November 23, 1893
IT is true there never was a time when there were more efforts being put forth, professedly, in the interests of salvation for man and the Nation. All seem to acknowledge that power is necessary to the accomplishment of this work, but it is also evident that there is a lack of harmony as to the source of the power, and the means of obtaining it.
When we look over the various societies, unions, etc., on this line, and see the course pursued, we incline to the conclusion that the mind of power is seen, by many at least, in organizations. But when we see that organizations are made up of men and women, we again conclude that they see the power in themselves. We listen to the voice of organization, however, before passing judgment, and from almost every direction, whether from the Church as such, or from its professed auxiliary organizations, the trumpet is blowing with no uncertain sound. Listen!
Here is a blast from a ministerial convention. “What we want is law in this matter [for the establishment of their ideas of salvation], and we are going to have it too; and when we get it we will show … that their time is short.” Where is the power here? “What we want is law,” in this they acknowledge that they do not have the power, but when they get the law they will have the power. Then the power must be in the law. But what is law? It is but the voice of man; it is a product of man. Therefore the cry from individuals or organizations for “law” is but the voice of man, for more power of man to save man.
But some will say at this point, “It is not man’s law we want, it is God’s law.” Very well. Do you mean to say that you do not have God’s law; and if not, what have you done with it? It has been on record, in God’s statute book, for over three thousand years, and has been sealed by the finger of the eternal God himself on tables of stone at Mount Sinai, and all down the ages since then in the hearts of his true people. Please read Exodus 20:1-17; Hebrews 8:10. If it is God’s law that men want they are without excuse if they do not have it, and in their hearts too. But that is just the trouble here. It is not in the heart that it is wanted, but in the Constitution and statute books of our Nation. Listen again!
“We propose to incorporate in our national Constitution the moral and religious command, etc.” Again, “Have the Government set up the moral law…. Inscribe this character on our Constitution.” No man desires to see any such law, or any law for that matter, on our statute books, unless he desires to see it enforced either upon himself or some one else (usually some one else); therefore, every man or woman who is working to connect the moral and religious law with the Government, is laying plans for the enforcement of morality and religion. Not a few have admitted this in language like the following:—“Have the Government simply set up the moral law … and lay its hands on any religion that does not conform to it.” This testimony shows not only that morality is to be enforced, but it is that kind of morality that is called religion. Again, “By eternal force of sheriffs we propose to arrest and punish all violators of this [moral] law.” “Let those who will, remember the Sabbath to keep it holy, from motives of love and obedience; the remnant must be made to do so through fear of law.”
Call it the law of God all we may, but if it is ever put into our national Constitution or statutes, man will put it there; then man must put with it the penalty for its violation; then man must execute the penalty, and this makes it a man’s affair, and it never can be anything else. Since Christ came into this world, God has never made men the ministers of his law. Again, we ask, what is the object in all this? The only answer that can be given is, to make men “holy,” or make them act as though they were holy, by law. “Those who will not keep it [the moral commandment] holy, from motives of love, must be made to do so through fear of law.” All the holiness man can get from forced obedience will be the holiness there is in the compelling power; but as has been often shown, the only compelling power (for religious acts) is man, and he only while he is separated from the gospel of God. God says that all of man’s righteousness or holiness “is as filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6. Therefore, is it not true that the best thing organizations, for the enforcement of religious dogmas, can give to poor sinners is man-made righteousness? This is the power unto salvation that is being aggressively sought after! This is the power of man unto salvation, but it is not the power of God unto salvation!
The law of God is “love” and that is just what his service is, therefore it must be from the heart, and from the heart only, to be at all acceptable to God; and that love and service can only come through faith in Jesus Christ. “Therefore,” 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.” This is the power men ought to seek after to-day.
There is no holiness or goodness for a single sinner in this world that has, as ever can, come to man only through the gospel of God. “For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:11.
Law cannot accomplish holiness in a single sinner, no, not even the “holy” and “perfect” law of God. Why? for, “By the deeds of the law [by doing the law] there shall no flesh be justified [made righteous or holy] in his sight…. for all have sinned and come short.” Romans 3:20, 23. “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid; for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness [holiness] should have come by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given.” Galatians 3:21, 22. Thus it is seen again that since sin came into this world there has been no law given that can possibly give life; hence there is no law, however thoroughly enforced upon a sinner, that can ever grow him, or develop in him, one particle of holiness.