Old Paths Masthead

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. Psalm 25:14


Vol. 26, No.9 Straight and Narrow September 2017


Martin Luther.jpg

Indulgences are positively harmful to the recipient because they impede salvation by diverting charity and inducing a false sense of security. (Martin Luther)

In this issue:

The Hammer Heard Around the World

The Ninety-five Theses

Signs of the Times

SDA Health Reform

Watchers and Guardians

Youth’s Corner


The Hammer Heard Around the World

Not many events or people are remembered after half a millennium but Martin Luther and his ninety-five theses, or “Disputation on the Power of Indulgences,” remain known as one of the most important persons and documents in the history of humanity. The names of great reformers must include Wycliffe, Huss, Wesley, and many other noble believers but head and shoulders above them all stands the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther. Luther was responsible for religious reform that not only affected the religious order of his day, but his work had the effect of also upending the social and economical structure of his day. He was not only a reformer, but a revolutionist, and his influence is still being felt today.

Luther and his work freed countless souls from the tyranny of Rome in a way that no other emancipator has freed humanity before or since, except for the Saviour himself.

Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Saxony, (part of present day Germany) in 1483 to a poor family. Raised by his father with the intention to become a lawyer, the young Luther saw uncertainty in law, and, due to what he considered a miraculous deliverance from a thunderstorm, he devoted his life to becoming a monk.

Luther devoted himself to fasting, to hours in prayer, to pilgrimages, to frequent confessions, and even to flagellation. By 1512 he was awarded the degree, Doctor of Theology, and began to teach at the University of Wittenberg.

During his spiritual pilgrimage to find salvation, Luther’s understanding of the plan of salvation radically changed. At the beginning, he performed a multitude of works yet could not find peace in them. When ascending Pilate’s Staircase upon his knees one day,

. . . suddenly a voice like thunder seemed to say to him: The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17. He sprang to his feet and hastened from the place in shame and horror. That text never lost its power upon his soul. From that time he saw more clearly than ever before the fallacy of trusting to human works for salvation, and the necessity of constant faith in the merits of Christ. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 125)

Luther began to challenge the conventional theological wisdom of his day, declaring that through faith and not through good works a person could receive salvation. This understanding led him to oppose the selling of indulgences. Indulgences were a type of pardon sold by the church as a way to reduce the amount of temporal punishment one had to undergo for sins in the state, or process, of purification, called purgatory.

Pope Leo X granted a plenary indulgence in 1515 to finance the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Commissioned to preach and to offer the indulgence was a Dominican friar, Johann Tetzel,

These indulgences were especially sold to people for their dead relatives, who, according to the church, were at that time suffering in purgatory. As Tetzel approached a town, a cross bearing the papal arms would precede him and Leo’s bull of indulgence was carried on a gold-embroidered velvet cushion. The cross would be solemnly placed in the town market place, and Tetzel would begin his sales talk:

Listen now, God and St. Peter call you. Consider the salvation of your souls and those of your loved ones departed. You priest, you noble, you merchant, you virgin, you matron, you youth, you old man, enter now into your church, which is the Church of St. Peter. Visit the most holy cross erected before you and ever imploring you. Have you considered that you are lashed in a furious tempest amid the temptations and dangers of the world, and that you do not know whether you can reach the haven, not of your mortal body, but of your immortal soul? Consider that all who are contrite and have confessed and made contribution will receive complete remission of all their sins. Listen to the voices of your dear dead relatives and friends, beseeching you and saying, “Pity us, pity us. We are in dire torment from which you can redeem us for a pittance.” Do you not wish to? Open your ears. Hear the father saying to his son, the mother to her daughter, “We bore you, nourished you, brought you up, left you our fortunes, and you are so cruel and hard that now you are not willing for so little to set us free. Will you let us lie here in flames? Will you delay our promised glory?

Remember that you are able to release them, for

As soon as the coin in the coffer rings,

The soul from purgatory springs. (Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, pp. 59, 60)

He [Tetzel] declared that by virtue of his certificates of pardon all the sins which the purchaser should afterward desire to commit would be forgiven him, and that “not even repentance is necessary.” (White, The Great Controversy, p. 127; quotation from D’Aubigne)

Tetzel, at first, had little trouble dispensing his spiritual wares.

In 1516 Luther preached three sermons from the Castle Church in Wittenberg, against indulgences.

The third of these occasions was Halloween, the eve of All Saints. Luther spoke moderately and without certainty on all points. But on some he was perfectly assured. No one, he declared, can know whether the remission of sins is complete, because complete remission is granted only to those who exhibit worthy contrition and confession, and no one can know whether contrition and confession are perfectly worthy. To assert that the pope can deliver souls from purgatory is audacious. If he can do so, then he is cruel not to release them all. But if he possesses this ability, he is in a position to do more for the dead than for the living. The purchasing of indulgences in any case is highly dangerous and likely to induce complacency. Indulgences can remit only those private satisfactions imposed by the Church, and may easily militate against interior penance, which consists in true contrition, true confession, and true satisfaction in spirit. (Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, p. 54)

Frederick the Wise, Luther’s promoter and later protector, was using an indulgence to reconstruct a bridge across the Elbe. Indulgences were also sold in Saxony to support the Castle Church and the university. Luther was willing to bite the hand that was feeding him!

In 1517 Tetzel was selling indulgences near Wittenberg. He was forbidden by Frederick to sell them in his territory, but the people were willing to cross over the boundaries to secure a pardon for themselves or their loved ones. When Luther found out, he was appalled. He was told Tetzel “said that papal indulgences could absolve a man who had violated the Mother of God, and that the cross emblazoned with the papal arms set up by the indulgence sellers was equal to the cross of Christ” (Ibid., p. 60).[1]

Luther knew that action must be taken. On the eve of All Saints in 1517, “when Frederick the Wise would offer his indulgences, Luther spoke, this time in writing, by posting in accord with current practice on the door of the Castle Church a printed placard in the Latin language consisting of ninety-five theses for debate” (Ibid.).[2]

This thirty-four-year-old monk’s hammer struck the nail which attached the placard to the church door and sounded the great beginning of a life of revolution for Luther. Five-hundred years later, most people consider this event to be the formal beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

What did the ninety-five theses state? It certainly was not a systematic theology, plainly declaring all the errors of Rome and denouncing the church and its evil practices. It spoke nothing about many great truths that we view as important and vital today. The ninety-five theses did not deny purgatory; it is mentioned at least twenty times. The ninety-five theses did not deny the papal teaching of the immortal soul. The ninety-five theses did not deny the office of the pope.

The ninety-five theses mainly focused upon indulgences and their sale, but underlying the ninety-five statements was Luther’s belief (in embryo form) that good works cannot save a person but, rather, one is saved by grace through faith alone.

The preamble to the ninety-five theses begins with:

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

To call for and to hold such a debate was a privilege Luther held as a doctor of theology. During Luther’s time, this was a common form of academic inquiry.[3]

Three broad points are made in the ninety-five theses:

1. Selling indulgences to finance the building of St. Peter’s Basilica is wrong.

“The revenues of all Christendom are being sucked into this insatiable basilica. The Germans laugh at calling this the common treasure of Christendom. Before long all the churches, palaces, walls, and bridges of Rome will be built out of our money. First of all we should rear living temples, next local churches, and only last of all St. Peter’s, which is not necessary for us. We Germans cannot attend St. Peter’s. Better that it should never be built than that our parochial churches should be despoiled. The pope would do better to appoint one good pastor to a church than to confer indulgences upon them all. Why doesn’t the pope build the basilica of St. Peter out of his own money? He is richer than Croesus. He would do better to sell St. Peter’s and give the money to the poor folk who are being fleeced by the hawkers of indulgences.” (Martin Luther, quoted by Bainton, Here I Stand, p. 61)

2. The pope has no power over purgatory.

“Papal indulgences do not remove guilt. Beware of those who say that indulgences effect reconciliation with God. The power of the keys cannot make attrition into contrition. He who is contrite has plenary remission of guilt and penalty without indulgences. The pope can remove only those penalties which he himself has imposed on earth, for Christ did not say, ‘Whatsoever I have bound in heaven you may loose on earth.’

“. . . I claim that the pope has no jurisdiction over purgatory. I am willing to reverse this judgment if the Church so pronounces. If the pope does have the power to release anyone from purgatory, why in the name of love does he not abolish purgatory by letting everyone out? If for the sake of miserable money he released uncounted souls, why should he not for the sake of most holy love empty the place? To say that souls are liberated from purgatory is audacious. To say they are released as soon as the coin in the coffer rings is to incite avarice. The pope would do better to give away everything without charge. The only power which the pope has over purgatory is that of making intercession on behalf of souls, and this power is exercised by any priest or curate in his parish.” (Ibid., pp. 61, 62)

3. Because salvation cannot be earned by even good works, the buying of indulgences gives people a false sense of security and endangers their salvation by teaching them to trust in good works.

“Indulgences are positively harmful to the recipient because they impede salvation by diverting charity and inducing a false sense of security. Christians should be taught that he who gives to the poor is better than he who receives a pardon. He who spends his money for indulgences instead of relieving want receives not the indulgence of the pope but the indignation of God. . . .

“Indulgences are most pernicious because they induce complacency and thereby imperil salvation. Those persons are damned who think that letters of indulgence make them certain of salvation. God works by contraries so that a man feels himself to be lost in the very moment when he is on the point of being saved. When God is about to justify a man, he damns him. Whom he would make alive he must first kill. God’s favor is so communicated in the form of wrath that it seems farthest when it is at hand. Man must first cry out that there is no health in him. He must be consumed with horror. This is the pain of purgatory. I do not know where it is located, but I do know that it can be experienced in this life. I know a man who has gone through such pains that had they lasted for one tenth of an hour he would have been reduced to ashes. In this disturbance salvation begins. When a man believes himself to be utterly lost, light breaks. Peace comes in the word of Christ through faith. He who does not have this is lost even though he be absolved a million times by the pope, and he who does have it may not wish to be released from purgatory, for true contrition seeks penalty. Christians should be encouraged to bear the cross.” (Ibid., pp. 62, 63)

The ninety-five theses began a revolution, though Luther would later note, “I would never have thought that such a storm would rise from Rome over one simple scrap of paper…” (http://www.pbs.org/empires/martinluther/about_driv.html). Perhaps Luther was writing from a modest viewpoint or for history, but he must have realized that his work was more than a “simple scrap of paper.”

Thus begins the story of a rebellious monk, but it must be remembered that at the time of the ninety-five theses, Luther was a loyal papist, with no thought of separation from Rome. But Pope Leo X did not appreciate Luther and Leo X commanded Luther to stop his preaching against indulgences. Luther was called to Leipzig in July of 1519 for a debate on his ninety-five statements. Earlier in March of that year, writing in a letter to George Spalatin, Luther confided:

I am sending Eck’s letters in which he already boasts of having won the Olympic. I am studying the papal decretals for my debate. I whisper this in your ear, “I do not know whether the pope is Antichrist or his apostle, so does he in his decretals corrupt and crucify Christ, that is, the truth.” (Ibid.)

Finally, in June 1520 the pope issued a bull, Exsurge Domine (Latin for “Arise Oh Lord”), threatening Luther with excommunication within sixty days if he did not recant several parts of the ninety-five theses. The bull also condemned Luther’s writings to be burned. Luther did not receive the bull until October of that year. He would state:

“I despise and attack it, as impious, false.... It is Christ Himself who is condemned therein.... I rejoice in having to bear such ills for the best of causes. Already I feel greater liberty in my heart; for at last I know that the pope is antichrist, and that his throne is that of Satan himself.”—D’Aubigne, b. 6, ch. 9. (White, The Great Controversy, pp. 141, 142)

Sixty days after receiving the bull, Luther and Melanchthon gathered the local university faculty and students at the Elster Gate in Wittenberg and burned the bull along with other papal works. Luther is reported to have said,

Because you have confounded the truth [or, the saints] of God, today the Lord confounds you. Into the fire with you! (Martin Brecht, Martin Luther, p. 424; brackets in original)

Luther can now call the pope antichrist without reservation or qualification. While some select popes had been thus addressed as such prior to this, the condemnation had only been to selected popes. But by this time Luther is beginning to understand that the papacy was not just a few bad men within a good system, but that the system itself was bad and capable of taking good, decent men and corrupting them.

 

Indulgences Contrast

These two cartoons by the Swiss painter Hans Holbein contrast the true repentance of David and Manassesh with the pomp and pride of Leo X. “The pope is handing a letter of indulgence to a kneeling Dominican. . . . On the right one of them lays his hand upon the head of a kneeling youth and with a stick points to a large ironbound chest for the contributions, into which a woman is dropping her mite. At the table on the left various Dominicans are preparing and dispensing indulgences. One of them repulses a beggar who has nothing to give in exchange, while another is carefully checking the money and withholding the indulgences until the full amount has been received” (Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, pp. 54, 55).

 

Luther had come to a personal position far more important than a concern over indulgences. He had come to a place where he could say, and must say, that the church he had been raised and nurtured in, the church that he was sure was the true church, was, in fact, a tool of Satan and even antichrist. Then the reformation began!

On January 3, 1521, Leo X issued the bull, Decet Romanum Pontificem (Latin: It Befits the Roman Pontiff), formally excommunicating Luther.

As we approach the five hundredth anniversary this month of the ninety-five theses, there is a desire by many to see the wall of separation between Protestants and Catholics crumble. Pope Francis has been invited to Wittenberg to attend ceremonies commemorating Luther’s theses. Some websites, without documentation, state that Protestants and even Seventh-day Adventists will sign documents this month with the Vatican formally agreeing to stop protesting and/or will rejoin the mother church. What will happen is yet to be seen but the fact is that the Pro-test-ant churches have become präd’əstənt and do not protest anything any more. But God has promised to have a people who will have “gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God” (Revelation 15:2).

The reformation is not over, beloved. Luther did not have all the truth. In fact, he taught doctrines that today we would declare heretical. Neither did Wesley, nor Miller complete the reformation. God raised up the Advent movement to finish the reformation and yet, now the corporate church needs reforming. But we are not to lose heart, for God has promised there will be a message that will lighten the earth with the glory of God. That message was given to our pioneers and all who stay with the ship of truth will be privileged to be a part of those who give that message and finally sail into the heavenly harbor.

It has been five hundred years since Wittenberg. This world will not last another five hundred years, as it is, nor one hundred. We are living in the final generation and it is now or never. Beloved, let us join together in truth for nothing that does not stand the test of truth will be triumphant in the judgment. We were told in 1881:

It is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives; and Satan, with all his arts and hellish power, cannot change the truth of God into a lie. While the great adversary will try his utmost to make of none effect the word of God, truth must go forth as a lamp that burneth. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595)

Beloved, it has been five hundred years since Luther’s hammer sounded in Wittenberg. The papists and their allies would be happy to never hear it again, but it is time for that hammer to sound again and to ring the three angels’ message with clarity, for that message is the fulfillment of Luther’s message. We have been told that message is righteousness by faith in verity. If not now, when? If not here, where? Let us not be as those who sleep, for our master, when he cometh and findeth us asleep, will go into the wedding feast without us!

Allen Stump

[1]. This background helps one to understand points 75 and 79 in the theses.

[2]. See page 6 for a translation of the theses.

[3]. However, there is no evidence that such a debate was held, but the theses quickly became the talking point of all Europe.


 

The Ninety-five Theses

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.

4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.

6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.

7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.

8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.

9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.

10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.

11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.

12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.

13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.

14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.

15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.

16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.

17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.

18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.

19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.

20. Therefore by “full remission of all penalties” the pope means not actually “of all,” but only of those imposed by himself.

21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;

22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.

23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.

24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.

25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.

26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.

27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].

28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.

29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.

30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.

32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.

33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;

34. For these “graces of pardon” concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.

35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.

36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.

37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.

38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.

39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.

40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].

41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.

42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.

43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;

44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.

45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.

46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.

47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.

48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.

49. Christians are to be taught that the pope’s pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.

50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter’s church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.

51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope’s wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.

52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.

53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.

54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.

55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

56. The “treasures of the Church,” out of which the pope grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.

57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.

59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church’s poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.

60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ’s merit, are that treasure;

61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.

62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.

66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.

67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the “greatest graces” are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.

68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.

69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.

70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.

71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!

72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!

73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.

74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.

75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God—this is madness.

76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.

77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.

78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.

79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.

80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.

81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.

82. To wit:—”Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial.”

83. Again:—”Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”

84. Again:—”What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul’s own need, free it for pure love’s sake?”

85. Again:—”Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?”

86. Again:—”Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?”

87. Again:—”What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?”

88. Again:—”What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?”

89. “Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?”

90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.

91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace!

93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!

94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.

Dr. Martin Luther


Signs of the Times

I recently saw a headline revealing that so far in 2017 the United States had suffered the second most natural disasters on record. The headline was dated July 17, 2017![1]

In the last few weeks, the United States and much of the Caribbean, have been blasted with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, while Mexico has been rocked with two major earthquakes.

Cyclones Mora and Maarutha have ravaged Bangladesh and other nations in the Indian Ocean area.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that the people of Puerto Rico, Mexico City, and many other areas are in need of help and prayers.

Some evangelical Christians believe that these disasters are judgments from God and are a call to repentance because of the sins of the nations.

Numerous conspiracy theories have been suggested to explain the outbreak of so many disasters, such as these events have been caused by the United States’ government for various nefarious reasons. Claims have been made that the HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) project has caused these disasters.

While God has at times brought judgments through the weather and through even earthquakes, we have no direct proof that any of these disasters are from God, nor do we have proof that they are not of God.

To my knowledge, nobody has proved that these disasters are man-made. It would be almost impossible to prove that they are not from God or man, since every possible scenario would have to be examined, and that is not practical.

We have been told:

Everything in the world is in agitation. The signs of the times are ominous. Coming events cast their shadows before. The Spirit of God is withdrawing from the earth, and calamity follows calamity by sea and by land. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 636)

The current events may be direct signs that God is withdrawing his Spirit from the world. As the Spirit of God is withdrawn, there is a very real scenario that should be considered. During the trials of Job, we are told that Satan brought fire from heaven (lightening) to consume the sheep of Job (Job 1:16) and also brought a great wind storm to destroy the house where Job’s children were feasting (1:18, 19).

Ellen White also notes that Satan will be at work in the last days, using the elements (weather) to bring destruction:

Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 589)

It is Satan’s power that is at work at sea and on land, bringing calamity and distress, and sweeping off multitudes to make sure of his prey. And storm and tempest both by sea and land will be, for Satan has come down in great wrath. He is at work. He knows his time is short and, if he is not restrained, we shall see more terrible manifestations of his power than we have ever dreamed of. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, p. 3)

A single angel destroyed all the first-born of the Egyptians and filled the land with mourning. When David offended against God by numbering the people, one angel caused that terrible destruction by which his sin was punished. The same destructive power exercised by holy angels when God commands, will be exercised by evil angels when He permits. There are forces now ready, and only waiting the divine permission, to spread desolation everywhere. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 614)

Regardless of the cause of the disasters, the one common truth we must learn from them is the nearness to the end of time. We can spend time and money trying to prove conspiracy theories that might be true, but it does not win one soul for eternity! Regardless of the origin of these events, we can be sure that God is not taken unawares by them, no more than when he allowed Satan to bring destruction to the house of Job. Now is the time to seek God, while he may be found. Let us not be as those of whom Jesus spoke, when he said, “O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3)?

Allen Stump

[1]1. https://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2017/07/18/u-s-battered-2nd-most-natural-disasters-record-so-far-2017/485167001/; accessed 9–26–17


Seventh-day Adventist Health Reform

(In the last two issues of Old Paths, we discussed the practice of medicine in the mid nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This month we will conclude this series on health reform, with the remedies advocated by Ellen White and with an application of the principles of Seventh-day Adventist health reform.)

Ellen White’s use of remedies

Remedies used or recommended[1] by Ellen White include charcoal as a poultice or in a drink,[2] charcoal mixed with olive oil,[3] and charcoal mixed with flaxseed as a poultice.[4] She also recommended a hop poultice for pain, and she used teas—peppermint when she was not feeling well[5] and clover-top tea when she was feeling well—and recommended hop tea to induce sleep[6] and catnip tea to calm the nerves.[7] She said we should treasure fig poultices[8] and that there is healing in the fragrances of the pine, cedar, and fir.[9] She used eucalyptus oil and honey for her cough[10] and recommended the oil of the eucalyptus for pain in the chest and lungs.[11] She also recommended warm foot baths containing the leaves of the eucalyptus tree.[12] Her use of hot and cold water is described in a letter reprinted in Manuscript Releases, volume 20, on pages 278–281 and is well worth reading because she speaks of a heavenly visitor instructing her. She did not use coffee or tea as a beverage but used a little of each on rare occasions as a treatment. She used tea for seasickness and for severe vomiting[13] and used a small amount of coffee mixed with a raw egg.[14] She also used a spoonful of wine mixed with a raw egg,[15] but by wine she meant grape juice, as we can see from the following quotation, taken from an article in The Signs of the Times:

At the wedding feast in Cana, Christ turned the water into wine. By a miracle he transformed the water into the pure juice of the grape. Wine is good only when it is not fermented. It is then harmless; yet, notwithstanding this, the Lord God of heaven laid down the prohibition that John was to drink neither wine nor strong drink. Unfermented wine soon became sour in Palestine, and neither sweet wine nor sour wine was to pass the lips of John. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, April 16, 1896; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

Unfermented grape juice is called both wine and sweet wine in this quotation. Ellen White never used or advocated the use of alcohol as a beverage or as a treatment. Remember, she was a temperance worker in the latter half of the 1800s, as well as a health reformer. Another example of her use of the word wine is in this quotation:

. . . refuse all narcotics—tea, coffee, fermented wines, and stimulants of all kinds . . . (Ellen White, Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 283)

You might think the term fermented wine is an oxymoron and by today’s standards, you would be right, but not so for the time of Ellen White. Wine was grape juice, and fermented wine meant fermented grape juice. When she advocated the use of wine mixed with an egg, she always meant the use of pure grape juice mixed with an egg; however, on page 165 in A Physician Explains Ellen White’s Counsel on Drugs, Herbs, & Natural Remedies by Mervyn G. Hardinge, Ellen White is quoted as saying, “Then I took alcohol, sweat, and worked my best to subdue the pain, and the relief came.” She is quoted this way in Hardinge’s book and in Manuscript Release 1033, page 17, but both the reference in Hardinge and the manuscript release are taken from Manuscript 43, 1890, which states: “Then I took alcohol sweat, and worked my best to subdue the pain and the relief came.” Please notice the placement of commas. What she took was an “alcohol sweat.” She did not take alcohol and then sweat, and I am sorry I did not catch this mistake in time for our camp meeting presentation. Treatment with an alcohol sweat is mentioned in the 1906 book, The Practice of Osteopathy, and in the 1913 medical textbook Therapeusis of Internal Diseases on page 210, so there was such a thing, and to the best of my knowledge it was something similar to a Turkish steam bath, which uses hot and cold water, or to a sauna. It caused an overall perspiration and was used with some diseases and may have been called an alcohol sweat because it was also used with inebriated people in the expectation of facilitating the removal of alcohol from the system. The important point, however, is Manuscript 43 does not refer to the ingestion of alcohol by Ellen White, and I am very sorry to think that it is published to state so, for it makes Ellen White say, in her own words, that she took alcohol, and this may cause others to follow her example. Even Dr. Hardinge believed it of her. I hang my head in sorrow of the added comma, for it casts a shadow upon the beloved servant of the Lord.[16]

Other therapies used by or recommended by Ellen White

Ellen White wrote of a cholera mixture[17] and of cancer powders;[18] however, we do not know the precise name of the cancer powders. Many existed in her day, and all contained arsenic, according to Dr. Hardinge (see page 170). She recommended hot fomentations[19] during a fever, to kill the inflammation. She recommended soaking a soft cloth in hot salt water and placing the cloth over the eyes for weak, painful, or inflamed eyes.[20] She mixed smartweed tincture[21] with charcoal in fomentations, and she treated head congestion by placing the feet and limbs in a bath with a little mustard.[22] She also took electricity treatments for her back,[23] and she received several radiation treatments for a black spot on her forehead.[24]

Malaria

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by parasites that can be injected into the bloodstream by a certain type of mosquito. There are four kinds of parasites which are transmitted in this way, one of which is particularly deadly. People with malaria can become very sick and have high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur, and if not promptly treated, the disease may cause kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma, and death. If death does not ensue, the disease will flare again, the same as in Ellen White’s day. Drugs did not cure this disease in her day, and quinine was the only known treatment at the time. Quinine is still used today as a secondary treatment, but it has potential side effects. No one understood that a parasite was responsible for malaria until the late 1800s, when Alphonse Laveran, of France, discovered so, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1907.

Ellen White recommended the use of natural remedies and the use of God’s gifts of fresh air, pure water, and sunshine in the maintenance and in the regaining of health, and we can benefit from her advice, but some diseases need an added approach that affords immediate results, for life is at stake, and malaria can be one of those diseases. In one heartbreaking experience, a father, trying to be faithful to the principles of health reform as he understood them, refused to give quinine to his son, and the young man died. He later asked Ellen White if he would have sinned in giving his son quinine to treat his malaria. Here is how Ellen White’s son, William White, described their visit:

One time while we were in Australia, a brother who had been acting as a missionary in the Islands, told mother of the sickness and death of his first-born son. He was seriously afflicted with malaria, and his father was advised to give him quinine, but in view of the counsel in the testimonies to avoid the use of quinine he refused to administer it, and his son died. When he met Sister White, he asked her this question: “Would I have sinned to give the boy quinine when I knew of no other way to check malaria and when the prospect was that he would die without it?” In reply she said, “No, we are expected to do the best we can.”—W. C. White letter, September 10, 1935; as published in Selected Messages, volume 2, page 281)

Her answer nowhere refers to faith and does not imply that it is only when our faith fails us that we are to do the best we can and use drugs. Ellen White is saying that God expects us to do the best we can with the options we have, and sometimes the best option is the use of drugs. Consider the following quotations:

Drugs need seldom be used. (White, Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 281)

Our institutions are established that the sick may be treated by hygienic methods, discarding almost entirely the use of drugs. (Ibid., p. 283)

The use of drugs has resulted in far more harm than good, and should our physicians who claim to believe the truth, almost entirely dispense with medicine, and faithfully practice along the line of hygiene, using nature’s remedies, far greater success would attend their efforts. (Ellen White, Pamphlet 144, p. 29; “The Place of Herbs in Rational Therapy”)

Long names have been given to the drugs that physicians handle, which no human being should consent to use until he has tried simple, natural remedies. (Ellen White, Ms45–1898)

Do not administer drugs. True, drugs may not be as dangerous wisely administered as they usually are, but in the hands of many they will be hurtful to the Lord’s property.—Letter 3, 1884 (To workers at St. Helena Sanitarium). (White, Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 283)

There should be a careful, competent physician who will deal scarcely ever in drugs, and who will not boast that powerful poisons are far more effective than a smaller quantity carefully taken.— Manuscript 22, 1887. (Ellen White, Medical Ministry, p. 139)

Drug medication, as it is generally practiced, is a curse. Educate away from drugs. Use them less and less, and depend more upon hygienic agencies . . . (Ellen White, Healthful Living, p. 246; also Counsels on Health, p. 261)

Thus our people, who had been taught to avoid drugs in almost every form, were receiving a different education.—Letter 26a, 1889 (To a prominent physician in institutional work). (White, Selected Messages, vol 2, p. 282)

These statements are as valid as her other statements that advise us to not use drugs and that tell us drugs never cure. We must accept all of her counsel on the use of drugs and understand it as a cohesive whole. Dr. Mervyn Hardinge has summarized her counsel in this way:

Certainly such statements [by Ellen White on drugs], made over a period of almost forty years, leave the door slightly ajar to the occasional use of medicines or drugs. They also remove any questions as to Ellen White’s being in any way inconsistent to her message of drug reform, which she continued to proclaim to the time of her death. It is we who have failed to define “drugs”the way she did. We have also ignored the above counsels [some of which have been quoted above], which are just as inspired as those that condemn medical drug use. . . .

It is easy to misunderstand the broad scope of her message. Ellen White was one of the drug/health reformers, attempting to change the brutal, nonsensical manner in which orthodox medicine operated. It administered potent drugs for most any illness, minor or major. Such drugs included morphine, mercury, arsenic, strychnine, belladonna, and others. Drugging, together with bloodletting, blistering, and purging, killed the sick by the thousands. Ellen White opposed the system of indiscriminate drugging and the practice of medicine that supported it. Her message is clear. She was not against the occasional use of drugs for specific recognized sickness. (Hardinge, pp. 168, 169; second emphasis in original)

To repeat, Dr. Hardinge summarized Ellen White’s advice on the use of drugs, by saying she:

1. Condemned the use of the harsh and poisonous drugs routinely given in large doses for long periods, especially for nonspecific reasons.

2. Condemned the practice of medicine that focused on drug therapy and that supported the system of drugging.

3. Urged both physicians and patients “to give nature a chance,” and to use the least harmful remedies in case of illness. Strong drugs were to be employed only rarely.

4. Urged both the physician and the patient to discard unhealthful practices.

5. She urged that the focus of medical practice be on lifestyle change and that physicians resort to drugs only sparingly. (Hardinge, pp. 169, 170; emphasis in original)

Simply put, a person is free to use natural and harmless simple remedies as needed and to use the less harmful remedies judiciously. The use of strong drugs should be saved for those threatening situations requiring an immediate response.

Natural remedies

Dr. Hardinge notes that Ellen White used several expressions to describe natural remedies, such as true remedies, nature’s remedies, God’s remedies, heaven-sent remedies, God’s appointed remedies, and God’s medicines. The most well-known statement is probably:

Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power—these are the true remedies. (Ellen White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 127)

Dr. Hardinge states that the eight remedies mentioned in The Ministry of Healing “should be the agents of choice in treating disease” (Hardinge, p. 113) because they are “physiologically necessary for health, and some are absolutely essential for life itself” (Ibid.). The examples he gives for diseases and the natural remedies that can be used to treat them are: constipation with the free use of water and the use of unrefined foods; insomnia with exercise to relax muscle tension and to provide physiological fatigue; rickets with appropriate exposure to sunlight and a diet rich in calcium; osteoporosis with exercise to produce a physiological demand for strong bones, chronic fatigue with adequate rest and sleep and with appropriate exercise and trust in God’s watch care; and Type II diabetes with a diet high in unrefined carbohydrates, low in fat, and moderate in protein. (See Hardinge, page 114.)

Proper diet

One of Dr. Hardinge’s major contributions to medicine is his research confirming the reliability of a vegetarian diet to provide abundantly adequate nutrition. He addresses this adequacy in his book:

Plants, as we have already pointed out, are chemical structures. A common leaf, whether it be cabbage, lettuce, or some nonfood source such as the tobacco plant, consists of some 1,000 different chemicals. Such chemicals include the traditional nutrients that provide the substances we need in our food—proteins, carbohydrates (sugars, starches, and fiber), fats, vitamins, and minerals. In recent years medical science has discovered a large class of biologically active chemicals—scores if not hundreds—present in food plants. By that we mean they play a role in the body’s functioning. Researchers have called them nonnutritive food components, or phytochemicals . . .

A paper published by Vegetarian Nutrition . . . entitled “Phytochemicals to Protect Our Health”…observe[s] that “the National Cancer Institute has identified about three dozen plant foods that possess significant cancer-protective properties, including garlic, onions, soybeans, ginger, licorice root, the umbelliferous vegetables (including carrots, celery, cilantro, parsley), flax seed, citrus, turmeric, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower), tomatoes, peppers, brown rice, oats, whole wheat, herbs of the mint family (rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, basil), cucumber, cantaloupe and berries.” (Hardinge, pp.115, 116)[25]

As an example, he states that citrus,

. . . in addition to ample supply of vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and pectin, contains a host of active phytochemicals that also protect our health. In fact, there are over 170 phytochemicals in an orange. There are over 60 flavanoids in citrus; their range of properties includes anti-inflammatory and antitumor activity, inhibition of blood clots and strong antioxidant activity. (Ibid., p. 116)[26]

The amount of the beneficial ingredients in foods, however, depends on where it is grown and on the conditions just before ripening. Consider the tomato:

If the weather is cloudy, reducing the intensity of sunlight for a day or two prior to harvesting, the vitamin C present in the fruit may drop to very low levels. But a few days of sunshine will restore the content of vitamin C to normal. Whether tomatoes are staked versus allowed to grow on the ground (thus receiving less light exposure) can alter the amount of vitamin C. (Ibid., p. 130)

Orange juice is another example of a food affected by growing conditions:

Florida orange juice has less solids in its juice than does corresponding California orange juice. Summer rains and tropic humidity in Florida provide a more moist environment and are in sharp contrast to the low humidity of the rainless summers and near desertlike conditions of California. Ounce for ounce Florida orange juice has less body, or solids, than does California orange juice. (Ibid., pp. 130, 131)

Growth and storage of herbs

Dr. Hardinge quotes Dr. Andrew Weil’s guidelines for choosing medicinal herbs:

  1. Loose herbs sold in bulk are probably worthless.
  2. Encapsulated, powdered herbs are also likely to be worthless.
  3. Herbal products may be contaminated or adulterated.
  4. Tinctures and freeze-dried extracts of medicinal plants are the best preparations to buy.
  5. Discontinue use of any herbal product to which you have an adverse reaction.
  6. Do not take herbal medicines unless you need them. (See Hardinge, page 131.)

According to Dr. Weil, “dried plants deteriorate on exposure to air, light, and moisture. Leaves and flowers deteriorate quickly, bark and thick roots more slowly. The more finely chopped the plants’ parts are, the faster they
lose their desirable qualities, and he advises we not buy whole dried herbs from bins or jars in stores.”[27]

Other conditions that affect the quality of an herb are the status of the soil, the weather conditions, and the presence of insect pests. Methods used to dry and to store herbs will affect quality of the medicinal components, and there is also a variance from plant to plant in both quantity and quality of a specific component. Dr. Weil stresses that it is also important to keep in mind that many of the claims for the healing properties of herbs are without evidence and that some herbs can cause harm.[28]

Medical missionary work

The mission of Christ was to heal the sick, encourage the hopeless, bind up the brokenhearted. This work of restoration is to be carried on among the needy, suffering ones of humanity. God calls not only for your benevolence, but your cheerful countenance, your hopeful words, the grasp of your hand. Relieve some of God’s afflicted ones. Some are sick, and hope has departed. Bring back the sunlight to them. There are souls who have lost their courage; speak to them, pray for them. There are those who need the bread of life. Read to them from the Word of God. There is a soul sickness no balm can reach, no medicine heal. Pray for these, and bring them to Jesus Christ. And in all your work, Christ will be present to make impressions upon human hearts. This is the kind of medical missionary work to be done. Bring the sunshine of the Sun of Righteousness into the room of the sick and suffering. Teach the inmates of the poor homes how to cook. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd,” with temporal and spiritual food.—Manuscript 105, 1898. (Ellen White, A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education, p. 23)

Medicine has improved greatly since the heroic treatments of the 1800s. We now have insulin treatment for diabetes, due to Frederick Banting’s pioneering work. Thomas Starzl launched modern organ transplants, and Jonas Salk has prevented an immense amount of suffering because of his work in developing the polio vaccine. God has a plan for each one of us. We can be the grassroots of health reform in 2017. We can use simple remedies to help the sick, and we can encourage the hopeless and bind up the brokenhearted. We can show benevolence, have a cheerful countenance, and speak words of hope. We can grasp the hand of the one in need, and we can pray for the weary. In all of this Christ will be present to make impressions upon hearts, and he will feed his flock as a shepherd, both with temporal food, as well as with spiritual. May he bless us as we share the love of God with others.

Onycha Holt

[1]. See Mervyn G. Hardinge, A Physician Explains Ellen White’s Counsel on Drugs, Herbs, & Natural Remedies, pages 160–166 and Selected Messages, volume 2, pages 295–297.

[2]. Ellen White, Selected Messages, volume 2, pages 299, 295

[3]. Ellen White, The Place of Herbs in Rational Therapy, pages 24, 25

[4]. White, Selected Messages, volume 2, page 300

[5]. Ellen White, The Review & Herald, January 20, 1910

[6]. White, Selected Messages, volume 2, page 297

[7]. Ibid.

[8]. Ibid., page 300

[9]. Ibid., page 301

[10]. Ibid., pages 300, 301

[11]. Ibid.

[12]. Ibid., page 301

[13]. Ibid., pages 301, 302

[14]. Ibid., pages 302, 303

[15]. Ellen White, Testimonies on the Case of Elder E. P. Daniels, page 55

[16]. The entire reference given by Hardinge is “Manuscript 43, 1890 [diary entry], White Estate Document—‘Salamanca Vision,’ p. 17.”

[17]. Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, volume 8, page 85

[18]. Ellen White to Dr. J. S. Gibbs, Letter 236, 1906, asking for him to send her the powders so she could help two brothers with cancer

[19]19. Ellen White, Letter 189, 1897; quoted by Arthur White, The Australian Years, page 293

[20]. White, Selected Messages, book 2, page 297

[21]. Ibid., page 294

[22]. Ibid., page 297

[23]. Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, volume 7, page 118; Ellen White, Letter 9, 1881; quoted by Arthur White, The Lonely Years, page 180

[24]. White, Selected Messages, book 2, page 303

[25]. Quoting “Phytochemicals to Protect Our Health,” a paper published by Vegetarian Nutrition, a dietetic practice group of the American Dietetic Association, 1998

[26]. Quoting Winston Craig and Leslie Beck, “Phytochemicals: Health Protective Effects,” Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research 60, No. 1 (1999), p. 80

[27]. Ibid., p. 132

[28]. Two good sources of information for the medicinal properties of herbs are The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines or the expanded (but smaller) version, Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs, Mark Blumenthal senior editor for both; and the online four volume herbal resource from the World Health Organization, volume one at http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js2200e/ with links provided to the remaining three volumes.


Watchers and Guardians

Let us, in our mind’s eye, walk together down a stately hall. This is the great hall of sacred history. Upon its walls hang paintings depicting the truths of God’s word and of the great history of our redemption. At the beginning we learn of Lucifer, the covering cherub, who rebelled against God and who was cast out of heaven, along with all the angels who sided with him. Then we see the marvelous creation of our earth and the beautiful Garden of Eden. We see Eve at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then see her handing the forbidden fruit to Adam. Next we see the quickly darkening sky and sense the coldness of sin seep into the hearts of what had been a perfect man and a perfect woman. Even the hall of sacred history feels darker and more foreboding.

We see sin quickly gaining ground, the devastating flood, but then the rainbow. Men, however, continue to defy God, start the Tower of Babel, then worship idols. Faithful Abraham left Ur, met our Lord as he traveled to Sodom, and loved God more than his only son Isaac; and Isaac loved God more than life itself.

We continue down the hall of sacred history, past Joseph, past the birth of the Israelite nation, past Mt. Sinai, and into the land of Canaan. We see mighty leadership and foolish men. We see the image of God defaced more and more, until it is but a shadow, barely flickering with life.

Then Jesus came, the greatest of men, yet of the poorest in this world’s goods. Every life could resonate with his. There was nothing in him beyond the reach of any man. His gentle, life-giving touch sparked hope and renewed a desire for something better, yet the fallacy and the hypocrisy of self-centered men met with his reproach. His forgiveness gave new life to men and women. Zacchæus knew this. Peter did too, and so did Mary.

We continue down the sacred hall and see portrayed a path leading to a hill called Calvary. On that hill we gained life forever, and on that hill the universe was made secure forever. The government truly was upon his shoulders. It is finished, the Son of God said, bowing his head on the cross (John 19:30); it is enough said the father bowing in reverence at the cross (Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 7, page 936 and volume 5, page 1137). Satan was defeated and when he is destroyed, sin will never rise again (Nahum 1:9). But for now it continues on this earth. It is all around us. We walk in its midst, we see it on every hand, and sometimes we desire it.

Passing along we near the other end on this magnificent hall. Now we see a great prophetic chart, we see a little flock sorely disappointed, and, more importantly, we see four majestic angels and from their mouths we hear the last messages of mercy for a fallen world.

And here history meets current events.

Babylon IS fallen, we ARE to come out of her, and the mark of the beast IS being formed in the forehead or in the hand of all who continue in the long history of defiance toward heaven.

But a little flock continues, a remnant of this long history of truth and salvation, and it cherishes truth and the God of truth to the point that, to a man, the little flock would rather die than sin. These people have the benefit of all the sacred history up to this time, of all the utterances of the prophets and messengers of God, and of all the hard-won victories fought by their spiritual ancestors with the papacy and its leader. Of those in this little flock it is said they have no guile in their mouths and that they are without fault before the throne of God (Revelation 14:5). Praise to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Right now, today, this little flock is being formed and the process will soon be complete. The whole hall of sacred history impacts upon the little flock, but we will now consider one section in particular, that of the Protestant Reformation, and briefly the revolution, in France.

Paris knew little of its day of judgment. It is not that it came without warning or without opportunity, but Satan and his institution had a stranglehold on the people and upon the leaders. Even the Protestant reformers were papists, heart and soul, to begin with, but their souls were restless and searching. No matter how stern their self-discipline, no matter how many masses they attended, something was missing. The system perpetuated itself in educating the young men coming into their ranks, but both old and young knew, if they were honest, they were not drawing closer to heaven.

Then a Bible was read, and light poured into a dark soul. By grace are you saved, not by works! Lefèvre’s joy was unbounded. His forgiven soul was loosed from its burden, and the good news had to be shared. It ran as a low flame along the alleyways, under doorways, and even into the palace of the king. People were stopped in their tracks and looked heavenward, even from bent backs at the hoe, and thought, is it true? Little groups in shops everywhere spoke in wonder over the news, and the papacy was alarmed.

George Will won a Pulitzer Prize for political commentary. He received a PhD from Princeton University and has held various academic posts over the years, as well as having written several books. He is well-versed in history, and in 1986 The Wall Street Journal called him perhaps the most powerful journalist in America. He has shaped America’s understanding of history and writes a twice-weekly column on political events. One can know a lot of history, however, but unless one can apply this knowledge to the present day, a knowledge of history is of little value, and so it is with us in the realm of religious faith. The historical truths of our religious faith is of little value unless we can apply the accumulated history of truth in a positive way on our walk with God.

Curius regio, eius religio

It was the case in Europe during the sixteenth century that the rulers dictated the religious practices of their kingdoms. This concept is stated in the Latin phrase, curius regio, eius religio, which means whose realm, his religion. Each land entity had a ruler, who dictated not only the laws of the kingdom, but the religious faith, as well. This was true everywhere in Europe—in the German states, in Catholic Italy and Spain, in Protestant Geneva, in England and Scotland, and in the Netherlands.

Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples

In France, before the name of Luther had been heard as a Reformer, the day had already begun to break. One of the first to catch the light was the aged Lefevre, a man of extensive learning, a professor in the University of Paris, and a sincere and zealous papist. In his researches into ancient literature his attention was directed to the Bible, and he introduced its study among his students.

Lefevre was an enthusiastic adorer of the saints, and he had undertaken to prepare a history of the saints and martyrs as given in the legends of the church. This was a work which involved great labor; but he had already made considerable progress in it, when, thinking that he might obtain useful assistance from the Bible, he began its study with this object. Here indeed he found saints brought to view, but not such as figured in the Roman calendar. A flood of divine light broke in upon his mind. In amazement and disgust he turned away from his self-appointed task and devoted himself to the word of God. The precious truths which he there discovered he soon began to teach. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 212)

Truths, such as:

It is God who gives us, by faith, that righteousness which by grace alone justifies to eternal life. (Ibid., quoting Wylie)

And:

Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory. (Ibid.,quoting D’Aubigne,

In other words, Lefèvre rejoiced in the knowledge that God gives us, by faith, the righteousness which by grace alone justifies us to eternal life, and Lefèvre appreciated the greatness of all the exchanges made by Jesus for us: the Sinless One is condemned, and the guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the cross, and the cursed is blessed; the Life dies, and the dead live; and the Glory is overwhelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion is clothed with glory. These truths set Lefèvre free, and he began to teach them to his students. He was a professor of mathematics and physics, however, not of theology, and it was not until he had turned to the Bible to help him in writing a book that he learned these great truths. He then wrote commentaries on portions of the Old and New Testaments, which Martin Luther used during his early days at Wittenberg. Lefèvre was not a reformer and remained a Catholic to the end of his life, but his works prepared the way for the introduction of Protestantism into France and into other places. He taught the uselessness of good works, apart from God’s grace, and he guardedly denied the doctrine of transubstantiation.

One of his students was William Farel, also a devoted Romanist and who also adored the saints. In fact, he accompanied Lefèvre in making the rounds of the churches in Paris, in worshiping at the altars, and in bringing gifts to the holy shrines; but he did not find peace until he understood the import of what Lefèvre had taught him: Salvation is of grace; the Innocent One is condemned, and the criminal is acquitted; and it is the cross of Christ alone that openeth the gates of heaven and shutteth the gates of hell. Farel joyfully accepted these truths and began to preach them.

The work of Lefèvre and of Farel opened the word of God to the people of France. Lefèvre translated the Bible into French. This was the first time the French people had a Bible in their own language. Lefèvre spread the truth through teaching his students, and Farel spread the truth through preaching the gospel to the people. Respected teachers at the university began to unite with Farel, along with a Roman Catholic bishop, and the spread of the gospel accelerated.

As travelers perishing from thirst welcome with joy a living water spring, so did these souls receive the message of heaven. The laborers in the field, the artisans in the workshop, cheered their daily toil by talking of the precious truths of the Bible. At evening, instead of resorting to the wine-shops, they assembled in one another’s homes to read God’s word and join in prayer and praise. A great change was soon manifest in these communities. Though belonging to the humblest class, an unlearned and hard-working peasantry, the reforming, uplifting power of divine grace was seen in their lives. Humble, loving, and holy, they stood as witnesses to what the gospel will accomplish for those who receive it in sincerity. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 215)

A few points to remember

Firstly, no matter how knowledgeable we may be in our field of expertise—history, science, or another—if the principles of our field of study cannot aid our spiritual growth, the knowledge gained is in vain to us. There is a knowledge that is higher and greater than all others, and that is the knowledge of God, the knowledge of the plan of salvation, and the knowledge of how to overcome sin.

Secondly, the great truths that set Lefèvre and Farel free were 1) righteousness by faith comes from God (and not from works), and this alone justifies us; and 2) the immeasurable gift of eternal life offered the sinner by the death of the sinless one.

And thirdly, often it is the humble, the unlearned, the hard-working, and/or the poverty-stricken who witness best to the power of divine grace in the life. Do not shy away from them. Consider Michael Faraday, one of the greatest scientists of all time. Albert Einstein kept a picture of him on the wall of his study, but Michael’s father was a blacksmith and Michael grew up in poverty. His formal education was little more than the rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic, gained at a common school, but over time he humbly went about learning, inventing, and teaching until he could no longer do so. White-haired, bent, and shuffling along in his own laboratory, he was mistaken for the janitor by an unknowing whippersnapper, but Faraday did not take offense. He was a devout Christian who worshiped every Sunday at a little chapel on the rundown side of town, where intoxicated people consistently lay by the side of the road. He and his wife never stopped attending the little Sandemanian chapel, where members sought to live out the principles of Christ, no matter how esteemed or how renowned he became.

The science of salvation cannot be explained; but it can be known by experience. Only he who sees his own sinfulness can discern the preciousness of the Saviour. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 494)

Louis de Berquin

Louis de Berquin was different from both Lefèvre and Farel, in that he was a member of the king’s court, but he, like them, was, at first, an ardent follower of the papacy. He loved to attend mass and to listen to sermons, and he held Lutheranism in special abhorrence, that is until he started to read the Bible. Then all was changed, and he was declared by the papists to be worse than Luther himself and was imprisoned three time by papal authorities, but the king always released him because of he admired Berquin’s genius and his nobility of character. There was a limit to his tolerance, however, for Berquin not only stood in defense of truth, he went further and boldly attacked error. The charge of heresy that the papacy tried to lay on him, he placed on them. Finally, the papacy won, and Berquin was put to death.

John Calvin

John Calvin was next on the scene in France, and at first he declared he would have none of the new doctrines of Protestantism. “Think you that I have lived in error all my days?” asked he of his cousin, but he eventually accepted the new doctrines and then went from house to house, opening the Bible to the people. Soon suspicion fastened upon him, and Calvin had to make his escape from Paris by being let down from a window at night.

King Francis I

King Francis I was the king of France during the beginning and the spread of Protestantism in France. He was an admirer of intelligence and art, and it was he who initiated the French Renaissance. He brought Leonardo da Vinci to France, and da Vinci brought the Mona Lisa with him. Francis I also began the French exploration of the New World.

Francis I had gloried in being a leader in the great movement for the revival of learning which marked the opening of the sixteenth century. He had delighted to gather at his court men of letters from every country. To his love of learning and his contempt for the ignorance and superstition of the monks was due, in part at least, the degree of toleration that had been granted to the reform. But, inspired with zeal to stamp out heresy, this patron of learning issued an edict declaring printing abolished all over France! Francis I presents one among the many examples on record showing that intellectual culture is not a safeguard against religious intolerance and persecution. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 227; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

Another point to remember

Intellectual culture is not a safeguard against religious intolerance and persecution. Do not expect intelligent Adventists, for example, to stand by the principles of the religion of Christ when the judgments of God fill the land just because they are intelligent. It will not happen, for “self cannot manage self; it is not sufficient for the work. Whoever tries to do this will be worsted. God alone can make and keep us loyal” (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, September 14, 1897). “All who love God and are loyal to his government, will be tempted to change leaders” (Ibid.), and many will change, but let us determine to “stand in defense of truth and righteousness.”

Already the judgments of God are abroad in the land, as seen in storms, in floods, in tempests, in earthquakes, in peril by land and by sea. The great I AM is speaking to those who make void His law. When God’s wrath is poured out upon the earth, who will then be able to stand? Now is the time for God’s people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader.

The test will surely come. Thirty-six years ago I was shown that what is now transpiring would take place, that the observance of an institution of the papacy would be enforced upon the people by a Sunday law, while the sanctified rest day of Jehovah would be trampled underfoot. . . .

Now is the time when we should closely connect with God, that we may be hid when the fierceness of His wrath is poured upon the sons of men. We have wandered away from the old landmarks. Let us return. If the Lord be God, serve Him; if Baal, serve him. Which side will you be on? (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 136, 137; 1882)

This was written in 1882. In 1882, W. C. White was arrested for violating a California statute that prohibited the conduction of business in any place on Sunday, such as a store, a workshop, a bar, or a bank. Ellen White’s son was operating the Pacific Press on a Sunday, and he was arrested. This may be what Sister White was referring to, in the above quotation, as an example of the institution of the papacy being “enforced upon the people by a Sunday law.”

As far as the landmarks are concerned, they have continued under attack.

The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath, of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice; but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure. . . . (Ellen White, Lt242–1903; Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 204, 205)

Of course, the results listed were to occur if the reformation took place, and Ellen White never states in the quotation that it would definitely take place, but books of a new order have been written (examples, Questions on Doctrine and Movement of Destiny) and a system of intellectual philosophy has been introduced (example forthcoming), and the Adventist Church has given up some of the doctrines which were once pillars of our faith (example, the papacy as “the man of sin”). Continuing on, Sister White warned:

I am instructed to say that those who would tear down the foundation that God has laid are not to be accepted as the teachers and leaders of His people. We are to hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end. Words of power have been sent by God and by Christ to this people, bringing them out from the world point by point, into the clear light of present truth. With lips touched with holy fire, God’s servants have proclaimed the message. The divine utterance has set its seal to the genuineness of the truth proclaimed. (Ellen White, Lt242–1903, para. 13, 18; reprinted in Testimonies for the Church Containing Messages of Warning and Instruction to Seventh-day Adventists, p. 41 and in Battle Creek Letters, p. 82))

In 1872 a statement of fundamental principles taught and practiced by Seventh-day Adventists was published. In it twenty-five principles were listed, addressing such topics as our heavenly Father; his Son, Jesus; the Scriptures; baptism; the new birth; prophecy in general and the two thousand three hundred days in particular; the sanctuary; the atonement that is occurring in heaven now; the Ten Commandments in general and the fourth commandment in particular; the papacy as the man of sin; spiritual gifts; etc. In 1930 a statement was ordered to be prepared for inclusion in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (such a statement had been absent for many years).[1] The minutes of the meeting do not call for the statement used in previous years to be updated or revised, but called simply for a statement to be prepared for the yearbook. In 1889 a statement of beliefs was first published in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. It was similar to the statement of 1872, but the wording was revised in places (the description of the atonement taking place in heaven was redesigned, for example) and the list was expanded from twenty-five to twenty-eight beliefs. Uriah Smith is considered to have been the author of the 1889 statement, as well as the author of the 1872 statement (though James White may have been a co-author), and both the 1872 and the 1889 statements are nontrinitarian. In 1931, however, the statement of fundamental beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists dropped the nontrinitarian belief and included, among others, a fundamental belief of trinitarianism and also deleted our fundamental principles concerning the importance of the place of prophecy and the biblical view that the papacy is the man of sin. This new statement of beliefs was not voted on by any committee or corpus of believers. It was not reviewed by any group of Adventists. It was simply prepared by a committee of four and sent to the editor of the yearbook for inclusion in the yearbook’s next edition. And this is how this statement of beliefs happened to be published, and it continued to be published for decades. This is one example of how our fundamental beliefs have changed, but they have not stopped changing.

In 1996, Dr. Norman Gulley published an article in the Journal of the Adventist Theological Society entitled “The Cosmic Controversy.” In it he proposed a change in the order the fundamental beliefs were listed in the statement and also a rewording of them so as to place in each an emphasis upon relationships. For example, the angels broke their relationship with God, the trinity reveals a perfect relationship, scripture is given to restore relationship, human nature is in broken relationship with God, Christ came to restore this broken relationship, the Holy Spirit is to restore relationships, the church is the community of restored relationships, the second coming is to restore relationship to a face-to-face communion, etc.[2] Dr. Gulley also recommended a reinterpreting of the three angels’ messages to emphasize relationships, and, at the same time, he chose not to consider “the historical dimension of these messages”[3] in the article.

The three angels message follow the Mount Zion scene because they show the focus of the end-time saints who will be translated. The messages, as we will see, are Christ-centered. . . . the three angels messages answer the question, “How can I be in that translated group? What preparation should I be making now?”

To answer these questions, we will not take up the historical dimension of these messages. Our interest is simple: how do they prepare the end-time saints to go through the end-time trouble? The focus of the first angel’s message is Christ the Creator. Reverence Him. Give Him glory. His judgment hour has come. Worship Him (Rev 14:7). The first angel’s message says, especially in the judgment hour, look to Christ. And in that focus, Paul says, By beholding we are becoming changed (2 Cor 3:18). Put all this together and the first angel’s message says: In this judgment hour look to Jesus and be changed.[4]

We have no way of knowing what he would have said about the historical dimensions of the three angels’ messages, but let us assume the best; however, even assuming the best, we have a major problem because his rethinking of the three angels’ messages places a new interpretation on them, which is to be fulfilled in the future, for the messages focus on the “end-time saints who will be translated.” It is true that fulfillment of the third angel’s message is yet future and that the three angels’ messages are to still be given to the world, but the messages to be given today are to be the same messages that were given during Ellen White’s day. The three angels’ messages have not changed, and, as originally given, they are absolutely needed today; however,

In this our day, as in Christ’s day, there will be a misreading and misinterpreting of the Scriptures. If the Jews had studied the Scriptures with earnest, prayerful, humble hearts, their searching would have been rewarded with a true knowledge of the time, and not only the time, but also the manner of Christ’s first appearing. They would not have ascribed the glories of the second appearing of Christ to His first advent. . . .

Many are doing the same thing today, in 1897, because they have not had experience in the testing message comprehended in the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There are those who are searching the Scriptures for proof that these messages are still in the future. They gather together the truthfulness of the messages, but they fail to give them their proper place in prophetic history. Therefore such are in danger of misleading the people in regard to locating the messages. They do not see and understand the time of the end, or when to locate the messages. (Ellen White, Ms41a–1896; also Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, pp. 289, 290)

Gulley and other Seventh-day Adventists might think, but we do give them their proper place in prophetic history; we are not denying their historical significance. Adding a new fulfillment, however, and one that is to take place in the future is taking them out of their proper place in history, both time-wise and content-wise, and is placing them in a different time frame, with different meanings. As stated, we are to continue to give the three angels’ messages, but it is to tell the old truths over and over again, as a last message to a dying world. Obviously the third angel’s message has not been fulfilled. The mark of the beast is yet future, but we know what the third angel’s message is about, and it is not about “trying to be religious . . . through one’s own secular . . . strength” (Gulley, p. 111), as Gulley states. It is about the Protestant churches uniting “with the secular power to sustain a false religion,” and it is about the mark of the beast being the papal sabbath. Please read for yourself:

The change of the Sabbath is the sign or mark of the authority of the Romish Church. Those who, understanding the claims of the fourth commandment, choose to observe the false sabbath in the place of the true, are thereby paying homage to that power by which alone it is commanded. The mark of the beast is the papal sabbath, which has been accepted by the world in the place of the day of God’s appointment.

But no one has yet received the mark of the beast. The testing time has not yet come. . . . But when the decree shall go forth enforcing the counterfeit sabbath, and the loud cry of the third angel shall warn men against the worship of the beast and his image, the line will be clearly drawn between the false and the true. Then those who still continue in transgression will receive the mark of the beast.

With rapid steps we are approaching this period. When Protestant churches shall unite with the secular power to sustain a false religion, for opposing which their ancestors endured the fiercest persecution, then will the papal sabbath be enforced by the combined authority of church and State. There will be a national apostasy, which will end only in national ruin. (Ellen White, Ms51–1899, par. 17–19; similar quotations in Bible Training School, February 1, 1913, and in Evangelism, p. 234)

Gulley brings up many good points that we do not wish to deny, such as we are to look to Jesus and be changed (by his power, I might add), we cannot depend on self for salvation, and we are to give glory to Jesus, but when he explains (for an example) that the message of the second angel is a message referring back to the rebellion of the people at the tower of Babel, he is simply giving the trumpet a very uncertain sound. Such a message fails to warn the world of the great and terrible day of the Lord, and this is treachery. There is no other way to describe it, and I am sorry to have to say so. Such a teaching completely nullifies the message of Revelation 18, especially verse 4.

And the message for today is: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen....Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Revelation 18:2, 4, 5. (Ellen White, Prophets and Kings, p. 187; ellipsis in original)

“All who love God and are loyal to his government, will be tempted to change leaders. But God has said, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’” (White, The Review & Herald, September 14, 1897), and “many a star that we have admired for its brilliance” (White, Prophets and Kings, p. 188) will go out. A new philosophy has entered our ranks, and new leaders are being chosen. May we, however, remain faithful to the old landmarks.

Let us now return to the French Reformation. Margaret, the sister of King Francis I, accepted the reformed faith, and for a time there was hope that the king would look favorably upon the protestant reforms, but it was not to be:

Trial and persecution awaited the disciples of Christ. This, however, was mercifully veiled from their eyes. A time of peace intervened, that they might gain strength to meet the tempest; and the Reformation made rapid progress. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 214)

The next point to remember

Times of peace occur to give us an opportunity to gain strength for the coming storm. Let us use the quiet time we now have to study and pray and to share our faith, for we know what we could have done in a time of peace will be accomplished under hardship and toil.

The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity she will have to do in a terrible crisis under most discouraging, forbidding circumstances. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 463)

Persecution

King Francis I now became deadly King Francis. He made a solemn oath to utterly destroy Protestantism and led a procession of persecution through the city.

When France rejected the gift of heaven, she sowed the seeds of anarchy and ruin; and the inevitable outworking of cause and effect resulted in the Revolution and the Reign of Terror. (Ibid., p. 230)

King Francis’s oath to destroy heresy was made in 1535, and the Jesuit order was confirmed by Pope Paul III in 1540.

Throughout Christendom, Protestantism was menaced by formidable foes. The first triumphs of the Reformation past, Rome summoned new forces, hoping to accomplish its destruction. At this time the order of the Jesuits was created, the most cruel, unscrupulous, and powerful of all the champions of popery. Cut off from earthly ties and human interests, dead to the claims of natural affection, reason and conscience wholly silenced, they knew no rule, no tie, but that of their order, and no duty but to extend its power. . . . It was a fundamental principle of the order that the end justifies the means. (Ibid., p. 234)

Remember also

The end justifies the means—lying, theft, perjury, and assassination became commendable when they served the interest of the church. This leads us to another point to ponder—once again, the smallest, the humblest, and the least powerful became strongholds for God:

But under God’s blessing and the labors of those noble men whom He had raised up to succeed Luther, Protestantism was not overthrown. Not to the favor or arms of princes was it to owe its strength. The smallest countries, the humblest and least powerful nations, became its strongholds. (Ibid., p. 235)

Next step—revolution

The war against the Bible, carried forward for so many centuries in France, culminated in the scenes of the Revolution. That terrible outbreaking was but the legitimate result of Rome’s suppression of the Scriptures. . . .The suppression of the Scriptures during the period of papal supremacy was foretold by the prophets; and the Revelator points also to the terrible results that were to accrue especially to France from the domination of the “man of sin.” (Ibid., pp. 265, 266)

Century after century the blood of the saints had been shed. While the Waldenses laid down their lives upon the mountains of Piedmont “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ,” similar witness to the truth had been borne by their brethren, the Albigenses of France. In the days of the Reformation its disciples had been put to death with horrible tortures. . . . The brave Huguenots, battling for those rights which the human heart holds most sacred, had poured out their blood on many a hard-fought field. The Protestants were counted as outlaws, a price was set upon their heads, and they were hunted down like wild beasts. (Ibid., p. 271)

Another point to remember

A price was set on their heads, and they were hunted down. So it will be with us:

When the protection of human laws shall be withdrawn from those who honor the law of God, there will be, in different lands, a simultaneous movement for their destruction. As the time appointed in the decree draws near, the people will conspire to root out the hated sect. It will be determined to strike in one night a decisive blow, which shall utterly silence the voice of dissent and reproof. (Ibid., p. 635)

God’s hallway

God has his own hallway, so to speak, of portraits of his faithful ones. His eye does not rest, however, on the just and perfect Noah, on the perfect and upright Job, on the meek Moses, on the widow of two mites, or on repentant Mary:

The eye of God, looking down the ages, was fixed upon the crisis which His people are to meet, when earthly powers shall be arrayed against them. Like the captive exile, they will be in fear of death by starvation or by violence. But the Holy One who divided the Red Sea before Israel, will manifest His mighty power and turn their captivity. “They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” Malachi 3:17. (Ibid., p. 634)

We are not told exactly when the eye of God started looking down through the ages, but for “ages” his eye has been fixed on the time we are about to face. He will prepare us for it, if we will let him. What a wonderful time in which to be living!

With shouts of triumph, jeering, and imprecation, throngs of evil men are about to rush upon their prey, when, lo, a dense blackness, deeper than the darkness of the night, falls upon the earth. (Ibid., p. 685)

And God delivers his people! This is the time upon which God’s eye has been focused, and it is for this time we are to prepare.

In the “Hymn of the Vaudois Mountaineers,” we read about the Waldenses, who found refuge in the mountains:

For the strength of the hills we bless thee,

Our God, our fathers’ God!

Thou hast made thy children mighty,

By the touch of the mountain sod.

Thou hast fix’d our ark of refuge

Where the spoiler’s foot ne’er trod;

For the strength of the hills we bless thee,

Our God, our fathers’ God!

We are watchers of a beacon

Whose light must never die;

We are guardians of an altar

’Midst the silence of the sky;

The rocks yield founts of courage

Struck forth as by thy rod—

For the strength of the hills we bless thee,

Our God, our fathers’ God!

—Felecia Hemans, 1842

Final point to remember

We are the earthly watchers of the light that must never die, and we are the earthly guardians of the sanctuary in the sky. May we be true to this sacred calling.

The Lord Jesus understands the pressure that is brought to bear against those who are loyal and true to Him, for He has felt the same in the highest degree. Those who witnessed a good confession in behalf of truth in the reformation counted not their lives dear unto themselves that truth might be vindicated. God and angels are looking on as witnesses from their holy dwelling place and marking the earnestness and zeal of the defenders of the truth in this age. What do they defend? The faith once delivered to the saints. (Ellen White, Ms30–1889; reprinted in Manuscript Releases, volume 16, page 238)

Onycha Holt

[1] Minutes of the seventy-second meeting, General Conference Committee, December 29, 1930

[2]. Norman Gulley, “The Cosmic Controversy,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, vol. 7, no. 2, Autumn 1996, pp. 90–92

[3]. Ibid., p. 110

[4]. Ibid.


Youth’s Corner A Missionary Hero

(Chapter 2 of Cannibals and Head-Hunters of the South Seas, by Charles H. Watson, published in 1926 by the Review and Herald Publishing Association.)

A Missionary Hero

Not many years ago I stood beside the grave of one of the most daring of the many brown men who, on receiving the Christian religion in Raiatea, gave their lives to spread the gospel throughout the South Seas. The spot is near the scene of the greatest triumph of his adventurous life. Near by was the large church building in which the islanders worshiped Jehovah, and the murmur of the surf on the distant reef mingled musically with their voices as they sang the songs of redemption.

Long years before he had been with Mr. Williams searching for the land whereon I then stood. Through weary weeks they had sailed on across the ocean till all but Mr. Williams were in dread of starving on an uncharted sea. Their food was almost exhausted, and unless they soon reached land they must perish on their vessel.

At last the cry arose, “Here! Here is the island that we seek!” and Rarotonga, the long-sought land, was before them—mountain and valley and coral shore all set in the bright blue of the sapphire sea and ringed by the gray circle of the foaming reef.

As the sound of the surf fell on their ears, Papeiha essayed to land on this unknown and, as was soon to be proved, hostile beach. With swift, fearless strokes he drove his canoe shoreward till, gliding in on the crest of a great wave, he sprang to land and stood before Makea, the king of the island.

“We have come,” said he, “to tell you of the true God, and there are those on our ship who will gladly live on your island as teachers of His word.”

The king readily consented to the teachers’ coming to live with his people, and Papeiha returned to the ship to bring them and their wives ashore. Assured of the protection of the king, they landed, but night had barely fallen when savage men came out of the darkness, and seized the teachers’ wives and treated the poor teachers so cruelly that they were all glad to escape out of their hands. With the first light of the morning they fled to their canoe, and paddled swiftly out to the ship.

When Mr. Williams heard all that had occurred, he said, “We will go away now, and come again when the people are more friendly.” But brave Papeiha pleaded, “Let me stay with them.”

Once more he paddled his canoe shoreward, only to be roughly seized by the savage Rarotongans, and under the threat of the circling club and poised spear, was jostled into the presence of Makea, who savagely demanded the reason why he persisted in coming.

“I come,” replied Papeiha, “so that you may all learn of the true God, and that you, like all the people in the far-off islands of the sea, may take your gods of wood and of birds’ feathers and of cloth and burn them.”

They were angry, but spared his life. Some time afterward, while crowds of the heathen were gathered, worshiping the gods. Papeiha ran among them and bravely asked why they acted so foolishly. “Why,” said he, “do you take a piece of wood and carve it, and then worship it as a god?”

Sometimes on a great stone in the grove, sometimes in the villages, sometimes among the trees, and sometimes on the sands of the shore, he spoke to the people of the true God, till the hearts of the islanders were turned toward him.

One morning while it was yet quite early a large crowd of excited natives were seen coming toward Papeiha’s home. They were waving their hands and yelling at the top of their voices to a man before them on whose back was his wooden idol. “Madman, madman,” they were shouting, “the god will kill you!” It was the priest of the place bringing his god of wood to Papeiha. Unmoved by the fury of the crowd, he staggered on till he threw his burden at the feet of Papeiha, gasping, “I am going to worship Jehovah.”

Together they cut off the head of the god, and sawed him into logs. Before the frenzied people they made a fire, and threw the logs upon it, the other priests crying out, “You will die, you will die!”

To show that the god was just a piece of wood, Papeiha took some food and roasted it in the fire and ate it before the people. Awe-stricken, they waited to see him fall dead before them; but as nothing happened, some, at least, were led to see that the castaway idol was without power.

Within a year of his landing on Rarotonga, Papeiha was rejoiced to see hundreds of idols thus committed to the flames. At night the people danced joyously round their burning gods as the light of their bonfires shone far out across the sea. Thus was the reign of Rarotonga’s cruel savagery broken by Papeiha’s brave service.

I thought of all this as I stood beside his quiet grave, where the song of the sea and the songs of the people blend in a grand paean of praise to Jehovah, “the God of Papeiha.”

The brown men and women who worship today in the near-by church still remember the brave words with which the missionary hero came to their shores, and in the light of the gospel that he brought to their fathers they order their lives and regard him as the blessed of the Lord.

The Rarotongans first heard of white men from islanders who were blown to their shores from their homeland more than a hundred fifty miles distant. These castaways had seen a large ship, and were ready to tell the astonished people of Rarotonga strange tales of the power and wisdom of the white men. The story they told created in the hearts of the people a great desire to have white men visit their land.

One day a ship was seen approaching the shore, and the people clapped their hands and shouted for joy. The white men did not land, however, and it was a long time before any one dared to go aboard. At last one chief, more courageous than the others, paddled out in his canoe. When he returned to land, he told the astonished people that he had seen on the ship groves of breadfruit, banana, and cocoanut trees, as well as rivers of water. It never occurred to the simple minds of the Rarotongans to doubt the fellow’s story. Consequently their wonder at the white man’s wisdom grew as they listened, and they longed for the day to arrive when white men would come upon their shores.

Years went by before another ship was seen. The time it was a trading vessel. The crew were warmly welcomed by the simple-hearted natives, but the white men for whose coming they had so long treated them with extreme cruelty.

After some time spent at the island, during which the traders indulged in every kind of wickedness, they enticed a number of the natives onto the deck of the ship. With these they sailed away to Aitutaki, a distance of one hundred fifty miles, and there these poor Rarotongans were left in a strange land with no means of returning to their own island.

Years afterward, Mr. Williams found them there, and took them back to their home, but little wonder that his teachers were received with such savage ferocity by the vengeful Rarotongans when he discovered the island and sought to establish his mission work upon it.

Only by the mercy of God was Papeiha spared from the wrath of these outraged savages during his first year among them. In a large measure their cruel treatment of him was due to the unprovoked wickedness of the men who had thus come from the civilization of the Old World and turned the simple friendliness of the natives into a furious hatred of the stranger, whether brown or white, who had come to their shores in the white man’s vessel.

Nothing of the savagery of former years now remains in this gem island of the far South Seas. Peaceful as the water that laves her reef-sheltered shore is the life that her people now live. Far from the din and hurry of our modern world, no longer fearful of idol gods, sheltered by a government that protects the interests and guards the rights of high and low alike, they bless God for the gospel which has made them free in Christ. Under the kindliest of skies, enjoying the bounties of their own beautiful land, they praise Him that one of brown skin but of noble purpose elected to “stay with them” when all others turned away, believing them as yet unprepared to leave their hateful savagery and turn with new hearts and redeemed lives to the living God.

All through the history of mission work among the South Sea Islanders, such men as Papeiha stand forth as shining examples of the redeeming power of the gospel. From the most brutal savagery they have been brought to places of service in the cause of the gospel, where fearless faith and truest devotion have been wonderfully manifested in their lives.

Strong, courageous, and true, by them the Word of the Lord has been taken to the darkest places; and when the heroes of missions are crowned at last, these brown sons of the South Seas will be among those who have wrought for God and triumphed in His name.

To be continued

 Rarotonga_Island.jpg

Satellite view of Rarotonga Island


Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, 750 Smyrna Road, Welch, WV 24801–9606 U. S. A. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our website. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732–9204. Fax: (304) 732–7322.

Editor Allen Stump—editor@smyrna.org
Associate Editor Onycha Holt—onycha@smyrna.org