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    April 15, 1886

    “The Visigoths in the Western Empire. (Continued.)” The Signs of the Times 12, 15, p. 228.

    “IN the arts of negotiation, as well as in those of war, the Gothic king maintained [Oct., A.D. 408] his superior ascendant over an enemy, whose seeming changes proceeded from the total want of counsel and design. From his camp, on the confines of Italy, Alaric attentively observed the revolutions of the palace, watched the progress of faction and discontent, disguised the hostile aspect of a barbarian invader, and assumed the more popular appearance of the friend and ally of the great Stilicho: to whose virtues, when they were no longer formidable, he could pay a just tribute of sincere praise and regret. The pressing invitation of the malecontents, who urged the king of the Goths to invade Italy, was enforced by a lively sense of his personal injuries; and he might especially complain, that the Imperial ministers still delayed and eluded the payment of the four thousand pounds of gold which had been granted by the Roman senate, either to reward his services, or to appease his fury. His decent firmness was supported by an artful moderation, which contributed to the success of his designs. He required a fair and reasonable satisfaction; but he gave the strongest assurances, that, as soon as he had obtained it, he would immediately retire. He refused to trust the faith of the Romans, unless Etius and Jason, the sons of two great officers of state, were sent as hostages to his camp; but he offered to deliver, in exchange, several of the noblest youths of the Gothic nation.SITI April 15, 1886, page 228.1

    “The modesty of Alaric was interpreted, by the ministers of Ravenna, as a sure evidence of his weakness and fear. They disdained either to negotiate a treaty, or to assemble an army; and with a rash confidence, derived only from their ignorance of the extreme danger, irretrievably wasted the decisive moments of peace and war. While they expected, in sullen silence, that the Barbarians would evacuate the confines of Italy, Alaric, with bold and rapid marches, passed the Alps and the Po; hastily pillaged the cities of Aquileia, Altinum, Concordia, and Cremona, which yielded to his arms; increased his forces by the accession of thirty thousand auxiliaries; and, without meeting a single enemy in the field, advanced as far as the edge of the morass which protected the impregnable residence of the emperor of the West. Instead of attempting the hopeless siege of Ravenna, the prudent leader of the Goths proceeded to Rimini, stretched his ravages along the sea-coast of the Hadriatic, and meditated the conquest of the ancient mistress of the world.SITI April 15, 1886, page 228.2

    “An Italian hermit, whose zeal and sanctity were respected by the barbarians themselves, encountered the victorious monarch, and boldly denounced the indignation of Heaven against the oppressors of the earth; but the saint himself was confounded by the solemn asseveration of Alaric, that he felt a secret and preternatural impulse, which directed, and even compelled, his march to the gates of Rome. He felt, that his genius and his fortune were equal to the most arduous enterprises; and the enthusiasm which he communicated to the Goths, insensibly removed the popular, and almost superstitious, reverence of the nations for the majesty of the Roman name. His troops, animated by the hopes of spoil, followed the course of the Flaminian way, occupied the unguarded passes of the Apennine, descended into the rich plains of Umbria; and, as they lay encamped on the banks of the Clitumnus, might wantonly slaughter and devour the milk-white oxen, which had been so long reserved for the use of Roman triumphs. A lofty situation, and a seasonable tempest of thunder and lightning, preserved the little city of Narni; but the king of the Goths, despising the ignoble prey, still advanced with unabated vigor; and after he had passed through the stately arches, adorned with the spoils of barbaric victories, he pitched his camp under the walls of Rome [A.D. 408].”—Decline and Fall, chap. 31, par. 2.SITI April 15, 1886, page 228.3

    “By a skillful disposition of his numerous forces, who impatiently watched the moment of an assault, Alaric encompassed the walls, commanded the twelve principal gates, intercepted all communication with the adjacent country, and vigilantly guarded the navigation of the Tyber, from which the Romans derived the surest and most plentiful supply of provisions. The first emotions of the nobles, and of the people, were those of surprise and indignation, that a vile barbarian should dare to insult the capital of the world; but their arrogance was soon humbled by misfortune; and their unmanly rage, instead of being directed against an enemy in arms, was meanly exercised on a defenseless and innocent victim. Perhaps in the person of Serena, the Romans might have respected the niece of Theodosius, the aunt, nay, even the adoptive mother, of the reigning emperor; but they abhorred the widow of Stilicho; and they listened with credulous passion to the tale of calumny, which accused her of maintaining a secret and criminal correspondence with the Gothic invader. Actuated, or overawed, by the same popular frenzy, the senate, without requiring any evidence of his guilt, pronounced the sentence of her death. Serena was ignominiously strangled; and the infatuated multitude were astonished to find, that this cruel act of injustice did not immediately produce the retreat of the barbarians, and the deliverance of the city.SITI April 15, 1886, page 228.4

    “That unfortunate city gradually experienced the distress of scarcity, and at length the horrid calamities of famine. The daily allowance of three pounds of bread was reduced to one half, to one third, to nothing; and the price of corn still continued to rise in a rapid and extravagant proportion. The poorer citizens, who were unable to purchase the necessaries of life, solicited the precarious charity of the rich; and for a while the public misery was alleviated by the humanity of Leta, the widow of the emperor Gratian, who had fixed her residence at Rome, and consecrated to the use of the indigent the princely revenue which she annually received from the grateful successors of her husband. But these private and temporary donatives were insufficient to appease the hunger of a numerous people; and the progress of famine invaded the marble palaces of the senators themselves. The persons of both sexes, who had been educated in the enjoyment of ease and luxury, discovered how little is requisite to supply the demands of nature; and lavished their unavailing treasures of gold and silver, to obtain the coarse and scanty sustenance which they would formerly have rejected with disdain. The food the most repugnant to sense or imagination, the aliments the most unwholesome and pernicious to the constitution, were eagerly devoured, and fiercely disputed, by the rage of hunger. A dark suspicion was entertained, that some desperate wretches fed on the bodies of their fellow-creatures, whom they had secretly murdered; and even mothers, (such was the horrid conflict of the two most powerful instincts implanted by nature in the human breast), even mothers are said to have tasted the flesh of their slaughtered infants!SITI April 15, 1886, page 228.5

    “Many thousands of the inhabitants of Rome expired in their houses, or in the streets, for want of sustenance; and as the public sepulchers without the walls were in the power of the enemy the stench, which arose from so many putrid and unburied carcasses, infected the air; and the miseries of famine were succeeded and aggravated by the contagion of a pestilential disease. The assurances of speedy and effectual relief, which were repeatedly transmitted from the court of Ravenna, supported for some time, the fainting resolution of the Romans, till at length the despair of any human aid tempted them to accept the offers of a preternatural deliverance. Pompeianus, praefect of the city, had been persuaded, by the art or fanaticism of some Tuscan diviners, that, by the mysterious force of spells and sacrifices, they could extract the lightning from the clouds, and point those celestial fires against the camp of the barbarians. The important secret was communicated to Innocent, the bishop of Rome; and the successor of St. Peter is accused, perhaps without foundation, of preferring the safety of the republic to the rigid severity of the Christian worship. But when the question was agitated in the senate; when it was proposed, as an essential condition, that those sacrifices should be performed in the capitol, by the authority, and in the presence, of the magistrates, the majority of that respectable assembly, apprehensive either of the divine or of the Imperial displeasure, refused to join in an act, which appeared almost equivalent to the public restoration of Paganism.”—Id., chap. 31, par. 14.SITI April 15, 1886, page 228.6

    (To be continued.)

    “‘The Abiding Sabbath’” The Signs of the Times 12, 15, pp. 232, 234.

    LIKE the majority of people who keep Sunday, the author of the “Abiding Sabbath” finds great difficulty in fixing the day, when the Sabbath of the Lord—the seventh day—is under discussion, but not the least difficulty when the first day of the week is to be pointed out. He inquires:—SITI April 15, 1886, page 232.1

    “When does the day commence and end? Shall we define, as in the first chapter of Genesis, that the ‘evening and morning’ make a day, and therefore reckon from sunset to sunset, as did the Puritans? or shall we keep the civil day, from midnight to midnight?”—P. 204.SITI April 15, 1886, page 232.2

    To those who regard the word of God as of any authority, we should think the day as defined in the first chapter of Genesis would be sufficient, and that therefore they would reckon the day as the Bible does, and as Mr. Elliott knows how to do, that is, “from sunset to sunset.” But those who choose a heathen institution—Sunday—instead of the institution of God—the Sabbath day—we should expect to find reckoning as the heathen did, that is, “from midnight to midnight.” And nothing more plainly marks the heathen origin of the Sunday institution, and the heathen authority for its observance, than does the fact that it is reckoned from midnight to midnight. If the religious observance of Sunday had been introduced by the apostles, or enjoined by any authority of God, it would have been observed and reckoned as the Bible gives the reckoning, from sunset to sunset. But instead of that, the Sunday institution bears Rome on its very face. Rome from her beginning reckoned the day from midnight to midnight. Sunday was the great heathen Roman day; and when by the working of the “mystery of iniquity,” and Constantine’s heathen edict, and his political, hypocritical conversion, this “wild solar holiday of all pagan times” was made the great papal Roman day, it was still essentially the same thing; and so it is yet. However much Protestants may dress it up, and call it the “Christian Sabbath,” and the “Lord’s day,” the fact still remains that the Lord never called it his day; that there is nothing about it either Sabbath or Christian, for the Lord never rested on it, and Christ never gave any direction whatever in regard to it; and that it rests essentially upon human authority, and that of heathen origin.SITI April 15, 1886, page 232.3

    Now he says:—SITI April 15, 1886, page 232.4

    “As a concession to that human weakness which is troubled after eighteen centuries’ drill in spiritual religion, about the particular day of the week to be honored, the question will be fairly met.”—P. 205.SITI April 15, 1886, page 232.5

    Remember, he has promised that the question shall “be fairly met.” And the proposition with which he starts in fulfillment of that promise, is this:—SITI April 15, 1886, page 232.6

    “There is no possible means of fixing the day of the original Sabbath.”—Ib.SITI April 15, 1886, page 232.7

    Let us see. The Scripture says at the close of the six days employed in creation, that God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made;” that he “blessed the seventh day and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested.” Genesis 2:2, 3. In the fourth commandment, God spoke and wrote with direct reference to the day upon which he rested from creation, and pointed out that day as the one upon which the people should rest, saying: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work.... For [because] in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore [for this reason] the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Therefore nothing can be plainer than that God, in the fourth commandment, pointed out distinctly “the day of the original Sabbath.” The word of God says also that the day the Saviour lay in the grave certain persons “rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56. The Sabbath day according to the commandment, is the day of the original Sabbath. When those persons rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment, they rested the day of the original Sabbath. Therefore the day of the original Sabbath is fixed by the word of God to the day which followed the crucifixion of the Saviour. And that same word declares that the day which followed this day of the original Sabbath, was the first day of the week. Mr. Elliott finds no difficulty at all in fixing the first day of the week—the day of the resurrection of the Saviour. But the day of the original Sabbath is the day which immediately precedes the first day of the week. Therefore, as Mr. Elliott finds it not only possible but easy to fix the first day of the week, how can it be that he finds it impossible to fix the day of the original Sabbath, which immediately precedes the first day of the week?SITI April 15, 1886, page 232.8

    But Mr. Elliott proceeds to argue the proposition, and this is how he begins:—SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.1

    “Who can tell on what day of the week the first man was created?”—Ib.SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.2

    Shall we grant Mr. Elliott’s implied meaning, and conclude that he does not know on what day of the week the first man was created? Not at all; for within eight lines of this question, he begins to tell us of the day on which man first existed. He says:SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.3

    “For the sake, however, of any literalists who still believe that the work of creation began on Sunday eve, and ended Friday at sunset, it may be suggested that the seventh day of creation was the first day of man’s existence.”SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.4

    There, reader, you have it. He himself knows what day of the week the first man was created. For as “the seventh day of creation was man’s first day of existence,” it follows inevitably that man must have been created on the seventh day, unless indeed he supposes that man was created one day and did not exist till another! But who ever before heard of “the seventh day of creation”?! We cannot imagine where he ever learned of such a thing. Never from the Bible, certainly; for the Bible tells of only six days of creation. The first chapter of Genesis gives the record of the six days of creation; and in the fourth commandment God declares, “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.” The Bible tells plainly that man was created on the sixth day. But lo, Mr. Elliott finds seven days of creation, and that the seventh day of creation was the first day of man’s existence!! What a wonderful thing a five-hundred-dollar-prize essay is!SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.5

    Well, what is Mr. Elliott’s conclusion from this line of argument? Here it is:—SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.6

    “If he [man] began the calculation of the week from that time, and kept the same Sabbath with his Maker, then the first day of the week, and not the seventh, was the primitive and patriarchal Sabbath. If a crude, bald literalism is to be the rule of interpretation, let us follow it boldly, no matter where it takes us.”—P. 206.SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.7

    We should say that if crude, bald nonsense is to characterize the argument by which the Sunday-sabbath is supported, then the essay entitled “The Abiding Sabbath” is fully entitled to the five-hundred-dollar prize which it received. This is the only reply that we shall make to this argument, for he himself knows that it is worthless; and he feels the necessity of making an apology for it, which he does, saying:—SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.8

    “This suggestion is made, not for any valve which it possesses, in itself, but as a fair illustration of the difficulties attending any attempt to fix the day.”—Ib.SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.9

    If an honest inquiry were made for the day which God has fixed as the day of the original and only Sabbath of the Lord, it would, in every case, be found with less than a hundredth part of the difficulty that has attended this self-contradictory prize, or any other effort, to show that Sunday is the Sabbath.SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.10

    We now take our leave of Mr. Elliott and his prize essay; to pursue the subject further would only be to multiply notices of nonsense. In closing, we would simply repeat the remarks already made, that, in consideration of the fact that the committee of award decided that this essay was worthy of a prize of five hundred dollars, we should very much like to see an essay on this subject which that committee would decide to be worth nothing. If this essay stands as one of the best arguments for the Sunday-sabbath, and this it certainly does by taking the aforesaid prize, and by its receiving the endorsement of the American Tract Society by a copyright, then the Sunday institution must be in a most sorry plight. And if we had no better reasons for calling the people to the observance of the Sabbath of the Lord—the seventh day—than those that are given in this prize essay for Sunday-keeping, we should actually be ashamed ever to urge anybody to keep it.SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.11

    The word of God is truth. All his commandments are truth. Psalm 119:151. When God has spoken, that word must be accepted as the truth, and all there is then to do is to obey the word as he has spoken it. “It shall be our righteousness if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God as he hath commanded us.” Nothing is obedience but to do what the Lord says, as he says it. He says, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work.” To disregard the day which God has commanded to be kept, is disobedience. And the disobedience is not in the slightest relieved by the substitution of another day for the one which the Lord has fixed, even though that other day be styled “Christian.” The fact is that the seventh day is the Sabbath; and in the fast-hastening Judgment the question will be, Have you kept it? God is now calling out a people who will keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Nothing but that will answer. Neither commandment of God nor faith of Jesus ever enjoined the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week. Both commandment of God and faith of Jesus show the everlasting obligation to keep the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. Will you obey God? Will you keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?SITI April 15, 1886, page 233.12

    A. T. J.

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