The Signs of the Times, vol. 12


The Signs of the Times, Vol. 12


January 7, 1886

“What the Gospel Teaches” The Signs of the Times, 12, 1.

E. J. Waggoner

“And he said unto him, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:15, 16. These words were spoken by our Saviour after his resurrection, and shortly before his ascension. They are perfectly in harmony with his words recorded in Matthew 24:14, that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.” There is no mistaking the extent of territory in which the gospel must be preached-nothing less than the whole world. And how long must it be preached? Read the whole of Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Then the gospel is to be preached until the end. The end here referred to is the same that is mentioned in verse 3, “The end of the world.” That this “end of the world” is in connection with the coming of the Lord, is shown by the words of the disciples in the verse last mentioned, and by the words of Christ in Matthew 13:40-43; 24:30, 31. SITI January 7, 1886, page 82.1

The fact that by divine command the gospel is to be preached in all the world until the coming of the Lord and the end of the world, proves conclusively that until the Lord comes, a necessity for its being preached will exist in all the world. This needs no further argument, for it is nowhere disputed. We will therefore turn our attention to a consideration of what the gospel is, and what creates the necessity for its being so long and so extensively preached. SITI January 7, 1886, page 82.2

The word “gospel” means, literally, “a good message;” Webster’s first definition is “glad tidings.” According to its derivation, it might be applied to any good news; but in the Bible it is used with exclusive reference to one thing; what that thing is, we may easily learn from the Bible itself. SITI January 7, 1886, page 82.3

In Luke 2:10 we find these words, addressed by the angel of the Lord to the shepherds in the field: “Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings [a gospel] of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The next verse tells what this gospel is: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Then the gospel which is to be preached to all people is the announcement of a Saviour. It is from this that Webster derives his specific definition of the gospel, as, “especially, the good news concerning Christ and his salvation.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 82.4

But the simple heralding of Christ, without stating the nature and object of his work, would not be the preaching of the gospel. The “good news” consists in the fact that Christ the Lord is a Saviour. That Christ comes as a Saviour, necessarily implies that there are people to be saved, and something from which they must be saved. Turning to Matthew 1:21, we read the angel’s declaration before the birth of Christ: “And thou shall call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.” Paul says (1 Timothy 1:15): “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” So it is manifest that the preaching of the gospel consists in the announcement that Christ will save people from sin. SITI January 7, 1886, page 82.5

But while the gospel is the good news that Christ brings salvation from sin, it is evident that that simple announcement would not suffice to produce the desired results, viz., that men should believe and be baptized. For there are millions of people who virtually say that they are “rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” not knowing that they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” No matter how destitute a man may be, it would be of no use to offer him money if he were ignorant of his necessities, and perfectly satisfied with his condition. So no man can feel any interest in the gospel as a means of salvation from sin, unless he (1) knows what sin is, and (2) is convinced that he is a sinner, and (3) understands the nature and results of sin, so as to realize that it is something to be shunned. Therefore the gospel, with its announcement of salvation from sin, must also make known what sin is. This it does, as we shall see. SITI January 7, 1886, page 82.6

John, the evangelist, so called because it is he who more than anyone else dwells on the love of God and Christ in the salvation of man, defines sin. He says: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. In harmony with this, Paul says that “where no law is, there is no transgression.” Romans 4:15. And “sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Romans 5:12. Volumes could not define sin more clearly than do these three texts. We have found out, then, (1) that “gospel” means good news; (2) that the gospel of the Bible is the good news of a Saviour-Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10, 11); (3) that Jesus saves from sin (Matthew 1:21; 1 Timothy 1:15); and (4) that “sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. SITI January 7, 1886, page 82.7

So that, in short, the gospel announces the way by which man may be saved from the transgression of the law, and from the consequences of such transgression. Sin is the disease; the gospel is the remedy. And since the gospel is to be preached in all the world, until the coming of the Lord, it follows that “all the world,” yea, “every creature,” has sinned. This we read in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 83.1

It must also be true that sin will be in the world till the Lord comes. And this we verify by a comparison of Genesis 6:5 and 13:13 with Luke 17:26-30. But since sin is the transgression of the law, it also necessarily follows that “the law” will be in full force in all the world until the coming of the Lord. In other words, sin is the disease, and it cannot exist where there is no law. Romans 4:15. The disease, sin, does exist in “every creature” in “all the world;” for the remedy, the gospel, is to be thus extensively made known, and the great Physician would not send the remedy where it is not needed. “They that be whole need not a physician; but they that are sick” (Matthew 9:12); and therefore the law, by which alone “is the knowledge of sin”-the disease-is binding upon “every creature” “in all the world.” Now since “the wages of sin”-the transgression of the law-“is death” (Romans 6:23), it is important that all men know just what that law is, the transgression of which brings death, and just what its nature and requirements. These points will therefore next claim our attention. E. J. W. SITI January 7, 1886, page 83.2

“Encyclical Letter of Pope Leo XIII” The Signs of the Times, 12, 1.

E. J. Waggoner

The letter from Pope Leo XIII., “Concerning the Christian Constitution of States,” addressed “To All the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops of the Catholic World,” has spent the subject of considerable comment by both the secular and the religious press. So far as we of seen, it has met with quite a general commendation. The New York Observer is an honorable exception to those who, like the Independent, think it is “an excellent and sensible pastoral.” We have delayed making any comments upon it until we could read it has published by authority. We now propose to notice a few points in it, simply to show that the Catholic Church is the same in every particular that was four hundred years ago and that people may see with what insidiousness it is making its way in the world. The first thing that attracts the attention is the following statement in the Introduction:- SITI January 7, 1886, page 6.1

“The Church looks essentially, and the very nature of her being, to the salvation of souls and the winning for them of happiness in Heaven; nevertheless, she also secures even in this world advantages so many and so great that she could not do more, even if she had been founded primarily and specially to secure prosperity in this life which is worked out upon earth. In truth, wherever the Church has set her foot, she has at once changed the aspect of affairs, colored the manners of the people as with new virtues and a refinement unknown before-as many people as have accepted this have been distinguished for their gentlest, there justice, and the glory of their deeds.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 6.2

The above sentences seem little involved, but the idea is very clearly expressed, compared with the greater portion of the letter. If we have been correctly informed, Leo XIII. is a close student of the Fathers; and it would seem that he has been an apt student, for his composition very closely resembles the dry platitudes and the circumlocution which abound in the “Fathers” of the Catholic church. The above paragraph, however, is clear enough to convince any who will think, that it is groundless assumption. In proof of its falsity, one has only to think of the natives of Mexico, Central America, Spain, and Italy.These countries have been under Catholic rule for centuries, and may be taken as representative instances of the refining and civilizing influence of the Roman Catholic Church. If the statement of the pope be true, those countries ought to lead the world and everything. On the contrary, however, they are at the bottom of the list. Of some of them it may be said that they have even deteriorated under the papal influence. The Italian Government, since Victor Emmanuel rescued it from papal oppression, has taken a leading position, although not much can yet be said for the great mass of poor, deluded Italians themselves. But this only makes more prominent the evils of Catholic rule. It is true that many Catholics have been distinguished, but not as a consequence of their Catholicism. The truth is, as appears further on in the letter, the Catholic Church adapts itself to the people. Among civilized people it has all the learning known to the school; but it is content to leave savage races where it finds them. Provided they will acknowledge its power. SITI January 7, 1886, page 6.3

The following paragraph sounds very well, and, taken by itself, would not be very objectionable:- SITI January 7, 1886, page 6.4

“As it is not lawful for anybody to neglect his duties towards God, and as it is the first duty to embrace, in mind and then conduct, religion-not such as each may choose, but such as God commands-in the same manner States cannot, without a crime, act as though God did not exist, or cast off the care of religion as alien to them or useless, or out of several kinds of religion adopt indifferently which they please; but they are absolutely bound to, in the worship of the Deity, to adopt that use and manner in which God himself shows that he wills to be adored. Therefore among the rulers the name of God must be holy; but it must be reckoned among the first of their duties to favor religion, protect it, and cover it with the authority of the laws, and act to institute or decree anything which is incompatible with its security.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 6.5

Whether there is anything wrong in this statement or not depends upon the source from whence it proceeds, as will hereafter be seen. When the pope speaks of religion, he means the Catholic Church alone. The following paragraph explains the above, and shows what he desires when he says that rulers must cover religion with the authority of the laws. It is entitled, “What the Church has Done for Civilization”:- SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.1

“There was once a time when the philosophy of the gospel governed states; then it was that the power and divine virtue of Christian wisdom had penetrated into the laws, institutions, and manners of the people-indeed, into all the ranks and relations of the State; when the religion instituted by Jesus Christ, firmly established in that degree of dignity which was befitting, flourished everywhere, in the favor of rulers and under the due protection of magistrates; when the priesthood and the government were united by concord and a friendly interchange of offices. And the State composed in that fashion produced, in the opinion of all, more excellent fruits, the memory of which still flourishes, and will flourish, attested by innumerable monuments which can neither be destroyed nor obscured by any art of the adversary. If Christian Europe subdued barbarous peoples, and transferred them from a savage to a civilized state, from superstition to the truth; if she victoriously repelled the invasions of the Muhammedans; if civilization retained the chief power, and accustomed herself to afford others a leader and mistress in everything that adorns humanity; if she has granted to the peoples true and manifold liberty; if she has most established many institutions for the solace of wretchedness, beyond controversy is greatly due to religion, under whose auspices great undertakings were commenced and with whose aid they were perfected. Truly the same excellent state of things would have continued if the agreement of the two powers had continued if greater things might rightfully have been expected if there had been obedience to the authority, the sway, the counsels of the church, characterized by greater faithfulness and perseverance,” etc. SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.2

Who cannot see that this is a long look backward to the time when the pope ruled kings, and when with a word he released subjects from their allegiance to their rightful rulers? The time when the pope forced an emperor in Germany to stand for three days in the snow, awaiting the papal pleasure: when a legate of the pope used as a foot-ball the crown of a king of England; when designing men waxed rich off from the superstitions and vices of the ignorant, by selling them pretended indulgences; when the pope had such control of the people’s consciences that he could keep them in so great a state of degradation that even the ignorant rabble whom he made to be priests, were far above them; the time when thousands of priests had never seen a copy of the Bible, and when, as a consequence, the pure principles of the gospel had almost ceased to be recognized in the world, so that the very name of priest was almost a synonym for libertine; when the few who dared refuse obedience to the vile men who presumed to stand in the place of Christ, were proscribed and hunted from the earth with the most diabolical tortures which demons in human shape could invent; and when the pope publicly gave thanks to God for the massacre of sixty thousand Huguenots, whose only offense was that they believed the Bible;-these are the times for which Leo XIII. longs. These are some of the “excellent fruits” of the union of the Church and the State. And the pope truly says that “greater things might rightfully have been expected,” “if the agreement of the two powers had continued.” Let the so-called “National Reform Party” make a note of this. SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.3

That the above state of things is what the pope desires, is shown by his reference to the Reformation as “that dreadful and deplorable zeal for revolution which was aroused in the sixteenth century, after the Christian religion had been thrown into confusion.” And in spite of all this, there are professed Protestants who think that the letter is “an excellent and sensible pastoral.” Sensible it may be, from the Catholic standpoint, but we deny its excellence from any standpoint whatever. SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.4

Following up the above statements, the pope says of the Reformation and its results:- SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.5

“And since the people is said to contain in itself the fountain of all right and of all power, it will follow that the State deems itself bound by no kind of duty towards God; that no religion should be publicly professed; nor ought there to be any inquiry [by the State], but to each equal rights ought to be assigned with the sole end that the social order incurs no injury from them.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.6

The above needs no special comment here. We merely ask the reader to compare it with some of the extracts which follow, and which shows that the Roman Catholic Church holds that no other form of religion ought to be tolerated in the State. SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.7

In the following, the Pope shows still more plainly, the design of the Roman Church:- SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.8

“Those foundations of the State being admitted, which at this time are in such general favor, it easily appears into how unfavorably a position the church is driven. For when the conduct of affairs is in accordance with the doctrines of this kind, to the Catholic name is assigned an equal position with, or even an inferior position to, that of alien societies in the State; no regard is paid to each ecclesiastical laws; and the church, which, by the command and mandate of Jesus Christ, ought to teach all nations, finds itself forbidden in any way to interfere in the instructions of the people.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.9

The “Church” finds itself forbidden “to interfere” in the instructions of the people. That is, the Catholic Church has to be content with the same privileges that are granted to other religious bodies. This is truly an “unfavorable position” for a church that has been accustomed to enforce its dogmas by the sword, the rack, and the stake. SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.10

Again we quote:- SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.11

“Concerning the reasons for the separation of Church and State, the same pontiff [Gregory XVI.] speaks thus: and ‘Nor can we hope happier results either for religion or the Government, from the wishes of those who are eagerly desirous that the Church should be separated from a State, and the mutual good understanding of the sovereign secular power and the sacerdotal authority be broken up. It is evident that those lovers of the most shameless liberty dread that concord which has always been fortunate and wholesome, both for sacred and civil interests.’ To like the effect Pius IX., as opportunity offered, noted many false opinions, which had begun to be of great strength, and afterwards ordered them to be collected together, in order that in so great a conflux of errors, Catholics might have something which, without stumbling, they might follow.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.12

To a careless reader the above statement might seem to be very innocent; but it can easily be shown that it endorses all of the intolerance which ever disgraced the papacy in the Dark Ages. Read again the reference to Pius IX., and the “false opinions” which he noted and caused to be collected. This refers to the “Syllabus of Errors” which was put forth by Pious IX. This “Syllabus” is a collection of about eighty statements, all of which are declared to be grievous errors. We have space for only a few of these “errors.” Number 21 is as follows:- SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.13

“The Church has not the power of defining dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.14

Remember that the Catholic Church holds just the opposite of this “error.” According to this, none of the Roman Catholics have any religion at all. The 23rd “error” which the pope unqualifiedly condemns, is that:- SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.15

“The Roman pontiffs and ecumenical councils have exceeded the limits of their power, have usurped the rights of princes, and have even committed errors in defining matters of faith and morals.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.16

On no ground can it be held that Roman pontiffs have not usurped the rights of princes, except on the ground that princes have no right which popes are bound to recognize; and this is just what the Roman Church holds. And right here we might note that the papacy finds a parallel in the self-styled “National Reform Association,” which, according to its organ, the Christian Statesman, holds that “the State and its sphere exists for the sake of, and to serve the interests of the Church.” Human meant nature has not changed a particle in the last three or four hundred years, and every principle of reasoning justifies the statement that such sentiments as the above, whether held by popes or by professed Protestants, will work out the same results in the nineteenth century that they did in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.17

“Errors” number 24 and 27 are as follows:- SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.18

“The Church has not the power of availing herself of force, or any direct or indirect temporal power.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.19

“The ministers of the Church and the Roman pontiff, ought to be absolutely excluded from all charge and dominion over temporal affairs.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.20

Of course these are errors, if this is true that Roman pontiffs have never exceeded their jurisdiction, nor usurped the rights of princes; and this is what Leo XIII. reiterates in his “excellent and sensible pastoral.” And the “National Reform Association,” and all who favor it, cannot consistently deny the pope’s claim. SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.21

One more quotation from the “Syllabus of Errors” must suffice to show that Leo XIII. holds exactly the same views that were held by his predecessor, Pius IX. and, by the amiable Leo X., who placed Luther under ban, and caused the Christians of his time to be slaughtered. Numbers 77 and 78 of the “errors” noted by Pious IX are the following:- SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.22

“In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion shall be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other modes of worship.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.23

“Whence it has been widely provided by law, in some countries called Catholic, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own worship.” SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.24

Which means that Leo XIII., in common with Pius IX. and all the popes who ever reigned, holds that the Roman Catholic religion ought to be held as the only religion of the State, “to the exclusion of all other modes of worship,” and that persons coming to reside in countries called Catholic, ought not to be allowed to enjoy the public exercise of their own worship. Let those who will, applaud such sentiments; we will not. E. J. W. SITI January 7, 1886, page 7.25

(Concluded next week.)