A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath

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ELDER PETER VOGEL’S EIGHTH NEGATIVE

We have now seen all that Eld. W. has opportunity to offer on this proposition. Though I still have much negative matter on hands, the rules of discussion preclude my presenting anything further. I proceed, therefore, to review the last affirmative, and to present a brief summary. WDUS 102.2

And first I wish to protest against Eld. W.’s summing up this proposition at the close of the next. The final words on this question belong to me. The first two propositions were so related that his being on the negative of the second gave him opportunity to really close both; and he will also rightfully have the last word on the next proposition. I claim the privilege of at least closing this one; nor shall he deprive me of this right. It usually requires more space to answer an argument than to make it, and yet I have occupied less space than he. On the first two propositions we are about even, he having 40 lines more than I. His first six affirmatives of this proposition contain between 75 and 80 lines more than my replies, and the prints will show that my seventh article is but little longer than his, while his last contains about one-fifth more matter than it should. I do not say this complainingly; I only wish to show that he, rather than I, has the advantage in point of length. I shall not drag this proposition into the next, but shall claim the right to review his summary, in the event that he carries out his expressed intention. WDUS 102.3

In Romans 7. and the last half of ch 6., Paul has special reference to Jews and their relation to the law. This ‘every reader knows’ who attends to such expressions as, ‘Ye are not under the law, but under grace’—‘ye are become dead to the law’—‘delivered from the law’—‘married to another.’ I did not say that anyone was ‘joined to Christ by his crucifixion,’ but that by this all who were ‘under the law’—all Jews, whether converted to Christianity or still ‘children of wrath’—were ‘delivered from the law.’ This removes every difficulty presented. My analysis of Romans 7, showing that it does not describe conversion, but Paul’s perversion or the struggle in committing his first sin, is unassailed and unassailable. WDUS 102.4

A careful examination of my argument will show that my ‘just distinction’ with reference to the use of ‘carnal’ was also justly used. WDUS 102.5

A reference to Psalm 14. and 53. will show that the quotation of Romans 3:10-19 refers only to the Jews, or, as Paul says, ‘to them that are under the law.’ ‘What advantage then (oun, therefore, in view of the preceding considerations) hath the Jew’ over the Gentile (Romans 3:1)? explains itself, and does not give Eld. W. any aid on what follows. WDUS 102.6

A distinction ‘between moral and circumstantial duties’ will not set aside the principle illustrated by the Reading will case, since I have proved (3rd Aff., 2nd Prop.) from Leviticus 19:35-37; Deuteronomy 28; Galatians 3:19, and Romans 5:20, that moral principles were given, in the law, to the Jews as if they were not moral, but positive, or, if my brother prefers the word, as ‘circumstantial duties.’ WDUS 102.7

I fail to see that Eld. W. has extricated Jacob and Jonah from the condition in which I showed them to be. Nor have his notes of exclamation any potency to prove that a given kind of government is unsuited to the present manhood of our race simply because it was not adapted to the Patriarchal infancy and to the Jewish childhood, when ‘the Holy Spirit was not yet given’ (John 7:39) to guide and teach men (1 John 2:27). As well say because a man from a dark mine cannot at once bear the full light of the sun, or a lame man walk without crutches, that therefore they never can. WDUS 103.1

For his special benefit I must recommend to my brother’s re-perusal the quotation from Jews’ Letters to Voltaire, and request him also to re-consider whether I was not always consistent with myself. I might add, in his own courteous style, ‘He knew it,’ but I will spare him the pain, and simply ask, What has he done with my arguments on this point? Where is his reply? WDUS 103.2

Behold, too, how he strains my statement that he ‘is constrained to admit that the old covenant is abolished!’ Could I have referred to my ‘logic,’ when I had not yet written a line on the topic? Or, has he forgotten the position which at least some of his brethren used to occupy? Verily, somebody is talking ‘for effect.’ WDUS 103.3

As proof that the ten commandments are not the first or old covenant, the word concerning, in Exodus 24:8, was caused to be printed in italics; but now, having so completely turned it against him that he has not a word in reply, his position is still the same! I gave reasons why the word ‘covenant’ in 2 Kings 23:3 is used in the sense of ‘vow,’ but to this we have no reply, save a re-quotation of the passage. Wonderful proof! WDUS 103.4

When I said that Deuteronomy 5:5 cannot refer to Exodus 19., I of course referred to verses 2 and 3, in reply to his statement that ‘the parenthetical words of verse 5 refer to verses 2, 3, the covenant made with Israel, but not to verse 4 and onward, for the covenant commanded was given by God himself without the agency of Moses.’ He now abandons this and quotes from Exodus 19:16, etc., saying, ‘These are the very things to which Deuteronomy 5:5 does refer!’ This not only amounts to the same as my reference to Exodus 20:19, but is a turning over to my position, since ‘verse 4 and onward’ pertains, he says, to ‘the covenant commanded.’ We are making fine progress. ‘He which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which he once destroyed.’ WDUS 103.5

I recognize the Bible as inspired; but to construe a figurative expression literally, or interpret statements of prose so as to swell them up to the fervor of poetic diction severely rendered, is neither Scripture nor inspiration. 1 Chronicles 16. is poetry in Hebrew: ver. 8-22 contain the first 15 verses of Psalm 105.; and ver. 22-33, the whole of the 96th Psalm, with some slight variations. Let the reader also examine the use of ‘thousand’ in the following passages: Job 33:23; Psalm 91:7; Isaiah 30:17. I question whether ‘everlasting, and forever, may be so limited as to be less than one generation.’ At least Exodus 21:6 is very doubtful; it enslaves not only a man for a life time, but also all the generations which issue from him. But did my brother think of what he now says, when he quoted Psalm 119:142 as applying to the ten commandments, and argued that ‘everlasting’ excludes all ‘limitation?’ In his own style, ‘What a difference it makes when a fact is for or against him!’ WDUS 103.6

Matthew 19:21 does prove the ten commandments imperfect. When the young man said, ‘All these things have I kept from my youth up,’ the Savior, ‘who knew what was in man,’ ‘beholding him, loved him.’ It was not ‘covetousness,’ according to the law, to have and desire to retain ‘large possessions.’ WDUS 103.7

James does not call the ten commandments ‘the law of liberty,’ for the latter is ‘perfect’ (ch 1:25), whereas, the former, as we have seen, is not. Nor does he assert anything contrary to this in ch 2.; verse 12 is a continuation of the theme discussed up to verse 10, the intervening verse being but an illustration, which might have been drawn from any source, sacred or secular. WDUS 103.8

Figures of speech intelligently used have real meanings. And ‘build,’ in the declaration, ‘On this rock will I build my church,’ cannot be deprived of the sense of resting or depending on, as on a foundation. Hence we do here find the constitution of the Christian Church. WDUS 103.9

Any position can be made to appear absurd by a licentious use of illustrations. The ‘crooked stick,’ and ‘obtuse angle,’ as applied to my ‘notions of law and character.’ are wholly inappropriate. Compare the law to a Flemish ell (27 inches) and the gospel to a French ell (54 inches) and my position is fairly represented. Suppose seven ells to be perfection under either dispensation; is Jewish perfection then equal to that of the gospel? WDUS 103.10

Eld. W. failed to grasp my point respecting those passages in Revelations. He argued that the ten commandments are literally meant, in Revelation 11:19, by ‘the ark of his testament;’ I replied, no more literally than ‘the temple of God’ denotes the Jewish temple. WDUS 104.1

It is true that there were two vails in the tabernacle or temple, but one of these (the second) was pre-eminently ‘the vail;’ comp. Matthew 27:51, and parallel passages; and within this vail Jesus entered (Hebrews 6:19). This follows, further, from the fact developed that the first of the holies has its antitype on earth, in the Church of Christ. Nor is there anything militating against this in Hebrews 8. ‘The heavens’ of verse 1, and ‘heavenly,’ of verse 5, are not equivalents; they are from different words in the original; the first is designative of place, the other not; the latter word occurs in such passages as Ephesians 1:3; 2:6,—‘hath made us [the members of the Church] sit together in heavenly places.’ Even the same word has often different meanings in the same sentence. WDUS 104.2

Exodus 24:12, that ‘important proof-text,’ is up again. How simply my brother acts over ‘simply.’ I said, “I know of no instance where the ten commandments alone are called ‘the law,’ simply.” Can there be any doubt as to my meaning? Did I not say in the same paragraph that “the expression ‘the law,’ when referring to the old dispensation, and not qualified to the contrary, * * * always refers to the entire body of the law as a whole, or to single commandments as part of the whole?” Is not ‘law’ qualified, in Exodus 24:12, by ‘what I have written?’ This qualification makes it definite, and it may and does take the article on that account. I quote Kerl again; “Definite, as being made so by some accompaning descriptive words; (as) ‘the blue-eyed damsel;’ ‘the winds of Autumn;’ ‘the man who is upright.’” Are not ‘which I have written’ ‘descriptive words?’ There is a contrast (implied) between that written by God and that not written by Him, as there is one between an upright man and one not upright, and between Atumnal winds and winds not Autumnal. With a rule so directly to the point I covet the reader’s verdict. WDUS 104.3

The ‘handwriting’ of Colossians 2:14 can only mean the ten commandments, for (1) nowhere in all the Bible is the rest of the law ever called a handwriting, whereas, the hand which wrote it is a common descriptive of the decalogue. (2) Let the reader consult the connection, observing that ‘his cross’ reads ‘the cross’ in the Greek, and he will find himself unable to make any fair disposition of it other than I have made. (3) So far from retaining the rest of the law this is the grandest stroke for its abolition, since with the removing of the foundation the house must fall. I have also shown that the Greek for ‘blotting out’ is opposed to ‘recording,’ and may apply with the fullest appropriateness as I have applied it. WDUS 104.4

I am asked for whose benefit were such precepts as forbid killing, stealing, and adultery, taken away? in whose way were they? accompanied with some unworthy insinuations concerning myself. To me such proceeding seems highly culpable; for no one knows better than my opponent that I claim no abolition in the sense he attributes to me. Have I not repeated again and again that I cling to every iota of morality contained in the law? Did I not prove that the ten commandments were given to the Jews as if merely positive commandments, and that only to this extent were they abolished? That they were given to them in large measure as a political constitution, and that as such they were abrogated? It may be true that in after ages the Jews saw that a moral basis underlay nearly all of them-and some of their leaders may even have so spoken of them-yet this neither alters the fact of their having been given as if only positive, nor that to this extent their abolition was a necessity; it only increases the need of abrogation. Is not such a view of the case more than implied in my third affirmative of the second proposition? WDUS 104.5

I do not, then, wish to change ‘the nature of the precepts of Jehovah,’ but only to remove them from the unnatural position in which God was compelled, for a time, to place them by reason of man’s incapacity. Nor have I ‘renounced the premise,’ but merely admitted that one supposed way of showing its existence has no bearing on the question. Had I even renounced the premise my good brother would have given it to me again in his change of base respecting the reference of Deuteronomy 5:5 to Exodus 19. How kind! WDUS 104.6

I will requite this good deed by allowing him the coveted last word on the Hebrew, knowing that what I have already said on the matters involved is all-sufficient, and hasten to the more necessary work of WDUS 105.1

A BRIEF SUMMARY

I. Elder W. sought to maintain his affirmation under the three following divisions: WDUS 105.2

1. “That the Lord claims a day in this dispensation.” Revelation 1:10. WDUS 105.3

Here we are happily agreed. But insofar as he tried to identify this day with the sabbath by making Jesus Lord of it in a higher sense than man is, I so fully met him that he had no reply (1st Neg). I also pledged myself to identify this day with the first day of the week, on the next proposition. WDUS 105.4

2. “That the sabbath is recognized and familiarly spoken of in the New Testament, without such explanations as would be necessary to guard against misapprehension if it were abolished.” WDUS 105.5

To this I replied [1] That all the mentioned instances of observing the sabbath would be expected on the supposition of its abolition; and [2] That the explanation is given that these things were done to conciliate Jewish prejudice. See Acts 21:20-25; 1 Corinthians 9:20. [3] Circumcision, animal sacrifices, the annual sabbaths, etc., all of which are confessedly abolished, were attended to by Christians as well as the weekly sabbaths. [4] The sabbath is expressly said to be abolished (Colossians 2:16-17); and [5] The Gentiles are in particular forbidden to observe all Jewish days [Galatians 4:10-11]. WDUS 105.6

3. “That the law of which the Sabbath commandment is a part, was not abolished, but is now binding on all mankind.” WDUS 105.7

To this I opposed its exact counterpart, viz., that Christ ‘abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of the commandments, in [their] ordinances.’ Ephesians 2:15.—Here the discussion virtually ended. Nevertheless every step in the development of his argument was patiently met, and refuted to my entire satisfaction, and I trust also to that of all unprejudiced readers. And here I must add WDUS 105.8

THE VERDICT OF ELD. W.’S OWN BRETHREN

These articles appear simultaneously in the Gospel Echo and Christian, my paper, and the Advent Review, Eld. W.’s paper, and of which he is one of the editors. Concerning the conduct of these papers he wrote to me in a letter, dated June 5, 1872, as follows: “I would ask that the editors and correspondents of both papers shall not interfere, but leave the points broached by us entirely to us during the discussion.” The Christian has strictly observed this just request, referring all querists to the discussion, while the Review has not only seldom issued a number without at least one article touching the propositions between us, and sometimes two or three, but has, in violation of the agreement, even taken hold of the very points in hand. The issue of April 8, 1873, for example, has an article on “The Vail of the Sanctuary,” by the resident editor, and one on 2 Corinthians 3., by one of its most prominent correspondents-both being “points broached by us.” And in this week’s issue, April 15, 1873, the same correspondent takes up my various references to Galatians, with a promise to consider also Hebrews 8. I have a right to speak of these matters here because these articles appeared since my 7th Negatve was sent to the printers. What does this mean? Were Eld. W.’s brethren satisfied with his effort, and conscious of victory, would they act thus? Not only this procedure, but also the fact that different views from Eld W.’s are taken on a number of passages, declare unmistakably what this means. It is a verdict in my favor. WDUS 105.9

II. The ten commandments together with the rest of the Mosaic laws form but one law, and this law is abolished. WDUS 105.10

1. The same names are indifferently applied to either portion, both being called ‘the law of the Lord’ and ‘the law of Moses.’ See 2nd Neg. To this there was no reply. WDUS 105.11

2. The unity of the law was shown to be either implied or asserted in Galatians 5:3, John 7:23; Malachi 4:4; [see 3rd Neg.] and Hebrews 10:28; 1 Kings 2:3 [4th Neg.]. WDUS 105.12

3.That the law was so abolished as to leave only its moral principles, I showed in my 2nd Neg. from Hebrews 12:27-28; Galatians 3:19; 3:24-25; in the 5th Neg. from Galatians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 9:20; and in the 6th Neg. from Romans 6:14; and ch 7. WDUS 105.13

The sabbath being wholly a positive institution, whether originated at the giving of the law or pre-existent, was on that account abolished with such other positive institutions as pre-existent circumcision and the co-etaneous annual sabbaths. WDUS 105.14

III. I next made my argument more specific by singling out the ten commandments. I showed that they stood to the Jews in such a special relation as is inconsistent with the genius of the present dispensation; that they were abolished as to this particular relation, and that this abolition involved the total destruction of the sabbath. See end of 4th and beginning of the 5th Neg. WDUS 106.1

Let me name four points: WDUS 106.2

1. The ten commandments as given to the Jews are pronounced imperfect by the Savior in Matthew 19:21 and Mark 10:21 [see 5th Neg.]. When they are called perfect the term is used only in an inferior sense; see 4th Neg. WDUS 106.3

2. The ‘first’ or ‘old’ covenant is conceded to be abolished; and that the ten commandments are this covenant I showed from Exodus 24:8 [6th Neg.] and Hebrews 8. [7th Neg.]; to which I might add my brother’s concession on the reference of Deuteronomy 5:5. WDUS 106.4

3. I showed that the ten commandments are expressly called the covenant which the Lord made with the children of Israel when He took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt [1 Kings 8:9, 21], and that the covenant so described is done away [Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13]. [See 4th Neg.] To this no reply was attempted. WDUS 106.5

4. According to Eld. W. Matthew 5:17 refers exclusively to the decalogue. To his argument thence derived I replied by showing that it teaches abolition in the strongest terms [3rd Neg.]. And so complete was my success that he attempted no rejoinder. WDUS 106.6

IV. At the close of my first Negative I made nine arguments in proof of the sabbath’s being a positive institution, and I added two more in the paragraph marked I. at the end of the 7th Neg. To none of these has a reply been made, though Eld. W. is aware that this is fatal to his position. For 1. The abolition of the law consists in abolishing only that and all that which is positive; and 2. It requires express legislation to transfer a positive institution from one dispensation to another, and there is no such legislation respecting the sabbath under this dispensation. WDUS 106.7

V. Narrowing the compass of the discussion still more, I produced arguments wherein the sabbath is expressly named as abolished, three of which will suffice for this summary: WDUS 106.8

1. In Colossians 2:16-17 the sabbath is expressly named as abolished: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day [heortee, the Jewish festivals, including the yearly sabbaths, Leviticus 23.], or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths; which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.” WDUS 106.9

2. I argued from the fact that building fire in their dwellings on ordinary occasions was prohibited, that the Sabbath bears the unmistakable impress of a local and temporary institution. Here I was somewhat disappointed by Eld. W.’s silence; for I was anxious to expose the only answer ever made. WDUS 106.10

3. Mark testifies that the sabbath belongs to the class of things that were ‘made’ [ch 2:27], and Paul declares, in Hebrews 12:27, that the ‘things that are made’ are ‘removed.’ To this also we have had no reply, and, no doubt, for the obvious reason that none is possible. WDUS 106.11