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near. The nearer the flood came the more specific and definite appeared the signs when it should come. First it was after 120 years; then God tells Noah, “In seven days the flood shall come.” May it not be that as the light grew brighter the nearer that the judgment came, the light will grow clearer the nearer that a still greater event comes now.
In watching lamps lighted in a cathedral, a lamp is lighted on a pillar at the western door, in the nave; another lamp further east; then a third lamp, then a fourth ; and not only does the space illuminated grow brighter, but the dark space beyond becomes comparatively lighter also; until when all the lamps of the nave are lighted, and the altar candles also begin to blaze in the choir, the whole cathedral is filled with light. It is so with prophecy. As one prophecy is fulfilled, and then another, and then another, not only does light become brighter in the past; but the dark and unfulfilled future that remains becomes more illuminated also; and we have a clear, if not a certain, idea of the day and the hour, or of the approximate time, when all these things shall be fulfilled.
Some dislike the interpretation of these signs because they are earnests of a no distant change. We find persons who, on reading the scenes that begin to loom up from beneath the horizon, as we solve the chronological dates that indicate "a thousand years as one day, and one day as a thousand years,” and show them that the great epochs of ancient prophecy, whatever be their significance or whatever be their
issue, are almost exhausted, express themselves horrified, and shocked. But what are they shocked at ? Shocked to think that there shall be no more sick. ness, no more tears, no more sorrow, no more crying; shocked at the hope of all broken circles being reunited, all separations ceasing, death destroyed, the grave
filled and heaven's eternal sunshine sleeping in softness and beauty upon the bosom of a restored and an adoring earth. I see nothing to be shocked at; on the contrary, were the grand transformation to arrive to-morrow, it would be a blessed change. But the reason why any are shocked is, their hearts are so set upon gain, so full of ambition, and avarice. They have built up their estates, and they cannot bear to think that all will end. But one day, sooner or later, these must all be dissolved. The word of God distinctly says: “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,” to them that are not the children of light and of the day. The grand effect of our discovering the signs of the nearness of the day of the Lord should be the earnest inquiry : Is it well with our souls ?
Seeing all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be? We stand, each of us, upon an isthmus between two great eternities, wasted by the waters of the past, and washed by the ocean of the future. We know not at what day that great sea may overwhelm and engulf all. But of this we may be assured; that mother's son who is now in Christ, leaning on his precious sacrifice,
washed in his atoning blood, clad in his glorious righteousness, is safe—he may fail, and so far he does fail, in thinking of the crowned Christ to come; but he does not fail in essential truth and trust, and therefore his safety is secure, come what may,
because resting on a crucified Christ that has come; and justified, and forgiven, and accepted of God, he will rejoice on that day.
Meanwhile let us be glad that the sound of His chariot-wheels becomes every day louder, and the signs of his approach more easily deciphered.
It seems to be confessed on all sides that our lot is cast in days most exciting and ominous. Stupendous and startling changes take place alike in the moral, political, and material world. Institutions, thought lasting as the earth, explode in succession ; Churches, reconstructed three hundred years ago, and handed down amid glowing prophecies of their immortality, are rent asunder, or are convulsed by internal disputes and strifes, or sink down in corruption, error, and apathy; discrowned kings wander over Europe, and kings that still reign feel the vibrations of approaching change. All things tilt and rock. An upheaval of the masses, irresistible and cumulative, fills the minds of statesmen with dismay, and impels them to make concessions wrung out by terror rather than conceded in obedience to a sense of duty. In such times we are tempted to ask, “O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things ?” and the wise are led more earnestly to “take heed to the sure word of prophecy, as to a light that shineth in a dark place."
Creation "groaneth and travaileth in pain ;” death does not mitigate, much less end, its sorrow-it yearns and wails for the arrival of something very different. The cold shadow of the curse projected from paradise lost lies upon its bosom, and chills its very heart, and all the brilliant discoveries of science serve to hide its suffering—they do not extinguish it. The mysterious whispering wire only makes more widely and simultaneously known its ills. In former days its tears were dried before we read of them, and its pains over before the tidings of them reached us. Now the electric spark spreads them in seconds and in showers, and deepens the wail of nature it transmits in multiplied echoes into human hearts. Summer comes like the dawn of the everlasting summer, but nature, as if exhausted in its birth, evermore draws it back again into her bosom, and sinks into sleep beneath the snowdrift, and rests a little while in the hope of the promised deliverance. Earth is weary of its condition as a place of graves, it is distressed by being scarred and torn by artillery; the air is heavy with the breath of slaves and sufferers, and tyrants and oppressors. The sun is tired of shining on sick-beds and wrecks. Nature seems ashamed of the desolation induced by sin—for as often as she discovers it, she sends the mosses, and the ivy, and the varied creepers, to cover up the ruin, and turn it into beauty, as if she sorely lamented and would hide her desolate places. Earthquakes are nature's spasmodic efforts to shake herself free. Mists