The Articles of Ellen Gould Harmon White as printed in the Signs of the Times.
March 27, 1879 The Great Controversy Between Christ and His Angels and Satan and His Angels
Filed under: EG White Articles

                                Chapter Ten.
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                             By Mrs. E. G. White.
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selected Abraham to carry out his will. He was directed to leave his nation, and separate from his kindred. The Lord had revealed himself to Abraham in his youth, and given him , and preserved him from . He designed to make him an example of and true , for his people who should afterward live upon . His was marked for , , and . He commanded respect as a mighty prince among the people. His and love for , and his strict in performing his will, gained for him the respect of his servants and neighbors. His godly example and course, united with his instructions to his servants and all his household, led them also to fear, love, and reverence the God of Abraham. The Lord appeared to Abraham, and promised him that his seed should be like the for number. He also made known to him, through the figure of the horror of great darkness which came upon him, the long, servile bondage of his descendants in Egypt.

In the beginning, God gave to Adam one wife, thus showing his order. He never designed that man should have a plurality of wives. Lamech was the first who departed in this respect from God’s wise arrangement. He had two wives, which created discord in his family. The envy and jealousy of both made Lamech unhappy. When men began to multiply upon the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, they took them wives of all whom they chose. This was one of the great sins of the inhabitants of the old world, which brought the wrath of God upon them. This custom was practiced after the flood, and became so common that even righteous men fell into the practice, and had a plurality of wives. Yet it was no less sin because they became corrupted, and departed in this thing from God’s order.

The Lord said of Noah who, with his family, was saved in the ark, “For thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.” Noah had but one wife; and their united family discipline was blessed of God. Because Noah’s sons were righteous, they were preserved in the ark with their father. God has not sanctioned polygamy in a single instance. It was contrary to his will. He knew that the happiness of man would be destroyed by it. Abraham’s peace was greatly marred by his unhappy marriage with Hagar.

After Abraham’s separation from Lot, the Lord said to him, “Lift up now thine eyes and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” “The word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” “And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed; and lo, one born in my house is mine heir.”

As Abraham had no son, he at first thought that his trusty servant, Eliezer, should become his son by adoption, and his heir. But God informed Abraham that his servant should not be his son and his heir, but that he should really have a son. “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell me the stars, if thou be able to number them; and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”

If Abraham and Sarah had waited in confiding faith for the fulfillment of the promise that they should have a son, much unhappiness would have been avoided. They believed that it would be just as God had promised, but could not believe that Sarah, in her old age, would have a son. Sarah suggested a plan whereby she thought the promise of God could be fulfilled. She entreated Abraham to take Hagar as his wife. In this they both lacked faith, and a perfect trust in the power of God. By yielding to the advice of Sarah, and taking Hagar as his wife, Abraham failed to endure the test of his faith in God’s unlimited power, and brought upon himself, and upon Sarah, much unhappiness. The Lord intended to prove the faith of Abraham and his reliance upon the promises which he had made him.

Hagar was proud and boastful, and carried herself haughtily before Sarah. She flattered herself that she was to be the mother of the great nation which God had promised to make of Abraham. And Abraham was compelled to listen to the complaints from Sarah in regard to the conduct of Hagar, charging him with wrong in the matter. Abraham is grieved, and tells Sarah that Hagar is her servant, and that she can have the control of her, but he refuses to send her away, for she is to be the mother of his child through whom he thinks the promise is to be fulfilled. He informs Sarah that he would not have taken Hagar for his wife if it had not been her special request. Abraham was also compelled to listen to Hagar’s complaints of abuse from Sarah. Abraham is in perplexity. If he seeks to redress the wrongs of Hagar, he increases the jealousy and unhappiness of Sarah, his first and much-loved wife. Hagar fled from the face of Sarah. An angel of God meets her, and comforts her, and also reproves her for her haughty conduct, in bidding her return to her mistress, and submit herself under her hands.

After the birth of Ishmael, the Lord again manifested himself to Abraham, and said unto him, “I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant.” Again the Lord repeated by his angel his promise to give Sarah a son, and that she should be a mother of many nations. Abraham did not yet understand the promise of God. His mind immediately rests upon Ishmael, as though through him would come the many nations promised, and he exclaims, in his affection for his son, “O that Ishmael might live before thee!”

Again the promise is more definitely repeated to Abraham: “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” Angels are sent to Abraham on their way to destroy Sodom, and they more distinctly repeat the promise that Sarah shall have a son.

After the birth of Isaac, the great joy manifested by Abraham and Sarah caused Hagar to be very jealous. Ishmael had been instructed by his mother that he was to be especially blessed of God, as the son of Abraham, and to be heir to that which was promised to his father. Ishmael partook of his mother’s feelings, and was angry because of the joy manifested at the birth of Isaac. He despised Isaac, because he thought that he was preferred before himself. Sarah saw the disposition manifested by Ishmael against her son Isaac, and she was greatly moved. She related to Abraham the disrespectful conduct of Ishmael to her, and to her son, and said to him, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.”

Abraham is greatly distressed. Ishmael is his son, beloved by him. How can he send him away! He prays to God in his perplexity, for he knows not what course to take. The Lord, through his angels, directs Abraham to listen to the voice of Sarah his wife, and not to let his affection for his son, or for Hagar, prevent his compliance with her wishes. For this was the only course he could pursue to restore harmony and happiness again to his family. Abraham had the consoling promise from the angel, that Ishmael, although separated from his father’s house, should not die, nor be forsaken of God; he should be preserved because he was the son of Abraham. God also promised to make of Ishmael a great nation.

Abraham was of a noble, benevolent disposition, as was manifested in his pleading so earnestly for the people of Sodom. His strong spirit suffered much. He was bowed with grief, and his paternal feelings were deeply moved as he sent away Hagar and his son Ishmael to wander as strangers in a strange land.

If God had sanctioned polygamy, he would not have thus directed Abraham to send away Hagar and her son. He would teach all a lesson in this, that the rights and happiness of the marriage relation are ever to be respected and guarded, even at a great sacrifice. Sarah was the first and only true wife of Abraham. As a wife and mother, she was entitled to rights which no other in the family could have. She reverenced her husband, calling him lord; but she was jealous lest his affections should be divided with Hagar. God did not rebuke Sarah for the course which she pursued. Abraham was reproved by the angels for distrusting God’s power, which had led him to take Hagar as his wife, and to think that through her the promise would be fulfilled.

Again the Lord saw fit to test the faith of Abraham by a most fearful trial. If he had patiently waited for the promise of God to be fulfilled in his own time and manner, and had not sought to make a providence himself, he would not have been subjected to the closest test that was ever required of man. The Lord directed his faithful servant to go into the land of Moriah, and there offer up Isaac, the son of promise, as a burnt-offering.

Abraham was one hundred and twenty years old when this terrible and startling command came to him, in a vision of the night. He was to travel three days’ journey, and would have ample time for reflection. Fifty years previous, at the divine command, he had left father and mother, relatives and friends, and had become a pilgrim and a stranger in a land not his own. He had obeyed the direction of God to send away his son Ishmael to wander in the wilderness. His soul was bowed down with grief at this separation, and his faith was sorely tried, yet he submitted because God required it.

But now a trial was before him which caused all his other afflictions to appear insignificant. The words of the command were calculated to stir his soul to the depths: “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Over and over again did the grief-stricken father exclaim, Oh! my son, my son, would to God my life could be accepted in the place of thine; then should my light not go out in darkness. Abraham arose before day, and as he looked up to the starry heavens, he called to mind the promise which God had made to him fifty years before: “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them. And he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” And now the same voice had commanded him to slay his only son, through whom the promise was to be fulfilled.

Abraham was tempted to believe that after all this might be a delusion. Stricken with grief, he bowed before God, and prayed as never before for a confirmation of this strange command, for greater light if he must perform this terrible duty. He remembered the angels sent to tell him of God’s purpose to destroy Sodom, and those who bore to him the promise that he should have this same son Isaac. He walked forth where he had several times met the heavenly messengers, hoping to meet them again and receive some special direction from them; but he gained no light, darkness seemed to close about him, day was approaching, and he must be on his journey before light.

He first passed to the couch upon which Isaac slept in peaceful innocency; he was the joy of his heart, the comfort of his old age. Abraham’s lips quivered, he turned quickly away, and looked upon Sarah who was also quietly sleeping. He knew that Isaac was her pride, that her heart was entwined with his. Should he awake her, that she might look upon her son for the last time? Should he tell her the requirement of God? He knew that he himself had strength of faith, and confidence in God; he did not know the strength of Sarah’s faith; but he did know the strength of her love for Isaac.

He passed from one sleeper to the other, undecided in regard to the wisest course to pursue. He finally awakened Isaac, and informed him that he was commanded of God to offer sacrifice upon a distant mountain, and that he must accompany him. He called his servants, and made every necessary preparation for his long journey. If he could have unburdened his mind to Sarah, and they together have borne the suffering and responsibility, it might have brought him some relief; but he decided that this would not do; for her heart was bound up in her son, and she might hinder him. Abraham went forth on his journey, with Satan by his side to suggest unbelief and impossibility.

While walking by the side of Isaac, the patriarch could not engage in conversation as usual, for a deep sorrow was concealed in his own breast. The night approaches, the longest day Abraham ever experienced has come to a close. He saw his loved son Isaac and the servants locked in slumber, but he could not sleep. He spent the night in prayer, still hoping that some heavenly messenger would appear to tell him that it is enough, that he may return to Sarah, with Isaac unharmed.

No new light dawned upon the tortured soul of Abraham. A heavy pressure was upon him, but he staggered not at the promise. He reasoned not that his posterity, which was to be as the stars, must now come through Ishmael, for God had plainly stated that through Isaac should the promise be fulfilled. Then again was that voice ringing in his ears, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest.” That terrible command which would leave him childless can scarcely be realized. He rises early to continue his toilsome journey. Satan whispers doubts, but Abraham resists his suggestions.

Jenny @ 10:02 am
February 27, 1879 The Great Controversy Between Christ and His Angels and Satan and His Angels
Filed under: EG White Articles

                                Chapter Seven.
                               The .
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                              By Mrs. E. G. White.
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Those who honored and feared to offend , at first felt the curse but lightly, while those who turned from him and despised his felt its effects more heavily, especially in stature and nobleness of form. The descendants of were called the ; the descendants of , the . As the sons of God mingled with the sons of men, they became corrupt, and by intermarriage with them lost, through the influence of their , their peculiar, , and united with the sons of Cain in their . Many cast off the , and trampled upon his . But there were a few who did , who feared and honored their . and his family were among the few.

Sin was spreading abroad in the earth like a deadly leprosy. The world was but in its infancy in the days of Noah, yet iniquity had become so deep and wide-spread, that God repented that he had made man. Goodness and purity seemed to be almost extinct; while hatred of the law of God, emulation, envy, sedition, strife, and the most cruel oppression and violence, were corrupting the earth under its inhabitants. The thoughts and imaginations of man’s heart were evil continually.

A heavy, double curse was resting upon the earth in consequence, first, of Adam’s transgression, and, secondly, because of the murder committed by Cain; yet this did not at once change the face of nature. It was still rich and beautiful in the bounties of God’s providence. The quiet valleys and spreading plains, robed with verdure and adorned with shrubs and bright hued flowers colored by the Divine Artist, the lovely birds whose glad songs filled the groves with music, the graceful hills and winding streams, the trailing vines and stately trees, charming the eye with their beauty and supporting life with their fruit,–all seemed little less fair than Eden.

Gold and silver existed in abundance. The race of men then living was of very great stature, and possessed wonderful strength. The trees were vastly larger, and far surpassed in beauty and perfect proportions anything which mortals can now look upon. The wood of these trees was of fine grain and hard substance–in this respect more like stone. It required much more time and labor, even of that powerful race, to prepare the timber for building, than it requires in this degenerate age to prepare trees that are now growing upon the earth, even with the weaker strength which men now possess. These trees were of great durability, and would know nothing of decay for very many years. But notwithstanding the richness and beauty of the earth, when compared with its state before the curse was pronounced upon it, there was manifest evidence of certain decay.

The people used the gold, silver, precious stones, and choice wood, in building houses for themselves, each striving to excel the other. They beautified and adorned their houses and lands with the most ingenious works, and provoked God by their wicked deeds. They formed images to worship, and taught their children to regard these pieces of workmanship made with their own hands, as gods, and to worship them. They did not choose to think of God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and rendered no grateful thanks to Him who had bestowed upon them all which they possessed. They even denied the existence of the God of Heaven, and gloried in, and worshiped, the works of their own hands. They corrupted themselves with those things which God had placed upon the earth for man’s benefit. They prepared beautiful walks, overhung with fruit trees of every description, and under these majestic and lovely trees, with their wide-spread branches, which were green from the commencement of the year to its close, they placed their idols. Whole groves, because of the shelter of their branches, were dedicated to these idol gods, and made attractive as a resort for the people in their idolatrous worship.

The groves of Eden were God’s first temples, from which ascended purest worship to the Creator. The sorrowing exiles from Paradise could never forget that happy home. The waving trees and sheltering groves had for them a peculiar charm; for they reminded them of Eden and the joyful converse which they had once enjoyed with God and angels. And as they listened to the murmur of the wind among the leaves it almost seemed that they could again distinguish the sound of that voice that was heard in the garden in the cool of the day. The oak and the palm-tree, the drooping willow and the fragrant cedar, the olive and the cypress, were sacred to our first parents. Their verdant branches, spreading abroad and reaching upward to heaven, seemed to them to be praising their Creator. To Adam there was something almost human and companionable in the trees, carrying him back to many pleasing incidents of his life in Eden.

If the hearts of God’s people were softened as they should be by his grace, they would become acquainted with him, as they discern his wisdom and power in the things of his creation. Every green leaf, with its delicate veins, every opening bud and blooming flower, every lofty tree stretching upward to heaven, the earth clothed with its carpet of living green, is an expression of the love of God to man, not to lead us to worship nature, but to attract our hearts through nature up to nature’s God. The forest trees swaying in the wind, break forth into singing and praise to God, and rebuke the silence and indifference of man.

Adam had described Eden to his children and children’s children. Again and again the story was repeated, and his love for trees and flowers and groves was transmitted to his descendants. But instead of bowing down in the solemn groves to acknowledge the love of God and to worship him, they desecrated these groves by their idols. It was an abuse of the tender and sacred memories which Adam cherished–the association of the groves with the worship of the true and living God–that led the idolatrous children of Cain to build their altars and set up their images in the groves and under every green tree. And as they put God out of their hearts, their course of conduct was in accordance with their sacrilegious sacrifices and worship. The characters of men became more and more debased.

Instead of doing justice to their neighbors, they carried out their own unlawful wishes. They had a plurality of wives, which was contrary to God’s wise arrangement at the beginning. God gave to Adam one wife–showing to all who should live upon the earth, his order and law in that respect. The transgression and fall of Adam and Eve brought sin and wretchedness upon the human race, and man followed his own carnal desires, and changed God’s order. The more men multiplied wives to themselves, the more they increased in crime and unhappiness. If any one chose to take the wives, or cattle, or anything belonging to his neighbor, he did not regard justice or right, but if he could prevail over his neighbor by reason of strength, or by putting him to death, he did so, and exulted in his deeds of violence. Men loved to destroy the lives of animals. They used the flesh for food, and this increased their ferocity and violence, and caused them to look upon the blood of human beings with astonishing indifference.

God proposed to destroy by a flood that powerful, long lived race that had corrupted their ways before him. He would not suffer them to live out the days of their natural life, which would have been hundreds of years. It was only a few generations since Adam had access to that tree which was to prolong life. After his disobedience he was not suffered to eat of the tree of life and perpetuate an existence in sin. In order for man to possess an endless life he must continue to eat of the fruit of the tree of life. Deprived of this, his life would gradually wear out.

More than one hundred years before the flood, the Lord sent an angel to Noah, to make known unto him his purpose in regard to the sinful race, that his Spirit would not always strive with man, but that he would send a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy man and beast. He would not leave the race ignorant of his design; but would, through Noah, warn the world of its coming destruction, that the inhabitants might be left without excuse. Noah was to preach to the people, and also to prepare an ark as God should direct him for the saving of himself and family. Not only was he to preach, but his example in building the ark was to be a continual testimony of warning to the world, showing that he believed what he preached. His simple, childlike faith, and his implicit obedience, notwithstanding the opposition he received, was an evidence to the world of his sincerity. He was firm as a rock to duty, directing the work of that singular building, under the guidance of the Divine Architect. Every blow struck upon the ark was a witness to the people.

This period was the testing time for Noah. He knew that he was the object of popular contempt and scorn with that corrupt generation. He met with unbelief and mockery everywhere. But the greater the iniquity surrounding him, the more earnest and firm and persevering was he in his obedience, showing that there was one man in the world who would be true to God. He was a faithful and unbending witness for God, kind and courteous to all, resenting no insult. He was as one who heard not the reviling and blasphemy that greeted him on every side.

Noah was bearing to the inhabitants of the earth an important message of warning, the reception or rejection of which would decide the destiny of their souls. He believed God, he believed that he had the truth, and he moved straight forward in the path of faith and obedience, gaining strength from God daily, by communion with him. Noah was a man of prayer; and in this close connection with God he found all his courage and firmness. He preached, and warned, and entreated the people; but they would not change their course. They bought, they sold, they planted, they builded, they married and were given in marriage, they indulged in feasting and gluttony, and debased their souls, showing contempt for the message of Noah. Their speeches and actions became more vile and corrupt as the period of their probation was closing. The whole world seemed to be against Noah; but he had the testimony from God, “Thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.”

As far as human wisdom could see, the event predicted by Noah was not likely to occur. Rain had never fallen; a mist or dew had watered the earth. The brooks and rivers had safely flowed along their channels, emptying into the sea. The bodies of water had been kept in their place by God’s decree, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.” Men then talked about the fixed laws of nature, that could not be set aside to bring about any such event as Noah had foretold. They wished to believe, and to have all others believe, that God could not change the order of the natural world; thus they sought to prescribe the limits of his power, making him a slave to his own laws. The people in Noah’s day possessed sharp intellects, and they sought to show, on scientific grounds, that it was impossible for his prophecy to be fulfilled. Noah was laughed to scorn because of his warnings; he was regarded as a fanatic. Noah’s implicit trust in God annoyed while it condemned them; but they could not move this faithful reprover from his position. The Lord had given the warning, and that was enough for Noah. The arguments of the philosophers were nothing to him, when the message of God was sounding in his ears, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

Noah, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house. He had that fear which should characterize the life of every Christian. The perfect faith of Noah intensified his fear. The threatened wrath of God, which was to fall upon man and beast, and upon the earth, led him to prepare the ark. His faith, and his fear of God’s anger, produced obedience. Noah did not hesitate to obey God. He urged no excuse, that the labor of building that ark was great and expensive. He believed God, and invested in the ark all that he possessed, while the wicked world scoffed and made themselves merry at the deluded old man.

They had more opportunity for their unbelief and mockery, because God did not at once carry out his purpose. But the lapse of time did not cause the faith of Noah to waver; his trust in God was unfailing, and he accepted without a murmur the hardships and sacrifice involved. Noah’s faith, combined with action, condemned the world; for he was a faithful preacher of righteousness, rebuking, warning, and exhorting the wicked. Their reproach and abuse was sometimes almost unendurable; yet the patriarch stayed his soul on God, and called upon him for help in his great need. Through derision, insult, and mockery, he went to and fro as a man with a great mission to fulfill. Privileges had been neglected, precious souls degraded, and God insulted; and the day of retributive justice came slowly on; man’s unbelief did not hinder the event.

God gave Noah the exact dimensions of the ark, and explicit directions in regard to its construction in every particular. It was three stories high, but there were no windows in the sides, all the light being received from one in the top. The different apartments were so arranged that the window in the top gave light to all. The door was in the side. The ark was made of the cypress, or gopher wood, which would know nothing of decay for hundreds of years. It was a building of great durability, which no wisdom of man could invent. God was the designer and Noah his master-builder.

The work of completing the building was a slow process. Every piece of timber was closely fitted, and every seam covered with pitch. All that men could do was done to make the work perfect; yet, after all, it was impossible that it could of itself withstand the violence of the storm which the Lord in his fierce anger was to bring upon the earth. God alone by his miraculous power, could preserve the building upon the angry, heaving billows.

A multitude at first apparently received the warning of Noah, yet they did not fully turn to God with true repentance. There was some time given them before the flood was to come, in which they were placed upon probation– to be proved and tried. They failed to endure the trial. The prevailing degeneracy overcame them, and they finally joined others who were corrupt, in deriding and scoffing at faithful Noah. They would not leave off their sins, but continued in polygamy, and in the indulgence of their base passions.

With heart filled with sorrow that his warnings had been slighted and neglected, Noah makes, with quivering lips and trembling voice, his last appeal to the people. And while their voices are raised, in jest and scoffing, suddenly they see the beasts, the most ferocious as well as the most gentle, of their own accord coming, from mountain and forest, and marching quietly into the ark. A noise like a rushing wind is heard; and lo, birds of every description come from all directions, clouding the heavens with their numbers, and file, in perfect order, into that ark. Philosophers were appealed to in vain to explain from natural laws the singular phenomenon. Here was a mystery beyond their depth. The world looked on with wonder–some with fear, but they had become so hardened by rebellion that this most signal manifestation of God’s power had but a momentary effect upon them. For seven days these animals were coming into the ark, and Noah was arranging them in the places prepared for them.

And as the doomed race beheld the sun shining in its glory, and the earth clad in almost Eden beauty, they drove away their rising fears by boisterous merriment; and by their deeds of violence seemed to be encouraging upon themselves the visitation of the already awakened wrath of God.

Jenny @ 9:05 am