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    November 5, 1885

    “The Roman Empire. (Continued.)” The Signs of the Times 11, 42, p. 660.

    “THE only accession which the Roman Empire received during the first century of the Christian era, was the province of Britain. In this single instance the successors of Cesar and Augustus were persuaded to follow the example of the former, rather than the precept of the latter. The proximity of its situation to the coast of Gaul seemed to invite their arms; the pleasing, though doubtful intelligence of a pearl fishery attracted their avarice; and as Britain was viewed in the light of a distinct and insulated world, the conquest scarcely formed any exception to the general system of continental measures. After a war of about forty years [A.D. 41-81], undertaken by the most stupid [Claudius], maintained by the most dissolute [Nero], and terminated by the most timid [Domitian] of all the emperors, the far greater part of the island submitted to the Roman yoke... At the very time when Domitian, confined to his palace, felt the terrors which he inspired, his legions, under the command of the virtuous Agricola, defeated the collected force of the Caledonians at the foot of the Grampian hills; and his fleets, venturing to explore an unknown and dangerous navigation, displayed the Roman arms round every part of the island...SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.1

    “But the superior merit of Agricola soon occasioned his removal from the Government of Britain.... Before his departure, the prudent general had provided for security as well as for dominion. He had observed that the island is almost divided into two unequal parts by the opposite gulfs, or, as they are now called, the Friths of Scotland. Across the narrow interval of about forty miles, he had drawn a line of military stations, which was afterwards fortified in the reign of Antoninus Pius, by a turf rampart erected on foundations of stone. This wall of Antoninus, at a small distance beyond the modern cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, was fixed as the limit of the Roman province. The native Caledonians preserved in the northern extremity of the island their wild independence, for which they were not less indebted to their poverty than to their valor.... The masters of the fairest and most wealthy climates of the globe, turned with contempt from gloomy hills assailed by the winter tempest, from lakes concealed in a blue mist, and from cold and lonely heaths, over which the deer of the forest were chased by a troop of naked barbarians.SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.2

    “Such was the state of the Roman frontiers, and such the maxims of Imperial policy, from the death of Augustus to the accession of Trajan [A. D. 98]. That virtuous and active prince had received the education of a soldier, and possessed the talents of a general. The peaceful system of his predecessors was interrupted by scenes of war and conquest; and the legions, after a long interval, beheld a military emperor at their head. The first exploits of Trajan were against the Dacians, the most warlike of men, who dwelt beyond the Danube, and who, during the reign of Domitian, had insulted with impunity the majesty of Rome....SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.3

    “Decebalus, the Dacian king, approved himself a rival not unworthy of Trajan; nor did he despair of his own and the public fortune, till, by the confession of his enemies, he had exhausted every resource, both of valor and policy. This memorable war, with a very short suspension of hostilities, lasted five years; and as the emperor could exert, without control, the whole force of the State, it was terminated by the absolute submission of the barbarians. The new province of Dacia, which formed a second exception to the precept of Augustus, was about thirteen hundred miles in circumference. Its natural boundaries were the Niester, the Teyss or Tibiscus [Temes], the Lower Danube, and the Euxine [Black] Sea....SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.4

    “Trajan was ambitious of fame; and as long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause upon their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst for military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters. The praises of Alexander, transmitted by a succession of poets and historians, had kindled a dangerous emulation in the mind of Trajan. Like him, the Roman emperor undertook an expedition against the nations of the East; but he lamented, with a sigh, that his advanced age scarcely left him any hopes of equaling the renown of the son of Philip. Yet the success of Trajan, however transient, was rapid and specious. The degenerate Parthians, broken by intestine discord, fled before his arms. He descended the River Tigris in triumph, from the mountains of Armenia to the Persian Gulf. He enjoyed the honor of being the first, as he was the last, of the Roman generals who ever navigated that remote sea. His fleets ravaged the coasts of Arabia; and Trajan vainly flattered himself that he was approaching towards the confines of India.SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.5

    “Every day the astonished senate received the intelligence of new names and new nations that acknowledged his sway. They were informed that the kings of Bosphorus, Colchis, Iberia, Albania [countries above Armenia between the Black and the Caspian Seas], Osrboene [a province of Mesopotamia in the bend of the Euphrates], and even the Parthian monarch himself, had accepted their diadems from the hands of the emperor; that the independent tribes of the Median and Carduchian hills had implored his protection, and that the rich countries of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, were reduced into the state of provinces. But the death of Trajan soon clouded the splendid prospect; and it was justly to be dreaded that so many distinct nations would throw off the unaccustomed yoke when they were no longer restrained by the powerful hand which had imposed it.”SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.6

    In A. D. 117, Trajan died, and was succeeded by Hadrian, and:—SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.7

    “The resignation of all the Eastern conquests of Trajan was the first measure of his reign. He restored to the Parthians the election of an independent sovereign, withdrew the Roman garrisons from the provinces of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, and, in compliance with the precept of Augustus, once more established the Euphrates as the frontier of the empire.”SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.8

    “The marital and ambitious spirit of Trajan formed a very singular contrast with the moderation of his successor. The restless activity of Hadrian was not less remarkable, when compared with the gentle repose of Antoninus Pius. The life of the former was almost a perpetual journey; and as he possessed the various talents of the soldier, the statesman, and the scholar, he gratified his curiosity in the discharge of his duty. Careless of the difference of the seasons and of climates, he marched, on foot and bareheaded, over the snow of Caledonia and the sultry plains of the Upper Egypt; nor was there a province of the empire, which, in the course of his reign, was not honored with the presence of the monarch. But the tranquil life of Antoninus Pius was spent in the bosom of Italy; and during the twenty-three years that he directed the public administration, the longest journeys of that amiable prince extended no farther than from his palace in Rome to the retirement of his Lanuvian Villa.SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.9

    “Notwithstanding this difference in their personal conduct, the general system of Augustus was equally adopted, and uniformly pursued, by Hadrian and the two Antonines. They persisted in the design of maintaining the dignity of the empire, without attempting to enlarge its limits. By every honorable expedient they invited the friendship of the barbarians; and endeavored to convince mankind that the Roman power, raised above the temptation of conquest, was actuated only by the love of order and justice. During a long period of forty-three years [A.D. 117-161], their virtuous labors were crowned with success; and if we may except a few slight hostilities that served to exercise the legions of the frontier, the reigns of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius offered the fair prospect of universal peace. The Roman name was revered among the most remote nations of the earth. The fiercest barbarians frequently submitted their differences to the arbitration of the emperor; and we are informed by a contemporary historian that he had seen ambassadors who were refused the honor which they came to solicit, of being admitted into the rank of subjects.SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.10

    “The terror of the Roman arms added weight and dignity to the moderation of the emperors. They preserved peace by a constant preparation for war; and while justice regulated their conduct, they announced to the nations on their confines that they were as little disposed to endure as to offer an injury. The military strength which it had been sufficient for Hadrian and the elder Antonius to display, was exerted against the Parthians and the Germans by the Emperor Marcus [Aurelius, A.D. 161-180]. The hostilities of the barbarians provoked the resentment of that philosophic monarch, and, in the prosecution of a just defense, Marcus and his generals obtained many signal victories both on the Euphrates and on the Danube.”—Dec. and Fall, chap. 1, par. 4-12.SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.11

    After a sketch of the provinces, which we shall have occasion hereafter to notice, Gibbon gives the area and population of the empire, as follows:—SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.12

    “This long enumeration of provinces whose broken fragments have formed so many powerful kingdoms, might almost induce us to forgive the vanity or ignorance of the ancients. Dazzled with the extensive sway, the irresistible strength, and the real or affected moderation of the emperors, they permitted themselves to despise, and sometimes to forget, the outlying countries which had been left in the enjoyment of a barbarous independence; and they gradually usurped the license of confounding the Roman monarchy with the globe of the earth. But the temper as well as the knowledge of a modern historian, requires a more sober and accurate language. He may impress a juster image of the greatness of Rome, by observing that the empire was above two thousand miles in breadth, from the wall of Antoninus and the northern limites of Dacia to Mount Atlas and the tropic of Cancer; that it extended, in length, more than three thousand miles, from the Western Ocean to the Euphrates; that it was situated in the finest part of the temperate zone—between the twenty-fourth and fifty-sixth degrees of northern latitude; and that it was supposed to contain above sixteen hundred thousand square miles, for the most part of fertile and well-cultivated land.”—Dec. and Fall, chap. 1, last par.SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.13

    “The number of subjects who acknowledged the laws of Rome,—of citizens, of provincials, and of slaves,—cannot now be fixed with such a degree of accuracy as the importance of the object would deserve. We are informed that when the Emperor Claudius exercised the office of censor, he took an account of six million nine hundred and forty-five thousand Roman citizens, who, with the proportion of women and children, must have amounted to about twenty millions of souls. The multitude of subjects of an inferior rank was uncertain and fluctuating. But after weighing with attention every circumstance which could influence the balance, it seems probable that there existed, in the time of Claudius, about twice as many provincials as there were citizens, of either sex and of every age; and that the slaves were at least equal in number to the free inhabitants of the Roman world. The total amount of this imperfect calculation would rise to about one hundred and twenty millions of persons, a degree of population which possibly exceeds that of modern Europe, and forms the most numer- ous society that has ever been united under the same system of government.”—Id., chap. 2, par. 17.SITI November 5, 1885, page 660.14

    It should be borne in mind that when Gibbon states that this degree of population “possibly exceeds that of modern Europe,” it was the Europe of more than a million years ago. This was written about A.D. 1773, and, according to the printed estimates, at that date Europe contained a population of about 107,000,000. Its population, June, 1882, was 327,743,400.SITI November 5, 1885, page 661.1

    In the reign of Marcus Aurelius we reach the summit of the greatness of the Roman Empire. In the reign of Commodus, his son and successor, A.D. 180, this mighty “fabric of human greatness” began to decline and totter toward its fearful fall. At this point, therefore, we shall close our view of the greatness and power of Rome, only pausing to remarks that, in view of the indubitable evidences which we have presented, we cannot see how any one can doubt that the prophet spoke directly of the Roman Empire when he said:—SITI November 5, 1885, page 661.2

    “The fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron; forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.”SITI November 5, 1885, page 661.3

    A. T. J.

    (To be continued.)

    “Notes on the International Lesson. Jonah 3:1-10, Nineveh’s Repentance” The Signs of the Times 11, 42, pp. 663, 664.
    NOVEMBER 15. Jonah 3:1-10

    LAST week’s lesson ended with Jonah in the fish’s belly. Then he began to pray. In fact, he began to pray as soon as he was cast into the sea; for he says: “For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about; all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.” “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple.” Chap. 2:3, 4, 7. It often happens that some such upsetting as this is necessary to bring men to see themselves. David said, “Before I was afflict I went astray; but now have I kept thy word.” Psalm 119:67. Then he says: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.” Verse 71. The whole of Psalm 107 is made up of instances of men being brought by dangers, afflictions, etc., to acknowledge God, and of calls upon men to “praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.”SITI November 5, 1885, page 663.1

    YET it is to be feared that, in most cases, after the Lord at such times has heard their cries and delivered them, they remember him, at best, for only a little while, and turn again to folly. But Jonah well says: “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercise thereby.” Hebrews 12:11. Jonah’s repentance was genuine. He was ready to obey God, and he said, “I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”SITI November 5, 1885, page 663.2

    “AND the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” “Preach the preaching that I bid thee,” is the Lord’s command to every preacher. “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thy heart, and hear with thy ears.” “And tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.” Ezekiel 3:10, 11. “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.” 2 Timothy 4:1, 2. That which the Lord says is the only thing that is right. It may not always be the most pleasant thing to speak, nor the most pleasant thing for men to hear, but it is the best thing to speak, and it is the best thing for men to hear.SITI November 5, 1885, page 663.3

    “NOW NINEVEH was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.” Nineveh was built by Asshur, a grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:11), and at this time was the greatest city in the world, containing about 600,000 people. It was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, which had spread its rule from the Tigris to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf. “And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”SITI November 5, 1885, page 663.4

    THE message reached the king, and he too joined the general fear. He not only joined in it, but issued a decree that the good work should go on. “For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing; let them not feed, nor drink water; but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God; yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.”SITI November 5, 1885, page 663.5

    THIS was genuine repentance. The Saviour declared it to be so, and that these men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment and condemn the generation to whom he preached. “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” We have, therefore, the testimony of Jesus that the men of Nineveh repented. The word which John the Baptist, and Jesus, and Peter, and all the apostles preached, was, “Repent.” And by the action of the Ninevites, it is shown that repentance is not only in word, not only in fasting and prayer, but this with turning every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in his hands. “Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well.” Isaiah 1:16. Anything short of turning from evil and of wanting to do better, it is of no avail until they really do better. And all who do so God will receive and forgive as really as he did theSITI November 5, 1885, page 663.6

    (Continued on page 670.)

    (Continued from page 263.)

    men of Nineveh. “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”SITI November 5, 1885, page 663.7

    “BUT it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.” Jonah thought all his credit as a prophet, or even as a man, was forfeited. He had told the people that the city should be destroyed, and now the Lord was not going to do it, and he was therefore “very angry.” It seems that he had told the Lord as much before he left his own country; for now he says: “O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish.” From this it appears that when the Lord first told Jonah to arise and go to Nineveh and cry against it, Jonah had said to him, in substance, If I go up Nineveh and tell them the city shall be overthrown, they will stop sinning and turn to the Lord, and then thou wilt not overthrow it; and so if the city is not to be overthrown anyhow, I might as well stay in my own country, or anywhere else; therefore I will flee to Tarshish. He did not think that if the city was to be destroyed anyway it was indeed useless for him to go. Jonah apparently cared more for his reputation than he did for all the souls in Nineveh, and thought that the Lord should turn a deaf ear to all the cries of the people, so that Jonah’s word might be performed in spite of all.SITI November 5, 1885, page 663.8

    “SO Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.” Then the Lord prepared a gourd “that it might be a shadow over his head” from the heat; and the next day the gourd withered, and a vehement east wind “and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted,” and he wished that he might die, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” “Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night; and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”SITI November 5, 1885, page 663.9

    THERE the record closes. Jonah made no further answer. It is queer that he could not see and rejoice in the mercy of God, in the first place; that the wicked people would not turn without warning; that unless they did turn they must perish; and that the warning alone could save them. But the Lord was patient and gentle with him, and kindly taught him the lesson which he was slow to discern. “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he delighteth in mercy.” Micah 7:18.SITI November 5, 1885, page 663.10

    A. T. J.

    Psalm 146:4” The Signs of the Times 11, 42, p. 665.

    IN Psalm 146:3, 4, we read: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” This is in harmony with the Scriptures throughout. As stated elsewhere, “the dead know not anything;” “their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6. “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” Psalm 115:17.SITI November 5, 1885, page 665.1

    To evade the force of the words of Psalm 146:4,—“In that very day his thoughts perish,“—it has been, for a long while, a favorite scheme of those who hold to the immortality of the soul to change the words of the text by substituting the word “purposes” for “thoughts,” claiming that the man still thinks when he is dead, but that the purposes which he had formed while living have perished, that they cannot be accomplished. And now comes the Revised Version, and, with a marginal reading, bolsters up this theory. The text of Psalm 146:4 reads in the Revised Version just as it does in the Old Version, but “purposes” is put into the margin as an alternate reading. Thus this version is made to favor the idea that “thoughts” in the text is at least equivalent in meaning to “purposes;” and that when a man dies, in that very day his purposes perish, but his thoughts go on.SITI November 5, 1885, page 665.2

    Such an interpretation of the text is, as we have seen, to make the scripture contradict itself. But that is not all, it is to make the scripture contradict every principle of fact and evidence as seen in human experience. Let us cite a few instances of men’s purposes that did not perish “in that very day,” in which their breath went forth and they returned to earth. Nebuchadnezzar formed the purpose of confining the River Tigris within certain limits, and built an extensive embankment at a place near where Bagdad now stands; and the bricks with which he faced and strengthened the embankment, and which have upon the his name, lie to-day exactly as he placed them. We know, therefore, that that purpose of his did not perish in the very day in which his breath went forth, nor for ages afterward, if indeed it has yet perished.SITI November 5, 1885, page 665.3

    Stephen Girard purposed that the poor white orphans of the city of Philadelphia, Pa., should have the benefits of education, and should be supported till they had acquired an education. That purpose did not perish; not has it yet perished, nor will it ever while the world lasts.SITI November 5, 1885, page 665.4

    Peter Cooper purposed that mechanics and artisans should have opportunity to acquire “the most skillful practice of their several trades; to that they could not only apply their labor to the best possible advantages, but enjoy the happiness of acquiring useful knowledge—the purest and most innocent of all sources of enjoyment.” His purpose did not perish when he died.SITI November 5, 1885, page 665.5

    James Lick purposed that the State of California should have an observatory, and in it a telescope having a larger object-glass than any that had ever yet been made. He died. But so far from his purpose perishing the “very day” in which his breath went forth, Europe and America have been engaged ever since in fulfilling that purpose, now soon to be accomplished.SITI November 5, 1885, page 665.6

    Multitudes of such instances might be given from all ages of human history in illustration of the fact that to read purposes for thoughts in Psalm 146:4, is to put darkness for light, and falsehood for truth. The fact of the matter is, men’s purposes perish while they live as well as when they die. It is not necessary to wait till their “breath goeth forth,” and they return to earth, to realize that fact. To-day I may form a purpose concerning to-morrow, or next week, or next month, or next year, and that purpose may, and indeed does as often as otherwise, perish. Yet I continue to live and to think. To-day I may purpose a thing in regard to even the things of this very day, and that purpose is just as likely as not to perish; but that affects neither the fact of my living, nor of my thinking. Again we say, and the experience of every human being proves the truth, that men’s purposes perish in the days that they live, as well as in the day that they die.SITI November 5, 1885, page 665.7

    It is not so with men’s thoughts. When a man dies, it is the truth that “in that very day his thoughts perish”—he ceases to think, the mind ceases to act. As long as there is consciousness, there is thought; but when a man dies, all power of thought is destroyed. That a man can think when he is dead is certainly one of the most perverse ideas that ever entered men’s brains. A man may be struck a slight blow on the head, and he ceases to think; but let him be struck a crushing, killing blow, and lo! he thinks more and better than ever! In other words; knock him senseless and he cannot think at all; kill him, and he can think better than ever before!! Was there ever such nonsense? Does any one suppose that Adam, before he lived, had any powers of thought? Assuredly not. Then upon what principles can it be supposed that he had any such powers after he died—when he had returned to the condition in which he was before he lived? Did he, by sinning, acquire the power to think after he was dead? Did he, by sinning, acquire the power to retain in death one of the very chiefest of the abbtributes of life—the power of thought?SITI November 5, 1885, page 665.8

    It is the absolute truth that “the wages of sin is death;” and when, because of sin, death passed upon all mankind, it is equally the truth that when “his breath goeth forth,” and “he returned to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish.”SITI November 5, 1885, page 665.9

    A. T. J.

    “Rice” The Signs of the Times 11, 42, p. 671.

    RICE.—Died, Oct. 14, 1885, of inflammation of the bowels, Laura, youngest child of S. C. and Anna Rice, of Healdsburg, Cal., aged 17 months and 14 days. Services by the writer.SITI November 5, 1885, page 671.1

    A. T. J.

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