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    May 20, 1886

    “The Visigoths in the Western Empire. (Continued.)” The Signs of the Times 12, 19, pp. 292, 293.


    “THE retreat of the victorious Goths, who evacuated Rome on the sixth day [A.D. 410, Aug. 29] might be the result of prudence; but it was not surely the effect of fear. At the head of an army encumbered with rich and weighty spoils, their intrepid leader advanced along the Appian way into the southern provinces of Italy, destroying whatever dared to oppose his passage, and contenting himself with the plunder of the unresisting country. The fate of Capua, the proud and luxurious metropolis of Campania, and which was respected, even in its decay, as the eighth city of the empire, is buried in oblivion; whilst the adjacent town of Nola has been illustrated, on this occasion, by the sanctity of Paulinus, who was successively a consul, a monk, and a bishop.... Nola was not saved from the general devastation; and the captive bishop was protected only by the general opinion of his innocence and poverty.SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.1

    “Above four years [A.D. 408-412] elapsed from the successful invasion of Italy by the arms of Alaric, to the voluntary retreat of the Goths under the conduct of his successor Adolphus; and, during the whole time, they reigned without control over a country, which, in the opinion of the ancients, had united all the various excellences of nature and art. The prosperity, indeed, which Italy had attained in the auspicious age of the Antonines, had gradually declined with the decline of the empire. The fruits of a long peace perished under the rude grasp of the barbarians; and they themselves were incapable of tasting the more elegant refinements of luxury, which had been prepared for the use of the soft and polished Italians. Each soldier, however, claimed an ample portion of the substantial plenty, the corn and cattle, oil and wine, that was daily collected and consumed in the Gothic camp; and the principal warriors insulted the villas and gardens, once inhabited by Lucullus and Cicero, along the beauteous coast of Campania. Their trembling captives, the sons and daughters of Roman senators, presented, in goblets of gold and gems, large draughts of Falernian wine to the haughty victors; who stretched their huge limbs under the shade of plane-trees, artificially disposed to exclude the scorching rays, and to admit the genial warmth, of the sun. These delights were enhanced by the memory of past hardships: the comparison of their native soil, the bleak and barren hills of Scythia, and the frozen banks of the Elbe and Danube, added new charms to the felicity of the Italian climate.SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.2

    “Whether fame, or conquest, or riches, were the object or Alaric, he pursued that object with an indefatigable ardor, which could neither be quelled by adversity nor satiated by success. No sooner had he reached the extreme land of Italy, than he was attracted by the neighboring prospect of a fertile and peaceful island. Yet even the possession of Sicily he considered only as an intermediate step to the important expedition, which he already meditated against the continent of Africa. The Straits of Rhegium and Messina are twelve miles in length, and, in the narrowest passage, about one mile and a half broad; and the fabulous monsters of the deep, the rocks of Scylla, and the whirlpool of Charybdis, could terrify none but the most timid and unskillful mariners.SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.3

    “Yet as soon as the first division of the Goths had embarked, a sudden tempest arose, which sunk, or scattered, many of the transports; their courage was daunted by the terrors of a new element; and the whole design was defeated by the premature death of Alaric [A.D. 410], which fixed, after a short illness, the fatal term of his conquests. The ferocious character of the barbarians was displayed in the funeral of a hero whose valor and fortune they celebrated with mournful applause. By the labor of a captive multitude, they forcibly diverted the course of the Busentinus, a small river that washes the walls of Consentia. The royal sepulcher, adorned with the splendid spoils and trophies of Rome, was constructed in the vacant bed; the waters were then restored to their natural channel; and the secret spot, where the remains of Alaric had been deposited, was forever concealed by the inhuman massacre of the prisoners, who had been employed to execute the work.SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.4

    “The personal animosities and hereditary feuds of the barbarians were suspended by the strong necessity of their affairs; and the brave Adolphus, the brother-in-law of the deceased monarch, was unanimously elected to succeed to his throne. The character and political system of the new king of the Goths may be best understood from his own conversation with an illustrious citizen of Narbonne; who afterwards, in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, related it to St. Jerom, in the presence of the historian Orosius. ‘In the full confidence of valor and victory, I once aspired,’ said Adolphus, ‘to change the face of the universe; to obliterate the name of Rome; to erect on its ruins the dominion of the Goths; and to acquire, like Augustus, the immortal fame of the founder of a new empire. By repeated experiments, I was gradually convinced, that laws are essentially necessary to maintain and regulate a well-constituted state; and that the fierce, untractable humor of the Goths was incapable of bearing the salutary yoke of laws and civil government. From that moment I proposed to myself a different object of glory and ambition; and it is now my sincere wish that the gratitude of future ages should acknowledge the merit of a stranger, who employed the sword of the Goths, not to subvert, but to restore and maintain, the prosperity of the Roman empire.’SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.5

    “With these pacific views, the successor of Alaric suspended the operations of war; and seriously negotiated with the Imperial court a treaty of friendship and alliance. It was the interest of the ministers of Honorius, who were now released from the obligation of their extravagant oath, to deliver Italy from the intolerable weight of the Gothic powers; and they readily accepted their service against the tyrants and Barbarians who infested the provinces beyond the Alps. Adolphus, assuming the character of a Roman general, directed his march [A.D. 412] from the extremity of Campania to the southern provinces of Gaul. His troops, either by force of agreement, immediately occupied the cities of Narbonne, Thoulouse, and Bordeaux; and though they were repulsed by Count Boniface from the walls of Marseilles, they soon extended their quarters from the Mediterranean to the ocean.SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.6

    “The oppressed provincials might exclaim, that the miserable remnant, which the enemy had spared, was cruelly ravished by their pretended allies; yet some specious colors were not wanting to palliate, or justify the violence of the Goths. The cities of Gaul, which they attacked, might perhaps be considered as in a state of rebellion against the government of Honorius; the articles of the treaty, or the secret instructions of the court, might sometimes be alleged in favor of the seeming usurpations of Adolphus; and the guilt of any irregular, unsuccessful act of hostility might always be imputed, with an appearance of truth, to the ungovernable spirit of a Barbarian host, impatient of peace or discipline. The luxury of Italy had been less effectual to soften the temper, than to relax the courage, of the Goths; and they had imbibed the vices, without imitating the arts and institutions, of civilized society.SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.7

    “The professions of Adolphus were probably sincere, and his attachment to the cause of the republic was secured by the ascendant which a Roman princess had acquired over the heart and understanding of the Barbarian king. Placidia, the daughter of the great Theodosius, and of Galla, his second wife, had received a royal education in the palace of Constantinople; but the eventful story of her life is connected with the revolutions which agitated the Western empire under the reign of her brother Honorius. When Rome was first invested by the arms of Alaric, Placidia, who was then about twenty years of age, resided in the city; and her ready consent to the death of her cousin Serena has a cruel and ungrateful appearance, which, according to the circumstances of the action, may be aggravated, or excused, by the consideration of her tender age. The victorious barbarians detained, either as a hostage or a captive, the sister of Honorius; but, while she was exposed to the disgrace of following round Italy the motions of a Gothic camp, she experienced, however, a decent and respectful treatment. The authority of Jornandes, who praises the beauty of Placidia, may perhaps be counterbalanced by the silence, the expressive silence, of her flatterers; yet the splendor of her birth, the bloom of youth, the elegance of manners, and the dexterous insinuation which she condescended to employ, made a deep impression on the mind of Adolphus; and the Gothic king aspired to call himself the brother of the emperor.SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.8

    “The ministers of Honorius rejected with disdain the proposal of an alliance so injurious to every sentiment of Roman pride; and repeatedly urged the restitution of Placidia, as an indispensable condition of the treaty of peace. But the daughter of Theodosius submitted, without reluctance, to the desires of the conqueror, a young and valiant prince, who yielded to Alaric in loftiness of stature, but who excelled in the more attractive qualities of grace and beauty. The marriage of Adolphus and Placidia was consummated before the Goths retired from Italy; and the solemn, perhaps the anniversary day of their nuptials was afterwards celebrated in the house of Ingenuus, one of the most illustrious citizens of Narbonne in Gaul. The bride, attired and adorned like a Roman empress, was placed on a throne of state; and the king of the Goths, who assumed, on this occasion, the Roman habit, contented himself with a less honorable seat by her side. The nuptial gift, which, according to the custom of his nation, was offered to Placidia, consisted of the rare and magnificent spoils of her country. Fifty beautiful youths, in silken robes, carried a basin in each hand; and one of these basins was filled with pieces of gold, the other with precious stones of an inestimable value.... The barbarians enjoyed the insolence of their triumph; and the provincials rejoiced in this alliance, which tempered, by the mild influence of love and reason, the fierce spirit of their Gothic lord.SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.9

    “The hundred basins of gold and gems, presented to Placidia at her nuptial feast, formed an inconsiderable portion of the Gothic treasures; of which some extraordinary specimens may be selected from the history of the successors of Adolphus. Many curious and costly ornaments of pure gold, enriched with jewels, were found in their palace of Narbonne, when it was pillaged, in the sixth century, by the Franks: sixty cups, caps, or chalices; fifteen patens, or plates, for the use of the communion; twenty boxes, or cases, to hold the books of the Gospels; this consecrated wealth was distributed by the son of Clovis among the churches of his dominions, and his pious liberality seems to upbraid some former sacrilege of the Goths.SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.10

    “They possessed, with more security of conscience, the famous missorium, or great dish for the service of the table, of massy gold, of the weight of five hundred pounds, and of far superior value, from the precious stones, the exquisite workmanship, and the tradition, that it had been presented by Etius, the patrician, to Torismond, king of the Goths. One of the successors of Torismond purchased the aid of the French monarch by the promise of this magnificent gift. When he was seated on the throne of Spain, he delivered it with reluctance to the ambassadors of Dagobert; despoiled them on the road; stipulated, after a long negotiation the inadequate ransom of two hundred thousand pieces of gold; and preserved the missorium, as the pride of the Gothic treasury. When that treasury, after the conquest of Spain, was plundered by the Arabs, they admired, and they have celebrated, another object still more remarkable; a table of considerable size, of one single piece of solid emerald, encircled with three rows of fine pearls, supported by three hundred and sixty-five feet of gems and massy gold, and estimated at the price of five hundred thousand pieces of gold. Some portion of the Gothic treasures might be the gift of friendship, or the tribute of obedience; but the far greater part had been the fruits of war and rapine, the spoils of the empire, and perhaps of Rome.”—Decline and Fall, chap. 31, par. 26-30.SITI May 20, 1886, page 292.11


    (To be continued.)

    “Some One-Thousand-Dollar Reasons for Keeping Sunday” The Signs of the Times 12, 19, pp. 295, 296.

    WE come now in this one-thousand-dollar-prize essay to the discussion of the change from the seventh to the first day of the week in the observance of the Sabbath. It is true that, as already shown, the author of this essay leaves no room for any change; nevertheless he insists that there has been a change, and insists on giving “reasons” for it. And as reasons to be worth $1,000 ought to be pretty good, we shall, as far as in us lies, give our readers the full benefit of them. To get a full and fair statement of the question before us we shall quote again a passage previously referred to, as follows:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.1

    “Accepting the conclusion that the Fourth Commandment is still in force, it may very properly be asked, Why then do not Christians obey it by keeping holy the seventh day of the week, as it directs? By what right is this plain precept disregarded and the first day of the week observed? This question is a natural one, and unless a satisfactory answer can be given, the Christian world must stand convicted of error.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.2

    Now we are prepared to hear what he proposes shall be the “satisfactory answer,” and which we have good reason to suppose the American Sunday-school Union considers “a satisfactory answer,” seeing they paid $1,000 for it. Mr. Waffle’s first effort at “a satisfactory answer” is the following:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.3

    “The fact that the observance of the first day of the week is so nearly universal and has been of such long continuance is very significant.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.4

    That certainly is not a satisfactory answer. In fact, it is no answer at all. It is simply a begging of the question. But he says it is “very significant.” Significant of what? Why, this:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.5

    “It suggests that there must have been some good and sufficient reason for the change.”—P. 184.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.6

    That is to say: The “plain precept” of God has been disregarded by nearly everybody for a long while; therefore there must be some good and sufficient reason for it. In other words: It must be right because nearly everybody does it. But he knows that such doctrine as that will never do, even in a one-thousand-dollar-prize essay, so he immediately adds this caution:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.7

    “Too much should not be made of this, for the church has sanctioned many false doctrines and been tainted by many corrupt practices.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.8

    That is the truth. And one of the falsest of her many false doctrines, and one of the most corrupt of her many corrupt practices, is the disregard for the “plain precept” of God as laid down in the fourth commandment, and the substitution for it of the observance of the heathen institution of Sunday, in defense of which Mr. A. E. Waffle writes, and the American Sunday-school Union prints, this essay, which was counted worth a thousand dollars.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.9

    His next attempt at a satisfactory answer is this:SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.10

    “We have taken the custom of keeping the Sabbath on the first day of the week as we found it; and while this does not exempt us from the duty of inquiry, it throws upon those who question our course ‘the burden of proof.’”—P. 185.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.11

    Can anything be too absurd to find a place in a prize essay on the Sunday-sabbath? Here is a proposition that is contrary to the commonest king of common sense, as well as to the rules of logic and of evidence. Says Dr. Carson: “It is self-evident that in every question the burden of proof lies on the side of the affirmative. An affirmation is of no authority without proof. It is as if it had not been affirmed. If I assert a doctrine, I must prove it; for until it is proved it can have no claim to reception. Strictly speaking, it exists only on its proof; and a mere affirmation of it is only an existence on affirmation. If I obstinately refuse proof, I leave my doctrine without foundation, and a simple denial of it is sufficient. No man can be called upon to disprove that which alleges no proof. It is a truth as clear as the light of the sun, that, in every instance, proof lies with the affirmative, or with the holders of the doctrine or rite. If presumption has the privilege of casting the burden of proof on the other side, then every man has a right to decline defending his own opinions, and to cast the burden of proof upon those who dispute them. Can anything be more monstrous?” Yet in this grand prize essay this monstrosity is just what is presented as “a satisfactory answer” to the question, “By what right is the plain precept of the fourth commandment disregarded and the first day of the week observed?”SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.12

    One other statement he makes in this connection, which we wish to transcribe. He says:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.13

    “It is not claimed that the apostles began to keep the Sabbath on the first day of the week immediately after the death of Christ.”—P. 189.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.14

    Then on what day did they keep the Sabbath immediately after the death of Christ? Did they keep it on the seventh day, or did they keep no Sabbath at all between the death of Christ and the time when it is claimed they began to keep the first day of the week? In either case, would there not be just as much apostolic example for not keeping the first day of the week as there would be for keeping it? There certainly is.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.15

    After having begged the question of “a satisfactory answer” through more than five pages, he comes to the discussion of the question of reasons for the change. This he introduces with the question:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.16

    “Was there any reason for such a change?”—P. 190.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.17

    And in answer to his own question he again begins at once to beg the question thus:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.18

    “If the apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit when they made it, we need not ask for their reason.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.19

    This might be readily enough allowed if the apostles had anywhere told us that they did make the change. But when, as Mr. Waffle himself says, “so far as the record shows, they did not give any explicit command enjoining the abandonment of the seventh-day Sabbath, and its observance on the first day;” and when men insist upon palming off upon us by the authority of the apostles something that the apostles knew nothing about, we insist that we do need to ask for the reason.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.20

    But Mr. Waffle continues to beg his question. He says:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.21

    “But since the reality of the change is disputed, we may say that if good reasons for it can be discovered, they furnish presumptive proof that it really took place under divine direction.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.22

    But if reasons were discovered which should seem to us good, does it follow that these would be good reasons in the sight of God? Does it follow that these reasons will bear the test of the Judgment? And if, without any command of God, reasons should be discovered which seem to us good for the performance of what we deem religious duties, and we insist upon men’s performing these supposed duties, then what is that but to make human reason, instead of the word of God, the standard of human duty? And what is that but to usurp the prerogative of God? And what is that but to imitate the papacy? This is just what is done by Protestants when they insist upon the observance of Sunday, when, even as they admit, so far as the record of God shows, there is no command for it. Though they number to the one hundredth figure their so-called reasons for it, we care not. If there be no command of God for it, there can be no reason for it.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.23

    At last, by the help of all this beating about, Mr. Waffle actually reaches the place where he introduces the “reasons” which he has begged so hard may be admitted. The first of these is this:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.1

    “One such reason can undoubtedly be found in the abuses which had gathered around the Jewish Sabbath. Christ would not burden his church with such a Sabbath as the rabbis had made; and the easiest way to get rid of these abuses was to change the day.”—P. 190.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.2

    The second reason is:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.3

    “The Gentile churches would never have accepted the Sabbath of the Jews as they had come to observe it.”—Id.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.4

    The third reason is:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.5

    “Christians were not to observe the Sabbath precisely as the Jews had kept it before these abuses arose and while they were acting in accordance with the divine law.”—P. 191.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.6

    To take the space to refute such puerile “reasons” as these, seems to us an imposition upon the good sense and intelligence of our readers. As for the first, if there be any truth at all in it, we should be obliged to believe that Christ changed almost every precept of God; for there was scarcely one which the rabbis, the scribes, and Pharisees had not made void by their traditions and abuses. As for the second, it really has no place; for the great Author of Christianity never asked the Gentile churches, nor any other churches, to accept “the Sabbath of the Jews as they had come to observe it.” But he does ask all to accept the Sabbath of the Lord as he himself observed it, and as he taught that it should be observed. For this cause he swept away the traditions and abuses that the Jews had heaped upon it. As for the third, what is said there is, in fact, that “Christians were not to observe the Sabbath by acting in accordance with the divine law” (!), which is simply abominable.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.7

    But such are the “reasons” for disregarding the plain precept of Jehovah. It was for such “reasons” as this that the American Sunday-school Union, “after a painstaking and protracted examination,” paid a prize of $1,000. There is, however, just one redeeming feature of this subject. That is, the author of these “reasons” relieves the apostles of all responsibility for them. He says:—SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.8

    “We do not say that the apostles saw these reasons and were governed by them. We offer them in explanation of the fact that they were led by the Spirit to make the change, and as suggesting a probability that it would be made.”—P. 192.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.9

    We think Mr. Waffle does well to relieve the apostles from the folly of any knowledge of these preposterous “reasons.” And we are certain that all will do well to remain just as far from seeing and being governed by these “reasons” as were the apostles. In this we have an instance of “apostolic example” that we can all safely follow. J.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.10

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