Many of the brethren, after listening to Scripture evidences of my position, have admitted that from the standpoint of the scriptures, the teaching appeared sound; but invariably they would remark in substance: "Yes; but how about the testimonies?" The only answer I am able to make to this question is found in the following copy of a letter recently addressed to Sr. White:
Dear Sr. White: For some time I have been constrained to write to you regarding my convictions on the sanctuary. Many of my friends have urged me to do this, while others have thought it useless inasmuch as, in their opinion, the letter would never reach you.
Nevertheless I have decided to write, and state my difficulty frankly.
My first difficulty is with the interpretation which you give to the following scripture found in Heb. 6:19,20, "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus made an high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec."
I cannot help believing that this term "within the veil" refers to the holy of holies of the heavenly sanctuary and the scriptures which convinced me, are given below.
On one side I have placed the interpretation given this scripture by the Word of God and on the other side the interpretation which you have given it. You will note that you merely assert that this term applies to the first department of the heavenly sanctuary, but you do not refer to any scripture which uses the term and applies it to the first apartment. What I am pleading for in this letter, is, that if there be a "thus saith the Lord" to support your statement, that, out of compassion for my soul you furnish it.
"WITHIN THE VEIL"
As the Bible Interprets It.
As You Interpret It.
"And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the veil the ark of the testimony: and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.' Ex. 26:23. And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat." Lev. 16:2. "And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil." Lev. 16:12. "And he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with his blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat." Lev. 16:15. "Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest's office for everything of the altar, and within the veil." Num. 18:7.
Sr. White, you refer the terms "within the veil" to the first apartment, while the Lord applies the terms "without the veil" and "before the veil' to the first apartment, as appears from the following scriptures.
And thou shalt set the table (of shew bread) "without the veil." Ex. 26:35.
"And thou shalt command the children of Israel that they bring thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always in the tabernacle of the congregation, without the veil, which is before the testimony." Ex. 27:20,21.
"And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward without the veil." Ex. 40:22.
"And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the veil." Ex. 40:26.
"And the priest that is anointed shall take of the bullock's blood, and bring it to the tabernacle of the congregation: and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the Sanctuary." Le. 4:5, 6.
"And the priest that is anointed shall bring of the bullock's blood to the tabernacle of the congregation, and the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, even before the veil." Le. 4:17.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel that they bring thee pure olive oil beaten for light, to cause the lamps to burn continually without the veil of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation." Lev. 24:1-3.
"The ministration of the priest throughout the year in the first apartment of the sanctuary, 'within the veil' which formed the door and separated the holy place from the outer court, represents the work of ministration upon which Christ entered at His ascension. It was the work of the priest in the daily ministration to present before God the blood of the sin offering, also the incense which ascended with the prayers of Israel. So did Christ plead his blood before the Father in behalf of sinners and present before him also, with the fragrance of his own righteousness, the prayers of penitent believers. Such was the work of ministration in the first apartment of the sanctuary in Heaven.
"Thither the faith of Christ's disciples followed him as he ascended from their sight. Here (in the first apartment) their hopes centered, 'which hope we have,' said Paul, 'as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever.'" G.C. pp.420,421
Five times the Lord uses the term "within the veil" and in every case it is applied to the second apartment of the sanctuary, and not to the first.
Seven times the Lord uses the terms "without the veil,' and "before the veil," and in every instance he applies it to the first apartment or tabernacle of the congregation, and never to the court outside of the door of the tabernacle. But if "within the veil" applies to the first apartment as you teach in your interpretation of Heb. 6:19,20, then the term "without the veil" must apply to the space in the court outside the tabernacle door. Every one of these seven scriptures which plainly state that "without the veil" and "before the veil" is in the first apartment, is a divine witness to the truth that "within the veil" in Heb. 6:19,20, must apply to the second apartment.
There are therefore twelve witnesses, a twelve-fold "thus saith the Lord" testifying that the term "within the veil" refers to the holy of holies, and not to the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary as you assert.
At my secret trial four years ago, three leading brethren were chosen to answer me. (It is interesting to note in passing that two out of the three were then and are still under your condemnation inasmuch as they both teach that the "daily" of Dan. 8:13 refers to the heavenly service instead of paganism as taught by you in Early Writings.) In private conversation with me one took the position that "within the veil" meant within the sanctuary, but did not refer to either apartment. Another asserted at the trial that the term applied to the first apartment as you have interpreted it. The third, compelled by the witnesses quoted above admitted in his answer that the term "within the veil" does apply to the holy of holies, but that it is spoken prophetically, and although the scripture says Christ IS entered "within the veil" we are to understand it to mean that he WILL enter in 1844. This babel of voices did not help me to see my error, if error it be.
Before publishing my MS. I sent it to several ministers holding official positions, whose loyalty to the denomination is unquestioned, and asked them out of love for the truth and my soul, to show me from the Scriptures, where I was in error. I promised that should they do this I would never publish the MS.
Not one of these brethren attempted to show me my error from the Word. One wrote thus:
"Candor compels me to say that I can find no fault with it from a Bible standpoint. The argument seems to be unassailable."
"I have always felt that it was safer to take the interpretation placed upon the Scriptures by the Spirit of Prophecy as manifested through Sister E.G. White rather than to rely upon my own judgment or interpretation."
This last quotation expresses the attitude of all those who have admitted that my position seemed to be supported by the Scriptures, but hesitated to accept it.
Honestly, Sister White, I am afraid to act upon this suggestion; because it will place the thousands upon thousands of pages of your writings in books and periodicals between the child of God and God's Book. If this position be true, no noble Berean dare believe any truth, however clearly it may seem to be taught in the Scriptures, until he first consults your writings to see whether it harmonizes with your interpretation. This is the principle always advocated by the Roman church and voiced in the following quotation:
"Like two sacred rivers flowing from Paradise, the Bible and divine Tradition contain the Word of God. Though these two divine streams are in themselves, on account of their divine origin, of equal sacredness, and are both full of revealed truths, still of the two, TRADITION is to us more clear and safe." Catholic Belief p.54.
It was against this putting of an infallible interpreter between the man and his Bible that the Reformation waged its uncompromising war.
The Romanists robbed the individual of his Bible, denouncing the right of "private interpretation;" while the Reformation handed the Bible back to the individual while denouncing the papal dogma that demands an infallible interpreter between the child of God and his Bible.
The brethren urge me to accept your interpretation of the Scriptures as clearer and safer than what they call my interpretation. But I have not interpreted this Scripture, I have allowed the Lord to do this and have accepted his interpretation. Let me illustrate:
The first mention of the Sabbath in the New Testament is found in Matt. 12:1. It does not there tell us which day is the Sabbath, assuming that the reader knows which day is referred to, or if not, he will be able to learn from the Old Testament, which day it is. When one turns to Ex. 20:8-12 and reads, "The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord," is not that God's interpretation? Has any one the right to reply, "That is your interpretation." Surely not.
In like manner, the first and only instance where the term, "within the veil," is used in the New Testament, is found in Heb. 6:19. It is taken for granted that the reader will know to which apartment the Holy Spirit refers; but if not, the searcher can learn from the Old Testament which place is meant. Now, when I turn to the Old Testament and find that in every instance this term is applied to the holy of holies, can it honestly be charged that this is my interpretation? I have not interpreted it, but have given that honor to the Holy Oracles themselves. And now Sister White, what can I do? If I accept the testimony of the Scriptures, if I follow my conscientious convictions, I find myself under your condemnation; and you call me a wolf in sheep's clothing, and warn my brethren and the members of my family against me. But when I turn in my sorrow to the Word of the Lord, that Word reads the same, and I fear to reject God's interpretation and accept yours. Oh that I might accept both. But if I must accept but one, hadn't I better accept the Lord's? If I reject his word and accept yours, can you save me in the judgment? When side by side we stand before the great white throne; if the Master should ask me why I taught that "within the veil" was in the first apartment of the sanctuary, what shall I answer? Shall I say, "Because Sister White, who claimed to be commissioned to interpret the Scriptures for me, told me that this was the true interpretation, and that if I did not accept it and teach it I would rest under your condemnation?
Oh, Sister White, that this answer might be pleasing unto the Lord. Then would I surrender to your testimony. Then would you speak words of encouragement to me again. Then would my brethren, with whom I have held sweet counsel, no longer shun me as a leper. Then would I appear again in the great congregation, and we would weep and pray and praise together as before.
But on the other hand should the great and terrible God say to me on that day, "But disobedient servant, WHAT DID I SAY?". Oh what could I answer?
If I surrender my convictions to escape the testimonies of condemnation which you heap upon my head; if I yield the Word of God that I might again enjoy the love and fellowship of my brethren, how can I again look into the face of him who died for me? How could I again lay my Bible open upon my bed, and kneeling, plead for light upon his Word? No, no, I cannot do that. I must go on my pilgrimage alone. And while I would not put myself in the company of Him who was despised and rejected of men, the Man of sorrows, the Man of the lonely life, yet I am comforted in the thought that he knoweth my sorrow and is acquainted with my grief.
Your younger brother in Christ, A.F. BALLENGER. Tropico, Cal.