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    April 1, 1886

    “The Suevi, the Vandals, and the Burgundians. (Concluded.)” The Signs of the Times 12, 13, p. 196.


    “WHILE the peace of Germany was secured by the attachment of the Franks, and the neutrality of the Alemanni, the subjects of Rome, unconscious of their approaching calamities, enjoyed the state of quiet and prosperity, which had seldom blessed the frontiers of Gaul. Their flocks and herds were permitted to graze in the pastures of the Barbarians; their huntsmen penetrated, without fear or danger, into the darkest recesses of the Hercynian wood. The banks of the Rhine were crowned, like those of the Tyber, with elegant houses, and well-cultivated farms; and if a poet descended the river, he might express his doubt, on which side was situated the territory of the Romans. This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert; and the prospect of the smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of man. The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and many thousand Christians were inhumanly massacred in the church. Worms perished after a long and obstinate siege; Strasburgh, Spires, Rheims, Tournay, Arras, Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression of the German yoke; and the consuming flames of war spread [A.D. 407] from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul. That rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was delivered to the barbarians, who drove before them, in a promiscuous crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, laden with the spoils of their houses and altars.... And in less than two years, the divided troops of the savages of the Baltic, whose numbers, were they fairly stated, would appear contemptible, advanced, without a combat, to the foot of the Pyrenean Mountains.”—Decline and Fall, chap. 30, par. 19.SITI April 1, 1886, page 196.1

    “The situation of Spain, separated, on all sides, from the enemies of Rome, by the sea, by the mountains, and by intermediate provinces, had secured the long tranquillity of that remote and sequestered country; and we may observe, as a sure symptom of domestic happiness, that, in a period of four hundred years, Spain furnished very few materials to the history of the Roman Empire. The footsteps of the barbarians [a band of Franks] who, in the reign of Gallienus [A.D. 260-268] had penetrated beyond the Pyrenees, were soon obliterated by the return of peace; and in the fourth century of the Christian aera, the cities of Emerita, or Merida, of Corduba, Seville, Bracara, and Tarragona, were numbered with the most illustrious of the Roman world. The various plenty of the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms, was improved and manufactured by the skill of an industrious people; and the peculiar advantages of naval stores contributed to support an extensive and profitable trade. The arts and sciences flourished under the protection of the emperors; and if the character of the Spaniards was enfeebled by peace and servitude, the hostile approach of the Germans, who had spread terror and desolation from the Rhine to the Pyrenees, seemed to rekindle some sparks of military ardor. As long as the defense of the mountains was intrusted to the hardy and faithful militia of the country, they successfully repelled the frequent attempts of the barbarians. But no sooner had the national troops been compelled to resign their post to the Honorian bands, in the service of Constantine [a common soldier who was raised to the Imperial dignity by the legions of Britain because he happened to have that name] than the gates of Spain [A.D. 409, Oct. 13] were treacherously betrayed to the public enemy, about ten months before the sack of Rome by the Goths.SITI April 1, 1886, page 196.2

    “The consciousness of guilt, and the thirst of rapine, prompted the mercenary guards of the Pyrenees to desert their station; to invite the arms of the Suevi, the Vandals, and the Alani; and to swell the torrent which was poured with irresistible violence from the frontiers of Gaul to the sea of Africa. The misfortunes of Spain may be described in the language of its most eloquent historian, who has concisely expressed the passionate, and perhaps exaggerated, declamations of contemporary writers.SITI April 1, 1886, page 196.3

    “‘The irruption of these nations was followed by the most dreadful calamities; as the barbarians exercised their indiscriminate cruelty on the fortunes of the Romans and the Spaniards, and ravaged with equal fury the cities and the open country. The progress of famine reduced the miserable inhabitants to feed on the flesh of their fellow-creatures; and even the wild beasts, who multiplied, without control, in the desert, were exasperated, by the taste of blood, and the impatience of hunger, boldly to attack and devour their human prey. Pestilence soon appeared, the inseparable companion of famine; a large proportion of the people was swept away; and the groans of the dying excited only the envy of their surviving friends. At length the barbarians, satiated with carnage and rapine, and afflicted by the contagious evils which they themselves had introduced, fixed their permanent seats in the depopulated country. The ancient Gallicia, whose limits included the kingdom of Old Castille, was divided between the Suevi and the Vandals; the Alani were scattered over the provinces of Carthagena and Lusitania, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean; and the fruitful territory of Bœtica was allotted to the Silingi, another branch of the Vandalic nation. After regulating this partition, the conquerors contracted with their new subjects some reciprocal engagements of protection and obedience; the lands were again cultivated; and the towns and villages were again occupied by a captive people. The greatest part of the Spaniards was even disposed to prefer this new condition of poverty and barbarism, to the severe oppressions of the Roman government; yet there were many who still asserted their native freedom; and who refused, more especially in the mountains of Gallicia, to submit to the barbarian yoke.”—Id., chap. 31, par. 36.SITI April 1, 1886, page 196.4

    While these settled in Spain, the Burgundians remained in Gaul, and were finally established on the River Rhine. The Encyclopedia Britannica says of these three peoples:—SITI April 1, 1886, page 196.5

    “The Burgundians, the Vandals, and many of the Suevi, wandered westwards early in the fifth century, in search of new homes; and the Burgundians soon conquered from the Romans the whole valley of the Rhone, in which they henceforth settled. The Vandals and the Suevi went on the Spain.”—Encyc. Brit., art., Germany, part II., Confederation of Tribes, par. 2.SITI April 1, 1886, page 196.6

    We shall have occasion to again mention each of these nations and to fix the date and place of their final settlement; but as their future history is so inseparably connected with the movements of other barbarous nations who followed their ruinous example in invading the remains of the Western Empire, we must now return and follow the course of these other lines of devastation.SITI April 1, 1886, page 196.7

    A. T. J.

    “‘The Abiding Sabbath.’ The Fathers, Etc.” The Signs of the Times 12, 13, pp. 200, 201.

    AS we have shown, the author of the “Abiding Sabbath” fills up, with the heathen edict of Constantine for the partial observance of Sunday, the blank left by “the complete silence of the New Testament” so far as any command or rules on that subject are concerned; yet his system is not complete without the sanction of the Fathers. So, as is the custom of the advocates of Sunday observance, he gives to the Fathers, the Councils, the popes, and the Catholic saints, a large place in his five-hundred-dollar-prize argument for Sunday keeping. We have before cited one of the rules laid down by the Rev. Levi Philetus Dobbs, D. D., for proving a thing when there is nothing with which to prove it, and have given an example from the “Abiding Sabbath” in illustration of the rule. We here present another of the Doctor’s rules, and in Mr. Elliott’s treatment of the Fathers, our readers can see its application. Says Dr. Dobbs:—SITI April 1, 1886, page 200.1

    “I regard, however, a judicious use of the Fathers as being, on the whole, the best reliance for anyone who is in the situation of my querist. The advantages of the Fathers are twofold: first, they carry a good deal of weight with the masses; and secondly, you can find whatever you want in the Fathers. I don’t believe that any opinion could be advanced so foolish, so manifestly absurd, but that you can find passages to sustain it, on the pages of these venerable stagers. And to the common mind, one of these is just as good as another. If it happens that the point you want to prove is one that never chanced to occur to the Fathers, why, you can easily show that they would have taken your side if they had only thought of the matter. And if, perchance, there is nothing bearing even remotely or constructively on the point, don’t be discouraged; get a good strong quotation and put the name of the Fathers to it, and utter it with an air of triumph; it will be all just as well; nine-tenths of the people don’t stop to ask whether a quotation bears on the matter in hand. Yes, my brother, the Fathers are your stronghold. They are Heaven’s best gift to the man who has a cause that can’t be sustained in any other way.”SITI April 1, 1886, page 200.2

    The first of the Fathers to whom Mr. Elliott refers is Clement of Rome, who he says died about A.D. 100. From Clement he quotes a passage which says nothing about any particular day, much less does it say that Sunday is the Lord’s day, or the “abiding Sabbath,” and of it the author of the “Abiding Sabbath” says:—SITI April 1, 1886, page 200.3

    “This passage does not indeed refer by name to the Lord’s day, but it proves conclusively the existence at that time of prescribed seasons of worship, and asserts their appointment by the Saviour himself.”—P. 214.SITI April 1, 1886, page 200.4

    But for all it mentions no day, it is, says he, an “important link in the argument” that proves that Sunday is the Lord’s day and of “perpetual obligation.” An argument in which such a thing as that is counted “an important link,” must be sorely pushed to find a connection that will hold it up.SITI April 1, 1886, page 200.5

    His next link is no better. This time he proposes a quotation from Ignatius, and of it says:—SITI April 1, 1886, page 200.6

    “The passage is obscure, and the text doubtless corrupt, but the trend of meaning is not indistinct.”—P. 215, note.SITI April 1, 1886, page 200.7

    It seems to us that an institution that has to be supported by an argument that is dependent upon a “trend of meaning,” drawn from an “obscure passage,” in a “corrupt text,” is certainly of most questionable authority. True, he says “the argument can do without it if necessary;” but it is particularly to be noticed that his argument does not do without it, and he deems it of sufficient importance to devote more than a page of his book to its consideration. We would remark, also, that we have never yet seen nor heard an extended argument for the Sunday institution that did do without it.SITI April 1, 1886, page 200.8

    His next quotation is from a writing of about equal value with this of Ignatius. He says:—SITI April 1, 1886, page 200.9

    “Here may be introduced a quotation from the so-called Epistle of Barnabas.... The external evidence of the authorship of this writing would be convincing but for the discredit which its internal characters casts upon it.”—Pp. 216, 217, note.SITI April 1, 1886, page 200.10

    That is to say, we might consider this epistle genuine if the writing itself did not show the contrary. And as if to make as strong as possible the doubt of its genuineness, he adds: “There is a very close relationship between this writing and the ‘Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.’” And to the “Teaching” he refers by the doubting phrase, “if genuine.”SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.1

    Then after mention of Pliny’s letter to Trajan, Justin Martyr, Melito, the “Teaching,” and Ireneus, he comes to Clement of Alexandria, of whom he speaks as follows:—SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.2

    “Clement of Alexandria, A.D. 194, in a mystical exposition of the fourth commandment, in the midst of fanciful speculations on the religious signification of numbers, comes down long enough from the loftier flights of his spiritual arithmetic to tell us that the seventh day of the law has given place to the eighth day of the gospel.... Nobody, of course, can tell what far-fetched and unheard-of meanings may lie underneath the words of the good semi-Gnostic Father; but as far as his testimony goes, it helps to establish the fact that the first day of the week filled the same place in the minds of the church of that time, that the seventh day had occupied in the Jewish system.”—P. 223.SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.3

    Certainly. It matters not what “mystical expositions,” nor what “fanciful interpretations,” nor what “far-fetched and unheard-of meanings” there may be, they all “help to establish” the heathen institution of Sunday, in the place of the day made holy and commanded to be kept so, by the Creator of the heavens and the earth.SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.4

    With just one more witness he closes the second century. And it is most fittingly done, as follows:—SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.5

    “This century will be concluded with the mention of that most brilliant and erratic of all the ante-Nicene Christian writers, Tertullian, of Carthage... This vehement writer fitly closes this list of evidences of the honored place filled by the Lord’s day in the first two centuries of the Christian church.”—Pp. 223, 224.SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.6

    Fitly, indeed, does this “vehement writer,” and most erratic of all the ante-Nicene Fathers, close the list of the first two centuries. But what a list! He gives us a list of ten witnesses to prove that Sunday is the Lord’s day, and that it was observed as such in the first two centuries, and by his own words it is shown that the first one does not mention the day at all; the second is an obscure passage in a corrupt text; the third is doubtful; the fourth speaks only of a “stated day,” without giving it any title at all; the fifth “calls it by its heathen name;” the seventh is doubtful but teaches that men may steal if they are in need; the ninth is so mystical, so fanciful, that “nobody can tell what far-fetched and unheard-of meanings may lie underneath his words;” the tenth is the “most brilliant and erratic [having no certain course; roaming about without a fixed destination] of all,” and this “vehement [“furious; violent; impetuous; passionate; ardent; hot”] writer,“—we do not wonder that Dean Milman calls him “this fiery African”—this witness “fitly closes the list of evidences of the honored place filled by the Lord’s day in the first two centuries!” Well we should say so. But what is a point worth that is “proved” by such evidences? It is worth all that the Sunday-sabbath is, which is supported by it, and that is—nothing. Yet these are the only witnesses that can be called, and false, doubtful, and untrustworthy though they be, they must be used or the Sunday institution will fail. But whether the failure would be any greater without such proofs than with them, we leave the reader to decide. And that is part of the argument for the obligation of Sunday, that was accounted worth a prize of five hundred dollars! We should like very much to see an argument on that question which that committee of award would consider to be worth nothing.SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.7

    After this array of five-hundred-dollar-prize witnesses for Sunday, we hope our readers will justify us in declining to follow Mr. Elliott through a further list, composed of Origen, and Athanasius, Theodosius the Great, and Emperor Leo the Thracian, and a number of Catholic saints, such as Hilary, Ambrose, Augustine, “Chrysostom the golden-mouthed,” and Jerome, whom Mosheim calls “the foul-mouthed” (Cent. 4, part 2, chap. 2, last par.) but one; through the Councils of Nice, Sardica, Gangra, Antioch, First of Toledo, Fourth of Carthage, and that of Laodicaea, and so on down to the Synod of Dort, and the Westminster Assembly.SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.8

    Yet his work on this division of his subject would be incomplete, and out of harmony with his method of argument throughout, if he should not turn about and upset it all. Accordingly, therefore, he at once destroys the edifice which he has thus so laboriously erected. Among the dangers which threaten the Sunday institution of to-day he declares that:—SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.9

    “Dangerous is the substitution of the dictum of the church for the warrant of Holy Scripture... To make the Lord’s day only an ecclesiastical contrivance, is to give no assurance to the moral reason, and to lay no obligation upon a free conscience. The church cannot maintain this institution by its own edict. Council, assembly, convocation, and synod can impose a law on the conscience only when they are able to back their decree with ‘thus saith the Lord.’”—P. 263.SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.10

    The only dictum that the author of “The Abiding Sabbath” has shown for the Sunday-sabbath is the dictum of the church. The only means by which he has fixed the day to be observed is “by a religious consensus of the Christian church” (P. 203). The only edicts which he had presented are the heathen edicts of Constantine, additional laws by Constantine and Theodosius the Great, and the decree of Emperor Leo the Thracian. It is only in these, and the action of council, assembly, convocation, and synod that he obtains authority to impose the observance of Sunday as a law upon the conscience. He has given no “Thus saith the Lord” for the institution nor for its observance; but on the contrary has confessed the “complete silence of the New Testament,” in regard to any command or rules for either the institution or its observance. Therefore, by his own argument, the observance of Sunday as the Sabbath is of “no obligation upon a free conscience.” And that is the truth.SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.11

    Mr. Elliott devotes a chapter to argument against the seventh day as the Sabbath, which we shall notice next.SITI April 1, 1886, page 201.12

    A. T. J.

    “Notes on the International Lesson. The First Disciples. John 1:35-51” The Signs of the Times 12, 13, pp. 202, 203.

    (April 11.—John 1:35-51.)

    JOHN the Baptist had now been preaching for about six months, calling the people to repentance, and to the “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,” saying to the people that they should believe on Him who should come after him. And there “went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan.” And “the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are thou? And he confessed and denied not; but confessed and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.... And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water; but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; he it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.”SITI April 1, 1886, page 202.1

    “When the messengers from the highest authority in Jerusalem were communing with John in reference to his mission and work, he could have taken honor to himself, had he been so disposed. But he would not assume honors that did not belong to him. While conversing with the messengers, suddenly his eye kindled, his countenance lighted up, and his whole being seemed stirred with deep emotion, as he discovered the person of Jesus in the concourse of people. He raised his hand, pointing to Christ, saying, There standeth One among you whom ye know not. I have come to prepare the way before him whom ye now see. He is the Messiah. He it is who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. ‘The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for he was before me. And I knew him not; but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not. But he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw and bare record, that this is the Son of God. Again, the next day after, John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, behold the Lamb of God!’”SITI April 1, 1886, page 202.2

    “‘Again the next day after, Jesus, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God.’ And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? The disciples confessed that they were seeking Christ, and that they desired to become acquainted with him, and to be instructed by him at his home. These two disciples were charmed with the deeply impressive, yet simple and practical, lessons of Christ. Their hearts had never been so moved before. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these disciples. He was interested for his friends and relatives, and was anxious that they also should see Christ, and hear for themselves his precious lessons. Andrew went in search of his brother Simon, and with assurance claimed to have found Christ, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. He brought his brother to Jesus, and as soon as Jesus looked upon him, he said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation a stone.”SITI April 1, 1886, page 202.3

    The next day Christ selected another disciple, Philip, and bade him follow him. Philip fully believed that Christ was the Messiah, and began to search for others to bring them to listen to the teachings of Christ, which had so charmed him. Then Philip found Nathanael. He was one of the number who heard John proclaim, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ He felt deeply convicted, and retired to a grove, concealed from every human eye, and there meditated upon the announcement of John, calling to his mind the prophecies relating to the coming of the Messiah and his mission.... He bowed before God and prayed that if the person whom John had declared to be the Redeemer of the world was indeed the promised deliverer, that it might be made known to him. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon Nathanael in such a special manner that he was convinced that Christ was the Messiah. While Nathanael was praying, he heard the voice of Philip calling him, saying, ‘We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”SITI April 1, 1886, page 203.1

    “In these first few disciples the foundation of the Christian church was being laid by individual effort. John first directed two of his disciples to Christ. Then one of these finds a brother, and brings him to Christ. He then calls Philip to follow him, and he went in search of Nathanael. Here is an instructive lesson for all the followers of Christ. It teaches them the importance of personal effort, making direct appeals to relatives, friends, and acquaintances. There are those who profess to be acquainted with Christ for a life time who never make personal effort to induce one soul to come to the Saviour. They have left all the work with the minister. He may be well qualified for his work; but he cannot do the work which God has left upon the members of the church. Very many excuse themselves from being interested in the salvation of those who are out of Christ, and are content to selfishly enjoy the benefits of the grace of God themselves, while they make no direct effort to bring others to Christ. In the vineyard of the Lord there is a work for all to do, and unselfish, interested, faithful workers will share largely of his grace here, and of the reward he will bestow hereafter. Faith is called into exercise by good works, and courage and hope are in accordance with working faith. The reason many professed followers of Christ have not a bright and living experience, is because they do nothing to gain it. If they would engage in the work which God would have them do, their faith would increase, and they would advance in the divine life.”SITI April 1, 1886, page 203.2

    “Jesus was pleased with the earnest faith of Nathanael that asked for no greater evidence than the few words he had spoken. And he looked forward with pleasure to the work he was to do in relieving the oppressed, healing the sick, and in breaking the bands of Satan. In view of these blessings which Christ came to bestow, he says to Nathanael, in the presence of the other disciples, ‘Hereafter ye shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’SITI April 1, 1886, page 203.3

    “Christ virtually says, On the bank of Jordan the heavens were opened before me, and the Spirit descended like a dove upon me. That scene at Jordan was but a token to evidence that I was the Son of God. If you believe in me as such, your faith shall be quickened, and you shall see that the heavens will be opened, and shall never be closed. I have opened them for you, and the angels of God, that are united with me in the reconciliation between earth and Heaven, uniting the believers on the earth with the Father above, will be ascending, bearing the prayers of the needy and distressed from the earth to the Father above, and descending, bringing blessings of hope, courage, health, and life, for the children of men.SITI April 1, 1886, page 203.4

    “The angels of God are ever moving up and down from earth to Heaven, and from Heaven to earth. All the miracles of Christ performed for the afflicted and suffering were, by the power of God, through the ministration of angels. Christ condescended to take humanity, and thus he unites his interests with the fallen sons and daughters of Adam here below, while his divinity grasps the throne of God. And thus Christ opens the communication of man with God, and God with man. All the blessings from God to man are through the ministration of holy angels.”—Great Controversy, by Mrs. E. G. White, pp. 63-68.SITI April 1, 1886, page 203.5

    A. T. J.

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