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that the fulfilment thunders at our doors. So it is written, “there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.”
Carlyle no doubt exaggerates what in substance is too true: “There probably never was since the Heptarchy ended, or almost since it began, so hugely critical an epoch in the history of England as this we have now entered upon, with universal self-congratulation and flinging up of caps; nor one in which-with no Norman invasion now ahead, to lay hold of it, to bridle and regulate it for us (little thinking it was for us), and guide it into higher and wider regions—the question of utter death or of nobler new life for the poor country was so uncertain. Three things seem to be agreed upon by gods and men, at least by English men and gods; certain to happen, and are now in visible course of fulfilment.
“1. Democracy to complete itself; to go the full length of its course, towards the bottomless or into it, no power now extant to prevent it or even considerably retard it,—till we have seen where it will lead us to, and whether there will then be any return possible, or none. Complete · liberty' to all persons ; Count of Heads to be the Divine Court of Appeal on every question and interest of mankind; Count of Heads to choose a parliament according to its own heart at last, and sit with penny newspapers zealously watching the same ;, said parliament, so chosen and so watched, to do what trifle of legislating and administering may still be needed in such an England,
with its hundred and fifty millions 'free' more and more to follow each his own nose, by way of guidepost in this intricate world.
“2. That, in a limited time, say fifty years hence, the Church, all Churches and so-called religions, the Christian religion itself, shall have deliquesced,-into ' liberty of conscience,' progress of opinion, progress of intellect, philanthropic movement, and other aqueous residues of a vapid badly-scented character ;and shall, like water spilt upon the ground, trouble nobody considerably thenceforth, but evaporate at its leisure.
“3. That, in lieu thereof, there shall be free trade, in all senses, and to all lengths : unlimited free trade,—which some take to mean, 'free racing, ere long with unlimited speed, in the career of cheap and nasty ;'— this beautiful career, not in shop-goods only, but in all things temporal, spiritual, and eternal, to be flung generously open, wide as the portals of the universe; so that everybody shall start free, and everywhere, 'under enlightened popular suffrage,' the race shall be to the swift, and the high office shall fall to him who is ablest if not to do it, at least to get elected for doing it."
We may not accept every opinion expressed by these eminent speakers and writers. But we cannot deny the fact we feel and see, that the structure of society is being changed, that old institutions crumble daily, that revolution is begun—a revolution such as few dared to deem possible, and that all things are shaken.
AMID THE WORLD'S APATHY.
The Redeemer will come in a period of great apathy on the part of the world, in relation to His appearing. None who look into the daily press can deny the existence of this sign, “In such an hour as they think not the Son of man cometh.” They will shout “peace and safety,” just as "sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail on a woman with child.” “ Evil servants will say in their hearts, My Lord delayeth his coming," and scoffers will ask in mad triumph, “Where is the promise of his coming?” “As in the days of Noah that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Thus the deep unconcern of the great multitude of mankind, that very unconcern which we feel and see and deplore, is that well-marked condition of the world on the chart of prophecy in which the Redeemer suddenly appears. It is the unmistakable state of the days in which we live. The world gains
in power, and religion loses in influence on the hearts of millions of mankind. Hundreds of thousands seem to be “without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world,” occupied in determining dates in time, and careless of lasting hopes for eternity; setting their affections supremely on mammon, and regardless of the unsearchable riches of Christ; caring for the body and its gratification, and wholly indifferent to the interests and dangers and prospects of the soul; weighed down with the cares of earth and dead to the claims of heaven. How startling to such will His coming be! what a shock to men's souls, what terror will chill their hearts! What paleness will cover the faces of a world wholly unexpectant of so tremendous an apocalypse. If one believes that everybody will be saved, good and bad, of course he falls into apathy, and cares nothing about his soul or his God. Or if he holds true doctrines, but perverts them; if he believes in the doctrine of election, but makes it a reason why he should care for nobody, and think about nothing above the plane of this world; sure that if he is to be saved he will, in spite of all, be saved, and if he is doomed to be lost, he will be lost ; he feels no anxiety on the subject of a Saviour's return; he has a view of election most unscriptural that enables him to fall asleep. Thus the belief of false doctrines, or the misapprehension of doctrines positively true, may lead to that apathy from which there is no awakening. Apathy arises from taking too absorbing an interest in the pursuits, interests, or
things of this world. Our danger lies less in crossing the line which forms the margin of forbidden things, and more in being entirely absorbed in things lawful in their place, but in their excess provocative of deadly apathy. The fascinating things of the world, science, literature, and music, or those amusements, enjoyments, and employments which in themselves are intrinsically right, may be prosecuted to excess and thus create unconcern in reference to religious interests. Every one knows that there is something he likes exceedingly; and that if he were to give license to his liking it would become a consuming and exclusive passion. Whatever one allows to dominate within unworthy of such supremacy, there is danger that it will carry us away, and involve us in stupor and spiritual death. Too much worldly prosperity is also dangerous. That man who is so rich that he has no need to work, and so prosperous that all things seem to favour him, and no cross winds ever touch him; one pities him from the heart, for such a state inevitably tends to send him sound asleep in reference to God, a judgment-seat, and an eternity to come.
The Redeemer will come when a loudandwide-spread cry will be lifted up by His own people, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh.” Never in the history of Christendom was this cry so widely, earnestly, and eloquently lifted up. It is heard sounding in swelling strains beyond the Atlantic, it is taught in at least two thousand pulpits in Great Britain, its accents are