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    December 24, 1885

    “The First Migrations of the Goths. (Concluded.)” The Signs of the Times 11, 49, p. 772.


    “I. THE decisive battle was fought near Naissus, a city of Dardania [Nissa, in Servia]. The legions at first gave way, oppressed by numbers, and dismayed by misfortunes. Their ruin was inevitable, had not the abilities of their emperor prepared a seasonable relief. A large detachment, rising out of the secret and difficult passes of the mountains, which, by his order, they had occupied, suddenly assailed the rear of the victorious Goths. The favorable instant was improved by the activity of Claudius. He revived the courage of his troops, restored their ranks, and pressed the barbarians on every side. Fifty thousand men are reported to have been slain in the battle of Naissus. Several large bodies of barbarians, covering their retreat with a movable fortification of wagons, retired, or rather escaped, from the field of slaughter.SITI December 24, 1885, page 772.1

    “II. We may presume that some insurmountable difficulty, the fatigue, perhaps, or the disobedience, of the conquerors, prevented Claudius from completing in one day the destruction of the Goths. The war was diffused over the province of Mesia, Thrace, and Macedonia, and its operations drawn out into a variety of marches, surprises, and tumultuary engagements, as well by sea as by land. When the Romans suffered any loss, it was commonly occasioned by their own cowardice or rashness; but the superior talents of the emperor, his perfect knowledge of the country, and his judicious choice of measures as well as officers, assured on most occasions the success of his arms. The immense booty, the fruit of so many victories, consisted for the greater part of cattle and slaves. A select body of the Gothic youth was received among the Imperial troops; the remainder was sold into servitude; and so considerable was the number of female captives, that every soldier obtained to his share two or three women. A circumstance from which we may conclude, that the invaders entertained some designs of settlement as well as of plunder; since even in a naval expedition, they were accompanied by their families.SITI December 24, 1885, page 772.2

    “III. The loss of their fleet, which was either taken or sunk, had intercepted the retreat of the Goths. A vast circle of Roman posts, distributed with skill, supported with firmness, and gradually closing towards a common centre, forced the barbarians into the most inaccessible parts of Mount Hemus, where they found a safe refuge, but a very scanty subsistence. During the course of a rigorous winter in which they were besieged by the emperor’s troops, famine and pestilence, desertion and the sword, continually diminished the imprisoned multitude. On the return of spring, nothing appeared in arms except a hardy and desperate band, the remnant of that mighty host which had embarked at the mouth of the Dniester.SITI December 24, 1885, page 772.3

    “The pestilence which swept away such numbers of the barbarians, at length proved fatal to their conqueror. After a short but glorious reign of two years, Claudius expired at Sirmium [near Murovic in S. E. Slavonia], amidst the tears and acclamations of his subjects. In his last illness, he convened the principal officers of the state and army, and in their presence recommended Aurelian, one of his generals, as the most deserving of the throne, and the best qualified to execute the great design which he himself had been permitted only to undertake.SITI December 24, 1885, page 772.4

    “The death of Claudius had revived the fainting spirit of the Goths. The troops which guarded the passes of Mount Hemus, and the banks of the Danube, had been drawn away by the apprehension of a civil war; and it seems probable that the remaining body of the Gothic and Vandalic tribes embraced the favorable opportunity, abandoned their settlements of the Ukraine, traversed the rivers, and swelled with new multitudes the destroying host of their countrymen. Their united numbers were at length encountered by Aurelian, and the bloody and doubtful conflict ended only with the approach of night. Exhausted by so many calamities, which they had mutually endured and inflicted during a twenty years’ war, the Goths and the Romans consented to a lasting and beneficial treaty. It was earnestly solicited by the barbarians, and cheerfully ratified by the legions, to whose suffrage the prudence of Aurelian referred the decision of that important question. The Gothic nation engaged to supply the armies of Rome with a body of two thousand auxiliaries, consisting entirely of cavalry, and stipulated in return an undisturbed retreat, with a regular market as far as the Danube, provided by the emperor’s care, but at their own expense.SITI December 24, 1885, page 772.5

    “The treaty was observed with such religious fidelity, that when a party of five hundred men straggled from the camp in quest of plunder, the king or general of the barbarians commanded that the guilty leader should be apprehended and shot to death with darts, as a victim devoted to the sanctity of their engagements. ^* It is, however, not unlikely, that the precaution of Aurelian, who had exacted as hostages the sons and daughters of the Gothic chiefs, contributed something to this pacific temper. The youths he trained in the exercise of arms, and near his own person: to the damsels he gave a liberal and Roman education, and by bestowing them in marriage on some of his principal officers, gradually introduced between the two nations the closest and most endearing connections. But the most important condition of peace was understood rather than expressed in the treaty. Aurelian withdrew the Roman forces from Dacia, and tacitly relinquished that great province to the Goths and Vandals.”—Dec. and Fall, chap. 11, par. 10, 11, 16.SITI December 24, 1885, page 772.6

    “The Goths, who in the time of Claudius and Aurelian had felt the weight of the Roman arms, respected the power of the empire, strength of that warlike nation was now restored by a peace of near fifty years; a new generation had arisen, who no longer remembered the misfortunes of ancient days; the Sarmatians of the Lake Meotis followed the Gothic standard either as subjects or as allies, and their united force was poured upon the countries of Illyricum. Campona, Margus, and Benonia, appear to have been the scenes of several memorable sieges and battles; and though Constantine encountered a very obstinate resistance, he prevailed at length in the contest, and the Goths were compelled to purchased an ignominious retreat, by restoring the booty and prisoners which they had taken. Nor was this advantage sufficient to satisfy the indignation of the emperor. He resolved to chastise as well as to repulse the insolent barbarians who had dared to invade the territories of Rome. At the head of his legions he passed the Danube after repairing the bridge which had been constructed by Trajan, penetrated into the strongest recesses of Dacia, and when he had inflicted a severe revenge, condescended to give peace to the suppliant Goths, on condition that, as often as they were required, they should supply his armies with a body of forty thousand soldiers.”—Id., Chap. 14, par. 35.SITI December 24, 1885, page 772.7

    The peace thus granted by Constantine to the Goths continued till A.D. 331. In the meantime the Goths, in the endeavor to extend their power to the North, were resisted by the Samaritans, and a bloody war among these barbarous nations was the result.SITI December 24, 1885, page 772.8

    “After some experience of the superior strength and numbers of their adversaries, the Sarmatians implored the protection of the Roman monarch, who beheld with pleasure the discord of the nations, but who was justly alarmed by the progress of the Gothic arms. As soon [A.D. 331] as Constantine had declared himself in favor of the weaker party, the haughty Alaric, king of the Goths, instead of expecting the attack of the legions, boldly passed the Danube, and spread terror and devastation through the province of Mesia. To oppose the inroad of this destroying host, the aged emperor took the field in person; but on this occasion either his conduct or his fortune betrayed the glory which he had acquired in so many foreign and domestic wars. He had the mortification of seeing his troops fly before an inconsiderable detachment of the barbarians who pursued them to the edge of their fortified camp, and obliged him to consult his safety by a precipitate and ignominious retreat.SITI December 24, 1885, page 772.9

    “The event of a second and more successful action [A.D. 332, April 20] retrieved the honor of the Roman name, and the powers of art and discipline prevailed, after an obstinate contest, over the efforts of irregular valor. The broken army of the Goths abandoned the field of battle, the wasted province into the mountains, where, in the course of a severe campaign, above one hundred thousand were computed to have perished by cold and hunger. Peace was at length granted to their humble supplications; the elders son of Alaric was accepted as the most valuable hostage; and Constantine endeavored to convince their chiefs, by a liberal distribution of honors and rewards, how far the friendship of the Romans was preferable to their enmity.”—Id., chap. 18, par. 13, 14.SITI December 24, 1885, page 772.10

    A. T. J.

    “Notes on the International Lesson. 2 Kings 22:1-13. Josiah and the Book of the Law” The Signs of the Times 11, 49, p. 774.
    JANUARY 3. 2 Kings 22:1-13

    IN this lesson we return to the kings of Judah. After the good king Hezekiah died, his son Manasseh reigned. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel. For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them.... And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards; he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.... And Manasseh seduced them [the children of Judah] to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel.... Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.” 2 Kings 21:2, 3, 6, 9, 16.SITI December 24, 1885, page 774.1

    THEN because of all this great evil, the Lord said by his prophets: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab; and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.” Verses 12, 13. “And the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people; but they would not hearken. Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria [Esarhaddon], which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.” 2 Chronicles 33:10, 11. He was released, however, after a while, and at his death his son Amon reigned. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh did.... And the servants of Amon conspired against him, and slew the king in his own house. And the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.” 2 Kings 21:20, 23, 24.SITI December 24, 1885, page 774.2

    THUS it was that young Josiah—only eight years of age—came to the throne. And he found the land full of iniquity and abominable idolatry; altars reared to Baal; images of Ashtoreth in the high places; places of worship for horrid Moloch; horses and chariots dedicated to the sun; priests of Baal, and of all the idols, burning incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the planets, and to all the host of heaven; the house of God shut up; the worship of the Lord forsaken, and the book of the law forgotten,—this had been the condition of affairs for nearly fifty years. In the eighth year of his reign he began actively the work of reformation—to break down the altars; to break in pieces the images; and to burn the chariots of the sun. Thus he did throughout all Judah. “And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mauls round about.” 2 Chronicles 34:3-6. While these things were going on, the Levites were at the same time gathering money from all the people, “of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem. And they put it in the hand of the workmen that had the oversight of the house of the Lord, and they gave it to the workmen that wrought in the house of the Lord, to repair and amend the house.”SITI December 24, 1885, page 774.3

    “AND it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying, Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people.” “And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again.... And Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying, Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.”SITI December 24, 1885, page 774.4

    THESE messengers went immediately to Huldah the prophetess, who “dwelt in Jerusalem in the college,” and when Josiah received the answer from the Lord, he gathered all the people together, “small and great,” and “read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.” And the king made a covenant before the Lord, to keep his commandments, with all their heart and with all their soul. And all the people stood to the covenant. 2 Kings 23:2, 3. “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.” 2 Kings 23:25.SITI December 24, 1885, page 774.5

    JOSIAH did a grand work, and it is a grand commendation of the Lord that he received because of it. But this was not written for his sake alone. Those who tremble at the word of the Lord, and turn from their transgressions, as did King Josiah, the Lord will accept and commend as readily as he did him. This reformation by Josiah is only an illustration of the power of the word of God. When Luther found a Bible chained in the library of his monastery, its precious word touched his heart, and by it caused a revolution in all Europe. When Wesley began to obey that word “with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might,” the power of the word could not be kept back, but it fairly turned England and America “upside down.” So it will be ever. Only let a few men, or even a solitary man, walk in the way of the commandments of God, with all their heart, and with all their soul, and with all their might, and they can move nations. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”SITI December 24, 1885, page 774.6

    THE work of reformation is not yet done. The noble duty of covenanting to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments, did not cease with this act of Josiah, nor with Luther, nor with Wesley. Even now the Lord sends a message to all people, saying with a loud voice, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Even now iniquity and idolatry, prevail as really as in the days of Josiah, Luther, or Wesley. And now it is the duty of those who fear God to covenant to talk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and testimonies and his statutes, with all their heart, and with all their soul, and with all their might, to perform the words of this covenant that are written in the book.SITI December 24, 1885, page 774.7

    AS IT was in the days of Josiah, that the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth and the honor of the sun, had supplanted the worship and honor of Jehovah, even so now the worship of the beast (the papacy), and his image (the so-called National Reform), and the honor of the “venerable day of the sun” are fast supplanting the worship and honor of Jehovah. Even now, as of old, the Lord cries out, “If I be a Father, where is mine honor? if I be a Master, where is my fear?” Malachi 1:6. Men who make their boast of the law, through breaking the law are dishonoring God. “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?” Romans 2:23. “I If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.” Isaiah 58:13. “Them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” 1 Samuel 2:30.SITI December 24, 1885, page 774.8

    A. T. J.

    “The Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul Subversive of the Truth.—No. 4” The Signs of the Times 11, 49, pp. 778, 779.

    GOD created man upon the earth, and gave him dominion over all upon it. He made him, not as the angels, but lower than they—inferior to the angels. Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7, margin. God made man upright, but through the deception of Satan he turned to crooked ways—he sinned. And although God had put all things in subjection under him, and “left nothing” that was not “put under him,” yet now, says Paul, we see not all things put under him. Hebrews 2:8. Through sin he has been deprived of his glory, and honor, and dominion, which God gave him, and which the Lord intended that he should forever enjoy. This sin was brought upon him by Satan, and, hard upon sin, death followed.SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.1

    But when man had thus sold himself under sin, God gave by promise, and in the “fullness of time” he gave in fact, his only begotten Son, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” When man had so sold himself under sin, under the curse, God gave his dear Son to redeem him from sin, from the curse, and from all condemnation. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Galatians 3:13. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:3, 4.SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.2

    To put away sin and plant righteousness in its stead, is the mission of Christ to this world. That he might accomplish this, he had to make the awful sacrifice of himself, the Creator of the universe. “Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26. By the greatness of the sacrifice we may judge of the enormity of sin, and how abhorrent it is in the sight of God, and also how widely contrary it is to every principle of the government of the King of Eternity. To deliver man from its thralldom he spared not his own Son. Rather than to see the blight and stain of sin upon the fair face of his universe, God gave up the “Son of his love” to die the cruel death of the accursed tree. John says: “He that committed sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8. The work of the devil is sin; for he says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” Therefore when it is said that the Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, it is simply expressing, in other words, that which we quoted from Paul, that Christ appeared to put away sin.SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.3

    As therefore Christ’s mission is to destroy the works of the devil—to put away sin—it follows that as long as there is a vestige of sin remaining, his mission is not accomplished. Whatever therefore tends to perpetuate sin, tends just so far to delay the accomplishment of the mission of Christ. And if by any means sin were made eternal, the inevitable result would be to nullify and subvert the mission of Christ. Now that is exactly what is done by the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul. The very meaning of the word immortal being “not subject to death,” it follows that if the soul be immortal, it must live eternally, whatever its condition may be; and from this again it follows that when the awful sentence is pronounced, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still,” whatsoever soul it be that shall then be unjust must live so to all eternity; which is simply to make sin eternal, and so to subvert the mission of Christ.SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.4

    That sin is to be eternal is strenuously maintained by those who believe that the soul is immortal. This is shown positively in the doctrine of the eternal torment of the wicked. In fact, the belief in the eternal torment of the wicked is simply the necessary consequence of the belief in the immortality of the soul. We know, for the word of God says it, that the wicked will be punished. We know likewise, by the same authority, that they will be punished as long as they live (aion—a life-time). Now if they live eternally, it is evident that they will be in pain eternally. But the word of God says just as plainly that the wicked shall die, as it says anything at all about them. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4. That word tells us of a time when, “Every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them,” shall be heard saying, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.” Revelation 5:13. This scripture can never be fulfilled if the doctrine of eternal suffering be true, or, in other words, if the doctrine of immortality of the soul be true. Again, we read of a time when “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4. If the doctrine of eternal suffering be the truth, it is literally impossible that there can ever come a time when there shall be “no more pain.”SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.5

    But there stands that faithful word, that there is coming a time when there shall be no more pain; there is coming a time when every voice in the universe will ascribe “Honor, and glory, and power,” “unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.” This is the truth of God; he has given his only begotten Son that it might be accomplished; and we have seen that the mission of the Son is declared to be “to put away sin,” to “destroy the works of the devil.” And the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, in making sin eternal, and in immortalizing the works of the devil, frustrates the purpose of God and subverts the mission of Christ.SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.6

    Once more: The doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul makes the body only worthless clay, formed into a prison that binds, and fetters, and clogs the free action of the soul; while death is the friendly messenger that bursts the prison bars, and sets free the aspiring soul to seek its native sphere. One of the most influential of American preachers said lately, of one who had died, that that person was living, and more thoroughly living, to-day than any of us who are clogged and hampered and chained down by earthly impediment.” This is simply the expression of the common belief of those who hold to the idea that the soul is immortal. Embodied in metre so that it can be sung, it runs on this wise:—SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.7

    “Why should we start and fear to die?SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.8

    What timorous worms we mortals are!SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.9

    Death is the gate to endless joy;SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.10

    And yet we dread to enter there.”SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.11

    Now we read in the word of God, as follows: “O death, I will be thy plagues.” Hosea 13:14. And again we read that “death” “shall be destroyed.” 1 Corinthians 15:26. Can it be that God is going to visit with plagues, and destroy, the gate to endless joy? Is he so displeased to have his creatures entering into endless joy that he is determined to destroy the very means by which they enter that blissful state? If the words of this preacher and the language of this hymn, and the doctrine upon which these are founded, be the truth, then the Lord is going to do just the thing that is here pointed out, that is, he is going to visit with plagues, and destroy, the gate to endless joy.SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.12

    But this is not all. We read further of Christ: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Hebrews 2:14. Granting the claim that death is the gate to endless joy, then from this scripture it follows just as absolutely as logic can demonstrate, that the devil, having the power of death, is the gate-keeper. And so the Lord is not only going to destroy this “gate to endless joy,” but he is going to destroy him that keeps it. Nor yet is this all. Granting not only the claim, based upon the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, that death is the gate to endless joy, but also that the soul is clogged, and hampered, and imprisoned by its confinement in the body, and that it is released by death, it follows that if there had never been any death in the world no soul could have ever been set free, and there never would have been any gate to endless joy. And as it was the devil who brought death into the world, therefore, under that doctrine, to him must be accorded the honor of setting men free from this world, and of creating and opening to men the gate of endless joy. But this is the very thing that Christ says that he himself came to do. He says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” John 14:6. “I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” John 10:9. Therefore when the doctrine of the immortality of the soul makes death the gate to endless joy, and the friendly messenger that releases men from this world, it supplants the Saviour of the world, and bestows upon Satan the honor that is due to Christ.SITI December 24, 1885, page 778.13

    And by all this, we lay against the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul the legitimate and logical charge that it frustrates the purpose of God, that it nullifies the mission of Christ, and that it supplants the Saviour of the world. And if anything more is needed to show that between that doctrine and the truth of God, there is a difference wide as eternity, we promise to present it in our next issue.SITI December 24, 1885, page 779.1

    A. T. J.

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