Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    February 25, 1886

    “The Ostrogoths and the Visigoths. (Continued.)” The Signs of the Times 12, 8, p. 116.

    “THE character of the civil and military officers, on whom Rufinus had devolved the government of Greece, confirmed the public suspicion, that he had betrayed the ancient seat of freedom and learning to the Gothic invader. The proconsul Antiochus was the unworthy son of a respectable father; and Gerontius, who commanded the provincial troops, was much better qualified to execute the oppressive orders of a tyrant, than to defend, with courage and ability, a country most remarkably fortified by the hand of nature. Alaric had traversed [A.D. 396], without resistance, the plains of Macedonia and Thessaly, as far as the foot of Mount Oeta, a steep and woody range of hills, almost impervious to his cavalry. They stretched from east to west, to the edge of the sea-shore; and left, between the precipice and the Malian Gulf, an interval of three hundred feet, which, in some places, was contracted to a road capable of admitting only a single carriage. In this narrow pass of Thermopyle, where Leonidas and the three hundred Spartans had gloriously devoted their lives, the Goths might have been stopped, or destroyed, by a skilful general; and perhaps the view of that sacred spot might have kindled some sparks of military ardor in the breasts of the degenerate Greeks.SITI February 25, 1886, page 116.1

    “The troops which had been posted to defend the Straits of Thermopyle, retired, as they were directed, without attempting to disturb the secure and rapid passage of Alaric; and the fertile fields of Phocis and Bœotia were instantly covered by a deluge of Barbarians who massacred the males of an age to bear arms, and drove away the beautiful females, with the spoil and cattle of the flaming villages. The travelers, who visited Greece several years afterwards, could easily discover the deep and bloody traces of the march of the Goths; and Thebes was less indebted for her preservation to the strength of her seven gates, than to the eager haste of Alaric, who advanced to occupy the city of Athens, and the important harbor of the Pireus. The same impatience urged him to prevent the delay and danger of a siege, by the offer of a capitulation; and as soon as the Athenians heard the voice of the Gothic herald, they were easily persuaded to deliver the greatest part of their wealth, as the ransom of the city of Minerva and its inhabitants.SITI February 25, 1886, page 116.2

    “The treaty was ratified by solemn oaths, and observed with mutual fidelity. The Gothic prince, with a small and select train, was admitted within the walls; he indulged himself in the refreshment of the bath, accepted a splendid banquet, which was provided by the magistrate, and affected to show that he was not ignorant of the manners of civilized nations. But the whole territory of Attica, from the promontory of Sunium to the town of Megara, was blasted by his baleful presence; and, if we may use the comparison of a contemporary philosopher, Athens itself resembled the bleeding and empty skin of a slaughtered victim. The confidence of the cities of Peloponnesus in their natural rampart, had tempted them to neglect the care of their antique walls; and the avarice of the Roman governors had exhausted and betrayed the unhappy province. Corinth, Argos, Sparta, yielded without resistance to the arms of the Goths; and the most fortunate of the inhabitants were saved, by death, from beholding the slavery of their families and the conflagration of their cities. The vases and statues were distributed among the barbarians, with more regard to the value of the materials, than to the elegance of the workmanship; the female captives submitted to the laws of war; the enjoyment of beauty was the reward of valor; and the Greeks could not reasonably complain of an abuse which was justified by the example of the heroic times.SITI February 25, 1886, page 116.3

    “From Thermopyle to Sparta, the leader of the Goths pursued his victorious march without encountering any mortal antagonists; but one of the advocates of expiring Paganism has confidently asserted, that the walls of Athens were guarded by the goddess Minerva, with her formidable Aegis, and by the angry phantom of Achilles; and that the conqueror was dismayed by the presence of the hostile deities of Greece. In an age of miracles, it would perhaps be unjust to dispute the claim of the historian Zosimus to the common benefit: yet it cannot be dissembled, that the mind of Alaric was ill prepared to receive, either in sleeping or waking visions, the impressions of Greek superstition. The songs of Homer, and the fame of Achilles, had probably never reached the ear of the illiterate barbarian; and the Christian faith, which he had devoutly embraced, taught him to despise the imaginary deities of Rome and Athens. The invasion of the Goths, instead of vindicating the honor, contributed, at least accidentally, to extirpate the last remains of paganism; and the mysteries of Ceres, which had subsisted eighteen hundred years, did not survive the destruction of Eleusis, and the calamities of Greece.SITI February 25, 1886, page 116.4

    “The last hope of a people who could no longer depend on their arms, their gods, or their sovereign, was placed in the powerful assistance of the general of the West; and Stilicho, who had not been permitted to repulse, advanced to chastise, the invaders of Greece. A numerous fleet was equipped in the ports of Italy; and the troops, after a short and prosperous navigation over the Ionian Sea, were safely disembarked on the isthmus, near the ruins of Corinth. The woody and mountainous country of Arcadia, the fabulous residence of Pan and the Dryads, became the scene of a long and doubtful conflict between the two generals not unworthy of each other. The skill and perseverance of the Roman at length prevailed; and the Goths, after sustaining a considerable loss from disease and desertion, gradually retreated to the lofty mountain of Pholoe, near the sources of the Peneus, and on the frontiers of Elis; a sacred country, which had formerly been exempted from the calamities of war. The camp of the barbarians was immediately besieged; the waters of the river were diverted into another channel; and while they labored under the intolerable pressure of thirst and hunger, a strong line of circumvallation was formed to prevent their escape.SITI February 25, 1886, page 116.5

    “After these precautions, Stilicho, too confident of victory, retired to enjoy his triumph, in the theatrical games, and lascivious dances, of the Greeks; his soldiers, deserting their standards, spread themselves over the country of their allies, which they stripped of all that had been saved from the rapacious hands of the enemy. Alaric appears to have seized the favorable moment to execute one of those hardy enterprises, in which the abilities of a general are displayed with more genuine luster, than in the tumult of a day of battle. To extricate himself from the prison of Peloponnesus, it was necessary that he should pierce the intrenchments which surrounded his camp; that he should perform a difficult and dangerous march of thirty miles, as far as the Gulf of Corinth; and that he should transport his troops, his captives, and his spoil, over an arm of the sea, which, in the narrow interval between Rhium and the opposite shore, is at least half a mile in breadth. The operations of Alaric must have been secret, prudent, and rapid; since the Roman general was confounded by the intelligence, that the Goths, who had eluded his efforts, were in full possession of the important province of Epirus. This unfortunate delay allowed Alaric sufficient time to conclude the treaty, which he secretly negotiated, with the ministers of Constantinople. The apprehension of a civil war compelled Stilicho to retire, at the haughty mandate of his rivals, from the dominions of Arcadius; and he respected, in the enemy of Rome, the honorable character dominions of Arcadius; and he respected, in the enemy of Rome, the honorable character of the ally and servant of the emperor of the East.”SITI February 25, 1886, page 116.6

    About this time Synesius, a Greek philosopher who was at Constantinople, delivered an oration before the Emperor Arcadius, in which the emperor was exhorted to banish luxury from the court and camp, and, in the place of his barbarian mercenaries, to enlist an army of citizens of the empire, put himself at their head, and drive the whole gang of barbarians out of all his provinces, and back into the wastes of Scythia, or reduce them to slavery. But:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 116.7

    “The court of Arcadius indulged the zeal, applauded the eloquence, and neglected the advice, of Synesius. While the oration of Synesius, and the downfall of the barbarians, were the topics of popular conversation, an edict was published at Constantinople, which declared the promotion of Alaric to the rank of master-general of the Eastern Illyricum. The Roman provincials, and the allies, who had respected the faith of treaties, were justly indignant, that the ruin of Greece and Epirus should be so liberally rewarded. The Gothic conqueror was received as a lawful magistrate, in the cities which he had so lately besieged. The fathers, whose sons he had massacred, the husbands, whose wives he had violated, were subject to his authority; and the success of his rebellion encouraged the ambition of every leader of the foreign mercenaries.SITI February 25, 1886, page 116.8

    “The use to which Alaric applied his new command, distinguishes the firm and judicious character of his policy. He issued his orders to the four magazines and manufactures of offensive and defensive arms, Margus, Ratiaria, Naissus, and Thessalonica, to provide his troops with an extraordinary supply of shields, helmets, swords, and spears; the unhappy provincials were compelled to forge the instruments of their own destruction; and the Barbarians removed the only defect which had sometimes disappointed the efforts of their courage. The birth of Alaric, the glory of his past exploits, and the confidence in his future designs, insensibly united the body of the nation under his victorious standard; and, with the unanimous consent of the Barbarian chieftains, the master-general of Illyricum was elevated, according to ancient custom, on a shield, and solemnly proclaimed king of the Visigoths. Armed with this double power, seated on the verge of the two empires, he alternately sold his deceitful promises to the courts of Arcadius and Honorius; till he declared and executed his resolution of invading the dominions of the West. The provinces of Europe which belonged to the Eastern emperor, were already exhausted; those of Asia were inaccessible; and the strength of Constantinople had resisted his attack. But he was tempted by the fame, the beauty, the wealth of Italy, which he had twice visited; and he secretly aspired to plant the Gothic standard on the walls of Rome, and to enrich his army with the accumulated spoils of three hundred triumphs.”—Decline and Fall, chap. 30, par. 2, 3, 4.SITI February 25, 1886, page 116.9

    A. T. J.

    (To be continued.)

    “‘The Abiding Sabbath.’ ‘Apostolic Testimony’” The Signs of the Times 12, 8, pp. 120, 121.


    IN following the author of “The Abiding Sabbath” through the different principal headings under which his argument is framed, and his logic displayed, next after the “Testimony of Christ” we come to his so-called “Apostolic Testimony.” Before we record his first definite proposition under this head, we wish to repeat one sentence from his exposition of the “Testimony of Christ:“—SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.1

    “As Lord of the Sabbath, he doubtless had the power to set it entirely aside—a power which certainly he has nowhere exercised, either by himself or through his apostles.”—P. 168.SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.2

    Here is the definite, positive statement that Christ has certainly nowhere, exercised the power to set the Sabbath aside, either by himself or through his apostles. Now please read the following:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.3

    “The Jewish Sabbath is definitely abolished by apostolic authority.”—P. 175.SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.4

    True, in this latter statement, he prefixes to the Sabbath the epithet “Jewish;” but on page 190 he defines the “Jewish” Sabbath to be the “seventh day.” And as the Lord from Heaven said, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God;” as that is the day upon which the Lord rested, which he blessed and which he sanctified; as from the creation of the world that was the only day that had ever been known as the Sabbath; and as that day is the only day that was ever recognized as the Sabbath, by either Christ or his apostles, his insertion of the epithet “Jewish” does not in the least relieve his latter statement from being a direct contradiction of the former. Therefore, as Christ nowhere set the Sabbath aside, “either by himself or through his apostles,” and as the only weekly Sabbath of which either himself or his apostles knew anything “was definitely abolished by apostolic authority,” it follows inevitably, by his own words, that if the apostles did abolish it, it was without the authority of Christ. But no, no; he will not allow that for an instant. Well, how does he avoid the conclusion? Oh, that is easy enough; he simply contradicts again both himself and the conclusion, thus:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.5

    “It is demonstrated that the Sabbath of the law was abolished by apostolic authority, in accordance with the developed teachings of Jesus Christ.”—P.186.SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.6

    We beg our readers not to think that we draw out these sentences for the purpose of making contradictions, nor to think we are trying to make the matter worse than it really is. The contradictions are all there; we simply take them as we find them. And really we should not know how to go about it to make the thing worse than it is, nor as bad even as it is. We could wish indeed, that it were not so; but in such a cause it cannot be otherwise; and we want the people to see exactly how the Sunday institution is made to stand by an argument that ought to be the most conclusive, seeing it was considered worthy of a five-hundred-dollar prize.SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.7

    We proceed. In proof of his word that the “Jewish” Sabbath is definitely abolished by apostolic authority, he says:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.8

    “No wonder that the apostles could so little tolerate the proposed continuance of the bondage from which Christ had set them free. Galatians 5:1. Had he not taken away ‘the handwriting of ordinances’ against them, and ‘nailed it to his cross?’”—P. 176.SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.9

    But of all things the Sabbath is one that can by no possibility be classed with the ordinances that were against us. Christ said, “The Sabbath was made for man.” The proof is absolute therefore that the Sabbath was no part of those ordinances which Paul says were “taken away;” for those that were taken away were such as were against us (Colossians 2:14); unless, indeed, by Mr. Elliott’s costly reasoning it could be made to appear that the same thing can be for us and against us at the same time. But, allowing all the wondrous efficacy of this high-priced logic, we doubt its power to the performance of this feat. Yet on the strength of the above statement he makes the following assertion:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.10

    “With the ceremonial system vanished the Jewish Sabbath.”—P. 177.SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.11

    It would be an easy task indeed to disprove this, on our own part; but he does it himself so effectually that we need merely to copy his words. Of the law given at Sinai, he says:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.12

    “Of the law thus impressively given, the fourth commandment forms a part. Amid the same cloud of glory, the same thunders and lightnings, uttered by the same dread voice of the Infinite One, and graven by his finger, came forth these words as well: ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ It is impossible, in view of these facts, to class the Sabbath with the ceremonial institutions of Israel. By the sacred seal of the divine lip and finger, it has been raised far above those perishing rites.”—P. 118.SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.13

    That is a fact. It is impossible, even by prefixing to it the epithet “Jewish,” to class the Sabbath with the ceremonial institutions of Israel. For amid the same cloud of glory, the same thunderings and lightnings, the same dread voice of the Infinite One, who said, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” said also, “The seventh day is the Sabbath”—not of the Jews, but—“of the Lord thy God.” It is indeed raised far above the perishing rites and ordinances that were against us. Therefore, although the ceremonial system vanished, the Sabbath remains; for it is no part of the ceremonial, but is an essential part of the moral system. But Mr. Elliott is not done yet. He continues:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.14

    “Such is the relation of apostolic teaching to the Jewish Sabbath. The yoke of the fathers with its crushing weight of sacerdotal requirements, was cast off. The galling fetters of tradition were broken, and forever was the infant church delivered from ‘statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live.’ Ezekiel 20:25.”—P. 180.SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.15

    Over against that please read this concerning the Sabbath of the fourth commandment:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.16

    “It belongs to that moral law which Paul calls ‘holy, and just, and good’ (Romans 7:12), and not that ritual law of which Peter declares, ‘neither our fathers nor we were able to bear’ it. Acts 15:10.”—Pp. 118, 119.SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.17

    So, then, the “yoke” which was “cast off” had nothing to do with the Sabbath; and the “statutes that were not good,” etc., from which the infant church was delivered, were not at all those of which the Sabbath is a part, for they are “holy, and just, and good.” And more, we should like to know upon what principle it is that the author of “The Abiding Sabbath” applies the phrase, “the galling fetters of tradition,” to an institution given by the direct word of God, with a voice that shook the earth, and whose obligation was graven upon the tables of stone by the divine finger? For by the term “Jewish” Sabbath he invariably means the seventh day, and that is the very day named by the voice of God. But lo, this is to be pushed aside as “the galling fetters of tradition;” and in its place is to be put a day—Sunday—to which in all the word of God there is no shadow of sacredness attached; a day which rests for its authority solely upon, “we have the right to assume,” “the right to infer,” “doubtless,” “probably,” “in all likelihood,” and “a religious consensus of the Christian church” (p. 203); and in all this we are to suppose there is nothing traditional!SITI February 25, 1886, page 120.18

    Again we read:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.1

    “It has already been shown that the Sabbath is a part of the moral law; it has the mark of universality as co-existent with man; it embodies a spiritual significance; it has a reasonable basis in the physical mental and moral needs of man; it was incorporated in the decalogue, the outline of moral law given to Israel; it was enforced by such threatened penalties for violation and promised blessings for observance as could not have been attached to a merely ceremonial ordinance; and Jesus confirmed these historical and rational proofs by his own example and teachings.”—P. 183.SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.2

    That is the truth, and it is well stated. But now see what an extraordinary conclusion he draws from it:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.3

    “Being, therefore, a part of the moral law, it is established as an apostolic institution by every word and phrase in which the apostles assert that law to be still binding on men.”—P. 184.SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.4

    “Being, therefore, a part of the moral law, it is established as an apostolic institution”!! Is, then, the moral law an apostolic institution? Does the moral law find its origin in the apostles? Do the precepts of the moral law find their spring in the will, and derive their authority from the actions, of the apostles? We confess it impossible for us to find language that would fittingly characterize such a preposterous proposition. It is astonishing how any man who is capable of forming the least conception of moral law, could set it forth as sober argument. Nor are we allowed to entertain the charitable view that perhaps it was done ignorantly; for Mr. Elliott himself has given us a perfect exposition of the ground of existence of moral law, not only of moral law in the abstract, but also of the Sabbath as being itself a moral institution. He says:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.5

    “Suppose the question to be asked, How can we know that any precept is moral in its meaning and authority, and not simply a positive and arbitrary command? What better answer could be given to this inquiry than to say that a moral precept must have the ground of its existence in the nature of God? Our highest conception of the moral law is to regard it as the transcript of his nature.... All must agree that no more perfect vindication of the moral character of a law can be given than to show that it is a rule of the divine conduct; that it has been imposed upon his own activity by that infinite will which is the supreme authority both in the physical and moral government of the universe. That law to which the Creator submits his own being must be of absolute binding force upon every creature made in his image. Such is the law of the Sabbath. ‘God rested the seventh day,’ and by so doing has given to the law of the Sabbath the highest and strongest sanction possible even to Deity.”—P. 24.SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.6

    Such, in truth, is the origin and ground of authority of all moral obligation; such is the origin and ground of authority of the moral obligation of the seventh day. The seventh day is the only day that has, or ever has had, any such sanctions; therefore the seventh day is the only day that has, or that can have under the existing order of things, any claim whatever to the moral consideration of mankind. And the above statement of the ground of moral obligation effectually shows the utter absurdity of the idea that the Sabbath, “being a part of the moral law, is established as an apostolic institution.” How could he possibly think himself called upon to make such a statement anyhow? Why, just thus: He has set out to have the first day of the week the Sabbath; he knows that it cannot be made to appear with any shadow of authority before the days of the apostles; he knows that even though it be made to originate with them, it can have no authority outside of the church unless it be moral; therefore, in contradiction of his own proofs, and in defiance of every principle of the basis of moral obligation, he is compelled to make the apostles the source of moral obligation. But he might better have spared himself the pains; for the idea is repugnant to the very consciousness of every man who will pause to think at all upon the subject. The apostles were the subjects, not the authors, of moral obligation.SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.7

    Notice again that the statement which we are here discussing is the conclusion which he has drawn from a series of things which he says had “already been shown;” and we must give him the credit, which is very seldom his due, that from his main premises his conclusion is logical. The proposition under which he draws his conclusion is that, “The apostles, by confirming the moral law, have enforced the obligation of the Sabbath.” Under this, his principal term is:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.8

    “The apostles of Jesus Christ, as he had done in the sermon on the mount, re-enacted for the church the whole decalogue in its universal meanings.”—Pp. 181-2.SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.9

    To enact, is “to decree; to establish by legal and authoritative acts; to make into a law.”—Webster.SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.10

    To re-enact, therefore, is to re-decree, to re-establish by legal and authoritative acts, to make again into a law. Now, if after the enactment by God and the re-enactment by Christ, the decalogue still needed to be confirmed by the apostles, and still needed legislative acts of the apostles to establish it legally and authoritatively as a moral standard, then we submit that Mr. Elliott’s conclusion that the Sabbath, “being a part of the moral law, is established as an apostolic institution,” is strictly logical. But we sincerely question the wisdom as well as the justice of paying five-hundred-dollar prizes for a style of reasoning which can be logical only in the reversal of every principle of the philosophy of moral obligation.SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.11

    It most excellently serves his purpose though. His grand argument from “apostolic testimony” he closes thus:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.12

    “As certainly as historical proof can be adduced for any fact, so certainly is it demonstrated that the Sabbath of the law was abolished by apostolic authority, in accordance with the developed teachings of Jesus Christ. But although the Sabbath of the law ceased, the law of the Sabbath is abiding.”SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.13

    If, then, the Sabbath of the law be abolished while the law of the Sabbath remains, it must follow that the law of the Sabbath remains with no Sabbath. Oh, no, not at all. This is the emergency which he has all the while been laboring to create, and of course he meets it promptly. He continues thus:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.14

    “And it is in the highest degree probable that the Lord’s day which embodied its spirit was instituted by the immediate authority of the apostles, and therefore by the supreme authority of their Master, Jesus Christ.”—P. 186.SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.15

    And so the grand feat of getting Sunday into the fourth commandment is accomplished at last; and “it is in the highest degree probable” that the reader sees just how it is done. But there is yet one more thing to be done that the work may be complete in every part; that is, to transfer to the first day the Sabbath associations with which God has surrounded the seventh day. And we beg that Mr. Elliott be allowed to tell how that is done, because it rounds out his work in such symmetrical proportions. He says:—SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.16

    “It is easy to comprehend how the Jewish Sabbath must almost at once have lost its hold on the affections of the disciples.... In the most powerful manner possible, those feelings of festal gladness and holy joy inseparable from the true idea of the Sabbath, were forever disconnected from the seventh day.... And by the most natural revulsion of feeling, all that was lost from the seventh day was transferred to the first day of the week.”—P. 188.SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.17

    There, the work is done; the climax is reached; the “Hill Difficulty” is passed; and the first day of the week has become the “abiding Sabbath.” It rests for its authority upon an, “it is in the highest degree probable;” and for its sacredness, upon “the most natural revulsion of feeling.” But against all his probabilities of however high degree, and against all his revulsions of feeling however natural, we set the plain word of God “which liveth and abideth forever;” “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work.”SITI February 25, 1886, page 121.18

    A. T. J.

    “Notes on the International Lesson. Reading the Law. Nehemiah 8:1-12” The Signs of the Times 12, 8, pp. 122, 123.

    (March 7.—Nehemiah 8:1-12.)

    WHEN Nehemiah had finished the walls of Jerusalem, and had set up the gates, the enemies of the Jews were still active, as they had been from the beginning—even as Daniel had prophesied nearly a hundred years before that the walls should be built “even in troublous times”—and watchmen were set upon the wall, all around, “every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house.” Although the wall was finished and the gates set up, “the city was large and great; but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded.” But before going any further in the matter of building particularly, he began a further reformation in the lives and worship of the people. So he says: “And my God put it into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy.” Nehemiah 7:1-6.SITI February 25, 1886, page 122.1

    “AND all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.” The words of the book, though written by Moses, were really the words of God; and it was right that the ears of all the people should be attentive to the words that were read to them. Inattention to the reading of the word of God is disrespectful to its Author. If some one of the rulers of this world were to send a communication to us personally, there would be close attention given to the reading of it. The Bible is the communication which the Majesty of the universe sends to us; it is the word of our best Friend; in it he teaches us to profit, telling us the way which we should go to reached happiness and peace at all times. Would that all people to-day to whom the word is read, were as attentive as were these people at Jerusalem when Ezra read. “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:17, 18.SITI February 25, 1886, page 122.2

    “AND Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose....And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people (for he was above all the people); and when he opened it, all the people stood up; and Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” It is right for all the people to have part in the worship. It is for the people to listen attentively to the reading of the word; it is right for them to join in thought in the prayer of the one who leads; and it is right for them to respond to the words of the prayer by saying Amen. This is the rule of the New Testament as well as of the Old. Paul prohibits speaking in the church in an unknown tongue without an interpreter, because the unlearned could not say Amen to what was said, seeing he could not understand what was said. Therefore if he who speaks or prays is to do it in language that can be understood, so that those who hear can say Amen to it, why do not those who hear say Amen to it? If it be the speaker’s part to speak in language to be understood so that the hearers may say Amen, it is equally the part of the hearers to say Amen when they do understand. But there is so much coldness, formality, listlessness, and inattention, in the services of the church that this duty is almost entirely neglected. This ought not so to be.SITI February 25, 1886, page 122.3

    SUCH was the preaching on the occasion of which we write; for says the scripture: “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” This is the only kind of preaching that is strictly genuine. The Bible is God’s word to the people. The minister is to take that word, and, by the aid of the Spirit of God, to put it into the mind and hearts of the people, and it can be done only by reading in the book in the law of God distinction, and giving the sense, and causing them to understand the reading. It cannot be done by taking a single verse, or sentence, or perhaps a single word, from the Bible, and then talking about something else for thirty or forty minutes. In other words, it cannot be done as D. L. Moody says that some men do: Take the text from the Bible, and go all over Christendom for the sermon. Under the solemn charge “before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick [living] and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom,” the command of God is, “preach the word.” 2 Timothy 4:1, 2. Again: “The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:28, 29. The word of man is chaff; the word of God is wheat. Give the people the word of God—the wheat—and they will have bread; they will have that upon which they can feed. Give them the words of men, and they have chaff indeed.SITI February 25, 1886, page 122.4

    CHRIST said: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63); and, “By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” shall man live. And when he sends forth men to preach, the commission is “Go ye.... and teach all nations.... Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” It is true, that if the word of God be preached faithfully there will be many points wherein the people will be found to be doing wrong; many things will be found held contrary to the word of God; and things even which our fathers did not do, shall we have to do, as it happened at the time of which this lesson tells. It will be found that the coming of the Lord is near, and that we must prepare to meet him while living. It will be found that future life depends on the resurrection of the dead, and not on the immortality of the soul. It will be found that future life is obtained through the Son of God alone; that he that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. It will be found that the seventh day, and not the first day of the week, is the Sabbath of the Lord, and that we must keep it so, or our action will not be Sabbath-keeping at all. And when we find out these things, and many others in which we have thought and done wrong, we must be like this people of old, honest enough with God and ourselves to turn from our ways and thoughts and conform to those of the word of God. See Nehemiah 8:13-17. Then it will be with us as was said to them, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”SITI February 25, 1886, page 122.5

    A. T. J.

    Larger font
    Smaller font