Page images
PDF
EPUB

before its desolating van. Russia is destined to play a mighty, and in all probability a terrible, yet not the less guilty part, in the last act of the world's drama; there are prophecies in Ezekiel pointedly referring to this portentous empire, to which I beg the reader's attention.

I dare not say, however, that every sign of the age is sorrowful and sad. I see tokens beautiful and big with promise; I can see strivings that indicate man's hopes and expectancy of a brightening day. The roll of prophecy is not all covered with lamentation, and weeping, and woe. I see, in the multiplied attempts to elevate the physical, moral, and social condition of mankind, results created by the conscious or unconscious anticipation of the age to come. What a beautiful type of the coming brotherhood of mankind is such an association as that of the “Young Men's Christian Association,” having no basis but the Bible, no element but love, no password but Christ! What is the great temperance movement - prosecuted with an energy that never fails, losing daily its first rashness, yet nothing of its first zeal — but a prophetic effort to induce men soberly to weigh their responsibilities, and watch with calmness the rush of events as they sweep by, and so make ready for the coming of the Lord ? What is the great social Sanitary movement but an evidence of man's conviction that this house of ours will one day be, what we would rejoice to see it now, swept and garnished, and prepared for the presence of the Bride awaiting the advent of the Bridegroom? What is the recent extending love and study of Music, becoming every day as common as the study of reading and writing, but the tuning of the instruments preparatory to the anthem peal, “Hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth ?”. What are those rapidly accumulating discoveries — science shortening distances, annihilating time, compressing nations into parishes, continents into neighbours, and oceans into lakes—but man’s aspiration after the dominion which he held and lost in Paradise-prophecies of success not to be gained by him, but given according to the purposes and promises of God? With all this there is a restlessness abroad that one cannot mistake. There is a universal sense of dissatisfaction—a pervading consciousness that there is much wrong that needs to be put right-a dim recollection of departed perfection we have lost — a strong anticipation of the restoration of all things. How restless is man in every department! In Politics, to-day it is Despotism, to-morrow it is Democracy; one year a Republic, another year an Autocracy; but no more national happiness in the last than in the first. Today, Whigs are in the ascendant; the next day, Tories are on the crest of the wave; next day, a coalition of both — some say, with the excellences of both; others, with the excellences of neither. Yet all this is dealing with the symptoms, without touching the inner seat of the fever of humanity.

In the Church, during one decade of years we

hear of nothing but the blessings of a Church Establishment, of endowment, of royal and aristocratic patronage; in another, it is the Voluntary system, popular election, the freedom of the Clergy, and the independence of the Church. One day, Ecclesiastical Synods are announced as hot-beds of agitation; another day, Convocations are implored and advocated, as the only salvation of the Church. Yet, if men had common sense, they would see that it is not new machinery that we want, but a new spirit to inspire the old machinery that we have.

If you look at Medicine, one day hydropathy carries all before it as an irresistible wave; the next day homeopathy, with its infinitesimal doses, cures all diseases; then mesmerism displaces both, and everybody rushes to be mesmerised: allopathy returns again, and continues till some new crotchet takes its place. It is not a new theory that is wanted, but the restoration of man's health, which is promised when the world shall close as the world began, in Paradise.

Turn to the Commercial world. In one year thousands are embarking their capital in railroads too Quixotic ever to be achieved; in the next, copper and lead mines are the grand attraction; on 'Change something else; while at present the gold in California and Australia absorbs all attention.

Man feels there is something wrong; he is conscious of inward fever: like the troubled sea, he feels he cannot rest. Never was humanity so much at sea as at this moment. It nevertheless is a preparation for a new and sure dénoûement; it is Nature's unconscious cry, “ Come, Lord Jesus !" There comes, at times, a calm at sea, which sailors call breeding weather, at the end of which there rushes upon the ship an irresistible typhoon. The calm since 1848 is drawing to its close. The fierce hurricane, nursed in silence and in secrecy, begins to howl and whistle amid the national shrouds; and the straining and pitching of the ship tells surely its force is on her. Make all tight; stand every man at his post; lift every man his heart to the great sea Lord and land Lord of heaven and earth; and when the waves shall rise and threaten like wild beasts on every side, and the fierce wind shall come down upon us like an avalanche from the mountain tops, we will not be afraid: One is in the ark whom the winds and the waves obey; not one of the redeemed crew shall perish. The frenzied elements shall dash against the true Church as the terror-stricken rain flings itself in a winter night against the window-panes, imploring shelter rather than inflicting damage. .

Under the Seventh Vial, great Babylon, you may remember, comes into remembrance before God. That is, he selects her for her final judg. ments. She is now at the beginning of her sorrows. The apparent triumphs and ostentatious boasts of Rome cannot conceal the fulfilment of the prophecy. She is withering down to her. very roots

in every part of the earth; her real vigour and vitality are gone; she is more and more recognised as a detected imposture, and kept up as a piece of the pageantry of Europe, not as a power that makes nations stand in awe, or kings dread its opposition. In one country she is plundered; in another resisted; in another used as a tool; and detested and despised in all. Her greatest attempts at domination have ended in her very worst defeats. The spirit that was in her when Innocent III. was pope still animates her, but the people she has to deal with belong to another age; and there is a book in their hands that casts its glory upon her features, and reveals the awful image of the wicked one. Her strength is in secret; the throne of her power is not episcopal or cardinalatial, but the confessional. The moment she rises from being a secret underminer to take the place of an open assailant, she parts with half her strength; she is shorn of the hair in which her strength lies; and she will soon have to grind at the mill, a miserable and wretched drudge. This fatal mistake she has lately made in Holland, England, and Southern Germany, Her present politics are the sign of her dotage, the evening twilight of her day. “ Quem Deus vult perdere prius dementat.” She has been drinking of the cup of God's indignation bitterly since 1848; and she will drink of it more bitterly in the years to come. We may be chastened as a nation for our tampering with her; but our country, I gather

« PreviousContinue »