The Signs of the Times, vol. 11


December 10, 1885

“The First Migrations of the Goths. (Continued.)” The Signs of the Times 11, 47, pp. 740, 741.


“THE Scythian hordes, which, towards the east, bordered on the new settlements of the Goths, presented nothing to their arms, except the doubtful chance of an unprofitable victory. But the prospect of the Roman territories was far more alluring; and the fields of Dacia were covered with rich harvests, sown by the hands of an industrious, and exposed to be gathered by those of a warlike, people. It is probable that the conquests of Trajan, maintained by his successors, less for any real advantage than for ideal dignity, had contributed to weaken the empire on that side. The new and unsettled province of Dacia was neither strong enough to resist, nor rich enough to satiate, the rapaciousness of the barbarians. As long as the remote banks of the Dniester were considered as the boundary of the Roman power, the fortifications of the Lower Danube were more carelessly guarded, and the inhabitants of Mesia lived in supine security, fondly conceiving themselves at an inaccessible distance from any barbarian invaders. SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.1

“The irruptions of the Goths, under the reign of Philip [A.D. 244-249], fatally convinced them of their mistake. The king, or leader, of that fierce nation, traversed with contempt the province of Dacia, and passed both the Dniester and the Danube without encountering any opposition capable of retarding his progress. The relaxed discipline of the Roman troops betrayed the most important posts, where they were stationed, and the fear of deserved punishment induced great numbers of them to enlist under the Gothic standard. The various multitude of barbarians appeared, at length, under the walls of Marcianopolis, a city built by Trajan in honor of his sister, and at that time the capital of the second Mesia. The inhabitants consented to ransom their lives and property by the payment of a large sum of money, and the invaders retreated back into their deserts, animated, rather than satisfied, with the first success of their arms against an opulent but feeble country. Intelligence was soon transmitted to the emperor Decius, that Cniva, king of the Goths, had passed the Danube a second time, with more considerable forces; that his numerous detachments scattered devastation over the province of Mesia, whilst the main body of the army, consisting of seventy thousand Germans and Sarmatians, a force equal to the most daring achievements, required the presence of the Roman monarch, and the exertion of his military power. SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.2

“Decius found [A.D. 250] the Goths engaged before Nicopolis, one of the many monuments of Trajan’s victories. On his approach they raised the siege, but with a design only of marching away to a conquest of greater importance,—the siege of Philippopolis, a city of Thrace, founded by the father of Alexander [the Great], near the foot of Mount Hemus. Decius followed them through a difficult country, and by forced marches; but when he imagined himself at a considerable distance from the rear of the Goths, Cniva turned with rapid fury on his pursuers. The camp of the Romans was surprised and pillaged, and, for the first time, their emperor fled in disorder before a troop of half-armed barbarians. After a long resistance, Philoppopolis, destitute of succor, was taken by storm. A hundred thousand persons are reported to have been massacred in the sack of that great city. Many prisoners of consequence became a valuable accession to the spoil; and Priscus, a brother of the late emperor Philip, blushed not to assume the purple, under the protection of the barbarous enemies of Rome. The time, however, consumed in that tedious siege, enabled Decius to revive the courage, restore the discipline, and recruit the numbers of his troops. He intercepted several parties of Carpi, and other Germans, who were hastening to share the victory of their countrymen, intrusted the passes of the mountains to officers of approved valor and fidelity, repaired and strengthened the fortifications of the Danube, and exerted his utmost vigilance to oppose either the progress or the retreat of the Goths. Encouraged by the return of fortune, he anxiously waited for an opportunity to retrieve, by a great and decisive blow, his own glory, and that of the Roman arms.” SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.3

“The Goths were now, on every side, surrounded and pursued by the Roman arms. The flower of their troops had perished in the long siege of Philippopolis, and the exhausted country could no longer afford subsistence for the remaining multitude of licentious barbarians. Reduced to this extremity, the Goths would gladly have purchased, by the surrender of all their booty and prisoners, the permission of an undisturbed retreat. But the emperor, confident of victory, and resolving, by the chastisement of these invaders, to strike a salutary terror into the nations of the North, refused to listen to any terms of accommodation. The high-spirited barbarians preferred death to slavery. An obscure town of Mesia, called Forum Terebronii, was the scene of the battle. The Gothic army was drawn up in three lines, and either from choice or accident, the front of the third line was covered by a morass. In the beginning of the action, the son of Decius, a youth of the fairest hopes, and already associated to the honors of the purple, was slain by an arrow, in the sight of his afflicted father; who, summoning all his fortitude, admonished the dismayed troops, that the loss of a single soldier was of little importance to the republic. SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.4

“The conflict was terrible; it was the combat of despair against grief and rage. The first line of the Goths at length gave way in disorder; the second, advancing to sustain it, shared its fate; and the third only remained entire, prepared to dispute the passage of the morass, which was imprudently attempted by the presumption of the enemy. ‘Here the fortune of the day turned, and all things became adverse to the Romans; the place deep with ooze, sinking under those who stood, slippery to such as advanced; their armor heavy, the waters deep; nor could they wield, in that uneasy situation, their weighty javelins. The barbarians, on the contrary, were inured to encounter in the bogs, their persons tall, their spears long, such as could wound at a distance.’ In this morass the Roman army, after an ineffectual struggle, was irrecoverably lost; nor could the body of the emperor ever be found.” SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.5

“This fatal blow humbled, for a very little time, she insolence of the legions. They appeared to have patiently expected, and submissively obeyed, the decree of the senate which regulated the succession to the throne. From a just regard for the memory of Decius, the Imperial title was [A.D. 251, December] conferred on Hostilianus, his only surviving son; but an equal rank, with more effectual power, was granted to Gallus, whose experience and ability seemed equal to the great trust of guardian to the young prince and the distressed empire. The first care of the new emperor was to deliver the Illyrian provinces from the intolerable weight of the victorious Goths. He [A.D. 252] consented to leave in their hands the rich fruits of their invasion, an immense booty, and what was still more disgraceful, a great number of prisoners of the highest merit and quality. He plentifully supplied their camp with every conveniency that could assuage their angry spirits or facilitate their so much wished-for departure; and he even promised to pay them annually a large sum of gold, on condition they should never afterwards infest the Roman territories by their incursions.” SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.6

“But the Romans were irritated to a still higher degree, when they discovered that they had not even secured their repose, though at the expense of their honor. The dangerous secret of the wealth and weakness of the empire had been revealed to the world. New swarms of barbarians, encouraged [A.D. 253] by the success, and not conceiving themselves bound by the obligation of their brethren, spread devastation though the Illyrian provinces, and terror as far as the gates of Rome. The defense of the monarchy, which seemed abandoned by the pusillanimous emperor, was assumed by Emilianus, governor of Pannonia and Mesia; who rallied the scattered forces, and revived the fainting spirits of the troops. The barbarians were unexpectedly attacked, routed, chased, and pursued beyond the Danube. The victorious leader distributed as a donative the money collected for the tribute, and the acclamations of the soldiers proclaimed him emperor on the field of battle.” SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.7

“We have already traced the emigration of the Goths from Scandinavia, or at least from Prussia, to the mouth of the Borysthenes, and have followed their victorious arms from the Borysthenes to the Danube. Under the reigns of Valerian and Gallienus [A.D. 253-268], the frontier of the last-mentioned river was perpetually infested by the inroads of Germans and Sarmatians; but it was defended by the Romans with more than usual firmness and success.... Though flying parties of the barbarians, who incessantly hovered on the banks of the Danube, penetrated sometimes to the confines of Italy and Macedonia, their progress was commonly checked, or their return intercepted, by the Imperial lieutenants. But the great stream of the Gothic hostilities was diverted into a very different channel. The Goths, in their new settlement of the Ukraine, soon became masters of the northern coast of the Euxine. To the south of that inland sea were situated the soft and wealthy provinces of Asia Minor, which possessed all that could attract, and nothing that could resist, a barbarian conqueror. SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.8

“The banks of the Borysthenes are only sixty miles distant from the narrow entrance of the peninsula of Crim Tartary [the Crimea], known to the ancients under the name of Chersonesus Taurica.... The little kingdom of Bosphorus, whose capital was situated on the Straits, through which the Meotis communicates itself to the Euxine, was composed of degenerate Greeks and half-civilized barbarians.... Domestic factions, and the fears, or private interest, of obscure usurpers, who seized on the vacant throne, admitted the Goths into the heart of Bosphorus. With the acquisition of a superfluous waste of fertile soil, the conquerors obtained the command of a naval force, sufficient to transport their armies to the coast of Asia. SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.9

“This ships used in the navigation of the Euxine were of a very singular construction. They were slight flat-bottomed barks framed of timber only, without the least mixture of iron, and occasionally covered with a shelving roof, on the appearance of a tempest. In these floating houses, the Goths carelessly trusted themselves to the mercy of an unknown sea, under the conduct of sailors pressed into the service, and whose skill and fidelity were equally suspicious. SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.10

But the hopes of plunder had banished every idea of danger, and a natural fearlessness of temper supplied in their minds the more rational confidence, which is the just result of knowledge and experience.”

“The fleet of the Goths, leaving the coast of Circassia on the left hand, first appeared before Pityus, the utmost limits of the Roman provinces; a city provided with a convenient port, and fortified with a strong wall. Here they met with a resistance more obstinate than they had reason to expect from the feeble garrison of a distant fortress. They were repulsed; and their disappointment seemed to diminish the terror of the Gothic name. As long as Successianus, an officer of superior rank and merit, defended that frontier, all their efforts were ineffectual; but as soon as he was removed by Valerian to a more honorable but less important station, they resumed the attack of Pityus; and by the destruction of that city, obliterated the memory of their former disgrace. SITI December 10, 1885, page 740.11

“Circling round the eastern extremity of the Euxine Sea, the navigation from Pityus to Trebizond is about three hundred miles. The course of the Goths carried them in sight of the country of Colchis, so famous by the expedition of the Argonauts; and they even attempted, though without success, to pillage a rich temple at the mouth of the river Phasis. Trebizond ... was large and populous; a double enclosure of walls seemed to defy the fury of the Goths, and the usualgarrison had been strengthened by a re-enforcement of ten thousand men. But there are not any advantages capable of supplying the absence of discipline and vigilance. The numerous garrison of Trebizond, dissolved in riot and luxury, disdained to guard their impregnable fortifications. The Goths soon discovered the supine negligence of the besieged, erected a lofty pile of fascines, ascended the walls in the silence of the night, and entered the defenseless city sword in hand. SITI December 10, 1885, page 741.1

“A general massacre of the people ensued, whilst the affrighted soldiers escaped through the opposite gates of the town. The most holy temples, and the most splendid edifices, were involved in a common destruction. The booty that fell into the hands of the Goths was immense: the wealth of the adjacent countries had been deposited in Trebizond, as in a secure place of refuge. The number of captives was incredible, as the victorious barbarians ranged without opposition through the extensive province of Pontus. The rich spoils of Trebizond filled a great fleet of ships that had been found in the port. The robust youth of the sea-coast were chained to the oar; and the Goths, satisfied with the success of their first naval expedition, returned in triumph to their new establishment in the kingdom of Bosphorus.”—Dec. and Fall, chap. 10, par. 12, 13, 16, 17, 19, 20-33. SITI December 10, 1885, page 741.2

A. T. J.

“Notes on the International Lesson. Isaiah 55:1-11. The Gracious Invitation” The Signs of the Times 11, 47, p. 743.
DECEMBER 20. Isaiah 55:1-11

“HO, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” This is an invitation to the thirsty of all lands to come to the Fountain of living waters. And no one anywhere who thirsts for this water—no one who desires righteousness—will ever be turned away empty. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6. “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14. Isaiah, too, gives the song that all these may sing: “And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:1-3. This gracious invitation is to all people,—“Ho, every one,“—“for the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. SITI December 10, 1885, page 743.1

“WITHOUT money and without price.” “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Romans 3:24, 25. Abraham is the “father of the faithful,” and he received that title because he believed God. When God told Abraham to look toward heaven and “tell the stars” if he were able to number them, and that so many—innumerable—should his seed be, Abraham believed it. “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:5, 6. “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:23-25. As the Lord said to Abraham, as the number of the stars “so shall thy seed be;” so he says to every man, of his sins, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” “Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.” And as Abraham believed God in that, so much we believe God in this. And as in that Abraham’s belief was counted to him for righteousness, so in this our belief is counted to us for righteousness. So Abraham became the father of the faithful. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” SITI December 10, 1885, page 743.2

“WHEREFORE do ye spend money for that which is not bread?” It may not be exactly the thought that was in the mind of the prophet; but we would take occasion to remark upon this, that multitudes of people, and those who suppose themselves Christian people too, not only spend their money for that which is not bread, but spend it for that which is worse than no bread, but spend it for that which is worse than no bread. Tobacco, for instance—why do you spend your money for that? It simply creates an appetite that destroys the will and makes an idolater of him that uses it. Why do you spend your money for fold and jewels, rings and ear-rings, and to keep pace with all the foibles and fashion and the ways of the world? It is simply to foster pride, and the desire to please the world rather than to please God. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” And it is “the god of this world,” which blinds the minds of them that believe not. Shall the Lord be your God! or shall the god of this world be your god? SITI December 10, 1885, page 743.3

WHY do you spend “your labor for that which satisfieth not?” “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” Spend your money for that which will spread among men the love and glory of Christ. Labor to show forth the virtues of God, and for the graces of the Spirit of Christ. Labor to adorn the doctrine of God, and not your own person. And then when He who searches the heart, shall reward every man “according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings,” you will find that you have labored for “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life;” then it will be seen that you have labored for that upon which you can fee to all eternity, and for that which “satisfieth” indeed. “With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:16. SITI December 10, 1885, page 743.4

“SEEK ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near.” This plainly suggests a time when the Lord may not be found even though he be sought for, and when he will not be near even though he be called upon. Men may talk eloquently about the gospel continuing forever; about the world becoming converted; and all such imaginary things. But the angel of God “sware by him that liveth forever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein,” that “the mystery of God should be finished.” Revelation 10:5-7. The mystery of God is the gospel of Christ; it is the work of Christ in this salvation of men. 1 Timothy 3:16. Christ declared repeatedly that this world will end, and that it will end in wickedness, such as was in the days of Noah, and which had to be swept from the earth by the furious flood. In all the Bible the end of the world is spoken of in no other way than as ending in wickedness. And the doctrine of the conversion of the world is only an invention of Satan to blind the eyes of the children of men, that they may not see the dangers and duties of the last days, as they are portrayed in the faithful word. There is to be a “day of vengeance of our God,” and that day of vengeance begins when the “day of salvation,” the “acceptable year of the Lord,” ends. SITI December 10, 1885, page 743.5

IN the hand of the Lord is the “cup of salvation” (Psalm 116:13), “and he poureth out of the same” to all who will accept “the gracious invitation.” But when the dregs of that cup are reached, then these are poured into the “cup of his indignation,” and “all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.” Psalm 75:8; Revelation 14:10; 15:1; 16:1-21; Jeremiah 25:15-33. All who will not willingly and freely drink of the “cup of salvation,” will be compelled to drink deeply of the “cup of indignation.” “And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Ye shall certainly drink.” Jeremiah 25:28. Then will be the time spoken of in Proverbs 1:24-33, when the Lord may not be found, neither will he hear: “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me; for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.” “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near.” SITI December 10, 1885, page 743.6

“LET the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” Ezekiel 33:11. “For the Lord delighteth in mercy.” The wicked man is to forsake his ways and learn the way of God. He is to forsake his thoughts, and learn the thoughts of God. These he must learn by the Spirit of God, which the Lord giveth to those who will forsake their sins, and ask him to guide them into the way of his thoughts; for his “thoughts are very deep.” “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:10-15. SITI December 10, 1885, page 743.7

THERE is no way right but the Lord’s way, and to find that way we must first forsake our own way. There are no right thoughts but the Lord’s thoughts, and to find these thoughts we must first forsake our own thoughts. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” SITI December 10, 1885, page 743.8

A. T. J.

“The Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul Subversive of the Truth.—No. 2” The Signs of the Times 11, 47, p. 746.

LAST week we showed conclusively that belief in the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul, is subversive of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. There is another doctrine of the Bible which holds just as important a place in the divine scheme as does that of the resurrection, that is, the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this likewise is subverted by a belief in the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul. The subversion of this truth is, in a measure, involved in that of the resurrection; because without the second coming of Christ there would be no resurrection; and anything that destroys belief in the resurrection of the dead, by that means destroys faith and hope in the second coming of the Lord. SITI December 10, 1885, page 746.1

That the event of the resurrection of the dead depends wholly upon the second coming of Christ, is easily shown by the Scripture, which, of course, in these things is the only authority. We have before shown that the righteous are rewarded only at the resurrection; and to plainly show the connection, we will repeat a verse which we before quoted: “When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed of the just.” Luke 14:13, 14. And of his own coming Jesus says: “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12. The coming of the Lord, and the resurrection of the righteous dead, are directly connected by Paul thus: “For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. And again: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:51-55. SITI December 10, 1885, page 746.2

Then shall be brought to pass the saying.” When? “At the last trump,” certainly; “for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised.” When is it that the trump shall sound? “This we say unto you by the word of the Lord.... The Lord himself shall descend from Heaven ... with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise.” “Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Then it is, and not till then, that men shout, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” But through belief in the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul, it is now sought to be made to appear that this “saying” is “brought to pass” when men die! There can be no more direct perversion of the word of God than to represent this saying as being brought to pass when men die. But what does the doctrine of the immortality of the soul care about the perversion of the word of God? The first time that that doctrine was ever uttered, it was in direct contradiction of the express word of the Lord himself. The Lord said, in the event of man’s disobedience, “Thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17); and the devil said, “Ye shall NOT surely die.” Genesis 3:4; Revelation 20:2. And there is no shadow of reason to expect that the doctrine will, in reality, ever assume any other position. SITI December 10, 1885, page 746.3

It is not alone a perversion of Scripture to so apply the “saying” in question: it is alike a perversion of the plainest principles of reason and experience. For instance, here are death and a saint of God struggling for the mastery. Presently death obtains the mastery. The saint lies lifeless; death has the victory. When he is dead, is that a time to claim victory over death? When he is being lowered into the grave, is that a time to shout the victory over the grave? Nay, verily. But it is not to be always so. There is One who exclaims, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell [the grave] and of death.” Revelation 1:18. And when that glorious one “shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God,” and with power that bursts the bars of the cruel grave and destroys the strength of death; then the saint arises triumphant over death, and “THEN shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Then the saint can shout exultingly, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” And, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And thrice thanks, yea, “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3. SITI December 10, 1885, page 746.4

However, it is not alone through the subversion of the doctrine of the resurrection, that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul strikes against the coming of the Lord. The issue is directly joined. For by those who believe in the natural immortality of the soul, it is held that those who die in the Lord go straight to Heaven; that they go direct to the place where the Lord is; and so they sing,— SITI December 10, 1885, page 746.5

“Then persevere till death
Shall bring thee to thy God;
He’ll bring thee, at thy parting breath,
To his divine abode.”—Gospel Hymns, No. 112.
SITI December 10, 1885, page 746.6

And obituaries are actually written by them such as the following, which we read not long since in the Christian Cynosure: “Alvah Palmer went to Heaven from” a certain place in New York; and then the notice went on to tell when and of what he died, etc. And Dr. Talmage, in relating how a certain saintly woman was “emparadised,” tells how the chariot of Elijah was outdone; for there it must have taken some little time to turn out the chariot and hitch up the horses; but here, in this instance, the transition was all made instantaneously, without waiting for either horses or chariot! And all this when a person died! These are only notable expressions of the common idea of those who believe in the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul. SITI December 10, 1885, page 746.7

Now, if these things be true,—if it be true that death brings people to God; that men and women go direct to Heaven from their homes in this world, and this so instantaneously that there is no time to get ready the chariot of God, as was done when Elijah went without dying at all,—we say if these things be true, then there is literally no place left for the coming of the Lord. It would be simply the height of ridiculous absurdity to talk about the Lord’s coming to this world after people who are not here at all, but are, and have been, for years and hundreds of years, in Heaven—in the very place which he leaves to come here! This is why the doctrine of the coming of the Lord is so neglected, so despised, in fact. Believing this, there is no need to believe in the coming of the Lord; indeed, it is a palpable inconsistency to believe in it. Believing this, there is no need to look, or wait, for the coming of the Lord; all there is for such to do is to wait till death shall come and take them, and so death—“the last enemy,” “the king of terrors”—is given the place and the office of Him who is altogether lovely and the chiefest among ten thousand, of Him “that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” SITI December 10, 1885, page 746.8

But this belief is not the “belief of the truth.” There is no element of truth, in any form, in the idea of people going to God or to Heaven when they die. Christ himself said as plainly as tongue can speak, “Whither I go, ye cannot come.” John 18:33. Then when his disciples were troubled because of these words he told them, in words equally plain, of the event upon which they must place their only hope of being with him where he is, and that event is, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:3. And that word “that” shows positively that that is the only way in which men may ever be with him where he is. Therefore the coming of the Lord is the Christian’s hope. And the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, in supplanting, as assuredly it does, the doctrine of the coming of the Lord, supplants the Christian’s hope. Then when the doctrine of the immortality of the soul sends men to Heaven before the end of the world, before the sounding of the last trump, before the time when the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven and raise the dead, before he appears in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and sends his angels to gather together his elect—we say when the doctrine of the immortality of the soul puts men into Heaven before the occurrence of these events, it does it in defiance of the word of Christ, which liveth and abideth forever. Therefore we say it stands proved, that the belief of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is subversive of the doctrine of the second coming of Christ, and, in that, is subversive of the truth of God. SITI December 10, 1885, page 746.9

A. T. J.