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    November 19, 1885

    “The Roman Empire. (Concluded.) The Roman Provinces” The Signs of the Times 11, 44, p. 692.

    (Concluded).

    THE ROMAN PROVINCES

    THE boundaries of Italy were the same as they now are, and were divided by Augustus into eleven regions.SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.1

    “The European provinces of Rome were protected by the course of the Rhine and the Danube. The latter of those mighty streams, which arises at the distance of only thirty miles from the former, flows about thirteen hundred miles, for the most part to the southeast, collects the tribute of sixty navigable rivers, and is, at length, through six months, received into the Euxine [Black Sea], which appears scarcely equal to such an accession of waters. The provinces of the Danube soon acquired the general appellation of Illyricum, or the Illyrian frontier, and were esteemed the most warlike of the empire; but they deserve to be more particularly considered under the names of Rhetia, Noricum, Pannonia, Dalmatia, Dacia, Mesia, Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece.SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.2

    “The province of Rhetia, which soon extinguished the name of the Vindelicians, extended from the summit of the Alps to the banks of the Danube, from its source, as far as its conflux with the Inn....SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.3

    “The wide extent of territory which is included between the Inn, the Danube, and the Save,—Austria Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, the Lower Hungary, and Sclavonia,—was known to the ancients under the names of Noricum and Pannonia. In their original state of independence, their fierce inhabitants were intimately connected. Under the Roman Government they were frequently united, and they still remain the patrimony of a single family.... It may not be improper to observe, that if we except Bohemia, Moravia, the northern skirts of Austria, and a part of Hungary, between the Teyss and the Danube, all the other dominions of the House of Austria were comprised within the limits of the Roman Empire.SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.4

    “Dalmatia, to which the name of Illyricum more properly belonged, was a long, but narrow tract, between the Save and the Adriatic....SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.5

    “After the Danube had received the waters of the Teyss and the Save, it acquired, at least among the Greeks, the name of Ister. It formerly divided Mesia and Dacia, the latter of which, as we have already seen, was a conquest of Trajan, and the only province beyond the river. If we inquire into the present state of those countries, we shall find that, on the left hand of the Danube, Temeswar and Transylvania have been annexed, after many revolutions, to the crown of Hungary; whilst the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia acknowledge the supremacy of the Ottoman Porte. On the right bank of the Danube. Mesia, which during the Middle Ages, was broken into the barbarian kingdoms of Servia and Bulgaria, is again united in Turkish slavery.SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.6

    “The appellation of Rommelia, which is still bestowed by the Turks on the extensive countries of Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece, preserves the memory of their ancient state under the Roman Empire. In the time of the Antonines, the martial regions of Thrace, from the mountains of Hemus and Rhodope to the Bosphorus and the Hellespont had assumed the form of a province.... The kingdom of Macedonia, which, under the reign of Alexander, gave laws to Asia, derived more solid advantages from the policy of the two Philips; and with its dependencies of Epirus and Thessaly, extended from the Egean to the Ionian Sea. When we reflect on the fame of Thebes and Argos, of Sparta and Athens, we can scarcely persuade ourselves that so many immortal republics of ancient Greece were lost in a single province of the Roman Empire, which, from the superior influence of the Achean league, was usually denominated the province of Achaia.SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.7

    “Such was the state of Europe under the Roman emperors.... From Cyrene [the twentieth degree east longitude] to the ocean, the coast of Africa extends above fifteen hundred miles; yet so closely is it pressed between the Mediterranean and the Sahara, or sandy desert, that its breadth seldom exceeds fourscore or a hundred miles. The eastern division was considered by the Romans as the more peculiar and proper province of Africa. Till the arrival of the Phœnician colonies, that fertile country was inhabited by the Libyans, the most savage of mankind. Under the immediate jurisdiction of Carthage, it became the center of commerce and empire; but the republic of Carthage is now degenerated into the feeble and disorderly States of Tripoli and Tunis.SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.8

    “The military government of Algiers oppresses the wide extent of Numidia, as it was once united under Mussinissa and Jugurtha; but in the time of Augustus, the limits of Numidia were contracted; and at least two-thirds of the country acquiesced in the name of Mauritania, with the epithet of Ceariensis. The genuine Mauritania, or country of the Moors, which, from the ancient city of Tingi, or Tangier, was distinguished by the appellation of Tingitana, is represented by the modern kingdom of Fez. Salle, on the ocean, long infamous for its piratical depredations, was noticed by the Romans as the extreme object of their power, and almost of their geography. A city of their foundation may still be discovered near Mequinez, the residence of the barbarian whom we condescend to style the emperor of Morocco; but it does not appear tat his more southern dominions, Morocco itself and Segelmessa, were ever comprehended within the Roman province...SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.9

    “We may observe, that Africa is divided from Spain by a narrow strait of about twelve miles, through which the Atlantic flows into the Mediterranean. The columns of Hercules, so famous among the ancients, were two mountains which seemed to have been torn asunder by some convulsion of the elements; and at the foot of the European mountain the fortress of Gibraltar is now seated. The whole extent of the Mediterranean Sea, its coasts, and its islands, were comprised within the Roman dominion.”—Decline and Fall, chap. 1, par. 28-33, 37, 38. See also Ginn and Heath’s Classical Atlas, Map 12.SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.10

    Of these provinces, Pannonia and all westward, and those named on the African coast, formed the territory proper of the fourth kingdom,—Rome. These, with the northwestern part of Illyricum, formed what is known in history as the Latin or Western Empire of Rome. And it is within the boundaries of the Western Empire that the ten kingdoms should be established.SITI November 19, 1885, page 692.11

    A. T. J.

    “Notes on the International Lesson. 2 Kings 20:1-17. Hezekiah’s Prayer Answered” The Signs of the Times 11, 44, p. 695.
    NOVEMBER 29. 2 Kings 20:1-17

    AFTER Hezekiah’s punishment, and his confession and submission to Sennacherib, as related in last week’s lesson, he fell sick of the malady which forms the subject of this lesson. “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amos came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord. Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” This message is somewhat different from that which would be given in the majority of cases nowadays to as good a man as Hezekiah. Now, the word of comfort would be, in most instances, in substance about this: “You are now to leave this world and go to Heaven. We speak of it as death, but in reality there is no death. ‘Death is but the gate to endless joy,’ and you will soon be happy in Heaven; and by this you will know what true life is; it is then you will really begin to live,” etc., etc.SITI November 19, 1885, page 695.1

    BUT such is not the message of God to any dying person. “Thou shalt die, and not live,” is the word of God. And therefore when a person dies, and he does not live. A person cannot be dead and alive at the same time. If he is dead, he is dead, and not alive; and he will not be alive until the resurrection—if righteous, till the resurrection of the just; if unrighteous, till the resurrection of the unjust. And so Hezekiah understood it. He seems to have had no idea that he was going to Heaven when he died; if he had, he certainly showed very little appreciation of the blessedness of it, by weeping, as he did, “with a great weeping.” But we have his own word on this subject: “The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness: I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave; I am deprived of the residue of my years. I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living.... Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove. For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day; the father to the children shall make known thy truth.” Isaiah 38:9-19.SITI November 19, 1885, page 695.2

    THUS spake Hezekiah. And it was because, if he should die, he would go to the grave—to a place and condition in which he could neither see nor praise the Lord. It was because of this that he “wept sore.” It was because of this that he desired not yet to die. Then came the word of the Lord to him by Isaiah: “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; ... and I will add unto thy days fifteen years.... And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.” 2 Kings 20:5-7. It is right to pray for the sick, indeed the Lord has given specific directions to do so; but he has not directed us to disregard appliances. On the contrary, in this place he gives just as specific directions to use appliances as he does in the other place to pray for the sick. Notice, too, that it was after his distinct promise to heal Hezekiah and to add unto his days fifteen years, that he ordered them to take a bunch of figs and lay on the boil; but it was not till after they had applied the figs that he recovered. Prayer and faith and works, or, in other words, common sense, go together in the intelligent service of the Lord; while that kind of faith-cure, that is now becoming too prevalent, that proposes to cure all manner of diseases without either appliances or common sense, is nothing but spiritual quackery, and is strikingly akin to presumption. It certainly is not intelligent faith.SITI November 19, 1885, page 695.3

    “AND Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he hath spoken; shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord; and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.” Verses 9-11. It is hard to understand how Hezekiah should think it any more of “a light thing” for the shadow to go down than for it to go back. To us it would seem to be just as easy to do the one as to do the other; for certainly no power but that of God could do either, and it is just as easy for Almighty power to do one thing as it is to do another. Whatever Hezekiah may have thought about this, we can find excuse for him; but we can find literally no excuse for those modern would-be wise “divines” who attempt to tell just how this thing was done. They attempt to explain by natural causes, not only this miracle, but other such recorded events, especially in the Old Testament. If these were the result of what we know as natural causes; if these things were in accordance with what is termed and known as natural law, then there was no miracle about them. And to talk, as some do, of these things as being too “violent interferences with the order of nature,” is simply to talk nonsense. What is the order of nature? Who established the order of nature? Is not God above nature? Is not the order of nature simply the ordinances which God established? Assuredly so. Then is he bound, as we are, to act strictly according to these laws? If so, then there is no such thing as a miracle. And every attempt to explain by natural causes any of the miracles recorded in the Bible, is just so much of an effort to reduce them to the level of the natural, and to rob them of their sublime dignity as miracles, and is therefore simply unbelief, however much faith may be professed.SITI November 19, 1885, page 695.4

    SHORTLY after Hezekiah’s recovery, Merodach-baladan, king of Babylon, sent messengers with letters and a present unto Hezekiah, because he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick and had recovered; and he also sent these messengers “to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land.” 2 Chronicles 32:31. Merodach-baladan was at first king of a small country at the head of the Persian Gulf; but he spread his authority northward, and took Babylon and began to reign there about 721 B.C.—the same year in which Sargon became king of Assyria. Sargon went down to recover Babylon. He did so; and took Merodach-baladan prisoner, and carried him into Assyria; but he escaped from prison, returned to Babylon, re-established his authority there, and maintained it a few years, until Sennacherib once more recovered Babylon to Assyria. Merodach-baladan then fled to an island in the Persian Gulf, where he died; and Sennacherib, to prevent further revolt of the rebellious city, determined, as he says himself, “to overthrow it even more than was done by the deluge,” and so left it a heap of ruins, with the Euphrates running over it.SITI November 19, 1885, page 695.5

    IT was during Merodach-baladan’s second reign in Babylon, and between Sennacherib’s first and second invasions of Judea, that this embassy came from Babylon to Hezekiah. We saw in last week’s lesson how Hezekiah, by receiving the king of Ekron, had brought Sennacherib upon him; and how that, by his submission and the payment of a large tribute, Sennacherib had turned back. The matter of the second invasion appears to be about as follows: Ambassadors were sent, either by Hezekiah or by an influential faction, to solicit the alliance of Egypt against Assyria. Isaiah 30:1-7; 31:1-5. Sennacherib learned of it (2 Kings 18:19-21), and came out to Lachish, and so placed himself between Hezekiah and his forces, and the king of Egypt and his forces. From Lachish he sent Rab-shakeh and Rabsaria and Tartan up to Jerusalem to demand the submission of Hezekiah, upon the condition that he should remain in his own land until Sennacherib got ready to come and carry all away captive. 2 Kings 18:31-35. Hezekiah refused to hear him, and forbade any of the people to answer him, and sent a company to Isaiah to ask whether the Lord would not hear the words of Rab-shakeh. 2 Kings 18:36, 37; 19:1-5.SITI November 19, 1885, page 695.6

    THEN Rab-shakeh returned to Sennacherib at Libnah, “for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.” Then Sennacherib heard that Tirhakah king of Ethiopia had come out to fight against him. Then he sent messengers with a letter to Hezekiah. Hezekiah took this letter up into the temple and spread it before the Lord, and prayed him to see and hear all the words of Sennacherib. 2 Kings 19:6-16. “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand.” 2 Kings 19:35. So it is a mistake to suppose that Sennacherib’s army was encamped against Jerusalem when it was smitten by the angel. And this is exactly what Isaiah had said: “Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He3 shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.” 2 Kings 19:32. Accordingly, we find that the whole narrative goes to show that Sennacherib was away below Libnah, going to fight with Tirhakah, when his army was smitten. And Sennacherib returned “with shame of face” into his own land.SITI November 19, 1885, page 695.7

    THUS once more Jehovah showed himself to his people and to the heathen as above all gods. And showed himself ready and willing to deliver his people from the oppressor, when they put their trust implicitly in him. He is the same mighty God, the same tender Father, to his people to-day as he was of old. With him is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning;” but men’s sins have separted between them and him, and when they shall return, as he in mercy is now calling upon them to do, to faithful obedience to all his law, once more he will show himself valiant in the behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward him. “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound.” Yea, “Blessed is that people whose God is Jehovah.” A. T. J.SITI November 19, 1885, page 695.8

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