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to hardships, even of the terrible kind inseparable from war. Women, when there is anything to suffer, always suffer well. It is not necessary that they should be mixed up with military troubles in order to disclose their fortitude. History, however, points to these as supplying the most splendid illustrations; and perhaps we should expect it to be so, since the contrast, as regards her natural desires, which are for quiet, is so much profounder. Men, whether in peace or war, cannot bear a tithe of what the gentler sex endures patiently. Fortitude would long ago have disappeared from the earth save for the fostering care of women, who have cherished it and kept it alive when, in company with every one around them, on the imminent verge of death. Men, when disasters arrive, are apt to become querulous ; they readily lose heart, and not infrequently are conquered. Women contrive, somehow, to be exactly the reverse. More faint hearts have been inspirited by women in times of military and national peril than by the greatest generals and captains. The latter have animated their troops purely as soldiers; the women have been soldier-like and women besides. One of the finest examples of endurance of simple hardships is that, perhaps, which we find in the history of Lady Fanshawe, when addressing herself so stoutly to the cause, fast declining, of Charles I. Nothing was ever too toilsome for her loyalty. Her energy might possibly have been devoted to a better purposethat is a question we have nothing to do with ; the noble fact consists in the magnanimity that never slept. The splendid conduct of princesses and queens when great charges have a while devolved upon them, brightens the annals of every civilized country, ancient and modern. There is no need to expatiate upon this; and more pleasing, after all, is the contemplation of such as has been home-fed, as illustrated in the histories of those great and worthy women to whose ranks belong Lettice, Baroness Ophaly, and Charlotte, Countess of Derby. The period of these two faithful and illustrious ladies was exactly the same, being that of the Civil Wars. The first-named, a widow, was pledged to her dead husband never to surrender their beautiful old family castle of Geashill, Queen’s County. The second was wife of James, the seventh earl, whose own steadfast loyalty so well expressed the family motto, Sans changer, and who, while absent in the Isle of Man, left to her safe keeping the family mansion, well fortified, in South Lancashire, so celebrated as “Lathom House," and which stood closely adjacent to the site of the modern hall. The history in each case is much the same. Lettice, Baroness Ophaly, withstood in 1641 a siege of
many months' continuance, the assailants at length retiring hopelessly. Charlotte, the noble countess, made a very simple reply to the besiegers' challenge. She had, she said, a double trust to sustain, faith to her lord the earl and allegiance to her king, and that she was resolved not swerve either from honour or obedience. The remainder of the story needs no new recounting. To Englishmen it would be like telling an Argive the “ tale of Troy divine.” The nature of the long defence, the discomfiture of the enemy, and what happened subsequently, not only constitute a chapter in the family history, at once consummately noble and profoundly sorrowful, but one of the most stirring in the history of our island in general. Particulars respecting the brave and patient Lettice, Baroness Ophaly, whose deserts in the memory of heroines are little inferior, may be seen in the first volume of Mr. E. O. Blackburne's “Illustrious Irishwomen.”
(To be continued.)
THE WORLD'S FUTURE.
(Continued from page 125.)
“The Bright and Morning Star.”—REVELATION xxii. 16.
“Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world ?" The question which the disciples, in their blank bewilderment, put to the Lord undoubtedly appeared to them a matter on which they could easily be instructed : little conception could they have of the profound solution, embracing long and dreary centuries of ecclesiastical and political struggle, involved in the Divine reply. Well might they treasure in memory the mysterious words which in their complex are scattered over three of the evangelists, all pointing, in a manner not discernible beforehand, to an unparalleled series of disastrous changes in the faith and practice of the professed followers of the Redeemer. The outward aspect of ecclesiastical communities, as drawn in unimpeachable documents of history the most thrilling the world has seen, exhibits, there can be little doubt, the various stages of declension, as to belief and life, which are spiritually portrayed in the Divine discourse ; but the confusion and antagonism always predominant during waning phases of religious opinion prevented the discernment by the Churches of their common errors in chief, and necessarily encumbered their perception of the inspired enunciations. But now emerging from the terrific strife; now that the whole panorama of eighteen centuries of testimony has passed before us; now that the real state of things is at length providentially revealed by the same wisdom that at first veiled the utterances; the student is able to canvass the whole ground of the occult delineations step by step. It is this connected series of verified facts touching the spirit of religion that now presents itself for a brief review.
The object of Divine prophecy is not strictly to foretell natural events, or things manifest to the world, but to exhibit the moral and mental phases of society, especially the state of the Church as to faith and life. The subject-matter of the seer is pre-eminently spiritual, whilst the style in which it clothes itself is of necessity natural. In the visions of the prophets we invariably find natural objects, or combinations of such objects, employed as symbols for sublime instruction. This is strikingly evident from the Books of Ezekiel, Zechariah, and John the Divine. As to what may be termed the chronology of prophecy, it consists not in temporal duration, but succession of state. Thus the word "quickly” is applied to events separated by an interval of eighteen centuries. For in that which is certain to come to pass, time is comparatively nothing. Let us try to realize the modus operandi of this prescient inspiration.
When Balaam took up his parable on the mountains of Moab 1 the mode of the afflatus he experienced is strikingly described. He heard the words of God; he saw the vision of the Almighty; falling prostrate, but having his eyes open. In this entranced state, he beheld Israel abiding in the order of their encampments; and he broke forth in those magnificent enunciations which culminate in the glory of the Messiah's kingdom.
In the Lord's discourse with His disciples it is the temple which lends the basis to His prophetic vision. To the disciples it was the cynosure of all eyes, but to the Lord it was only what it was originally designed to be—an inspired type. But a type of what? Not of Judaism, for it was a part of Judaism. The type was at first glorious; in the tabernacle of Moses, in the temple of Solomon, all was resplendent with a holy significance—a fair adumbration of heaven. Not so now: the Lord had left it; its glory was departed : it had put on the type belonging to fallen Judaism ; that is, of the Divine truth perverted and disorganized. In the Lord's vision it was transformed into a sanctuary of ruin, and bore the symbol of the utter disintegration of what it had once meant. In the fierce light of Divinity it
i Numb. xxiv. - See the illustration of this inspired typology in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapters ix, and x.
was the centre of a new revolt against heaven, and around it were arrayed the conflicts, the foes, the abominations and judgments so thickly interwoven in the Lord's warning words.
The Divine teachings presented in the Gospels constitute indeed a glorious temple of truth, of which the Lord Himself is the Corner-stone. Had this Divine system been fully received and lived out in the world, what a grand result we should have seen! No false Christs; no prophets of delusion; no beginning of sorrows; no abomination of desolation ; no tribulation such as was not from the beginning of the world; no gathering of the eagles around the dead form of the Church. But the picture which the Lord has drawn is now the voice of history: we may verify it in every particular. We have here the key to this mysterious chapter from beginning to end. We see how it was that when the disciples called their Master's attention to the temple, His reply dashed all their hopes and entirely changed the current of their thoughts, whilst it gave occasion to the Lord to unfold the woes of the Christian Church down to the period of His Second Coming.
It may be a matter for reflection how it was that the Lord did not at once accomplish the great object of His coming at the period of His glorification. He came—we are repeatedly told—to establish a kingdom on the earth, not a worldly kingdom, but one to be the crown of all kingdoms. Why was it necessary for Him to have to come again—not indeed in the flesh, but in spirit, to re-establish and consolidate His long-promised dominion ?
The answer is contained in His prophetic discourse. At that moment the world was not ripe for this “consummation so devoutly to be wished.” The Church was weak, because the spiritual-rational faculties of men were feeble : the Divine light was too intense for the awakened organs of thought. How soon the infant Church showed signs of inability to stem the stormy billows! It lapsed into idle questions, into controversies, into serious errors ! Bitter dissensions ensued : the philosophizing spirit of Jew and Greek smothered the simplicity of the faith : ecclesiastical pride—that baneful foe of heaven--was quickly generated : then followed a long train of worldly corruptions and abuses : at last the tremendous strain was too severe for poor humanity to endure; division sprang up, and men rudely seized the liberties they had been so long denied. Then reappeared -not the brilliant truth of heaven, but-heresies of every kind; and the unparalleled “tribulation ” of religious truth which the Lord foretold, of which the effects are everywhere visible, in all communities of men.
Is it possible for events to answer more strikingly to prophetic words?
There is another view which may be taken of this critical subject. Even had the Church not declined into errors and corruptions, but had been able to sustain the childlike faith of the apostolic age, it by no means follows that it would not have been imperative for the Lord to make a Second Advent of the spiritual nature revealed in His discourse. At His First Coming He evidently withheld Divine instruction of great importance, for the reason that the Church was not sufficiently matured to receive the advanced knowledge. The flood of light would have been useless, injurious rather than beneficial. The apostolic writings, however penetrated by Divine illumination, exhibit immaturity of conception on several things. Undoubtedly the apostles were specially enlightened to teach the great and fundamental doctrines of the Gospel. In noble words they affirm the great principles of belief and practice; but they do not enter into their explanation in a way demanded in our day. In the next section of this essay
I shall have an opportunity of considering more particularly this important matter.
Thus the reasons are not difficult to discern why the work of the First Advent was so soon followed by interruption and decline, and why the great doctrines then taught now need to be not only plainly reasserted, but also to be more fully and convincingly explained. And this, not of man, but of God.
Three times with emphatic iteration are we warned in the Divine discourse against false prophets, pointing, no doubt, not only literally to fanatical assumptions, but spiritually to the insidious teachings by which the faith was assailed. All the apostles were troubled by these specious foes. Paul speaks of “ false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ."i John declares,
even now are there many antichrists." The commotions which thus disturbed the Church were “the beginning of sorrows." A chain of historical testimony conducts us back, without one missing link, to the very days of apostleship. In Justin the Martyr and Polycarp we have the earliest “witnesses," called the apostolic fathers. The childhood of Polycarp extends to the venerable days of the “beloved disciple,” whose last injunctions were, “ Little children, love one another." When the apostles left the world, the three famous “creeds" were unwritten. What is called the “Apostles' Creed” was doubtless composed soon after their departure, and so designated because considered to be a fair symbol of their teachings. It is a simple, unexplanatory statement of the great truths of the Gospel,
1 2 Cor. xi. 13.
1 John ii. 18; see also 2 Peter iii. 3, 4.