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THE GETÆ, OR GOTHS, IN MESIA.
of the dreadful incursions of the barbarous tribes from the east, who have, since, mainly, possessed it as pasture ground. And in this work of destruction, these barbarians were assisted by the great empires that have been called civilized; who, by their murderous inroads into this country previously, had inclined the inhabitants to seek a place in the inhospitable north; whence they rebounded upon their destroyers, and have possessed themselves of their possessions. They carried with them then- civilization— their free institutions—their superior intellectual capacity and moral constitution, even to the frozen regions of Iceland, rather than inhabit a fertile land subject to barbarian sway.
The quarter in which we can obtain the most distinct view of this people, in very ancient times, is, perhaps, on their southern frontier, that nearest Greece. Here, along the south bank of the Danube, between this river and the mountains of Hæmus, the country was anciently called Moesia; and the description given of the ruling race inhabiting this district, is correspondent to the idea of their having been Moses' disciples. The account which Herodotus gives of the Getæ, the same with the people afterwards called Goths, is in the following words. He is describing the progress of Darius, northward, in his wanton invasion of these people. (See Melpomene, par. xciii, iv):
"Before he arrived at the Ister, he first of all subdued the Getæ, a people who pretended to immortality. The Thracians of Salmydessus, and they who live above Apollonia, and the city of Messambria, with those who are called Cynnianians and Mypsæans, submitted themselves to Darius, without resistance. The Getæ obstinately defended themselves, but were soon reduced: these, of all the Thracians, are the bravest and most upright.
"They believe themselves to be immortal; and whenever any one dies, they are of opinion that he is removed to the presence of their god Zamolxis, whom some believe to be the same with Gebeleizes. Once in every five years they choose one
by lot, who is to be despatched as a messenger to Zamolxis, to make known to him their several wants. And they seriously believe that there is no other deity."
It is plain there is much of fable mixed up with this account of the Getæ; but these things appear clear respecting them: that they were distinguished from the surrounding people by their religion. They were called immortals, because of their confident belief in a future state. They were also distinguished for their moral rectitude, and for their bravery in war; at the same time they seem to have been highly improved in the arts of peace. The Scythians around them were chiefly pastoral; but these produced grain, not merely for their own consumption, but for exportation. But that for which they seem to have been most remarkable, was, their being the followers of Zamoxes, or Zamolxes, or Zalmoxis, after whom the country appears to have been called. This Zamoxes is said to have left to these Getæ, the institutions of their religion in books, the loss of which is much lamented by the learned; but which, it is most probable, we have in the first five books of our Bible. There seems to be some confusion as to the name of this their great teacher,—and also, as to whether he should be reckoned the object of their worship, or merely their religious instructor. Such confusion of idea is nothing remarkable among the heathen; and has been abundantly manifested in their accounts of the Jews. In the present instance there was the greater liability to error, on account of the likeness between the sound of the words, Za El-Moses--the God of Moses—and Za Moses—Zamoxes, simply Moses." It may be remarked that from this quarter, including Thrace, came the principal of the most early poets and musicians, such as Orpheus, who are said to have so assisted in charming the previously rude inhabitants of Greece, into the mildness of civilized life. In later times, also, they were still remarkable for musical
ISRAEL PREYED UPON BY THE GREEKS AND ROMANS. [LEC. VII.
talent; so that the Greeks were in the habit of hiring from this quarter, men to mourn at their funerals. In other respects, as in gardening and architecture, they seem to have been of very great service to the Greeks.
Macedonia, the original inheritance of Alexander, lies between Moesia and Greece; and, previous to that prince's turning himself to settle matters fully in Greece, and passing over to make his conquests in the east, he went, we are told, northward, and subdued the country as far as the Danube. The inhabitants of this country were too proud to submit to national servitude, however willing many of them may have been to labour individually for hire, and accordingly they passed over the Danube towards the north, choosing rather to enjoy their beloved freedom in a colder clime, than retain their former homes under the Macedonian yoke.
Those who remained were, of course, the dregs of the people, perhaps the mere Aborigines; and this may have caused the name of Thracian and Moesian to sink ultimately into disrespect. A principal portion of those who withdrew beyond the Danube, were called Getæ, most likely of the tribe of Gad. These Getæ, we have said, are identified with the Goths, who were thus early made again to wander forth in search of another restingplace. North of the Danube was a powerful and extensive republic, anciently called Dacia, and the people Davi, afterwards Dacians. But, when comfortably seated in this more northern abode, they were attacked by the next great masters of the world,—the Romans, who not only made Moesia a Roman Province, but, attacking Israel in Dacia, the country north of the Danube, they drove them still farther into the wilderness. After a most violent struggle, which lasted for several years, Dacia was at length nominally subdued. Multitudes of the brave Dacians, who were taken captive, were condemned to suffer cruel deaths in the theatre, for the amusement of the Romans; no wonder they hated
the rule of such conquerors. Their king, rather than bow his neck to the Roman yoke, like many of the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem, destroyed himself. The inhabitants, who had withdrawn for a time northward, returned, many of them, afterwards, and made the retention of the province so troublesome to the Romans, that they ultimately resigned their conquests north of the Danube; when a considerable number of the original inhabitants, it is presumed, re-settled quietly in the land. Quietness, however, was not allowed them, partly from internal troubles, and partly from external assaults. The people, among them that sought peace, seem principally to have settled farther north, where they planted commonwealths, much after the Israelitish pattern; as in Germany, Sweden, and along the western coast of Europe.
The banks of the Danube, on which Israel appear to have been previously given rest, after the tossing of their captivity, was also the place from which Israel was appointed to spread into power, so as to possess the gates of then- enemies, and merit eminently the title of Jacob, or supplanter, and that at the moment of their greatest extremity. When released in Dacia from the Roman yoke, Attila and his Huns came pouring down upon them from the wilds of Tartary, in far Asia, and swept them as with a besom of destruction from off the face of that whole land, where they afterwards remained only in corners. The Servians, a more slavish race, came into their possessions, under the shadow of the rude barbarian power, which, however, soon passed away like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. This blast of the terrible ones was most severe, whilst it lasted; and was, indeed, like a storm against the Roman wall, upon which it precipitated the Goths to such a degree, that they were glad to beg for shelter from that people by whom the bones of their brethren had been heretofore scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth. What
INUNDATED BY BARBARIANS FROM THE EAST.
greatly conduced to the flight of the Goths, was the horrific appearance of the Huns. This made the beautiful Goths flee from them as they would have fled from the face of a serpent. They wanted not courage to meet a foe of their own kind; but they appear to have doubted the propriety of having much intercourse with such monsters in human shape, whose polluting habits, also, they may have been glad to shun. They begged to be allowed a shelter within the bounds of the Roman Empire. The Roman emperor, with seeming generosity, granted their request. The Goths were required to deliver up their arms. It was also stipulated that their children should he given to the Romans, and dispersed through the provinces of Asia. These terms were hard to a brave people, and a people so affectionate to their offspring as the Goths. Ere they could submit to them, they must have been reduced to the utmost extremity. They seem, however, to have been faithfully observed, until perfidy appeared on the part of the Romans. The children of the nobility were separated without delay from the multitude, and conducted to the distant places assigned for their residences.
The emigrants spread themselves over the uncultivated plains between the ridges of Mount Hæmus and the Danube, in the same country from which they had been driven by the Macedonian in his early conquests. Here, in the land of their fathers, they seem to have been offered little but a grave, into which it was threatened they would fall by one of the most fearful of deaths, — that of hunger. When they accepted of the hard conditions already alluded to, they were promised provisions for their immediate supply; but these came far short of the demand. They had to expend all to purchase food; and at length, many of them had to sell themselves as slaves, in order to preserve a miserable existence. Was such a state of things to be endured, if it could be at all mended? At length, insult was
added to injury—they became exasperated—and in their desperation began to concert desperate measures.— These, the Visigoths, at length procured assistance from the Ostrogoths, who had not been admitted within the Roman Empire; and who, of course, still retained their arms. War was resolved on. They fought and overcame.
In the mean time, the Gothic youth, dispersed over the Asiatic provinces, were, by order of the Roman Government, all, in the most atrocious manner, slaughtered. We are accustomed to talk of the barbarism of the Goths, and of the ruthless hands they laid upon the Roman empire. But was not vengeance to be looked for in return for so much cowardly cruelty, with which these strangers were treated in the land of their fathers, by the masters of the world? And accordingly, Alaric, King of the Visigoths, was raised up for the correction of the Romans. To this office he reckoned himself specially called, calling himself the Fire of God, and the Scourge of Rome, which he abundantly was, weakening it in various parts; and especially ravaging Greece, and thus punishing in their children the ancient dispossessors of his fathers, when Alexander led his conquering arms into Moesia. At length Alaric marched upon Rome itself, and, after twice sparing it, and repeatedly meeting with treachery and insult, he at length sacked and plundered the city, carrying away an immensity of treasure. The Goths themselves, behaved, it is said, with much mildness and humanity; but the barbarians, whom Alaric had joined to his army, ran into great excesses, the blame of which the Goths have in a great measure borne.
In the mean time the barbarians, who had caused the emigration of the Gothic nations, rolled many of them over the empire, sweeping away many mingled people. Some passed over to Africa, which they conquered, or rather ravaged; whence returning, under Genseric their prince, Rome again, and still more severely, suffered. Even the capitol is now uncovered, for the
ISRAEL TAKE ROOT IN THE NORTH-WEST.
sake of its gilded brass; and the sacred vessels, belonging to the temple at Jerusalem, the spoils that Titus brought to Rome, and that Alaric, because of their holiness, refused to touch,—these are among his trophies; but a storm deposits them in the bottom of the Great Sea. And at length this barbarous power, that threatened to erect an empire, embracing both sides of the Mediterranean, and which would have made, perhaps, Africa the seat of empire, is melted away, and can no more be found. Such has been the fate of all the nations that so came, like a sweeping storm,—a furious whirlwind, to drive Israel into endless ruin. They have passed away like a night vision. All their mighty conquests are now but as a troublous dream. Even the Roman eagle, which, under her wide-spreading wings, proffered a refuge to Israel, in such mockery of hospitality and truth, is now as nothing; whilst the poor and needy hath, indeed, taken root, and spread and flourished, as was promised. Would that their fruit were such as becomes the children of so many mercies!
Spain, as well as a considerable portion of Italy, came into the possession of the Goths. Gaul was laid hold upon by the Franks, another branch of the same great family, and from them, has been called France. Britain came into the possession of the Anglo-Saxons, at least as to the largest and most valuable part of it; and from them has been called England. The Gothic nations were, in the course of the revolutions we have briefly sketched, driven in chiefly towards the north, where they erected free commonwealths, in what was anciently called Cimbria and Scandinavia, which they civilized, and rendered comparatively fruitful; but from which many of them rebounded back, by sea, upon the more fertile countries of Europe,—making not only great depredations, but in some cases, as in that of Normandy, large conquests. By one means or another, and mostly as if from necessity, Europe has fallen almost entirely, into their possession; and from thence have they
spread themselves over great part of the other quarters of the globe. The great supplanting has been ever going forward. This people have, indeed, been Jacob from the beginning, but particularly since then- settlement within the bounds of the Roman empire. It is especially north of that, however, that they have displayed the most mental power. This mental power has, as we have seen, been in training from the earliest period,—in order that they might be prepared for acting under the other name of Jacob, —that of Israel, or Prince of God. They are to be made princes in all the earth, according to the order of the kingdom of heaven; according to which, the greatest of all is to be as the servant of all; even like the Prince of the kings of the earth," who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." God is already proceeding to lay liberally to their hand,—not for self glorification, or luxurious ease, but that they may enjoy the high dignity of being the dispensers of the Lord's bounty to mankind. May they soon fulfil their destiny, and be given to rule in judgment, under the King of righteousness, justifying the prediction, "The people which shall be created, shall praise the Lord!"
Only look for a moment at the important position which this people now occupy,—whose name but lately was a name for barbarism. They possess the most improved portion of our globe, the greater part of which was but a wilderness when they took possession of it. There is scarcely any place of much importance, in any part of the world, that they do not now occupy, except, indeed, their own land of Israel, and those laid hold upon by their great rival, in the Northeast portion of the world; and who, as grasping at the whole, is yet to act so important a part at the close of the present dispensation. Israel have colonized, or are colonizing all the new world; and great part of Asia is in their possession: whilst Africa is in a manner surrounded by
FOOTSTEPS OF THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL.
them. Either directly, by power,— or indirectly, by diplomatic agency, they can control almost all the nations of the earth. All the facilities of good appear to be rapidly providing. It is true there is a deadness, unworthy of this position. There is, as it were, the silent waiting for the powerful word of the living life-giving God: "Come from the four winds, О breath, and breathe upon these slain that they may live." Now may Mohammedan delusion depart, and Ishmael associate with Isaac, in his efforts to raise unto the full dignity of man, the longoppressed children of Africa. Now may the Brahmins, the younger children of Abraham, in the east, behold the truth of their perverted allegories, and become efficient missionaries to all the families of Shem, so densely crowded into that part of the world. Now may the Jews spread everywhere, knowing all countries, all languages, all customs, and all engagements of mankind, turn their penetrating minds unto the truth, as it is in Jesus, and labour to bestow upon all, the true riches, as they have laboured to acquire for themselves the mammon of unrighteousness. Now may Judah walk with Israel,—and may they come together out of the north country, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; and thence go forth, as lightning, to the utmost corners of the earth, as vessels of honour fit for the Master's use,—to carry out blessings unto the ends of the earth; to preach the gospel of the kingdom in all the world for a witness unto all nations, before the end come. But to return:
It may be objected that if these things are so, there will surely be some traditional remains among this people, tending to prove their Israelitish origin. With regard to the Scriptures, which it is most desirable we should find them possessed of; we have the parallel case of Judah. It would seem that, even in that portion of God's peculiar people, the word of God was so scarce, that when a copy of it was found, in the reign of Josiah, it
was as if some remarkable discovery had been made. (See 2 Kings, xxii. 8—20.) Upon their return from Babylon, also, it plainly appears that they had, up to that time, been remarkably wanting as to Scriptural knowledge. See Ezra ix. If this was the case with regard to the Jews who retained Jerusalem, the place of rule, and the place of worship,—who had the best opportunities of being instructed in what God had done for his people in the days of old, and what he had appointed them to observe as the symbols of allegiance to himself, the Lord of Hosts, the great Governor among the nations; less forgetfulness could scarcely be expected of the other the fugitive house of Israel; who were ever in a state of change; and who had become so separated from the worship of God, previous to their removal out of the Land. Although they, however, are not known to have had the books of the Scriptures actually in their possession,— yet it might be expected they should have traditions of another kind. This might be the more expected, as Elijah and Elisha chiefly prophesied in Israel,— not in Judah: and their prophecies would more naturally regard the people among whom they ministered; rather than the other house—that of Judah, to which they did not minister, -and who have no record of their prophecies.
However adulterated by heathenish admixture, something might be expected to remain among these northern nations, of the traditions of their fathers, to attest the truth we have been advocating, and accordingly this is remarkably the case. The oldest poem these people are known to possess, appears to have been produced with the special design of collecting the traditions of their fathers. It is called Voluspa; that is the spae or prophecy of Vola. The Edda is a comparatively modern commentary upon Voluspa, containing, perhaps, nearly as many fables superadded, as the correspondent works of the Jews and the Romanists, who have, by their