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    February 18, 1886

    “The Ostrogoths and the Visigoths. (Continued.)” The Signs of the Times 12, 7, p. 100.


    “IN the hands of a skilful politician, the most different means may be successfully applied to the same ends; and the peace of the empire, which had been forwarded by the divisions, was accomplished by the reunion, of the Gothic nation. Athanaric, who had been a patient spectator of these extraordinary events, was at length driven, by the chance of arms, from the dark recesses of the woods of Caucaland. He no longer hesitated to pass [A.D. 381, Jan. 25] the Danube; and a very considerable part of the subjects of Fritigern, who already felt the inconveniences of anarchy, were easily persuaded to acknowledge for their king a Gothic Judge, whose birth they respected, and whose abilities they had frequently experienced. But age had chilled the daring spirit of Athanaric; and, instead of leading his people to the field ofbattle and victory, he wisely listened to the fair proposal of an honorable and advantageous treaty.SITI February 18, 1886, page 100.1

    “Theodosius, who was acquainted with the merit and power of his new ally, condescended to meet him at the distance of several miles from Constantinople; and entertained him in the Imperial city, with the confidence of a friend, and the magnificence of a monarch. ‘The barbarian prince observed, with curious attention, the variety of objects which attracted his notice, and at last broke out into a sincere and passionate exclamation of wonder. I now behold (said he) what I never could believe, the glories of this stupendous capital! And as he cast his eyes around, he viewed, and he admired, the commanding situation of the city, the strength and beauty of the walls and public edifices, the capacious harbor, crowded with innumerable vessels, the perpetual concourse of distant nations, and the arms and discipline of the troops. Indeed, (continued Athanaric,) the emperor of the Romans is a god upon earth; and the presumptuous man, who dares to lift his hand against him, is guilty of his own blood.’SITI February 18, 1886, page 100.2

    The Gothic king did not long enjoy this splendid and honorable reception; and, as temperance was not the virtue of his nation, it may justly be suspected, that his mortal disease was contracted amidst the pleasures of the Imperial banquets. But the policy of Theodosius derived more solid benefit from the death, than he could have expected from the most faithful services, of his ally. The funeral of Athanaric was performed with solemn rites in the capital of the East; a stately monument was erected to his memory; and his whole army, won by the liberal courtesy, and decent grief, of Theodosius, enlisted under the standard of the Roman Empire. The submission of so great a body of the Visigoths was productive of the most salutary consequences; and the mixed influence of force, of reason, and of corruption, became every day more powerful, and more extensive. Each independent chieftain hastened to obtain a separate treaty, from the apprehension that an obstinate delay might expose him, alone and unprotected, to the revenge, or justice, of the conqueror. The general, or rather the final, capitulation of the Goths, may be dated [A.D. 382, Oct. 8] four years, one month, and twenty-five days, after the defeat and death of the emperor Valens.SITI February 18, 1886, page 100.3

    “The original treaty which fixed the settlement of the Goths, ascertained their privileges, and stipulated their obligations, would illustrate the history of Theodosius and his successors. The series of their history has imperfectly preserved the spirit and substance of this single agreement. The ravages of war and tyranny had provided many large tracts of fertile but uncultivated land for the use of those barbarians who might not disdain the practice of agriculture. A numerous colony of the Visigoths was seated in Thrace; the remains of the Ostrogoths were planted in Phrygia and Lydia; their immediate wants were supplied by a distribution of corn and cattle; and their future industry was encouraged by an exemption from tribute, during a certain term of years [A.D. 383-395]. The barbarians would have deserved to feel the cruel and perfidious policy of the Imperial court, if they had suffered themselves to be dispersed through the provinces. They required, and they obtained, the sole possession of the villages and districts assigned for their residence; they still cherished and propagated their native manners and language; asserted, in the bosom of despotism, the freedom of their domestic government; and acknowledged the sovereignty of the emperor, without submitting to the inferior jurisdiction of the laws and magistrates of Rome.SITI February 18, 1886, page 100.4

    “The hereditary chiefs of the tribes and families were still permitted to command their followers in peace and war; but the royal dignity was abolished; and the generals of the Goths were appointed and removed at the pleasure of the emperor. An army of forty thousand Goths was maintained for the perpetual service of the empire of the East; and those haughty troops, who assumed the title of Fœderati, or allies, were distinguished by their gold collars, liberal pay, and licentious privileges. Their native courage was improved by the use of arms and the knowledge of discipline; and, while the republic was guarded, or threatened, by the doubtful sword of the barbarians, the last sparks of the military flame were finally extinguished in the minds of the Romans. Theodosius had the address to persuade his allies, that the conditions of peace, which had been extorted from him by prudence and necessity, were the voluntary expressions of his sincere friendship for the Gothic nation.SITI February 18, 1886, page 100.5

    “It was generally believed, that the Goths had signed the treaty of peace with a hostile and insidious spirit; and that their chiefs had previously bound themselves, by a solemn and secret oath, never to keep faith with the Romans; to maintain the fairest show of loyalty and friendship, and to watch the favorable moment of rapine, of conquest, and of revenge. But as the minds of the Barbarians were not insensible to the power of gratitude, several of the Gothic leaders sincerely devoted themselves to the service of the empire, or, at least, of the emperor; ... And, as the impatient Goths could only be restrained by the firm and temperate character of Theodosius, the public safety seemed to depend on the life and abilities of a single man.SITI February 18, 1886, page 100.6

    “If the subjects of Rome could be ignorant of their obligations to the great Theodosius, they were too soon convinced how painfully the spirit and abilities of their deceased emperor had supported the frail and mouldering edifice of the republic. He died in the month of January; and before the end of the winter of the same year [A.D. 395] the Gothic nation was in arms. The barbarian auxiliaries erected their independent standard, and boldly avowed the hostile designs which they had long cherished in their precious minds. Their countrymen, who had been constrained by the conditions of the last treaty to a sea of tranquility and labor, deserted their arms at the first sound of the trumpet, and eagerly resumed the weapons which they had reluctantly laid down. The barriers of the Danube were thrown open; the savage warriors of Scythia issued from their forests; and the uncommon severity of the winter allowed the poet to remark, ‘that they rolled their ponderous wagons over the broad and icy back of the indignant river.’ The unhappy natives of the provinces to the south of the Danube submitted to the calamities, which, in the course of twenty years, were almost grown familiar to their imagination; and the various troops of barbarians, who gloried in the Gothic name, were irregularly spread from the woody shores of Dalmatia to the walls of Constantinople.SITI February 18, 1886, page 100.7

    “The interruption, or at least the diminution, of the subsidy which the Goths had received from the prudent liberality of Theodosius, was the specious pretense of their revolt; the affront was imbittered by their contempt for the unwarlike sons of Theodosius, and their resentment was inflamed by the weakness or treachery of the minister of Arcadius.... The Goths, instead of being impelled by the blind and headstrong passions of their chiefs, were now directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric. That renowned leader was descended from the noble race of the Balti, which yielded only to the royal dignity of the Amali; he had solicited the command of the Roman armies; and the Imperial court provoked him to demonstrate the folly of their refusal and the importance of their loss. Whatever hopes might be entertained of the conquest of Constantinople, the judicious general soon abandoned an impracticable enterprise. In the midst of a divided court and a discontented people, the Emperor Arcadius was terrified by the aspect of the Gothic arms; but the want of wisdom and valor was supplied by the strength of the city, and the fortifications, both of the sea and the land, might securely brave the impotent and random darts of the barbarians. Alaric disdained to trample any longer on the prostrate and rained countries of Thrace and Dacia, and he resolved to seek a plentiful harvest of fame and riches in a province which had hitherto escaped the ravages of war.”—Dec. and Fall, chap. 26, par. 29, vol. 32; chap. 30, par. 1.SITI February 18, 1886, page 100.8

    A. T. J.

    (To be continued.)

    “‘The Abiding Sabbath.’ The Sabbath of Redemption” The Signs of the Times 12, 7, pp. 104, 105.

    “THE Sabbath of Redemption” composes Part III. of “The Abiding Sabbath,” and in it throughout the author still diligently pursues his course of systematic self-contradiction. The first division of this part is “The Testimony of Jesus Christ” upon the subject of the Sabbath, a few sentences of which we quote. He says:—SITI February 18, 1886, page 104.1

    “As already shown, the Sabbath contained moral elements; it belonged not solely to Israel, but was sanctioned by the primitive revelation to the race, being the first article in the law of the beginning; it was a part of that sublime code which by the mouth of the Eternal himself was spoken to his chosen people from the mountain of God; its violation had been surrounded, in the Mosaic legislation and in the prophetic instructions, with penalties, and its observance with blessings, such as could hardly be attached to a simple institution of ritual. The abiding Sabbath, belonging to the moral law is therefore not repealed or canceled by Jesus, but rather confirmed with new uses, loftier meanings, and holier objects. The ceremonial Sabbath abides by the authority of the Sabbath’s Lord.”—P. 159.SITI February 18, 1886, page 104.2

    Then in speaking of the “false strictness” with which the Jews has surrounded and obscured the real intent of the Sabbath, and how Jesus swept this all away, he says:—SITI February 18, 1886, page 104.3

    “There is not in all this any hint of the abolition of the Sabbath, or release from its obligations. The words of Jesus become meaningless when they are applied to anything but the abuses and perversions of its purposes by the Rabbinical schools. Had he desired to abolish it altogether, nothing would have been easier than to do so in terms. His words are everywhere framed with the utmost care, and strictly guarded against any construction which would involve a denial of the real sacredness of the day blessed by the Creator and sanctioned by the moral law.”—P. 163.SITI February 18, 1886, page 104.4

    Now the day blessed by the Creator is the seventh day; for “God bless the seventh day” is the word of God, and “The seventh day is the Sabbath” is the declaration of God in the moral law. Therefore we submit that as Christ’s words are “strictly guarded against any construction which would involve a denial of the real sacredness of the day blessed by the Creator and sanctioned by the moral law,” then the word of Christ binds every man to the observance of the seventh day, and forever debars any application of his teaching to any other than the seventh day; for God never blessed any but the seventh day, and none other than the seventh day is sanctified, as the Sabbath, by the moral law.SITI February 18, 1886, page 104.5

    Again he says:—SITI February 18, 1886, page 104.6

    “Jesus confirms the Sabbath on its spiritual basis. ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath; therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.’ ... Thus he at once rid it of all the false restrictions of Judaism, and, establishing it upon its primitive foundations, he brought forth its higher reason in the assertion of its relation to the well-being of man. ‘The Sabbath was made for man;’ not for the Jew only, but for the whole race of mankind; not for one age alone, but for man universally, under every circumstance of time and place.”—P. 165.SITI February 18, 1886, page 104.7

    Then in another place Mr. Elliott says further:—SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.1

    “The declaration in Genesis furnishes the best commentary on the saying of Jesus: ‘The Sabbath was made for man.’”—P. 17.SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.2

    The “declaration in Genesis” is: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” We agree perfectly with Mr. Elliott that that “furnishes the best commentary on the saying of Jesus,” in Mark 2:27. It is the Lord’s own commentary on his own word; it is his own explanation of his own statement. Therefore when, by any statement in any way, Mr. Elliott or any one else attempts to bring the first day of the week into place as the Sabbath, it is simply doing violence to the word of God, and is in direct contradiction to the divine commentary.SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.3

    Now in accordance with his scheme throughout, after having, by every principle of logic, established the obligation of the seventh day as the Sabbath, he proceeds at once to contradict it all. He says:—SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.4

    “‘The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.’ This is an assertion by our Lord of his right to make such modifications in the law of the Sabbath, and give it such new adjustments as should to him seem best for the religious culture of the race. As Lord of the Sabbath, he doubtless had the power to set it entirely aside,—a power which certainly he has nowhere exercised, either by himself or through his apostles. He had the right to change its day and alter or add to its meanings,—a right which he has exercised in giving us the Lord’s day, the Christian Sabbath, and in making it a monument of redemption as well as of creation and providence. Because he is ‘Lord of the Sabbath,’ we can rightly call the Sabbath the Lord’s day, and the Lord’s day our Sabbath. That which he has asserted that he had the power to do, we have the right to assume he has done, and we have, moreover, the right to infer that the change which came over the Sabbatic institutions in the early Christian centuries was not without his will, but by his authority and in fulfillment of his purpose.”—Pp. 168, 169.SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.5

    Again:—SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.6

    “More subtly than Moses, yet as really as the lawgiver in the wilderness, he was instituting a new Sabbath.”—P. 172.SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.7

    Here are several points, upon each of which we wish to dwell for a moment. We take the last one first: “More subtly than Moses, yet as really .. he was instituting a new Sabbath.” How subtly did Moses institute a new Sabbath? Why not at all, subtly or otherwise. Moses instituted no weekly Sabbath, either new or old. God spoke the word from Heaven: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work;” as Mr. Elliott himself says, “Not by the mouth of angel or prophet came this sublimest code of morals: but the words were formed in air by the power of the Eternal himself.”—P. 117. But go back even beyond Sinai, to the Wilderness of Sin, at the falling of the manna, nor yet there was it left to Moses to mark the day that was the Sabbath, much less was it given to him to institute the Sabbath. Here, again, Mr. Elliott states the case precisely: “God himself provided the feast in the wilderness which marked for them the weekly recurrence of the holy day.... The connection of the miraculous supply of food with the seventh day was certainly calculated to strongly impress the Sabbath upon the thoughts and imaginations of the people, and thus was laid the sure foundation for the Sinaitic legislation.”—P.110.SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.8

    That seventh day which was singled out for Israel by the miracle of the manna in the wilderness of Sin, and which was so kept before them for forty years, that was the identical seventh day which the word “formed in air by the power of the Eternal himself” declared to be the Sabbath of the Lord. And that was the very seventh day which that same word declared was the one on which God rested from creation, the day which he, at creation, blessed and sanctified. That was the only weekly Sabbath that was ever known to Moses or to Israel; and with its institution Moses had nothing whatever to do, either subtly or otherwise. And when Mr. Elliott brings in Christ as, “more subtly than Moses, yet as really ... instituting a new Sabbath,” it is simply saying, as a matter of fact, that Christ really instituted no new Sabbath at all. And that is the truth.SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.9

    “That which he has asserted he had the power to do, we have the right to assume he has done,” says Mr. Elliott. Is, then, the authority of the “Christian Sabbath” to rest upon assumption? Is the first day of the week to be brought in by an inference? The day that has received “the highest and strongest sanction possible even to Deity;” the day which has been specified in the word “formed in air by the power of the Eternal himself;” the day that was pointed out by weekly miracles for forty continuous years,—that is to be supplanted by one that is brought in merely upon the assumption that what the Lord has asserted that he had the power to do, he has done! But any such assumption is wholly illegitimate. And we shall prove by Mr. Elliott’s own words that this, his assumption, is simply willful.SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.10

    “The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” Now in that declaration there is just as much of an assertion of his power to entirely set aside the Sabbath, as there is of his power to change it. Therefore, upon Mr. Elliott’s proposition, there is just as much “right to assume” that Christ abolished the Sabbath, as there is to assume that he changed it. Mr. Elliott says: “As Lord of the Sabbath, he doubtless had the power to set it entirely aside.” Therefore, if his assertion of his power to do a thing gives right to the assumption that he has done it, why is it not right to assume that he has set it entirely aside? But no; Mr. Elliott will not at all allow that. But in the very next sentence he says: “He had the right to change its day,” and, “That which he has asserted he had the power to do, we have the right to assume he has done,” therefore the inference is that whatever change has come over it, was “by his authority and in fulfillment of his purpose.” We repeat, and this Mr. Elliott’s argument allows, that in Christ’s quoted words there is just as much assertion of the power to set the Sabbath “entirely aside,” or do with it any imaginable thing, as there is to “change its day;” and Mr. Elliott’s argument is just as sound a basis for the assumption that the Sabbath has been abolished, or that any other wild scheme has been accomplished with it, as it is for his assumption that it has been changed. And when Mr. Elliott lays down this proposition, which equally allows any assumption that the imagination might frame, it depends simply upon the wishes of the individual as to what shall be assumed, and therefore the assumption is wholly willful. Christ has asserted his power to call from their graves, all the dead; by Mr. Elliott’s proposition we have the right to assume that he has done it. Christ has asserted his power to destroy death; under this novel proposition we have the right to assume that he has done it. Every body knows, however, that such assumptions would be absolutely false; but they would be no more so than is Mr. Elliott’s assumption that Christ changed the Sabbath. Mr. Elliott’s proposition is simply absurd. The fact is that we have no right to assume anything in the premises.SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.11

    “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.” Luke 17:10. No man can do more than his duty. But when we have done all that is commanded, we have but done our duty. Therefore nothing can be duty that is not commanded. No man ever yet cited a commandment of God for keeping the first day of the week; there is no such commandment. Therefore until a commandment of God can be produced which enjoins the observance of the first day of the week, there can be no duty in that direction, Mr. Elliott’s five-hundred-dollar-prize assumptions to the contrary, notwithstanding.SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.12

    Want of space forbids any further notice this week. Next week we shall notice his theory of a change of the day.SITI February 18, 1886, page 102.13

    A. T. J.

    “Notes on the International Lesson. Nehemiah’s Prayer. Nehemiah 1:1-11” The Signs of the Times 12, 7, pp. 106, 107.

    (February 28. Nehemiah 1:1-11.)

    NEHEMIAH was cupbearer to Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia who reigned (B.C. 461-425). It was in the twentieth year (B.C. 444) of Artaxerxes Longimanus, that Hanani and “certain men of Judah” came to Susa, the winter palace of the kings of Persia, and Nehemiah inquired of them “concerning the Jews that had escaped which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.” And they said, “The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.” It was now fully ninety years since the laying of the foundation of the temple, as recorded in last week’s lesson; and although the temple had been finished some time, yet the walls still remained in ruins as they had been left by Nebuchadnezzar.SITI February 18, 1886, page 106.1

    AS was learned in the lesson of last week, about 50,000 people returned to Jerusalem under the decree of Cyrus in 536 B.C. they had no sooner got the temple under way than serious opposition arose. The people who had been sent into Samaria by Sargon (2 Kings 17:24-33) and Esar-haddon (Ezra 4:2, 9, 10), kings of Assyria, and who had thus inhabited the land of Israel since the captivity of the ten tribes, came and proposed to help the Jews in building the temple. But as these were really heathen, though pretending in a manner to fear Jehovah. “Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them. Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel.” It would be an immense benefit to both the church and the world, if this spirit were found in the work of the church at the present day, instead of so many fairs, festivals, grab-bags, fish-ponds, ring-cakes, raffles, and gambling enterprises generally, by which the world is inveighed into the support of the church. True, the opposition of the world would be greater, but so would the devotion of the church.SITI February 18, 1886, page 106.2

    WHEN these people found they could have no part in the building, they employed “every possible means to hinder it. They hired accusers against them at the court of Cyrus, but to no purpose; and as soon as Cyrus was dead, and Cambyses reigned, they wrote to him “an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem” (Cambyses, B.C. 529-522, is the Ahasuerus of Ezra 4:6); but their accusation was of no avail with Cambyses, and so the work went on in spite of their opposition. But Cambyses was no sooner dead, than they renewed their efforts and wrote a letter to his successor, Smerdis (the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4:7-23); and he, being an enemy to the religion of Cyrus and Cambyses, was glad of an opportunity to oppose a work which they had favored, and so he issued a decree that the work should stop; and the Samaritans hurried up to Jerusalem, and made the Jews “cease by force and power.” The reign of Smeris only continued from the spring of B.C. 522 to the end of the year. January 1, B.C. 521. Darius Hystaspes (Ezra 4:24) came to the throne of persia, and in the beginning of his second year Haggai and Zechariah the prophets stirred up the people to carry forward the work, and the building began again.SITI February 18, 1886, page 106.3

    THE work had no sooner began again than the Samaritans renewed their opposition, and wrote a letter to Darius; but as they were different men from those who had written the other letters, they gave a very fair account of the matter, as they had received it from the Jews. They told him that the Jews claimed to be working under authority of a decree of Cyrus, and asked him to look among the records and see whether there was any such decree. Darius did so, and found the original decree; whereupon he made a decree commanding the Samaritans to not only let the Jews alone, but to give them expenses from the king’s tribute to help in building, and animals for burnt offerings and wheat, salt, wine, and oil. And so the house “was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.” Ezra 5; 6:22.SITI February 18, 1886, page 106.4

    AFTER this for sixty years we have nothing further in regard to affairs in Jerusalem. In the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, B.C. 457, he issued a decree under which Ezra led up from Babylon about 7,000 people. But though Ezra and his company went up there to help build the city and the wall (Ezra 9:9), yet the people had so intermarried with the nations around them, in taking strange wives from among them, that all Ezra’s time was occupied in reforming these things, and re-establishing and regulating the worship of God and the service of the house of God, and in bringing back the people to obedience to the word of God. And on this account the building of the wall was neglected for thirteen years longer, till the time of Nehemiah, as given in the lesson of to-day.SITI February 18, 1886, page 106.5

    NEHEMIAH received letters from Artaxerxes Longimanus to the governors beyond the Euphrates, and so departed and came to Jerusalem. But “when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.” When Nehemiah had been there three days, he arose in the night and viewed the ruins of the wall round about the city; then he called upon all the people, and said, “Come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.” “And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.” The work was apportioned among the people and the priests, and every one built over against his own house. “So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in the fifty and two days.” Nehemiah 6:15. If each one would, over against his own house, build up the wall of Christian character, the troubles in the church would all cease, and the work of God would prosper.SITI February 18, 1886, page 106.6

    NEHEMIAH remained there twelve years as governor, at his own charges; and at his table were supported “one hundred and fifty of the Jews and rulers, beside those that came to” him “from among the heathen; ... yet for all this required not I the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy upon this people.” “But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; even their servants bare rule over the people, but so did not I, because of the fear of God.” Nehemiah 5:14-15. Nehemiah is one of the most entirely unselfish men mentioned in the Bible. He sought the good of the people always, “in every thing acting always in the fear of God.”SITI February 18, 1886, page 106.7

    A. T. J.

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