“MAKING US A NAME”
THIS caption has been used in the Review, and some have referred to it, or to the circumstance from which it is borrowed, as an illustration of the adoption of the name, Seventh-day Adventists. But if we compare the circumstances, we find them very dissimilar. In building a tower to heaven they were actuated by a desire of vain glory. They desired to be called great in the sight of all nations, and had they succeeded, their feeling no doubt would have been similar to that of the king of Babylon when he exalted himself and said, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty.” Daniel 4:30. The “name” which they desired was one of fame, taking glory to themselves. But how vastly different the motives that actuate God’s people now in taking the humble name they have chosen, which points so directly to both the Father and the Son. The word “name” does not always have the same signification; for we learn from the Scriptures that it is perfectly right to seek a name, and to be called by a name, if with true motives we choose a name that is significant of our peculiarity and gives the glory to God. Everything in nature is known by name, and the names which God has given are all significant of character or peculiarity. And, as we shall see, God has changed the names of persons to suit circumstances, hence we conclude the church may surname herself at different times as the circumstances may require, provided always, the name does not misrepresent the character, or give glory to mortals. Therefore, if in taking the name, Seventh-day Adventists, we do not sail under false colors, or exalt the creature, where is the scripture to condemn it?
To show that the object of a name in a Bible sense is not merely to distinguish from others, but that it also represents character, we now appeal to the Scriptures.
First, in reference to places. The place where Abraham offered Isaac, he called Jehovah-Jireh; i.e., “The Lord will provide.” Genesis 22:14. The place where Jacob saw the ladder, and the angels ascending and descending, was called Bethel; i.e., “The house of God.” Genesis 28:19. The place where Moses smote the rock and water came forth, he named Massah; i.e., “Temptation,” because there the people tempted God, and he called it Meribah; i.e., “Chiding, or strife,” because there the people strove against Moses.
Second, in reference to persons. Adam called his wife “woman,” because she was taken out of man. Genesis 2:23. He also called her “Eve,” because she was to be the mother of all living. Genesis 3:20. Their first-born they called Cain; i.e., “Gotten, or acquired.” Genesis 4:1. Seth signified “appointed, or put;” i.e., in the place of Abel whom Cain slew. Genesis 4:25. Noah signified “rest, or comfort.” Genesis 5:29. Ishmael signified “God shall hear” – a name given by the angel. Genesis 16:11. The Lord changed the name of Abram, to Abraham, which signified, “Father of a great multitude.” Genesis 17:5. Sarai was changed to Sarah; i.e., “Princess.” Genesis 17:15. Esau was called Edom; i.e., “Red,” because he sold his birthright for red pottage. Genesis 25:30. Jacob was said to be “rightly named,” because he was a “supplanter.” Genesis 27:36. Jacob was changed to Israel; i.e., “Prince of God, or one that prevails.” Genesis 32:28. Moses signifies “drawn out,” because he was taken out of the water. Exodus 2:10. Solomon was called by the Lord, Jedadiah; i.e., “Beloved of the Lord.” 2 Samuel 12:25. Jesus signifies “Saviour.” Matthew 1:21. Called also Emmanuel, which signifies “God with us.” Verse 23. He was also called Messias; i.e., “Anointed.” John 1:41. Our Saviour changed the name of Simon to Cephas; i.e., “Stone, or Rock.” John 1:42.
These examples are enough to show that it is right to take any name that truly signifies our character; and if right for an individual, it is right for a class of individuals. We learn also that names have been changed or added, as circumstances required. By a close examination of the Scriptures we find that God’s people have been called by nearly one hundred distinct names, at different times, and under different circumstances; for instance: “commonwealth of Israel,” “household of God,” “Israel of God,” “church of God,” “church of Christ,” “churches of the saints,” “Christians,” “green olive tree” [Jeremiah 11:16], etc.
In Isaiah 44:5, “One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” Here the Spirit was upon them and they chose names by which to be called. God had a people under the old covenant, but they were not all the time called by the same name. If they used different significant names under the old covenant, why not the same be right under the new? The church at Corinth began to say, “I am of Paul: and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas,” etc.; the same as we hear now of Lutherans, Wesleyans, etc., which of course gives glory to man, and is all right enough if they are converted to man. The apostle had two objections to those names; first, because they were not significant of their character or condition. Said he, “Were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” Why then be named after Paul? A second objection to their course was, that it tended to divide the church. “Is Christ divided?” But had the church there all chosen the same name, and that name been significant of their true character, it would have been heartily approved by the apostle.
That the name, Seventh-day Adventists, is truly representative of our faith and practice, cannot be denied. That it is modest and humble, and points to both the Father and Son, is also beyond question. Why then should it not be heartily adopted by every lover of present truth?
It is argued that “church of God” is the only right and proper name for the remnant, because we are God’s people by adoption. But God has always had an adopted people, and they have sometimes been called “Israel.” Does not the name, Seventh-day Adventists, relate to our Maker as definitely as Israel? We have always contended that God’s seal and royal name was the seventh-day Sabbath, and that in keeping it we have the Father’s name written upon our foreheads; that it was God’s memorial, and the only shield against idolatry. Instead then of this name savoring of Babylon, its adoption places an impregnable wall between us and Babylon, so long as we remain worthy of it. In taking this name we are taking long steps out of the great city of confusion. The fruit of its reception is good. It is now adopted by more than nine-tenths of the Sabbath-keepers in the United States, and wherever it is received the result is good, so far as we have heard.
This name suggests to the stranger, important truths. If he inquires why we keep the seventh day, or why we believe in the second advent, our reasons are forthcoming. If he candidly considers the evidence for the seventh day, he will acknowledge that to be right, and if he looks at the signs of the times he will acknowledge that Christ’s second advent is near at hand. When men become acquainted with our faith they are forcibly struck with the appropriateness of our name. God has not only especially directed in the choice of this name, but he has signally blessed its adoption. When we unite under this name it does not excite in us vanity and pride, but our feelings are those of humble gratitude and praise to God. The nations and churches of the world cannot gainsay the truths indicated by this name, and thus God is glorified while his people wear a name which is a standing rebuke to the beast and his image. Truly may the remnant say, “Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth.” Psalm 60:4. “We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:5, 7.
M. E. CORNELL.ARSH November 19, 1861