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will be so bitterly felt in Rome as the decision of the 26th July, when the Austrian Reichsrath, by a vote of 130 to 24, solemnly decreed that the Concordat should cease to exist. To do Rome justice, there is one thing which, even in her decay, she values more than territory, or revenue, or her temporal place, and that is her spiritual sway, the chance of realizing that ideal of heaven on earth which she has hunted for twelve centuries but never found, or found only for brief periods and over small portions of the earth's surface. The vote, though not yet accepted by the Government, is, we imagine, irreversible. The Emperor, however carefully trained, has learned wisdom in a rough school, and, though royal, cannot now be much less enlightened than an average Viennese burgher. His Premier or Chancellor of the Empire is a Protestant, with no other idea of priests than that they are cheap policemen; his nobles, though Catholic, have the strong dislike of foreign and sacerdotal aggression aristocracies always display. The Council of Ten, before Protestantism was heard of, never could stand the Pope; and the English nobles before Luther, Catholic to the toes, urged Henry VII. to secularize the Church. The one hope of the Hapsburgs is to conciliate the people, and the people will not live the Roman ideal life. If it is forced on them—and Rome would not falter in the forcing—they will take the final step, and place themselves, at any risk to their souls, under the House of
Hohenzollern, so heretical but so patriotic, so deeply excommunicated but so just, so certain to be damned in the next world but so certain also to succeed in this. The dread of such a calamity awes the Kaiser, and may even awe the Pope, but we do not think it will. It is believed both at Vienna and Rome that the Society of Jesus is opposing to the demand for a withdrawal of the Concordat the ancient weapon of Rome, indefinite delay. What is a year, a generation, a century to Rome ? Napoleon may be stirred up to fight Prussia, Bismark may die, the Kaiser may repent, anything may occur if only there is time, and meanwhile the Colleges will consider affectionately the Emperor's demand. The Vatican, once wisest of courts, smiles calmly over the wisdom which secular politicians have long since abandoned as unwise, the policy of laissez-faire, and sits quietly,'unaware that a yet heavier bolt is soon about to descend. The Kaiser was Hapsburg before he was Catholic, and within three years the vast possessions of the Church in Austria will have been seized to pay the interest due on debts owned mainly by heretics and Jews. With the Lutherans rising daily higher, Spanish America fallen or falling away, whole Catholic races asserting the right of private judgment upon sacraments, a Mussulman sovereign received by all Europe, an indifferentist Republic growing steadily into a terror to the world, Italian troops steadily drawing in towards St Peter's itself, where half the bishops of
Christendom in conclave are declaring the Papacy divine, the Vatican must perceive that it is gazing into a somewhat hopeless world.”
Every nation, so far as its laws are inspired by Papal superstition, begins to throw off the incubus of a thousand years, and to assert for its rulers and its people the right and privilege of religious and civil freedom. By a process rather than a spasmodic effort, and therefore for a more enduring result, they are throwing off the influence of the priest, and opening their hearts to the possibility, at least, of a benigner and more lasting inspiration. What is of the earth earthly dies, but that which is from above must live and flourish.
The Westminster Gazette, a well-known organ of the Papacy in England, thus writes, September 1, 1867 : “All Catholic nations are falling. As nations they have deserted the public principles of Catholicism and they perish by the revolution. What is this but to say that revolutionary principles are destructive of Catholicism? Catholic nations changed their front in the face of an enemy, and have been outflanked. They have abandoned the idea—the principle—which constituted their highest unity, which gave strength and purpose to national life, to play with the revolution, to act the part of a go-between in the conflict of antagonistic and mutually destructive principles. But these nations have lost the strength of Catholicism without identifying themselves with the revolution, without sharing its destructive force. Between two
stools, to use a common phrase, they fell to the ground. This is how we account for the present state of the Catholic nations; this is why we look with apprehension at their future. There is a want of thoroughness about them—about Austria in particular; and therein lies her doom."
Blazing falsehoods and worn-out dogmas — anathemas at which nations once trembled, superstitions which chilled the hearts and oppressed the intellects of men, are dissolving and disappearing, and people whose only light was the candle of the priest, are lighting their lamps at the Sun of Righteousness and going forth to hail the brightness of His rising.
My interpretation of these great personages is substantially borne out by the able political writers I have quoted. Their testimony is only the utterance of all impartial spectators of the events. So clear is the coincidence that, apart from chronological consideration, it sounds as if the very echo of the apocalyptic voice, “It is done."
WHEN SHALL CHRIST COME ?
This is a legitimate as well as a momentous inquiry. We cannot determine the hour, the day, the year,
can enumerate the conditions in which He will be revealed, for they are clearly unfolded in the sure word of prophecy.
We are assured this great event will occur during a period of abounding evil, error, and worldliness. Every prediction in the great prophecy on the Mount, recorded by St Matthew in chapter xxv., and by St Luke in chapter xxi., proclaims the existence, at His advent, of a world absorbed in earthly interests-indifferent to everlasting concerns—loving pleasure more than God—having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof—its days dark and evil as were those of Noah, its wickedness great, and the imaginations of the thoughts of their hearts evil continually; a world of “scoffers walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” “In the last days perilous times shall come. Men shall be