this country should afford as much protection to Jews as to Christians. Has not almost the whole civilized world made indignant protest against “Jew-baiting” in some parts of Europe? But what right have the advocates of Sunday laws to protest against outrages committed upon Jews? The people of those countries are Catholic, and the governments are professedly Christian, and the laws are made for “Christians,” and not for Jews. If Jews are not to be protected by law, because they are in the minority, then of course they may be insulted with impunity; and it is for just this state of things that Sunday-law advocates are pleading, although we have the charity to believe that most of them do not realize what they are doing.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.4

    The Christian rule is, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Therefore while there cannot be in this world such a thing as a Christian government, that government in which the majority grant to the minority the same protection which they claim for themselves, approaches the nearest to the standard which Christ gave. In such a government the rights of the majority are respected, not because they are the majority, but because they are men; and the rights of the minority are equally respected for the same reason.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.5

    This is a live subject, and cannot receive too much attention. When men in high position can advocate the passing of laws for the gratification (not the benefit) of a certain class, it is evident that they have strayed far from the principles held by the founders of this government, as well as from the principles of the gospel, and that they are unsafe leaders. E. J. W.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.6

    “The Rich Man and Lazarus. Luke 16:19-31” The Signs of the Times, 16, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    (Luke 16:19-21; August 10, 1890.)

    There is probably no portion of Scripture that has been the subject of more controversy than this one, and none which has been more the subject of that grossest of all exegetical view-private interpretation; that is, interpretation according to sound, and not according to sense; interpretation according to one’s previously-conceived opinions, without any regard to the context or to the testimony of other portions of Scripture, on the same point. Accordingly, the first and chief work of the commentator on this passage is to disabuse the minds of his hearers of erroneous notions, by showing what it does not mean.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.7

    That this scripture is of the nature of a parable is evident, because to give all its terms a literal application would make nonsense of it. The characters are spoken of as individuals in the flesh, having all the organs and all the desires of men in the flesh. They have eyes, tongues, bosom, power of speech, thirst, love of brethren, etc. But how could Lazarus be in Abraham’s bosom? If Lazarus was taken there, then all the saved must be there, likewise, and that is an impossibility. This, of itself, shows that this is not a literal narrative.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.8

    More than this, the general testimony of Scriptures as to the condition of men in death, shows that it is impossible that this should be the story of an actual transaction. In Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6 we read: “For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” And this agrees with the words of Job 14:21. David also says: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Hezekiah also said: “For the grave cannot praise thee; death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.” Isaiah 38:18.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.9

    These are strong, positive statements. They cannot be ignored or explained away, without denying the inspiration of the Scriptures of which they form a part. We must believe that they mean just what they say; and therefore we know that the portion of Scripture that we are studying cannot mean that two persons actually carried on a conversation after death. Since a man knows nothing in the grave; he is unconscious of the prosperity of the adversity of his sons; and his thoughts have ceased, it is evident that a man could not after death feel any solicitude for the welfare of his brethren.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.10

    But someone will cry, “Who have we not as good right to affirm consciousness after death from this passage in Luke, as you have to affirm unconsciousness after death from the texts that you have just quoted?” For this reason: If we should affirm from one text that the dead are conscious, and from another that they are unconscious, then we make the Scripture contradict itself, and thus deny its inspiration. But the statements quoted from Solomon and David and Job and Hezekiah are positive statements of fact, and the verses in Luke are not literal statements, as we have shown. Therefore we must interpret the figurative or inferential in harmony with the positive and literal; or at least we must so interpret them as not to contradict the positive.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.11

    Take another thought. David was a good man; beloved of the Lord, as well as Abraham was. But of David, Peter said when he was full of the Holy Spirit, “For David is not ascended into the heavens.” Acts 2:34. And Paul said, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.” Acts 13:36. If David has not ascended into the heavens, then neither Abraham nor any other saint has ascended into the heavens.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.12

    Let us now note a few points to the parable itself. “And it came to pass, that the beggar died; and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom; the rich man also died; and was buried.” What was carried into Abraham’s bosom? Was it the same Lazarus that laid at the rich man’s gate? Was he carried there in person? It has already been seen that this could not be. Those who interpret the parable as teaching the condition of men in death, uniformly say that only the soul or spirit of Lazarus was taken to Abraham’s bosom. But mark, there is no change in the subject. The same one who died was carried. “The beggar died, and was carried.” Shall we say that this means, “The beggar died, and his spirit was carried”? Let us see how it would work in another instance. I am telling about a tornado, and I say, “I ran out of the house and was thrown down.” Someone asks, “Did it hurt you?” I reply, “How could I be hut by the falling down of the house, when I was not in it?” And then you say, “Why, you didn’t say anything about the house being thrown down; you said that you were thrown down.” And this is the fact. My statement was that I fell down; if I meant to say that the house fell down, I should have said so. Likewise, what the text says is that Lazarus died, and that he, the same that died, was carried into Abraham’s bosom. If it be claimed that it was simply his body that died, then it was his body that was carried. If we say that it was the soul that was carried, then it was the soul that died.SITI August 4, 1890, page 435.13

    In like manner we say of the rich man that the same thing that died was buried. But if it be claimed that the statement that “the beggar died and was carried,” etc., means that he died and that his soul was carried, then it must also be claimed that the statement that “the rich man also died, and was buried,” means that the rich man died and his soul was buried. All this serves simply to show that the passage is not a literal narrative of an actual occurrence, and that therefore it has no bearing whatever on the condition of man in death. The fact that dead men are represented as talking, no more proves that it is natural for dead men to talk, than the fact that in Judges 9:8-15 the trees, the vine, and the bramble-bush are represented as talking, proves that it is natural for trees and vines to use spoken language.SITI August 4, 1890, page 436.1

    It should also be remembered that the angels do not carry the saints to their reward at death. Jesus said that they who served him by doing deeds of kindness to those too poor to recompense them, should be recompensed “at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14. The resurrection of the just is when the Lord himself descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The voice of the archangel calls them from their graves. John 5:28, 29. It is at this time that “he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:31. It is then that they see the cutting off of the wicked, and not till then. Although probation ceases at death, the judgment does not decide the destiny of men till after that (Hebrews 9:28), even till the coming of Christ. 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10. Therefore we know that the parable of the rich man and Lazarus was not given for the purpose of showing the condition of men in death. The things which it relates could take place only after the coming of Christ, and the resurrection.SITI August 4, 1890, page 436.2

    What, then, is taught by this portion of Scripture? That is a more difficult thing to tell. Nobody is justified in telling positively what a parable means, when that parable is not explained in the Scripture. “No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation;” which means that no scripture is an explanation of its own text. If commentators and Bible students had spent as much time studying this scripture as they have in trying to fit it to their own opinions, no doubt there would have been more knowledge of its meaning. We may be sure, however, that incidentally it proves that death ends probation. It also proves that earthly prosperity is not a sign of the favor of God. This was a very necessary lesson for the Jews to learn. They despised the poor, and thought that to be rich was an evidence that God was pleased with them. Of course those who held that idea would very easily get into the habit of employing questionable means to increase their wealth, persuading themselves that the end would justify the means.SITI August 4, 1890, page 436.3

    Another thing that should not be overlooked is the proof that the Bible is the highest authority. No phenomena can take the place of plain Scripture statements. “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” This is true in a general sense. If one will not be convinced by the Bible, nothing will convince him; and when one comes to believe a thing because of certain phenomena that he has witnessed, as, for instance, of a future life because of the supposed appearance of departed friends, his form of belief is always that which the Bible does not sanction. This was especially applicable to the Jews, however, for since they refused to be convinced of the genuineness of Christ’s claims by Moses and the prophets, who testified of him, his wonderful resurrection only hardened them. E. J. W.SITI August 4, 1890, page 436.4

    Larger font
    Smaller font