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Daniel March's

Night Scenes in the Bible.

      As of November 2005, Rea has issued a claim that he has found parallels in Ellen G. White's works with Daniel March's Night Scenes in the Bible; this can be found online at http://www.ellenwhite.org/egw89.htm. However, in making the claim he did not present any evidence to support the claim. In several cases, I was able to find some tangential material and was able to place March's material in parallel columns with the alleged chapter in Desire of Ages. Any parallels in pages 673-694 of Desire of Ages with the alleged source of March's chapter 18, were so remote, or so weak, to what Ellen G. White had, that I decided to simply present the chapter from Daniel March without going through the process of creating tables in the regular analysis. The closest marterial will be bolded.




"The Night of Temptation"

      It must have been a very hard thing for Jesus to say to his honored and beloved disciple Peter, in the presence of all the rest,and in the last tender and sorrowful meeting before his crucifixion, "This night thou shalt deny thrice." That disciple was so ardent, so honest, so unsuspecting and outspoken in his attachment to his Lord, that the words must have pierced his heart as with a sword. We seem to hear him answer with mingled grief and surprise, "Oh no, beloved Master; how canst thou say that? Have I not forsaken all to follow thee? Have I not been with thee in all thy temptations? Have I not openly declared thee to be the Son of God? Have I not seen thy glory on the Mount and thy steps on the sea and thy power over death? Hast thou not given me the name of the Rock, and chosen me to be with thee in the most private and sacred scenes of thine own life? And after all this shall I say three times over that I know thee not? Dost thou think me capable of such falsity, such fickleness,such cowardice? Is this all the confidence that my Lord can repose in

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my sincerity, in my firmness, after I have been with him so long?"

      And then again the occasion on which Jesus spoke these words must have added to the sorrowful weight with which they fell upon the disciple's heart. It was night in the upper chamber at Jerusalem where they were assembled. The Passover feast was done.1 The crowded city was calm. The song of thanksgiving that sounded in every Jewish home that night had ceased to be heard. The silence was no longer broken by the tramp of feet or the sound of voices in the street. The lights had gone out in the gardens and tents on the slopes of Olivet. The Roman sentinels on the walls paced to and fro as silently as if they had been set to guard a city of the dead.

      In that still hour, just before midnight, the voice of Jesus is heard in the upper chamber, speaking to his disciples the blessed words which have comforted millions of mourners, and which will bring peace to troubled hearts to the end of time. They are all moved with tenderness and grief as they hang upon his lips and see the look of sadness upon his face. They are still more deeply touched when he pours forth his burdened soul in prayer that they may be kept from the evil of the world--that they may be with him and behold his glory when he shall be seated upon his throne with the crown of heaven upon his head. As they listen in wondering and weeping silence to that prayer, their hearts are all bound anew

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in tender love to their Lord. Every one of them is ready to go to prison and to death with him. And when they all together break out in new and fervid expressions of love to him, he says, with unutterable sorrow in his look and tone, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night." And when Peter, ever first and foremost of the band, declares with renewed vehemence his readiness to die for his Lord, Jesus makes the still more startling and sorrowful declaration, "This night thou shalt deny me thrice." It must have been a sore surprise to the disciples to hear their Master speaking thus at such a time, when their hearts were so deeply touched, and all their affections were drawn forth in renewed an fervent devotion to him. And we do not wonder at the impulsive earnestness with which Peter again and again declared his devotion to his Lord. How could a man of his strong and impetuous feelings hear such words from the Lord whom he loved, and not feel called upon to express his love in the strongest terms. He was not blamed for making that declaration. Whatever else may be inferred from his subsequent denial, his strong professions of attachment to Jesus do not warn us not to make such professions ourselves. They should not, indeed, be made in a self-confident or presumptuous spirit. But we are urged by the highest sentiments of duty, gratitude and affection to declare our readiness to go with Christ wherever he may lead the way, and to suffer cheerfully whatever it may cost us to be faithful to

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him. Sometimes those who promise most perform least. But their failure to keep their good words is no reason for not promising. Those who promise nothing are still more apt to do nothing. A good and true man should never be afraid to say he means to do his duty. A faithful and loving heart will find some way of making its attachment known. And when the purpose to serve Christ is meekly and frankly declared, that very declaration will do much to make the life correspond to the profession.

      While we do not blame Peter for the earnestness with which he declared his devotion to his Master, we have something to learn from his failure to keep his good and commendable promise. We know how literally the sad words of Jesus were fulfilled in the conduct of his best friends that very night. An hour passed on, and the blessed Redeemer was bowed down to the earth in great agony, pouring out his mighty sorrows with groans and tears and bitter crying and bloody sweat. And his favorite disciples were so little affected with his distress that they fell asleep within hearing of his cries. 2Another hour passed, and this brave and devoted band were all scattered. Jesus, left alone, was bound and led away by a midnight mob. The stout-hearted Peter followed afar off, hiding himself under the shadow of the city walls and behind the street corners,that he might not be suspected of being a disciple. Another hour passed, and the finger of a mischievous maid was pointed at him, and it made him

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a coward. By and by he saw suspicious eyes turned upon him, he heard it whispered that he was with Jesus, and he denied it with excited and angry vehemence. And then soon came the third denial, confirmed, as men are wont to confirm falsehood, by cursing and swearing. Then followed the startling knell of the hour and the pitying look of Jesus that broke Peter's heart and sent him out into the darkness of night to weep bitterly.

      3This is a sad story to be told of a brave, generous, warm-hearted man, and yet it was written in the spirit of kindness to him and of warning to us. Of the four forms in which the story if told, the one which bears hardest upon Peter is the one which in all probability was dictated by himself. And he desired to make the record plain and full, because what he did, many others may do, and all are in danger of doing. The story was written that it might inspire in every heart the daily prayer, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Alas! how often do men go out from scenes of the most hallowed interest and the most holy aspirations and deny their Lord! How many fall asleep when they should wake and watch and pray! How many are misled by the demons of darkness when they rashly venture to wlak in the night of temptation!

      The young man goes forth from the home of his youth to enter into the great conflict of life alone. His heart is strong, his intentions good, his aspirations

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high. He goes from the quietude and the sanctity of a Christian home. He goes with the blessing of Christian parents upon his head. He goes with the solemn lessons of the sanctuary in his mind and the daily supplications of the family altar in his heart. A father's honor and a mother's love and a sister's affection and his own generous impulses concur in starting him well upon a pure and noble life. He sees the right path and he means to pursue it. His convictions and judgments and purposes are right, and everything promises a high and honorable career.

      He goes to the great city and plunges into the mighty stream where hundreds of thousands are struggling for life and it takes a strong swimmer to keep his head above the wave. He meets with some that are good and true, and with many that are bad and false. For a while he holds his own with a brave heart and strong hand. But he does not openly commit himself on the side of God and righteousness. And there he makes his first great mistake. He does not quite dare to say that he means to live by prayer and watching and Christian duty. When he is enticed to countenance or to pursue some evil course, he does not refuse without doubt or hesitancy, simply because it is something a Christian should not do--it will lead him where a Christian would not go. And it is very dangerous discovery for him, when evil men and seducers find that he can be tempted. He can be made to cringe and blush by the taunt that he is green

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and does not know the world. He can be shamed and put down by the impudent swagger of those who make a boast of sin.

      And by and by, when it is found that that once noble, earnest, well-meaning young man is lost to virtue, to character, to peace of mind, and to hope of heaven, the sad story of his fall is quickly told. He fell in the way of temptation, and he was not armed by watchfulness and a full committal of himself to God. He was jeered at by some hard and heartless man of the world; he heard his name spoken in derision by some mocking creature of frivolity and falsehood; he heard it said that it was manly to go to certain steps in wickedness, and that it was mean and slavish to be always trembling and fearing to do something wrong. And before such false and despicable boasters of evil things he let down his high standard of character. He consented to be led by those whom he distrusted and despised,and who mocked him in their hearts for yielding. He went where he could not expect to meet the pure and the good. He learned ways of life and habits of speech and modes of thought, every one of which he knew was a step toward darkness and perdition. He degraded himself in his own estimate just to catch the vile applause of the worthless, the heartless and the vulgar. He gave up the freedom, the nobleness of his manhood to be a slave to things that he despised. He became a useless, disappointed, unhappy man, not from any settled plan or

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purpose to be bad, but from the want of fixed resolution to be good. He hesitated when he was first tempted. He feared and blushed to own himself a servant of God, a believer in truth and duty, when he came in the way of scorners and triflers. When he met the sneer of teh skeptic, he did not dare to say, "I believe." When asked to join in some evil practice, he had not the courage to say, "No, never!"

      Oh it is the saddest, the most lamentable and dreaful defeat, when a frank, generous, open-hearted young man permits his high standard of duty to be pulled down and trampled upon by those who trifle with conscience, and sneer at religion and talk of immorality as if it were only a harmless pleasantry. Dear young man, keep your conscience if you lose everything else. Keep your heart pure, and God will keep you in the dark night of temptation which casts its shadow upon your path, and under the cover of which millions wander and fall to rise no more. Let it be seen and known that you can face the frowns and sneers and seductions of temptation with a look that silences the caviler and puts the worldling to shame. When asked to go where you cannot go, to do what you cannot do with a good cosncience and a pure heart, do not hesitate to look the tempter firmly in the face and say, "I love and fear the great God in heaven, and I am not going to dishonor and disobey him for the fear or favor of any man on earth. I love truth and purity, and I am not going to soil my conscience

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and poison my heart by touching things that defile. I am not going to give myself to indulgences that embitter the best hours of life and make death-beds terrible!"

      If every young man could have the faith and the fortitude to say thus, and act upon his words in the face of the hardened and practiced misleaders of the young, it would save many from premature and dishonored graves; it would save some from a wretched and hopeless old age. A single word of decision, a calm, silent look of refusal, an unfaltering self-possession in the presence of temptation, is sometimes enough to rout all the forces of the evil one and set the soul free from further solicitation. And the earlier the young man can shake off the touch of the tempter the better.

      In the dim light of memory, I see before me an old man with feeble step, tottering to his seat in the house of God on the Sabbath day. It is one of the genial days of opening spring. The fields are clothed with new beauty and the forests are musical with the voices of new life. And yet the old man is wrapped in the thick folds of his winter garments. He sits all through the service of the sanctuary with his head covered, for fear that the soft breath of June may breathe on his frame too roughly annd send the cold choill of death to freeze the fountain of life. It is strange and pitiable sight to see that aged invalid shivering benetah his thick robes on a summer's day, listening to that Word

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which invites the wanderer to return and offers rest to the weary in the heavenly Father's house.

      What is the secret source of the great sorrow which has laid heavy burdens upon that old man's shoulders and made life a sad and weary pilgrimage to him? In his young manhood he was tempted, and he had not the courage or the conscience to say, No, never! The seduction of sin came to him, as it comes to many, in brillant and fascinating forms. He was surrounded with the young, the gay and the thoughtless, who would make life a holiday of pleasure and eath a dreaded thing to be thought of as little as possible. In such company, away from the restraints and safeguards of the parental home and the family altar, the young man thought he would enjoy life and never be the worse for having seen and shared what the world calls pleasure. He did not once think of becoming a bad man. He did nothing which the gay world would call by any worse name than youthful indiscretion. The temptation which came in his path met him with music and beauty and song and mirth. He was surrounded with the refinements of taste, and the splendors of art, and the most finished and delicate fascinations of gay and giddy life. And he thought that when the brillant season was past, and he returned home, he should be able to resume his place by the parental hearth, and the jealous eye of affection would see in him nothing but the ease and innocence of former years.

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      But no. There was poison in the delirious cup of pleasure. The laws of life and health had been broken, and the unhappy youth must carry the consequences of his sin and folly to his grave. He repented fifty years in suffering and sorrow. He learned to pity the poor, uplift the cast down, to reclaim the wandering. He would gladly have surrendered all his wealth and worldly expectations to have received back again the fresh, untainted constitution of his youth. He trusted and believed that the sin of his soul was forgiven. But no repentance or forgiveness can change or annul the law of eternal providence which lays the physical consequences of transgression upon the head of the guilty. A terrible lesson was the life of that old man to warn the young against temptation, even though it should allure with the voice of angels and strew the path to the pit with the flowers of Paradise.

      One grand reason why the young are so easily deceived and led astray, is the fact that temptation addresses them with all the graces of manner and all the fascinations of beauty. They forget that ten thousands arts and efforts have been employed for ages in making the way to destruction easy and inviting. It has been the labor and study of millions of the human race, for successive generations, to increase the attractions of the broad road and to allure multitudes to walk therein. The one great engineer, who, in the beginning, cast up the highway to destruction, has been employing countless laborers ever since in keep-

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ing the road open. He has laid every human possession and every talent of the immortal mind under contribution to aid him in making the way to his own dark dominions more alluring to the deluded souls of men than the steep ascent to the kingdom of light. Poets of the loftiest genius have sung in bewitching strains to cheer the gay and gladsome company that throng the path to the pit. Romance has built its palaces of air, and peopled its imaginary world with beings created only to make wickedness beautiful; and the ardent and unsuspecting youth has been fascinated with the fallen angels of fiction, and whirled onward to the kingdom of darkness in chariots of light. The arts of painting and sculpture have toiled for centuries to make the way to perdition one long gallery of beauty, where every scene shall be followed by another more fascinating to entice the heedless gazer on, until the inexorable gates of death close behind him and forbid all return. Millions of inventive minds, millions of cunning hands, are every busy in increasing the facilities of travel on the downward way. If the pavement sinks and a pitfall yawns with destruction disclosed beneath, it is immediately covered over with flowers. If some pitying angel of light drops an obstruction in the path of some heedless soul to intercept his course, nimble hands will be tugging with fiendish zeal to take it out of the way. If those who have themselves been delivered from going down to the pit set up warnings or lift up their voices and cry aloud to alarm the heed-

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less and the headstrong, their solicitude will be turned into ridicule, and the warning against the dangers of the way will be covered over and concealed by the more glaring advertisements of its delights and attractions. On the most crowded street of the great city there is many a door over which might fitly be written, as a sign of what is done within, “Destruction made easy.” Amid the haunts of trade and the clustered homes of domestic life there is many a threshold, in crossing which the heedless youth passes the boundary which marks his destiny to glory or despair. On the one side is hope and light and heaven; on the other, darkness and despair and death. And there are eyes of light, yet baleful as those of the serpent in Paradise; there are forms of beauty arrayed like spirits of darkness in the robes of heaven; there are voices of music that allure only to destroy; and all conspiring to lend attractions to the way of death. The wealth of Mammon paves the path with gold, and proud reason demonstrates its safety, and imagination pictures the journey onward through an avenue of glories and delights, and ambition holds up glittering crowns in the distance to allure with their dangerous and dazzling splendor, and the muse celebrates the fame of those who have trodden it before in the loftiest strains of harp and song. And thus riches and power and genius and invention and pride and reason and passion are enlisted in the bad work of making the broad way easy and attractive.

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      And with so much allure in the wrong direction, let no young man wonder that he must watch and fight and pray if he would keep himself out of the way of darkness. Take heed how you carry yourself in the face of temptation. Have the courage to say no, however fascinating the form and winning the address with which you are enticed. Be sure the voice which persuades you to lower your standard of duty is not the voice of a friend. The breath that whispers a concession to the pleasant and profitable steps of sin is not blown to your ear from paradise, but from the pit. Let no one think a slight or a single deviation from the path of duty a thing of little consequence. It is the first step which fixes the long journey.

      There is a small lake upon one of the high passes of the alps, the waters of which find their way to the ocean by two different channels. One portion takes the course of the “wide and winding Rhine,” and goes forth to mingle with the stormy waves and crashing icebergs of northern seas. Another joins the blue current of the “arrowy Rhone,” and finds its way to the Mediterranean along the vine-clad hills and the sunny vale of France. One finds a home under the cold splendors of auroral light amid the freezing horrors of the Artic zone. The other blushes in the glow of Italian skies, and lingers idly around the classic shores and storied isles of Greece. So small is that mountain lake that a single flake of snow falling upon its surface and dissolving in its waters may supply a portion for

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each of the two mighty rivers. Different parts of the same drop that shot out the rays of the same crystal star in the snowflake may have a subsequent history separated from each other by ranges of the loftiest mountains and the utmost diversities of climate and the diameter of the globe.

      So there may be influences which seem fitted to crystallize the members of the same family into one symmetrical crown of beauty, and to make them a joy unto each other for ever. And yet some divergent force of temptation, some single choice or failure to choose on the part of one or another, may set them upon different tracks, and they may go on from slight beginnings to great extremes, until no one can pass the great gulf of separation that lies between them. The first step in the downward course is easy, either to be taken or avoided. But whoever takes that, will be most likely to take another, and then another, until the way of return becomes as steep and difficult to climb as the icy precipice of an Alpine mountain.

      The child, sporting upon the embankment which has been raised to keep the mighty river in its channel, may remove a pebble or a few handfuls of earth, and the trench which the thoughtless boy has made to secure a current for his toy-wheel may be worn by the water, while he has gone home to his night’s repose, deepened and widened till at length the strength of the imprisoned river is turned through the opening. And then in one irresistible deluge it rolls over the broad

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savannas, and the morning sun shines upon a wide expanse of waters, where, the day before, luxuriant harvests waved in readiness for the reaper’s hand.

      So, in the moral as well as in the material world, the mere wanton sport of a child may bring on himself and others consequences so great and terrible as to defy all calculation. A child, in the spirit of frivolity or in a pet of evil temper, may start upon a course of conduct so utterly wrong in itself and so fatal in its consequences, that in the end no hand less than Almighty can break the chain of evil habit with which he is bound. In one brief moment of passion or temptation the unguarded youth may kindle a fire in his own bosom that shall burn to the lowest hell.

      Doubtless, in the moment of temptation, it seemed a small matter to the first human transgressor to do only one act which God had forbidden-only to pluck from that tree the fruit of which was beautiful to the eye and pleasant to the taste and to be desired to make one wise. But it was not a small matter that he thus forfeited his allegiance to the great Lawgiver, and opened a fountain from which should spring a boundless ocean of guilt and woe, heaving its destructive waves over a whole race of immortal beings, and rolling the ever-accumulating flood of moral desolation down through the track of ages. And never can any one know, in the moment of temptation, the full measure of evil consequences that will flow from one wrong step. His only safeguard is to consider, without argument or

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hesitation, that no promise of profit or pleasure can be a sufficient reason for sinning against God.

      Let no one think it strange that it costs effort to be good and watchfulness to be pure in the great conflict of forces with which our life is beset. It is only by long and sore discipline and the most determined exercise of will that we become superior to temptation. The course of duty is like the path by which travelers climb the passes of Alpine mountains. It turns this way and that way. It clings to the face of the towering cliff. It hangs on the brink of the fathomless abyss. It pierces the projecting crag. It crosses the narrow ravine. It bridges the roaring torrent. It sweeps the track where the thundering avalanche rushes down. Yet all the while it climbs higher and higher. The traveler can go on only by lifting himself at every step above the sunny fields, above the dark green woods, above the storm-swept pines and firs into the clear light and the bracing mountain air. But the very process of climbing makes the youthful mountaineer joyous and strong. The torrents sing with a more gladsome voice, the hoary peaks are crowned with brighter snows, the sky is tinged with a deeper blue, the sun shines with a more glorious light, the landscape unfolds with greater magnificence, to him who has braced his nerves and quickened his pulse and expanded his bosom by weary hours of climbing to the lofty heights.

      So it is with all who climb the ascending path of

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duty and faith. Let the young man take the Divine “Excelsior” for his watchword as he goes up the toilsome steep. As he passes through dangers and difficulties, making every step of advance by effort, and gaining every victory by conflict, let him sing all the way, “Higher, higher, higher,” and he will find that the air grows purer as he ascends. By preserving toil he lifts himself completely above the range of temptations that once endangered his soul. The heavenly landscape opens with increased clearness and beauty, and he passes from height to height he catches occasional glimpses of the golden gates and the sapphire wall of the city that hath everlasting foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.

      With such a glorious career demanding his efforts and encouraging his hopes, let no young man think that he has nothing to do or time to waste. And if any one has not yet begun to live for God and heaven and eternity; if he has not yet set his feet upon the way that leads to glory and immortality, let him begin the ascent without delay, and keep climbing till he reaches the throne of the Lamb and the mansions of the blest. For the sake of everything that is highest and best in possession and in hope, do not allow yourself, dear young man-do not allow yourself to be carried away and lost in the dark night of temptation.

      ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯


      1 While this is commonly believed it would mean that Jesus, who the Passover lamb represents, died some 24 hours on the cross after the lamb was slain. The timing would also contradict John 19:31 -- "The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away."    Return to text

      2 The rest of this paragraph more closely resembles chapter 75 in The Desire of Ages and not chapter 74.    Return to text

      3 From this point on there is nothing in the remaining 19 paragraphs (out of 23 in total) which resemble anything like what Ellen G. White wrote in any chapter of The Desire of Ages.    Return to text

© David J. Conklin (December 19, 2005)