The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, vol. 69

The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Vol. 69

1892

February 2, 1892

“‘Every Man His Own Saviour’” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 69, 5.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

A little book of 150 pages, entitled the “Supreme Passions of Man,” published by the “Little Blue Book Company,” Battle Creek, Mich., has recently been placed in my hands, being recommended as an excellent book for circulation among, and by, Seventh-day Adventists. Its object is thus stated by the author in his preface:- ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.1

This book, which touches as science, religion, morality, medicine, etc., is meant to disseminate knowledge among all classes concerning the laws of nature under which passions arise, and by which they may be ruled. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.2

The reason, doubtless, why it was thought that Seventh-day Adventists would be glad to help circulate the book, is that it professes to teach morality, and has much to say about the necessity of right habits of eating and drinking; and it is known that this people are greatly interested in what is called “health reform.” ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.3

That any Seventh-day Adventist who honors the word of God, and whose faith in it is well instructed, could, after reading the book referred to, assist by any means in its circulation, is almost incredible. Therefore the object in briefly reviewing it, is not specially for the purpose of putting any on their guard against this particular book, but to use it as an illustration of a principle,-to show the inevitable result of “scientific” religion, that is, morality whose sole support is human wisdom and human strength. The book will be extensively quoted in the following review, but only as a text; and in this case the text will doubtless be longer than the sermon; for the application will be quite obvious. The quotations will abundantly show that the proper title of the book is not that which it bears, but the one at the head of this article. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.4

The first point that will claim our attention is that what is generally known as “science,” is in direct and open antagonism to true Christianity: that they are irreconcilable; and that whenever “science” professes that it is in perfect accord with religion, it simply substitutes itself for the true religion. The quotations that follow from this supposedly “scientific” book confirm this declaration. Having spoken of certain appetites and passions, the author says:- ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.5

Christianity has classed these passions among sins, and has in vain sought to subjugate them by spiritual efforts, appeals to reason and the emotions through gospel teachings, little dreaming that Christianity itself has unknowingly nurtured the evil from the outset, by its methods of living.-Page 54. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.6

The reader will notice that here a profession of Christianity is confounded with Christianity itself. This appears all through the book, and is most natural, because “science” must always utterly fail to comprehend true religion. “The world by wisdom knew not God,” and never can. But again:- ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.7

The church speaks of these things, but seems to have failed to grasp their full importance and significance. It is with the deepest reverence, and not with a spirit of censure or disrespect, that the writer approaches the policy of Christendom in this matter. What more could have been expected? Science had to reveal the truth of the natural laws involved in the question at hand, before man [either in or out of the church] could consult them. It is therefore a question of slow progress. Medical science itself, which should lead on this subject, has been rather slow in seeing the bearing of the union of cells in man.... How could the medical world lead in the science of morals, when it is tardy in the science of medicine?-Page 86. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.8

On the very next page we read of “the signal inefficacy of glorious religion to subject the passions of mankind to the will, under exclusively religious impulse.” This ignores, as unworthy of consideration by a “scientific mind,” the great roll of men “who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness,” etc. How was it possible that “unlearned and ignorant men” should have been able to subdue the passions of the flesh, especially in an age when medical science had not revealed the truth of the natural laws involved in the question? True, the apostle Paul says that “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with its passions and lusts” (Galatians 5:24), but modern science votes Paul a fraud. That this “scientific” book positively denies the possibility of there having been in the past any such righteous people as the Bible tells of, is seen by the following:- ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.9

It is no reflection on religious denominations and Christians in general to say that preaching most be aided by science before mankind can hope for the best resells in the morality of the people: for religion is, as proven by the sacred writings, expected to draw from science all the facts it may to advance the cause of righteousness.-Page 100. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.10

Both of these statements are in direct contradiction of the words of Paul, who says: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel; not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe! where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world! For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” “And I, brethren. when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 1:17-24; 2:1, 2. (Read also, in the second chapter, verses 4-14.) So instead of its being proved by scripture that preachers are expected to draw from “science,” it is proved not only that the gospel does not stand in need of its aid, but that it is a positive hindrance to the gospel. This does not mean that the revelations of God in nature are to be slighted; but there is a vast difference between them and what passes as “science.” ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.11

Our author, however, who would have it understood that his title “M. D.,” stands for doctor of morals as well as doctor of medicine, is not content with denying power to Christianity, but he even denies the power of God himself. On page 83 he pronounces it an error on the part of the church to hold that man “in case of sanity, has full, untrammeled power to love, revere, trust, have faith, reject evil, control passions, ... by the grace of God operating in a mysterious, miraculous manner.” That may commend itself as eminently proper to a “scientific” mind, but the Christian mind can but regard it as not far removed from either blasphemy or atheism. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.12

But let us read more of the dictum of “science”:- ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.13

Religion bases its moral precepts on faith in spiritual laws: science bases them on knowledge of the natural laws. Science is therefore armed to fight the pernicious habits rooted in the flesh: it not only knows the symptoms, but the causes of moral diseases, and can prevent and cure them through the laws of nature. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.14

Religion is familiar with the symptoms chiefly: its remedies alone, as now prescribed, no matter how constant snd energetic, seem to be able only to palliate; there is no positive evidence that they can cure radically, root and branch.-Pages 96, 99. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.15

Jesus Christ says: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” John 15:3. Of Zacharias and Elizabeth it is said that “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” Luke 1:6. Paul said: “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Acts 20:32. And Peter bears witness that God dealt with the Gentiles as with the Jews, “purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:9. It needs no more than these texts to show that the acceptance of “scientific” morality is the positive contradiction of the Bible. According to the extracts last made from the little book before us, there is no excuse for the existence of religion, with its merely palliative measures, since science has come into the field fully armed and equipped and able to eradicate moral disease to the last fiber. That Christianity is considered by science as utterly useless, is shown by the following extract from the “scientific” work before us:- ARSH February 2, 1892, page 65.16

Christianity, then, ignoring the laws of nature meant to regulate life in all its phases, cannot be expected ever to save the world from passions or from the vices arising from violations of these same laws and of the consequent degeneration that follows.-Page 96. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.1

This assumes that Christianity ignores the laws of life, which is not the case. It shows that the author has not the slightest idea of what Christianity is. When we examine the idea that the “scientific” mind has of Christianity, we shall not wonder so much at the positions taken. On pages 88, 89 the author endeavors to tell us what religion is. Speaking of certain things which religion has been able, without the aid of science, to find out are wrong, he says:- ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.2

But the efforts to demonstrate the unlawfulness of certain things in marriage, from a purely spiritual basis, must invoke the aid of persuasive influences on the emotional part of man, such as vivid descriptions of the hideousness of sin, the insult to a sublime God represented in the form and with the sensibilities of man, threatening of punishment. etc. etc. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.3

Unfortunately, emotion is a temporary feeling: however acute and fervent it may be, it lasts but a short time at best. It may leave an impression constantly reminding one of the cause or causes which produced it, but this impression in itself is incompetent to exact forever the fulfillment of whatever good resolutions may have been formed. In order that they may bear fruit at all, the emotions must be frequently or constantly revived, as is done by periodical preaching, revivals, missions in the churches, etc. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.4

But again: that emotions, which may be more or less easily aroused at the beginning, gradually become less susceptible as time passes, and sermon after sermon is heard, till sometimes they fail altogether to respond. The ordinary mind becomes callous to purely spiritual discourses, however healthful they may be; they fail to leave a lasting impression upon it; they afford its limited comprehension too little food for thought and reasoning... The natural laws are neglected too much. We are asked to have faith and to believe, but the mind may be utterly incapable of this without some impression by logic, something it can understand and grasp, some indication to the heart, of the ways and means of belief. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.5

All these endeavors are most worthy and are needed, but they are insufficient to keep mankind constantly in purity. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.6

The Christian who reads this article needs not a word to show him that what is here described is not the gospel at all. The gospel does not consist in mere words. Says Paul:“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Romans 1:16. The religion of Jesus Christ is not emotion nor resolutions. Christianity is not the result of good resolutions made under the influence of pathetic appeals. It is the working of the power of God, which is foolishness to those who do not believe. Only those who believe can understand. And they cannot explain; they can only declare the fact. For Christianity is a stupendous fact. The gospel of Jesus Christ is as powerful to the man in the solitude of his study, or even the desert, as it is to the man who is listening to the prayers and praises of the sanctuary. It does not depend on the feeling, but often shows its working the most clearly when the individual has no sense of feeling. It does not depend on the person’s knowledge, but its glory is that it is free and efficacious to the ignorant and poor. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.7

Such a religion as that set forth in the last citation could, of course, never be expected to save the world, not even a single individual. But the religion of the Bible is able to do all that it professes to do to save them that believe. The Bible does not lead us to expect that all the world will be saved. It warns us that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13), and that at the end it will be as it was in the days of Noah. Matthew 24:37-39. But every one who from the heart believes on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved with a perfect and an everlasting salvation. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.8

But this is perhaps sufficient on this line. The object of these quotations is not to arraign the author of the book for his ideas, which he has a perfect right to hold, but to show that “science” and the Bible cannot walk together; to show that “science” not only ignores the Bible, but that it contemptuously rejects it; and to put Christians on their guard against its insidious pretensions to be the promoter of morality; to repeat, in short, the words of the apostle Paul: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.9

We have already seen that “science,” superciliously sets religion aside as utterly incompetent to save a man from vice. With a quietly contemptuous side-glance, it listens to the inspired statement that the holy Scriptures are able to make a man “wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus;” and that they are able to make a man “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:15, 17. Science may admit that Paul was right, according to his standard of morality, but the poor man was unfortunate enough to live in an age when science itself had not discovered the true basis of passion, because it did not understand the nature of the union of the cells, and therefore could not reveal the method of care to the church. He himself, therefore, according to this book, must have been an immoral man; for he depended only on the Lord Jesus Christ, and “Christianity is not sufficient to control the vice of impurity.”-Page 93. As for the other apostles, who had not the advantages of even as much science as Paul had, they must have been utterly incompetent to deal at all with questions of morality. This seems irreverent, it is irreverent. But it is only the necessary conclusion of the arrogant pretensions of “science.” But let us now read further, and see how it is that science enables the man to drive out passions, root and branch. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.10

We are told that in every animal organism “what is known as the cell is in every one the basis of the fabric.”-Page 11. “By cell is meant, in biology, the little elementary (!) organisms or individuals grouped to form the whole of the body. They are living beings, endowed with an individuality, and capable of doing, more or less perfectly, for themselves, under the impulses of their own energies or forces.”-Page 12. “Man’s life is only the expression of the life of each cell individually, and of all of them collectively.”-Ib. “Man is simply a gigantic mass of practically analogous tiny cells joined in a harmonious ‘re-public’.” (See page 13.) “The condition of the cells is expressed to the public by the acts of the man. Man’s character is largely the reflection of the behavior of the cells composing his body.” (See page 21.) Now we have the thing in a nutshell. The author continues:- ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.11

This suggests many far-reaching possibilities and results, on the part of an individual in whom the component cells have been warped in their properties and purposes. Does it not bring to mind the possibility of controlling abnormal excitability and passion, by keeping the cells always is a normal condition?-Page 21. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.12

It ought not to be difficult for anybody who gives the matter a few minutes’ thought to see very much force in the Scripture statement that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for the above is folly even to human sight. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.13

Notice: the man is composed of cells; he is simply the product of the individual and collective life and character of the cells composing his body; passions are simply as abnormal condition of the cells (page 55); therefore all that one has to do to banish all passion is to keep his cells in a normal condition. In other words, if you want to overcome evil desires, just don’t have any. Simple enough, isn’t it? It did not need a scientist to reveal that to the world; for men have been working on that line for nearly six thousand years, with, however, no results. They have tried to overcome passion by keeping themselves all right, but they found out that that was all the trouble there was. They couldn’t keep themselves in a normal condition. But we shall have occasion to recur to this later. On page 29 we read:- ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.14

It cannot be denied that natural nutrition, i.e., simple, moderate diet, is the soul of endurance and morality. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.15

Our first parents were placed in the garden of Eden, where there was “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” Genesis 2:9. To them the Lord said: “Behold, I have given you every herb-bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed: to you it shall be for meat.” Genesis 1:29. They had “natural nutrition” of the most perfect kind; yet they sinned, and by that sin “brought death into the world, and all our woe.” Here again, we find “science” in direct conflict with the Bible. This, of course, does not trouble the author: for he says (page 100) that the declarations of science must be received, “however much they may shatter long-cherished notions, and conflict, apparently, with Bible history as it is understood.” But the Christian will not care to trust his soul’s welfare in the hands of a moral physician whose prescriptions directly contradict the plainest statements of the Bible. ARSH February 2, 1892, page 66.16

(Concluded next week.)