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    November 26, 1885

    “Ancient Germany” The Signs of the Times 11, 45, pp. 708, 709.

    HAVING defined and briefly sketched the country that is to be divided, it will now be necessary to describe ancient Germany, the country whence are to come the nations that shall make the division. Having found that ten kingdoms are to be established here, it will be proper to study for a little while the primitive condition of the people that is to form these kingdoms. Here, again, we shall need to simply transcribe portions of Gibbon’s history:—SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.1

    “We shall occasionally mention the Scythian or Sarmatian tribes, which, with their arms and horses, their flocks and herds, their wives and families, wandered over the immense plains which spread themselves from the Caspian Sea to the Vistula, from the confines of Persia to those of Germany. But the warlike Germans, who first resisted, then invaded, and at length overturned the Western monarchy of Rome, will occupy a much more important place in this history, and possess a stronger, and, if we may use the expression, a more domestic, claim to our attention and regard. 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.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.2

    “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. 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.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.3

    “Some ingenious writers have suspected that Europe was much colder formerly than it is at present; and the most ancient descriptions of the climate of Germany tend exceedingly to confirm their theory. The general complaints of intense frost and eternal winter, are perhaps little to be regarded, since we have no method of reducing to the accurate standard of the thermometer, the feelings, or the expressions, of an orator born in the happier regions of Greece or Asia. But I shall select two remarkable circumstances of a less equivocal nature.SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.4

    “1. The great rivers which covered the Roman provinces, the Rhine and the Danube, were frequently frozen over, and capable of supporting the most enormous weights. The barbarians, who often chose that severe season for their inroads, transported, without apprehension or danger, their numerous armies, their cavalry, and their heavy wagons, over a vast and solid bridge of ice. Modern ages have not presented an instance of a like phenomenon.SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.5

    “2. The reindeer, that useful animal, from whom the savage of the North derives the best comforts of his dreary life, is of a constitution that supports, and even requires, the most intense cold. He is found on the rock of Spitzbergen, within ten degrees of the Pole; he seems to delight in the snows of Lapland and Siberia; but at present he cannot subsist, much less multiply, in any country to the south of the Baltic. In the time of Cesar the reindeer, as well as the elk and the wild bull, was a native of the Hercynian forest, which then overshadowed a great part of Germany and Poland.SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.6

    The modern improvements sufficiently explain the causes of the diminution of the cold. These immense woods have been gradually cleared, which intercepted from the earth the rays of the sun. The morasses have been drained, and, in proportion as the soil has been cultivated, the air has become more temperate. Canada, at this day [1775 A.D.], is an exact picture of ancient Germany. Although situated in the same parallel with the finest provinces of France and England, that country experiences the most rigorous cold. The reindeer are very numerous, the ground is covered with deep and lasting snow, and the great river of St. Lawrence is regularly frozen, in a season when the waters of the Seine and the Thames are usually free from ice.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.7

    “When Tacitus considered the purity of the German blood, and the forbidding aspect of the country, he was disposed to pronounce those barbarians Indigenœ, or natives of the soil. We may allow with safety, and perhaps with truth, that ancient Germany was not originally peopled by any foreign colonies already formed into a political society; but that the name and nation received their existence from the gradual union of some wandering savages of the Hercynian woods. To assert those savages to have been the spontaneous production of the earth which they inhabited would be a rash inference, condemned by religion, and unwarranted by reason.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.8

    “Modern Germany is said to contain about two thousand three hundred walled towns. In a much wider extent of country, the geographer Ptolemy could discover no more than ninety places which he decorates with the name of cities; though, according to our ideas, they would but ill deserve that splendid title. We can only suppose them to have been rude fortifications, constructed in the centre of the woods, and designed to secure the women, children, and cattle, whilst the warriors of the tribe marched out to repel a sudden invasion. But 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.SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.9

    “In the most inclement winter, the hardy German was satisfied with a scanty garment made of the skin of some animal. The nations who dwelt towards 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 prosperity 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.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.10

    “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 their passions, the other by extinguishing their reason, alike relieved them from the pain of thinking. They gloried in passing whole days and nights at 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.SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.11

    “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 afterwards 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.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.12

    “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.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.13

    “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.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.14

    “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 the 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.SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.15

    “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. Whilst they affected to emulate the stern virtues of man, they must have resigned that attractive softness, in which principally consist the charm and 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.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 708.16

    “The religious system of the Germans (if the wild opinions of savages can deserve that name) was dictated by their wants, their fears, and their ignorance. They adored the great visible objects and agents of nature—the Sun and the Moon, the Fire and the earth—together with those imaginary deities, who were supposed to preside over the most important occupations of human life. They were persuaded, that, by some ridiculous arts of divination, they could discover the will of the superior beings, and that human sacrifices were the most precious and acceptable offering to their altars.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 709.1

    “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 feuds 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.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 709.2

    “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 [249 A.D.], 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.”—Dec. and Fall, chap. 9, par. 1-3, 5, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 19, 20, 26, 24.SITI November 26, 1885, page 709.3

    But when we reach the time of the reign of Decius, it seems almost as though the very elements were employed in hurling the barbarous nations in multitudes upon the already rapidly failing empire.SITI November 26, 1885, page 709.4

    A. T. J.

    “Notes on the International Lesson. Isaiah 1:1-18. The Sinful Nation” The Signs of the Times 11, 45, pp. 711, 718.
    DECEMBER 6. Isaiah 1:1-18

    ISAIAH means “Salvation of Jehovah,” and he has been called the “evangelical prophet.” He wrote more about Christ and the Christian dispensation than did any other prophet. He prophesied in “the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.” If he began to prophesy in the last year of Ussiah, about 758, and continued to the end of Hezekiah’s reign, about 698, this would give sixty years of service as a prophet. We do not certainly know that he lived throughout the reign of Hezekiah, but we know that he lived through the most of it, so that he prophesied, at the very least, nearly sixty years. It would thus appear that he was quite young when he was chosen of God to prophesy.SITI November 26, 1885, page 711.1

    IT would seem from Isaiah 6:7 that it was in the year that Uzziah died that he began to prophesy; for there he records a vision of “the Lord, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,” and he exclaims, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew unto him, “having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar; and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I, send me.” This must have been Isaiah’s first vision, and the time when he was chosen to the prophetic work; for it was at this time that his sins were forgiven. And when he first sees the Lord, he exclaims, as we have read, “Woe is me! for I am undone.” But when the seraph has touched his lips with the hallowed fire, and told him his sin is cleansed, his iniquity taken away, then he is ready to be a messenger of the Lord; and as soon as he hears the voice asking who shall be sent, he cries, “Here am I; send me. And he said, Go.” Thus the Lord would have no one go to speak for him, nor in his name, till his iniquity has been taken away and his sin purged. Then, and not till then, can we bear the message of the Lord.SITI November 26, 1885, page 711.2

    IN this very first vision he spoke of Christ, and of the people in the day when Christ was upon the earth. John tells us so. In recording the words and works of the Saviour, he says, “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him.” And these very ones who did not believe on Christ, in them was fulfilled the very saying of Isaiah as recorded in Isaiah 6:9, 10. Compare John 12:38-41 and Isaiah 6:1-13. Then says John, “These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory and spake of him.” We see also by this that in the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah not only spake of this people, but he also spoke of Christ, and he then saw Christ. That majestic one whom Isaiah saw sitting upon that throne high and lifted up; that one whose train filled the temple in Heaven; that one in the presence of whose glory the bright seraphim shaded their faces; that one of whom these seraphim said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory,“—that was Christ our Lord and Saviour. That was He who speaks in righteousness, He who is indeed “mighty to save.”SITI November 26, 1885, page 711.3

    WE have no prophecy which Isaiah refers definitely to the reign of Jotham, nor any message sent directly to Jotham as there is to Ahaz and Hezekiah. In chapters 7, 8, and 9 are prophecies in the reign of Ahaz. Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, had formed a confederacy to take Jerusalem and Judah, and kill Ahaz and make the son of Tabeal, a creature of their own, king in Jerusalem. But the Lord sent a word to Ahaz and his people, “Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.” And in that message to Ahaz and his people Isaiah uttered his prophecy of Immanuel, “which is, being interpreted, God with us.” See Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23. At the same time he prophesied of that child which should be called, “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6, 7; Luke 1:32, 33; and at the same time he prophesied of the second coming of the Saviour, the reform on the law of God, and the working of Spiritualism just before Christ comes in his glory. Isaiah 8:16-21; 2 Thessalonians 2:9. And in the lesson for to-day, his word is a prophecy which Paul applied to the people in his day. See Isaiah 1:9, with Romans 9:29; 11:5.SITI November 26, 1885, page 711.4

    THESE are but a few instances in illustration of Peter’s word about the prophets: “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” 1 Peter 1:12. In reading the prophets, we are always to bear in mind that they have written many things to us, as well as some things to those of their own day. And when, in to-day’s lesson, we read, “Ah, sinful nation,” he means the people of to-day—not the people who make no profession of his name, but the people upon whom his name is called. To those of to-day, he says, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” To what purpose are sacrifices, and offerings, and the calling of assemblies, when the law of God is despised and rejected? So in another place this same prophet says: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God.” Isaiah 58:1-14. To what purpose are fastings and prayers, when the ordinance of God is forsaken? “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” Proverbs 28:9.SITI November 26, 1885, page 711.5

    THEREFORE, to-day he says to the people of to-day: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless,SITI November 26, 1885, page 711.6

    (Continued on page 718.)

    (Continued from page 711.)

    plead for the widow.” “Turn yourselves and live ye.” Hearken to the word of God and obey. Jesus said to his disciples, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” John 15:3. Paul says that, “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27. Peter says: “Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.” 1 Peter 1:22. The only way in which to “learn to do well,” is by strict obedience to the word of God, through the Spirit.SITI November 26, 1885, page 718.1

    And the only way to obtain the Holy Spirit is by confession, and the forsaking of sin. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall find mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Romans 3:24, 25.SITI November 26, 1885, page 718.2

    “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Christ is “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22.SITI November 26, 1885, page 718.3

    A. T. J.

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