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The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome

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    The Place of the Ten Divisions—The Ancient Germans—German Respect for Woman

    ALTHOUGH the “iron monarchy of Rome,” in the greatness of its strength, broke in pieces all kingdoms, yet the time was to come when it should itself be broken. At the same time that Daniel spoke of the fourth kingdom breaking in pieces and bruising all, he also said: “And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter’s clay and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken.” 1[Page 591] Daniel 2:41, 42; chap 1. par. 30, of this book.GEP 591.1

    2. We must now inquire, Of what should this division consist? Into how many parts should Rome be divided? As it is the feet and toes, and particularly the toes, of the image that are spoken of in connection with the division, it would seem that that division is suggested by the number of toes of the image; and as this was the image of a man, there were certainly ten toes. Therefore this would suggest that Rome should be divided into ten parts.GEP 591.2

    3. However, if any one should distrust this suggestion, the point is plainly stated in another part of the book. In the seventh chapter of Daniel, this same series of kingdoms is gone over again under the symbols of “four great beasts,” the fourth one of which was declared by the angel to be the fourth kingdom, which shows it to be identical with the iron—the fourth kingdom of the great image. This fourth beast had also ten horns, which exactly correspond to the ten toes of the image. Further, the angel said plainly of these ten horns that they “are ten kings” that should arise. 2[Page 591] Daniel 7:24; chap 2, par. 15, of this book. Therefore we know of a certainty that ten kingdoms were to arise upon the ruins of the Roman power.GEP 591.3

    4. Now we may ask, Where should these ten kingdoms arise? In other words, Are there any clearly defined limits within which the ten kingdoms should be expected to establish themselves?—There are.GEP 592.1

    5. From the accession of Nebuchadnezzar to the end of the world, these four kingdoms are the only ones that should ever bear universal sway. And each of these in its turn occupied territory peculiar to itself, from which it spread its power over the others. Although the four kingdoms were successive, and although each one in succession spread its power over all the territory of those that had preceded it, yet each one retained its own peculiar distinction from all the others. And this distinction is kept up throughout the book of Daniel, and is even recognized in the book of Revelation, which was written in the time of the supremacy of the fourth kingdom, in a prophecy that was not to be fulfilled till after the establishment of the ten kingdoms.GEP 592.2

    6. The fact of the matter is, these were not only the four universal empires, but they also represent the four divisions of the civilized world at that time, each one of which occupied territory peculiar to itself, and was never confounded with any of the others. Thus, Babylonia was first, and when it was overturned, it was by the united power of Media and Persia, which occupied entirely distinct territory from that of Babylonia proper. Then when the Medo-Persian power was destroyed, it was by the power of Grecia, which arose from a territory entirely distinct from that of Babylon or of Medo-Persia. So likewise, when the Grecian ascendency was destroyed, it was by a power that arose still farther to the west, entirely beyond the territory of Grecia,—in a territory entirely its own, and distinct from all the others.GEP 592.3

    7. This is all expressed in a single verse in the seventh chapter of Daniel. After the description of the four great beasts which represent these four kingdoms, he says of the fourth beast, that he beheld till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame; then he says of the others: “As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” (Margin: Chaldee, “A prolonging in life was a given them.”) 3[Page 593] Daniel 7:12, chap 2, par. 12, of this book.GEP 592.4

    8. This passage, with the point which we here make, is aptly and well illustrated by a passage from Rawlinson. Speaking of the Babylonian monarchy, he says: “Even when this monarchy met its death at the hands of Cyrus the Great, the nationality of the Chaldeans was not swept away. We find them recognized under the Persians, and even under the Parthians, as a distinct people.” 4[Page 593] “Seven Great Monarchies,” First Monarchy, chap 8, last paragraph.GEP 593.1

    9. Thus it was with each and with all,—the dominion was taken away, but the nationality remained; the ruling power was transferred, but the national life continued. It follows, therefore, that, as it was Rome that was to be divided, the division must pertain to the territory that was peculiar to the fourth kingdom, and which had not belonged to any of the three that preceded it. Where was that? We can easily learn.GEP 593.2

    (1) Media and Persia occupied the territory east of the Tigris and the Persian Gulf.GEP 593.3

    (2) Babylonia, the territory from the Tigris to the Arabian Desert.GEP 593.4

    (3) Grecia, from the Hellespont to the Adriatic Sea and northward to about the forty-fifth parallel of latitude.GEP 593.5

    (4) The territory of Rome proper occupied all west of the Danube and the Rhine to the Atlantic and the Frith of Forth; and all of the northern coast of Africa, nearly as far east as to the twentieth degree of longitude.GEP 593.6

    10. Within the boundaries thus marked lay the territory of Rome proper. It was this territory that was peculiar to the fourth kingdom. And it is within the limits drawn under (4) that we are to look for the ten divisions of the fourth kingdom—the establishment of the ten kingdoms.GEP 593.7

    11. We propose to trace the history of these ten kingdoms from their tribal relations as savages in the forests of Germany, through their devastating incursions into the rich and civilized provinces of Rome, and down to their own establishment within these provinces, and their development into civilized and influential kingdoms there. Rome, once so powerful, once so great, now through luxury and indulgence, guilt and hypocrisy, grown corrupt, effeminate, and weak, perished. We shall see the movements of the nations coming into fill up with a new and vigorous people the place that Rome was no longer worthy to fill.GEP 593.8

    12. It was “the warlike Germans who first resisted, then invaded, and at length overturned, the western monarchy of Rome.” “The most civilized nations of modern Europe issued from the woods of Germany, and in the rude institutions of those barbarians we may still distinguish the original principles of our present laws and manners.”GEP 594.1

    13. “Ancient Germany, excluding from its independent limits the province westward of the Rhine, which had submitted to the Roman yoke, extended itself over a third part of Europe. Almost the whole of modern Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Livonia, Prussia, and the greater part of Poland, were peopled by the various tribes of one great nation, whose complexion, manners, and language denoted a common origin, and preserved a striking resemblance.GEP 594.2

    14. “On the west, ancient Germany was divided by the Rhine from the Gallic, and on the south by the Danube from the Illyrian, provinces of the empire. A ridge of hills, rising from the Danube, and called the Carpathian Mountains, covered Germany on the side of Dacia, or Hungary. The eastern frontier was faintly marked by the mutual fears of the Germans and the Sarmatians, and was often confounded by the mixture of warring and confederating tribes of the two nations. In the remote darkness of the North, the ancients imperfectly descried a frozen ocean that lay beyond the Baltic Sea, and beyond the peninsula, or islands, of Scandinavia.GEP 594.3

    15. “Tacitus asserts, as a well-known fact, that the Germans, in his time [A. D. 56-135] had no cities; and that they affected to despise the works of Roman industry as places of confinement rather than of security. Their edifices were not even contiguous, or formed into regular villas; each barbarian fixed his independent dwelling on the spot to which a plain, a wood, or a stream of fresh water, had induced him to give the preference. Neither stone, nor brick, nor tiles were employed in these slight habitations. They were indeed no more than low huts of a circular figure, built of rough timber, thatched with straw, and pierced at the top to leave a free passage for the smoke.GEP 594.4

    16. “In the most inclement weather, the hardy German was satisfied with a scanty garment made of the skin of some animal. The nations who dwelt toward the north clothed themselves in furs; and the women manufactured for their own use a coarse kind of linen. The game of various sorts with which the forests of Germany were plentifully stocked, supplied its inhabitants with food and exercise. Their monstrous herds of cattle, less remarkable, indeed, for their beauty than for their utility, formed the principal object of their wealth. A small quantity of corn was the only produce exacted from the earth; the use of orchards or artificial meadows was unknown to the Germans; nor can we expect any improvements in agriculture from a people whose property every year experienced a general change by a new division of the arable lands, and who, in that strange operation, avoided disputes by suffering a great part of their territory to lie waste and without tillage.GEP 595.1

    17. “The sound that summoned the German to arms was grateful to his ear. It roused him from his uncomfortable lethargy, gave him an active pursuit, and by strong exercise of the body and violent emotions of the mind, restored him to a more lively sense of his existence. In the dull intervals of peace, these barbarians were immoderately addicted to deep gaming and excessive drinking; both of which, by different means, the one by inflaming the passions, the other by extinguishing their reason, alike relieved them from the pain of thinking. They gloried in passing whole days and nights at the table; and the blood of friends and relations often stained their numerous and drunken assemblies. Their debts of honor (for in that light they have transmitted to us those of play) they discharged with the most romantic fidelity. The desperate gamester who had staked his person and liberty on a last throw of the dice, patiently submitted to the decision of fortune, and suffered himself to be bound, chastised, and sold into remote slavery, by his weaker but more lucky antagonist.GEP 595.2

    18. “Strong beer, a liquor extracted with very little art from wheat or barley, and corrupted (as it is strongly expressed by Tacitus) into a certain semblance of wine, was sufficient for the gross purposes of German debauchery. But those who had tasted the rich wines of Italy and afterward of Gaul, sighed for that more delicious species of intoxication. They attempted not, however (as has since been executed with so much success), to naturalize the vine on the banks of the Rhine and Danube; nor did they endeavor to procure by industry the materials of an advantageous commerce. To solicit by labor what might be ravished by arms, was esteemed unworthy of the German spirit. The intemperate thirst of strong liquors often urged the barbarians to invade the provinces on which art or nature had bestowed those much-envied presents.”GEP 596.1

    19. “A general of the tribe was elected on occasions of danger; and if the danger was pressing and extensive, several tribes concurred in the choice of the same general. The bravest warrior was named to lead his countrymen into the field, by his example rather than by his commands. But this power, however limited, was still invidious. It expired with the war; and in time of peace the German tribes acknowledged not any supreme chief. Princes were, however, appointed in the general assembly, to administer justice, or rather to compose differences, in their respective districts.GEP 596.2

    20. “In the hour of danger it was shameful for the chief to be surpassed in valor by his companions; shameful for the companions not to equal the valor of their chief. To survive his fall in battle was indelible infamy. To protect his person, and to adorn his glory with the trophies of their own exploits, were the most sacred of their duties. The chiefs combated for victory, the companions for the chief.GEP 596.3

    21. “The Germans treated their women with esteem and confidence, consulted them on every occasion of importance, and fondly believed that in their breasts resided a sanctity and wisdom more than human. Some of these interpreters of fate, such as Velleda, in the Batavian War, governed, in the name of the Deity, the fiercest nations of Germany. The rest of the sex, without being adored as goddesses, were respected as the free and equal companions of soldiers, associated even by the marriage ceremony to a life of toil, of danger, and of glory. In their great invasions, the camps of the barbarians were filled with a multitude of women, who remained firm and undaunted amidst the sound of arms, the various forms of destruction, and the honorable wounds of their sons and husbands.GEP 596.4

    22. “Fainting armies of Germans have, more than once, been driven back upon the enemy by the generous despair of the women, who dreaded death much less than servitude. If the day was irrecoverably lost, they well knew how to deliver themselves and their children, with their own hands, from an insulting victor. Heroines of such a cast may claim our admiration; but they were most assuredly neither lovely nor very susceptible of love. While they affected to emulate the stern virtues of man, they must have resigned that attractive softness in which principally consist the charm and the weakness of woman. Conscious pride taught the German females to suppress every tender emotion that stood in competition with honor, and the first honor of the sex has ever been that of chastity. The sentiments and conduct of these high-spirited matrons may at once be considered as a cause, as an effect, and as a proof of the general character of the nation.GEP 597.1

    23. “Germany was divided into more than forty independent States; and, even in each State, the union of the several tribes was extremely loose and precarious. The barbarians were easily provoked; they knew not how to forgive an injury, much less an insult; their resentments were bloody and implacable. The casual disputes that so frequently happened in their tumultuous parties of hunting or drinking were sufficient to inflame the minds of whole nations; the private feud of any considerable chieftains diffused itself among their followers and allies. To chastise the insolent, or to plunder the defenseless, were alike causes of war. The most formidable States of Germany affected to encompass their territories with a wide frontier of solitude and devastation. The awful distance preserved by their neighbors attested the terror of their arms, and in some measure defended them from the danger of unexpected incursions.”GEP 597.2

    24. The general location of the tribes and nations of Germany and the East, at the close of the fourth century, was this: The right bank of the middle and upper Rhine was inhabited by the Franks and the Alemanni. The Angles dwelt in what is now southern Denmark; and the Saxons upon the lower Elbe. Eastward of the Elbe, and on the Oder, dwelt the Lombards; on the coast of the Baltic, between the Oder and the Vistula, were the Vandals, south of the Vandals, on the Vistula, were the Burgundians; east of the Vistula, toward the Baltic, were the Suevi; and over the whole country east of the Suevi, and stretching away to the river Volga, were spread the Sarmatians. In the southern country below the Sarmatians, from the Danube through the valley of the Dnieper to the coasts of the Caspian Sea, was the dominion of the Huns ruled by Rugilas.GEP 598.1

    25. “Such was the situation, and such were the manners, of the ancient Germans. Their climate, their want of learning, of arts, and of laws; their notions of honor, of gallantry, and of religion; their sense of freedom, impatience of peace, and thirst of enterprise,—all contributed to form a people of military heroes. And yet we find, that, during more than two hundred and fifty years that elapsed from the defeat of Varus [September, A. D. 9] to the reign of Decius [A. D. 249], these formidable barbarians made few considerable attempts, and not any material impression, on the luxurious and enslaved provinces of the empire. Their progress was checked by their want of arms and discipline, and their fury was diverted by the intestine divisions of ancient Germany.”—Gibbon. 5[Page 598] “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” chap 9, pars. 1-26.GEP 598.2

    26. But when we reach the last quarter of the fourth century, it seems almost as though the very elements were employed in hurling the barbarous nations in multitudes upon the doomed empire, sunken in iniquity beyond all remedy.GEP 598.3

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