Reprint available from Leaves-of-Autumn Books, P. O. Box 440, Payson, AZ 85541.
This letter was written at the date indicated, but for certain reasons it was thought best to delay sending it out. Chief among these reasons was the fear of seeming to act precipitately in the matter, and the desire to counsel with others of larger experience. The delay of nearly two years has given ample time to carefully review the subject again and again, and to avoid any appearance of heated controversy. It is thought best, even at this late day, to send the matter out in the form of a letter, as originally written. It will be understood, of course, that this does not purport to be an explanation of the book of Galatians; that would require a book many times the size of this. I have here endeavored merely to correct some erroneous views, so that those who read may be prepared to study the epistle to the Galatians with more profit than heretofore.MMM 51.1
It should also be stated that this little book is not published for general circulation. It is designed only for those in whose hands Elder Butler’s pamphlet on Galatians was placed, and perhaps a few others whose minds have been specially exercised on the subject. No one can be more anxious than the writer, to avoid everything of a controversial nature in matters intended for the general public.MMM 51.2
That this letter may tend to allay controversy, to help to bring the household of God into the unity of the faith as it is in Christ Jesus, and to hasten the time when the servants of God shall see eye to eye, is the only desire of the writer.E. J. W.[Selection from pp. 3-5]
The Gospel in Galatians Oakland, Cal., February 10, 1887.
Elder Geo. I. Butler, Battle Creek, Mich.-Dear Brother: The matter of the law in Galatians which received some attention at the late General Conference, has been upon my mind a good deal, and doubtless many have thought of it since then more than before. I very much regretted that every moment of time was so occupied that we could have no conversation upon the subject. It is true the matter was discussed to a very limited extent in the meetings of the Theological Committee, but of course the little that could be said under the circumstances was not sufficient to give any satisfaction to any party concerned. I know that you are at all times exceedingly busy, and I myself have no time to squander; but this matter is of very great importance, and has received so much attention that it cannot by any possibility be ignored now.
You remember that I stated that there were some points in your pamphlet which seemed to me to indicate that you had misunderstood my position. I therefore wish to note a few of them. Before taking up any of the details, I wish to say first, that, as I assured you when in Battle Creek, I have not the slightest personal feeling in this matter. What I have written in the Signs has been with the sole design of doing good, by conveying instruction on an important Bible subject. I have not written in a controversial manner, but have particularly avoided anything of that nature.
It has been my aim on this subject, as well as on others, to write in such a way as not to arouse combativeness in any, but to present simple Bible truth, so that the objections would be taken out of the way before the person could make them. Second, it is not possible that in noting a few of the points in your pamphlet I could properly present my own position. To do that I should want to take up the book of Galatians without any reference to what anybody else had said upon it. In my articles in the Signs I have mentioned only a few points that might seem to be objections to the law, and which are often quoted as showing its abolition, to show that they are really the strongest arguments for the perpetuity of the law.MMM 51.3
I wish to say also that I think great injustice has been done in the allusions that have been made to the Instructor lessons. If it were simply injustice to me, it would be a matter of small consequence. But discredit was thrown upon the lessons, which would materially weaken the influence of the important subject upon which they treated, and this too when not a text used in the lessons was given a different application from that which has been held by those at least of our people who have written upon the same subject.
Every position taken in those lessons is perfectly in harmony with works published by our people, and may be read there-from. This was proved before the committee. And I have no knowledge that any different view on any text used in those lessons was ever printed by our people before the appearance of your pamphlet. This being the case, I honestly think that justice demands that on this subject at least the impressions conveyed in your pamphlet should be as publicly corrected.MMM 52.1
As to the propriety of publishing the matter in the Signs when I did, I have nothing to say. Whatever censure is due on that score, I willingly take, as I already have. But I wish to say that nothing that has been said or written has in the least degree shaken my confidence in the truthfulness of what I published in the Signs. Those positions I hold to and rejoice in to-day more strongly than ever, I wish also most earnestly to protest against the accusation that I have made the Signs, much less the Instructor, a medium for taking an unfair advantage of any of our people. Quotations that will appear further on, will show that I am not the one who has departed from the standard works of our people.MMM 52.2
I will now proceed to notice a few points in the pamphlet, taking them up in the order in which they come. On page 8 you say:-MMM 52.3
“The Lord chose Abraham and his descendants to be his peculiar people. They were such till the cross. He gave them the rite of circumcision-a circle cut in the flesh-as a sign of their separation from the rest of the human family.”MMM 52.4
This seeming misapprehension of the nature of circumcision appears throughout your pamphlet. It seems strange that it should be so, when the apostle Paul speaks so plainly concerning it. In Romans 4:11 I read of Abraham: “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”MMM 52.5
The fitness of this rite as a sign of righteousness will readily appear to anybody who understands the physical evils against which circumcision is a guard. At the present time it is often performed by physicians as a preventive of physical impurity. It was practiced for this purpose by many nations of antiquity. Herodotus (2:37) says of the Egyptians: “They practice circumcision for the sake of cleanliness, considering it better to be cleanly than comely.” Professor Von Orelli, of Basel, says in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia: “The custom is also found among nations which have no traceable connection with any form of ancient civilization; as for instance, among the Congo negroes and Caffrarians in Africa, the Salivas Indians in South America, the inhabitants of Otaheite and the Fiji Islands, etc.” He adds: “The Arabs of to-day call the operation tutûr tahir, purification.”MMM 52.6
I think that among the Jews as a class the rite exists to-day only as a preventive of physical impurity. I was present when it was performed by an eminent rabbi of San Francisco, and he said that that was all it was for. In this, as in everything else, the Jews have lost all knowledge of the spiritual meaning of their ceremonies. The veil still remains over their hearts. But that cutting off of the cause of physical impurity signified the putting off of the impurity of the heart, which was accomplished by faith in Christ. See Deuteronomy 10:16, and many other texts, for proof that circumcision had from the beginning this deeper meaning. [Selection from pp. 24-
47]means the ceremonial law, and your argument just quoted is valid, then it precludes the possibility of there being any ceremonial law in the time of Abraham; but Abraham had the essential parts of the ceremonial law, although that law had not been formally given. If you deny that Abraham had the ceremonial law, and insist that that law was not given until 430 years after his time, then I would like to ask what remedial system there was before the exode? You say that the ceremonial law was added because of transgressions, that is, as a remedial system. Then why was it not added as soon as the transgression was committed, instead of 2,500 years later? I
I claim that the remedial system entered immediately after the fall, and for proof I cite you to the offering of Abel. Your argument would put off the remedial system until the exode. You may say that at that time the ceremonial law was given more formally and circumstantially than before; very good, but if that argument will apply to the ceremonial law, as it undeniably will, why will it not apply equally to the moral law? You cannot deny that the moral law was given at Sinai, although it had been known since the creation.
Why was it given then? Because it had never been formally announced. So far as we know, no copy of it had ever been written, and the great mass of the people were almost totally ignorant in regard to it. You, yourself, say that Israel may have been ignorant of portions of the moral law, and this is undoubtedly true. Then there is abundant reason why it should have been given at that time,-because of transgressions. If all the people had known and obeyed the law, there would have been no necessity for its promulgation on Sinai; but because they were ignorant of its requirements, and had transgressed it, it was necessary that it should then be given as it was.
But you say that it is not proper to apply the term “added” to the moral law. The Bible itself must decide that matter. In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy Moses rehearses to the children of Israel the circumstances of the giving of law. Verses 5-21 contain the substance of the ten commandments, and of these Moses says in the twenty-second verse: “These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice; and he ADDED no more.” The term “added,” in this verse, is in the Septuagint exactly the same as that rendered “added” in Galatians 3:19.
The Hebrew word is the same that is rendered “add” in Genesis 30:24. That it has unmistakable reference in Deuteronomy 5:22 to the moral law, and to that alone, no one can deny. I care not whether you render it “added,” “spoken,” or “promulgated”-it makes no difference. In Hebrews 12:18, 19 we have unmistakable reference to the voice of God speaking the law from Sinai, and the request of the people that God should not speak to them any more (Exodus 20:18, 19), in the words, “which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more.” Here the word rendered “spoken” is the same as that rendered “added”
in Galatians 3:19 and Deuteronomy 5:22. If we chose we might render it, “they entreated that the word should not be added to them any more,” and then we would have a uniform rendering. Or we might render it uniformly “spoken,” and then we would read in Deuteronomy that the Lord spoke all those words in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, etc., with a great voice, “and he spoke no more;” and this would be the exact truth and a good rendering. And likewise for uniformity we might justly render Galatians 5:19, “it was spoken because of transgressions.” Or we might take the word in Deuteronomy 5:22 in the same sense in which it is used in Genesis 30:24, and the same idea would appear. When Rachel said, “God shall add to me another son,” it was the same as though she had said, “God will give me another son.” So the meaning in Deuteronomy 5:22 is that after the Lord had given them the commandments recorded in the preceding verses, he gave them no more. It seems to me very reasonable to apply the term “added” to the moral law; and whether it is reasonable or not I have certainly quoted two texts besides Galatians 3:19 which apply it so. But you cannot find in the Bible a single instance of the use of the word “added,” as applied to the ceremonial law, to substantiate your view on Galatians 3:19.MMM 53.1
Deuteronomy 5:22 plainly says that the ten commandments were spoken by the Lord, and that nothing but the ten commandments was spoken, or given, or added. Galatians 3:19 tells us why they were spoken. It was because of transgressions; that is, because people were largely ignorant of the law. We may not play upon the word “added,” and use it in a mathematical sense, but must necessarily use it in the sense of declaring or speaking. There was no more moral law after God spoke it from Sinai than there was before, but it was certainly known a great deal better than it was before, and there was less excuse for sin than there was before. In the preceding verses the apostle has spoken of the promise to Abraham, and the covenant made to him.
The statement that that covenant was continued in Christ shows plainly that the covenant to Abraham confirmed the forgiveness of sins through Christ. But the forgiveness of sin necessarily implies a knowledge of sin Only the righteous can be heirs of the promise, and a knowledge of sin and righteousness can only be obtained through the moral law. Therefore the giving of the law in a more specific manner than ever before was necessary, in order that the people might be partakers of the blessings promised to Abraham.MMM 53.2
The very same thing is stated in Horn. 5:20, “Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound;” and I never knew any Seventh-day Adventist to have any trouble in applying that to the moral law, yet it is certainly as difficult a text as Galatians 3:19. The word rendered “entered” is, literally, “came in.” The revised version has it, “came in beside.” But the moral law existed before the days of Moses, as is evident from verses 13, 14 of the same chapter, and also from the expression in the same verse, “that the offense might abound,” showing that sin-the transgression of the law-existed before the law came in. Although the law existed in all its force before the exode, yet it “came in,” “entered,” was spoken or given, or “added” at that time. And why? That the offense might abound, i.e., “that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful;” that what was sin before might the more plainly be seen to be sin.
Thus it entered, or was added, “because of transgressions.” If it had not been for transgressions there would have been no necessity for the law to enter at Sinai. Why did it enter because of transgressions? “That the offense might abound;” in order to make sin seem greater than ever before, so that men might be driven to the super-abounding grace of God as manifested in Christ. And so it became a school-master, pedagogue, to bring men to Christ, in order that they might be justified by faith, and be made the righteousness of God in him. And so it is stated later that the law is not against the promises of God. It works in harmony with the promise, for without it the promise would be of no effect. And this most emphatically attests the perpetuity of the law.MMM 54.1
I do not care for the opinions of commentators, except as they state in a clearer form that which has already been proved from the Bible; but as you in your pamphlet seem to have placed considerable reliance upon the opinion of commentators, it may not be profitless to quote a few here. I do it, however, not because I think they add anything to the argument, but simply as an offset to your quotations, and because they possibly state the case a little more clearly than I have done. Professor Boise, in his “Critical Notes on the Greek text of Galatians,” says on this text;-MMM 54.2
“Because of the transgressions indicates, therefore, this idea, to give a knowledge of transgressions to make plainly clear and distinct what were actual transgressions of the divine requirements.”MMM 54.3
He also says:-“In keeping with this idea, and perhaps implied, is the interpretation, to restrain transgressions.”
And he cites Erasmus, Olshausen, Neander, DeWette, Ewald, Luther, Bengel, and others, as holding the same view. If the opinions of commentators are to decide this matter, I think that the moral law will come out ahead.MMM 54.4
Dr. Barnes says on the expression “because of transgressions:”-
“On account of transgressions, or with reference to them. The meaning is, that the law was given to show the true nature of transgression, or to show what was sin. It was not to reveal a way of justification, but it was to disclose the true nature of sin; to deter men from committing it; to declare its penalty; to convince men of it, and thus to be ‘ancillary’ to, and preparatory to, the work of redemption through the Redeemer. This is the true account of the law of God as given to apostate men, and this use of the law still exists.”
And Dr. Clarke says:-
“It was given that we might know our sinfulness, and the need we stood in of the mercy of God. The law is the right line, the straight edge that determines the obliquity of our conduct. See the notes on Romans 4:15, and especially on Romans 5:20, where this subject is largely discussed and the figure explained.”
Your argument against the moral law being “added because of transgressions” will apply with equal force against the moral law having “entered that the offense might abound.” If you claim that Galatians 3:19 cannot apply to the moral law, then you must claim also that Romans 5:20 does not apply to that law.MMM 55.1
I quote further from your pamphlet, from the paragraph ending at the top of page 44:-MMM 55.2
“It would be absurd to suppose that this law was ‘added’ to itself. It does apply reasonably to another law, brought in because the one previously existing had been ‘violated.’ A law cannot be transgressed unless it exists; for ‘where no law is, there is no transgression.’ ”MMM 55.3
I have already shown the force of the term, “added.” I have never claimed that any law was added to itself, or that any mathematical process is referred to by the word rendered, “added.” What do you mean by saying a law cannot be transgressed until it exists? You seem to imply that the moral law did not exist so that it could be transgressed before it was given upon Mount Sinai. I know you do not believe this, and yet in another paragraph it is implied still more plainly. I will again quote Romans 5:20: “
Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” This law unmistakably is the moral law, yet you might say it is impossible that it should be the moral law, because offenses existed before the law here spoken of entered, and where no law is there is no transgression; and that therefore the law which here entered was some other law. But you would not argue that here. You would claim as I do, that the meaning, of the text is that the law entered, or was given, in order that sin might appear in its true enormity. As Paul elsewhere says, sin by the commandment became exceeding sinful. The moral law existed from creation, and long before. The patriarchs had a knowledge of it, and also all the antediluvians and the Sodomites, because they were counted sinners; yet it did not exist in written form, and those who were not in immediate connection with God could not have that perfect knowledge of the law which would show them the full heinousness of sin.
They could know that the things which they committed were wrong, but they could not realize their full enormity; and especially was this the case when the Israelites came from Egyptian bondage. But God had made a covenant with Abraham, and had promised wonderful things, but only on condition of perfect righteousness through Christ; and if men ever attain to this perfect righteousness, they must have the law in its fullest extent, and must know that many things were sinful, which they might previously have thought were harmless. So the law entered that the offense might abound; and because the offense abounded, and men saw their depravity, they found that grace super-abounded to cover their sins. The case is so plain, and the argument in Galatians 3:19 is so plainly parallel, that I marvel how anybody who has any just conception of the relation of the law and the gospel can question it for a moment.MMM 55.4
Again on page 44 I read:-
“The moral law is referred to as the one transgressed. But the ‘added’ law, of which Paul is speaking, made provision fur the forgiveness of these transgressions in figure, till the real Sacrifice should be offered.”
Your misapplication of the word “added” I have already sufficiently noticed, but there is an idea expressed in the quotation just made which I am sorry to see has of late been taught to some extent. And that is that in the so-called Jewish dispensation forgiveness of sins was only figurative. Your words plainly indicate that there was no real forgiveness of sins until Christ, the real Sacrifice, was offered.
If that were so, I would like to inquire how Enoch and Elijah got to Heaven. Were they taken there with their sins unforgiven? Had they been in Heaven for two or three thousand years before their sins were forgiven? The very fact that they were taken to Heaven is sufficient evidence that their sins were really pardoned. When David says, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered,” he means just what Paul did when he used the same words. David said to the Lord, “Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” That was no sham forgiveness. And it was expressly declared that if a soul should sin against any of the commandments of the Lord, he should offer his sacrifice and his sins should be forgiven him. Leviticus 4:2, 3, 20, 26, 31.
There was no virtue in the sacrifice, which was typical, yet the pardon was as real as any that has ever been given since the crucifixion. How could this be? Simply because Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. That he should offer himself as a sacrifice, was promised to our first parents in Eden, and confirmed to Abraham by an oath from God, and therefore, by virtue of that promise, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all who wished, could receive as much virtue from the blood of Christ as we can.
That forgiveness was real is shown by the fact that Abel, by his offering, received witness that he was righteous. But there can be no righteousness that has not been preceded by forgiveness. If the pardon were figurative, then the righteousness must also have been figurative. But Abel and Noah and Abraham, and others, were really righteous; they had the perfect righteousness of faith; therefore they must have had actual forgiveness. This is further shown from the fact that forgiveness of sins must precede all righteousness. For there can be no righteousness without faith (Romans 6:23), and faith always brings pardon. Romans 3:24, 25; 5:1.MMM 55.5
I quote the next paragraph of your pamphlet, page 44:-
” ‘Till the seed should come,’ limits the duration of this remedial system, beyond all question. The word ‘till,’ or ‘until,’ ever has that signification. The ‘added’ law, then, was to exist no longer than ‘till the seed should come.’ This the language unmistakably declares. Did the moral law extend no further than the full development of the Messiah? No Seventh-day Adventist will admit that. But this was precisely the case with the other law.”
You say that the added law was to exist no longer than till the seed should come, because the word “till,” or “until,” has ever the signification of a certain limited duration. Let me quote you a few texts. In Psalm 112:8, I read of the good man:
“His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.” Do you think that that implies that as soon as the good man has seen his desire upon his enemies he shall be afraid? Again I read of Christ in Isaiah 42:4, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth.” Do you think the word “till” in this instance limits the duration of the time that Christ should not be discouraged? and does it imply that as soon as he has set judgment in the earth, he shall fail and be discouraged? The question answers itself. Once more, in Daniel 1:21
, I read: “And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus.” Does that mean that he did not live any longer? Not by any means, for in the tenth chapter we read of a vision which was given him in the third year of Cyrus. 1 Samuel 15:35 says that “Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death.” Do you think that he went to see him as soon as he died? These texts show that “till” does not necessarily limit the duration of the thing to which it is applied, and does not necessarily imply that the law ceases at the coming of the seed. The exact meaning of the term in this instance I reserve till later.MMM 56.1
I quote again from your pamphlet:-
“The ‘added’ law was ‘ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.’ All agree that this ‘mediator’ was Moses, who went between God and the people. The original word for ‘ordained’ is rendered ‘promulgate’ by Greenfield, who cites this text as an illustration. Was it true that the ten commandments were ‘ordained,’ or ‘promulgated,’ ‘by angels,’ ‘in’ or ‘by the hand of Moses’? God himself spoke them with a voice that shook the earth, and wrote them with his own finger on the stone tablets. But the other law was given through angels, and written in a ‘book’ by the ‘hand of Moses.’ If the reader desires to see some of the instances where the same expression substantially is used when speaking of the ‘law of Moses,’ we refer him to Leviticus 26:46; Numbers 4:37; 15:22, 23, and especially Nehemiah 9:13, 14, where the distinction is clearly made between the laws which God spoke, and the ‘precepts, statutes, and laws’ given ‘by the hand of Moses.’ ”
There are several points in this paragraph, and we will note them in order. First, was the ceremonial law given by angels? Those who hold as you do, say that it was, and quote Galatians 3:19 as proof. But that is not competent testimony on this point, for it is the text under discussion; but, unfortunately for your theory, it is the only text that you can quote. And so the “proof” that the ceremonial law was given by angels is nothing but reasoning in a circle. Thus: You say that Galatians 3:19 refers to the ceremonial law, because it speaks of a law that was “ordained by angels;” then you “prove” that the ceremonial law was spoken by angels, by quoting Galatians 3:19, which you have already “proved” refers to the ceremonial law.
This is not proving anything, but is simply begging the question. You started out to show that Galatians 3:19 has reference to the ceremonial law, because it speaks of a law ordained by angels. In order to make that good, you ought to cite at least one other text in the Bible where it is at least implied that the angels gave the ceremonial law; but this you cannot do.MMM 57.1
Now, on the other hand, the connection of angels with the giving of the ten commandments from Sinai is most clearly marked. I first cite Psalm 68:17: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.” Again, I refer to Deuteronomy 33:2:
“The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints [holy ones,-angels]; from his right hand went a fiery law for them.” These texts show plainly that the angels of God were on Sinai when the law was spoken. They were there evidently for a purpose, though we cannot tell what. But we have a still more emphatic testimony in Stephen’s address, Acts 7:51-53: “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers; who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”
The law which these wicked Jews had not kept was the moral law, which Stephen said was given “by the disposition of angels,”-the very same term that in Galatians 3:19 is rendered “ordained by angels.” The word diatasso, rendered “ordain,” means, according to Liddell and Scott, “to range, ordain, establish, to set in order, draw up an army.” The word “disposition,” in Acts 7:53, is from diataxis, a noun derived from the preceding verb, and means, “disposition, arrangement, especially a drawing up of troops, order of battle.” These words have also the signification of “to decree,” to “will,” but the former signification seems to convey the idea of the words as used in the texts quoted.MMM 57.2
The text under consideration does not say that the angels spoke the law, and we know very well that they did not speak either the moral or the ceremonial law. The Lord himself spoke them both, the one directly to the people, and the other to Moses. But the angels were there, evidently in their regular order, as the armies of Heaven. Just what part they had to act no one can tell, for the Bible does not specify. All I claim is that the Scriptures speak of them as being intimately connected with the giving of the moral law; while there is not a text in the Bible which mentions them in connection with the giving of the ceremonial law; and the text in Acts, already quoted, plainly says of the moral law that it was given “by the disposition of angels.” The expression “ordained by angels,” is the one upon which those who argue for the ceremonial law in Galatians, have placed their principal reliance; but even that is against them.MMM 57.3
Second, the distinction which is made between the moral and the ceremonial law, namely, that the moral law was spoken by the Lord, and the ceremonial law by Moses, will not hold. The very texts which you cite are against this distinction. I will take the first one, Leviticus 26:46. It reads: “These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the Lord made between him and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.” This is the last verse of the chapter.
The first two verses of the chapter read thus: “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it; for I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary; I am the Lord.” And then the chapter goes on with instructions to keep the commandments of the Lord, to walk in his statutes, tells what judgments shall come upon them if they break the commandments, especially the Sabbath, and closes with the words first quoted. But in all the chapter there is not a shadow of a reference to the ceremonial law.MMM 57.4
Your next reference, Numbers 4:37, has no reference to either the moral or the ceremonial law. It simply states that Moses and Aaron numbered the families of the Kohathites, “according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.”MMM 58.1
Your third reference, Numbers 15:22, 23, has unmistakable reference to the moral law, and to that alone, as will be seen if the twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth, and twenty-sixth verses are read in connection. I will quote them: “And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the Lord hath spoken unto Moses, even all that the Lord hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the Lord commanded Moses, and henceforward among your generations; then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt-offering.... And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance; and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord, and their sin-offering before the Lord, for their ignorance; and it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel.” All this atoning sacrifice was to be made on account of sins against what the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses. But nothing is sin except violation of the ten commandments.MMM 58.2
Your last reference, Nehemiah 9:13, 14, may have reference to both the moral and the ceremonial law. I will quote the verses: “Thou camest down also upon Mount Sinai, and spakest with them from Heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments; and madest known unto them thy holy Sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant.” This is the only text of all to which you have referred, which even by implication refers to the ceremonial law. And it is certainly a strained implication that limits “by the hand of Moses” to the last part of verse 14. All the other texts, at any rate, when they refer to any law at all, refer solely to the moral law, which is said to have been commanded “by the hand of Moses.”MMM 58.3
You will perhaps say that I have broken down the distinction between the moral and the ceremonial law, and have opened the way for the enemies of the law to confuse the two. But I have not. I have simply quoted the texts to which you refer, and have shown their exact application. There is no chance for confusion concerning the two laws, for we have this plain distinction: The moral law was spoken by the Lord with an audible voice, from the fire and smoke of Sinai. The ten commandments are all that were given in this manner (Deuteronomy 5:22), and they alone were written on tables of stone by the finger of God.
The ceremonial law was given in a more private manner. This certainly forbids any confusion. Both the moral and the ceremonial law, however, are, as we have seen in the texts quoted, said to have been given by the hand of Moses, and both were written in the book of the law. But there is still this distinction, that the ceremonial law was written only in the book, while the moral law was written on the tables of stone, with the finger of God, and also in a book. That the term, “the law of Moses,” does sometimes refer to the ten commandments, will be evident to anyone who will carefully read Deuteronomy 4:44 to 5:22 and onward; Joshua 23:6, 7; 1 Kings 2:3, 4; 2 Kings 23:24, 25, etc. See also “Great Controversy”, vol. 2, pp. 217, 218, beginning with last paragraph on page 217. On the other hand, the term “the law of the Lord” is applied to the ceremonial ordinances For instance, see Luke 2:23, 24. Thus the terms, “the law of Moses,” and “the law of the Lord,” are used interchangeably of both laws.MMM 58.4
Third, you say of the latter part of Galatians 3:19, that all agree that this mediator was Moses. I do not agree; and I do not think that the text and the context warrant such an assumption. The apostle continues in the next verse: “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” Now I turn to 1 Timothy 2:5, and read: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” God is one party in the transaction, and Christ is the mediator. I suppose you will not question the statement that Christ was the one who spoke the ten commandments from Mount Sinai. In “Great Controversy,” vol. 2, page 217 (concerning the sermon on the mount), I read: “The same voice that declared the moral and the ceremonial law, which was the foundation of the whole Jewish system, uttered the words of instruction on the mount.” And this is indicated in the text under consideration, and also in Acts 7:38, where Stephen says of Moses:
“This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the Mount Sina, and with our fathers.” That angel we all understand to be the one that spoke to Moses out of the bush, the one that went before the children of Israel, in whom was the name of God, being none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. If I thought it necessary I could give you plenty of Scripture testimony on this point. And so the text under consideration, as I have proved in noting your points, teaches that the law was given upon Mount Sinai, because of transgression, that is, that the people might know what sin was, and might appreciate the pardon that was offered in the covenant to Abraham; and that it was thus given till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and the apostle shows the dignity and the value of the law, by the statement that it was disposed, or arranged, or ordained, by angels, in the hand of our great mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.MMM 58.5
I will now give a little attention to the expression, “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made,” and show how it harmonizes with the other expressions in the verse as I have explained them. First, I will quote a reference which you make to that. You say:-MMM 59.1
“Another argument, a very late invention, designed to avoid the conclusion that the ‘added’ law terminated at the cross, we briefly notice. It is the claim that ‘the seed’ has not yet come, and will not come till the second advent of Christ. It would be hard for the writer to really think that any believer in Christ would take that position, had we not read it in our own beloved The Signs of the Times, July 29, 1886.”-P. 46.MMM 59.2
If this had been written by some men I should think it was deliberate misrepresentation; for it certainly does wofully misrepresent the view which I take and have published. I have carefully re-read my articles to see if by any unfortunate expression I had conveyed the idea that Christ, the promised seed, has not yet come, and I find no hint of such an idea. I have not, however, the slightest thought that you would willfully misrepresent any person, and I can only attribute your failure to state my position properly, to a too hasty perusal of it. It is not at all surprising to me that in the little time which you had to spare, burdened at the same time with a multitude of cares to distract your mind, you did not grasp the whole of the argument, especially as it was one to which your mind had not been previously directed. But although your misrepresentation was unintentional, it does none the less convey an erroneous impression of my teaching.MMM 59.3
The argument which I put forth is not so late an invention as you think. I have held the view for several years, and it was not original with me. But even if it were entirely new, that in itself would be nothing against it; for “every scribe which is instructed into the kingdom of Heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:52.MMM 59.4
It is true that I held, and still hold, that the coming of the seed spoken of in Galatians 3:19, means the second coming of Christ; but that does not imply that Christ has not already come, or that he is not now the seed. You often preach that the Lord is coming, and you no doubt quote such texts of Scripture as Psalm 50:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 4:5, and scores of others. Now if a man hearing you preach such a sermon, should go off and say that you did not believe that the Lord came 1,800 years ago, he would be no more out of the way than you are in saying that I have taught that Christ has not come. In the Old Testament we have many references to the coming of Christ; some of them mean his first advent, and some his second. The only way we can distinguish between them is by the events mentioned in connection with the references to the coming. And so we must decide here in Galatians 3:19.MMM 59.5
There is only one ground on which you can claim that the coming of the seed cannot refer to the second coming of Christ, and that is by claiming that he will not be the seed then; that he is the seed only at the first advent. But such a claim cannot stand for a moment, for Christ is as surely the seed when he bruises the serpent’s head, as when he himself was bruised. He will be the seed when the promise is fulfilled to him. The matter, then, stands just this way: Christ is the seed; therefore to say, “till the seed should come,” is equivalent to saying, “till Christ should come.” Then the next point is, does the expression,
“the coming of Christ,” necessarily apply to the first advent alone? Certainly it does not, for there are two advents, and the simple expression, “the coming of Christ,” may apply to either. Therefore, so far as the expression, “till the seed should come,” is concerned, there is no reason why it should not apply to the second advent as well as to the first. Indeed, we might say that there is an antecedent probability that it should refer to the second coming of Christ, for that is the more prominent coming of the two, and it is the one which we always think of when the expression is unqualified. But in every case of this kind, the context must decide what coming is referred to.MMM 60.1
The application of Galatians 3:19 to the first advent of Christ arises largely, I think, from a careless reading of it. You argue as though it read, “till the seed should come of whom the promise was made.” But it is, “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” The apostle is not dealing with the idea that the seed was promised to Abraham, but he is speaking of the promise that was made to Abraham and to his seed, the seed being Christ. Now if you can find a single promise that was fulfilled to Christ at his first advent, there will be some show of reason in applying Galatians 3:19 to the first advent of Christ. But you cannot. There was absolutely nothing that Christ then received; no part of the promise was fulfilled to him. He received only rebuffs, reproaches, mockings, poverty, weariness, scourging, and death. Moreover, the promise “to Abraham and his seed” is a joint promise; but certainly no promise was fulfilled to Abraham at the first advent of Christ, for Abraham had then been dead 2,000 years.MMM 60.2
That the apostle connects the coming of the seed with the fulfillment of the promise to him, is evident from the simple reading of the text. A certain promise had been made to Abraham and his seed, and a certain thing was given for a special purpose, until the seed to whom the promise was made should come. The idea that inevitably follows from the reading of the text, letting each clause have its proper weight, is that at the coming referred to, the seed will inherit the promise. I shall give something more on this point a little further on.MMM 60.3
But there is no need of any conjecture as to what the promise is which is referred to in this verse. The eighteenth verse reads thus: “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise;” and then the nineteenth verse continues: “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” This shows most conclusively that the promise referred to is the inheritance. This promised inheritance is the whole world (Romans 4:13); and there is no need of presenting argument to show that the inheritance is still future. Christ has not received it, for we are joint heirs with him; and when he receives it, Abraham and all those who are his children through faith, will likewise receive it. And this makes of no value your argument that “the promises to this seed, many of them, reach beyond the second advent,-as does this one [Isaiah 9:6, 7],-even into eternity. So, according to this reasoning, we may wait to all eternity for the seed to come.”
That argument, if it proved anything in this connection, would simply prove that the promise to Abraham and to his seed will never be fulfilled, which is contrary to the word of God. But, as we have seen, there are not many promises referred to in this nineteenth verse, but only the one promise,-the inheritance, and that promised inheritance will be received at the second coming of Christ, and not before.MMM 60.4
But you say that even this promise is not fulfilled till the end of the thousand years, and that therefore if the coining of the seed is not till the fulfillment of the promise, “the seed cannot come till the end of the one thousand years; for the land is not inherited by Abraham till that time.” This argument might indeed be called a “late invention.” I am certain it is a new one among our people. It is true that the saints do not dwell on the earth till the close of the one thousand years, but it is not true that they do not possess it, or inherit it, till that time.
If they do not, then what does Christ mean in Matthew 25:31 34, where he says that when becomes in his glory and all the holy angels with him, he shall sit upon the throne of his glory, shall separate the righteous from the wicked, and shall say to the righteous, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” The mistake into which you fall is in supposing that the saints cannot possess the earth till they dwell upon it. If that were true, it would apply equally to Christ, that he cannot possess it until he dwells upon it; but we read, in Psalm 2:8, 9, these words of the Father to the Son: “Ask of me, and 1 shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession; thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
We learn from this, as well as from Revelation 11:15-19, and other texts, that Christ receives the kingdom just before he comes to this earth. And it is not until after the uttermost parts of the earth are given to him for his possession, that he dashes the nations in pieces like a potter’s vessel. If Christ did not possess the earth, he would not have the right to do this. The wicked subjects of Satan now claim possession of the earth, which has been promised to Christ. When that promise is fulfilled, and the earth is given into his possession, then he will rid it of those who have usurped dominion. He inherits the earth while the wicked are still upon it, but he cannot dwell upon it until they are removed. We say he cannot dwell upon it, not because he has not the power, but because he cannot take up his abode upon it while it is so impure.
The fact, however, that he does with the nations according to his will, rooting them out of the earth, shows that the earth is in his possession.MMM 60.5
This same argument applies to the saints. They are joint heirs with Christ. This means that they receive their inheritance at the same time he does. When he comes to this earth, having received his kingdom, he calls them to inherit it with him. They do not at once dwell upon the earth, but they dwell in its capital, the New Jerusalem, and possession of the capital of any kingdom is usually considered as evidence of the possession of the kingdom itself. Moreover, the saints during the thousand years sit upon thrones, judging the wicked, and determining the amount of punishment that shall be given to them.
Thus they are sharers with Christ in the work of ridding their common possession of its incumbrances. It is just as though you and I should be joint heirs of a farm. At a certain time we are given possession, but we find that it is entirely overrun with thorns and briars; and so before we take up our abode upon it, we clear off this growth of rubbish and burn it up. The wicked are the tares that cumber the farm that is promised to Abraham and his seed; when Abraham and his seed shall be given possession, they will clear it of this foul growth, and then will dwell upon it. This brief argument shows clearly, what I thought was already established among us, namely, that Christ and the saints possess the kingdom when he comes the second time.MMM 61.1
Having settled these points, namely, that the “promise” means the inheritance of the earth, and that this promise to Abraham and his seed is fulfilled at Christ’s second coming, we are prepared to go on. The prominent idea in this chapter is by what means the promise is to be obtained. The promise is the uppermost thought in this verse. The apostle is showing that the inheritance is gained solely by faith, that it is not of the law, but of faith in the promise, and then he carries us down to the time when the promise shall be fulfilled. That the “coming” that is referred to is the second coming of Christ, when the promise shall be fulfilled, is a most natural and easy conclusion, and makes harmony of the text. I think you overlooked a parallel text which I quoted in my articles. It is Ezekiel 21:26, 27:
“Thus saith the Lord God: Remove the diadem, and take off the crown; this shall not be the same; exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more until he come right it is; and I will give it him.” Here we have unmistakable reference to the seed, in the words, “he whose right it is.” And it is plainly declared that when “He whose right it is.”
And it is plainly declared that when “He whose right it is.” Comes, to the inheritance will to given him. These words were written nearly six hundred years before Christ’s first advent, yet is not necessary for me to enter into an argument to convince you that the first advent of Christ is not referred to here. In Galatians 3:19 Paul is speaking of the inheritance and says, “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made;” in the text just quoted from Ezekiel, the prophet is speaking also of the inheritance and says, “till He come whose right it is.” Now why is it any more absurd to say that the first expression refers to the second coming of Christ, than to say that the second refers to that event?MMM 61.2
If you say that the coming of the seed has no reference to the second advent, because when the coming spoken of takes place the ceremonial law is to terminate, you beg the question entirely. If you say, as you do in your pamphlet, that applying that coming to the second advent, and the law which is spoken of to the moral law, would make the moral law terminate at the second coming of Christ, I have already answered that, for I have shown that “till” does not of necessity mean “termination.”
I believe most emphatically that the law referred to is the moral law, and that the coming of the seed is the second advent of Christ, but I do not believe that the moral law is going to terminate when Christ comes; and Galatians 3:19 does not indicate that it will.MMM 62.1
In order to establish your point, that the coming of the seed cannot refer to the second advent of Christ, it would be necessary for you to show that Christ was the seed only at the first advent, and that he is not the seed since then. But Genesis 3:15 says not only that the serpent should bruise the heel of the seed (at the first advent), but that the seed should bruise the serpent’s head (at the second advent) When Christ comes the second time he is still the seed. So when Paul says, “till the seed comes,” it need no more be confined to the first advent than when he says, “till the Lord comes.”MMM 62.2
Lest it should be objected that Christ does not bruise Satan’s head at his second coming, but only after the close of the 1,000 years, I will remind you that the wicked are not punished until after the close of the 1,000 years; yet they are said to be punished at the coming of, the Lord. And go they are; for the second advent, like the first, covers a period of time. The first advent of Christ covered all the time of his earthly ministry; the second advent covers all the time from the appearance of “the sign of the son of man in heaven,” until the wicked are destroyed out of the earth.MMM 62.3
The argument thus far on the coming of the seed has been negative in order to meet some of your objections. I will now give some positive argument that the coming referred to is the second advent. In doing this I shall also proceed to consider verses 22-25, for they have an intimate connection with verse 19. Verses 24, 25 read thus: “Wherefore the law was our school-master to bring us unto Christ, that might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a school-master.” By no manner of reasoning whatever can there verses be made to apply to the ceremonial law. The reference must be to the moral law, and to that alone, as I shall show.MMM 62.4
1. The text does not read that the law was our school-master to point us to Christ; if it did there might be some show of reason in applying it to the ceremonial law. But “the law was our school-master to bring us to Christ,” or, “the law was our school-master unto Christ,” that is, the law was our school-master till we came to Christ. Now the ceremonial law brought no one to Christ. The performance of it was an act of faith on the part of the performer showing the belief he already had in Christ.MMM 62.5
2. Faith did not release people from the observance of the ceremonial law; on the contrary, the person did not begin the observance of the ceremonial law until he had faith in Christ.MMM 62.6
3. The twenty-second verse says that “before faith came, we were kept under the law;” but before faith came, people did not have anything to do with the ceremonial law.MMM 62.7
4. If the ceremonial law were referred to in this verse, then, according to verse 25, we should conclude that as soon as people learned to have faith in Christ they had nothing more to do with the ceremonial law; but the truth is that the patriarchs and prophets were most punctual in their observance of the ceremonial law, and no one had more faith than they. Take the case of David; his writings abound with references to sacrifices and to ceremonies in the court of the Lord’s house. He offered multitudes of sacrifices, yet there is no writer in the Bible who shows a more perfect knowledge of Christ, or who exhibits more faith in him.MMM 62.8
5. But you Bay that the apostle is reasoning of dispensations, and not of individual experiences, and that bringing them to Christ means bringing them to his first advent, and “to the system of faith there inaugurated.” But that is the weakest position you could take, for if that were the meaning, then it would follow that the law accomplished its purpose only for the generation that lived at Christ’s first advent. No other people ever came to Christ, in the sense in which you use the term. In order for the law to bring men to Christ, in the sense in which you apply it, that is, to his first advent, it would have had to lengthen their lives. Adam would have had to live at least 4,000 years. For, let me again repeat: The text does not say that the law was a schoolmaster to point men to Christ, but to bring them to him.MMM 63.1
6. Again; the text says it brings men to Christ, that they may be justified by faith. Are people justified by faith in a national capacity. I have just shown that, according to the theory that the apostle is arguing of dispensations, only one generation was brought to Christ, namely, the generation that had the good fortune to live at his first advent; but even that generation was not justified by faith. Very few of them had any faith whatever. They didn’t have any faith from first to last. Then they most have remained under the school-master,-the law,-and indeed they did. Justification by faith is an individual, and not a national, matter.
Seventh-day Adventists often speak of the great light which “we as a people” possess. But “we as a people” will derive no benefit from that light unless we as individuals possess it in our own hearts. I repeat, justification by faith is something that each individual must experience for himself. Thousands who lived at Christ’s first advent knew nothing of this experience, while thousands who lived long before he came, were actually brought to Christ for pardon, and they received it. Abel was counted righteous through faith; Noah was heir of the righteousness which is by faith; and Abraham actually saw Christ’s day, and rejoiced in it, although he died 2,000 years before the first advent. And this most positively proves that the apostle, in the third chapter of Galatians, is speaking of individual experience, and not of dispensational changes. There can be no Christian experience, no faith, no justification, no righteousness, that is not an individual matter. People are saved as individuals, and not as nations.MMM 63.2
A word of explanation may be in place right here. The term “under the law,” if it be applied to the ceremonial law, cannot have the same meaning that it does when applied to the moral law. When used with reference to the moral law, it means “condemned by the law;” but it cannot have that meaning if it should be applied to the ceremonial law, because that law condemned nobody. So with the supposition that the expression refers to the ceremonial law, we must conclude that not to be under it means not to be subject to it; but when we refer it to the moral law, we come to no such conclusion, because “under the law” means condemned by the law.MMM 63.3
7. The strongest argument against the ceremonial law view is found in verse 24:
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Now it is an undeniable fact that the possession of faith led to the offering of sacrifices, and not the offering of sacrifices to faith. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” Now I ask, How could the ceremonial law lead a man to that which he already had Since it was faith that prompted Abel and all others to offer sacrifices, how can it be said that those sacrifices served as a school-master to lead them to Christ that they might be justified by faith?MMM 63.4
I have already noticed your idea that the word “faith” is here synonymous with “Christ;” that the apostle means that before Christ came we were kept under the law; that the law was our school-master to bring us unto (the first advent of) Christ, that we might lie justified by him; and that verse 25 means that after Christ is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster. I believe that this is the position that is usually taken by those who hold the ceremonial law view, and it is the only position that can be taken if the ceremonial law is referred to. The only thing that it lacks is proof. There is no warrant whatever for making the term “faith” synonymous with Christ. Besides, if that were true, then the text would teach that no man was justified until Christ’s first coming, which is preposterous and unscriptural. For this reason we must conclude that the ceremonial law is not under consideration in this verse.MMM 63.5
It is evident that verses 19, 24 are closely related, that is, when the law entered, or was added, it was in the capacity of a pedagogue, to bring men to Christ. Now to abolish the law before it has brought to Christ all who can be induced to come to him, would certainly be an act of injustice. The law must retain its office of pedagogue or task-master, until all have come to Christ who will, and this will not be until probation closes and the Lord comes. In its office as pedagogue, it is not against the promise, but works in harmony with it. Thus: God made the promise to Abraham that he and his seed should inherit the earth.
This promise was made to Abraham, not because of his inherent righteousness, but because of his faith, which was accounted to him for righteousness. The promise was confirmed in Christ, that is, none but those who exercised faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins could be heirs of the promise. But forgiveness of sins depends upon repentance of sin, and repentance of sin presupposes a knowledge of sin, and a knowledge of sin e in be obtained only by the law. Therefore the law acts as a pedagogue, overseer, or task-master, to overwhelm men with a sense of their sin, the they may flee to Christ to be justified by faith. And this office it must perform until all those who can be influenced to come to Christ have come, and the promise is fulfilled.
Then the law will no longer have the capacity of a task-master. God’s people will all be righteous, walking in the law, and the law will be in their hearts. They will not then need the law written in books or on tables of stone-that is, the added law-because they will have direct access to the throne of God, and will all be taught of God. Thus the law was added, or spoken to be a pedagogue to bring men to Christ; but when all who are worth saving have been brought to Christ, it will cease to have that capacity. But this no more implies the abolition of the law when the Lord comes, than the fact that the law entered at Sinai implies that there was no law before.
There was just as much law before it was spoken upon Mount Sinai and written out for the benefit of mankind, as there is to-day. And when the law shall cease to be a pedagogue, because it has brought to Christ all who can be induced to come, and all earthly copies of the law shall have been destroyed with the earth, the law will still exist-the foundation of the throne of God, unchanged to all eternity as it has from all eternity.MMM 64.1
Perhaps the following from the pen of Elder J. N. Andrews may be considered worthy of perusal. It is from his reply to H. E. Carver, in The Review and Herald, September 16, 1851 (vol. 2, No. 4):-MMM 64.2
“The idea that the law is our school-master to bring us to Christ, that we maybe justified by faith, is often urged as proof that the law is abolished. How is the law our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? We answer, It shows our guilt and just condemnation, and that we are lost without a Saviour. Here the apostle Paul, who was converted since the time when it is said the law was abolished, ‘had not known sin but by the law.’ Romans 7:7. ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ Romans 3:20. Read a full account of Paul’s experience in this school, also his deliverance from the carnal mind, which ‘is not subject to the law of God.’ Romans 7:7-25; 8:1-7.
The instruction of the law is absolutely necessary, for without it we can never know our guilt in the sight of God. It shows our just condemnation, its penalty hangs over our heads; we find ourselves lost, and fly to Jesus Christ. What does he do to save us from the curse of the law? Does he abolish the law that he may save its transgressors? He assures us that he did ‘not come to destroy’ it; and we know that the law being ‘holy, just, and good,’ cannot be taken back, without destroying the government of Him who gave it. Does the Saviour modify its character, and lessen its demands? Far from it. He testifies that ‘one jot [End of selection]MMM 64.3
[Selection from pp. 70, 71]the beautiful harmony between it and the gospel. The law of God is the groundwork of all our faith. It may be said to be the backbone of the Third Angel’s Message.
That being the case, we must expect, as we approach the end, that all the forces of the enemy will be concentrated upon it. We shall have to do more valiant service for it than we ever yet have done. Every point in our argument will have to be subjected to the test of the most rigid criticism, and we shall have to fortify every point, It there is any inconsistency in any of our arguments, we may be sure that the enemies of the truth will not always remain blind to it.
I know you will say that it will be a humiliating thing to modify our portion on so vital a point as this, right in the face of the enemy. But if a general has a faulty position, I submit that it is better to correct it, even in the face of the enemy, than to run the risk of defeat because of his faulty position. But I do not see anything humiliating in the matter. If our people should to-day, as a body (as they will sometime), change their view on this point, it would simply be an acknowledgment that they are better informed today than they were yesterday, it would simply be taking an advance step, which is never humiliating except to those whose pride of opinion will not allow them to admit that they can be wrong. It would simply be a step nearer the faith of the great Reformers from the days of Paul to the days of Luther and Wesley. It would be a step closer to the heart of the
Third Angel’s Message. I do not regard this view which I hold as a new idea at all. It is not a new theory of doctrine. Everything that I have taught is perfectly in harmony with the fundamental principles of truth which have been held not only by our people, but by all the eminent reformers. And so I do not take any credit to myself for advancing it All I claim for the theory is, that it is consistent, because it sticks to the fundamental principles of the gospel.MMM 65.1
Before I close, I cannot refrain from expressing my regret to see in your book (on page 78) the expression, “The much-vaunted doctrine, of justification by faith.” Do you know of any other means of justification? Your words seem to intimate that you think that doctrine has been overestimated. Of one thing I am certain, and that is, that those who have held to the theory of the law, which you are endeavoring to uphold, have not overestimated the doctrine of justification by faith; because that theory leads inevitably to the conclusion that men are justified by the law. But when I read Romans 3:28, and read also that Paul knew nothing among the Corinthians but Jesus Christ and him crucified, and that “the just shall live by faith,” and that “
this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4), and that Paul wanted to be found when Christ comes, having nothing but “the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9), I conclude that it is impossible to overestimate the overestimate the doctrine of justification by faith. You may call it a “much-vaunted” doctrine if you please; I accept the word, and say with Paul: “God forbid that I should glory [or vaunt], save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”MMM 65.2
Hoping that you will read this letter in the spirit in which it is written, and that you will believe that I have written it with only the utmost good-feeling and brotherly love for you personally, and praying that God will guide both us and all his people to the most perfect knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, I remain your brother in Christ,