Theories as to a Future State
The Seventh-Day Adventists are an off-shoot of the old
Millerites, the followers of William Miller of Low Hampton, N. Y., well known
as predicting the end of the world in 1844. They reasoned especially from Dan.
viii. 13, 14 - the prophecy of two thousand three hundred days to the cleansing
of the sanctuary, that, taking these days for years, they began in the seventh
year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, B. C. 457, and would therefore end in the
year named. The sanctuary to be cleansed was the earth, and the cleansing to be
This very palpable mistake led, of course, to bitter disappointment, which resulted in the scattering of many of their adherents, and the division of the rest ultimately into three bodies, - the more orthodox body, or Messiahs church, who deny, nevertheless, the heavenly portion of Christians; another body, which ingrafted annihilationism and still more fatal errors upon their adventist views; and the Seventh-Day Adventists.
These last have far outgrown the others in numbers, and claimed in the United States at the end of 1887, nearly twenty-six thousand members, with adherents in most European countries, as well as Australia, South Africa, British Honduras, and Guiana. With a tithing system, which in 1887 produced nearly $200,000, vigorous publishing houses, and an itinerant ministry, they are increasing rapidly at the present time.
Unhappily, they are annihilationists and materialists of the most pronounced kind. Mind is but the product of organization: spirit is only a form of matter, and the inevitable conclusion they do not seem to shrink from - that God is matter also. Indeed, the image of God in man is for them a bodily one. They are not Trinitarians, though holding that Christ is "the Son of the Eternal Father, the One by whom He created all things, and by whom they consist;" while the Spirit is the "representative" of God, by which His omnipresence is made good. Atonement was not upon the cross, although Christ bore there "the sins of all the world;" but He makes it in the heavenly sanctuary above; and when it is completed, He will come again. It is the last stage of this work - the cleansing of the sanctuary - which they believed began in 1844, and the time that will elapse before its completion is uncertain, so that they are now left to expect the Lord at any time.
Although the annihilation views are those with which we have especially to do here, I shall allow myself to speak briefly of their other peculiarities, which are often used as the thin end of the wedge to make way for the rest to follow.
And perhaps the first by which they claim attention is the doctrine which is connected with the name they have assumed - not peculiar, indeed, to them even among professing Christians, although strongly emphasized in their teachings - the obligation of the Jewish Sabbath.
Unhappily, they find everywhere the ground prepared for them. For the obligation of the seventh day is but the natural outcome of a larger doctrine, almost universally received, that the ten commandments given to Israel, the words, as distinctly declared (Exod. xxxiv. 27, 28), of Gods covenant with that people, are the rule of life for the Christian no less than for the Jew. Grant them but this, and it is the most direct and simplest argument that can be, to appeal to the law itself - that of which the Lord said, "I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill," and that "one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law until all be fulfilled" - and ask, of what day does the fourth commandment speak; of the first, or of the seventh?
Is not the change of the day the causing even a "jot or title" of the law to pass away? Who can say it is not? And where in your Bibles will you find the history of the change? Who changed it; and where was their authority for doing so? You can find no answer to these questions if you search your New Testament from end to end.
Where will you find your Christian Sabbath? Where is the first day of the week declared to be that? Where is it even commanded to be observed? And yet, is it not Scripture only by which the man of God is to be "thoroughly furnished unto all good works"?
Thus it is as easy as possible to convict the mass of the Christian profession of plain breach of their acknowledged rule. And though you may plead universal custom, the testimony of Church history, and whatever else, it will not save you from a manifest contradiction between your practice and your principles. While the Romanist says, with a smile, as he looks on, "Both you and we do, in fact, follow tradition in this matter; but we follow it, believing it to be a part of Gods Word, and the church to be its divinely appointed guardian and interpreter; you follow it, denouncing it all the time as a fallible and treacherous guide, which often makes the commandments of God of none effect. " (Quoted from "Who changed the Sabbath ?")
What, then, shall we do? Must we accept these principles, or change the practice? Scripture is clear enough: the truth is, we have not gone far enough with Scripture. If the law of the ten commandments be our rule of life indeed, there is no more to be said about it: we must not tamper with our statute-book; we must keep the seventh day.
There is, however, a text which seems suggestive; but it goes so far, that in general, Christians are afraid to entertain its suggestions - have, indeed, - pretty much abandoned it as impracticable to be used in this connection. It is bold enough, no doubt, and a bold man wrote it: it is here: -
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; . . . .
"Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath; which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ" (Col. ii. 14-17).
If your obligation to keep the Sabbath has been indeed struck through - cancelled with the nails of the cross, then, Christian reader, you are no longer bound to the observance of the seventh day. Nay, if Christ has cancelled the bond, you dare not surely go back to put yourself under it. You would be denying in measure the value of the cross of Christ.
But here, alas! if you take your stand here, voices on all sides will clamor against you. Let us not fear, but abide the encounter. I have before me now a good-sized volume upon this Sabbath-question by a prominent man in the body of which we are speaking. And this is his demurrer to such a use of the passage -
"The object of this action is declared to be the handwriting of ordinances. The manner of its abrogation is thus stated:
1. Blotted out.
2. Nailed to the cross.
3. Taken out of the way.
Its nature is shown in these words: Against us and contrary to us. The things contained in it were meats, drinks, holydays [Gr., "a feast-day"], new moons, and Sabbaths. The whole is declared a shadow of good things to come; and the body which casts this shadow is of Christ. That law which was proclaimed by the voice of God, and written by His own finger upon the tables of stone, and deposited beneath the mercy-seat, was altogether unlike that system of carnal ordinances that was written by Moses in a book, and placed in the side of the ark. It would be absurd to speak of the tables of STONE as NAILED to the cross; or to speak of BLOTTING out what was ENGRAVED in STONE. It Would be blasphemous to represent the Son of God as pouring out His blood to blot out what the finger of His Father had written. It would be to confound all the principles of morality to represent the ten commandments as contrary to mans moral nature. It would be making Christ a minister of sin to represent Him as dying to utterly destroy the moral law. Nor does that man keep truth on his side who represents the ten commandments as among the things contained in Pauls enumeration of what was abolished. Nor is there any excuse for those who would destroy the ten commandments with this statement of Paul; for he shows, last of all, that what was thus abrogated was a shadow of good things to come - an absurdity if applied to the moral law."*
*"History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week," by J. N. Andrews; second edition, pp. 138, 139."
We will pause here for the present, though there is more; but it will be wise, perhaps, to inquire what damage this storm has done to our defences. Sooth to say, by all we can perceive, it has but hurtled over our heads and done no harm. What a safe shelter is the Word of God to all that will but fearlessly commit themselves to it! Mr. Andrews has done all he could: he must be acquitted, if after all the fortress was too strong for such an assault.
Let us notice first his mistake as to the "handwriting of ordinances." He imagines we must refer it to Gods handwriting upon the tables of stone, and would refer it himself to the book which Moses wrote and placed in the side of the ark. But this is a double error. The word "handwriting" (cheirographon) denotes a "bond," an obligation to which one has signed ones name; and it is this bond which has been stricken through and blotted out, - effectively cancelled by the Lords death. It is this of which the apostle, speaking as a Jewish believer, says, "was against us," and "contrary to us," as an obligation is which we cannot meet. There is thus no disparagement done to the law itself, which is "holy, just, and good," and certainly no such thought intended as that it is contrary to mans moral nature! This is but a fancy, and a very strange one, of Mr. Andrews himself. Does he not remember the words of this same apostle - "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them " (Gal. iii. 10)? Is not this a sufficient reason why the law should be, just because of its holiness, "against" sinful men?
A second mistake, in which Mr. Andrews has indeed abundant support among those who dissent very widely from his final conclusions, is in the division between a supposed "moral" and a "ceremonial law." Not a text of Scripture can be cited for such a division, and the very ten commandments to which he would appeal, as distinguished from the rest by their place upon the tables of stone, are really proof on the other side. For, the Sabbath itself, is it a moral or a positive precept? Surely, whatever moral effect may be pleaded for it - and every divine command must have been intended to have a moral effect - yet it is plain that it is the latter and not the former.
Moreover, it was to the law of the two tables that Israel set their hand. It was this that contained the terms, the words of that covenant which they had subscribed (Exod. xix. 8), and to which their obligation was. No similar obligation did they take to the rest of the law, and none such could certainly be so "against" them, so "contrary to" them, as that by which the very heart was searched out, and every lust of it forbidden" (Rom. vii. 7). Thus it was this obligation of the covenant of works which confronted those who were convicted of the breach of it, and that needed to be blotted out and taken out of the way.
But with this went the whole ritual service which was founded upon it, and which in fact, if it were in one way burdensome, alone made the law tolerable by the mercy with which its rigour was abated. Thus only could there be the remission (or passing over) of the sins done aforetime (R. V.), through the forbearance of God (Rom. iii 25). To have cancelled this merciful addition, and left in force the other, could have been only to lay the basis for a gospel of despair.
The law as a whole being thus connected, it is manifest how the apostle could draw from the doctrine of the fourteenth verse the conclusion of the sixteenth. It does not follow that meat and drink, and holydays, and new moons, and Sabbaths, were all the things, or the whole class of things, to which the "ordinances" before mentioned extended; nor does he speak of all, but only of these specified things, as being "shadows of things to come."
On the other hand, when the apostle says, "Let no man judge you in respect of . . . Sabbaths," he could not have meant to except just that from which all other Sabbaths derived their name and significance. Think of such an exhortation from a Jew not being meant to convey the very thing which would have been first in every Jews mind on hearing it! What, a Jew not guard the Sabbath from profanation! An inspired apostle not hint even so important a restriction of his meaning! And not only so, but in all his writings, not a word - not even one - about Sabbath-observances? No, nor in any other epistle of the New Testament beside!
The Christian doctrine is thus perfectly plain and consistent. Negatively and positively taken, its consistency is apparent and conclusive. The more we are reminded of the contrary position of the Old Testament prophets from first to last, - the more we listen to their denunciation of transgressors of the law of the Sabbath, the richer the promises to those who "keep My Sabbaths from polluting them," - only the more marked becomes the difference, - only the more fundamental. It is not, it cannot be, accidental. Some radical change must have taken place with the change of dispensation - that is evident.
Nor are we left to surmise as we may. What the change is is carefully explained to us. It is not that the law is changed or destroyed or weakened. It is that "we are DEAD to the law by the body of Christ;" and that "that we should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God" (Rom. vii. 4). And the law itself forbids, and the figure is used to enforce the prohibition, that there should be two husbands at the same time (vv. 2, 3).
Will any say it is the ceremonial law only from which we are divorced? Nay, it is the law by which we know sin; the law which is holy, just, and good; the law which says, "Thou shall not covet" (vv. 7, 12). There is no doubt permitted here at all as to whether what Mr. Andrews styles the moral law is included. It most certainly is. Yet it is to this law that we are "dead" and that not with regard to justification by it merely, but "that we should bring forth fruit to God." This to many more than the writer I am meeting may be a matter of profound astonishment. There are many, thank God, who realize the deep necessity of it, and give God continual thanks for the deliverance. *
*Those who desire to pursue this subject may find help in a tract, "Deliverance, what is it?" issued by the publishers.
We have had two witnesses from the Word of God; let us add yet another. In the third chapter of the second of Corinthians it will not be doubtful what is meant by "the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones." Even Mr. Andrews here can have no doubt. But it is the "ministration of death;" and notice what follows (vv. 9-13): "For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. . . . For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing, then, that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech; and not as Moses, who put a vail over his face, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished" ("was passing away" - R. V.).
With these unhappy Jews we must number, therefore, the seventh-day advocates. Scripture is clear enough, and the absence of one exhortation in the writings of the apostles as to Sabbath-observance agrees with the injunction to let no man judge you in respect of Sabbaths, and with the doctrine from which this springs.
But let it not be imagined that this is any conflict with the design of the Sabbath, as made for man, as undoubtedly it was - .a most merciful institution. Put upon this ground, we readily accept all that can be said for it. Not only is the rest for man and beast an immense benefit physically, but spiritually the break with ordinary care and worldly business is beyond all price. No one with the least concern for his own soul, or the souls of others, would think of lightly esteeming the sanctification of the day of rest. But then this is not, it is plain, a reason for the observance of the seventh day rather than the first. It suits well with those intimations in the New Testament which invite us, by way of Privilege, to the observance of this first day, to which, as recognized by Christians, the title of the Lords day is, I doubt not, rightly given (Rev. i. 10).
We fully concede to the Sabbatarians that there is no ground for calling it the Sabbath, and that they can find no command for its observance such as the law contains for its day. For this there is the best of reasons. When God took up Israel as His people, He separated them from the rest of the nations to Himself. The whole land, and all in it, were subject to Moses law. Thus an ordinance of the kind controlled the whole fabric of society from the highest to the lowest: and this was necessary for its due observance. As a law, such a command could be issued only by recognized authority, and that the authority of the state. We may be thankful that we have laws to this end, but it would be an entire mistake to look for them in the New Testament.
That the Sabbath commemorates the creation of the world, and is a rest at the end of six days labour, only makes the reason for the observance of the first day more evident. The law took men in nature, a nation, and tested them as to their ability to "do and live." But the first creation is lapsed into ruin, and Christians are a people by grace separated from the world, a "new creation," "created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Eph. ii; 10). The principle of grace is not "do and live," but "live and do." Life begins for us out of death. "God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together" (vv. 4 - 6). Thus it was suited that a Jew under law should observe the day of creation and legal rest; but how suited that a Christian should observe the day of his Lords resurrection, with whom he is raised, - the new beginning for him, and which he rightly calls "the Lords day"! How suited that his keeping it should be enforced, not by legal commandments, but by the joy and privilege of it!
More might be said - much more, but we have not space for it, nor is there really need, for those who will examine what has been already stated, prayerfully and before God. My reason for saying so much is not only the importance of the subject in itself, but also because their Sabbath-doctrine and their adventism are undoubtedly the two chief elements of their successful proselytism. We must now take up briefly the latter, more connected as it is also, with the subject of our book.
They hold rightly that the personal coming of the Lord will be before the millennium. At His coming, -
"the righteous dead will be raised, the living righteous will be changed, and thus the subjects of the eternal kingdom will be made immortal." These "will ascend with their Lord to the eternal city, and reign with Him in the judgment of the wicked a thousand years, during which time the earth will be desolate." "All wicked men will be destroyed at the second advent." "At the close of the millennium, the wicked will be raised up from the dead. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished (Rev. xx. 5). They will then be destroyed. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them (xx. 9). Satan and all the fallen angels and all wicked men will then be consumed by the fire of Jehovahs wrath. (Rev. xx. 10; Matt. xxv. 41; 2 Pet. ii. 4; Jude 6). In the general conflagration of that time, the old earth and atmospheric heaven will pass away from the face of Him that sitteth on the great white throne." "From the old earth, melted and cleansed from sin and sinners, will come forth, moulded by the hand of the great Restorer, the new earth, free from all the marks of the curse." "It is at the close of the thousand years of Rev. xx., after the final destruction of all Gods enemies, that the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever."*
*"Bible Adventism," by Elder James White, pp. 82-86.
A thousand years reign for the saints over a desolate earth is certainly a view as to the prophetic future somewhat startling, as it is undoubtedly new. Of course, to make room for the promises to Israel, must be "spiritualized "and applied to the eternal state; while the lake of fire lasts at most through the millennium (?), and the "little season" at its close. The "forever and ever" does not trouble these powerful reasoners: it can be compressed into as short a time as maybe necessary, according to the simple rule which another writer explains thus: -
[these words] "denote duration or continuation of time, the length of that duration being determined by the nature of the objects to which they are applied. When applied to things, which we know from other declarations of the Scriptures are to have no end, they signify an eternity of being; but when applied to things which are to end, they are correspondingly limited in their meaning."
Uriah Smith in "Mans Nature and Destiny," p. 273.
That is, they tell us God lives eternally, when we know from other sources that He does. And on the other hand, by the same rule you may say, without deception, that a match will burn for ages of ages, if you know quite well that it is in its nature to be consumed in a minute! Admirable perspicuity of language which will thus positively assure you of what you know already, and pledges itself to nothing about any thing you dont know! The gnats life and the angels measured by the same "forever"!
But we are familiar with views like these already, and gladly refer our readers to the past discussion of them (pp. 265-267; 343, 344) for details. But the lake of fire is not on earth at all, and the judgment to it does not take place till the earth and the heavens flee away; only just before this is Satan cast in, and then, with his two associates, adjudged to torment for the ages of ages.
To confound the multitudes who go up (deceived by Satan) against the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and who are destroyed by fire, with the whole company of the wicked dead raised up for judgment afterward, is an egregious blunder, springing from the notion of a desolate millennial earth. Scripture carefully distinguishes them. The millennial earth is not desolate, any more than its inhabitants are all converted. (Ps. xviii. 43-45; Isa. lxvi. 15-21 Zech. xiv.) Think of the dead raised for judgment attacking the city of God!
The truth is, that until the harvest is ripe, the sickle is not put in. During the millennial reign of righteousness, those still in heart unchanged are yet not manifested by external act. For this purpose Satan is loosed, that they may be. They break out in open rebellion, and judgment falls on them. This is not the violent effort of escaped convicts; nor is the judgment the careful discriminative one of the great white throne. We have only to read the Scripture without theories to uphold, and all is simple.
We must spend more time upon what is (along with that of a desolate millennium) their real peculiarity in doctrine - the cleansing of the sanctuary.
Their doctrine as to this is professedly based upon the eighth chapter of Daniel, and it will be well, therefore, first of all, ourselves to look at this, and see what Daniel really says. We have not as yet to apply or interpret, however, but to lay the ground-work only for true interpretation.
The points which concern us can be briefly stated. The vision has to do with the Grecian power in one of the kingdoms into which it was subdivided, in its relation to Israel in the latter times. So it is expressly declared.
1. The history of the Grecian power under Alexander is given, the overthrow of the Persians, the division of the kingdom into four; out of one of which finally a king arises, fierce, crafty, and mighty, but not by his own power, and he destroys wonderfully, even the mighty and the holy people. Finally he stands up against the Prince of princes, and then is broken without hand.
In the vision itself, of which this is the inspired interpretation, it is said, "And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great even to the host of heaven, and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped on them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away; and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And a host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression and it cast down the truth to the ground, and it practiced and prospered."
2. As to the time, it is asked, "How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and host to be trodden underfoot?" And it is answered, "Unto two thousand three hundred days," literally, "evening-mornings;" "then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
Does this time measure the whole time of the kingdoms spoken of? Of course, two thousand three hundred days, if it be literally this, could not; and "evening-mornings" - taken from the Jewish reckoning of days - seems literal enough.
Is, then, the treading down of the sanctuary looked at as lasting throughout the time of these kingdoms? or only during the prevalence of the last "little horn"? Surely the answer must be the latter; and known history confirms it. Neither the Persian empire nor Alexander trod down the sanctuary, nor even oppressed the Jews.
Moreover, it is distinctly stated, "the vision belongeth to the time of the end" (v. 17, R. V.); and "I will make thee know what shall be in the latter time of the indignation; for it belongeth unto the appointed time of the end." (v. 19, R. V.) Plainly, not the whole vision does, but the special part about which inquiry is made, and for the elucidation of which the vision is given.
3. "What is the sanctuary here spoken of? It is Israels. The "indignation" is Gods anger against them, which closes with their restoration and blessing, as seen here. And so it is prophesied of Israel, in the day when her scattered tribes shall be reunited - the stick of Ephraim with the stick of Judah - "Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord that sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore" (Ezek. xxxvii. 26-28). The only sanctuary of God that could be trodden underfoot was that in Israel, and thus shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
But this destroys the Adventist doctrine, root and branch. For them, the two thousand three hundred days are years; they last from the days of the Persian empire till 1844; they end with the cleansing of a heavenly sanctuary, not an earthly: which cleansing is supposed, therefore, now to be going on, and to end with the appearing of the Lord at a time uncertain. I shall briefly follow Mr. Whites argument.
1. The little horn is the Roman power: it "had made Macedon, one of the four horns of the Grecian goat, a part of itself, B.C. 168, about seven years before its first connection with the people of God. So that Rome could as truly be said to be out of one of them as the ten horns of the fourth beast of the seventh chapter could be said to come out of that beast, when they were ten kingdoms set up by the conquerors of Rome."
That is, the mistakes of commentators are to justify more mistakes. The ten horns of the Roman empire are not ten kingdoms born of her destruction; and the Roman empire could not ever be a horn of the Grecian power which she overthrew. How differently is the contest between Persia and Greece presented in this very prophecy! What could be the object supposed for making one empire grow thus out of another?
Moreover, "a little horn" among the other horns would imply one smaller than the rest; but Rome, when it conquered Macedon, was already mistress of Italy and of the Mediterranean Sea; Carthage had been conquered, though not yet destroyed; and the power of Antiochus broken on the field of Magnesia. There was no power in the world so strong as that of Rome at the very time when Mr. White speaks of it as a "little horn."
But he says, "It was to cast down some of the host and of the stars. This is predicted respecting the dragon (Rev. xii. 3, 4). All admit that the dragon is Rome." Not quite. Scripture does not: the dragon it interprets as "the old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan;" and it tells us that twice over, that there may be no mistake (Rev. xii. 9; xx. 2). The resemblance fails to prove the point.
But the strangest mistake is where it is contended that "the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation represent Rome in its pagan and papal forms"!! "Sacrifice" is not in the original, and Mr. White reads "the daily desolation." "The agents by which the sanctuary and host are trodden underfoot are the daily, or continual, desolation, and the transgression, or the abomination of desolation (Dan. viii. 13; xi. 31; xii. 11). These two desolations, as we have already seen, are paganism and papacy."
For "seen" we should read "said," I suppose, for Mr. White has given no proof, and gives none. Keil says, "Hattamid" - "the daily," or rather "continual," - "is every thing in the worship of God which is not used merely temporarily, but is permanent, as the daily sacrifice, the setting forth of the show-bread, and the like. The limitation of it to the daily morning and evening sacrifice in the writings of the Rabbis is unknown in the Old Testament. The word much rather comprehends all that is of permanent use in the holy services of divine worship" (Comm. on Daniel, p. 298).
Look at the passages: -
"By him the daily was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down." This is a marginal reading of the Hebrew. That of the text is preferred generally, as now in the R. V., "From Him" (the Prince of the host) "it" (the little horn) "took away the daily."
Did Rome take away paganism from the Prince of the host?
"And a host was given [him] against the daily by reason of transgression." Or take it, if you will, as the R. V. - "And the host was given over to it, together with the continual [burnt-offering], through transgression." Was the host given over to Rome, along with paganism, through transgression?
It seems quite needless to pursue this further, or I should have equally to question the application of "the transgression of desolation" to papal Rome.
On the other hand, it should be quite plain that the removal of the daily sacrifice implies this transgression of desolation in which both sanctuary and host are trodden underfoot.
Now, as to the time. Mr. White argues that two thousand three hundred literal days could not cover the duration of one of these kingdoms, much less of the three; therefore they must be years. But we have seen they do not profess to give the duration of even one of the kingdoms, but of the treading down of the sanctuary, as is plainly said. Then the argument is all the other way: days seem more suited than years.
Nor is it true that the time alone is what the prophet did not understand. He says it was the vision (v. 27). Nor is the vision which he says he understood in chap. x. 1 this vision, plainly, but the one that follows in chap. xi. Nor again, if Daniel understood all the vision of the eighth chapter except the time, could he possibly have supposed, as Mr. White says he did, that now the two thousand three hundred days were just accomplished? How had all that was predicted come to pass in the meantime?
That the prophecies of the two chapters are connected is surely true; for all these prophecies are so; but it is certainly not as to the time that chap. ix. throws light on chap. viii., - for this plain reason, that the times do not coincide in the way claimed at all. The seventy weeks are not "cut off" from the two thousand three hundred days, as they are evidently weeks of years, and therefore a much longer period. They begin with the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, and therefore do not define the time of treading down.
"Cut off" may be right enough as the meaning of the word translated "determined," although the latter meaning is preferred by the mass, and allowed by every one: so that to build so large an inference on a doubt cannot be to build solidly. Yet "cut off" can have the very simple meaning of "cut off from ordinary time" - as set apart for a divine purpose. The application is therefore doubly insecure. But when, in addition to this, the seventy weeks are clearly not the time appointed "to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden underfoot," plainly the whole scheme of prophetic interpretation we are considering collapses utterly.
We might refuse, then, to go further, but the view as to the sanctuary and its cleansing is one so affecting their position, and in itself so important, that it will be well to devote a brief space to it.
The sanctuary with them is the heavenly one, typified by Israels earthly one; its cleansing answers to the work done in the holiest on the day of atonement once a year.
"In the first apartment stood the priests in a continual course of ministration for the people. He that had sinned . . . laid his hand upon the head of the victim, to denote that his sin was transferred to it. Then the victim was slain on account of that transgression, and his blood, bearing that sin and guilt, was carried into the sanctuary. . . . Thus through the year this ministration went forward, the sins of the people being transferred from themselves to the victims offered in sacrifice, and through the blood of the sacrifices TRANSFERRED TO THE SANCTUARY ITSELF.
"On the tenth day of the seventh month, the ministration was changed from the holy . . to the most holy place. . . . In the most holy place, blood was offered for the sins of the people, to make an atonement for them. The two holy places of the sanctuary, and also the altar of incense, were on this day cleansed from the sins of the people, which had been borne into the sanctuary means of the blood of the sin-offering.
"The high-priest having by blood removed the sins of the people from the sanctuary, bears them to the door of the tabernacle where the scape-goat stands . . . and puts them upon the head of the goat and sends them away."
Such is the type. Now the antitype: -
"The sins of the world were laid upon the Lord Jesus, and He died for our sins according to the Scriptures. The blood of the Lamb of God, which was shed for our transgressions of Gods law, is that by which our High-Priest enters the heavenly sanctuary, and which, as our Advocate, He offers for us in the sanctuary. His great work . . . He here carries forward by pleading the cause of penitent sinners, and presenting for them His blood. . . . As the sin of him who came to God through the offering of blood by the high-priest was, through the blood, transferred to the sanctuary itself, so it is in the substance.
"The ministration in the holiest of all in the heavenly sanctuary begins with the termination of the two thousand three hundred days. Then our high-Priest enters the holiest, to cleanse the sanctuary. This work, as presented in the type, was for the twofold purpose of the forgiveness of iniquity and the cleansing of the sanctuary. And this great work our Lord accomplishes with His own blood; whether by the actual presentation of it, or by virtue of its merits."
This accomplished, the Lord comes out of heaven. Atonement is now completed, and the work of the Priest finished. At His appearing, the sins of the pardoned "are borne away from the sanctuary and host forever, and rest upon the head of their author, the devil. The azazel, or antitypical scape-goat, will then have received the sins of those who have been pardoned in the sanctuary, and in the lake of fire he will suffer for the sins which he has instigated. . . . The cases of all men will then be forever fixed."
This, then, is the cleansing of the sanctuary. It is certain, however, that the sanctuary in Dan. viii. is the Jewish one, which is not wholly set aside, as they imagine, but is to be, as we have seen, and the sure word of God teaches, in the midst of Israel yet. And the apostle assures us (Rom. IX. 3, 4) that to these, his "kindred according to the flesh" - no spiritual Israel, therefore - the [Old-Testament] "promises" belong. This, then, is as sure as can be. No heavenly sanctuary, spite of all assertions, could be "trodden underfoot," and the prophecy shows us the one who is to do this as to the earthly one. When the Son of God is spoken of in this way (Heb. x. 29), He is looked at as in His humiliation upon earth.
But now, as to the types of atonement. It is not the fact that atonement was only made in the holiest of all. The blood was given them upon the altar to make atonement for their souls (Lev. xvii. 11). The burnt-offering, the blood of which never went into the sanctuary at all, atoned (chap. i. 4). So did the ordinary sin-offerings, which did not go in. (Lev. iv, v.) Only when there was the sin of the high-priest, or of the whole congregation, did it go in (chap. iv. 7, i8); cases which were not ordinary, but special and exceptional. Atonement ordinarily involved, then, no entrance of the blood into what the apostle calls (Heb. ix. 2) "the first tabernacle" at all. The basis of the whole theory is therefore wanting.
How strange, too, to be told that this atoning blood in the first tabernacle could only defile it The sins, uncancelled were carried in with it there. They were but transferred for adjudication, as it seems, to another court! Not so speak the types. "The priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them" (chap. iv. 20); "and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him (chap. 1X. 26). So constantly: the sins were forgiven and gone; the blood shed did its work; and that where there was no carrying it into the holy place at all. Hence the bottom of these assertions has dropped out.
Where in Scripture is there the least word about the blood carrying in the sins for which it was shed? There is none. On the day of atonement it is said to be "for the tabernacle of the congregation that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness" (Lev. xvi. 16). It is not that the uncleanness is in the midst of the tabernacle, but the tabernacle in the midst of it - quite a different thought.
The blood cleanses - atones - not defiles; and that wherever it was applied, and not in the sanctuary alone. If it brought sin into the holy place, how could it remove it? Can that which defiles cleanse? Surely not. But then there is no atonement for the blood at all.
Now in the antitype, will they dare to say that the precious blood of Christ has defiled the heavenly places? That is the question which they will not plainly put. Will they face it? And then, if it be so (though it were blasphemy to say so), how could the same blood cleanse?
Again, the veil is rent, and the holy and the holiest are now one. There is no "first tabernacle" now, as it is a great point of the apostle in the Hebrews to prove (chap. ix. 8; x. 19, 20), and has been none all through the dispensation. On the day of atonement the high-priest did not perform a first service in the outer sanctuary and then go in to the inner. His work was in the inner, and the service in the outer was that of the ordinary priests, and not specifically that of the high-priest at all. Thus the whole ground for these evil doctrines breaks down once more.
As to the scape-goat, the foolish dream about Satan being the scape-goat has been adopted from others, but foolish enough it is. The two goats are but one sin-offering (Lev. xvi. 5), and of the scape-goat it is said expressly, "to make an atonement with him." (v. 10.) The principle in it is what is quoted by the apostle and applied to us already (Heb. x. 17), "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." What is alleged in this matter is as wrong as all the rest.
In a word, every peculiar feature of their system is false - Sabbath-keeping, prophetic system, dates, sanctuary-cleansing, atonement, desolate millennium, annihilation doctrines - all. It is a thoroughly evil system, with neither a true God nor a true sacrifice, nor therefore a true salvation for its adherents. Christians may no doubt be entangled with it, but the system is unchristian and antichristian.
I know of nothing in their annihilation views that requires fresh comment, except, perhaps, one point, which in the former part of this book I had left unnoticed. I take it up now for its own sake, not because there is any thing of importance as to it in the book before me already cited, in which one chapter is devoted to it.*
*"Mans Nature and Destiny," chap. iii.
What is the "image of God" in which man was created? That it was immortality, I leave to Mr. Smith to deal with as he lists As it has never been my contention, I am not concerned with it, and as no error helps the truth, if it be a popular argument, let it be demolished, and the truth will gain.
But Mr. Smiths own view is worse. If the other is false, this is dishonouring to God it is that it consists in bodily likeness. "An image must be something that is visible to the eye," he says. "Even an image formed in the mind must be conceived of as having some sort of outward shape or form. In this sense, of having outward form, the word is used in each of the thirty-one times of its occurrence in the Old Testament."
Now, if an "image" must be something that is visible to the eye, then we need not go to the Hebrew or Greek at all. But what, then, about "Renewed in knowledge, after the image of Him that created him"? There is no need to speak of eikon, as Mr. Smith does. Is "knowledge" something that is visible to the eye? He will hardly say so. And there is another thing. The apostle is, without doubt, thinking here of the original "image of God" in which man had been created. Was he thinking of - do his words suggest - a material image? There can be but one answer.
But Adam begat a son in his own likeness - "after his image;" and "no one would think of referring this to any thing but a physical resemblance"! I suppose none but materialists count for anybody with Mr. Smith; so that it is useless to protest; nevertheless, I am not convinced, and should deny it. The fact of the reference to the "image of God," in which man was created, is enough to make it more than questionable that it is merely physical.
"A spirit, or spiritual being, as God is in the highest sense," says Mr. Smith further, "so far from not having a bodily form, MUST possess it, as the instrumentality for the manifestation of his powers." Again it is hard to answer one who speaks evidently from some superior knowledge.
Merely common sense would imagine that it would be as easy for a spiritual being to act upon (or produce) the matter of the world without hands, as to make the hands first by which to act. He refers us to 1 Cor. xv. 44, - "There is a spiritual body." Truly. What then?
Again, we are told of Moses and the elders having seen God. In some true sense, no doubt they did; but Mr. Smith is again unfortunate in forgetting what the former says with reference to this: "Take ye, therefore, good heed unto yourselves, for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire; lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female," etc. Had they only known that man was the bodily image of God! But did not Moses know it? What becomes, then, of Mr. Smiths argument, whether he did or whether he did not?
So collapses the bodily image. But in what, then, did the image of God consist? Notice that man was created in it. It must be something, then, in man himself, from which his dominion over the other creatures resulted indeed, but his lordship over these was not the image.
Notice, again, that it is only the third time that the word "created" appears in the narrative. At first God "created" the heavens and the earth. Then you have it no more till, on the fourth day, "God created every living soul that moveth." (Gen. i. 21, Heb.) And then again, "God created man in His own image."
Now, if creation speak of a production out of nothing, or even if it speak of the production of quite a new thing merely, - here are three steps, plainly:
The creation of material things; then of a creature with soul; and then, finally, of one not only with soul but also SPIRIT. And here the image of God is that in which he is created: the new element of being characterizes him as that; he is spirit, the image of Him who is spirit!
And mark, that the dominion over nature is found thus in mans own constitution. In him, the spirit governs soul and matter. He is, as he has been often styled, a microcosm - a little world; but he is more: he is to this world the free and moral governor, representative of God Himself in the sphere of the universe. This, I believe, is what is implied in his being created in the image of God.
Go To Appendix Five
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