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    March 4, 1886

    “The Ostrogoths and the Visigoths. (Continued.)” The Signs of the Times 12, 9, p. 132.

    “THE scarcity of facts, and the uncertainty of dates, oppose our attempts to describe the circumstances of the first invasion of Italy by the arms of Alaric. His march, perhaps from Thessalonica, through the warlike and hostile country of Pannonia, as far as the foot of the Julian Alps [A.D. 400-403]; his passage of those mountains, which were strongly guarded by troops and intrenchments; the siege of Aquileia, and the conquest of the provinces of Istria and Venetia, appear to have employed a considerable time. Unless his operations were extremely cautious and slow, the length of the interval would suggest a probable suspicion, that the Gothic king retreated towards the banks of the Danube; and re-enforced his army with fresh swarms of barbarians, before he again attempted to penetrate into the heart of Italy. Since the public and important events escape the diligence of the historian, he may amuse himself with contemplating, for a moment, the influence of the arms of Alaric on the fortunes of two obscure individuals, a presbyter of Aquileia and a husbandman of Verona. The learned Rufinus, who was summoned by his enemies to appear before a Roman synod, wisely preferred the dangers of a besieged city; and the barbarians, who furiously shook the walls of Aquileia, might save him from the cruel sentence of another heretic, who, at the request of the same bishops, was severely whipped, and condemned to perpetual exile on a desert island.SITI March 4, 1886, page 132.1

    “The old man, who had passed his simple and innocent life in the neighborhood of Verona, was a stranger to the quarrels both of kings and of bishops; his pleasures, his desires, his knowledge, were confined within the little circle of his paternal farm; and a staff supported his aged steps, on the same ground where he had sported in his infancy. Yet even this humble and rustic felicity (which Claudian describes with so much truth and feeling) was still exposed to the undistinguishing rage of war. His trees, his old contemporary trees, must blaze in the conflagration of the whole country; a detachment of Gothic cavalry might sweep away his cottage and his family; and the power of Alaric could destroy this happiness, which he was not able either to taste or to bestow. ‘Fame,’ says the poet, ‘encircling with terror her gloomy wings, proclaimed the march of the barbarian army, and filled Italy with consternation;’ the apprehensions of each individual were increased in just proportion to the measure of his fortune; and the most timid, who had already embarked their valuable effects, meditated their escape to the Island of Sicily, or the African coast. The public distress was aggravated by the fears and reproaches of superstition. Every hour produced some horrid tale of strange and portentous accidents; the Pagans deplored the neglect of omens, and the interruption of sacrifices; but the Christians still derived some comfort from the powerful intercession of the saints and martyrs.SITI March 4, 1886, page 132.2

    “The emperor Honorius was distinguished, above his subjects, by the preeminence of fear, as well as of rank. The pride and luxury in which he was educated, had not allowed him to suspect, that there existed on the earth any power presumptuous enough to invade the repose of the successor of Augustus. The arts of flattery concealed the impending danger, till Alaric approached the palace of Milan. But when the sound of war had awakened the young emperor, instead of flying to arms with the spirit, or even the rashness, of his age, he eagerly listened to those timid counselors, who proposed to convey his sacred person, and his faithful attendants, to some secure and distant station in the provinces of Gaul [A.D. 403]. Stilicho alone had courage and authority to resist his disgraceful measure, which would have abandoned Rome and Italy to the barbarians; but as the troops of the palace had been lately detached to the Rhetian frontier, and as the resource of new levies was slow and precarious, the general of the West could only promise, that if the court of Milan would maintain their ground during his absence, he would soon return with an army equal to the encounter of the Gothic king.SITI March 4, 1886, page 132.3

    “Without losing a moment, (while each moment was so important to the public safety), Stilicho hastily embarked on the Larian Lake, ascended the mountains of ice and snow, amidst the severity of an Alpine winter, and suddenly repressed, by his unexpected presence, the enemy, who had disturbed the tranquillity of Rhetia. The barbarians, perhaps some tribes of the Alemanni, respected the firmness of a chief, who still assumed the language of command; and the choice which he condescended to make, of a select number of their bravest youth, was considered as a mark of his esteem and favor. The cohorts, who were delivered from the neighboring foe, diligently repaired to the Imperial standard; and Stilicho issued his orders to the most remote troops of the West, to advance, by rapid marches, to the defense of Honorius and of Italy. The fortresses of the Rhine were abandoned; and the safety of Gaul was protected only by the faith of the Germans, and the ancient terror of the Roman name. Even the legion, which had been stationed to guard the wall of Britain against the Caledonians of the North, was hastily recalled; and a numerous body of the cavalry of the Alani was persuaded to engage in the service of the emperor, who anxiously expected the return of his general. The prudence and vigor of Stilicho were conspicuous on this occasion, which revealed, at the same time, the weakness of the falling empire. The legions of Rome, which had long since languished in the gradual decay of discipline and courage, were exterminated by the Gothic and civil wars; and it was found impossible, without exhausting and exposing the provinces, to assemble an army for the defense of Italy.SITI March 4, 1886, page 132.4

    “When Stilicho seemed to abandon his sovereign in the unguarded palace of Milan, he had probably calculated the term of his absence, the distance of the enemy, and the obstacles that might retard their march. He principally depended on the rivers of Italy, the Adige, the Mincius, the Oglio, and the Addua, which, in the winter or spring, by the fall of rains, or by the melting of the snows, are commonly swelled into broad and impetuous torrents. But the season happened to be remarkably dry; and the Goths could traverse, without impediment, the wide and stony beds, whose centre was faintly marked by the course of a shallow stream. The bridge and passage of the Addua were secured by a strong detachment of the Gothic army; and as Alaric approached the walls, or rather the suburbs, of Milan, he enjoyed the proud satisfaction of seeing the emperor of the Romans fly before him. Honorius, accompanied by a feeble train of statesmen and eunuchs, hastily retreated towards the Alps, with a design of securing his person in the city of Arles, which had often been the royal residence of his predecessors.SITI March 4, 1886, page 132.5

    “But Honorius had scarcely passed the Po, before he was overtaken by the speed of the Gothic cavalry; since the urgency of the danger compelled him to seek a temporary shelter within the fortifications of Asta, a town of Liguria or Piemont, situate on the banks of the Tanarus. The siege of an obscure place, which contained so rich a prize, and seemed incapable of a long resistance, was instantly formed, and indefatigably pressed, by the king of the Goths; and the bold declaration, which the emperor might afterwards make, that his breast had never been susceptible of fear, did not probably obtain much credit, even in his own court. In the last, and almost hopeless extremity, after the barbarians had already proposed the indignity of a capitulation, the Imperial captive was suddenly relieved by the fame, the approach, and at length the presence, of the hero, whom he had so long expected. At the head of a chosen and intrepid vanguard, Stilicho swam the stream of the Addua, to gain the time which he must have lost in the attack of the bridge; the passage of the Po was an enterprise of much less hazard and difficulty; and the successful action, in which he cut his way through the Gothic camp under the walls of Asta, revived the hopes, and vindicated the honor, of Rome.SITI March 4, 1886, page 132.6

    “Instead of grasping the fruit of his victory, the barbarian was gradually invested, on every side, by the troops of the West, who successively issued through all the passes of the Alps; his quarters were straitened; his convoys were intercepted; and the vigilance of the Romans prepared to form a chain of fortifications, and to besiege the lines of the besiegers. A military council was assembled of the long-haired chiefs of the Gothic nation; of aged warriors, whose bodies were wrapped in furs, and whose stern countenances were marked with honorable wounds. They weighed the glory of persisting in their attempt against the advantage of securing their plunder; and they recommended the prudent measure of a seasonable retreat. In this important debate, Alaric displayed the spirit of the conqueror of Rome; and after he had reminded his countrymen of their achievements and of their designs, he concluded his animating speech by the solemn and positive assurance that he was resolved to find in Italy either a kingdom or a grave.”—Decline and Fall, chap. 30, par. 5, 6, 7.SITI March 4, 1886, page 132.7

    A. T. J.

    (To be concluded next week.)

    “‘The Abiding Sabbath.’ ‘Origin of the Lord’s Day’” The Signs of the Times 12, 9, pp. 136, 137.

    AFTER leading us through one hundred and eighty-six pages of fact and fiction, of truth and error, of contradiction and recontradiction of Scripture, reason, and himself, the author of “The Abiding Sabbath” has arrived at the all-important conclusion that “it is in the highest degree probable that the Lord’s day [Sunday] was instituted by the immediate authority of the apostles;” and that “by the most natural revulsion of feeling all that was lost from the seventh day was transferred to the first day of the week.” And so after all this he comes to the discussion of the “origin of the Lord’s day.” Speaking of the resurrection of Christ, thus he proceeds:—SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.1

    “The idea of completion, symbolized by the number seven and embodied in the Sabbath as the memorial of a finished creation, is transferred [by a “natural revulsion of feeling,” we suppose, of course] to the Lord’s day, the monument of a finished redemption.”—P. 189.SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.2

    If redemption had been finished when the Saviour arose from the dead, or were it even yet finished, we should question the right of Mr. Elliott, or any other man, to erect in memory of it a monument whose only foundation is a high degree of probability, and whose only rites of dedication are performed by a “natural revulsion of feeling.” How much more may we question this right, when redemption, so far from being finished at the resurrection of Christ, will not be finished till the end of the world. The disciples asked the Saviour what should be the sign of his coming and of the end of the world, and he answered, “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:25-28. These things did not “begin to come to pass,” till 1780 A.D.; for then it was that the sun was turned to darkness and the moon also. Therefore it is plain from these words of Christ, that instead of redemption being completed at the resurrection of Christ, it was not even “nigh” for 1749 years after that event.SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.3

    This is confirmed by Paul. He says: “Ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:23. Our bodies will be redeemed at the resurrection of the dead: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death” (Hosea 13:14); and the resurrection of the dead is accomplished at the second coming of the Lord. “For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. Therefore Paul, in telling of our redemption, places its accomplishment exactly where Christ places it, that is, at the second coming of the Lord, and not at his resurrection.SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.4

    Again Paul writes: “In whom [in Christ] ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” Ephesians 1:13, 14. “That Holy Spirit of promise” was not given until the day of Pentecost, forty-nine days after the resurrection of Christ; and this, says Paul, is the earnest of our inheritance until (not because of) the redemption of the purchased possession. By this Holy Spirit, says Paul, “ye are sealed until the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30. Now as the Holy Spirit was given to be with those who trust in Christ “until the redemption,” and as that Spirit was not so given till forty-nine days after the resurrection of Christ, this is proof most positive that the day of the resurrection of Christ could not possibly be made “the monument of a finished redemption.” And when Mr. Elliott, or anybody else, whether individually or by “a general consensus of the Christian church,” sets up the first day of the week as a monument of a finished redemption, it simply perverts the Scripture doctrine of redemption, and puts darkness for light, and error for truth.SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.5

    Again he says of the first day of the week:—SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.6

    It is the abiding Sabbath. It was on the first day of the week that the Saviour rose. It is remarkable that this phrase, ‘first day of the week,’ marks the only case in which any day of the week is distinguished from the rest in Scripture by its number, excepting the seventh day, or Jewish Sabbath. Eight times the term is used in the New Testament, five of the instances occurring in connection with the account of the Lord’s resurrection. Other days have no distinctive title, save only the sixth day, which is the ‘Sabbath eve,’ or ‘day of preparation.’ The first day is therefore placed in such significant relation with the seventh day as to impress upon it a meaning which cannot be disregarded.”—Pp. 189, 190.SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.7

    If the mention of the first day of the week eight times in the New Testament marks it so distinctively and impresses upon it so strong a meaning as Mr. Elliott imagines, how is it that the mention of the Sabbath fifty-nine times in the New Testament (with sole reference to the seventh day) can impress upon it no meaning whatever? It would seem that if the mention of a day would give any distinction at all to it, the day that is mentioned most would properly be entitled to the most distinction. But behold, here it is just the reverse; the day that is mentioned eight times is entitled to the distinction, while a day that is mentioned more than seven times as often is entitled to no distinction whatever!SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.8

    He remarks the “significant relations” in which the first day of the week is placed with the seventh, but in not one instance does he notice these relations. We shall do it for him; for there is a relation there which is very “significant” indeed, in view of his theory that the first day of the week is “the abiding Sabbath.”SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.9

    The first mention of the first day of the week in the New Testament is in Matthew 28:1: “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.” There is a “significant” relation between the Sabbath—the seventh day—and the first day of the week; and that which is signified by it is that the Sabbath is ended before the first day of the week begins.SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.10

    The next mention is in Mark 16:1, 2: “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.” Here also is a very significant relation between the Sabbath and the first day of the week; and the significance of it is that the Sabbath is past before the first day of the week comes. Notice, too, that these women came to the sepulcher very early in the morning the first day of the week; yet as early as it was, “the Sabbath was past.” And the significance of that is, that Mr. Elliott, or anyone else, may arise very early in the morning the first day of the week, just as early as he pleases in fact, but he will be too late for the Sabbath—he will find that the Sabbath is past; it will not “abide” on the first day of the week.SITI March 4, 1886, page 136.11

    The third mention is Luke 23:54-56; 24:1: “And that day [the day of crucifixion] was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.” In this passage, the “relations” between the Sabbath and the first day of the week are doubly significant. For here it is not only shown that the Sabbath is past before the first day of the week comes; it is not only shown that although people may arise very early in the morning the first day of the week, they will be too late for the Sabbath; but it is stated explicitly that the Sabbath that was past was “the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Therefore it is by these texts proved as absolutely as the word of God can prove anything, that Sunday, the first day of the week, the so-called Lord’s day, is not the Sabbath according to the commandment of God; and that when people rest on Sunday, the first day of the week, they do not rest “according to the commandment.” It is likewise proved that the Sabbath according to the commandment is—not a seventh part of time, nor simply one day in seven, but—the definite seventh day of the week, the day before the one on which Christ rose from the dead.SITI March 4, 1886, page 137.1

    We repeat, the relations in which are placed the seventh day and the first, in the Scripture, are indeed most “significant,“—so significant that it is utterly impossible to honestly or truthfully pass off the first day of the week as the Sabbath; and that it proves positively that the day before that upon which Christ arose from the dead, the day before the first day of the week, is the Sabbath according to the commandment of God; and that therefore the seventh day, and not the first, is “the abiding Sabbath.”SITI March 4, 1886, page 137.2

    Other supposed probabilities as to the origin of the so-called Lord’s day will be noticed next week.SITI March 4, 1886, page 137.3

    A. T. J.

    “Notes on the International Lesson. Esther’s Petition. Esther 4:10-17; 5:1-8” The Signs of the Times 12, 9, pp. 138, 139.

    (March 14.—Esther 4:10-17; 5:1-8.)

    IN the connected story of the Bible, the place of the book of Esther is between the sixth and seventh chapters of Ezra, between Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia; for the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther was Xerxes, king of Persia. “The Hebrew Ahashverosh is the natural equivalent of the old persian Khshayarsha, the true name of the monarch called by the Greeks Xerxes, as now read in his inscriptions.”—Encyc. Brit., art. Ahasuerus. His reign was from 486-465 B.C. His father, Darius Hystaspes, had left him the empire extended to its widest limit; and his reign marks the period of the greatest glory of the Persian Empire, and the beginning of its decline. In Daniel 11:2 is a prophecy spoken in the third year of Cyrus, B.C. 534, saying: “Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all; and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.”SITI March 4, 1886, page 138.1

    IT was in fulfillment of this prophecy that Xerxes invaded Greece, B.C. 480, with the largest army ever known, when, in resisting it, the three hundred Spartans under Leonidas immortalized themselves at Thermopyle. It was in preparation for this invasion of Greece, that he gathered all the princes and governors of his empire to Susa, as recorded in Esther 1:3-9. “In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him.” He called the governors and princes of the provinces to his capital to deliberate upon the invasion of Greece, and to levy the tribute and the forces that should be furnished by each province for the purpose. The royal entertainment continued six months. But it was no later than the seventh day of the feast when the king in his drunkenness commanded his chamberlains “to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to show the people and the princes her beauty.” “But the queen Vashti refused to come.” Then the king in council decided to put her away, and to publish a decree in the language of every people, “that every man should bear rule in his own house.”SITI March 4, 1886, page 138.2

    THEN in his sixth year he led his army into Greece, suffered a terrible defeat at Salamis, and at Platea, and, like Sennacherib of old, returned with shame of face into his own land. And there he for the rest of his days sought to occupy himself in the exercise of arms of a very different nature from those with which he had been occupied in the invasion of Greece. Then “he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.” It would seem that he remembered Vashti with the wish to call her to his side again; but the “decree” of the Persians and Medes had been published against her, and it was impossible to alter or reverse that; so he was compelled to do without Vashti, and seek another in her place, and the choice fell upon Esther, the adopted daughter of her cousin Mordecai. “And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.”SITI March 4, 1886, page 138.3

    SHORTLY after this, two of the king’s chamberlains had laid a plot to assassinate him, and Mordecai learned of it. He told Esther who brought it to the king; the matter was discovered; the two men were hanged, and there was a record made of the whole matter in the chronicles of the kingdom. Next Xerxes promoted Haman the Agagite to the chief place, “above all the princes that were with him.” When the king promoted him, Haman exalted himself; and when all bowed and reverenced him as he passed except Mordecai, it soon created a stir; for Mordecai “had told them that he was a Jew.” Being a Jew who feared and worshiped God, he sould neither bow nor reverence any one but God. Then Haman was “full of wrath. And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had showed him the people of Mordecai; wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom.” Haman therefore succeeded in obtaining a decree for the destruction of “a certain people” whose laws were “diverse from all people” whose laws were “diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws.” So the decree was published throughout the realm. “And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.”SITI March 4, 1886, page 138.4

    “WHEN Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; and came even before the king’s gate.” “So Esther’s maids and her chamberlains came and told it her.... And she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him; and he received it not.” Then she sent her chamberlain “to know what it was and why it was;” and Mordecai told him all about it, and sent word to her to go to the king and “make a request before him for her people.” But it was death for any one to go to the king without being called, unless the king should hold out the royal scepter; and as Esther had not been called for thirty days, it was a great risk indeed for her to go into the presence of the capricious king without being called. But Mordecai told her that if the Jews were indeed destroyed, she would not escape any more than any of the rest of the Jews. He also told her a truth in which is embodied the principle that underlies all of God’s calling and work.” If thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed; and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”SITI March 4, 1886, page 138.5

    GOD’S purposes in the affairs of men will surely be accomplished. They will be accomplished by the instrumentality of men. And when he calls anybody to his work, whether directly or by putting him in a position of responsibility or influence by which men have a right to expect of him help in crises; if that person fails, then enlargement and deliverance will arise from another place, and he will be left in the place which he was weakly chosen, and the cause of God will advance without him. We owe to God and to his cause all our influence of position, all our responsibility of place, wherever it may be; and when a crisis comes, we are, like the fair queen Esther, to show our faithfulness, trusting in God for the result. It was for just such a time as this that she was brought to that place, and now if she should fail in her responsibility, she would show herself entirely unworthy of the place. And so it is ever. God’s gifts are not for nothing. He expects them to be used for his glory, and “Them that honor me I will honor; and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed,” is his word to all. Esther nobly fulfilled her calling; she found favor in the eyes of God and the king; and by her deliverance arose for her nation and people.SITI March 4, 1886, page 138.6

    HAMAN, expecting to be honored above all by the king, pronounces the sentence of what he himself shall do in honor of Mordecai, whom he abhors; having erected a gallows upon which Mordecai shall be hanged, he himself is hanged upon it; having devoted to destruction Mordecai and his people, the evil which he intended came upon himself and upon his house.SITI March 4, 1886, page 138.7

    A. T. J.

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