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by another more portentous to-day. It looked as if a new leaf in God's providence were turned over which men read and marvelled at.
In the political world reform, agitated into menaced revolution by the breath of popular demagogues, has filled the columns of the newspapers and absorbed the interest of the masses, and disintegrated powerful parties, and created in thoughtful minds grave presentiments in 1867 of what is possible. Power wants to retain its prerogatives. The popular mind is resolved to extend the area and increase the force of its influence, and there is wanting a master spirit to rule and yet not restrain the rising hurri
In parliament there has been a sort of deadlock on many subjects, during which leading minds stand still and wait, and inferior spirits urge a compromise—very much like concession of what is right. On the continent the political atmosphere still smells of gunpowder, and is charged with impending storms. The smaller capitals of Europe have vanished from its map in rapid succession. Saxony is incorporated in the Prussian empire. Dresden, Hanover, and Frankfort are absorbed in Germany. Naples, Florence, and Venice are merged in Italy. Munich and Stuttgard are following. Hungary puts forth claims to autonomy which Austria, crippled and weary, is no longer in a position to dispute. Russia is said, on what seems reliable information, to have entered into an alliance with others who will engage to defend the Czar in his long-cherished
scheme of adding Constantinople to his empire, and settling undisturbed by the treaty of Paris the longimpending eastern question. The battles of Sadowa and Konigrätz were, we fear, but the preludes of a yet more gigantic conflict into which the most reluctant powers will be dragged. The hot ashes of war are not extinguished. As if anticipating these results, the nations are arming to the teeth-genius inventing and governments rewarding engines of destruction unprecedented in the experience of mankind for their range and force—armies are increased, and earth is threatened with a baptism of blood. It looks as if the programme of the future, dimly sketched by students of prophecy, were about to be filled up with scenes of tribulation far exceeding what they have ventured to anticipate. The Revolution generated in the events of 1866 has been thundering at the gates of 1867, and will waken its echoes in 1868.
The Times of July 2, 1867, well expresses the vast change which has overtaken us : “We live in an age of great causes, grand principles, political dogmas, popular movements, immense organizations - everything great, everything lofty and uncompromising. The absolutism which is driven from our thrones is installed on the platform, and the mysteries of the cabinet are reproduced in the committee-room. Opinion wields the sceptre of the Cæsars, and issues decrees that cannot be changed. Formerly upon a great variety of questions it was possible to indulge in inquiry, and, if that failed, to be neutral. As it
was not held every man's duty to settle for himself the questions which the world had left unsettled, private people, and even statesmen, were content with practical good in default of absolute truth. They learnt to mend and to mitigate, to soften and harmonize. They preferred the mid course, and thought extremes to be avoided. This was the old philosophy, and it was the practice of those despised ages that were wise only to the extent of their requirements, and did what they could, without wishing to know much more. But then came the diffusion of knowledge, and, with it, large classes free from personal responsibility, eager for information, and accessible to impulse. They came by no fault of their own, and for the result nobody is to blame, nor is there blame; but there is an end of moderate counsels, practical sense, and the golden mean.' Every now and then a standard-ay, a dozen standards are raised, and everybody must go in for one thing or another."
How correct is this commentary on the words, “ Distress of nations with perplexity,” which the Redeemer predicts as the descriptive sign of the last times.
In the religious world there has been a vast and continuous shaking of things that are moved, no doubt, that those things that cannot be shaken may remain.
No man, however partial and prejudiced, can deny that Christendom in its broadest sense is in the throes of no common revolution. The Papacy as a terrestrial sovereignty is not merely shaken—it is
shattered. The barque of St Peter leaks and sinks —the pilot pope looks out for a haven, and the astonished cardinals are rushing to the holes and caves of the earth for shelter.
The pope in a recent allocution, while indulging in all the bitterness of vituperation which distinguished the Papacy of Hildebrand, lets the world see how terrible are the disasters which now menace or afflict his See. He “Government, with a passion that is increasing every day, constantly attacks the Catholic Church—its wholesome laws, all its sacred ministers,—its venerable bishops thrown into prison,-its virgins devoted to God taken away from their convents and reduced to beggary,—God's temples violated, and the patrimony of the Church usurped and sold.” “They do not cease to demand of us, already despoiled of several provinces of our pontifical territory, that we should renounce our civil sovereignty and that of the apostolic See." “On every side are continually heard frenzied voices which find an echo in our desperate enemies, declaring that the city of Rome must share in this unhappy disturbance and rebellion-nay, must become its capital.”
One can pity the aged and unhappy priest, while one rejoices at the breaking up of the hoary conspiracy of Rome against the rights and liberties of nations, the word of God, and the honour of our exalted Lord.
Nor, if we limit our inspection to our own country, are matters such as Christians and patriots can desire.
As superstition parts, like a cloud from the seat of the Papacy, it seems to resettle on Protestant England with ominous breadth. In numerous churches the distinctive rites and ceremonies of the Popish Church are practised; transubstantiation, known of old as “the burning dogma,” is openly professed; the attitudes and forms and elevation of the host are observed, and the atoning sacrifice of the mass in doctrine and in name is offered by ministers pretending to be priests, on communion tables falsely asserted to be altars.
Bishops remonstrate, the people complain, and the Romish priests, through their mouthpiece, Archbishop Manning, proclaim : “The clergy of the Established Church have taken out of the hands of the Catholic clergy the labour of contending for the doctrines of transubstantiation and invocation of saints. The Catholics have been left the much more happy and peaceful task of reaping the fields, and I confess I would much rather be a humble reaper or a simple gleaner than be armed with the weapons of contro
What is to be the end of these things ? What is the date of their occurrence in the calendar of prophecy?