It is through the truth that souls are sanctified, and made ready to enter the everlasting kingdom. Obedience to the truth will kill us to this world, that we may be made alive, by faith in Jesus. “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) This was the prayer of Jesus. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 4)
Error darkens and fetters the mind, but the truth brings with it freedom, and gives light and life. True charity, or LOVE, “rejoiceth in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)“Thy law is the truth.” (Psalm 69:142)
David, describing the day of slaughter, when the pestilence shall walk in darkness, and destruction waste at noon-day, so that, “a thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand,” says -
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust; his TRUTH shall be thy SHIELD and BUCKLER.” (Psalm 41:4)
The storm is coming. War, famine and pestilence are already in the field of slaughter. Now is the time, the only time to seek a shelter in the truth of the living God.
In Peter’s time there was present truth, or truth applicable to that present time. The Church has ever had a present truth. The present truth now, is that which shows present duty, and the right position for us who are about to witness the time of trouble, such as never was. Present truth must be oft repeated, even to those who are established in it. This was needful in the apostles day, and it certainly is no less important for us, who are living just before the close of time.
For months I have felt burdened with the duty of writing, and publishing the present truth for the scattered flock; but the way has not been opened for me to commence the work until now. I tremble at the word of the Lord, and the importance of this time. What is done to spread the truth must be done quickly. The four Angels are holding the angry nations in check but a few days, until the saints are sealed; then the nations will rush, like the rushing of many waters. Then it will be too late to spread before precious souls, the present saving, living truths of the Holy Bible. My spirit is drawn out after the scattered remnant. May God help them to receive the truth, and be established in it. May they haste to take shelter beneath the “covering of the Almighty God,” is my prayer.
The Weekly Sabbath Instituted at Creation, and Not at Sinai
“And on the seventh day GOD ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which GOD created and made.” (Genesis 2:2, 3)
Here God instituted the weekly rest, or Sabbath. It was the seventh day. He BLESSED and SANCTIFIED that day of the week, and no other; therefore the seventh day, and no other day of the week, is holy, sanctified time.
GOD has given the reason why he blessed and sanctified the seventh day. “Because that in it he had rested from all his work which GOD had created and made.”He rested, and set the example for man. He blessed and set apart the seventh day for man to rest from his labor, and follow the example of his Creator. The Lord of the Sabbath said, Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man.” Not for the Jew only, but for MAN, in its broadest sense; meaning all mankind. The word man in this text, means the same as it does in the following texts. “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1) “Man lieth down and riseth not, till the heavens be no more.” (Job 14:12)
No one will say that man here means Jews, or Christians; but the whole human race. The Sabbath was made for man, for the whole race of man. Adam, Noah, and Abraham were men, therefore the Sabbath was made for them, as well as for Moses, and the Jews. We are men, and the Sabbath is made for us.
GOD has given the following reason in the decalogue, why man should keep his holy Sabbath - “FOR in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord BLESSED the seventh day and HALLOWED it.” (Exodus 20:11)
Here our minds are directed back more than twenty-five hundred years, to the creation and holy rest in Eden, for the origin of the Sabbath. This plain fact every candid mind must see. GOD did not bless and hallow the Sabbath day at Sinai – no, no. This He had done in Eden twenty-five hundred years before.
“And GOD blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.” (Genesis 2:3)
The Sabbath was marked and guarded with miracles by Jehovah and kept by Israel in the wilderness of Sin, thirty days before they came to Sinai.
“And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man:… to morrow is the rest of the Holy Sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to-day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over, lay up for you to be kept until the morning.…
“And Moses said, eat that to-day, for to-day is a Sabbath unto the Lord: to-day ye shall not find in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.
“And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath.… So the people rested on the seventh day.” (Exodus 16:22-30)
The children of Israel departed from Egypt on the fifteenth day of the first month, and came to the wilderness of Sin on the fifteenth day of the second month. Here GOD gives them bread from heaven, and reminds them of the Sabbath. From the wilderness of Sin they journeyed to Rephidim, and from Rephidim they came to the desert of Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the third month.
Mark this. GOD gives them manna, reminds them of his Sabbath, and guards it with miracles thirty days before they saw Mount Sinai, and thirty-two days before GOD spake from the smoking mount, the ten commandments.
We frequently hear the assertion, that the Sabbath is not mentioned in the Bible till after the law was given from Mount Sinai; therefore, the seventh day Sabbath is the Sabbath of the old Jews, and is abolished. Not long since, a second advent preacher made this false statement to me. Another person repeated this statement to me not two weeks since. Now, I hope all who are laboring under this mistaken view will look again. Please read the history of the journey of Israel from Egypt to Mount Sinai, found in Exodus.
The Lord said to Moses, thirty-two days before he gave the law of commandments, “How long refuse ye to keep MY COMMANDMENTS and MY LAWS? See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is not mentioned here as a new institution, but an old one, that they had not kept while in bondage to the Egyptians. GOD brought Israel out of the house of bondage to prove them, and see if they would keep his commandments. They had been from Egypt but thirty days when GOD reminded them of his Sabbath.
“And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy GOD led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldst keep his commandments, or no.” (Deuteronomy 8:2) They could not keep His Sabbath in Egypt. They could not keep it; neither can we keep it when bound by sectarian creeds. Therefore GOD has brought us out of the churches to prove us, to try us, to know what is in our hearts, whether we will keep his commandments.
The Sabbath a Perpetual Weekly Memorial
“Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me an you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth SANCTIFY you.… Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a PERPETUAL covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel FOREVER: FOR in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”(Exodus 31:13-17)
The Sabbath then is a sign, or seal between GOD and his people forever. It is a perpetual covenant between them. Will some one show us the end of a perpetual covenant, given for a sign forever? The only reason here given why the Sabbath is a perpetual sign is, “for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh he rested.” This shows that the Sabbath was given for a weekly memorial. The Passover was given for a memorial to Israel to remind them of their deliverance from bondage, and that they should not forget GOD, who passed over their houses in slaying their first-born, and with strength of hand brought them out of Egypt.
The communion of the body and blood of Christ was given for a memorial to the Church, that we may not forget the sufferings and death of the Lamb of GOD.
So the Sabbath was given to man for a weekly memorial, that on the seventh day he might dismiss all servile labor and care, and look back to the creation and holy rest, and thus call to mind, worship and adore the great Jehovah. If man had kept the weekly rest, he would never have forgotten GOD, who made heaven and earth.“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget GOD.” (Psalm 9:17)
This view gives the Sabbath its just weight of importance. How wise and wonderful the plan of Jehovah, laid out in the beginning. Man was to labour six days, and on the seventh day rest from servile labour and care. He was to look to the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all things, even himself—the noblest of creation, and thus call to mind the Living God.
The two Laws
There is a clear distinction between the law of Moses, and the law of God in the Holy Scriptures.
The law of Moses, was a law of carnal ceremonies, written by the HAND of Moses in a BOOK.
The law of God, is the ten commandments, written by the FINGER of GOD on TWO TABLES OF STONE.
One is called the BOOK of the COVENANT, the other, the TABLES of the COVENANT.
The law of Moses, was a law of shadows, which were abolished when the new, second, and better covenant came. Its “carnal rites,” “burnt offerings and sacrifices,” “meats and drinks, and divers washings,” were all “nailed to the cross” when the Lamb of God shed his most precious blood.
The law of God is a law of realities, bodies, never to be abolished.
Those who confound these two laws in one, cannot see, and feel the force of the commandments of God, and are in great danger of settling down on the modern view, that the seventh day Sabbath is abolished. I will here introduce the two classes of texts which distinctly show the two laws, praying the Lord to guide the candid reader to a thorough examination of this subject.
The Law of Moses
“And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a BOOK, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, take this BOOK of the law, and put it in the SIDE of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God.”(Deuteronomy 31:24-26; See also verses 9-11.)
“And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found a BOOK of the law of the Lord, given by the HAND of Moses.” (2 Chronicles 34:14; See margin.)
“And he read in their ears all the words of the BOOK of the COVENANT that was found in the house of the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 34:30)
“And he read in their ears all the words of the BOOK of the COVENANT which was found in the house of the Lord.” (2 Kings 23:2)
“And the king commanded all the people, saying, keep the passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in the BOOK of this COVENANT.” (2 Kings 23:21)
“And they spake unto Ezra the scribe, to bring the BOOK of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel.” (Nehemiah 8:1; See also verses 2, 3.)
“Then said I, lo, I come (in the volume of the BOOK it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:7; See also Galatians 3:10.)
“Have ye not read in the BOOK of Moses.” (Mark 12:26)
The Law of God, or the Ten Commandments
“And the Lord said unto Moses, come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee TABLES OF STONE, and a law, and commandments which I HAVE WRITTEN; that thou mayest teach them.” (Exodus 24:12)
“And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone written with the FINGER OF GOD.” (Exodus 31:18)
“And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the WRITING OF GOD, graven upon the tables.” (Exodus 32:16; See also verse 15.)
“And he wrote upon the tables the words of the COVENANT, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.” (Exodus 34:28; See also verse 29.)
“And he declared unto you HIS COVENANT, which he commanded you to perform, EVEN TEN COMMANDMENTS; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.” (Deuteronomy 4:13)
“And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, EVEN THE TABLES OF THE COVENANT.”(Deuteronomy 9:11; See also verses 9, 10 & 5:22.)
Here we see two laws, and two covenants; one written by the hand of Moses in a book, the other written with the finger of God on two tables of stone.
The ark of the covenant—a small chest, four feet six inches and eleven sixteenths long, and two feet, eight inches and thirteen sixteenths wide, and high, was made purposely to contain the covenant of commandments. (See Exodus 25:10-16; Deuteronomy 10:5; 1 Kings 8:9; & Hebrews 9:4.) The place for the ark in the tabernacle and temple, was the most holy within the second veil. Here in the holiest place on earth God placed his covenant, his law, his testimonies, even the ten commandments. St. John in holy vision, in the isle, Patmos, A. D. 96, saw the true sanctuary which the “Lord pitched, and not man,” (Hebrews 8:2) of which Christ is a minister or priest, in the third heavens, and has written:
“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament.” (Revelation 11:19)
The typical sanctuary, pitched by man on earth, in which was placed the ark of the testimony, was destroyed A. D. 70, 26 years before John had his revelation; therefore he could see no other Temple of God, and ark, but those in the third heavens. John while in prophetic vision, looked down the stream of time to the great anti-typical tenth day of the seventh month atonement, and saw the most holy of the Heavenly sanctuary opened, and in it he saw the ark of the ten commandments. Yes, reader, God’s covenant of commandments is an everlasting covenant, perpetuated and preserved in the Heaven of Heavens. A change of dispensations has not broken, nor altered it.
“If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgressions.… My covenant will I NOT BREAK NOR ALTER THE THING THAT IS GONE OUT OF MY LIPS.” (Psalm 89:31-34) God first spake the ten commandments from Sinai, then with his holy finger wrote them on tables of stone. The Pope has altered the Sabbath commandment from the seventh, to the first day of the week. God has not done it. He said he would not “break, nor alter” his covenant.
Read what God has said on this important subject in Isaiah 24:1-6. “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest.… The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoke this word.… The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; BECAUSE they have transgressed the LAWS, changed the ORDINANCE, broken the EVERLASTING COVENANT. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are BURNED, and few men left.” All this is to come upon the inhabitants of the earth, (with the exception of the “few men” who keep the whole law,) for changing the ordinance, (the Sabbath, from the seventh to the first day of the week,) and breaking the law of God. If men could see, and feel the awful importance of keeping God’s holy law, they would tremble at the word of the Lord.
The ten commandments are the foundation of the whole Bible. They are God’s moral, royal law, given to man to live by, and by it he will be judged. In our courts of justice, men are tried by the same laws that are given them to live by. Then we cannot avoid the conclusion that we are to meet the ten commandments in the day of judgment, at the bar of God.
“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:12) This law is called the royal law verse 8, for it came forth from the King Eternal. James has quoted two of the commandments from the decalogue in verse 11, which shows that the royal law of liberty by which man is to be judged, is the ten commandments. Reader, how will you feel before the great white throne, when judged by the law of God, if you break the fourth commandment—the Sabbath law.
The Two Laws in the New Testament
This is a very important subject. By not having a correct view of this subject many have stumbled, and have been kept from the Sabbath truth. It is my object to show that the word law, in the New Testament, does not apply to one and the same law; but sometimes it applies to the ceremonial law of Moses, and sometimes to the moral law of God, the ten commandments.
If the word law, so often used by St. Paul, refers to only one law, then certainly, the apostle has often contradicted himself. Here I will give two texts from his epistles, which speak of the law, that the reader may plainly see the contradiction, if but one law is meant.
“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)
“For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2:13)
Has the Apostle contradicted what he wrote to the Galatians, in his letter to the Romans two years after? This, no believer in the Bible will admit. When we apply the word law as we should there is no contradiction. The language of the text, and its connection, will determine the application.
When Paul speaks of the law in Romans 2:12-22, he refers to the moral law of commandments. This fact he settles in verses 21, 22, by quoting three commandments from the decalogue.
When he speaks of the law in Galatians 5:4, he refers to the ceremonial law of Moses. This is clear, and established by the fact that Paul is speaking of circumcision, and eating with the Gentiles, and does not refer to the moral law.
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans was written A. D. 60. Read what he says to them of the law, 27 years after the law of Moses was abolished and dead.
“Wherefore the law IS HOLY, and the commandment holy, and JUST, and GOOD.” (Romans 7:12) “For we know that the law is spiritual.” (Verse 14) “For I DELIGHT in the law of God after the inward man.” (Verse 22)
“I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God.” (Verse 25)
No one will say that Paul calls the law of Moses “spiritual,” “holy, just and good,” and that he delighted in it, and SERVED it 27 years after it was dead; therefore he is speaking of another law, the ten commandments. This plain fact is made still more evident, if possible, by the 7th verse, where the Apostle quotes the last commandment in the decalogue. “Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, THOU SHALT NOT COVET.”
We are often referred to Romans 7:6, for proof that the law of God is dead. But it proves no such thing. Please read this verse with the marginal reading, and you will see that it is the Christian that is dead to the law, and not the law that is dead.
“But now we are delivered from the law [the sentence of the law], that being dead [to that] wherein we were held.” The law of God is the instrument to convict the sinner of sin, and slay him, as it did Paul, that he might be justified, and made alive through faith in Jesus Christ. “For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Romans 7:9) Here, “the letter [or law] killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)
“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31) Any unprejudiced mind may see the two laws in the New Testament, by carefully searching for the truth. One is called a yoke of BONDAGE; Galatians 5:1; the other is called a royal law of LIBERTY; James 1:25; 2:8. One was a law of “carnal ceremonies;” Hebrews 9:10; the other was the Apostle’s delight, holy, just, good, and spiritual. Here I will add the testimony of Jesus in his sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:17-33.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17) How many are thinking that Jesus abolished, and destroyed the law of commandments, the very thing he has told them not to think. He came to fulfil the law. The way to fulfill the law is to keep it. This Jesus did, in keeping his Father’s commandments. (See John 15:10.)
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18) This text proves that all ten of the commandments, in the moral law are to continue in full force, not one relaxed, or taken away, while heaven and earth remain. The next verse shows that Jesus was speaking of the ten commandments.
“Whosoever, therefore, shall violate, or teach others to violate, were it the least of these commandments, shall be in no esteem in the reign of heaven; but whosoever shall practice and teach them, shall be highly esteemed in the reign of heaven.” (See Campbell’s translation.)
The first four commandments, on the first table of stone, show man his duty to his God. They are the great commandments in the law, as they are laws relating to man’s duty to God.
The last six, on the second table, show man his duty to his fellow man. They are the least commandments in the law as they are laws relating to man’s duty to his fellow man.
Jesus here quotes three of these least commandments from the second table of stone, which establishes the fact, without a shadow of a doubt, that he is speaking of the ten commandments. (See verses 21, 27 and 33.)
Men may teach for a few days that the moral law is abolished, or that the fourth commandment is changed, or RELAXED, but how their false assertions, and sophistry withers before the plain testimony of the Son of God who has said, “Till heaven and earth pass, ONE JOT or ONE TITTLE shall in NO WISE pass from the law.” And how they will wither and fall in the day of slaughter, and in the judgment.
Reader, be not deceived by those who are trampling under their feet the holy law of God. Do not, I beg of you, let them turn you from the plain teachings of the Saviour, and his holy Apostles, in relation to the law of God. Are you violating the fourth, the Sabbath commandment in that law? If you are, do it no longer. It is one of the great commandments. If those who break the least, will be of no esteem in the reign of heaven, how and where will you appear, if you violate one of the greatest commandments?
Dear Brethren and Sisters
I hope this little sheet will afford you comfort and strength. Love and duty have compelled me to send it out to you. I know you must be rooted, and built up in the present truth, or you will not be able to stand “in the battle in the day of the LORD.” (Ezekiel 13:5)
The time has come when we must be whole hearted in the truth. Every thing is to be shaken that can be; therefore those whose feet are not planted on the rock, will be shaken all to pieces. Those only will be able to stand in the day of slaughter, who shall be found keeping the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. It is no small thing to be a Christian. We must be pure in life and conversation here in time, if we would enter the Holy City.
The keeping of the fourth commandment is all-important present truth; but this alone, will not save any one. We must keep all ten of the commandments, and strictly follow all the directions of the New Testament, and have living active faith in Jesus. Those who would be found ready to enter the saint’s rest, at the appearing of Christ, must live wholly, WHOLLY for Jesus now. ?
(This article was taken from the first edition of a newsletter entitled “The Present Truth,” written by James White and first published in Middletown, Connecticut in July 1849. This article has undergone minor editing for printing in this newsletter. We will be printing more of these studies in future issues. We pray they will be a blessing to you. Editor)