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    March 11, 1886

    “The Ostrogoths and the Visigoths. (Concluded.)” The Signs of the Times 12, 10, p. 148.


    “THE loose discipline of the barbarians always exposed them to the danger of a surprise; but, instead of choosing the dissolute hours of riot and intemperance, Stilicho resolved to attack the Christian Goths, whilst they were devoutly employed in celebrating the festival of Easter. The execution of the stratagem, or, as it was termed by the clergy of the sacrilege, was intrusted to Saul, a barbarian and a Pagan, who had served, however, with distinguished reputation among the veteran generals of Theodosius. The camp of the Goths [A.D. 403, March 29], which Alaric had pitched in the neighborhood of Pollentia, was thrown into confusion by the sudden and impetuous charge of the Imperial cavalry; but, in a few moments, the undaunted genius of their leader gave them an order, and a field of battle; and, as soon as they had recovered from their astonishment, the pious confidence, that the God of the Christians would assert their cause, added new strength to their native valor. In this engagement, which was long maintained with equal courage and success, the chief of the Alani, whose diminutive and savage form concealed a magnanimous soul approved his suspected loyalty, by the zeal with which he fought, and fell, in the service of the republic; and the fame of this gallant barbarian has been imperfectly preserved in the verses of Claudian, since the poet, who celebrates his virtue, has omitted the mention of his name. His death was followed by the flight and dismay of the squadrons which he commanded; and the defeat of the wing of cavalry might have decided the victory of Alaric, if Stilicho had not immediately led the Roman and barbarian infantry to the attack.SITI March 11, 1886, page 148.1

    “The skill of the general, and the bravery of the soldiers, surmounted every obstacle. In the evening of the bloody day, the Goths retreated from the field of battle; the intrenchments of their camp were forced, and the scene of rapine and slaughter made some atonement for the calamities which they had inflicted on the subjects of the empire. The magnificent spoils of Corinth and Argos enriched the veterans of the West; the captive wife of Alaric, who had impatiently claimed his promise of Roman jewels and Patrician handmaids, was reduced to implore the mercy of the insulting foe; and many thousand prisoners, released from the Gothic chains, dispersed through the provinces of Italy the praises of their heroic deliverer. The triumph of Stilicho was compared by the poet, and perhaps by the public, to that of Marius; who, in the same part of Italy, had encountered and destroyed another army of Northern barbarians.The huge bones, and the empty helmets, of the Cimbri and of the Goths, would easily be confounded by succeeding generations; and posterity might erect a common trophy to the memory of the two most illustrious generals, who had vanquished, on the same memorable ground, the two most formidable enemies of Rome.SITI March 11, 1886, page 148.2

    “The eloquence of Claudian has celebrated, with lavish applause, the victory of Pollentia, one of the most glorious days in the life of his patron; but his reluctant and partial muse bestows more genuine praise on the character of the Gothic king. His name is, indeed, branded with the reproachful epithets of pirate and robber, to which the conquerors of every age are so justly entitled; but the poet of Stilicho is compelled to acknowledge that Alaric possessed the invincible temper of mind, which rises superior to every misfortune, and derives new resources from adversity. After the total defeat of his infantry, he escaped, or rather withdrew, from the field of battle, with the greatest part of his cavalry entire and unbroken. Without wasting a moment to lament the irreparable loss of so many brave companions, he left his victorious enemy to bind in chains the captive images of a Gothic king; and boldly resolved to break through the unguarded passes of the Apennine, to spread desolation over the fruitful face of Tuscany, and to conquer or die before the gates of Rome.SITI March 11, 1886, page 148.3

    “The capital was saved by the active and incessant diligence of Stilicho; but he respected the despair of his enemy; and, instead of committing the fate of the republic to the chance of another battle, he proposed to purchase the absence of the Barbarians. The spirit of Alaric would have rejected such terms, the permission of a retreat, and the offer of a pension, with contempt and indignation; but he exercised a limited and precarious authority over the independent chieftains who had raised him, for their service, above the rank of his equals; they were still less disposed to follow an unsuccessful general, and many of them were tempted to consult their interest by a private negotiation with the minister of Honorius. The king submitted to the voice of his people, ratified the treaty with the empire of the West, and repassed the Po with the remains of the flourishing army which he had led into Italy. A considerable part of the Roman forces still continued to attend his motions; and Stilicho, who maintained a secret correspondence with some of the barbarian chiefs, was punctually apprised of the designs that were formed in the camp and council of Alaric. The king of the Goths, ambitious to signalize his retreat by some splendid achievement, had resolved to occupy the important city of Verona, which commands the principal passage of the Rhetian Alps; and, directing his march through the territories of those German tribes, whose alliance would restore his exhausted strength, to invade, on the side of the Rhine, the wealthy and unsuspecting provinces of Gaul.SITI March 11, 1886, page 148.4

    “Ignorant of the treason which had already betrayed his bold and judicious enterprise, he advanced towards the passes of the mountains, already possessed by the Imperial troops; where he was exposed, almost at the same instant, to a general attack in the front, on his flanks, and in the rear. In this bloody action, at a small distance from the walls of Verona, the loss of the Goths was not less heavy than that which they had sustained in the defeat of Pollentia; and their valiant king, who escaped by the swiftness of his horse, must either have been slain or made prisoner, if the hasty rashness of the Alani had not disappointed the measures of the Roman general. Alaric secured the remains of his army on the adjacent rocks; and prepared himself, with undaunted resolution, to maintain a siege against the superior numbers of the enemy, who invested him on all sides. But he could not oppose the destructive progress of hunger and disease; nor was it possible for him to check the continual desertion of his impatient and capricious barbarians. In this extremity he still found resources in his own courage, or in the moderation of his adversary; and the retreat of the Gothic king was considered as the deliverance of Italy.”—Dec. and Fall, chap. 30, par. 8, 9.SITI March 11, 1886, page 148.5

    Although Alaric was thus defeated and compelled to retreat to his camp outside the confines of Italy, and although his retreat “was considered as the deliverance of Italy,” yet it was only a seeing deliverance; and his retreat was only for a season, during which, events were being so shaped that when he returned it was to trace a line of devastation over the whole length of Italy, from the Alps to the straits of Sicily; and Rome herself, which had stood for so many ages the mistress of the world, was visited with such a calamity as to fill with “grief and terror,” “the astonished empire.”SITI March 11, 1886, page 148.6

    And now while Alaric and his terrible Visigoths, chafing bitterly under their defeat, hang like an angry cloud ready to burst from the Illyrian frontier upon the Western Empire, a furious tempest is excited on the coast of the Baltic Sea, and a torrent of barbarous German tribes pours from the north upon the devoted empire, and carries destruction almost to the gates of Rome. Here we must leave the Visigoths for a short time while we contemplate, with curious interest, the nations of the North, and the causes which impel them upon the tottering empire.SITI March 11, 1886, page 148.7

    A. T. J.

    “‘The Abiding Sabbath.’ ‘Origin of the Lord’s Day’” The Signs of the Times 12, 10, pp. 152, 153.

    IN continuing his efforts to find the origin of the Lord’s day, the author of the “Abiding Sabbath” says:—SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.1

    “After the several appearances of the Saviour on the day of his resurrection, there is no recorded appearance until a week later, when the first day is again honored by the Master. John 20:26. The exact mention of the time, which is not usual even with John’s exactness, very evidently implies that there was already attached a special significance to the ‘first day of the week’ at the time when this gospel was written.”—P. 190.SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.2

    From Mr. Elliott’s assertion of “the exact mention of the time, which is not usual even with John’s exactness,” it would naturally be supposed that John 20:26 makes exact mention of the first day of the week; we might expect to open the book and read there some such word as, “the next first day of the week,” etc. Now let us read the passage referred to, and see how much exactness of expression there is about the first day of the week. The record says:—SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.3

    “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them; then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.” John 20:26.SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.4

    There is the “exact mention” which attaches significance to the first day of the week! That is, an expression in which the first day of the week is not mentioned; an expression, indeed, in which there is no exactness at all, but which is wholly indefinite. “After eight days” is exactly the phrase which John wrote. Will Mr. Elliott tell us exactly how long after? Granting that it was the very next day after eight days, then we would ask the author of the “Abiding Sabbath” if the first day of the week comes every ninth day? If this is to be considered an exact mention of time, unusual even with John’s exactness, then we should like to see a form of words which Mr. Elliott would consider inexact.SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.5

    Perhaps some one may ask what day we think it was. We make no pretensions to wisdom above that which is written. And as the word of God says it was “after eight days,” without telling us anything about how long after, we know nothing more definitely about what day it was than what the word tells us, that it was “after eight days.” We know of a similar expression in Matthew 17:1: “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart;” and we know that Luke’s record of the same scene says: “And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter, and John, and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.” Luke 9:28. Therefore we know that Inspiration shows that “after six days” is “about eight days,” and by the same rule “after eight days” is about ten days. But even then it is as indefinite as it was before, and Inspiration alone knows what day it was.SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.6

    But, though we know nothing at all about what day it was, we do know what day it was not. We know that the meeting previous to the one under consideration was on the first day of the week, John 20:19. We know that the next first day of the week would come exactly a week from that time. We know that a week consists of exactly seven days. And as the word of God says plainly that this meeting was “after eight days,” we therefore know by the word of God that this meeting was not on the next first day of the week.SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.7

    Then says Mr. Elliott:—SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.8

    “These repeated appearances of Jesus upon the first day doubtless furnished the first suggestion of the practice which very quickly sprang up in the church of employing that day for religious assembly and worship.... This impression must have been strongly intensified by the miraculous occurrences of Pentecost, if that festival fell, as we think probable, on the first day of the week—a view maintained by the early tradition of the church and by many eminent scholars.”—Pp. 190, 191.SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.9

    Yes, “doubtless” it “must have been,” “if” it was as he thinks “probable.” But against the “early tradition of the church,” and the “many eminent scholars,” we will place just as many and as eminent scholars, and the word of God. It is true that the day of the week on which that Pentecost came is not of the least importance in itself either for or against any sacredness that was put upon it by that occurrence. It is “the day of Pentecost” that is named by the word of God. It was the feast of Pentecost with its types, that was to meet the grand object—the reality—to which its services had ever pointed. And everybody knows that the Pentecost came on each day of the week in succession as the years passed by; the same as does Christmas, or the Fourth of July, or any other yearly celebration. Therefore whatever were its occurrences, they could have no purpose in giving to the day of the week on which it fell any particular significance.SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.10

    Yet though this be true, there is so much made of it by those who will have the first day of the week to be the Sabbath, by claiming always that Pentecost was on the first day of the week, that we feel disposed to refer to the Scriptures, which show that this claim is not founded on fact.SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.11

    The word Pentecost signifies “the fiftieth day,” and was always counted, beginning with the sixteenth day of the first month. It is also called “the feast of weeks,” because it was seven complete weeks from the day of the offering of the first-fruits, which was the second day of the feast of unleavened bread, the sixteenth day of the first month. On the fourteenth day of the first month, all leaven was to be put away from all the houses. They were to kill the passover lamb in the evening of the fourteenth, and with it, at the beginning of the fifteenth day of the month, they were to begin to eat the unleavened bread, and the feast of unleavened bread was to continue until the twenty-second day of the month. The first day of the feast, that is, the fifteenth of the month, was to be a sabbath, no servile work was to be done in that day. Exodus 12:6-8, 15-19; Leviticus 23:5-7. Because of the putting away of the leaven on the fourteenth day, and the beginning to eat the unleavened bread on the evening of that day, it is sometimes referred to as the first day of unleavened bread; but the fifteenth day was really the first, and was the one on which no servile work was to be done.SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.12

    On “the morrowafter this fifteenth day of the month—this sabbath—the wave-sheaf of the first-fruits was to be offered before the Lord, and with that day—the sixteenth day of the month—they were to begin to count fifty days, and when they reached the fiftieth day that was Pentecost. Leviticus 23:10, 11, 15, 16; Deuteronomy 16:8, 9. Now if we can learn on what day of the week the passover fell at the time of the crucifixion, we can tell on what day of the week the Pentecost came that year. We know that the Saviour was crucified “the day before the Sabbath.” Mark 15:42. We know that the Sabbath was “the Sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:54-56), and that was the seventh day—Saturday—and therefore “the day before,” was the sixth day—Friday. It is plain, then, that Jesus was crucified on Friday; this in itself, requires no proof, but it is important to distinctly mention it here, because the day before he was crucified, “the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.” Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-15. And that was the evening of Thursday, the fourteenth day of the month; because “the fourteenth day of the month at even is the Lord’s passover.” Leviticus 23:5; Exodus 12:6.SITI March 11, 1886, page 152.13

    From the passover supper Jesus went direct to Gethsemane, whence he was taken by the mob which Judas had brought, and after his shameful treatment by the priests and Pharisees and soldiers, was crucified in the afternoon of the same day. That was the fifteenth day of the month, the first day of the feast of unleavened bread; and the morrow after that day was the first of the fifty days which reached to Pentecost. Therefore, as the day of the crucifixion was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, and was Friday, the fifteenth day of the month; and as the next day, the sixteenth of the month, was the Sabbath according to the commandment, and was the first of the fifty days; anyone who will count the fifty days will find for himself that ”the fiftieth day,” Pentecost, fell that year on “the Sabbath day according to the commandment,” and that is the seventh day.SITI March 11, 1886, page 153.1

    So then the day which the advocates of Sunday sacredness claim has received such sacred sanctions by the occurrences of the day of Pentecost, was not the first day of the week at all; but it was the seventh day, the very day which they so unsparingly condemn. (See Geikie’s “Life of Christ,” Smith’s “Dictionary of the Bible,” and the opinions of such men as Neander, Olshausen, Dean Alford, Lightfoot, Jennings, Professor Hackett, Albert Barnes, etc.) Let us say again that we make no use of this fact in the way of claiming any sacredness for the seventh day because of it; that day, in the beginning, was given “the highest and strongest sanction possible even to Deity,” and nothing was ever needed afterward to add to its sacredness. We simply state it as the truth according to the Scriptures; and being, as it is, the truth, it shows that the claims for Sunday sacredness based upon the occurrences of Pentecost are entirely unfounded.SITI March 11, 1886, page 153.2

    There are two other texts cited by Mr. Elliott in this connection which we shall notice next week.SITI March 11, 1886, page 153.3

    A. T. J.

    “Notes on the International Lesson. Messiah’s Messenger. Malachi 3:1-6; 4:1-6” The Signs of the Times 12, 10, p. 155.

    (March 21.—Malachi 3:1-6; 4:1-6.)

    FROM the day that man sinned to the days of Malachi, there had been promises of the coming of the Deliverer. And now as the last prophetic voice of the Old Testament is heard, it announces the coming of the messenger to prepare the way of the promised One, and to make ready a people prepared to meet him. This messenger came accordingly, calling the people to repentance, and to belief on him that was to come. Those who received the message of the messenger, were by that prepared to receive Him whom the messenger announced. Those who rejected the words and testimony of the messenger, likewise rejected the Messiah when he came. He knew that he was that messenger. He knew the message that he had to bear to the people, and he delivered his message faithfully and fearlessly. He, like the prophet Haggai before him, was “the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people.” Haggai 1:13.SITI March 11, 1886, page 155.1

    JOHN the Baptist came “preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.... And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire; whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:1-12. And when they sent priests ad Levites to ask him who he was, “he said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.” John 1:23. He knew the work that he had to do. He knew that the time was come for the fulfillment of these prophecies. And he knew that his work was the fulfillment of them. He was the one of whom Malachi had spoken in the lesson for to-day; he was the one of whom Isaiah had spoken; and he and his message were the living evidence that God gave to the people that the Messiah was at hand. And while he was preaching, Messiah came and was baptized of him.SITI March 11, 1886, page 155.2

    BUT it was not alone the first coming of Christ that was announced by John the Baptist, nor by Malachi, nor by any of the prophets. John the Baptist announced the gathering of the wheat into the garner—the harvest—and the burning up of the chaff. This is what Malachi had prophesied in the verses chosen for the present lesson. He not only spoke of the coming of the Lord to his temple as at his first advent, but he also spoke of the coming of the same Lord “to judgment” (verse 5), which will be at his second advent; as says Paul, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word.” This is the coming which is referred to in the questions, “Who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?” Verse 2. See also Joel 2:11. It is then especially that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver, and whosoever reflects his image will be accepted with him. And this is especially so of those who shall be alive on the earth to behold him when he appeareth. They are to endure a “fiery trial” (1 Peter 4:12, 13); they are to be “baptized with the baptism;” they are to have every vestige of this world’s dross purged out of them. The test will be severe so that none is like it; but those who endure it shall come forth as gold, and “be found unto praise and honor and glory at his the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7.SITI March 11, 1886, page 155.3

    THEN after that comes the burning up of the chaff, “For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Here is the declaration of the word of God, as plain as language can make it, that all that do wickedly shall be burned up, root and branch. And the force of these words cannot be evaded except by making the language figurative, and then it may be made to mean just what any one pleases. But as long as plain language conveys any real meaning, so long will it be the truth that these words mean that the wicked shall be burned up as chaff is burned in the fire. This is made even stronger, if such a thing were possible, by the third verse, which says to the righteous, “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” The wicked are to be punished upon this earth (Proverbs 11:31; Isaiah 24:21; Revelation 20:8, 9); they are to be punished by fire, and that fire is to be the fire that is to melt the earth. 2 Peter 3:7, 10. The earth will in that day burn as an oven, and all the wicked being upon it, will be, according to the words of the prophet, burned up upon the earth. Then the earth is to be made over new, and the righteous shall dwell therein forever. (Revelation 21:5, 7), according to the word of Christ, “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5); and according to the words of Malachi in the lesson. After saying that the wicked shall be burned up, then he says: “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall.” And the wicked, having been consumed on the earth, and returned to dust and ashes, shall be ashes under the soles of the feet of those who inherit and inhabit the earth. The doctrine of eternal torment is contrary to the word of God. More than a hundred times the Lord speaks of the fate of the wicked in terms that denote nothing but utter destruction and cessation of existence.SITI March 11, 1886, page 155.4

    AS THERE was a message of his coming carried to the people to whom Christ was to appear in his first advent; likewise there will be a message announcing his coming to the people who will see him in his second advent. It will be a message such as was that of Elijah to the people of his day. “Ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord ... How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal [the sun] then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21). The world in these last days have forsake the commandments of the Lord and have followed Rome, and now God sends a message of warning and of duty to this, the generation of those who shall see the appearing of the Lord in glory. He says; “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.... Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:9-12. Then the next thing that is seen is a white cloud, and upon the cloud, one like the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle, and coming to reap the harvest of the earth; to gather the wheat into his garner, and to gather the chaff to burn it.” Revelation 14:14-19. As those who accepted the message of God by John the Baptist were thereby prepared to accept the Messiah which he announced, so those now who accept this message of God will be thereby prepared to meet the Messiah in his second advent to this world. God’s message and his messengers are now in the world announcing the second coming of Christ, as really as was his message in the world proclaiming his first coming. Will you accept the message and meet him in peace, bear his image, and be gathered as the precious wheat into his garner? or will you reject his warning and be found among the chaff? A. T. J.SITI March 11, 1886, page 155.5

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