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I now proceed to infer the place we occupy in the current of the years, by comparing ancient predictions of future scenes and events, with present and obvious facts. It is during the closing days of this dispensation that a remarkable prophecy in Daniel comes to be fulfilled. By the evidences of the fulfilment of this prophecy we shall be able to ascertain our position: “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Could I give a more succinct and impressive description of the age in which we live? During the last seventeen years there has been more speedy, frequent, and extended travelling, than during the seventeen hundred years before. The stationary habits of former generations have been utterly broken. The numbers that move on the iron rail have baffled all anticipation; an enormous net-work of iron has overspread east, west, north, and south, by which five hundred people at a time are taken from capital to capital, with all the speed, accuracy, and precision of a weaver's shuttle. The gold discoveries in Australia and California, the mere surface of which we have only yet touched, have covered the ocean with gigantic steamers, till the surface of the sea is as populous as the surface of the land. The antipodes are now reached from London as soon as the Hebrides used to be; and, as in the instance of Panama, continents are severed and intersected, in order to remove obstructions and impediments to the advancing march of men. Apart from the impetus given to travelling, the prodigious influx
of gold (and I am told that only the other day a million arrived in this great capital) no longer makes the Apocalyptic statement a poetical extravagance, but the literal possibility of the day: “And the streets of the city were pure gold.” And whilst there shall be this travelling to and fro, it is added, “Knowledge shall be increased.” In all directions this is taking place. Everybody is seen prying into every department of nature, art, antiquities, history, and science. An insatiable curiosity has seized every mind—a thirst for information has come upon every rank. Long-buried secrets are stepping forth from their hiding-places, at the bidding of men who refuse to be disappointed. Nineveh has arisen from the dead, to tell mankind what the Bible has been telling ceaselessly, “Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." The Polar realms are explored; the secrets of the iceberg and the tenantry of the frozen zone are brought to light; and the attempt of a thousand years — in pursuit of which the gallant Franklin and countless brave seamen have perished — the North-west Passage, has at length been achieved; and the North Pole will probably be as clearly revealed in a few years as the Equator is now. Medical science has attained wondrous progress since Jesus, who consecrated it by his example, lived and healed, and suffered and died. Those formidable epidemics, the offspring of our sin as much as the judgment of God, are more thoroughly understood; and I do not see why the pestilence which we call typhus, or the other pestilence we call fever, or the other we call cholera, or the last and worst endemic, rather than epidemic, we call consumption, may not, by God's blessing, be as much mitigated as a recent pestilence, more destructive than any of them, known by the name of small-pox. We see in all these things predicted progress in knowledge. And that wonderful anæsthetic agent, chloroform, which is a very recent discovery, has mitigated the primal curse pronounced on one half the human family, and rendered the terrible operation of the surgeon's knife scarcely perceptible to the subject of it.
During the last days, it is stated, as another fact and feature, that “the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached among all nations for a witness." Now, is not this a distinguishing sign of the age ? China, the impregnable fortress of inveterate superstition, has lifted up its everlasting gates, and partly without and partly with our teaching, the truths of the King of Glory have entered, and the glorious sound of the Gospel may be now heard reverberating in the streets of Pekin; and our country, true to its responsibility, is pouring Bibles and missionaries into it. The proposal of the excellent Mr. James, of Birmingham, to send a million Chinese Testaments into China, has been taken up, and more than the expense is now provided. In all probability, a half million of Old Testaments will be added. The tribes that cluster around the North Pole, whose home is the region
of perpetual snow, have been sought out for so many years apparently to gratify curiosity, but really to complete the fulfilment of the prophecy : “ This gospel shall be preached as a witness among all nations." The Moslem, the Hindoo, and the Chinaman, are emerging into the everlasting light. In every tongue on earth the Gospel has its music and its glad echo. In every latitude and longitude the cross is revealed, obstructing walls are falling; and where Christianity may not be accepted as a remedy, it is everywhere heard as a witness, and is, therefore, according to the words of our Lord, a precursor of the end.
Another symptom of the close of this age is now patent, the great boasting of the Romish Babylon. Never did the Church of Rome boast louder than she does now. She saith in her heart, “I sit a queen, and am no widow.” This is dotage, not power. Her last day shall be her proudest, her dying resistance will be the greatest. She will go down, as sure as there is truth in prophecy; but like a ship at sea, every sail set, and her prophecies of supremacy lifted up loudest and most impudent to the end. She has crushed every attempt within to rectify her errors and reform her corruptions ; she has persecuted with the sword and fagot every exertion from without to awaken her to a sense of apostasy; her pride has grown with her years; her pretensions are, in the year 1854, louder than in the palmy days of Hildebrand himself. But her imperial splendour shall be her funeral pall; her present glory shall soon only light her to her grave.
At this yery period, immediately before the destruction of the Crescent in the East and of the Tiara in the West, we read in Old and New Testament prophecy, there will be a general war over the length and breadth of Europe; the unclean spirits preparing the kings of the earth for the great battle, or rather war, as the Scripture calls it, of God Almighty. Many and terrible are the signs of the fulfilment. The revolutionary fires that are smouldering under every throne will one day burst out; and every capital in Europe shall blaze, every village become a camp, and every country a battle-field. Assembled kings shall debate their very existence in the high places of the earth, and kingdom dash against kingdom, like stars broken loose from their orbits; and rulers fall from their high places, like leaves or unripe fruit from the fig-tree, when shaken by fierce winds. Every acre of Europe is covered at this hour with strange and ominous shadows, which coming events cast before. Auguries of looming evils have found access to cabinets and councils; and statesmen at their wits' end look pale and perplexed, while their hearts tremble for fear of the things that are coming on the earth. 1848 was a great sea-wave, rising and reaching far up the shores of Europe, and then receding, but only to gather fresh volume, and to come up again augmented in mass, and with accumulated speed, to burst over the lowliest hearth