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in the air commiserate and freshen with tears the mosses that try to conceal the dreary parts of earth. Graves grow green, and decay turns into beauty partially, but really as earnests of the consummation.
Everything in nature seems oppressed and striving for deliverance, and in some degree for elevation and victory
A plant under a stone searches out a crevice, as if feeling repressed, and having found it it breaks into blossom, as if rejoicing in its victory. Quartz effloresces into the crystal, as if aspiring to the loveliness of flowers. Metal forms into crystals shining as stars. The eye of a dying animal seems to beg for deliverance as if its right. Goethe, the great German poet and philosopher, said: “When I stand alone at night in open nature, I feel as though nature were a spirit, and begged relief of me. Often have I had a sensation as if nature in waiting sadness entreated something of me, so that not to understand what she longed for, cut through my heart.” This is a just and expressive statement of our expectation, and of the depressed and suffering condition of all nature.
All the sounds of nature seem to shout and appeal for deliverance, as if it felt the pain from which it seeks to escape. All its aspects are those of one raising its hands upwards to the skies, if peradventure it may be emancipated. Luther justly says: “Albeit creation hath not such speech as we have, it hath a tongue still which God the Holy Spirit heareth, and understands how it groaneth for the wrong it must
endure from the ungodly while they use it so." The withered branches, stript in winter of their green coronal, seem to stretch out their gaunt hands, and to cry aloud in the voice of every blast for the departure of winter and the coming of eternal spring. The sea moans like a stricken creature, and restless and feverish seems to raise its great waves, as if clutching at rest, and appealing to the land for deliverance with kisses and soft embraces. The avalanches on alpine heights, as they tumble over, seem to open their snowy lips, and give expression to their griefs in groans—as if these were the sermons and
prayers of the everlasting hills.
Do we not hear, in secret and solitary places, sounds from the past and the future, as if from belfries outside of nature ? like the peal of bells heard at sea from cities afar off, as if to remind us of the eternal city nearing earth and destined to settle on it, a bright apocalypse.
“To me they seem,
water's face.” Scorners and sceptics aggravate the misery by crying
contemptuously, “Where is the promise of his coming?” She answers in prayer, “ Come, Lord Jesus,” and is comforted by his whisper in her heart, hold, I come quickly.”
The Church—the Bride of the Lamb—the redeemed out of all nations, feels as a stranger here. Hers is the condition of a widow. Her Husband is absent in the heavens. The Bridegroom has been taken away, and “she fasts in these days.” Were He present she would rejoice. But He tells her, “Ye now have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”
The nations of Europe—the great theatre on which ancient prophecy becomes modern historyhave long ago broken the restraints that kept them in their respective orbits. The treaties of 1815, on which so great stress was laid, have been scattered to the winds; and that of 1856 has gone with them. In the words of the Times :-“The Emperor has crossed the Rubicon with the Revolution for his ally. We are on the eve of momentous events.” Every pause
in the warfare of nations is a lull in the storm —not peace; a bivouack-not rest.
We are no nearer national sisterhood and social rest and peace at the end of 1867 than we were eighteen centuries ago. It looks at present as if the prerogatives of crowns and the demands of subjects and the hoarded passions of ages were about to enter into conflict, and society to be tried as by fire. Reformation swells into revolution, and liberty into licence. Democracy
aspires to empire, and kings and emperors, unable to stay its tide, vainly make bargains to save their
The avalanche is loosened, and men hold their breaths as its deepening sounds crash in their
Europe sees its old bound-lines obliterated, and hears the first stroke of her epochal hour. Disintegration is everywhere in action. Decomposition in the removal of the old is trying to make room for the composition of the new. How can we explain this deepening vibration of continents—this waking up of millions from the sleep of ages——this upheaving of deep foundations—this unsettled and discontented state which makes us long and cry, some in agony, for calm, for consolation, and for peace ? Visions of approaching revolution sweep at noon and night through Vatican, Congress, and Divan; the wheels of time appear to revolve with more terrible speed—the lines of Providence rapidly converge as if approaching some crisis of great intensity. We Christians know the result and wait patiently: though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, we will not fear; for we have a river whose streams make glad the city of our God. Sometimes the ocean is stirred by subterranean volcanic action to its very depths; no vessel can approach the scene while the disturbance lasts; we wait a few weeks, and after the convulsion has ceased, a beautiful isle emerges from the water and sleeps on the bosom of the deep: by-and-by it is clothed with verdure and fragrant with flowers, and
soon there are heard in it the hum of a busy capital, and the songs of happy Christian men. So will it be when this great seething, this great shaking of the nations of the earth has ceased. There will emerge from it, by a regenesis more magnificent than the genesis of old, a “better country,” a “city that hath foundations,” that shall neither be disturbed by storms nor agitated by revolution.
Reviewing the past years that are just expended, the leading journal—which is the living history of events as they come and go-uses words far more weighty, and thus concludes its review : "It is idle to talk of peace in the past, and a dream to reckon upon it in the future. Now the Spanish and now the Italian Peninsula has been red with the blood of contending armies; now the Turkish fleet has been sunk beneath the quiet waters of Navarin; and now the Russian hordes have perished like flies in the autumn time, as with ever-diminishing strength they staggered on to the diplomatic haven of Adrianople. At one time the cause of liberty,' at another that of 'order,' has been effectually vindicated at Paris, as the red gutters of the time could show; at another 'tranquillity,' that Russian idol, was enthroned at Warsaw in a very solemn way. The smoke of the opposing cannon has hardly yet curled away from off the wide Hungarian swamps. Need we speak of England's share in these peaceful transactions. The North-Western Provinces of India, the banks of the Indus and of the Irrawaddy, have been the witnesses