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    December 14, 1891

    “God in Government” The Signs of the Times, 18, 6.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Sunday, November 15, was a great day in Boston churches. It was the Sunday of the National W.C.T.U. Convention, and although there were no meetings of the association on that day, nearly all the pulpits of the city were occupied by the ladies of the union. In the evening Tremont Temple was well filled, the occasion being an address by Mrs. Mary Clement Leavitt, the W. C. T. U. “round-the-world missionary.” The subject as “God in Government.” It being the regular church service, the pastor, Rev. Dr. George C. Lorimer, presided, and the Rev. Joseph Cook offered the prayer. Only the first part of the address was devoted to the subject, the latter part being simply temperance statistics; but in that first part some points were touched upon that are worthy of note, not for the sake of refuting them, but to serve as a warning, that those who read may discern and avoid the fatal error which lies at the foundation of these modern schemes for so-called National Reform.SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.10

    The speaker read Isaiah 9:6, 7 for her text, and then said that God had instituted two kinds of government in the earth. The first was that of the family. But this kind of government was found to be a failure, and therefore God institute the theocracy, which lasted down through the time of the judges, until Israel rejected God by rejecting Samuel. The second form of government-the theocracy-is what the speaker, together with other National Reformers, hopes soon to see again established in the earth, and to this end they are laboring.SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.11

    Right here let it be noted that the failure of family government is what leads to schemes to enforce morality by law. The design is that the State shall take the place of the parent, and do what the parent has failed to do. This fact was virtually admitted by the speaker, when she said that the theocracy was established because family government was a failure. But let it be borne in mind that the theocracy was not established because the family-government scheme was a failure, for the theocracy existed no less in the days of Adam, Noah, and Abraham than in the days of Gideon and Samuel. Moreover, God has never set aside the system of family government. In the days of Samuel the priest Eli was sternly rebuked and punished by the Lord, “because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” 1 Samuel 3:15. And the command for children to obey their parents in the Lord, and for parents to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, is always in force.SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.12

    It is a fact, however, that family government is in most cases a failure. And why?—Simply because the parents themselves do not fear God. The power of the gospel is not known. When God does not rule in the hearts of the parents, it is not to be expected that through them he should rule the children. It is because of this failure in family government that people want to establish a theocracy; but this shows that the longed-for theocracy is but a substitute for the gospel; for with it family government would be a success, and God himself would thereby rule.SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.13

    After stating that the theocracy was in force until God was rejected in the person of Samuel, the speaker said that since then there have been only here and there spots where God’s right to govern had been recognized. One of those places was said to be England, under Cromwell, and it was stated that “for a brief time God ruled in Massachusetts.” The speaker expressed confidence that the time will soon come when the government shall again rest on the shoulder of Jesus Christ. I could not help wondering what the Baptist pastor, Dr. Lorimer, thought of the alleged government by God in Massachusetts. At the time referred to, Baptists were imprisoned and whipped, simply for refusing to have their children sprinkled. Is it not strange that professed Christians will at this day charge upon God the government of Massachusetts, at a time when barbarities were perpetrated that would disgrace Mohammed, and that a Christian woman can long for the return of such a time?SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.14

    The question that naturally followed was, “How are we going to put the government on the shoulder of Jesus Christ?” Sure enough, how are we? The text says, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” The Father says to the Son, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Psalm 2:8. The Saviour declared that his kingdom is not of this world, and liened himself, in his return to the Father in heaven, to a nobleman going into a far country, “to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.” Luke 19:12. He receives the kingdom from the Father, while he is in heaven, and then returns, “having received the kingdom.” When Christ returns to this earth, it will be in his kingdom, sitting upon the throne of his glory. It is therefore a difficult task that the National Reformers have set for themselves, namely, that of putting the government on Christ’s shoulder. They have undertaken a job which requires nothing less than the zeal and power of the Lord of hosts. Thus they, in their shortsightedness, put themselves in the place of God. This very thing stamps all human schemes to get God in the government of this world, to give the government to Christ, to put it upon his shoulder, etc., as simply a phase of that “man of sin,” “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4. In saying this I do not impugn the motives or the sincerity of those who are in this movement of so-called National Reform. They simply “know not what they do.” If they had more confidence in the power of God, they would have less confidence in their own power.SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.15

    But here is the answer to the question as to how we are to get the government upon Christ’s shoulder; God could do it alone if he so planned. He is calling out of the world a seed to serve him, who will receive his law, and write it in their hearts. What does God mean by giving us those ten commandments? We must look to them as the guide of our moral conduct, and the nation must adopt them. Not one law must be left on the statute books but the ten commandments.” They, it was stated, must be the basis of all legislation. This, it is claimed, would put God into the government. But right here is where the great evil of the whole scheme lies; it aims to make men perfect by law, and is therefore directly opposed to the gospel. Let us note, in brief, a few points where the plan to make the ten commandments the law of civil government is opposed to the Bible, and positively wicked.SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.16

    ITS RESULTS

    1. It would constitute men judges of moral conduct. But we are absolutely forbidden to judge another. See Matthew 7:1; Romans 2:1; 14:4; James 4:11, 12. God alone is judge of morals, and this plan would put man in his place.SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.17

    2. It would make men judges of the law of God. This again would be to put man in the place of God. And this would inevitably result in—SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.18

    3. A low standard of morals. Only the One whence the law came can know it perfectly. Man’s conceptions of it is faulty. Not only we, but man’s judgment of his fellows is necessarily faulty, because he can judge only from the outward appearance. But a man may appear very righteous outwardly, and yet be abominably corrupt within. Yet the judge is unable to read the man’s heart, would have to decide that such a man is righteous,—that he is in perfect harmony with the law. Thus it would bring the standard of the moral law down to the level of man’s action. Men would be taught that God’s law is no greater in its requirements than what any man has the ability to do if he only has a mind to do it. But the Scripture tells us first “the law is spiritual,” and hence that it cannot be known, must less done, by one who is not spiritual. To attempt to enforce obedience to the ten commandments is to ignore the Spirit of God.SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.19

    4. It would be to enforce sin. The law is spiritual, and the natural man cannot know it. All that the law of God can do for a sinner is to show him that he is a sinner. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” The State could deal only with the law as interpreted by fallible men. But the highest idea that the natural man can get of the law of God is so far below the law as it actually is that his idea of the law is sin. That is, that which the natural man takes to be the perfect righteousness of the law is nothing but the reflection of his own evil heart. But this is all that the State could even attempt to enforce, therefore the attempt to make the ten commandments the law of the land would be to see the machinery of the State to crowd out the gospel, by teaching men to trust to heathen human power for righteousness. This matter may be dwelt upon more at length at another time.SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.20

    The speaker exhorted her hearers to see that “no man has your support for any office however small or large, who is not a man of faith and prayer.” The reader can imagine what an endless amount of prying, spying, judging, criticism, gossiping, scandal vending, etc., would result from such a scheme. A man’s standing in the church would have to be settled before election. No man would think of running for office without a certificate from his pastor; and the length, quality and fervor of his prayers would be canvassed on every street corner. Whether it would result in the would be candidate’s making long and fervent prayers on the street corners, to be seen of men, is not certain, but there can be no doubt but that a high premium would be placed on hypocrisy. The horde of hungry office seekers would speedily become men of prayer. As to the matter of faith, that could be settled only by an inquisition.SITI December 14, 1891, page 68.21

    Sunday laws were declared to be a necessity, “because law is an educator, and prevents good people from doing wrong.” As an illustration, the lady stated that after the California Sunday law was repealed, she was in the southern part of the State, and to her horror she saw, as she was going to church on Sunday morning a man engaged in well digging. After the service she spoke to the pastor about it, and he replied, with a groan, “That man belongs to my church.” We were left to infer that if there had been a Sunday law to compel rest, that good man would not have committed the sin of digging a well on Sunday, but would have gone to church. So it seems that when men succeed to their own satisfaction in placing the government on the shoulder of Jesus Christ, the churches will be filled on Sunday. We cannot see how the adoption of the ten commandments as the law of the State could have anything to do with the observance of Sunday, but allowing that Sunday-keeping is declared necessary, what virtue can there be in Sunday-keeping of the man who keeps the day because the law compels him to do so.SITI December 14, 1891, page 84.1

    As might be expected, California was cited as the terrible example of the result of no Sunday law. She said that “there was an epidemic of Sunday-breaking when the California Sunday law was repealed.” I was living in the state at the time, and could not discern the slightest difference. Moreover, at not time have I ever seen in any city in California so much work being done on Sunday as was being done between Tremont Temple and the hotel at which I stopped, at the very hour that Mrs. Leavitt was speaking.SITI December 14, 1891, page 84.2

    It was quite a severe charge against the piety of the churches of the land, when Mrs. Leavitt, in her praise of the Christianizing effects of law, referred by the effects of the laws against gambling and against lotteries, which she said that all States except Louisiana have enacted. Said she, “I have spoken in churches built by lotteries that were managed by ministers. We don’t do that now.” I should not have ventured to say before that congregation that the churches of our country, ministers included, are kept from gambling in lotteries solely by fear of the civil law. Surely nothing more is needed to show the quality of the piety that is expected by even the most enthusiastic supporters of Christianity by law.SITI December 14, 1891, page 84.3

    It is perhaps needless to add that, according to the speaker, all these “blessings” will fill our land as soon as the ballot is placed in the hands of woman. As I listened to the discourse, and thought of the thousands who, without a thought, accept such teaching as the truth of God, my inward thought was, Oh, that they might understand the gospel and see the truth as it is in Jesus! May God speedily send forth his light and his truth, to save well-meaning people from dishonoring him and his law.SITI December 14, 1891, page 84.4

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