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    March 18, 1886

    “The Suevi, the Vandals, and the Burgundians” The Signs of the Times 12, 11, p. 164.

    AS we now turn our attention to the North, it will be necessary for us to take a brief survey of the positions of the nations which dwelt there at this period—about A.D. 400-406.SITI March 18, 1886, page 164.1

    The right bank of the middle and upper Rhine was inhabited by the Franks and the Alemanni. The Angles dwelt in what is now Southern Denmark, and the Saxons upon the lower Elbe. Eastward of the Elbe, and on the Oder, dwelt the Lombards; on the coast of the Baltic, between the Oder and the Vistula, were the Vandals; south of the Vandals, on the Vistula, were the Burgundians; east of the Vistula, toward the Baltic, were the Suevi; and over the whole country east of the Suevi, and stretching away to the River Volga, were spread the Sarmatians. In the sourthern country below the Sarmatians, from the Danube through the valley of the Dnieper to the coasts of the Caspian Sea, was the dominion of the Huns ruled by Rugilas. It was, as we have seen, this inundation of the Huns that drove the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths across the Danube into the territories of the Roman Empire. And we shall now find that it was a like movement of another people, further north, that crowded other tribes of the Huns upon the Sarmatians; these, in turn, were forced upon the nations of Northern Germany, which were thus displaced and driven across the Rhine upon Western Rome. Of this we read:—SITI March 18, 1886, page 164.2

    “While Italy rejoiced in her deliverance from the Goths, a furious tempest was excited among the nations of Germany, who yielded to the irresistible impulse that appears to have been gradually communicated [A.D. 400] from the eastern extremity of the continent of Asia. The Chinese annals, as they have been interpreted by the earned industry of the present age, may be usefully applied to reveal the secret and remote causes of the fall of the Roman Empire. The extensive territory to the north of the great wall was possessed, after the flight of the Huns, by the victorious Sienpi, who were sometimes broken into independent tribes, and sometimes reunited under a supreme chief; till at length, styling themselves Topa, or masters of the earth, they acquired a more solid consistence, and a more formidable power. The Topa soon compelled the pastoral nations of the eastern desert to acknowledge the superiority of their arms; they invaded China in a period of weakness and intestine discord; and these fortunate Tartars, adopting the laws and manners of the vanquished people, founded an Imperial dynasty, which reigned near one hundred and sixty years over the northern provinces of the monarchy.SITI March 18, 1886, page 164.3

    “Some generations before they ascended the throne of China, one of the Topa princes had enlisted in his cavalry a slave of the name of Moko, renowned for his valor, but who was tempted, by the fear of punishment, to desert his standard, and to range the desert at the head of a hundred followers. This gang of robbers and outlaws swelled into a camp, a tribe, a numerous people, distinguished by the appellation of Geougen; and their hereditary chieftains, the posterity of Moko the slave, assumed their rank among the Scythian monarchs. The youth of Toulun, the greatest of his descendants, was exercised by those misfortunes which are the school of heroes. He bravely struggled with adversity, broke the imperious yoke of the Topa, and became the legislator of his nation, and the conqueror of Tartary. His troops were distributed into regular bands of a hundred and of a thousand men; cowards were stoned to death; the most splendid honors were proposed as the reward of valor; and Toulun, who had knowledge enough to despise the learning of China, adopted only such arts and institutions as were favorable to the military spirit of his government. His tents, which he removed in the winter season to a more southern latitude, were pitched, during the summer, on the fruitful banks of the Selinga. His conquests stretched from Corea far beyond the River Irtish. He vanquished, in the country to the north of the Caspian Sea, the nation of the Huns; and the new title of Khan, or Cagan, expressed the fame and power which he derived from this memorable victory.SITI March 18, 1886, page 164.4

    “The chain of events is interrupted, or rather is concealed, as it passes from the Volga to the Vistula, through the dark interval which separates the extreme limits of the Chinese, and of the Roman, geography. Yet the temper of the Barbarians, and the experience of successive emigrations, sufficiently declare, that the Huns, who were oppressed by the arms of the Geougen, soon withdrew from the presence of an insulting victor. The countries towards the Euxine were already occupied by their kindred tribes; and their hasty flight, which they soon converted into a bold attack, would more naturally be directed towards the rich and level plains, through which the Vistula gently flows into the Baltic Sea. The North must again have been alarmed, and agitated, by the invasion of the Huns; and the nations who retreated before them [the Sarmartians] must have pressed with incumbent weight on the confines of Germany. The inhabitants of those regions, which the ancients have assigned to the Suevi, the Vandals, and the Burgundians, might embrace the resolution of abandoning to the fugitives of Sarmatia their woods and morasses; or at least of discharging their superfluous numbers on the provinces of the Roman empire.”—Chap. 30, par. 13, 14.SITI March 18, 1886, page 164.5

    THE SUEVI

    “In that part of Upper Saxony, beyond the Elbe, which is at present called the Marquisate of Lusace, there existed, in ancient times, a sacred wood, the awful seat of the superstition of the Suevi. None were permitted to enter the holy precincts, without confessing, by their servile bonds and suppliant posture, the immediate presence of the sovereign Deity. Patriotism contributed, as well as devotion, to consecrate the Sonnenwald, or wood of the Semnones. It was universally believed, that the nation had received its first existence on that sacred spot. At stated periods, the numerous tribes who gloried in the Suevic blood, resorted thither by their ambassadors; and the memory of their common extraction was perpetrated by barbaric rites and human sacrifices. The wide-extended name of Suevi filled the interior countries of Germany, from the banks of the Oder to those of the Danube. They were distinguished from the other Germans by their peculiar mode of dressing their long hair, which they gathered into a rude knot on the crown of the head; and they delighted in an ornament that showed their ranks more lofty and terrible in the eyes of the enemy. Jealous as the Germans were of military renown, they all confessed the superior valor of the Suevi; and the tribes of the Usipetes and Tencteri, who, with a vast army, encountered the dictator Cesar, declared that they esteemed it not a disgrace to have fled before a people to whose arms the immortal gods themselves were unequal.”SITI March 18, 1886, page 164.6

    THE VANDALS

    “A striking resemblance of manners, complexion, religion, and language, seemed to indicate that the Vandals and the Goths were originally one great people.” “The numerous tribes of the Vandals were spread along the banks of the Oder, and the sea-coast of Pomerania and Mecklenburgh.”SITI March 18, 1886, page 164.7

    THE BURGUNDIANS

    “About the middle of the fourth century, the countries, perhaps of Lusace and Thuringia, on either side of the Elbe, were occupied by the vague dominion of the Burgundians; a warlike and numerous people, of the Vandal race, whose obscure name insensibly swelled into a powerful kingdom, and has finally settled on a flourishing province. The most remarkable circumstance in the ancient manners of the Burgundians appears to have been the difference of their civil and ecclesiastical constitution. The appellation of Hendinos was given to the king or general, and the title of Sinistus to the high priest, of the nation. The person of the priest was sacred, and his dignity perpetual; but the temporal government was held by a very precarious tenure. If the events of war accuses the courage or conduct of the king, he was immediately deposed; and the injustice of his subjects made him responsible for the fertility of the earth, and the regularity of the seasons, which seemed to fall more properly within the sacerdotal department.”—Chap. 25, par. 20.SITI March 18, 1886, page 164.8

    A. T. J.

    (To be continued.)

    “‘The Abiding Sabbath’” The Signs of the Times 12, 11, pp. 168, 169.

    Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2

    IN continuing his search for the origin of the first day of the week as the Lord’s day, the author of “The Abiding Sabbath” comes to Acts 20:7. As this text mentions a meeting of disciples on the first day of the week, at which an apostle preached, it is really made the foundation upon which to lay the claim of the custom of the primitive church, and the example of the apostles in sanctioning the observance of Sunday as the Sabbath. But although there was a meeting held on the first day of the week, and although an apostle was at the meeting, as a matter of fact, there is in it neither custom nor example in favor of keeping Sunday as the Sabbath. Here is what Mr. Elliott makes of the passage:—SITI March 18, 1886, page 168.1

    “The most distinct reference to the Christian use of the first day of the week is that found in Acts 20:7: ‘And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.’ ... The language clearly implies that the apostle availed himself of the occasion brought about by the custom of assemblage on the first day of the week to preach to the people.... Here, then, is a plain record of the custom of assemblage on the first day of the week, less than thirty years after the resurrection. The language is just what would be used in such a case.”—Pp. 194, 195.SITI March 18, 1886, page 168.2

    It is hard to see how he can find “a plain record of the custom of assemblage on the first day of the week,” when the record says nothing at all about any such custom. In all the narrative of which this verse forms a part there is no mention whatever of anything that was there done being done according to custom, nor to introduce what should become a custom, nor that it was to be an example to be followed by Christians throughout all coming time. So the fact is that Mr. Elliott’s “plain record” of a custom lacks the essential thing which would show a custom.SITI March 18, 1886, page 168.3

    Nor is his statement that “the language is just what would be used in such a case,” any more in accordance with the fact; for when Luke, who wrote this record, had occasion to speak of that which was a custom he did so plainly. For example: “And he [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” Luke 4:16. Again: “And Paul, as his manner [custom] was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.” Acts 17:2. In these two passages, the words, “as his custom was,” and “as his manner was,” as Luke wrote them, are identical—Kata to eiothos—and in both instances mean precisely as his custom was; and that “language is just what” Inspiration has used in such cases as a plain record of a custom. Therefore we submit that the total absence of any such language from the passage under consideration, is valid argument that it is not a record of any such thing as the custom of the assemblage of Christians on the first day of the week.SITI March 18, 1886, page 168.4

    If the record really said that it was then a custom to assemble on the first day of the week; if it said: Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together, as their custom was, as the same writer says that it was the custom of Christ and of Paul to go to the Sabbath assemblies; if it said: Upon the first day of the week Paul preached to the disciples as his custom was; then no man could deny that such was indeed the custom: but as in the word of God there is neither statement nor hint to that effect, no man can rightly affirm that such was a custom, without going beyond the word of God; and that is prohibited by the word itself—“Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” Deuteronomy 12:32. More than this, reading into that passage the “custom” of assemblage on the first day of the week, is not only to go beyond that which is written; it is to do violence to the very language in which it is written. The meaning of the word “custom” is, “A frequent repetition of the same act.” A single act is not custom. An act repeated once or twice is not custom. The frequent repetition of an act, that is custom. It is so, likewise, in the case of example. Webster says: “The word ‘example’ should never be used to describe what stands singly and alone.” Now as Acts 20:7 is the only case on record that a religious meeting was ever held, either by the disciples or the apostles, on the first day of the week, as there is no record of a single repetition of that act, much less of a “frequent repetition” of it, it follows inevitably that there is no shadow of justice nor of right in the claim that the custom of the apostles and of the primitive church sanctions the observance of that day as the day of rest and worship—the Sabbath.SITI March 18, 1886, page 168.5

    Instead, therefore, of the Sunday deriving any sacredness from the word of God, or resting for its observance upon the authority of that word, or upon that which is just and right, or upon the example of the apostles, or the custom of the primitive church, it is contrary to all these. It is essentially an interloper, and rests for its so-called sacredness and for its authority upon nothing but sheer willfulness.SITI March 18, 1886, page 168.6

    The next reference noticed by Mr. Elliott is 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2, of which he writes:—SITI March 18, 1886, page 168.7

    “Another incidental allusion to the religious use of the day—an allusion none the less valuable because incidental—is the direction of Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2: ‘Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.’ ... The Corinthians were on that day to deposit their alms in a common treasury.”—pp. 195, 196.SITI March 18, 1886, page 168.8

    Paul’s direction is, “Let every one of you lay by him in store;” Mr. Elliott says they were “to deposit their alms in a common treasury.” Now can a man lay by him in store, and deposit in a common treasury, the same money at the same time? If there are any, especially of those who keep Sunday, who think that it can be done, let them try it. Next Sunday, before you go to meeting find out how God has prospered you, and set apart accordingly that sum of money which you will lay by you in store by depositing it in the common treasury of the church. Then as you go to church, take the money along, and when the collection box is passed, put in it that which you are going to lay by you in store; and the work is done! According to Mr. Elliott’s idea, you have obeyed this scripture. That is you have obeyed it by putting away from you the money which the Scripture directs you to lay by you. You have put into the hands of others that which is to be laid by you. You have carried away and placed entirely beyond your control, and where you will never see it again, that which is to be laid by you in store. In other words you have obeyed the Scripture by directly disobeying it!SITI March 18, 1886, page 168.9

    True, that is a novel kind of obedience; but no one need be surprised at it in this connection; for that is the only kind of obedience to the Scripture that can ever be shown by keeping Sunday as the Sabbath. The commandment of God says: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.... The seventh day is the Sabbath.” And people propose to obey that commandment by remembering the first day instead of the seventh. The word of God says: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God, in it thou shalt not do any work;” and people who keep Sunday propose to obey that word by working all day on the day in which God says they shall do no work. And so it is in perfect accord with the principles of the Sunday-sabbath that Mr. Elliott should convey the idea that 1 Corinthians 16:2 was obeyed by doing directly the opposite of what the text says.SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.1

    But he seeks to justify his theory by the following remark:—SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.2

    “That this laying in store did not mean a simple hoarding of gifts by each one in his own house, is emphatically shown by the reason alleged for the injunction, ‘that there be no gatherings’ (i.e. “collections,” the same word used in the first verse) ‘when I come.’ ... If the gifts had had to be collected from house to house, the very object of the apostle’s direction would have failed to be secured.”SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.3

    This reasoning might be well enough if it were true. But it is not true. This we know because Paul himself has told us just what he meant, and has shown us just what the Corinthians understood him to mean; and Mr. Elliott’s theory is the reverse of Paul’s record of facts. A year after writing the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote the second letter; and in the second letter he makes explicit mention of this very “collection for the saints,” about which he had given these directions in the first letter. In the second letter (chap. 9:1-5), Paul writes:—SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.4

    “For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; for I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready; lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up before-hand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.”SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.5

    Now if Mr. Elliott’s theory be correct, that the Corinthians were to deposit their alms in a common treasury each first day of the week, and if that was what Paul meant that they should do, then why should Paul think it “necessary” to send brethren before himself “to make up” this bounty, so “that it might be ready” when he came? If Mr. Elliott’s theory be correct, what possible danger could there have been of these brethren finding the Corinthians “unprepared”? and why should Paul be afraid that they were unprepared? No; Mr. Elliott’s theory and argument are contrary to the facts. In the first letter to the Corinthians (16:2), Paul meant just what he said, that on the first day of the week every one should “lay by him in store;” and the Corinthian Christians so understood it, and so likewise would everyone else understand it, were it not that its perversion is so sorely essential in bolstering up the baseless fabric of the Sunday Lord’s day. But the Corinthians, having no such thing to cripple or pervert their ability to understand plain language, understood it as it was written, and as Paul meant that it should be understood. Each one laid by him as directed; then when the time came for Paul to go by them and take their alms to Jerusalem, he sent brethren before to make up the bounty which had been laid by in store, so that it might be ready when he came. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 16:2 gives no sanction whatever to the idea of meetings on the first day of the week.SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.6

    And now after all his peregrinations in search of the origin of the first day of the week as the Lord’s day, Mr. Elliott arrives at the following intensely logical deduction:—SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.7

    “The selection of the Lord’s day by the apostles as the one festival day of the new society seems so obviously natural, and even necessary, that when we join to these considerations the fact that it was so employed, we can no longer deny to the religious use of Sunday the high sanction of apostolic authority.”—P. 198.SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.8

    All that we shall say to that is, that it is the best illustration that we have ever seen of the following rule, by “Rev. Levi Philetus Dobbs, D.D.,“—Dr. Wayland, editor of the National Baptist—for proving something when there is nothing with which to prove it. In fact we hardly expected ever to find in “real life” an illustration of the rule; but Mr. Elliott’s five-hundred-dollar-prize logic has furnished a perfect illustration of it. The rule is:—SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.9

    “Prove the premise by the conclusion, and then prove the conclusion by the premise; proving A by B and then proving B by A. And if the people believe the conclusion already (or think they do, which amounts to the same thing), and if you bring in now and then the favorite words and phrases that the people all want to hear, and that they have associated with orthodoxy, ‘tis wonderful what a reputation you will get as a logician.”SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.10

    If “Dr. Dobbs” had offered a five-hundred-dollar prize for the best real example that should be worked out under that rule, we should give a unanimous, rising, rousing vote in favor of Rev. George Elliott and his “Abiding Sabbath” as the most deserving of the prize.SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.11

    Yet with all this he finds “complete silence of the New Testament so far as any explicit command for the [Sunday] Sabbath or definite rules for its observance are concerned.” What! A New Testament institution, and yet in the New Testament there is neither command nor rules for its observance!! Next week we shall notice how he accounts for such an anomaly.SITI March 18, 1886, page 169.12

    A. T. J.

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